Maria Traka

Maria Traka

I am deputy Head of UK Food Databanks and a Group Leader in Diet & Health at QIB. My research focuses on the role of diet in preventing disease, and the interplay of nutrition with the gut microbiome.

Location Norwich, United Kingdom


  • @KLawrence try swapping hazelnuts for other nuts, like walnuts!

  • @phillipwong I think you will find the next article on processing and how that affects fibre very helpful in answering your questions!

  • @DaveHall fanstastic that you found this week a great 'food for thought'! Come back to us if during Week 3 you have additional ideas!

  • @BarbaraK-S so glad you're enjoying the information here! Sounds like you're doing great for your gut!

  • @Andrew***redacted*** glad to hear you are already including foods that are good for your gut microbiota!

  • @JanetP as they are an excellent food source for your gut microbiota then enjoy them as you like! And when you think back on the effect of processing your food (eg breaking down structure) that you learnt earlier in the week, then i would go for the oats that are not in powder form.

  • @PepaP great job! Hope you enjoyed them, your gut microbiota certainly did!

  • @DavidePezzilli great observation but we are still learning about this!

  • @GinaVergés you are right that coconut fat is very rich in saturated fats. However, in moderation and as part of a balanced healthy diet that also provides mono- and poly-unsaturated fat, it would be absolutely fine.

  • @NereaPeña and @AriannaBonino see also a great position paper that came out of the 'My New Gut' study group recently that give you a bit more information on levels and effects of a protei-rich diet:

  • @BarbaraK-S Thank you for sharing your mother's experience! Although i have not come across this specific issue before it could indeed be a microbiota-driven effect. Great idea for future work!

  • @DanielaPenna so glad you're finding this helpful!

  • @AvrilPierssene thanks for your comment! Resistant starches will be slowly digested and are likely to produce less of the unwanted side-effects. But of course some foods may have a different proportion of FODMAPs and RS.

  • @DaveHall fantastic question, and you are right! See this paper where they compare spelt and common wheat fvarieties or RS, but also looked at the breads made our of these:

  • @AvrilPierssene great questions, however lectins are inactivated by cooking so unless your eat for example raw pulses and wheat (:-0) ) that will not be an issue:-)

  • @ChoshaniDalukdeniya see below some of the links i have added in our discussions with participants to see some studies on this.
    Here is also another couple on Bifidobacterium and RS:

  • @LeonardoCorona a great point! We have not managed yet to determine the 'ultimate' healthy microbiome, because most likely it may not exist as one definitive microbiome. We do know however that when compared to unhealthy individuals, healthy people have a microbiome that is full of diversity. Importantly, it is not shared in great detail by many people (ie...

  • @LeslieBerger great that we've helped with this!

  • @GBruce butyrate is the product of microbiota fermentation in our gut. See some great info presented in Week1 which will help clear things up for you:-)

  • @StellaSmith depending on what the salad will contain there can be some great ingredients for your microbiota! Pulses, certain veg etc. See our earlier article for some inspiration on what to include and maybe you can share the recipe later on in our 'be a gut masterchef' exercise! We'd love to hear it!

  • @PennyAllan see later on this week on the difference in our gut microbiota in people consuming a more Westernised diet (including highly processed foods) vs more traditional diets. Enjoy!

  • @HumamSafaa I am intrigued by your answer! Can you give us more details?

  • @DanaKornishova have a look at some of the participants' answers! They are spot on!

  • @AlexP Sorry about your breakfast :-) I hope you made up later with a brunch full of good choices for your microbiota!

  • @RobertaGrinbarte great that you like it!

  • @PepaP Great that you are eager to learn the connection! We put this video in the start to show you how wonderful each and one of us is from the inside. In the next sections you will find out how food connects with the microbiota! Enjoy!

  • We agree, it's great technology!

  • We're glad you enjoyed the video! And you are right, a 'stomach bug' will cause inflammation and havoc in your gut, so your normal eating habits and digestion processes will be affected.

  • @BarbaraK-S and @JanetAlton thanks for the suggestion!

  • Hi Stella, in fact unripe bananas are rich in resistant starch, which is gradually lost during ripening. See some interesting facts about the levels of RS in bananas...

  • So great you like it!

  • @BarbaraK-S Check out this paper where an RS intervention improved insulin sensitivity in patients with metabolic syndrome:
    Also, a meta-analysis indicated that certain subgroups of T2D patients are having more benefit:

  • Great to be of help!

  • Yummy! Your recipe actually delivers all the bioactives we have mentioned (polyphenols, sulfur metabolites, carotenoids). The swap from white rice to brown rice is great for adding fibre to your dish!

    You can play with our searchable nutritional database (details given in the article above) to see how you can boost it even more!
    100g white basmati rice =...

  • What an exccellent suggestion! As a mother, i know there is very limited information given to school children around healthy food. As a scientist i have done a few school visits where we try to communicate health eating habits in a fun way. The last one we did was around food and gut microbiota and the children were fascinated.

    Also, check out 'Guardians...

  • There's a lot to discover around food and our gut microbiome! Check out week 2 where it discusses how food structure and what you eat affect your gut bacteria!

  • For those of you eager for more and wondering what the figure above it is...

    The figure shows how food structure leads to different amount of nutrients available for absorption. Large structures (bottom left) have nutrients trapped within the cell wall, some of which will be released for digestion as cells are damaged in processes such as cooking...

  • Great observation Jenny! IBS patients are particularly suffering from the ingestion of FODMAPs, which are types of carbohydrates in foods that are rapidly fermented in the gut, and result in rapid increases in intestinal gas for them, which in turn may induce pain, gas and discomfort. However, RS is slowly fermented. This gradual release of gas does not result...

  • Great question Jenny! Firmicutes is a collection of different and diverse bacteria and although it is ok to generalise in order to broadly understand their function, this may not be as useful in this case.

    For example, a diet rich in RS was shown to increase the Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio (see paper from Maier and colleagues here:...

  • It is quite interesting, isn't it? The food we eat is complex and wonderful!

  • Excellent suggestion Dalia! keep up the learning.

  • A huge welcome to all our participants from me as well! I am looking forward to interacting with you over the next 3 weeks and support your learning!

  • Great point Fabio! I agree it can be confusing! The argument has largely now been put to rest. It depends on whether you are including human erythrocytes and platelets in the calculations or not. Erythrocytes and platelets are blood cells without a nucleus (non-nucleated) and they make up around 90% of our total human cell count. So if you only take into...