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A vegan diet promotes a healthy gut microbiome

A recent study investigated the effects of a vegan diet on the composition of the gut microbiome and body weight. Positive changes were seen after just a few weeks. You can find out more in our blog post.

Table of contents:

  1. Why is the gut microbiome so important?
  2. Vegan diet has a favourable effect on gut flora and body weight
  3. Plant-based diet improves insulin sensitivity
  4. Conclusion of the study
  5. Why are vegans slimmer than meat eaters?

Why is the gut microbiome so important

The entirety of all microorganisms in the intestine is referred to as intestinal flora or intestinal microbiome. Over 1,000 different types of bacteria can be found in our gut. They not only ensure proper digestion, but also influence our immune system. Among other things, they are also thought to play a role in the development of various diseases, obesity and allergies. You can read more about the importance of intestinal flora for our health here.

Vegan diet has a favourable effect on gut flora and body weight

In September, a study was published in the specialist journal Diabetologia which shows that a vegan diet has a positive effect on our gut microbiome. The study involved 147 overweight subjects (86% women, 14% men), with an average age of 55.6 years.

The results of the study

Participants who followed a vegan diet for 16 weeks were able to promote the growth of certain intestinal bacteria. For example, the relative abundance of the two intestinal bacteria Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (+ 4.8 %) and Bacteoides fragilis (+ 19.5 %) increased. Both microorganisms are bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids (e.g. butyrate). These fatty acids have numerous health-promoting properties.

Both Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Bacteoides fragilis are associated with reduced body weight and body fat percentage as well as improved insulin sensitivity. In fact, the study participants were also able to reduce their body weight and body fat percentage over the 16 weeks. In contrast to the placebo group, who did not change their eating habits, the vegan group lost significantly more body weight (-5.8 kg). Their body fat percentage was reduced by an average of 3.9 kg.

Plant-based diet improves insulin sensitivity

In addition, the plant-based diet also improved insulin sensitivity. This indicates how sensitively our body reacts to the hormone insulin. With high insulin sensitivity, even small amounts of the hormone are enough to have an effect. The lower the insulin sensitivity, the larger the quantities required. This can lead to diabetes over time. This disease can therefore be prevented with a plant-based diet. Studies also show that a plant-based diet is also successful in the treatment of diabetes. In a further study, the study group now wants to find out how a vegan diet changes the gut microbiome of type 2 diabetes patients.

Conclusion of the study

According to the authors of the study, there is still a need for further research into whether the altered gut microbiome composition can be attributed solely to the vegan diet or to the reduced calorie intake. However, it seems clear which factor is essential for the change: just like Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Bacteoides fragilis also feeds on fibre. The high fibre content of the plant-based diet is therefore responsible for the health-promoting changes in the intestinal flora observed in the study.

So feed your gut bacteria as often as possible with high-fibre, plant-based foods (e.g. fruit and vegetables, pulses, wholegrain products). Vitamin B12 supplementation (e.g. in the form of Vitamin B12 lozenges or the Vegan Essentials) should also not be forgotten when following a vegan diet.


Why are vegans slimmer than meat eaters?

The fact that a plant-based diet is associated with lower body weight is nothing new. On the one hand, this is of course due to the lower calorie intake. But other factors also mean that vegans are slimmer than meat eaters. For example, older studies have shown that people who eat a plant-based diet have an 11% higher basal metabolic rate.

Find out more about why a plant-based diet makes you slimmer here.