Hannah:
Welcome to the Burn Pod everyone. I am super excited to have Sophie Hanley from Sophie Hanley Nutrition on the podcast today. Now, if you were with us way back when we first started doing podcasts last year, we would have or you would have listened to Sophie’s podcast back then.

Hannah:
She is an awesome nutritionist. We got so much value out of the last one and coming towards Christmas, we thought it would be an awesome chance to get her back on to discuss all things gut health, but also things that we can do around Christmas to look after our nutrition and our health particularly because it’s always a crazy time of year. So, welcome so much and welcome back Sophie.

Sophie Hanley:
Thanks so much Hannah. So, happy to be here. Yeah, we had a really good chat last year. It was great. So, it would be good to kind of add on to that today.

Hannah:
Yeah, and I know that a lot of people were pretty interested in getting into gut health a little bit more, as I’ve mentioned to you before we started recording. It’s not something that I actually know a great deal about. So, I’m really excited to get some information, get some understanding and learn a bit more.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah, and it’s actually … I often say that the gut is kind of the seat to our health because a lot of other symptoms and diagnosis often stem from issues going on in the gut. So, I know in my practise it’s something that I always, and you know all therapists will be looking at what’s going on in the gut. So, that’ll be good.

Hannah:
Yeah, awesome. Well, let’s get straight into it then. I guess the main question, just to give us a bit of an overview, is what is gut health all about, and why is it so important?

Sophie Hanley:
I guess when we are looking at the gut, we can look at the three different areas. So, the first one kind of is gut function. The second is the balance of the bacteria, and the third one is the elimination. So, with good gut health, we really want to have optimal digestive function.

Sophie Hanley:
So, everything from kind of chewing our food, the food moving into the stomach, there’s lots of enzymes and acids produced from the liver and the pancreas that go into the stomach and kind of break down food. The food kind of moves into the small intestine and that’s where digestion occurs.

Sophie Hanley:
So, the body will kind of draw from that food whatever it needs. And then we move down into kind of the large intestine where our bacteria, or you might have heard the word microbiome lives. So, we have about two to three kilos down there of bacteria which-

Hannah:
That sounds like an awful lot.

Sophie Hanley:
It’s quite a lot, yeah. We have a lot of bacteria. So, you can imagine how small they are. And so there’s thousands and thousands of different types and they’re doing all sorts of good things for us. They’re producing, they’re helping us to absorb our food, producing different elements like vitamin K and short-chain fatty acids.

Sophie Hanley:
But the gut bacteria also helped to regulate our metabolism and also help with weight management as well, which is really important. So, we need enough bacteria there and we need a really healthy balance.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Sophie Hanley:
And then the last part I guess of a good gut health is elimination. So, healthy bowel movements and regular bowel movements as well because of constipation. It’s not just uncomfortable, it’s actually a real health issue as well. And we can tell a lot from our bowel movements and our poo, what it looks like and the frequency, and also that sort of thing can tell us a lot about what’s going on further up in the body.

Sophie Hanley:
So yeah, I guess eating, digesting, absorbing and elimination is all part of what we are looking at with gut health.

Hannah:
Yeah, yeah.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah. And I guess it’s important. The gut has a huge impact on our whole body health. It contributes to our immune system, our hearts, our brain, also things like our mood, how well we sleep and as well as how well we digest. So, good gut health has been shown to prevent some cancers and also some autoimmune diseases.

Sophie Hanley:
And it’s because it has quite an anti-inflammatory effect on the body if the gut is functioning really healthily.

Hannah:
Yeah, okay. So, if we are needing a healthy gut, how do we actually go about looking after our gut better?

Sophie Hanley:
Well, there’s lots of things we can do.

Hannah:
Good question.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah. But it’s quite broad because even exercise contributes to a really healthy gut. Things like reducing stress, getting enough sleep, but also things like looking at the food intake and we all know that heavily processed foods and sugar aren’t that great for us overall. But they are particularly bad for our gut health.

Sophie Hanley:
And things that we can look at doing is including kind of more fermented foods in our diet, more plant foods is really important. Lots of fruits and veggies.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Sophie Hanley:
Not smoking. That’s really bad for our guts. And also looking at our, I guess, unnecessary antibiotic intake as well.

