The Microsetta Initiative and its US partner the American Gut Project working with the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have published the largest study on the human microbiome to date. Using crowd-sourced data, their goal was to identify how diet, lifestyle and disease impact the microbiome, as well as to gain a deeper understanding of its make-up. One of their very interesting findings was that people that eat 30 or more varieties of plants per week had significantly more diverse microbiomes. Having a diverse microbiome is strongly correlated with health; better resistance to disease, inflammation, etc.
Unfortunately, the traditional Western diet is not very diverse. In fact, an estimated 75% of the world’s food is produced from only 12 plant and 5 animal species. If you’re like us, you tend to reach for the same tried and true fruits and veggies every week, and incorporating anywhere close to 30 varieties a week is daunting.
Emma has been doing a fun experiment with this, doing a smoothie concentrate every week with “strange” veggies and fruits. The idea is you go to the market and grab lots of things that look unfamiliar or that you rarely eat - perhaps tropical fruits, celery roots, jicama, seasonal treats like persimmons, varieties of gourds, raw cranberries, raw sweet potato, greens that aren’t your usuals… anything at all that can be eaten raw and is off the beaten path for your microbiome :) Incorporate things like lemon, turmeric and ginger root, go wild with basil, mint or cilantro, and feel free to add anything you want that helps the palette. Pineapple, for instance, makes all things delicious! Feel free to add cinnamon or cardamom or anything to spice things up.
Remember if you use things like celery roots or beets to incorporate their stems as well, and you can include all the seeds and skin from squash-these are super nutrient-dense elements that are amazing to include in your “strange smoothie”. You may want to steer clear of stronger, dominating flavors like radishes, dandelion greens or arugula in your strange smoothie, but this is totally personal preference.