Desiree Nielsen wrote a book called Un-Junk Your Diet: How to Shop, Cook, and Eat to Fight Inflammation and Feel Better Forever. She laughs and admits it’s a long title, but she wanted her readers to get the message that took her years of research.
Desiree will continue to follow innovative gut science and walk the walk when it comes to fighting inflammation and the stigma that exists when it comes to talking about digestive health.
Take a deep breath and get prepared to confront the good, the bad and the ugly (bacteria that is).
How did you start to focus on the area of digestive health?
I had always been interested in anti-inflammatory diets. Dr. Andrew Weil became my guru and influenced my work a lot. The digestive health piece came as a surprise to me. I encountered so many people who had food sensitivities. The more educated I became, the more passionate I became.
Are there misconceptions about digestive health and specifically probiotics?
Some of the biggest misconceptions are that all fermented foods contain true probiotics. They may contain live bacteria but this does not mean that they always contain the bacteria that have a beneficial response on the human gut.
All fermented foods are not necessarily probiotics. We need to be aware of the dosages you need to reach in order to have an effect. Ten billion makes an impact. This makes sense because we have ten trillion bacteria in our guts. If you’re lucky, you get one billion in a serving of yogurt.
How is it even possible to reach these numbers?
You need to continue to take probiotics, like BioK+, in order to have a lasting impact. If you have taken antibiotics, you also need to take more probiotics at the same time and for five days afterwards. If you are someone who suffers from chronic inflammation, there is an imbalance that needs to be balanced with probiotics.
Will pills make a difference?
It is the quality that matters. There are bacteria that are strong enough to surpass the acid in the stomach. Probiotics are the acid-resistant type if they are live and fresh. If you freeze dry them they will be weakened.
Do you notice the difference if you slack on your probiotic usage?
Even with as well as I eat, if for some reason I go without my probiotics for a few days, I feel the difference. My gut feels more sluggish and heavier. I don’t feel as energetic as I do with it.
Can probiotics help even with more serious digestive issues?
It is an important piece in healing. Probiotics can do amazing work with ulcerative colitis especially when dealing with loose bowels. A good probiotic can help them from running to the washroom 24 hours a day. They can start digesting their food. The gut can’t heal as long as inflammation is running rampant.
Are there foods that may inhibit the good bacteria from thriving?
What will hinder the work of probiotics is if your diet helps with feeding bad bacteria as opposed to good bacteria. The typical North American diet has too much animal protein and sugar, which fosters the growth of more inflammatory bacteria. It slows down the rate of peristalsis.
People aren’t always comfortable with the idea of bacteria.
We’re talking about poop and gas: it’s not polite conversation! Yet 70% of people have a gut related problem. The key is to eat a lot of plant foods. This is the food for bacteria. Eat a ton of fruits and vegetables at every meal. Beans are prebiotic fibres and feed beneficial bacteria. You don’t want to choose refined and processed foods, which can feed the unfriendly bacteria. Instead of a big plate of pasta, you want to have whole grains like quinoa or brown rice.
Does this mean we have to say goodbye to sugar and pasta forever?
No one food will taint your health if it’s a treat. I live by the 80/20 rule. You’ll be healthy enough to survive the treat if you eat mostly well. Most of us have that inverted. People who are interested in natural health believe that sugar is toxic, but it won’t harm you. The poison is in the dose.
Well, we like her even more. Balance in all things – except probiotics that is!
To learn more about Desiree’s work and to order her book, check out her website.