Hannah:
It’s okay.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah. Obviously discussing that with your doctor, but some of us do tend to over consume antibiotics, which has quite a long-term effect on our gut as well.

Hannah:
Doesn’t that kill the gut biome or whatever we call it?

Sophie Hanley:
Yes. So, I guess antibiotics are there to kind of wipe out that bad bacteria. But in that process, they also wipe out a lot of good bacteria and it can take about four years to build that back up.

Hannah:
Wow.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah. Everyone is different. Normally you can recover from it, but if you’re having antibiotics every few years, then it does take a toll and that low amount of bacteria in our guts, if it’s depleted and depleted can really have a knock-on effect on how our overall health and how we’re feeling.

Hannah:
And it’s a tricky one because that’s the first thing that you get given when you aren’t well really, isn’t it?

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah, yeah. And it’s absolutely has its place and is necessary a lot, but it’s just something to be aware of, I guess.

Hannah:
So, if we’re looking at sort of the impacts a bad gut has on our health and wellbeing, what are they in particular? You mentioned a few before, but are there any sort of major ones that people can automatically see?

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah. Yeah. So, I’ve talked about low bacteria in the gut. And I guess one of the issues is if there’s also, we call it like low micro diversity. So, there’s thousands of different types of bacteria there, but if there’s not many different types and there’s not a lot of bacteria, that can be related to weight gain.

Hannah:
Okay.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah, poor micro diversity can also impact on our hunger hormones as well. So, having unhealthy bacteria and not much of it can lead to us feeling hungry when we shouldn’t really feel hungry. And that contributes to weight gain, I guess.

Hannah:
Is that a mixture of different foods? Is it if you’re having too much of the same thing, you’ve only got certain types of microbodies.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah, exactly. You can think about diversity in the diet leads to diversity in the microflora because the bacteria really feed off the food that we eat. They actually feed off the fibres in foods. So, that’s why we often talk about how it’s really good to have whole grain foods and keep skins and things on fruits and vegetables, because there’s a lot of fibre there. And the bacteria in our gut will really thrive off of having that extra fibre in the diet.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Sophie Hanley:
Getting that variety in. So, I guess also poor gut health can also increase inflammatory markers in the body and lead to things like metabolic disease. And if we have poor digestion, so I talked before about our stomach breaking things down.

Sophie Hanley:
If our stomach and our digestion isn’t very strong, we’re not producing all of those enzymes and things, which happens a lot if we are stressed or chronically stressed, we won’t absorb nutrients from our food very well.

Sophie Hanley:
So, our body needs … We need calcium for our bones. We need vitamin C for our immune system, healthy fats for our brain function, protein for our muscles and things. And if we are not digesting those things or getting them in our diet, then it really takes an effect on things like energy and the whole functioning of our body.

Hannah:
So, there’s a huge number of factors that it impacts then, doesn’t it?

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah. Yeah. Or if we dig in a little-

Hannah:
A comfort food, I guess.

Sophie Hanley:
Yes.

Hannah:
It would have taken you a huge number of years to get your head around it and learn what you know. Now if we dig in a little bit deeper, what impact does sugar then have in the package diets, processed diets that we have on gut health?

Hannah:
You mentioned it before that it’s not good, but I guess what specifically does it actually do?

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah. So sugar, lots of sugar, refined sugar can lead to kind of inflammation in the gut and a diet that’s high in sugar and packaged foods will kind of eliminate beneficial bacteria, which can lead to more cravings specifically for sugar. And the sugar kind of feeds that bad bacteria and causes overgrowth in the gut.

Sophie Hanley:
So, things like thrush, for example, a lot of women experience thrush, and this is kind of a bacteria that is generally in small amounts within us, but it’s fed by a high sugar diet and leads to an overgrowth. And that’s when we start to get those sorts of symptoms.

Sophie Hanley:
So I guess, yeah, it kind of, as the bacteria loved to eat those healthy foods, giving it processed foods and lots of sugar just kind of throws it out of whack.

Hannah:
Yeah, yeah. Okay. So, if we’re looking at other things that maybe aren’t so great in modern day, on a day diets and lifestyles, I mean we talked about sugar and our processed packaged diets, but what about stress or lack of sleep, because I know that’s something that a lot of women deal with on a regular basis.

