Christine Bailey is on a mission to improve our wellbeing through our stomachs. Autoimmune diseases, allergies, arthritis, fatigue and depression can all be treated with the right diet, she says
‘You are what you eat,’ the saying goes, but a better truism might be, ‘Your gut knows best’.
Gut health is critical to our wellbeing, and imbalances or disease can result in many symptoms and health conditions including fatigue, depression and even mood swings.
Leading advocate and qualified nutritionist and chef Christine Bailey is a living testament to the fact that healing our gut can, quite literally, be a life-saving approach to health. “I had an emergency operation at 29, and when I was 28 weeks pregnant.
“At first the doctors thought I was in early labour, but they realised that my lower colon had twisted itself and was going gangrenous. I was rushed into the operating theatre and there were 20 medical staff working to save my baby and my life. My first born, Nathan, was delivered and half of my bowel was removed.
“Following the operation I experienced many on-going problems and it was only through my work in functional nutrition and medicine that I restored my gut health and with it renewed energy and health.
“Then, at 18 months, one of my twin boys, Isaac, was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. The only option presented was steroids – but with my training and research I realised that changing his diet and restoring gut health could be the answer – and as a result of my changes in just two weeks he was healed.”
Mainstream medicine has now recognised the importance of gut health and how the digestive system affects many other body systems including our immune health and brain function and is linked to autoimmune conditions, allergies, depression, obesity and mood swings.
“IBS affects one in five people,” says Bailey. “It can cause terrible problems, and the clients I work with can suffer from constant bloating, sickness, discomfort as their stomach swells up to two sizes after they eat, even being unable to leave the house when they eat as they need to run to the toilet.”
Combining both her nutritional and cookery knowledge, along with her own experience, Bailey has created a new book, The Gut Health Diet Plan, a 30-day programme to help us apply her five-step approach to tackling digestive health. The beautifully illustrated book offers practical, tasty recipes which have been tried and tested by families for ease of use and to banish the stigma of eating a ‘special diet’, so the whole household can enjoy one meal together.
“The book aims to identify root causes of your gut problems,” says Bailey.
“It takes people through the five steps to restore digestive function and offers recipes alongside to offer practical solutions with medical insight.
“The first step is to remove the gut irritants, and then to kick-start the digestive system with good foods that support digestive function. Then we repopulate the system with beneficial bacteria using a range of fermented foods plus foods and nutrients known to repair the gut lining and rebalance the system. I really wanted to equip people with practical advice and recipes that enable them to move forwards with gut health.”
So, with the evidence that gut health can be pivotal to our wellbeing, why are so many of us finding ourselves with poor digestive systems and the associated problems?
“ENVIRONMENTAL AND DIETARY FACTORS INCLUDING STRESS, ALCOHOL, EXCESS SUGAR, PROCESSED FOOD AND SMOKING CAN ALL CONTRIBUTE TO POOR GUT HEALTH,” SAYS BAILEY.
“There’s increasing evidence that gluten can’t be tolerated by many of us, and highly processed foods do not offer us the nutrients our gut needs to thrive. Stress can be a contributing factor too, as can eating styles, so it’s a combination of lifestyle and genetics in most cases.
“We can reduce aggravating FOODS but the answer is to go back to real food. A simpler diet will quench inflammation and restore digestive function. I’m walking evidence that you really can heal your gut for good.”
The Gut Health Diet by Christine Bailey is published by Watkins.
Find out more at christinebailey.co.uk