Instead, the secret to health is nurturing the microbes in our guts, according to Professor Tim Spector, a geneticist at King's College London.
Professor Spector told The Independent that counting sugar, fat and calories is the wrong way to approach food. “Eat as much as you want, just think of your microbes,” he says.
“We have about 100 trillion microbes inside our body in the lower intestine or colon and a microbe is anything you need a microscope to see. We generally talk about bacteria, but there are viruses and fungi too and they all contribute to our health."
Microbes help to digest food, are crucial to the immune system, and provide about a third of the body's vitamins and chemicals. The food a person eats affects the health of their microbiome, with emerging research suggesting it can change our body's responseto medication, too.
"We are all unique in our microbes, which explains why we respond differently to foods," explains Professor Spector.
There are three rules that everyone can following, Professor Spector says, to promote a diverse microbiome: eat real food that is not processed, increase fibre intake, and have a diverse diet.
“You don’t have to cut anything out of your diet. I’m against excluding real food," he stresses.
The average person can, therefore, eat dairy, small amounts of meat, and carbohydrates. The best diet is one that is varied, and doesn’t include the same foods every day.