Okay, lets talk about something unpleasant. In all of the body’s complexities the process of digesting and ridding oneself of food is fascinating, yet quite uncomfortable to discuss for some. Over the past two years this blog has explored many areas of veganism and how it aids the body and so today we venture to yet another frontier, how it affects… yes, ones fecal matter. Still here? Okay good.
This article will surround a 2015 study done by Italian researchers, that detailed comparisons of omnivores (meat eaters), lacto-ovo vegetarians (those who avoid meat but consume most dairy products), and vegans (a diet consisting of zero animal products) and how their digestive and fecal healths contrasted. Though often under-apprenticed, the vitality of such bodily workings are important tells of proper function and over all health of the body, and further help to tell the nutritional soundness of our dietary choices.
The digestive system:
Before diving into whether a meat-free lifestyle improves our fecal matter, it is important to understand where the matter originates. A wonderful way to learn how the body processes eaten food is to think of natural digestion as a factory line. Briefly, the process begins with the mouth where human saliva chemically breaks down food with each bite. Once swallowed, the food makes its way down the throat to the digestive tract, a series of hollow organs which specialize in the disassembling and absorption nutrients, with the last stop being the elimination from the body. With new bacteria being deposited and transported at every stop along the way, studying the digestive system and its commodity (ones poo) offers a wonderful peak into the over all heath of an individual, as well as how the foods they eat affect the body.
In 2015, 153 healthy volunteers from 4 sections of Italy were recruited to take part in a study like no other. Those of the 4 sections were split into 3 groups omnivores, lacto-ovo vegetarians, and vegans, and each participant collected their bodily excrement for examination. Cultured for multiple things including viable fecal microbiota and even DNA, the samples were compared with offerings from those of other diet groups. The results told researchers how great an impact food can have on the body and its most intimate functions.
According to researchers, great difference was found between sampling groups. The scientists wrote,
The abundance of the B. fragilis group in omnivores has been confirmed as well as several differences between vegans and ovo-lacto-vegetarians on the LAB load by means of plate counts and band identification. Overall, these findings confirm that, type of food consumed more that the dietary habits or geographical origin, can have an impact on fecal microbiota.
In other words, foods consumed do change the quality and contents of the fecal matter produced, and more importantly the bacteria make up within the body itself (as proven by the samples studied). Recall the Activia commercials with the catchy song and a smiling Jamie Lee Curtis? Though focused specifically on the gut, there are good and bad bacteria throughout our entire bodies. Researchers concluded they can be upset and greatly altered depending on nothing more than the foods we eat. I suppose the old saying “you are what you eat” can be applied here also!