Eve Kalinik is an advocate of conscious eating, a leading nutritional therapist, and one of the tutors for THE GUARDIAN masterclasses. She is the author of Happy Gut, Happy Mind: How To Feel Good from Within and Be Good To Your Gut guide.
Eve believes that having a positive and healthy approach to food & nutrition is not about restriction or rules. It is having an inclusive, diverse and embracive repertoire with our food.
She believes in working towards a balanced and functional approach that supports the body, most notably the gut, on a deeper and more intrinsic level so that we can achieve optimum well-being.
We sat down with Eve and quizzed her on all things gut.
How effective are gut health supplements in supporting the growth of gut flora?
Firstly, it is really important to acknowledge that there is no gut health ‘panacea,’ however excellent the supplement. Moreover, no supplement will outweigh a diet that is devoid of quantity and diversity of fibre and polyphenols (special plant chemicals) which are crucial to cultivating the growth of a healthier and stronger gut microbiome. Both fibre and polyphenols provide essential fuel for our gut microbes to thrive and produce all of the positive substances that they give back to us in abundance.
That being said we can all struggle to meet these dietary needs and/or cope with the various demands, onslaughts and challenges that face our gut and gut microbiome on a daily basis. This is where clinically backed and scientifically researched supplements can be game changing for our gut health.
Where do you start when searching for the right gut health supplement in a market full of pre/probiotics?
Pre and probiotics are one area of gut health that have gained a lot of traction and interest, especially in the past 5 years, and these can have their benefits depending on the supplement.
With either of these it is important that you ensure that the one you are taking has independent clinical research to back up claims. When choosing a probiotic also check that it contains at least 1 billion CFU in its formula. This is because many of these beneficial microbes will naturally be lost along the way in the arduous process of digestion. The delivery system with probiotic supplements is also significant so whether it is in a pill, powder or liquid form make sure that the probiotic you take is best suited to the format in which you take it.
However, pre and probiotics are just one part of supporting gut health and as we gain further knowledge around gut health the research is also shifting the focus more and more towards the absolute necessity of maintaining a strong and healthy gut barrier.
Think of it almost like the foundations of our gut health, which has such a crucial role in how we interact with our gut microbes.
Our gut barrier can be negatively impacted by a myriad of factors including commonly used medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, excessive dietary amounts of refined grains and sugar, chemical toxins and stress to name a few key culprits. Where this barrier becomes compromised, we can see many different associated symptoms and conditions arising such as allergies, recurrent infections, chronic inflammation, mood disorders, metabolic issues and even autoimmune conditions, which are increasingly on the rise in our modern world.
Supporting the health of this barrier is therefore of prime importance and where a supplement like ION* can help to maintain its integrity and strength has a much broader and more general impact on our overall health and wellbeing for our gut and far beyond.
What are the benefits of using a mineral food supplement for the gut lining?
Using a mineral food formula like ION* is essentially designed to provide key nutrients to support the process of strengthening and nourishing the gut barrier. In turn this helps to strengthen our main defence that has a broader impact on the body overall.
You could consider it like providing the building blocks for the foundations of our gut health and our immune system.
The focus therefore becomes more about supporting rather than supplementing.
What is your routine for keeping your own gut healthy?
- Start the day well – having a morning routine can help to support the natural rhythm of our gut which has certainly had some significant personal benefits. The very first 5 minutes of the day, I dedicate to journaling a stream of conscious thoughts onto a sheet of paper. This allows me to get them out of my head and provides a clearer focus for the day. I then set aside another 10 minutes for some breathing exercises.
Only after this do I check emails and switch on my phone. I genuinely think this little 15-minute wake-up routine and gentle ease into the day has been such a support to my gut-brain connection, which we know to be an extremely powerful and bi-directional one.
- After this, I make time for a breakfast rich in fibre, polyphenols AND protein to nourish my gut microbiome and support the health of the gut barrier. I’m a savoury kind of gal so some typical breakfasts for me might be a parmesan omelette with chargrilled broccoli, crispy free-range organic bacon and kimchi on proper sourdough, or my latest favourite is miso & chilli scrambled eggs with stir fried shiitake mushrooms. Delish!
- Allow fasting periods – I try to maintain at least a 4-5 hour gap between meals and an overnight fast for 12 hours, as this allows the crucial time for repair and regeneration in the gut that happens when we are in a fasted state.
- Make water more interesting – hydration is king for supporting gut health but making this more interesting by flavouring waters with herbs or slices of cucumber, lemon or lime, can just make it more appealing and encourages me to drink more. I do however avoid large glasses of water with meals as this can dilute gastric secretions and means my digestion is not so efficient. I try to have water away from mealtimes generally – a glass of red wine may often feature though…obviously for the polyphenol benefits!
- Rest & digest – another game changing habit is really making my meal times count. Not so much in what I’m cooking but the way in which I’m eating. Switching off all devices, slowing down and taking time to chew my food, as well as framing the food on a nice plate can make all the difference in terms of optimising digestion, supporting the gut-brain connection and improving satiety levels.
- Prioritise sleep – the link between gut health and sleep is also a fascinating area of research and as it transpires, is also a two-way thing. I give myself a strict curfew of no phone use after 9pm and instead take the hour before bed to read, have a bath or listen to some music/a podcast. It has changed the quality and quantity of my sleep, which also gives my gut some good respite too.
How do we identify products that disrupt our microbiota versus supplements that do good to our gut and overall health?
I often use the analogy of a garden with our gut health, in that we need healthy soil in the garden for plants to grow and thrive, which is the exact same for our gut and the organisms that we want to cultivate in our microbiome.
This is also the core premise of ION* and its founder Zach Bush; to mirror the health of our soil, with foundational gut health and using a supplement that looks to support on a ‘grass roots’ level.
Like a garden, if we don’t feed the soil with nutrients, water and minimise chemicals, it will struggle to flourish. We have to think about our gut in the same way by providing it with sufficient fibre, polyphenols, hydration and avoiding highly processed foods, refined grains and unnecessary medications that can disrupt the status quo. Too much in way of sugar also offers nothing for our microbiome and whilst I also believe a little in the context of a broader healthy and enriched diet has a place, if we equally want an enriched gut my view is use it like the treat it is.
And as we diligently tend and respond to nature in our gardens, ION* has a similar effect in working with your gut and giving it the key components to allow it to positively bloom!