It’s funny to think that bloating, flatulence and our bowel moments have become such trendy topics of conversation, yet they seems to be as much in Vogue as Megan Markle, and perhaps with good reason!

The gut has received substantial amounts of attention in the last few years, and whilst a lot of this has been extremely positive, as with all trends some information seems a little far fetched!

I caught up with Dr Megan Rossi, AKA London’s Gut Health Guru to dispel any myths, and get her thoughts on a whole host of topics from leaky gut to IBS, Fodmaps and some simple ways to take care of our most beloved organ.

Dr Megan Rossi is a Registered Dietitian with an award-winning PhD in Gut Health. Megan works as a Research Associate at King’s College London, Consultant Dietitian across food industry and media and leads a Gut Health clinic on Harley street in London. Megan has also joined forces with Leon Restaurants to launch a Nationwide gut health campaign and is working on an exciting project, announcement to come!

To keep updated on the latest gut health news connect with Megan on social media @TheGutHealthDoctor. 

 

So Megan, I always start off with this question, you can invite 4 other people to dinner and they can be real, fictional, dead or alive, who would they be?

The Queen! I would love to find about the Queen’s diet.

Jeremy Hunt (secretary of state for health). I’d push preventative health on his agenda.

Heston Blumenthal. If he was cooking…I’m obsessed with his mind-blowing feasts.

Tracey Chapman. If she would be up for singing. Voice of an angel!

 

Megan you are a total expert in Gut health, which has become a very trendy topic. How do you feel about the growing interest in the gut? Is it all positive or are we funning into some fads too?

I think it’s really exciting and I’m so glad people are recognising gut health as the power house it really is. In saying that, like most trends, there can be blurring of lines between fact and fiction. This is why I started my social media account, to help debunk these myths so people can really get the most out of the science of gut health.

 

Is there a particular fad that comes to mind you can set the record straight on?

That sugar is a toxin for the gut! Check out my rant on this:

 

Obviously you were ahead of the game on the gut. At what point in your career did you become interested in it and why?

My interest in the gut started back in 2010 when I working as a clinical dietitian with patients who had kidney disease. My patients would always complain about gut issues, despite the disease being in their kidneys. I found this so fascinating but unfortunately there wasn’t but research in the area, so I did would any science geek would do and began my PhD focusing on this very question, the gut-kidney axis. Here’s a quick three minute overview of it (a bit of a cringe watching this back haha https://vimeo.com/107775313 )

 

Dairy, gluten and sugar continue to get a bad press in wellness. Are these foods really bad for our gut?

No! Well not as a standard rule. Of course if you have a dairy allergy, lactose intolerance, coeliac disease or non-coeliac gluten intolerance, than yes, but for the general public these aren’t damaging. In fact, the evidence suggests that if your unnecessarily restrict yourself of gluten and dairy you’re at a higher risk of nutrition deficiencies and other conditions such as heart disease.

 

I often hear the term leaky gut crop up as though it’s something we’ll all inevitably have. Pehaps you could actually explain what leaky gut is and whether we need to be worried about it.

“Leaky gut”, more scenically known as intestinal permeability is effectively when the lining of your gastrointestinal tract is weak, letting things into your body that it normally wouldn’t. It’s important to be aware that it’s not a condition in itself, but rather a symptom of something else going on. For example if you are coeliac and you eat gluten this can lead to a leaky gut. If you restrict gluten then your gut lining will strengthen again. It’s also worth noting that leaky gut is not a black and white state, everyone’s gut gets a little leaky eg. Intense exercise can cause transient leaky gut.

 

I take an anti diet approach on my blog and instagram. I was just wondering if there’s any evidence to suggest how dieting or food restriction can negatively affect our guts and gut microbiome?

Yes in my clinical practice I often see people who are recovering from eating disorders struggling with gut symptoms. The mechanisms aren’t clear cut, but it is feasible that a dysbiotic gut microbiota may play a role.

 

Hope this isn’t too personal but I actually suffer with pretty bad IBS. When I saw a dietician on the NHS she said that big plates of raw salad leaves are actually what can trigger tummy troubles. Raw salad leaves etc are usually always left out advice on things to eat IBS whereas things like gluten almost always make the list. What are your thoughts on this?

Yes there is so much conflicting advice out there on the topic. I am working on a project at the minute that I hope will stamp out a lot of this confusion (annoyingly I can’t share the details just yet but will be sure to let you know as soon as I get the all clear!). Simply speaking, yes, sometimes salad can cause issues for some people, but generally speaking standard lettuce (butter, iceberg, radicchio, red coral etc.) are well tolerated by most people with IBS.

I do hear gluten being blamed a lot, but the evidence suggests in people with IBS it is more to do with a fermentable carb called fructans, which, like gluten is also found in wheat-based foods.

 

There’s a lot of exciting research on the link between gut health and our mental health. Where are we on this and is there anything exciting you can share?

How long do you have? Haha there is a heap of really interesting work coming out, but in terms of taking supplements like probiotics to improve our happiness, the jury is still out. In saying that there was a landmark study published recently looking at the benefit of the Mediterranean diet (which is known to boost gut health) on mental health. I am a big believer of the Mediterranean diet as the “gold standard” diet for overall health.

 

What are your views on current kits to test your gut microbiome such as DNA fit? Are they worth it?

While interesting, and several of my clients have done this, the results don’t impact on my recommendations in practice i.e. they don’t tell me anything more than what I’d find out from a detailed diet history. In saying that the science is rapidly progressing and I think in the next 5 years they’ll be more useful from a clinical perspective. In my research job I always measure the gut microbiota, but that’s for exploratory purposes.

For now I say best to save your money- unless you have plenty.

 

What 3 tips do you have for maintaining good gut health?

  • Aim for 20 different plant-based foods per week
  • Slow down and chew your food well
  • Destress- stress can have an enormous impact on the happiness of your gut

 

Finally, what would be your last meal on Earth?

Tricky! I love so many dishes…although I think runny poached eggs on traditional sourdough with smoked salmon and wilted greens would ensure I die happy 😉

 

 

Picture taken from The Spectator. 

Instagram @goodnessguru