While the Paleo Diet was all about going back to our roots, there’s a new diet trend on the block. The word Hadza has been creating quite a buzz among the fitness community, given its gut-friendly reputation. The Hadza are in fact a small group of indigenous people from Tanzania who live as hunter-gatherers, only eating what they find in the wild. This lifestyle has generated remarkably healthy microbiomes and conclusively healthy guts.
Microbiomes are nothing but a collection of bacteria in the gut, which are vital to digestive and metabolic health and key to a strong immune system. A recent study that was conducted by comparing 350 stool samples collected from Hadza with the ones from 17 other cultures, lead to researchers finding out that the Hadza people’s bacteria was more diverse than those found in the other samples. However the amount of bacteria wasn’t constant and differed from season to season, depending on what they were eating.
Unlike most people in industrialized nations, the Hadza eat seasonally: During the wet season, they forage for berries and eat honey, and during the dry season they hunt and eat game like warthogs, antelopes, and giraffes. But a steady consumption of starchy tubers and baobab fruits is carried out throughout the year. The researchers found that each season had a specific set of gut bacteria. For instance, the dry-season microbes disappeared in the wet season, and only returned for the following dry season.
The study indicated that this diverse range of microbiomes found in the Hadza can be attributed to the high intake of fiber. The American guidelines recommend 25 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams for men, while the Hadza people consume an average of 100 to 150 grams. Though we might be missing out on the gut-microbes right now, researchers say that the simple shift of increasing fiber in our diets can help re-harness certain microbes. “Fiber’s all that’s left at the very end of our digestive tract where these microbes live, so they’ve evolved to be very good at digesting it,” Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, professor at Stanford University, said in a statement.
Anthropologist Alyssa Crittenden, who has studied the Hadza for 13 years suggests that “ The human gut has evolved a ‘biorhythm’ in sync with natural food cycles and this is something that the industrialized could be seen lacking.” However, there isn’t enough data yet to determine how syncing with naturally available foods affects our gut health, but it is without a doubt that the Hadza people are on the same evolutionary spectrum as us and do not posses an “ancestral microbiome.” To match their quality of microbiomes, all we have to do is up our intake of fiber, cut down on processed foods, and make sure to consume seasonal fruits and veggies.