Most of the time when you’re reaching for a square of chocolate or glass of wine you start to feel guilty before you’ve even finished enjoying it. But new research reveals there is no need to feel guilty any longer! Professor Tim Spector from King’s College London is conducting cutting-edge research into the link between what you eat and your health and why restrictive diets don’t work!
Professor Spector explains that “our tiny gut microbes may hold the answer to our modern obesity epidemic”. The key is the types of food you consume. 50 years ago, our ancestors diet was 20 times more varied than the average person’s diet today. Tribes would eat a much wider variety of food and vary their diet with seasonal changes, which gave them a bigger range of microbes. Many modern diets in comparison propose cutting out several food groups and are very restrictive therefore reducing gut microbe diversity even further. Studies show that people who are overweight have a smaller range of gut microbes.
In his new book, “The Diet Myth”, Professor Spector explains that French cheese, wine & dark chocolate can contribute to good gut health and keep you slim & healthy! He explains that unpasteurized cheese is one of the richest sources of good microbes and fungi. Picking oozy smelly cheeses rather than the processed cheese you get on a pizza or hamburger, are a useful addition to your gut.
Dark chocolate is also beneficial for your gut health as it’s a potent source of polyphenols and can assist with keeping your heart healthy and fighting inflammation. Regular consumption has also been associated with lower body weight.
On this note, Will Clower, neuroscientist and author of “Eat Chocolate, Lose weight”, recommends having a bite of chocolate about 20-30 minutes before you eat. The cocoa will trigger hormones to help you feel satisfied after eating and will satisfy your sweet cravings while regulating your insulin response system. Or why not try crumbling some dark chocolate on your yoghurt or in a glass of warm milk? You should aim for at least 70% cocoa content and approximately a 25g serving/0.88oz (that’s about ¼ of a standard block of Lindt).
Professor Spector also suggests a glass or two of wine every night can have a beneficial effect on your health by increasing microbial diversity in your gut. . Belgian beers are also being studied for their health benefits, as they are rich in yeast and prebiotics.
In his book, Spector emphasizes the importance of avoiding fast food and processed foods including diet and low fat products and sugary soft drinks. The artificial sweeteners, preservatives and fast foods can damage and even reduce your gut diversity. Professor Spector’s 22 year old son volunteered to eat McDonalds for 10 days with astonishing results. He lost 40% of his microbial diversity, good bacteria decreased and bad bacteria skyrocketed.
So what is the bottom line from this new research? Everything in moderation is the key. Try to embrace a wide variety of real foods rather than restricting yourself to a small number of food groups, while avoiding processed foods and fast foods. As Professor Spector states, “Dark chocolate… wine and cheese are likely to be healthy for me and my mircobes”. Well I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly a believer!
“Like you needed another reason to eat chocolate but here are 2”, Nina Elias, March 18 2014. http://www.prevention.com/food/food-remedies/why-chocolate-good-your-heart-and-your-waist
“New research: Why French cheese, wine & dark chocolate can keep you slim & healthy”, Clair Weaver. Australian Women’s Weekly, August 2015, page 69.
“Cheese and wine: Eating to stay slim and healthy”, Tim Spector, 17 May 2015, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-3079803/Cheese-wine-eating-stay-slim-healthy.html#ixzz3jEiyVB3m