If you've made healthy dietary changes but you're not seeing immediate positive results, it might be more than just in your head. It might be in your gut.
Encrusted Chicken with Spinach
Photo by Meredith

So you've resolved to eat a healthier diet this year. Congratulations! So long, refined carbs, saturated fats, and added sugars. Hello, whole grains, fresh veggies, and lean proteins. If you've made these healthy dietary changes but you're not seeing blockbuster results right away, don't give up. There could be a reason for the delay.

If the benefits seem to be lagging, the culprit could be your intestinal microbes. Here's why. Your community of gut microbes grew up with you; your diet is their diet. And if that diet has been, over time, heavy on saturated fats and processed foods (typical of the "Western diet") and light on vegetables and whole grains, your microbial ecosystem may have become diminished, less diverse.

And now, a sudden dietary change, even for the better, can bring befuddlement at a gut level. Which is to say, your intestinal microbes, lacking diversity, may not be entirely compatible with this new regimen that has them processing and absorbing nutrients from semi-foreign foodstuffs like fiber-rich vegetables and whole grains. Turns out, the benefits of a healthy diet can lag behind when gut microbes have been conditioned by the standard American diet. This is all according to a new study published in the scientific journal Cell Host & Microbe.

What's more, a new study published in Cell Systems describes the numerous changes to genetic and other biological systems following even modest weight gain. As reported in The New York Times, increases in weight were found to trigger changes in hundreds of genes: "Some genes were more active, while others were effectively turned off. Many of these genes are though to be involved in fat metabolism." These changes are not so easy to undo.

But don't give up! Your microbiome will likely get there in time -- particularly if this new way of eating evolves from a short-lived diet into a full-blown lifestyle. As The New York Times reported, "Refashioning the community of bacteria and other microbes living in your intestinal tract, collectively known as the gut microbiome, could be a good long-term investment in your health."

Salmon with Arugula, Red Onions, and Cherry Tomatoes
Photo by Meredith

To help keep you on track, check out our collection of recipes that promote a healthy microbiome.