Gut to know... Leah Vanderveldt
We first came across Leah in the Evening Standard which featured her "Ultimate Gut Heath Bowl" and we thought we "gutta" speak to her...
How and when did you discover the importance of Gut Health?
Maybe about six or seven years ago a friend had mentioned how much probiotics were helping her with her digestive issues. As someone who had struggled with that for years, I thought I'd give them a try. From there I noticed a positive impact and wanted to learn more. I realized when my digestive health was in order I felt better overall — with more energy better skin, and less mood swings. It's an ongoing practice in balance and awareness, but my gut health is so much better now than it was back then.
What Gut Friendly tips do you employ daily? Fermenting etc?
I take a probiotic in the morning, have either kombucha or a scoop of raw fermented sauerkraut at least once a day, and I meditate. I have found that the quiet calm that I get from unplugging and breathing — even for a few minutes — helps my entire system (and perhaps especially my gut) function better. The brain-gut/mind-body connection is no joke!
What's the simplest tip you could offer people on Gut Health?
Start experimenting. Find one or two fermented foods or drinks you actually like and start adding them to your diet — in addition to kombucha and sauerkraut, there's kimchi, kefir, coconut water kefir, miso, natural (no sugar added) yogurt, I've even seen fermented hot sauce, which I'm dying to try.
Observe the impact they have on your body and gut and adjust accordingly. So much of health is individual to your unique body, so really knowing what you respond to is more useful than any advice someone can give you. Become an expert on your own body by trying new things and listening to your gut.
Where do you see the future for Gut Health awareness?
Along the lines of that individualism of health and your body being unique, I think the future of gut health is in personalization. Whether that means finding an efficient way to test out our gut bacteria or using genetics to determine what would be most helpful for your gut, it's not going to be a one-size-fits-all approach. A combination of new science and getting benefits from old-school fermentation will be the most beneficial to us and our precious guts.
Leah Vanderveldt is recipe developer and wellness writer based in Brooklyn. She’s the author of The New Nourishing and loves learning about everything under the holistic wellness umbrella, from meditation, to Ayurvedic nutrition, to tarot. She's the former food editor of mindbodygreen.com, where she wrote and developed whole food-based recipes and edited nutrition content and is certified in Culinary Nutrition from the Natural Gourmet Institute. You can find her regularly cooking up vegetable-centric meals over on her blog, The Nourish Exchange.