“Your gut health is the centre of the rest of our health, it is basically our second brain. 80% of our immune system resides in our gut.
It’s really important to keep our guts happy; the little microbes, our gut bacteria outnumber our body cells by a ratio of 10:1.” Meg Thompson on gut health.
This week I met someone who glows with good health. I’m not exaggerating. Naturopath, holistic nutritionist and loved up mum Meg Thompson looks like she is lit from within.
Meg introduced me to an F word: Fermentation and all its bacterial goodness.
She believes our gut is the key and wants to spread the word about the need to keep the digestive system happy.
Here’s how to get your glow on…
So Meg Thompson fermented foods – not so glamorous but you are a huge fan, why?
Meg Thompson: If you think about before we had access to fridges fermentation was purely a means of preserving vegetables. A lot of people can relate to Captain Cook’s voyage out with scurvy due to lack of vitamin C, they worked out if they ate sauerkraut; which is basically fermented cabbage which is particular high in Vitamin C then that stopped them from getting scurvy.
Fermented foods (like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir or kombucha) allow good bacteria to grow and flourish, which we then eat and enjoy the wide ranging benefits from. We can enjoy it at that point, not a whole plate, but to use it as a condiment. A replacement for tomato sauce or mustard.
Why should we care about fermented foods?
Meg Thompson: Our gut health is the centre of the rest of our health, it is basically our second brain. 80% of our immune system resides in our gut.
It’s really important to keep our guts happy; the little microbes, our gut bacteria outnumber our body cells by a ratio of 10:1.
Meg Thompson: There’s a lot of them! When they’re not happy it affects our digestive health: immune system, skin health, brain function everything basically. Fermented foods or drinks are a way of making our own probiotics.
Lots of people would have had courses of inner-health plus and whatnot, but i like to make it because you’re not restricting yourself to certain strains.
With fermented foods and drinks you’re getting a wide variety of good bacteria in your food, also just by the action of eating them it improves digestive function, especially things like bloating and regulating bowel action. A cheaper, more holistic way to have your pro-biotic!
Why did you become a naturopath?
Meg Thompson: I was sixteen and I had terrible glandular fever … my mum took me to the local naturopath and it was my first exposure to natural medicine at the time and I just really remember him.
He was such a beautiful man, about 65 and had the most beautiful clear blue eyes, he was probably the healthiest person I’d ever seen.
It was such a lovely experience when he helped me through my glandular fever and other digestive issues but because of the nature of naturopathic consultations, we chatted a lot about what was going on symptom wise but also about life, just thinking back it was one of the first times when I felt heard; like someone was really listening to what I was saying.
What was your relationship like with food growing up?
Meg Thompson: Growing up my mum would cook most of our meals, and we rarely ate take away. After my experience of seeing a naturopath I said, “Yep, I want to do that, I want to help people like that.” And then I sort of lost it I suppose along the way, went overseas and travelled around and eating healthily wasn’t number one for me at the time (there was a lot of white bread and Vegemite sandwiches.)
I could see the affect of what I was eating on my health, particularly digestive health. I came at it from a self-interest point of view and that re-ignited my want to get back into natural health.
I’m over the moon to see you ordered a latte today. Do you sense people are often curious about what you do and don’t eat?
Meg Thompson: Yes. I get asked a lot and I think it’s that a lot of people feel they need to be perfect, or that I might eat this perfect way 100% of the time.
For a start the perfect diet is different for every single person. But also it kind of takes some of the enjoyment out of it, it becomes so much of a chore to think “Oh no, I’ve gotta have this, or I’m not allowed to have that!” That’s not how I like to eat or teach my patients to approach their eating whatever their condition may be.
Who inspires you?
Meg Thompson: First person who pops into my head is my husband.
That’s beautiful! Why?
Meg Thompson: I just I suppose he’s just someone who always has my back and I’m very fortunate he is such a wonderful listener and is emotionally intelligent and is a much better communicator than me. Professionally there’s a beautiful woman called Jude Blureau, Jamie Oliver and Michael Pollan – they do what I would like to do in the future; spread the whole food message as much as possible.