Hannah:
And particularly I guess with COVID and everything, stress has really ramped up as an issue.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah. You see it a lot in a lot of kind of ongoing chronic stress as well, which I guess the biggest impact is with our digestion when it comes to stress because the body doesn’t really like to deal with stress and digest at the same time.

Sophie Hanley:
So if you, for example, even if you are just running around and at your desk throwing down your food while you’re trying to work or in the car or something like that, the gut, there’s not really a lot of blood flow there and it’s not really digesting.

Sophie Hanley:
So we kind of eat, and one of two things normally happens is the food will just kind of sit there and not get digested and we might get a bit indigestion or something, or it’ll just part through us. So some people under a lot of stress, it kind of like have a very loose, almost like diarrhoea and other people get more constipation.

Sophie Hanley:
So that is, if we are not absorbing our food very well, then it’s going to lead to poor energy, poor sleep, those sorts of things too. And yeah. With sleep, poor sleep really throws off and affects our hunger and satiety hormones. So, you might have noticed if you have really bad sleep the next day, you’re kind of reaching for food and not really that satisfied.

Hannah:
Yeah, yeah. Happens to all of us. Yeah.

Sophie Hanley:
Which is not healthy. And poor sleep really plays up with our blood sugar levels and puts it out of whack, and ongoing irregular or blood sugar levels kind of leads to things like diabetes and things. So, something to keep an eye on.

Hannah:
Yeah, definitely. So, in a way do they kind of work against and for each other, better gut health helps your sleep patterns a little bit and vice versa?

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Lots of people who have a lot of bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, a lot of like irritable bowel syndrome, it really affects their sleep. And so kind of sometimes working on sleep and energy is just about kind of correcting the gut.

Hannah:
Correcting the gut. Yeah, yeah. And looking at what you’re actually eating.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah.

Hannah:
So, it’s a lovely big circle, isn’t it?

Sophie Hanley:
Yes, yeah, yeah.

Hannah:
So, we’ve talked about the bad impacts in our life, but how impactful, I guess, positively is exercise on our gut health?

Sophie Hanley:
So yeah. Exercise is great in a couple of different ways. Obviously when you are moving, it actually also stimulates the digestion to kind of move food along through the intestines as well, which is awesome because it reduces gas and bloating and creates more regular bowel movements, which is what we want.

Sophie Hanley:
And also, I guess exercise has been shown to increase kind of the diversity in that beneficial bacteria in our gut as well.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Sophie Hanley:
Which will lead to less inflammation in the body. So, it has this kind of great knock-on effect in a few different ways.

Hannah:
There you go, because I always know that if I’m, which is kind gross, but if you’re exercising consistently, you’ve got consistent bowel movements.

Sophie Hanley:
Yes, yeah.

Hannah:
A couple of us instructors used to, would joke that we feel like we’ve accomplished something today if we’ve done our exercise and done a poop.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah. Like, “Yeah, yeah, I’m ready to go.”

Hannah:
Yeah, yeah.

Sophie Hanley:
And bowel movements, they should be regular. You should be going pretty much the same time, and you should be going every day. And it should be something that you don’t really think too much about. That’s kind of a healthy bowel movement. It’s so important.

Sophie Hanley:
Some people aren’t going very often and sometimes it’s just about getting them to go do a bit more walking and that sort of thing.

Hannah:
Yeah. Yeah. To help things move along.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah.

Hannah:
Yeah. So, if we’re just going to give a couple of tips, I guess, for the real world woman trying to look after their gut health a little bit better, what foods or what tips can you give us to start that process?

Sophie Hanley:
Okay. Well, one thing I like to do is kind of switch from brightly coloured packet foods to brightly coloured foods. It’s a really good thing to think about because as I said before, that diversity in our diet is really important.

Sophie Hanley:
And getting … This time of year is really good for that as well. There’s lots of nice mangoes and peaches and just like lots of brightly coloured foods around. So, it’s a good time to do it. I recommend to look at what is seasonally coming available too.

Sophie Hanley:
So, if you’re not a regular person who goes to the market, even just going once a season, when the season changes just to see what’s there because the supermarket will have pretty much the same thing all year round, but we really want to … It’s really important to eat with the seasons and eat foods that are more fresh and more local. So, that’s a really good thing to do.

