Gwen Gibson - Transforming Health through
My name is Gwen Gibson and I am a certified Nutritionist with a special interest in Gut Health.
My journey into Nutrition is similar to a lot of health practitioners and came about due to my own health struggles.
In my 30’s my life changed forever and over the course of 10 years I suffered from multiple miscarriages, some were traumatic. I went from hope of a new life growing inside me to despair and grief so many times.
I was just told to just ‘try again’. I felt scared and that I had no control. I was told by my GP that I was perfectly healthy. These traumatic life experiences led to some physically and emotionally pains and the conventional answer was to take drugs.
Instead I decided to go back to college and study Nutrition.
My aim was to understand how the body works and why I was not able to conceive again. The knowledge that I gained helped me to get my health back. Feeling better was priceless.
One question still remains, why have I not been able to conceive again?
As I started to practice Nutrition I noticed that when I worked on the health of my client’s digestion and their gut a lot of their symptoms improved. We now understand that an imbalance in the gut can manifest as IBS, IBD but also brain fog, lack of energy, asthma, skin issues, aches and pains, sleep problems, auto-immune disorders and yes sometimes infertility.
I now believe that this was the last piece in my Jigsaw. If I could go back 10 years I would work on my gut.
It may not be the magic pill that you would hope for but a good starting point. So I often say when in doubt heal the gut. Gwen x
Over the last few years there has been a plethora of new studies and information regarding the link between the health of our gut and our general wellbeing.
If your search gut health there are more than 50,000 papers published on the subject. So gut health why should we care and what is the fuss all about?
1- Gut bacteria keep our immune system strong
Did you know that our gut is where 70 % of our immune system lies? Our gut bacteria and immune system are constantly in contact. Out gut bugs are key for the development of the immune system as they teach to immune system to recognise what is friend and what is foe. An unsettled gut microbiome has been associated with a dysregulated immune system.
We need our bugs! Studies have shown that mice raised in sterile, germ-free environments have poorly developed immune systems.
2 - The gut brain axis
The Gut is also called our second brain and is highly important and influential in how our brain works..
We have known for a long time that the brain communicates with the gut, but we now realise that the messages sent from the gut to the brain are much stronger than the messages from the brain down. This is really great news as this means that we might be able to influence our moods with what we eat.
3 – Our Weight
“Changes in our microbiome is likely to be responsible for the worldwide obesity epidemic” Tim Spector (professor of genetic epidemiology at king’s college London).
Studies show that obese individuals have an imbalance in gut bacteria than lean individuals. Scientists also agree that the gut microbiota plays a role in regulating appetite control and blood glucose control.
Some microbes such as Akkermansia help protect us from weight gain and obesity by strengthening the gut lining and maintaining healthy metabolic markers
4 – Chronic diseases and the gut
Lower than normal bacterial diversity and abundance in the gut microbiota has been associated with a wide variety of inflammation-related disorders and pathologies including:
1. Metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes
2. inflammatory bowel disease
3. autoimmune diseases
5. Neurological disorders
6. Atopic Eczema
7. Arterial stiffness
I could not put it better than the world renowned Paediatric Gastroenterologist Dr Fassano :
“The gut is not like Las Vegas - what happens in the gut does not stay in the gut”
Top Tips for good Digestion:
• Don’t eat if you feel stressed. Go for a quick walk around the block or talk to someone. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the body's rest and digestion response when the body is relaxed. If you are in the fight of fly mode – the sympathetic nervous system- you will not be able to digest food properly.
• Eat bitter foods before you start your main meals. This will help stimulate digestive juices such as stomach acid and digestive enzymes. Examples of bitter foods: chicory salad leaves, rocket and watercress. You could also try a few drops of Swedish bitters.
• Aim to leave at least 12 hours between your dinner and your breakfast
How to keep and encourage a healthy Gut microbiome
• Aim for Diversity : Make a large proportion of your diet a diverse selection of plants. Healthy individuals have been shown to have a larger diversity of gut bacteria than individuals who suffer from chronic disorders. Participants who ate more than 30 different plant types per week had gut microbiomes that were more diverse than those who ate 10 or fewer types of plants per week.
