You can read all the articles in the world about gut health, but nothing comes close to getting advice directly from a microbiome expert.
We sat down with Dr. Mahmoud Ghannoum — Dr. G — to talk about what’s on his plate all day, every day. As a leading microbiome researcher and the pioneer who discovered the mycobiome, we trust his advice (and will be making some changes to our plates in the coming days!).
Seriously, he’s so good at this stuff that the scientific community affectionately nicknamed him “Dr. Microbiome.” If that doesn’t convince you he’s all about a healthy gut, maybe his daily diet will.
Here’s what this leading microbiome researcher enjoys for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, followed by a Q&A about the ideal weekly menu for optimal gut health.
A Hearty Prebiotic-Rich Breakfast for a Healthy Gut
To start the day, Dr. G usually eats a bowl of steel-cut oatmeal topped with berries and banana slices (bananas are a great prebiotic). On weekends, when he has more time, Dr. G opts for a vegetable omelet with spinach, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, and onions and enjoys a slice of 100% whole-grain toast and honey on the side.
Oh, and even though too much caffeine can wreak havoc on your body, don’t feel too bad about your daily cup of Joe — even Dr. G enjoys his morning java! Dr. G enjoys a cup of coffee most weekdays and drinks a pot of Early Grey or green tea on the weekends.
Lunch for Happy Microbes
For lunch, Dr. G fits in as many colors as possible with a fresh salad full of tomato, radishes, lettuce, spring onions, arugula, watercress, and strawberries. He tops his rainbow salad with a lean protein such as salmon or chicken and dresses it in extra-virgin olive oil, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and crushed garlic.
If he’s in a hurry, Dr. G eats a legume soup of lentils, onions, herbs, spices, and fresh lemon. On those extra busy days, hummus with olive oil serves as a healthy protein source.
Dinner for easy digestion
Dr. G gravitates toward the gut-friendly classic of roasted or steamed protein with roasted vegetables. A typical dinner plate might have roasted chicken and mixed vegetables, including asparagus, eggplant, garlic cloves, onions, broccoli, potatoes, and root vegetables — not all in the same day, Dr. G says, so don’t feel like you have to fit in every vegetable under the sun!
Q&A with Dr. G
Q: What foods are non-negotiable for you in a week — the ones you MUST get in?
Foods to eat every day:
- Coconut or extra-virgin olive oil, at least 1 tablespoon.
- Resistant starch foods, at least 1 cup but no more than 2 cups.
- Cruciferous vegetables, at least 1 cup with no maximum.
- Mycobiome-friendly vegetables, at least 2 cups.
- Apple cider vinegar, at least 1 tablespoon.
Optional: Eggs (2), poultry (like chicken and turkey—6 ounces), low-fat or non-fat dairy products (1 cup), tofu and tempeh (4 to 6 ounces), edamame (1 cup): 2 servings maximum.
Foods to eat three to seven times a week:
- Fish and seafood, up to 6 ounces.
- Ground turmeric, at least 1 teaspoon.
- Ginger, at least 1 teaspoon dried and ground or 1 tablespoon fresh grated.
- Garlic, 1 to 2 cloves.
- Pistachios and/or walnuts, ¼ cup.
- Green tea, at least 1 cup.
- Fermented foods, ½ cup.
Q: On the other hand, which foods are a no-no for you — the ones you avoid as much as possible?
Foods to exclude completely:
- Added sugar sweeteners (except for maple syrup and raw honey)
- Refined grains
- Processed, cured meat (such as lunch meat)
- Processed or packaged food with more than three ingredients
- Oils or fats, other than those mentioned above, including butter
- Full-fat dairy products
Q: What kind of beverages do you drink? Any coffee?
I usually drink a cup of coffee in the morning and late afternoon. During the day I take tea and alternate between back and green tea. In addition to that, I drink freshly squeezed orange juice — no juices that aren’t fresh. I also avoid pops and soda, whether original or diet.
Q: What is your supplement regimen like?
I take my BIOHM probiotic, usually after breakfast. Since my food contains natural fiber I do not take prebiotics. However, if I feel I need to have some more fiber especially when I am traveling and access to plant fiber-rich food is limited, I do take our prebiotic. I don’t take any vitamins since the food I eat is chock-full of all the essentials!