The Optimal Diet & Lifestyle for a Healthy Gut Microbiome with Sarah Ballantyne – EP86

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Though the field of research around the gut microbiome is brand new, the latest understandings are changing our definition of the optimal human diet. We are also learning how factors like activity, stress and sleep impact the microbiome. So, what foods promote the growth of beneficial strains of bacteria? And how can we make better lifestyle choices that will increase diversity in the microbiome—and improve our health overall?




Medical biophysicist Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, is the creator of The Paleo Mom, an award-winning online resource that distills the science behind how diet and lifestyle impact health. She also serves as the co-host of the syndicated Paleo View Podcast and architect of the premier Autoimmune Protocol Lecture Series. Sarah has a background in academic research around critical care medicine, gene therapy and cell biology, and she is the author of a number of bestselling books on the nutritional approach to optimal health. Sarah’s path to becoming an internationally-recognized health advocate was informed by own journey, and she is on a mission to tackle public health at the level of scientific literacy.

Today, Sarah offers insight around gut health, explaining the connection between a leaky gut and a lack of diversity in the microbiome. She discusses how to modify your diet to improve gut health and the science behind the lifestyle factors that impact the microbiome. Sarah also shares advice on changing your diet gradually to prevent GI issues, leveraging food-based probiotics and working with a functional medical practitioner. Listen in for insight around the dangers of the ketogenic diet and learn why a balance of macronutrients is what’s best for you—and your gut!

Topics Covered

[1:45] Sarah’s mission to improve public health

  • Educate people around WHY choices better
  • Empower critical thinking about new info
[4:00] Sarah’s take on the terms Paleo and nutrivore

  • Resonates with nutrivore (receive nutrients from food)
  • Message of Paleo diluted by infighting in community
[8:55] Sarah’s insight around gut health

  • Leaky gut connected with lack of diversity in microbiome
  • Mushrooms considered foundational for healing
  • Gut loves phytochemicals and polyphenols
  • Fruits and vegetables, herbal tea and honey
  • Vitamin D deficiency inhibits growth of beneficial strains
[16:00] How to modify your diet to improve gut health

  • Cook with whole mushrooms 3X/week
  • Incorporate fish and seafood (Omega-3 fats)
  • Eat organ meat for vitamin A
  • Variety of high-fiber vegetables
[19:18] The lifestyle factors that impact the microbiome

  • Stress, lack of sleep and overtraining decrease diversity
  • Activity increa
[21:23] Sarah’s advice on dramatically shifting your diet

  • Can cause GI symptoms depending on species at start
  • Approach diet iteratively, give microbiome time to adjust
  • Consider bacillus-based probiotic supplement
  • No way of precision editing individual microbiome yet
[29:02] What you can learn from a stool test

  • Identify strains to tackle with anti-microbial (e.g.: SIBO)
  • Recognize and treat parasites
[32:07] Why Sarah recommends food-based probiotics

  • Fermented foods include hundreds of strains
  • Exposure to soil-based organisms (e.g.: organic vegetables)
  • More time in nature, find places not treated by chemicals
[38:02] Sarah’s thoughts on the ketogenic diet

  • Only supports in case of neurological disease (i.e.: epilepsy)
  • Mimics starvation, problematic for long-term health
  • Not enough fiber for gut microbiome
[41:44] The importance of balance in your diet

  • High-fat and low-fat diets both detrimental
  • Need moderation of fat, protein and carbs
  • Each macronutrient between 20% and 50%
[45:40] Sarah’s advice for people with difficulty absorbing fiber

  • GI symptoms likely related to gut dysbiosis
  • Constipation—start with leafy greens, move up slowly
  • Diarrhea—bifidobacterium, lactobacillus most beneficial
  • Work with functional medical practitioner

Learn More About Sarah Ballantyne

The Paleo Mom

The Paleo View Podcast


Books by Sarah Ballantyne

Go to Bed Online Program

Autoimmune Protocol Lecture Series

The Danger of Ketogenic Diets and Why Most of Us Shouldn’t Do It

Healthy Gut, Healthy You by Dr. Michael Ruscio

TPV EP316: Is the Carnivore Diet Healthy?

Squatty Potty

Step and Go Stool

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