The professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, among the 100 most cited scientists in the world, believes that “kefir is better than anxiolytics against depression”

Total expectation before the most renowned speaker of the Soul Festival, held at the Six Senses hotel in Ibiza (and which will take place again from October 24 to 27, 2024). An auditorium full of people coming from all parts of the globe ready to listen to the messages of the Dr. Tim Spector (London, July 1958), one of the 100 most cited scientists, epidemiologist in the King’s Collegeprofessor, author of bestsellers and creator of the personalized feeding app Zoe.

“I thought that illness was our destiny. I thought I ate healthy by having a juice and a chicken sandwich with whole wheat bread as a doctor,” he begins, microphone in hand. In fact, one of the most viral from the British, with two million visits, is what do you eat in a day after radically changing his diet. While it is true that a Spaniard probably doesn’t know enough about eating toast with tomato, it must be put into context that the British usually eat little lunch, sometimes even walking, and their main meal focuses on a salty breakfast.

“I have the twins database widest in the world [UK Twins Registry, en el hospital de San Tomas]. Since 1993 I have studied that, despite having the same genes and giving them the same food, they had different weights, one was sad and another was not, and they aged at different levels,” he reveals.

He opted for the study of the microbiota, convinced that it goes beyond nutrition, when his father had a heart attack at the age of 57. He defends the diet customization and is based on epigenetics, a science that studies how the environment modulates the genes with which each individual is born. “I studied nutrition out of selfishness, because while in the Alps a part of my body became paralyzed and I didn’t want to end up like my father.”

In the beginning, it repeated the most repeated patterns: counting calories, reducing fat intake… “Popular advice in the United Kingdom and the United States, but many things were said that were not true and the proof of this is that every year there are more obese people“he criticizes. He even did internships unethical against your own body, like trying all kinds of diets even knowing that they were not healthy. “Every year I gained weight and I thought it was muscle, but no,” she jokes.

To his surprise, what he considered healthy eating triggered his glucose levels. She wanted to know more. “I did experiments taking muffinsbiscuits with sugar and no fiber, and I would see how my body would alter and generate new peaks and more hunger in a short time. And that’s how we act in our lives every day when we eat so many ultra-processed foods,” he explains. He also dared to put a daily menu at home based on McDonald’s. His son applauded the idea… until four days later. “They hate hamburgers, “There is a lack of concentration and 30% of the bacteria in the microbiota are lost.”


The microbiota, fungi, bacteria and viruses in our skin and intestines, it is modular, explains the Dr., who puts it at 100 billion (trillion in English). “It’s like a garden, the more varied and populated with plants the better, and with no room for weeds.”

Depending on the body fat and composition of each person’s microbiota, they are able to discover the food that suits them best and worst. “For example, I can’t have a croissant but my wife doesn’t respond as badly as I do.” She says that only 8% of Americans have a bacteria determined that all prehistoric people had to digest food. “We have to unlearn what we have learned, because before it was said that fat was bad and, however, olive oil has polyphenols that are powerful antioxidants.”

Everything we take affects us. “It’s not about counting calories, it’s about feeding your microbiota,” she advises. He says that fermented foods are very interesting foods to repopulate. “He kefir is better than anxiolytics against depression. It has five times more bacteria than yogurt, as well as fat and protein. Sometimes it’s not so much about the food being very special or expensive.” They don’t have to be Light. “They make you eat more.” If there is one thing you want to make clear, it is that the quality of the food matters more than its calories.

Believes that “there is no single perfect diet for two people, the same thing doesn’t work for everyone.” That’s why we shouldn’t listen to acquaintances or follow what someone else does. influencer. For example, keto makes you lose weight very quickly, “but it dramatically changes the metabolism and is unsustainable over time.” That is why he is not a supporter of any that restrict a food. “They only serve in the short term but cannot be maintained.” And if you eat food of poorer nutritional quality, you yourself will cause a change in the production of the microbiota, alert.

He believes that nutritional science and research is “a little poor”, hence the contradictions among the professionals themselves. “He is based on observational studieswhich are not well done, or with small population samples.

Although the scientist also defend the glass of wine a day, which generates a lot of controversy in the community because no matter how many polyphenols and flavonoids it has, alcohol is harmful to the cardiovascular system, as numerous studies show. And few people consume only one drink.


It is said that the intestine is the second brain. For Spector, it is because the microbes in our gut send chemical signals important to our mood. “Serotonin, which is very important in antidepressant medications, is made by gut microbes.” To keep the microbiota happy, Spector’s recipe, which he repeats in videos, conferences and books, is based on these five pillars:

  1. Don’t eat the same thing every day. “You have to vary and I recommend a minimum of 30 fruits and vegetables per week.” Veganism is not the best diet, he insists, but it is irrefutable that the more vegetables the diet has, the healthier we will be. That does not mean that meat or fish should not be eaten, but that “the core of the dish should be green,” he clarifies, to increase total fiber consumption.
  2. Try to make your plate a rainbow. “A wide range of fruits and vegetables of different colors, because they have defense chemicals called polyphenols”. He uses forest fruits as examples, but also seeds and nuts such as walnuts, coffee and dark chocolate. “It adds diversity.”
  3. Take fermented daily. Not just yogurt and cheese. “Kefir, kombucha (fermented tea), Korean foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, sprouts… They help intestinal health and their probiotics repopulate the intestine.”
  4. Let your microbiota rest. “Do fasts so that your stomach rests. “About 14 hours in a row without eating, which is what I do, contributes to better bowel function and metabolism.”
  5. Avoid ultra-processed foods. “Take as little as possible, it is a very harmful food for the intestinal microbiota, it is barely satiating and increases the menu by about 500 kcal because it is less satiating without fiber, it is eaten very quickly and goes directly to the bloodstream.”