“If patients are living in a community where they’re all served the same institutionalized food, a lot of times it’s low in fiber and probiotic content. What we find when we analyze that stool is that we’re lacking the diversity of bacteria that we had at a younger age because we’re lacking diversity in the amount of foods we eat. This can contribute to things like flatulence because you have an imbalance in the diversity of bacteria that can help with that. Recognize that you still want to eat that plant-focused diet. If you have challenges with chewing and eating, prepare the food differently—cooked, sauteed, or in soups. Eat the rainbow—foods of different colors—because that’s guaranteed to lead you toward eating food that has good phytonutrients. They’re very helpful for vitamin metabolism and biochemical processes. Don’t just rely on taking a multivitamin; eat the plant stuff. We don’t want to lose that interest in food.”

Dr. Elizabeth Raskin, surgical director at the Digestive Health Institute at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach.