1. Think diversity
"You need to eat as wide a range of plant-basedfoods as possible," advises Megan. "I tell people toaim for 30 different plant-based foods a week - that's nuts, seeds, wholegrains, legumes and fruitand vegetables. Research has suggested that ifyou're having fewer than 10 of these plant-basedfoods a week, your microbial diversity isn't verystrong. Vary the foods you eat from week to weekand always be open to trying new things."
2. Fill up on fibre
The fibre found in foods such as beans, artichokes, legumes and brussels sprouts containsprebiotics that 'feed' the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut. If you can increase theamount of fibre you eat, it will benefit pretty much every organ in your body, including yourheart. "Current Department of Health guidelines recommend we should be eating 30g of fibrea day, but most of us are only eating 19g," says Megan. "I believe we should be aiming evenhigher. Increase the amount you eat gradually to give your body time to adjust to it."
3. Ferment your foods
Include healthy fermented foods in your diet every day. Fermentation involves bacteria oryeast to make foods such as yogurt, kefir (a traditional homemade fermented drink madefrom milk that contains live bacteria) and kombucha (made from fermented tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast).
They generally contain a wide range of different types of bacteria so are believed to bebeneficial for the gut microbiome. "Kefir is the one with the most scientific evidence behindit," says Megan. "It has around 20 different types of bacteria and yeast in it, and thediversity is much greater than in yogurt. I drink 100ml kefir a day. You can now buy kits tomake kefir - you add milk and leave it on your worktop to ferment for a few hours, then it'sready to drink."
4. Say no to sweetener
Although artificial sweeteners can reduce your calorie intake, they may also destroy thediversity of your gut ?microbiome. Clearly, this needs to be weighed up against the need tocut down on sugar.