This Interview Reveals Why The Gut-Brain Connection So Important to Your Overall Health

This Interview Reveals Why The Gut-Brain Connection So Important to Your Overall Health

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Gut health is one of the biggest trending areas of health right now, and it’s no wonder – with so many wellness benefits to be gained from optimising the function of the gut. We spoke to Jo Hall from Jo & Co Foods to find out more about the philosophy behind her brand, and why the gut-brain connection is so important for us all.

What is your aim at Jo &Co.?

The health food industry is one of the fastest growing sectors worldwide, and my aim is to encourage people to eat fewer processed foods and look for healthier ways to eat, via my company Jo & Co Foods. My goal at Jo & Co. is to create healthy food that everyone wants to eat. Good food is one of life’s greatest pleasures and if I am to eat healthily, the first emphasis must be on taste. Eating should always be a pleasurable experience, and so everything we create is designed to not only be full of taste, flavour and fun to eat but also good for our health – no matter what your age. What we put into our bodies has such a powerful effect on our health and wellness.

What was your own journey with diet?

I lost a third of my large bowel after giving birth to my son, Finn. This resulted in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and food sensitivities. Despite this, I am in very good health and adhere to a regimen of eating healthy food that is easy to digest, avoiding any unpleasant symptoms of IBS. Second to this, after Finn’s autism diagnosis, I removed processed foods, sugar, trans fats, processed salt, gluten and lactose 
from his diet. Within days I noticed an improvement in his cognitive abilities and that he had fewer meltdown episodes. He is now a happy and healthy boy who requires no assistance in school, has no sensory issues, communicates beautifully, and makes friends with relative ease.

Gut health really seems to be an intense point of interest in the wellness industry now. What is your philosophy?

My background as a teacher and librarian serves me well in being able to research the work of the world’s leading gut–brain autism experts. Science has discovered an important connection between the gut and the brain, with 90 per cent of our neurotransmitters manufactured by microbes in our gut.

The extensive research I have read points to scientific discoveries in the importance of gut–brain health for aiding neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, and even depression and anxiety. It makes the term “we are what we eat” seem especially pertinent.

What are some everyday ways we can nurture our own gut health?

Jo & Co is about being good to the gut. I believe that the decline in our health is due to ignoring the microorganisms that make up 90 per cent of our cells. Most reside in the gut and play an essential role in our health. We need to ensure that what we eat helps and not hinders our gut microbiome in order to optimise our physical and mental health. We have been compromising our health with preservatives, additives, sugar and processed salt, which are all damaging to the gut microbiome. We could still eat most of the foods we have always enjoyed if they weren’t so laden with preservatives and additives to make them last longer or to look a more ‘correct’ colour than they naturally would.

You developed B-Mite with this in mind?

Yes, I developed a healthy version of a famous breakfast savoury spread, it’s called B-Mite. Many families have embraced this product and consider it even tastier than the original spread. Consequently, they have converted many others who didn’t like the original. It is not only tasty due to its umami flavour profile, but also medicinal due to its wide variety of B vitamins, amino acids and trace minerals. Its uses go beyond a spread as it can add depth and complexity to many savoury dishes such as stews, soups and stir fries. It even enhances the taste of chocolate in baked goods! It is certified organic, vegan and contains a de-activated yeast that makes it easy to digest.

What’s your ideology around sugar?

When I went off processed sugar, I had withdrawal symptoms and was horrified at just how addictive sugar clearly is. To lessen sugar cravings, my tip is to consume more good fats such as those found in certain animals, avocados, coconuts, olives, fatty fish, and eggs. Cutting down on processed foods and sugar in order to become more in touch with your body’s natural cravings is essential. We are all almost identical in our DNA, but there is only a 10 per cent similarity in our gut microbiomes, hence it is important for each of us to be in touch with our own unique digestive system.

So where do you suggest people start?

I am not the food police, and I don’t believe in a one-size- fits-all dietary approach. I strongly support the concept of people not denying themselves the pleasure of food, but they also need to realise the crucial importance of knowing whether the ingredients they are consuming are harmful or not to their gut. We can improve our health by listening to when our body wants to eat, what it wants to eat and the amount it wants to eat, and observing how it reacts afterwards. This intuitive approach only works if the “bad“ bacteria in our gut don’t outnumber the beneficial bacteria.

Jo & Co has plans for a wide range of food products that will help make looking after your gut health a tasty, easy and pleasurable experience.

Call 0429 184 350 or visit www.joandcofoods.com.au

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