Debunking the diet myth

November 18, 2016

Nutritionist Bridie Kersten* weighs in on the latest diet findings that suggest the flora in our gut impacts our wellbeing more than the food we eat. 


The gut is becoming the trendiest topic in health. Experts are discovering what actually goes on in our internal ecosystems, or, as some would term it, our ‘microbiome” or ‘microbiota’. 

It sounds clinical, but basically we’re talking about the bacteria that live and work in our small and large intestines. 

Why is everyone so excited about digestion and its role in dieting? Well, research has shown that it’s connected to every other body system, making it a vital aspect of our wellbeing. For example, an unhealthy microbiome affects mental health, and can cause skin conditions such as acne and eczema.

Now the gut has hit the big-time, numerous health books are coming out making claims about microbiota and the digestive system. It can be overwhelming figuring out how much is fact or fiction, but one book that stood out for me is Dr Tim Spector’s The Diet Myth.

Using current research as well has his own experiences to formulate findings, Dr Spector travelled the world to understand what is behind health and illness. Zeroing in on the human microbiota, he challenges previous findings and makes his book relatable to the average reader. 

Whether you’re new to the nutrition field or are an old hand, you’ll find the real-life stories and new research engaging and very enlightening. Dr Spector revisited some of the most common eating patterns to Western society and assessed how they affected the microbiota, allowing him to see if there really was any merit to the claims. 

The clarity that this review offers is essential, because our microbiota is perhaps the best compass we have of our health. 

There are some who believe the energy in, energy out concept means we can eat whatever we want as long as we don’t eat too much, but Dr Spector’s research disproves this theory, and finds that an altered microbiota cannot support a healthy immune system, which can lead to insulin resistance.

Furthermore, it is a well-known fact that overweight or obese people have a vastly different microbiome than those within a healthy weight range. It’s important to note that you can be overweight and still be considered healthy, but Dr Spector explains that being obese puts people at serious risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. 

While there is always room for further research and review, Dr Spector highlights the importance of taking care of our gut and digestive health—something we can all learn from. So is dieting a myth to fleece us of our hard-earned cash? That’s up tor you to decide, but Dr Spector’s The Diet Myth is a great addition to your own research.

*Bridie Kersten is a registered nutritionist with an interest in holistic and alternative health who blogs at


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