Forget everything you thought you knew, as Dr Megan Rossi takes to the stage at WellFest 2019 to dispel the gut health myths
On Saturday, well-known Gut Health Doctor, aka Dr Megan Rossi, will take to the WellFood stage in association with SuperValu. She’ll be talking some gut facts and fictions, how to have a healthy tummy, and also, how to make your own kefir. She’ll also be joined by the likes of Ella Mills of Deliciously Ella, Roz Purcell, Melissa Hemsley and personal trainer and best-selling author, Alice Liveing.
We caught up with Megan to pick her brains on gut health myths.
Why is gut health so important?
Gut health relates to the functioning of our entire digestive tract, so the tube that delivers food from entry to exit, which is a 9-metre-long tube. With this is mind, gut health is important for three reasons:
- Our gut bacteria
Trillions of microbes live in the lower part of our intestine which are linked to the health of all our other organs, including our brain. In fact, the health of our gut microbes has been linked to mental health.
- 70% of our immune cells lives along our intestine.
- Digestion and absorption
If we don’t have good gut health, we may not be extracting all of the good nutrition out of the food we eat.
What would people be surprised to realise is connected to gut health?
Stress! How stressed we are can have a big impact on the health of our gut. This comes back to the bidirectional relationship between our gut and brain. Also known as our gut:brain axis.
If we can make one change to help our gut health what should it be?
Increasing our plant-based diet diversity – this include wholegrains, legumes (beans and pulses), nuts, seed, vegetable and fruit. As a target, aim for 30 different types per week. There are many simple ways to achieve this. For instance for breakfast add a teaspoon of mixed seeds. Or instead of always going with the red peppers, get the yellow and green as well.
What’s bad for gut health?
Generally speaking diets that are low in fibre are bad for the gut. This is because fibre is essentially food for our gut bacteria and if we don’t eat enough we can starve the good bacteria. Just like humans, bacteria can get hangry and can start to rebel and impact the health of our gut lining. Many highly proceed foods are low in fibre.
What is it about kombucha and kefir that make them so good for us?
They both contain live microbes. Although the scientific evidence for these is limited, it’s not necessarily because they don’t have a benefit but rather, we haven’t done the scientific studies yet. That being said, our ancestors have consumed them for thousands of years and they are associated with many benefits. There is some emerging evidence suggesting that kefir can help fight against infections.
What are the signs of an unhealthy gut?
Gut symptoms is one of the most obvious signs of an unhealthy gut, e.g. bloating, tummy pain, or reflux etc. The consistency and frequency of your pooping habits can be another sign of poor gut health. As the research unfolds, there is also some suggestion that if you are constantly catching the flu it may be a sign of poor gut health.
What would you be surprised to learn about gut health?
That our gut microbes can communicate with our brain and are thought to impact our mental health. The really exciting thing is that unlike genetics we can’t control, we can impact our mental health through diet and lifestyle.
What can we expect from your talk at WellFest?
We’ll be delving into the evidence behind the communication between our gut and brain. As well as importantly discussing practical strategies including diet and lifestyle. These can all improve our gut:brain communication, without the need for expensive supplements. We’ll also look at how people can quickly and easily make tasty kefir at home.
SuperValu is returning for a third year as official food partner of WellFest, Ireland’s leading health and wellness festival, which takes place in Dublin’s Royal Hospital Kilmainham on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th May. Catch Megan at the WellFood stage on Saturday, 11 May 2019.