30 April 2024

The gut microbiome is the collection of bacteria, fungi, viruses, that naturally live inside our bowels. Diversity of plants in your diet is linked to diversity of healthy bacteria in your gut, which is strongly associated with better overall health and protection from bowel diseases.   

In our latest survey of 2,000 people in the UK, 74% said they always or often buy the same ingredients, limiting the diversity and health of their gut microbiome. 

Reasons for the lack of variety included knowing what they like (61%), convenience (37%) and budget (31%). Younger people were less likely to cite knowing what they like (46%) when compared with all ages but were similarly concerned about convenience and budget as reasons for buying the same ingredients.   

So how can we easily and affordably get a healthy variety in our diets? Here are our top tips:  

  1. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are often easier to find and cheaper, especially when bought from local farmers’ markets. The Vegetarian Society has a handy guide to what’s in season, when, in the UK.
  2. Frozen food can sometimes be just as nutritious as fresh, as it’s frozen when the fruit or vegetable is at its best. It is often more affordable, especially when certain items are out of season.
  3. Everywhere from a small windowsill to a vegetable patch in a garden can be an opportunity to grow your own fruit and vegetables. Herbs are a particularly good investment for growing at home – they don’t need a lot of space, they’re easy to look after and can be pricey when bought in a supermarket.
  4. Canned and dried fruits and vegetables are convenient and have a long shelf life. They’re also often cheaper than fresh produce, but make sure you choose options without added sugars or salt.

Bowel Research UK is announcing a bespoke grants round. The charity is wanting to raise £250,000 to invest in world-class innovative research into the gut microbiome, during 2024 / 2025. This equates to 1 PhD and 3 small proof of principle grants but the more funds we can raise, the more research we will be able to fund in this important area. Funders will have the opportunity for an ongoing relationship with the researchers for the duration of the project and will receive regular updates. Find out more or donate here.