Sophie Hanley:
And eating seasonally will generally be cheaper because there’ll be more abundance of those things around too.

Hannah:
Yeah, and a little bit easier because I think some of us get a little bit foreign with this whole idea of eating the rainbow. It seems like a lot of effort to try and do that if we have do that once a day, let alone once a week.

Hannah:
So, if you’re looking at eating seasonally, then you are still across the year getting the range of different colour and foods, but it’s not necessarily trying to do that one week.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah, no, this is true actually. And can get confusing when I say diversify, diversify, and diversify. So, actually once if I use a lot with my clients is every time that you do your weekly shopping, just pick one new thing, like a fruit or a veggie or something that you haven’t eaten in a while, or that you haven’t eaten before, because you don’t need to be changing it up all the time. It’s just creating small changes here and there.

Hannah:
That’s a really good tip. We were doing some food tips as part of our online programme and one of them that I came across, which I really liked was it makes it so much easier for me is I just pick five vegetables or five fruit and vegetable for the week and also I’ll shop with that.

Hannah:
And then I base my meals around those veggies. So, I’m not going and buying huge amount of veggies, feeling really good about myself, and then by the end of the week I’m throwing half of them out because they’re going mouldy.

Hannah:
But it also means that it sort of helps me to, I guess, meal prep a little bit easier. And then the following week I might mix it up.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah. That’s such a great idea as well. Yeah.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Sophie Hanley:
There’s a couple of other things we can do for better gut health, look at your alcohol intake and just moderate it. Because that will play a big impact. I guess I love for really nice gut health and liver function, having water.

Sophie Hanley:
We need plenty of water, but specifically in the morning we can work on liver and digestion with maybe some lemon juice or some apple cider vinegar and some water, is a really nice way to start the day.

Hannah:
So, I’ve heard that but I’ve never actually known if it was just an old wives’ tale, you know it just tastes better and then if it’s got a little bit of lemon, so just do that. But it is actually helpful, is it?

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah, it’s a bit of a Chinese medicine thing.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Sophie Hanley:
But we also use it in practise because it’s the acidity in the lemon and apple cider vinegar stimulate the stomach to produce its own gastric acid and enzymes to kind of break down food. So, especially for anyone who has a bit of sluggish digestion or tends to get a bit bloated towards the end of the day, having that kind of kick of acidity in the morning can be great for that.

Sophie Hanley:
But it’s also lemon is really nice for the liver. So, that’s the other part of it too, it just kind of cleanses the liver.

Hannah:
And when it comes to protein, is there any better proteins over worse proteins for our gut health? It might be a tricky one. We do talk a lot about protein being really crucial, particularly as women we don’t get enough of it generally.

Sophie Hanley:
Yes.

Hannah:
But is there a not so great protein?

Sophie Hanley:
I think it’s really important to get a variety of plant proteins and meat proteins. So, just because you eat meat, it doesn’t mean you can’t have plant proteins. So, legumes and tempeh and nut butters and hemp seeds and all those sorts of things are great.

Sophie Hanley:
I think there needs to be a bit of a balance with meats. To not be eating loads of red meat and balance that with a bit of fish and chicken. But also for me, it’s actually all about the quality. There’s a big difference between good quality meat and poor quality meat.

Hannah:
Yeah, yeah.

Sophie Hanley:
And you’ll see cheap meat is cheap for a reason because it’s been grown really quickly. It’s probably-

Hannah:
Injected with water and those other stuff.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah, antibody molecules and hormones. So with meat, I would definitely be going for grass-fed, organic, those sorts of things, maybe something from the Farmers’ Market. And yeah and maybe limiting red meat to once or twice a week. But everyone is different with what they need also.

Hannah:
Yeah, yeah. And I guess one that I’ve always sort of wondered, if we’re talking about digestion, in the evening I assume our digestion starts to slow down as we start to prepare ourselves for sleep. Is it better for our gut health and our digestion in particular to have our larger meals earlier in the day than it is to sit on, say a really have you red meat pasta dish or something in the evening, and then we go to sleep with it all sitting in our tummy or doesn’t it really matter?

