Vegetable filled diets recommended for longevity

Written by Dr Harold Gunatillake

The behaviour and the benefits of gut bacteria (microbiota) depend on the production of certain healthy and unhealthy molecules, solely depending on your diet.

Studies have shown that people who ate vegetable filled diets have a much higher diversity and higher level of healthy bacteria. Those who eat a diet composed of vegetables having high fibre, your friendly gut allies produce higher levels of molecules called short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), acetate, propionates and butyrate in the large bowel.

Humans do not have the enzymes to digest fibre, so these bacteria assists in breaking them down producing fatty acids and other compounds. These short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) are beneficial for your health. All the major SFCA appear to promote the flow of blood through the colonic vascular while propionate enhances muscular activity and inner lining cell proliferation in the large bowel, thus keeping the bowel in trim condition for its functions.

Butyrate a by-product of the digestion of dietary fibre by gut microbes as mentioned earlier seems to be the therapy for inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease’ They also boosts the immune system by inducing the production of regulatory T cells in the gut.

Those diets that include meat such as in the Mediterranean diet in small quantities too had high levels of short-chain fatty acids. What this means is that one should include increased amounts of fruits, vegetables and legumes in their diet and including small quantities of red meat will have a healthy community of gut bacteria. These findings were the studies done by Danilo Ercolini, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Naples Federico 11 in Italy.

Vegans score

Studies have shown that short chain fatty acids (SCFA) were higher in vegans and vegetarians as well as those who eat a Mediterranean diet with little red meat.


Trimethylamine-N-oxide is formed when certain types of gut bacteria breakdown animal proteins and fat linked to increased risk of heart disease.

Eating eggs and beef produces a compound that could boost the risk of heart disease according to a recent study. The gut bacteria produce high levels of a compound called trimethylamine-N- oxide (TMAO) which shows a higher risk for heart attack, stroke, compared to those who had lower levels of this compound in the blood stream. So one can understand those people who consume foods high in fat and cholesterol such as beef and eggs are at risk for heart disease and stroke.

TMAO is produced in the body from egg yolk and red meat. TMAO seems to be elevated in the blood of people having chronic kidney diseases (CDK) in addition to the association with coronary artery disease pathogenesis.

It is reasonable that we all adhere to a vegetable diet with fruits, legumes in the New Year and eating less red meat and more fish. That would be the solution to have a healthy gut with low risk for cancer,heart disease, stroke and other chronic debilitating diseases.