What do you do with your time outside academia?
I went into research to make a difference, but I quickly became frustrated that, despite the incredible research that was being done, it was the unfounded and potentially dangerous fad nutrition myths that were being fed to the public. I often see extremes in my clinic, with some people too scared to eat because they’ve spent money on invalid food intolerance tests, while others overdosing on herbal supplements in order to ‘boost’ their gut health. This misrepresentation of the gut and the concerning trend towards generic, over-simplified recommendations are risking people’s health. So outside of academia I run @TheGutHealthDoctor, where I use my social platform to communicate the science in an easy-to-digest way (no pun intended!) and work to empower people with the knowledge to make informed, evidence-based decisions about their health.
What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
Spending more face-to-face time with my research team. I have really missed the in-person connection- our best research proposals have come from in-person brainstorming. I am also looking forward to reopening more of our study recruitment which have been delayed because of COVID.
What advice would you give to yourself to your 18-year-old self?
I would encourage my younger self to believe in your abilities, stay true to your values and don’t be afraid to pursue your ambition. It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you’re passionate and put in the hard work together with a strong team, you can achieve anything. And, of course, always listen to your gut!
Favourite way to start the day?
With my frothy cashew latte! Only takes a few minutes to make (none of this soaking a straining of cashew faff!) and not only contains the gut-loving prebiotics from whole cashews and dates. For those who have my book, Eat More, Live Well, recipe is on page 300. For those who don’t, blend together cashews, dates and black coffee and wahlaaaa!
Who inspires you most and why?
Oprah Winfrey. An embodiment of women empowerment, her sheer determination and strength to overcome many challenges inspire me to never give up, even when things might get tough.
Rob Knight. The Knight Lab is doing ground-breaking microbiome research.
The Queen’s Gambit – I binge-watched the series when Christmas was cancelled in 2020. And I haven’t trusted myself to go back on Netflix since!
You'd spend an hour cooking...
My fermented wheaten bread! The microbes do most of the work, I just have to mix a few things together and sit back and relax while the microbes transform the ingredients into a flavour-filled dough ready for the oven.