Over the next four weeks, we’re celebrating our real life ‘Gut Heroes’! From those who love fermented foods to those who need a little help along their gut health journey, we hope they will inspire you as much as they have inspired us! We’re kicking off with Phoebe Liebling AKA @_naturalnourishment. As a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist, Phoebe has seen first hand the power of looking after your gut. We sat down with Phoebe to find out why eating 5-a-day is just the beginning and why happiness always starts in your tummy.
BSc(Hons) DipNT mBANT mNNA CNHC registered GNC registered
When did your foodie obsession start?
I can’t remember a time when food wasn’t central to my life if I’m honest! I grew up in a family where mealtimes and eating were hugely important, we would meet around my parents’ giant kitchen table, friends, pets, random acquaintances in tow and my mother would fashion some kind of abundant delectable feast in moments. My sister and I weren’t so much asked to help as conscripted into service from the moment we could stand upright and wash up a bowl. We never put up a fight because we loved it.
What inspired you to make your blog/start your Instagram feed etc?
In my early 20’s I was diagnosed with allergies to gluten and dairy, at that time the alternative products were pretty shocking and awareness was nothing like it is now so I started to play around and create my own recipes with naturally appropriate ingredients because I wasn’t about to give up on wonderfully delicious food, I just had to find new ways to create it. I began to test these alternatives on my friends and family, they loved them, they asked for the recipes and I realised that I was on to a good thing.
I then also completed a post grad in Nutritional Therapy so combined my love of cooking with a keenness to offer clear, concise explanations of how our diet influences our health and wellbeing.
Scan forward a few years and I now use my social media and website posts to share beautiful images of the food I make and eat on a day to day basis with succinct, current, scientifically backed explanations of relatively complex health topics in easy to digest English. And so far it seems to be going pretty well!
What are your top tips for a healthy gut?
I have a few…
- Eat proper food, nothing synthetic, nothing processed.
- Go for the rainbow, don’t aim for 5 a day because it’s a well touted figure, 10 is better.
- Ensure you’re getting plenty of fibre (the skins of fruit & vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains).
- Include fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, fresh miso, natto) and drink plenty of water spread evenly throughout the day.
- Oh and equally as important as the above is to manage your stress levels and sleep well. Your mood, immune function and general wellbeing is inextricably linked to your gut health but it’s a two way street.
- And to be plain, you should be passing a well formed bowel movement every day, at least once a day, without urgency, without bloating and without excessive amounts of gas. If that ain’t happening your gut isn’t happy.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is looking to improve their gut health what would it be and why?
Add more fresh and colourful variety to your diet, increase your water intake and don’t eat on the run.
What does good gut health mean to you?
Optimal general health.
Everything begins in our gut, it is the point of exchange between the inside of our bodies and the outside world, it’s the first line defence of our immune system, it is where we absorb the building blocks we need to survive, it is also the one most incredibly complex examples of anatomical engineering. There is absolutely no way we can be well if our gut is unwell.
I therefore prioritise all of the things I mentioned above in order to make sure my digestive system is as serene and content as can be.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about gut health?
That we have more serotonin receptors in our digestive system than in our brains, which basically means our feelings of happiness and joy are more related to our intestines than what’s happening in our heads.
What is your favourite food of all time?
Humous. I could eat it at any point and in endless quantities! I have often been teased that my choice of ‘treat’ would be a silky smooth tahini rich bowlful topped with roasted chickpeas and a swirl of pesto or glug of great olive oil.
Give me a plate of crudités or just a spoon and I’m all set.
What is your favourite all time sauerkraut flavour?
Kombucha or Kefir?
Kombucha. I don’t think it would be appropriate to say how much I love the stuff.
What is your favourite RAW product?
This feels like trying to pick your favourite child…..I will always have apple cider vinegar in my fridge and am also obsessed with the pomegranate vinegar but my die-hard favourites are the raw intensely Italian crackers.
Any of those topped avocado or humous, cucumber slices and a pile of sauerkraut and I’m a very happy bunny!