Sophie Hanley:
Everyone is a bit different with that. But it is definitely better to eat at least three hours before bed. So, if you can’t manage to do that with your schedule, I would say have a lighter meal in the evening and a larger meal at lunch. But some people thrive better with vice versa, either or.

Sophie Hanley:
As in some people thrive better with five meals throughout the day. Some people better with three, but definitely you shouldn’t be feeling really full when you go to bed. No, that’s not good for the digestion and the body.

Hannah:
Digestion.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah, yeah.

Hannah:
Yeah, and just before we wrap up our convo on gut health, is there any other sort of tips and tricks that are really, I guess, easy to implement or very important for us to look at trying to implement in our lives?

Sophie Hanley:
I guess when we are looking at kind of food as medicine, I kind of often look at the person and how they’re feeling as to kind of the foods that they should be eating. And I do quite a bit of this and in the way of, I guess, preparing food.

Sophie Hanley:
So, if someone has kind of poor digestion or maybe weak digestion, I’m often recommending more kind of well cooked foods that are easily digestible. Things like stews and maybe like stews with lots of things in them, more kind of baked foods.

Sophie Hanley:
And also are using kind of pickled foods as well, which that sourness and that bitterness kind of stimulates digestion as well as someone who kind of needs energising often use quite a bit of like stir fries because they’re quite energising foods and things like bone broths can be quite energising because they’re nutrient dense.

Hannah:
Yeah, okay.

Sophie Hanley:
And also looking, a lot of women as they’re going through menopause and that phase of their life, they’re often feeling quite hot and inflamed and using a lot of more cooling foods, salads and fruits and cucumbers and maybe some yeah, raw foods and things as well to really cool that down.

Sophie Hanley:
So, kind of having a look at how you are feeling energetically and thinking about the foods that might be better for you because sometimes we have this idea that, oh, we need to eat salads all year round or smoothie bowls, but it’s not always what the body is needing.

Hannah:
What the body is needing.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah, if that kind of makes sense.

Hannah:
Yeah, yeah. I like that. I’ve never sort of really thought about it in that way, but it makes sense that if you’re … You do feel that some foods suit your energy levels at the time or support you and what you’re doing at that stage of your life better than others do.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah.

Hannah:
And sort of letting go of that whole, “Oh, we have to … I have to do this or I have to eat this or I have to have a mix of things.” It’s like, well, what feels right for you in your body right now.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah.

Hannah:
As long as, what I’m hearing is, as long as we’re looking at those whole foods, sort of jumping to what feels right in my body right now is a Mac and cheeseburger, probably not.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah.

Hannah:
You’re probably going to feel even worse afterwards.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah. This is true. So it does take a bit of training, I guess, to get kind of in tune with your body in what it needs.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Sophie Hanley:
But it also changes throughout the year as well, you know?

Hannah:
Yeah.

Sophie Hanley:
Especially here with our strong seasons. You’re not eating a salad in winter that’s just definitely …

Hannah:
Yeah, yeah. But I love that. Great. Well, is there anywhere that people could go, just to get to, I guess educate themselves a little bit more with gut health?

Sophie Hanley:
Well, if they want to follow along on my Instagram, I might often share a lot of gut health info. So, it’s just sophiehanley.nutrition. And there’s, I guess there’s lots of good books on gut health as well around just learning.

Sophie Hanley:
We don’t learn a lot in school about our gut and how important it is. And especially if you have symptoms, which a lot of people do have some gut symptoms. It’s a good idea to either do a bit of reading or reach out to someone to kind of help with that.

Hannah:
And understand it a little bit more.

Sophie Hanley:
Yeah.

Hannah:
Well thank you so much, Soph. That was awesome. We are going to be jumping straight into recording our next podcast, which is all about what we can do around Christmas time. So, we’ll wrap this one up and see you on the next one. So, thank you once again for your time.

Sophie Hanley:
Great. Thanks so much, Hannah.

Hannah:
Thanks, and until next time guys, we’ll catch you later.

Speaker 1:
Thank you for listening to the Burn Pod, real life tips for helping real world women like you live healthier, happier, and thrive from the inside out. If you’d like to learn more about our incredible fitness and health culture, head to burntheory.com.au where you can join a class, sign up to one of our online programmes and find out more.

Speaker 1:
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