The Swift Diet

Mend the belly, lose the weight and get rid of the bloat

Mandate - - Wellness -

No­body sits around think­ing about his mi­cro­biome—that mi­cro­scopic bac­te­ria in the gut. But pur­posely eat­ing to bet­ter feed th­ese bac­te­ria can go a long way to keep­ing you lean, along with re­duc­ing mus­cle and joint pain, clear­ing skin, boost­ing en­ergy, and aid­ing in di­ges­tion. Do­ing so is sim­pler with the ad­vice from nutri­tion­ist Joseph Hooper and Kathie Madonna Swift in their new book The Swift Diet. We cherry-picked five sim­ple tips to help you make it hap­pen:


A diet rich in veggies, fruits and legumes feeds the friendly bac­te­ria living in your colon. Skip or go light on th­ese food groups, and the gut en­vi­ron­ment be­comes toxic: bad bugs, fungi and par­a­sites move in and can es­cape into the blood stream, trig­ger­ing in­flam­ma­tion through­out your body. One ex­am­ple of this ‘leaky gut syn­drome’ is in­sulin re­sis­tance, where the body stores more calo­ries as fat in­stead of burning that fat for en­ergy. A re­cent study found that lean peo­ple ac­tu­ally have a greater num­ber and greater di­ver­sity of gut bac­te­ria than over­weight peo­ple. When some of the over­weight peo­ple went on a higher-fi­bre, lower- calo­rie diet, their mi­cro­biota started to re­sem­ble that of the thin peo­ple. In other words, what they ate changed their gut bac­te­ria to sup­port los­ing weight.


When we’re get­ting most of our calo­ries from re­fined carbs like grains or flour-based foods, we’re al­most al­ways not eat­ing enough plant fi­bre, starv­ing the friendly bac­te­ria in the colon. This cre­ates an in­flam­ma­tory dou­ble-whammy: On top of the pos­si­bil­ity of leaky gut syn­drome, the body quickly ab­sorbs the calo­ries in the re­fined carbs into the small in­tes­tine, which drives up blood sugar lev­els. In turn, that drives up the body’s pro­duc­tion of in­sulin needed to es­cort the sug­ars into the mus­cle cells and the

liver. The re­sult? You burn fewer calo­ries, and store more as fat. Even worse, the ex­tra body fat se­cretes its own in­flam­ma­tory hor­mones. So be­sides a spare tire, you could de­velop in­sulin re­sis­tance, and worst- case sce­nario, Type 2 di­a­betes.

The main di­etary of­fender is sugar added to pro­cessed foods. The worst of the worst is sugar in so­das, teas or even fruit juices. The body doesn’t com­pen­sate for th­ese liq­uid calo­ries as ef­fec­tively as it does the calo­ries in solid food so you’re more likely to overeat at your next meal. The so­lu­tion is straight­for­ward: Choose whole foods over pro­cessed foods, which also con­tain mass-pro­duced veg­etable oils that can drive up in­flam­ma­tion.


Com­mon in­gre­di­ents such as gluten in grains or lac­tose in dairy can con­trib­ute to weight, en­ergy, skin or even mood woes if you have sen­si­tiv­ity to them—which is sur­pris­ingly a com­mon prob­lem. Of­ten, a de­pleted mi­cro­biota is part of the story. With­out nu­mer­ous and di­verse gut bac­te­ria, your mi­cro­biome won’t be able to help your im­mune sys­tem ac­cu­rately dis­tin­guish friend from foe (we see this hap­pen when some­one has an in­flam­ma­tory over­re­ac­tion to gluten, an oth­er­wise harm­less pro­tein com­pound found in most grains).

An un­bal­anced gut can also over-feed on lac­tose, caus­ing a host of un­pleas­ant di­ges­tive symptoms, such as queasi­ness and ex­cess gas. So ex­per­i­ment. Take grains and dairy out of your diet for two weeks or three weeks, then in­tro­duce them back in one at a time to see if they’re caus­ing prob­lems. You may feel lighter and more en­er­getic with­out them.


Th­ese are na­ture’s most po­tent anti-in­flam­ma­to­ries. Herbs and spices such as turmeric, rose­mary, cloves, and gin­ger con­tain an­tiox­i­dants that drive down dis­ease- caus­ing pro­cesses. A study from the Uni­ver­sity of Florida found that a well- spiced dish could re­duce the amount of in­flam­ma­tory cells that the body pro­duced af­ter it was ex­posed to typ­i­cal in­flam­ma­tion- caus­ing food, such as a plate of fried chicken.


If you’re con­stantly anx­ious, re­search shows your body’s over­pro­duc­tion of stress hor­mone can al­ter your mi­cro­biome to favour the un­friendly bac­te­ria over the friendly. Any­thing you can do to bring stress un­der con­trol will help, es­pe­cially ex­er­cise. One study of pro­fes­sional rugby play­ers in Ire­land found that the ath­letes had a more di­verse col­lec­tion of gut bac­te­ria, help­ing them stay health­ier than their same- sized, non-jock coun­ter­parts.

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