As we attempt to find solutions to tackling obesity and other common diseases such as diabetes, we may have neglected to consider one of the most important parts of our bodies ­– our gut.

The human gut is home to around 3,500 different microbial species, which are unique to each individual and make up our microbiome. But how does this impact our overall health? And how is it influenced by what we eat?

Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, made headlines last year when he subjected his son to a diet of McDonad’s for 10 days, the results of which had a staggering impact on his microbiome. In this talk from the recent Food: The Forgotten Medicine conference, hosted by the College of Medicine, Tim explains how a health scare led him to rethink his own lifestyle choices and also to question the advice he had been giving to patients ­around diet and exercise.

He also tackles the epidemic of food faddism, encouraging us to remove more and more components of our diets, from gluten to dairy, all the while reducing the diversity of the food we consume. And according to Tim ­– diversity is key, with studies showing that in virtually every disease looked at, there is less diversity in the microbes of the gut, which means there are fewer species. As Patrick Holden has previously stated, we need to think of our guts in the same way as the soil and vice versa.

Watch the talk in full below to find out more, from the genetics of obesity, diet and disease to the impact of junk food and antibiotics, and why we should be treating our guts in the same way as our gardens.

Photograph: Stacy Spensley

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