The event included scoby facials, a booch flavouring workshop and speed dating with Nutritionist Mr Toribio-Mateas.
The Gut Stuff
The Gut Stuff was put together by Alana and Lisa Macfarlane (The Mac Twins), who are DJs and Presenters, playing on Virgin Radio and chatting to us from our televisions. For years, whilst gigging by night, they have been supporting science by day. At the British Gut Project/Twin Research, King’s College London, UK, they were so shocked and excited by what they had found – they just have to share their new “gut health” obsession with us all.
They have always been fascinated by food, but growing up in Scotland eating deep fried Pizzas and chips (plus all of Edinburghs supply of Greggs yum yums), they only knew what kale was because they used to give it to the guinea pig on his birthday. That all flip reversed when they volunteered for TwinsUK research at King’s College London.
Being identical twin sisters, they have a passion (teetering on obsession) for finding out what’s different about them and to do this they looked inside as there ain’t much that looks different on the outside. Twins are a great constant for medical research and they became the “chief guinea pigs” for the British Gut project where they discovered that despite us having 100% the same DNA their guts have only 40% the same microbiota, which could explain why their bodies behave so differently. Thus their ‘gut journey’ began. All this research is so new and literally just coming into public consciousness. They been spending the past year interviewing tons of top notch “gut pros”: scientists, academics, chefs and foodies to get the real scoop and science behind what we eat, but what really surprised them was how much is going on in the ivory towers of academia and science research AND NONE OF US KNOW ABOUT IT. These guys are realising just how important the gut is to our health and wellbeing, including its impact on our immune system. They’re pouring tons of money and time doing a deep dive into all these areas like how it has a huge impact on diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and even mental health, but the information doesn’t necessarily trickle down to us mere mortals.
The Mac twins have tried every fad diet there is and with tons of chatter and loads of new ‘healthy gut’ products out now – everything from gluten-free to pickled is in – it’s confusing to know what’s right, what matters and who’s trying to con us out of our well earned pennies. They want real answers for real people and get REAL scientific answers to why we should be putting things in our body. If they can’t be sold the same diets for our bodies and we have the same DNA, then there’s NO single diet that works for everyone. We are ALL individual.
To start the event, one of the Mac twins introduced the night and the workshops we were to attend. I started at the Wild Fizz booch flavouring workshop and had great fun adding fruit to my orginal booch.
I actually made my booch fizz all over the table, by adding mango, which is full of water! After that embarressment, one of the owners of Wild Fizz filled my bottle of booch to the top so i could add more flavours. My final recipe was mango, raspberries and kiwi.
The next workshop was a presentation and discussion with the Mac Twins. We also got to make our own digestive system out of balloons (see photo below)!! The take away points from the presentation are very useful for gut health, so I thought I would detail for my readers:
- Food Diary – to monitor what you’re eating and “tuning in” to look for patterns, try taking things out and putting them back in and see what happens. Record poops and symptoms and how you feel.
- De-Stress – So many studies coming out showing that stress and anxiety can have a direct affect on our microbiome. The links with gut health and mental health really are extraordinary, from what we understood before, the Vagus nerve (the neural connection between the stomach and the brain) could only send signals down the way, butterflies in our stomachs from nerves etc, but now scientists have discovered the signalling also occurs in reverse. Did you know 95% of your serotonin if produced in your gut?
- Rest it – 12 hour fasting really helps to let everything reset in your stomach. Sleep time also counts so you don’t feel like your starving yourself – we try 8pm – 8am.
- Chew chew and chew again – We need to chew our food 20-30 times so that it’s liquid before we swallow, if its broken down in the mouth its less work for our tums. We’ve started using little mini sand timers to train ourselves up (as we’re naturally hoovers!) – good game for kids too.
- Variety – Get in loads of colours and different foods to stimulate those trillions of good gut microbes and get a nice diverse community in there – we create a blackboard of every vegetable we can think of and cross them off during the week.
- Cut out the processed foods as much as you can – To put it simply they can seriously impact the balance of your gut flora, tipping the balance to too many BAD GUYS.
- Probiotics and Prebiotics – You need them to cultivate and grow the good guys, you can get them through food (particularly fermented foods), and supplements too.
- Fibre – As a nation we only consume only half the recommended daily allowance of 18-25g. There are lots of types fibre but not all are considered equal as far as gut bacteria is concerned, so to make this really simple first focus sources of fibre that have prebiotic inulin in them and are basically fertilisers for our good microbes and stifle the bad ones.
The last workshop I attended was the scoby facials. We blended the SCOBY (used to make kombucha) in a food processor and then mixed spoonfuls of it, in with coconut oil. We were given recipes for the masks and depending on what you want your face mask to do (or smell like) depended on what you put in the SCOBY/coconut oil mixture.
I made one for dry skin and also an anti ageing mask to take home.
The Gut Stuff Event was great fun and really informative. My takeaway was definitely to get more variety into my diet.
Thank you to Alana and Lisa for supporting this blog post and giving me their top gut health tips. Go follow the Gut Stuff on instagram or visit their website for loads more information on gut health!