Claire Bennett

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Could loving your gut microbiota be the start of something beautiful?

The start of something beautiful

The start of something beautiful is the heading to the introduction of a new book ‘Eat yourself Healthy’ by Dr Megan Rossi. The book title suggests at first glance that it is simply a diet or cookbook. It is far more than that. The book is focussed on the trillions of microbes that live within us – our gut microbiota or GM. Right there in paragraph two of the introduction I learned that our incredibly powerful GM is an organ capable of thousands of functions that is essential to just about any health goal. In fact, the book was recommended to me by my GP in a consult about stress management. Our GM has been linked with weight management, improved fitness levels, healthier skin, boosted immunity and even happiness. Rarely do I read a book cover to cover, but this was an exception. I poured over every page. And I have to say, I am somewhat convinced that loving your gut could be the start of something beautiful.

Photo: Alice Bennett
Photo: Alice Bennett

The antithesis to the plethora of fad diets that currently plague us, Dr Rossi draws from the latest scientific research and her decade of experience as a Registered Dietician and Nutritionist to provide evidence–based advice that has measurable results. Dr Rossi has an award winning PHD in gut health and is a leading Research Fellow at Kings College London, so it is fair to say, she knows her stuff.

A manual for self–management

In this, her first book, Dr Rossi has created a manual for self–management so that the reader can generate their own evidence–based gut health action plan. There are plenty of personal assessment tools that help you work out what your gut health might currently be. These are housed on her website. I must admit to having found it a bit annoying going back and forth to the website on my mobile while curled up to read the book, but they were useful. In addition, it is filled with trouble shooting for all the common complaints – constipation, bloating, diarrhoea, flatulence, heartburn, and acid reflux. Each complaint is paired with a breakdown of the common culprits and an action flow diagram with diet and lifestyle strategies. It also goes through food intolerances – how to diagnose them and what to do about them.

Could loving your gut microbiota be the start of something beautiful?
Photo: Alice Bennett
Could loving your gut microbiota be the start of something beautiful?
Photo: Alice Bennett

Sleep, stress, and exercise

I said the book was far more than a diet or cookbook. The chapters on diet, and the 50 recipes are certainly there, but the chapter dedicated to sleep, stress and exercise was one of my favourites. Reading the sleep–hygiene checklist I could see I have some work to do. Point 9 schedule ‘worry time’ was, for me, the most useful. I have a hectic life. Running a marketing agency with multiple clients and a mother of two young boys, there is always a multitude of things left to do. Dr Rossi advocates finding some time at during the day to write down your worries/thoughts and to–do lists to give you mental space to relax before bed. There is even a recipe for ‘poop–pourri’ which Dr Rossi says will revolutionise the bathroom experience by eradicating unpleasant aromas! I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s made it onto the to–do list.

Photo: Alice Bennett
Photo: Alice Bennett

My key takeaways

  • We can shape our GM simply by how we treat it (in a positive and negative way).
  • 70% of our immune cells live along the gut!
  • The more diversity in your plant–based diet, the more diverse the nutrient supply to your GM will be.
  • Every week we should be eating at least 30 different plant–based foods.
  • Eat two pieces of fruit, five portions of vegetables, three wholegrain portions, and one or two portions of nuts, seeds, and legumes per day.
  • Use the 3R method for food intolerances – Record, Restrict, Reintroduce.
  • Schedule ‘worry time’.
  • Your gut likes regular exercise. Move your body for 30 minutes, most days.
Photo: Alice Bennett
Photo: Alice Bennett

The verdict?

This is a book you should own. Dr Rossi convincingly conveys, that a big part of our personal health is in our hands and that looking after our gut is one of the best ways we can invest in our future.