Tim Spector has healthy eating down to a science

PUBLISHED: 11:58 03 August 2017 | UPDATED: 12:28 03 August 2017

Milk kefir. Picture: Kerstin Rodgers

Milk kefir. Picture: Kerstin Rodgers


Arguably today’s greatest health problems are food-related and current scientific research points to an unhealthy gut as the source.

Variety of ingredients

“A recent survey said that 70 per cent of people have the same sandwich every day for at least five years.”

Tim says that we should aim to eat 150 ingredients a week, around 25 per day.

“Most people in the UK have about 30 ingredients a year. There’s a big range: people who have just processed foods eat about 10. People like yourself, gourmets, may have a hundred but we are never going to get as high as the hunters-gatherers, who eat 600 a year. In Europe they have three courses, even if they are small, they will have a soup or crudité, meaning that you get a built-in diversity.”

Eat Fibre

Tim recommends eating 18-25g a day of fibre (the equivalent of 300 - 400g of beans).

“In the department we put 10 people on a very high fibre diet. We literally doubled their fibre intake. In the first four days, you will undergo changes, that is because your microbes, particularly the ones that like fibre, are fermenting the food, and you will get wind. But it turns out as you continue, that gets less and less, and you get used to it.”

Prebiotics and Probiotics

“In the future Probiotic foods are going to be really big business. What are the microbes that keep people lean?”.

Prebiotics feed the healthy gut microbes. Avoid antibiotics where possible and don’t take vitamins.

Skip meals - breakfast isn’t essential, not even for kids

“All the evidence shows that people who skip breakfast, or who have extended fasting regularly during the day but maintain the same calories, lose weight compared to people who are doing regular grazing, which is what we were taught at medical school.”

Tim says you only need 1 or maybe 2 meals a day.

Eat less meat

“It’s hard to get bad vegetables but easy to get bad meat. The more meat you have on your plate, the less room there is for other healthy stuff. I’m not an anti-meat person, Meat has a role in our nutrition, but meat should be a treat, not a staple. We should be picking smaller amounts of quality meat.”

Other recommendations:

n Drink a small glass of red wine daily

n Don’t drink bottled water all the time (in plastic)

n Don’t drink fruit juice - eat fruit

n Drink kefir and eat fermented foods

Ms Marmite’s Microbiome Supper Club with Professor Tim Spector is on September 9 at 7.30pm. Tickets are £45.

Prof Spector’s books will be for sale (and mine).

Milk Kefir

Make your own dairy kefir from scratch. It can be used over cereal or porridge, on its own, in baking. Do not heat milk kefir. If you let the kefir ferment for longer it will separate into curds and whey. Stir back together or use the curds as kefir cheese. The longer it is fermented, the stronger the taste.

Makes up to a litre but start with smaller quantities, e.g. 250ml.


2 x clean 250ml-1l Mason or Ball jars

1 nylon strainer

A wooden/rubber/plastic spoon or spatula

Coffee filter/tightly woven cheesecloth/loose-fitting lid

Rubber band


2 tsp of milk kefir grains or kefir powder

250ml to 1 litre of whole organic cow or goat milk


Place the kefir grains into the clean litre jar, then fill with the milk. Cover the jar with the coffee filter/cheesecloth/loose fitting and put the rubber band on, if appropriate, to retain the cover. Leave for 24-48 hours at room temperature at which point the milk will have thickened into a buttermilk or drinking yoghurt texture.

Using a sieve, strain out the milk kefir grains into another clean jar and start the process again. Push the kefir liquid through the sieve with a non-metal spoon or spatula.

These dairy kefir grains can be used to make soy/almond/nut milk kefir but without the milk proteins, the dairy kefir ‘grains’ soon die if not returned regularly to milk to be fed and to grow.

Kefir powder is good for beginners but will not last as long as kefir grains.


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