Why it's important to follow your gut feeling when it comes to your diet
PUBLISHED: 00:00 13 January 2016
There are 100 trillion reasons why good health starts with gut health. This is the number of cells (give or take the odd million) that make up our microbiome, the three to four pounds of bacteria that live in each and every one of us.
When our teeny-tiny microbial lodgers are happy and balanced, so are we. But if they’re lacklustre and off-kilter, stand well back because a whole heap of health problems can soon follow.
‘Your gut is the foundation stone of your health,’ said North Yorkshire clinical nutritionist Angela Beecroft. ‘It really is the basis of life.’
And she should know. As a trained nurse, health visitor and nutritionist, she’s specialised in gut health for two decades. She’s worked for a leading food intolerance company and was formerly on the advisory board of Allergy UK, but now runs her own private clinic in Richmond and via Centaurus Private Health Care in Stockton and London, supporting people with a variety of health concerns from ADHD and anxiety to IBS and weight issues.
She’s also just launched a new business – Bee Free – with her daughter Sarah Russell, a registered veterinary nurse studying towards an MSc in nutritional therapy, supplying bespoke food boxes and recipes online to help people eschewing wheat, dairy, yeast and gluten in a bid to improve their health, increase their energy and vitality, stabilise their emotions as well as aid weight loss.
‘This is a logical extension of the work I have been doing for the last two decades,’ Angela explained. ‘I specialise in gut health and have been working with clients suffering from a range of symptoms caused by a disrupted microbiome.
‘We are becoming more aware of just how important the balance of bacteria in our gut is to good health, and how an imbalance in this family of bacteria can be the underlying cause of many health issues.
‘In basic terms, everything you put in your mouth either increases or decreases inflammation. This means, of course, that you can change your biochemistry and heal yourself with food. It’s about choosing quality, nutritious fuel.’
The bacteria in your gut can be damaged, unbalanced or even eradicated by all manner of things, from a course of antibiotics to long-term medication (like the contraceptive pill), a stomach bug or the aging process.
Angela and Sarah believe we can all regain our healthy bacteria balance, as well as our natural bounce and vitality, by choosing nutrient-dense foods that actively promote a healthy gut.
For some people, this can mean removing suspect foods containing wheat, dairy, yeast and gluten for a short period – say 12 weeks – so the beneficial bacteria can repopulate and positively influence both physical and mental health.
‘No food group should be removed permanently unless you’re advised to do so by your doctor,’ said Angela. ‘It’s more about giving your gut a break and ensuring you have an abundance of good bacteria on board.’
The Bee Free boxes (beefreebox.com), which include a basic weekly, fortnightly or monthly option as well as a children’s box, snack boxes and even a dog box (well, Sarah is a veterinary nurse), range from £17.95 to £49.99.
And there’s also an online shop where you can pick and choose your favourites to create a bespoke box.
‘Optimum health is about feeling well; bursting with energy and vitality, feeling happy, being comfortable with your weight and maintaining serenity amid the many demands of life in the 21st century,’ said Angela, who provides a wealth of additional information and support on the website.
‘The drivers of many chronic health conditions are lifestyle choices, mainly at meal times. This means each forkful of food makes a difference. It also means we all have the power to positively influence our health through what we feed ourselves.’
:: For more advice on health and nutrition, visit Angela’s online clinic at www.angelabeecroft.com