Ange Sinclair Digestive Detective gut health immune system advice

Q&A: Naturopath & Digestive Health Expert Ange Sinclair

Ongoing digestive struggles were what led Ange Sinclair to study naturopathy. We sit down with the ‘Digestive Detective’ to learn about her holistic journey towards good gut health, pick her…

Ongoing digestive struggles were what led Ange Sinclair to study naturopathy. We sit down with the ‘Digestive Detective’ to learn about her holistic journey towards good gut health, pick her brain on the connection between the immune system and your gut, and receive some sage wisdom on improving your gut health for a healthier, happier you!

Talk us through what led you to study herbal medicine, nutrition, and naturopathy. 

I have suffered with digestive issues my entire life (predominantly constipation). I was always told it was IBS, that the food I was eating didn’t impact it, and there was nothing I could do. Then in 2001 my youngest child was born with eczema on his ears which was so bad that every time we pulled off his shirt it looked like his ears would come off. Again I was told food played no part in this so I began to look for other options to our issues rather than steroid creams and medication. This led me to naturopathy. I had three children under three so I had to break my study up into sections over a long period, however I got there in the end. 

What are the most common misconceptions you’ve found people have about gut health? 

The biggest misconception people have is that taking probiotics will fix all their woes and that is all they will need to do. Gut health needs to have a multifaceted approach or you won’t see long lasting results. So it’s necessary to focus on your diet, fixing nutritional deficiencies, find and remove the cause, and work on your lifestyle factors like exercise, sleep, unresolved emotions, and stress levels, all of which are major milestones when fixing gut problems. 

How does our gut health impact our immune system? 

80% of our immune system is in our gut. From the moment we are born, our gut bacteria educates our immune system on how to behave. As our gut bacteria are constantly exposed to new things from our environment, including the food we eat, things we inhale, breathe or rub on skin, our gut bacteria modulates any invaders to stop our immune system from being sent into overdrive every time something new comes in. The immune system’s job is to maintain a balance between reaction and tolerance. This is all very dependent on the health of your gut and gut bacteria. 

What are some of the most common symptoms of poor gut health? 

There are lots of symptoms for poor gut health; brain fog, reflux, constipation, diarrhea, anxiety, depression, poor sleep, hormonal issues, bad breath, bloating and foul smelling gas. These are the ones that most people seek help for. 

Some of your favourite foods to improve gut health? 

I love fruit and vegetables. They are easy, accessible, cost effective and most people are not eating as many varieties or vegetables as they should be. I recommend that you aim for 40 different fruits and vegetables per week as the phytochemicals that are present in fruit and vegetables feed our good gut bacteria and increase the healing function of our gut. Start slowly and gradually increase. Make sure you are getting all colours – greens, reds, oranges, yellows, purples, whites, and blues. There has been research to show that the more vegetables you eat gives you a more attractive glow. Who doesn’t want that? 

Is there anything we can do on a daily basis to improve our digestive health? 

This is a simple one for me! 

  1. Make sure you are relaxed when you eat so you can be in ‘rest and digest’ rather than ‘fight or flight’. 
  2. Make sure you chew every mouthful at least 20 times between bites as this makes the food much easier for the body to digest. 
  3. Don’t eat too much as this adds stress on the digestive system. Digestion is one of the most stressful things your body does everyday. 
  4. Make sure all meals have fat/fibre/ protein in them to stabilise your blood sugar and to keep you feeling fuller longer. 
  5. Drink water. As we are 70 % water and our stomach counts on that water to increase the mucous layer that keeps pathogens out. 
  6. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables daily. It will make a big difference to your gut health. 

What does a day on your plate look like? 

Breakfast: Anything from a smoothie to leftovers from the night before, it depends on how much time I have. I do love coconut yogurt with a few different fruits for breakfast; I especially like red, purple, and black fruits for their high polyphenols which super charge gut bacteria. 

Lunch: Generally a large salad in summer and in winter I often have a vegetable soup or vegetable curry. 

Dinner: It can be anything from Mexican beans with guacamole, tomato and chilli salsa with corn chips or a traditional roast with full roasted vegetables. We have about 40 different meals on rotation to make sure we are getting wide variety of fruit, vegetables, rice, beans and pulses. 

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Published: 15/07/19

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