A healthy gut can boost your en­ergy lev­els, im­mu­nity and im­prove men­tal well­be­ing. And, more im­por­tantly, red wine, cheese and bread can help, says nu­tri­tional ther­a­pist Eve Kalinik

Red - - SELF - Words BRIGID MOSS

Eve Kalinik is the first nu­tri­tion ex­pert who’s ever told me to eat a cheese and pickle sand­wich. Ad­mit­tedly, she’s talk­ing un­pas­teurised, aged cheese, fer­mented pickle, served on sour­dough. She’s also of­ten heard to ad­vise her clients to drink full-fat or­ganic, un­ho­mogenised milk, es­pe­cially when it’s made into ke­fir, the yo­ghurt-like drink from eastern Europe (pic­tured). And she’s par­tial to “a de­cent drop of nat­u­ral red on the side”. When we meet, at Dayles­ford in Maryle­bone, Lon­don, she or­ders ac­tual cof­fee, al­beit cold­press cof­fee (made with cold wa­ter).

“Peo­ple are so sur­prised when I tell them to eat cheese,” she says. “But I think they’re the most sur­prised of all when I tell them to eat potato salad.” Pota­toes, it’s true, ac­cord­ing to cur­rent nu­tri­tional fads,

are just a step above lemon sher­bets. She be­gins to wax lyri­cal on the ben­e­fits of cheese, the in­cred­i­ble va­ri­ety of bac­te­ria found in it. It’s a clue: the rea­son she’s cham­pi­oning all th­ese foods is, of course, that they are su­per gut friendly. Mean­ing ei­ther they con­tain ben­e­fi­cial bac­te­ria and/or mi­crobes that in­crease the health of your gut, or they feed said mi­crobes. So what’s so good about potato salad? “Cooked and cooled pota­toes con­tain re­sis­tant starch, a po­tent source of food that’s good for the gut,” she says.

Kalinik wants to im­prove your mi­cro­biome, your per­sonal mix of gut mi­crobes, be­cause firstly there is an epi­demic of gut prob­lems, such as IBS. And se­condly, a whole raft of new re­search is re­veal­ing your gut as the core of good health. Phys­i­cally, the gut af­fects ev­ery­thing from pro­duc­tion of B vi­ta­mins, car­dio­vas­cu­lar health, en­ergy lev­els, min­eral ab­sorp­tion, im­mu­nity, hor­mones and ap­petite, plus it’s been linked to men­tal health, in­clud­ing the pro­duc­tion of neu­ro­trans­mit­ters such as sero­tonin and dopamine.

As well as gen­eral health, there’s a spe­cific and per­haps not un­ex­pected ef­fect from eat­ing for your gut. Feed­back from her clients has in­formed her that eat­ing this way helps re­duce IBS symp­toms, so you go to the loo reg­u­larly, com­fort­ably, sat­is­fac­to­rily, she says. “I think peo­ple are get­ting more open-minded, go­ing to the loo is a lot more widely talked about, and that can only be a good thing. Peo­ple of­ten lose weight on her pro­gramme “even as a side ef­fect”.

What her ap­proach isn’t about is elim­i­nat­ing foods. “I don’t be­lieve in cut­ting out whole food groups un­less you have to. So many peo­ple come into my prac­tice who’ve cut out sugar, then gluten, then dairy… this, from a gut as well as a mind per­spec­tive, is a catas­tro­phe.” In­deed, when it comes to the gut, diver­sity is key. Eat­ing a wide range of food en­cour­ages a wide range of bac­te­ria – and that is

what you want for good health. Gut health has been on the health radar for a while but Kalinik is the one who’s mak­ing it a pri­or­ity – and de­li­cious. Her in­ter­est be­gan for per­sonal rea­sons, while work­ing as a fash­ion PR. “My story is not too dis­sim­i­lar from that of my clients. Af­ter a healthy-ish child­hood, I picked up a gut par­a­site while trav­el­ling in north Africa. I ate a hap­haz­ard diet as a stu­dent, so by my twen­ties I was hav­ing a lot of bloat­ing and con­sti­pa­tion, pain and feel­ing mis­er­able.” This turned into re­cur­rent UTIS and kid­ney in­fec­tions. Re­cur­ring so of­ten, in fact, that all her doc­tor could of­fer was an­tibi­otics.

An in­creas­ingly des­per­ate search for an­swers led her to a con­sul­ta­tion with a natur­o­pathic nu­tri­tion­ist. “I started mak­ing changes to my diet and, over time, my symp­toms be­gan to im­prove. Peo­ple ex­pect a quick fix but if the prob­lem comes from decades of life­style, it’s not go­ing to im­prove in­stantly.” In her prac­tice, Kalinik sees ev­i­dence ev­ery day of the mod­ern epi­demic of dys­bio­sis, ex­actly what hap­pened to her. It’s down to life­style: an­tibi­otics, stress, pro­cessed food, low fi­bre, ge­netic pre­dis­po­si­tions, high sugar, ex­po­sure to bac­te­ria or par­a­sites.

“It’s usu­ally a com­bi­na­tion – there’s rarely a sin­gle cause,” she says. Kalinik’s huge health change led her to study nu­tri­tion at the Col­lege of Natur­o­pathic Medicine, qual­i­fy­ing four years ago, aged 34, and set­ting up her clinic. The ba­sis of her plan – and her new book – is ‘an­ces­tral eat­ing’, us­ing foods cul­ti­vated and cooked in more tra­di­tional ways. “My motto is: noth­ing too ex­treme, over­whelm­ing or ex­pen­sive.” And the key is, hu­mans have eaten fer­mented foods in all their smelly glory since food cul­ti­va­tion be­gan. So Kalinik loves sauer­kraut, packed with good bac­te­ria, which “costs pen­nies to make” and ke­fir, “it takes a minute each day”. “It’s about com­ing back to real foods,” she says. We prom­ise they’re de­li­cious, too.

Be Good To Your Gut: The Ul­ti­mate Guide To Gut Health – With 80 De­li­cious Recipes To Feed Your Body And Mind by Eve Kalinik (Pi­atkus, £20)

“A whole raft of new re­search is RE­VEAL­ING your GUT as the core of good HEALTH”

Ke­fir is a rich source of di­verse pro­bi­otics

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