The Daffodils are bringing welcome colour to the garden and Magnolia blossoms are on the cusp of bursting forth as I type this. It’s definitely my favourite time of year! This newsletter will focus on a subject that I feel genuine passion about – gut health and the gut microbiome! I have recently joined the ranks of the ‘MapMyGut’ affiliated, accredited health professionals, who can assist members of the public wishing to explore their own gut microflora, whilst at the same time adding to the growing body of research. This team is headed by Tim Spectre of King’s College London, Professor of genetic epidemiology in the Department of Twin’s Research, who is the lead investigator for The British Gut Project.

 To back track for a moment, most people are now aware that our gut microbes can influence our health in myriad ways. Indeed an article I wrote in the Spring of last year – “It’s a Bug’s Life” – extolled the virtues of diverse gut flora with its positive correlation with good health, and concluded that this area of research was going to prove very exciting. You can read that article here:

 Professor Tim Spector’s blog provides an inspiring update to one of the fastest growing areas of research. He believes“Microbes are not only essential to how we digest food, they control the calories we absorb,” and “The idea that our microbes may be controlling our minds is just one of many intriguing theories now under the microscope.” Read his full article here:


It’s important to stress that the MapMyGut stool tests are not medical tests, they are not diagnostic, but they shed light on an individual’s microbial diversity using the latest DNA sequencing technology, and your report then provides insight on the key microbes found, and what they mean for you and your health. Armed with this information, a Nutritional Therapist can then assist with appropriate, individually tailored nutritional, dietary and lifestyle advice.  Read more here:

Genova: GI Effects stool test

In the spirit of fairness, I should stress that I will still be using Genova’s comprehensive GI Effects stool tests, where appropriate, for clients wishing to get to the root cause of IBS type symptoms or niggling gastrointestinal discomfort. This stool test is a great functional clinical tool that assesses your gut microbial diversity, any pathogens/parasites, markers of inflammation and sufficiency of digestive function. As such their reports provide really useful clinical guidance on how to optimise digestive function and better manage any gut problems with diet and nutrition. Read more here:

Biolab: Breath Hydrogen & Methane testing

Another clinical tool used to investigate gut issues are breath tests. After taking a careful health and diet history, and analysing the type of symptoms being described, SIBO, or ‘small intestinal bacterial overgrowth’, may be a more appropriate investigation than a stool sample. Abnormal production of gases in the upper intestinal tract can lie behind your bloating and abdominal pain, especially if slow gut transit or constipation is part of the picture. We then absorb these gases for excretion via the lungs, read more here:

Similarly, breath testing can identify if fructose malabsorption is a factor in your bloating and gastrointestinal disturbance. Fructose relies on a transporter for absorption, a carrier in effect, to assist its passage across the gastrointestinal surface, so if an individual’s consumption of fructose happens to exceed this transport capacity, the excess sugar can remain at large, undigested and go on to be fermented by gut bacteria, producing bloating and gut discomfort. Your actual fruit consumption may be low, but fructose is often a ‘stealth sweetener’ used in many processed foods. Look out for ‘fructose corn syrup’ on food packaging. Read more here:

 Last word

So, how do we improve our gut microbial diversity? EAT more VEGETABLES! Whether you’ve had a history of antibiotic use that’s reduced your gut flora, or have a stressful job that will impact their numbers, studies have shown increasing your vegetable intake will help to restore good levels of microflora. Immune function is very dependent on having good, diverse levels of microflora and vegetables also supply crucial B vitamins that support mental health and your innate detoxification function. Struggling with achieving your 5 a day? Come and see me and I’ll show you how the revised recommendation of 6, 7, 8, even 10 portions per day is really not that difficult!