The Newest, Oldest Diet Out There
Mar 01, 2018 07:00AM
An ever-growing focus on the contents of your stomach has given rise to a number of diets—but we’re not talking about food. Rather, this focus is on your microbiome, or the collection of bacteria that’s in your gut and plays a significant role in everything from digestion to metabolism to the immune system.
The latest newcomer to this trend is the Hadza Diet, but it’s not as faddish as you might suspect. It’s the way hunter-gatherers, known as the Hadza, in Tanzania have eaten for their long history (15,000-plus years!), and recently-published research on their diet can give us clues on how Americans can eat for better health. Diseases such as Crohn’s, inflammatory bowel, ulcerative colitis, and colon cancer just aren’t as prevalent in this population—could their microbiome be the reason why?
It turns out that the Hadza people have species of bacteria inside of them that Americans simply don’t have, such as one that helps metabolize carbs and another that interacts with your immune system. We’re probably not going to get all of that bacteria back, but there is something that’s easily accessible but missing in the standard American diet compared to the Hadza’s: fiber. Americans average 15 grams of fiber a day; Hadza average 100 to 150 grams. The bacteria in your system likes to feast on these prebiotics, flourishing with every gram of fiber you consume.
If you want to reduce your risk of the aforementioned diseases and simply feel better on a day-to-day basis, add foods such as jicama, dandelion greens, onions, asparagus, bananas, and oats. Each of these is rich in a certain type of fiber known as fructans, and that’s what’s going to get your gut looking a little more like the Hadza’s—without any supplements, hunting, or foraging required.