Top tip: Download my diversity challenge hand-out on my website https://gwengibson.co.uk/
• Increase your fibre intake: Your gut and gut microbes preferred food is fibre. Evidence confirms a strong association between consumption of dietary fibres and reduced all-cause mortality risk. Fruits and vegetables, herbs, wholegrains, pulses, nuts and seeds do contain a lot of fibre.
Top tip: Legumes such as beans, lentils and chickpeas are packed full of fibre.
• Focus on Prebiotic fibre: Fibre are great for our gut and keep us regular but prebiotic fibres are particularly good at feeding our gut. All prebiotics are fibres but not all fibres and prebiotics. To win the name prebiotics these fibres have been shown to ‘work’ and benefit our microbes in several scientific trials.
• Black beans, butter beans lentil chickpeas
• Add Probiotics: Probiotics usually come in the form of supplements and contain live bacteria. Those live bacteria are also present in fermented foods. Include probiotic foods into your diet such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir, miso, un-pasteurised cheeses, live yogurt.
• Eat more Polyphenols: These are a group of plant chemicals. Around 90 % of polyphenols are not absorbed in the small intestine so reaches the large intestine intact to interact with your gut bacteria. Gut Bacteria can help to transform polyphenols into other chemicals linked with reduced risks of cancer, better mental and heart health. Polyphenols can also protect the gut by reducing inflammation.
Great sources: Cloves , Celery seeds ,Cocoa powder Oregano, Dark chocolate 70 % or higher, ground Flaxseed, Black elderberry chestnut Sage (dried) Rosemary Thyme Blueberries, Capers, Black olive, Hazelnut, Pecan nuts, Plum Green olive Sweet basil Curry powder, extra virgin olive oil.
In my last video I talk about the importance of including fibre into your diet and also vary the type of fibre. Diversity is key. These two breakfast recipes are very easy and quick to make and contain a high amount and a diversity of plant fibre.
I am hoping that these might tempt you away from the cereal box which contains very little nutritional value and often not a lot of fibre.
Overnight Bircher muesli
Makes 2 portions or one portion if you are hungry
2/3 cup of oats about 60-65gams
1 cup of milk of your choice, regular, almond or oat milk
2 tbsp. chia seeds
1 medium grated apple
1tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
½ tsp Cinnamon
Method: Mix together and leave it to soak in the fridge overnight.
Tip make double as this can last up to 3 days in your fridge
Diversity Plant count: 6
Makes one portion
2tbsp of oat
1tbsp. of chia seeds
1tbsp of flaxseeds
1tbsp peanut butter
Method: Pour boiling water and mix, add more peanut butter if necessary to taste.
Diversity Plant count: 5
• Great source of fibre ½ cup has 4 grams
• Contains beta glucan. Beta-glucans have been demonstrated to have prebiotic properties owing to their ability to pass undigested through the gastro-intestinal tract (GIT), where they get fermented by our microbes and stimulate the growth and activity of a number of beneficial bacteria.
• Beta glucans also have immune modulator properties
• The pectin in apples stimulates the growth and activity of helpful bacteria, apple pectin is considered a prebiotic. What's more, it may help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract
• The antioxidants in cinnamon have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects.
• Cinnamon has prebiotic properties that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and help suppress the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
• Several studies have also revealed that cinnamon extracts can help lower blood glucose
• High in zinc, an important nutrient for digestive enzyme production and immune system function.
• These fibres may help to lower LDL cholesterol
• chia seed coats your stomach in a gelatine-like substance which in turn fosters the healthy growth of stomach flora
• A really useful and natural laxative if you suffer from constipation
• They are incredibly dense in protein, are a great vegan source of Omega 3 fatty acids, are incredibly high in minerals, such as calcium, magnesium
• These are also extremely high in fibre - 2 tbsp. contain 11 grams of fibre!