We’ve long awaited the day that a diet of chocolate, wine, coffee, and cheese could help us reach our fitness goals rather than steer us away from them entirely, but short of serious genetic engineering, we always assumed we’d be SOL—at least in our lifetimes.
But wait! Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and author of The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat, says that there’s something big we rarely take into consideration when plotting our approach to eating to lose weight. The microbes in our guts have way more to do with our bodies than we give them credit for—probably not a great idea, considering that the microbes outnumber our own cells by ten to one.
Spector argues that every individual has a completely different set of microbes that “influence processes in our bodies, including how much we weigh,” according to The Independent.
Professor Spector believes that most diets fail to promote weight loss because calorie-counting and eliminating food groups “disregard the vital role that gut microbes play.” He writes in The Diet Myth, “Our narrow, blinkered view of nutrition and weight as a simple energy-in and energy-out phenomenon and our failure to account for our microbes have been the main reasons for the miserable failure of diets and nutritional advice.” Bold choice of words, sir!
Spector’s recommendation for nurturing those microbes in a way that will enable us to lose weight? Chocolate, wine, coffee, and cheese. Chocolate, wine, and coffee contain polyphenols, antioxidants that feed the microbes and allow them to reproduce, and cheese contains “a wide variety of microbes including bacteria, yeasts, and fungi, and hundreds of species plus thousands of known and unknown strains.”
As much as we’d be delighted to subsist entirely on red wine and gruyere, that’s not quite how it works—they’re all best in moderation. Avoiding heavily processed food and maintaining a varied diet with a strong focus on healthy bacteria is still the right way to go … and a little bit of chocolate, wine, coffee, and cheese here and there.