Internationally renowned nutrition and wellness expert, Dr. Liz Isenring says gut health, above anything else, is paramount when it comes to a person’s general mental and physical wellbeing.
The Australian Professor who has published over 150 scientific papers and books, and whose work is used in more than 40 countries, has helped hundreds of thousands of people improve their health and wellbeing cautions against listening to the latest fad diets and, the ‘loudest voices’ in the health and wellbeing space. Instead, she advocates a simple three pillar approach ‘Mindset, Menu & Movement’ that she created based around strong scientific principles and not fad-based hyperbole.
“Dirty Keto for example, has developed a following relatively quickly because at face value, it’s an appealing protein-based regime, but, it’s not good for you because it advocates the consumption of a lot of bacon and processed meats. And the science is in, these foods greatly increase the risk of a variety of cancers.”
There is a proliferation of popular diets and eating fads presently, from the Volumetrics Diet to intermittent fasting, and whilst they may provide some benefits to some people, Dr. Isenring cautions that wellbeing is a lifestyle choice, not a regime, and she is concerned that the Covid-19 pandemic has forced many people to spend longer periods of time in their homes and paradoxically, resulted in a rise in the consumption of many canned and long shelf life foods which are high in sugar and/or salt, and lacking nutritional value.
“Seventy percent of our immune tissue is in our gut and there is strong scientific evidence to demonstrate that microorganisms govern our general health and likelihood that we become susceptible to disease, infections, viruses et cetera.”
“The gut is exposed to and deals with, a variety of microscopic organisms such as bacteria, fungi, archaea and viruses that live in our digestive tracts. When a person’s good gut flora is overwhelmed, a number of health conditions can present, and age, diet and environmental factors play a big part in the maintenance of healthy gut microbiota. This is why the gut is truly the body’s ‘engine’ and food, quite literally, its fuel.”
Isenring’s three pillar approach recognises that diet alone is not going to keep most of us healthy. Movement is also important and the Professor, who has long realised that many people shun exercise, instead advocates what she calls ‘enjoyable movement’ – physical activities such as dancing, hula hooping or swimming in the ocean for example – that a person likes and which can be undertaken daily. In combination with a healthy approach to eating and a commitment to making these lifestyle choices, Dr. Isenring believes we can dispense with the draconian and burdensome activity of calorie counting, which she says can frustrate people and, more importantly, fails to take into account the quality of the calories themselves. It’s far better she argues, to focus on the calibre of the foods you eat because “consuming three chocolate bars may be within your caloric intake for the day, but your body’s not going to love it.”
And speaking of chocolate bars, the world-renowned nutritionist goes on to say that whilst sugar is responsible for many of the body’s ills such as high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, Type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease, it may not be the “devil” many make it out to be.
“In the modern Western diet we do eat way too much sugar, but it’s not as black and white as simply denouncing all sugars and eliminating carbohydrates from your diet. The naturally occurring sugars in fruits are handled very well by the body and accordingly, fruit is very important in a healthy diet because of the nutrients, phytochemicals and fibre it contains. Our bodies need good sources of carbohydrates from fresh fruit and vegetables as well as wholegrain cereals.”
“I think the message around sugar has become a bit distorted. Sure we need to avoid soft drinks and certainly cut back on processed foods but, a little bit of sugar or honey every now and then is quite OK. Don’t go crazy of course, and try to make better choices by substituting foods high in processed sugar for fruits such as berries, or as I like to call them ‘nature’s lollies’. They’re very important for overall health, especially blueberries, which are a well-known prebiotic that really helps healthy digestion.”
“Remember, health and wellbeing are not so much dependent upon what you weigh, as what you’re putting in your body and the health of your gut microbiota.”
(video of Dr Liz discussing topic)