Gut health refers to millions of microbiomes, majorly and some viruses and fungi, that live inside the large intestine, says Avantii Deshpaande, PCOS and gut health nutritionist. “These microbiomes are capable of defending our body, producing several nutrients and metabolites which are utilised by our body, and even for the removal of harmful wastes from the body. There are also several harmful ones, the ones that cause and other infections well,” she says. Good gut health ensures the balance between these two categories of microbiomes. Disturbances in the gut microbiome have been reported to decrease immunity, cause fatigue, affect mental health, mood changes, depression, stress and cancer. Several metabolic and hormonal disorders like obesity, insulin resistance , diabetes, hypertension, PCOS, and cardiovascular diseases are caused due to dysbiosis, the expert adds. Poor diet, stress or lack of sleep, sedentary lifestyle and use of antibiotics are the major reasons the gut is unhealthy. “A plant-based diet is recommended for improved gut health. Hana Kahleova, Director of Clinical Research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (Washington, USA), explains the effect of a plant-based diet on gut microbiota and why it is beneficial for your overall health and wellness. In the study, she mentions that plant-based foods containing fiber are the best fuel for your gut bacteria,” she tells indianexpress.com. Subscriber Only Stories View All Premium UPSC Essentials: Key terms of the past week with MCQs Premium ExplainSpeaking | India at 75: 11 charts to understand how far India has ... Premium Why a majority of Muslims opposed Jinnah’s idea of Partition and stayed o... Premium Delhi Confidential: Who will hoist the Tricolour at the AICC headquarters... A plant-based diet includes a variety of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits which are beneficial for gut health. In addition to this, it also increases the more beneficial bacteria. High protein non-veg foods tend to increase the harmful bacteria. Plant-based beverages have gained importance owing to the similar benefits of plant-based diets. Plant-based beverages are made with protein-rich nuts like almonds, soy, peanuts and cashew. Rice milk and oats milk have also gained popularity as replacements for dairy milk owing to their anti-inflammatory properties. These plant-based beverages have the advantage of being low in cholesterol and containing plant phytonutrients. Poor diet, stress or lack of sleep, sedentary lifestyle and use of antibiotics are the major reasons the gut is unhealthy. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock) Here are some of the ways you could include a plant-based beverage in your everyday meals, as suggested by the expert Breakfast on the go! – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day but sometimes it just gets too difficult to spend time preparing it. Preparing a smoothie or breakfast bowl in advance is a great idea to include all the food groups and make it heart-healthy too. Here is a quick idea to make a smoothie or a breakfast bowl Add a source of carbs- steel cut oats/rolled oats/ puffed amaranth/ banana/ mango/ A source of protein – sunflower seeds /pumpkin seeds/melon seeds/ almonds /walnuts/almond milk/soy milk /nut butter A source of antioxidants – strawberries/blueberries/raspberries/ beetroot/carrots/leafy greens A sweetener – agave syrup/brown rice molasses/jaggery Mix all this up and store in the refrigerator overnight and have it on your way to work or while you are busy in the morning time attending to other important things Mid-meal snack – If there is a big gap between the main meals we tend to get hungry and overeat at the next meal. Sipping on protein-rich plant-based beverages will take care of the hunger pang and not create an insulin spike as well. Use in your favourite dessert – when we are on a calorie deficit diet, what goes off our list is desserts . Owing to the sweetness in it also most of the desserts are high in fat. Using plant-based beverages as a base for making your favourite desserts is a great idea for enjoying the sweet guilt-free. Oatmeal cookies, almond meal cakes, truffles, cheesecakes and even Indian desserts like phirni, gajar halwa or ladoos can be made vegan by using plant-based beverages. Soup it up! – Plant-based beverages are used as a base in so many soups . The traditional vegetable soups and stews get an additional taste and creaminess because of the plant-based vegetables. Almond broccoli soup and Thai coconut soup (Tom Kha) are some delicious preparations. So next time you can try to white sauce-based soups with plant-based beverages. Add it to the gravies – We love to it a variety at the dinner time and are often worried about the extra calories. Thai food or south Indian foods use coconut curries. You could experiment with the use of almond milk in Italian rice or pasta preparations. A plant-based diet is not a vegan diet, it simply means increasing the consumption of whole foods, fruits and vegetables in the diet. You can continue having fish as a source of protein or curds as a probiotic along with following a healthy plate method of eating. 📣 p Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss out on the latest updates!.