The 3 P's of the Microbiome Diet

When I think about my top diet tip, I think about nourishing not just myself, but the 100 trillion microorganisms in my digestive tract, which is at least on the same order as the number of cells in our bodies.[1][2]

What do we need these microbes for? In addition to digesting food, they’re also playing a part in ensuring the integrity of our gut lining. If they’re doing their job, beneficial bacteria produce fermentation by-products, like short chain fatty acids, that are key in keeping the gut lining strong and the cell junctions normal - preventing a number of immune problems like asthma and arthritis, along with irritable bowel syndrome, weight issues and even depression. [3],[4],[5]

One very neat study, a microbiome transplant we’ll call it, showed that mice receiving bugs from a heavier body weight twin, ended up becoming significantly fatter than the ones getting the transplant from the lean twin. [6] This means our microbes may matter more than we’ve thought for our metabolic regulation. 

The strategy then is to start with a sustainably healthy microbiome, with prebiotics, probiotics, and polyphenols. Prebiotics are parts of plants and provide food for the beneficial bacteria in the colon (things like garlic, leeks, and onions), and polyphenols are the plant-derived chemicals that live in abundance in colorful fruits and veggies, especially berries.[7] A foundation of whole plant foods and a good probiotic source puts us well on our way to a flourishing microbiome and is the daily nutrition tip I live by since it’s made a substantial difference with my own GI health and energy levels. In combination with identifying food sensitivities for a personally optimized diet, those 3 P’s form the daily diet cornerstone. 

Find out more about our precision integrative nutrition program with Francesca Alfano!


[1] Tremaroli, Valentina, and Fredrik Bäckhed. "Functional interactions between the gut microbiota and host metabolism." Nature 489.7415 (2012): 242-249.

[2] Sender, Ron, Shai Fuchs, and Ron Milo. "Revised estimates for the number of human and bacteria cells in the body." BioRxiv (2016): 036103.

[3] Belkaid, Yasmine, and Timothy W. Hand. "Role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation." Cell 157.1 (2014): 121-141.

[4] Campbell, Anthony Keith, et al. "Bacterial metabolic ‘toxins’: a new mechanism for lactose and food intolerance, and irritable bowel syndrome." Toxicology 278.3 (2010): 268-276.

[5] Lam, Yan Y., et al. "Role of the gut in visceral fat inflammation and metabolic disorders." Obesity 19.11 (2011): 2113-2120.

[6] Ridaura, Vanessa K., et al. "Gut microbiota from twins discordant for obesity modulate metabolism in mice." Science 341.6150 (2013): 1241214.

[7] Cardona, Fernando, et al. "Benefits of polyphenols on gut microbiota and implications in human health." The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 24.8 (2013): 1415-1422.