Gut health is a real thing. It’s not a fad or a concept that some dodgy scientists have come up with to sell a product. While it has its origins in ancient Greek and traditional Chinese medicine, it’s only recently been hitting the headlines. So why does it matter and what does it have to do with the ZOE program and personalised nutrition?
Gut microbiome is unique to each individual and is made up of trillions of microbial cells, both good and bad. It’s important we cultivate and maintain a healthy microbiome with good food choices; gut health has been linked to chronic conditions, mental health, and heart health amongst other things. There’s been a drive towards understanding gut health and personalised nutrition and health science company ZOE has been at the forefront of this.
It might sound complicated – and it is if you’re a scientist. But for us as individuals it doesn’t have to be! There are simple, effective things we can do to make a difference.
What is personalised nutrition?
As each person’s microbiome and genetics are unique, it means the way our bodies react to certain foods can differ. And ZOE has a way to find out how healthy our microbiome is and monitor how our blood sugar spikes in different situations. ZOE’s PREDICT studies ‘have shown that there is up to a tenfold variation in responsesto the same meal for different people’. If we know what we’re dealing with we can act accordingly.
How the ZOE program works
I recently signed up online to the ZOE program and was sent a kit. It includes:
- A blood sugar sensor - to wear for two weeks to measure blood sugar
- A gut health test - you send back a poo sample to discover what bugs are living in your gut
- A blood fat test - you send back a finger prick test to see how you clear fats from your blood.
You then get a report within six weeks with data to teach you how to eat in sync with your metabolism.
What is doing the ZOE program like?
At first, I felt a bit self-conscious about wearing the glucose monitor on my arm. You might have seen people out and about with these weird bright yellow patches! However, I soon became very blasé about it. Seeing how my blood sugar reacted to various foods and times of the day became quite addictive; it’s very simple to monitor via the app.
You don’t need to be pre-diabetic or diabetic to do this! It gives you immediate feedback about the impact of eating all foods. The dips and peaks are normal if they stay in a certain range and your blood sugar control is considered good if a spike returns to a normal range anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours and it makes it very clear that you are less prone to large spikes after eating veg and protein before carbs.
What difference does what and how you eat make?
One afternoon I ate a large slice of carrot cake before a Pilates class. I wasn’t surprised to see a huge spike, and I confess I felt unwell during the session as a result. About an hour after eating the cake the spike regulated back to a more normal range. (Phew!) Which is pretty much what you would expect.
However, you can also see how combining certain foods can have an impact. Eating protein, fat, and fibre-rich foods along with carbs doesn’t spike your blood sugar. For example, I could see that eating cooked oats on their own had more impact than mixing peanut butter, seeds, and yogurt into the cooked oats.
Do you have to sign up and pay for ZOE to benefit from their work?
ZOE provide extensive resources, even if you don’t sign up for the program. The basic research and information they give is helpful, informative, and relevant. It’s all evidence based rather than just theory. You’ll find plenty of resources on their website and you can subscribe to their podcast for free. I will be writing another post soon to tell you about what happens as I go along the Zoe journey and get my results back.
Have you taken part in the ZOE program? Did you find it useful? Have you changed anything? Let me know in the comments!