Lee Holmes of Supercharged Food is a mom, certified health coach and author of the best-selling Supercharged Food series who has successfully used food as medicine to overcome an autoimmune disease. Sitting down to food with a mindful, conscious approach is a personal philosophy that Lee lives by and she has been travelling around Australia to educate individuals that cultivating good gut health doesn’t mean we need to compromise on health or taste. Lee speaks to us about the basic blocks of good gut health and how a healthy gut is vital to a balanced life.

Hi Lee, for people who may not know the amazing work you do, give us a little background into how you got to be where you are today?

After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and fibromyalgia several years ago, I was prescribed to a cocktail of medicines and antibiotics. I became accustomed to feeling exhausted, depleted, depressed and in pain. While I knew the medication were healing fix some of my symptoms, I just knew there was something deeper; an underlying condition that I needed to heal. This inspired me to do research into the world of wellness, nutrition and food.

I created my blog Supercharged Food to share my story, create simple recipes and connect with people. I also have gut health products too over here: www.superchargeyourgut.com

What made you want to focus on gut health?

I had my own issues with gut health so it became my area of passion. Our gut and digestive system is cleverer than we think. The gut controls how we digest food, protects us from bacteria and is responsible for sending signals to the brain about hunger and emotions. Healing your gut brings benefit to the whole body.

What is the biggest concern in our diets that hurt our gut?

Your body is a host to around 100 trillion living organisms and although they can’t be seen, you have a smorgasbord of bacteria on and in your body with the largest concentrations found within the gut. The bacteria found within the digestive tract although complex is categorised into either “good” or “bad” bacteria.The good bacteria or “gut flora” performs a multitude of tasks including neutralising the toxic byproducts of your digestion, preventing growth of harmful pathogenic bacteria, controlling metabolism, reducing harmful substances within your body and gathering and absorbing nutrients from food.

Too much of the bad bacteria can lead to illness, overeating, metabolic damage and even insulin resistance. When our diets are high in sugar, simple carbohydrates, preservatives and additives our bodies become the perfect breeding ground for bad bacteria and can over-power the good bacteria.

Antibiotics can have a major impact on the ratio of good to bad bacteria in our gut. Whilst antibiotics can be vital to treating certain conditions they do not come without their side effects. Whilst they are designed to kill of the bad bacteria unfortunately they will also have a detrimental effect on the good bacteria.

How important are prebiotics and probiotics? What’s the best way we should be consuming them?

They are both important. Probiotic rich foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi and cultured vegetables are going to help our inner-plants flourish and grow. Prebiotics are the foods that act as a fertiliser to help feed, fuel and nourish probiotics.

Prebiotics play a major role in promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and are incredibly important in helping protect and rebuild within the intestinal walls. Foods rich in prebiotic fibre include jicama (Mexican yam), dandelion greens, asparagus, onions, garlic, chicory root, cashews, pistachios, lentils, kidney beans, and Jerusalem artichoke.

What are some diseases we can prevent by taking care of our gut?

Some of the diseases which can be helped with good gut health are abnormal immune responses, allergies, intolerances and autoimmune diseases as well as IBS and IBD.

Tell us a bit about the relationship between gut health and energy levels

Over time, the intestines can have a build up of waste products and toxins, such as plaque, acids, mucus, fungus and bacteria, causing distress in the digestive system! This can result in poor nutrient absorption and a build up of gas, wind and bloating – Bleugh! As well as low energy levels- as your body needs energy to digest food, the easier things are to digest, the more energy your body will have and also you will be able to better absorb nutrient from your food which in turn provides the body with more energy.

What does sugar do to our health?

Sugar can feed the bad bacteria in the microbiome and also is inflammatory to the body. Cutting down on processed white sugar can improve your gut health. Sugar is also connected to hormones and one of the simple ways to support gut hormones is to avoid a processed food diet with an excess of sugar and refined carbohydrates.

We’d love to hear about your petition to improve the food in hospitals

I created a petition because the food which is being served in NSW public hospitals is severely lacking in nutrition, highly processed and contains health impeding artificial chemicals, preservatives and additives.

I was shocked and horrified to discover the diabolical state of the food being offered in NSW public hospitals when I visited my brother-in-law. His typical breakfast was powdered eggs, a white roll and cornflakes. Morning tea was a package of Arnotts biscuits, lunch and dinner involved white bread with trans-fat butter substitute sachet, soup so salty that affected his sodium levels, frozen vegetables and microwaved crumbed meat and was always accompanied by a sugar filled processed desert and processed juice with additional sugar and additives. The food was unappetising and not nutritionally sustaining, it was sugar laden and 100 % processed so it fuelled my passions to try and help change the foods that are served in hospitals.

What are some simple ways you can improve your gut health right away?

One of the first ways to look after your gut is to give it some time to rest. As a result of instant and processed foods and chemically driven choices, our digestive systems are over–burdened and confused. By consuming slow-cooked and cooked foods like soups, curries, and adding healing spices such as turmeric and ginger your body will allow itself the time it needs to rest and digest whilst still healing and sealing the lining of the gut so you can absorb more nutrients from your food. Using veggie broths as a base to meals means you can enjoy key minerals and ingredients, which are just as nourishing for your insides as they are for your outsides.

The key to improving gut health and maintain energy levels is through nutrition and eating high-quality, wholesome food. This way, you can help supercharge your body rather than bring it down. Your gut health is in your own hands. When looking to supercharge your gut, it’s so important to be simple with it. By taking one easy step at a time, and not stressing about being perfect, you can be on your way to looking after your body’s most influential part for good.

Staying hydrated is another easy way to look after your gut health. The simple technique of drinking water and herbal tea helps to flush out bad bacteria within the gut and can bring balance and flow back into the digestive system.This will keep your gut happy and functioning at its prime.

What are some your favourite foods to nourish your gut?

Root vegetables, like parsnips, carrots and sweet potatoes are naturally gluten-free, rich in prebiotic fibre and provide a whole load of nutrients. Plus, they have a low glycemic index which means they won’t induce inflammation or digestive issues. I love roasting root veggies in the oven and using them to make thicker and heartier soups. The pre-biotic fibres in these vegetables help to maintain a healthy community of bacteria in the gut and can ease digestion.

Including more ginger, in your diet is a powerful ally for supercharging your gut and contains additional anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial compounds which block inflammation-producing genes, keeping your tummy happy, healthy and inflammation-free.

Garlic is another wonder-food that can help combat sickness, high blood pressure and gut issues. Garlic can help detoxify the body from heavy metals too. I mean, if you’re looking for an excuse to eat garlic bread, this is it. Just replace the Supermarket white bread with a piece of my Golden Gut Pumpkin and Nut Loaf.