Eat your way to a healthier gut - Diabetes WA
 In Healthy Hints and Hacks

Dr Megan Rossi. Picture: Emma Croman.

In our quest to improve wellbeing, there’s one thing that’s often ignored —­  our gut health.
Research has shown that poor gut health can trigger an array of health issues such as low immunity, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), obesity and even depression.
Registered dietitian and nutritionist Dr Megan Rossi, who also has a PhD in gut health from the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at The University of Queensland, has long been fascinated with the link between gut health and overall well-being.
So much so that her years of  research and interest in the field has earned her the nickname of  ‘The Gut Health Doctor’.
Growing up on a farm just outside of Cairns, Megan was brought up on the foundations of good gut health having lived on fresh, home-grown produce.
It wasn’t until her late grandmother was diagnosed with bowel cancer and later died in 2009 that Megan’s interest in the topic was born.
“Gut health is still a relatively new area and it’s only in the last decade or so when we’ve discovered the full extent of the community of trillions of bacteria living in our gut (our gut microbiota), that we’ve been able to understand how to not only manage gut-related conditions, but also improve overall health,” Megan says.
“That’s what makes it such an exciting area of development and there’s so much more to come.”
But it was during her time working as a hospital dietitian that Megan saw several patients with kidney disease who were complaining of gut issues.
After searching “just about every textbook and research paper” she grew more and more frustrated that she couldn’t give them a solid answer.
In the years that followed, Megan continued to dedicate her time to finding the answers in her post-doctoral research, where she discovered that good gut health could help improve people’s lives in many ways.
“There are so many benefits of good gut health,” she says. “In fact, this newly appreciated organ is pretty much essential to whatever your health goal is. It has been linked with reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, better weight management, improved fitness levels, healthier skin, boosted immunity and even our mental health and happiness.”
Driven by her passion to help others, Megan opened the doors to her London-based The Gut Health Clinic in 2018 where she has seen countless clients, some of whom were overdosing on herbal supplements to boost their gut health.
“There’s certainly a concerning trend towards generic, over-simplified gut health recommendations,” she says.
“People may hear ‘just take a probiotic’, but in fact probiotics should be seen as medications, with different strains targeted at different conditions where there is specific evidence.”
Determined to set things straight, Megan developed her first book, Eat Yourself Healthy, as an easy-to-digest guide to gut health and beyond.
Throughout the book, Megan lays out the basic foundations for good gut health, starting with her seven principles and then exploring the importance of gut microbes, the connection between the gut and the brain (gut-brain Axis), common symptoms to look out for such as bloating and IBS, and steps to get your gut health back on track by incorporating changes to your diet and lifestyle.
“I developed my seven principles based on my decade of experience in gut health research and clinical practice, using the latest evidence as well as what I have witnessed with thousands of my patients,” she says.
“While there is no single gut health diet, these seven guiding principles underpin an eating pattern that supports good gut health.”
Drawing from the right balance of science, anecdotes and tasty recipes, Megan hopes the book will help readers discover the huge potential the gut holds for their digestive health.
“Our gut is home to a wonderful, complex and thriving community that is capable of thousands of functions, far beyond what humans could achieve on our own,” she says.
“Good gut health doesn’t mean tasteless food and that’s what I wanted to prove. With our busy lives, it’s also about access and convenience too, so I made sure they were straight forward enough for everyone to enjoy.”
Eat Yourself Healthy is out now.

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