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Gut health is no longer a total mystery, but it’s still a pretty complex topic. If you’ve been wondering why you’re facing digestive issues, can’t figure out which foods might be upsetting your gut or simply want to know how to feed a healthy gut, advice can vary. But Desiree Nielsen, registered dietitian and host of The Allsorts Podcast, has you covered.
With a special focus on plant-based nutrition and gut health, Nielsen is an expert who knows guts and good gut health. In fact, she’s created a cookbook filled with recipes and key gut insight. Good for Your Gut is meant to give you the information – and foods – you need to soothe, heal and protect your gut.
Gut health isn’t just trendy – it’s essential to your overall health
Sure, we’re more aware of gut health than ever before. But there are still many mysteries surrounding gut health, food’s influence and gut changes over time. And that’s exactly why Nielsen created her cookbook. Though she’d worked with others for years in the realm of chronic inflammation and digestive health, her own health changed her path slightly.
“I became my own test subject,” Nielsen says. “I had my first child, and I think the typical [stress of] childbirth and the first kid – it was takeout every night. I [was] stressed out and not sleeping all of a sudden. My gut started going wild.”
Nielsen was ultimately diagnosed with IBS, and it changed her approach to gut health. While she once took a more clinical approach, her health woes showed her the impact of the gut on overall well-being. She also discovered that finding the right foods for specific gut health concerns can be tricky.
“As someone who’s 100% plant based, I know firsthand that finding plant-based, low-FODMAP recipes is very challenging,” Nielsen points out. So, she decided to create recipes for these gut health needs and others. With her book divided into three sections – protect, heal and soothe – the recipes are meant to guide people through any gut needs.
The gut is connected to all of your body’s systems
One of the biggest takeaways from Good for Your Gut and all that Nielsen has learned? “The body is deeply interconnected… one of the things that I find most fascinating about the gut is that it really lies at the intersection of so many of these systems,” she says.
“I often say your gut is not Vegas! What happens there does not stay there,” Nielsen laughs.
In addition to the gut’s potential influence from head to toe, health conditions, like IBS and celiac disease, are often connected to the gut. But, as Nielsen points out, the underlying cause can vary. “It’s this constellation of potential root causes,” she explains. “Maybe your microbiome is out of whack. Maybe your gut-brain connection is challenged – there are so many reasons. Maybe you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).”
Every gut is different, and nutritional needs can vary
The sections of Good for Your Gut don’t simply cover different gut health stages. They also include different meals for different nutritional needs. While all of the “protect” recipes are developed to help foster your microbiome, the “heal” recipes are meant for inflamed guts, stressed guts or guts that are having trouble in any way. And the “soothe” recipes are a first step for every gut.
But perhaps most critically of all, the recipes are both nourishing for the gut and your taste buds. “I want to show folks that no matter what is going on with your gut, food is meant to be joyful,” Nielsen says. “You should actually enjoy the process of eating, and it can be really easy to fear food because you never know how [you’re] gonna feel after [you] eat.”
And Nielsen’s cookbook can be helpful for those at every stage of seeking answers about your gut health. “I know that not everyone can afford to get to a dietitian or not everyone lives in a place where there is an experienced digestive health dietitian. It’s changing now, but for a long time it was hard to even find someone who had the training and the depth of experience… people can pick [the book] up in the bookstore, go to the library, have access to this information, and then they can take it back to their doctor.”
For more of Desiree Nielsen’s gut insights – and recipes that can feed your gut in any stage of healing or health – grab a copy of Good for Your Gut.