At Feedr, our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to eat well everyday. We’ve built a platform that connects you to the best vendors in the city whilst you’re at the office, so we’re already part of the way there. But in an age when information overload and pseudo-science are standard, how do you separate the food myths from fact? And more importantly, how do you know what nutritional advice is right for you and your needs?
Knowledge is power – and so we’re partnering with experts in the nutritional space to bring you evidence-based information and advice, to give you the power to make the best nutritional decisions for you.
Kicking off this series, let us introduce Dr Megan Rossi, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist with a PhD in gut health. Considered one of the most influential gut health specialists internationally, Megan is passionate about empowering others to take control of their health and happiness from the inside out. A leading Research Fellow at King’s College London, Megan founded The Gut Health Clinic with a team of gut-specialist dietitians and has recently written her first book Eat Yourself Healthy, an ultimate guide to gut health and beyond.
Read on to find out more about Dr Megan’s background and her top tips for optimal gut health.
Growing up on a farm in Australia, good gut health was inherent to my lifestyle. After obtaining a First class honors in Dietetics from the University of Queensland, Australia, I became a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist in 2009. I worked with patients suffering from kidney disease, as well as a number of CEOs and Olympic athletes, all of whom were struggling with gut issues. Struck by the sheer number of kidney disease patients with high levels of stress who were also experiencing gut symptoms, I signed away my twenties to study a PhD in gut health. Fast-forward three years and it became very clear that the gut was not an isolated organ as I’d previously been taught, but is in fact, central to our overall health and happiness. I became a Research Fellow at King’s College London, and frustrated at the pseudo-science and misinformation being fed to the public, I created The Gut Health Doctor in 2017.
Boosting the health of your gut is one of the most effective ways to enhance your overall health and wellbeing. It is only in the last decade or so, when scientists discovered the community of trillions of bacteria living in your gut, that we’ve been able to understand how to not only better manage gut-related conditions, but also improve overall health. In fact, this community of bacteria, your gut microbiota, can impact lots of other conditions like depression, diabetes and autoimmune diseases. Oh and your 9 metre long digestive tract also houses 70% of your immune cells – just another reason why looking after your gut health is so key!
The importance of gut health extends beyond your digestive system, impacting other vital organs like your brain, heart, kidney and liver. It’s not just about preventing and treating disease, but it can affect your general wellbeing too, by shaping your mood, thoughts and even your taste preferences. Boosting your gut health is one of the most effective ways to enhance your overall health and wellbeing.
So how can you improve your gut health? Here are my top tips:
Eat a varied diet rich in fibre, with plenty of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes and pulses. Aim for 30 different types of plant-based foods every week. It’s easier than you think! Add mixed seeds to your meals, that’s four points. Instead of just the red pepper, go for the green, yellow and orange too – that’s an extra three points.
Carbs have been unfairly stigmatised when it comes to our health, but cutting carbs means you’re also cutting out important types of fibre, which can have a negative impact on your gut bacteria.
Prebiotic fibre feeds your gut microbes, so it’s important to include prebiotic fibre in your diet. Great sources of this include artichokes, asparagus, dates, nectarines, pistachios and legumes.
Experiment with traditional fermented foods, as they are attributed to a host of potential benefits, from increasing vitamin content such as folate and B12, to lowering blood pressure, supporting our immunity and having a calming effect. Fermented dairy (kefir) has the best evidence for gut health benefits so far.
Be aware particularly of overuse of antibiotics and painkillers. These can aggravate gut problems and disrupt your gut microbiota.
It’s an obvious one but moderate alcohol consumption. Alcohol irritates the digestive tract and can alter bacterial balance. If you do drink alcohol, go for red wine. Research has shown red wine in moderation is linked with good gut health, measured by increased bacterial diversity and anti-inflammatory gut bacteria.
Take your time to eat, chew your food well. Digestion starts in the mouth and chewing your food well is an important part.
Take time to breathe, de-stress and sleep well. There’s a direct link between your brain and gut. Being stressed and tired can profoundly affect your gut health.
Avoid excessively tight clothes. Placing external pressure on your gut can aggravate symptoms (known as the ‘tight pants syndrome’!)
Know when to seek medical advice. It’s important to know that gut symptoms can mask underlying disease, so speak to your GP if you experience unexplained weight loss, low iron levels, blood in your poop, a family history of coeliac disease, bowel cancer or ovarian cancer, or if you’re over 60 years old and have noticed changes in bowel habit lasting more than six weeks.
If you’d like to get more tips from Dr Megan, you can connect on social media @theguthealthdoctor, visit her website https://www.theguthealthdoctor.com/ and purchase her book Eat Yourself Healthy here.