How to improve your gut health in seven ways by Jo Whitton author of Simple, Healing Food | 7NEWS

A cooking expert has shared her top seven tips for improving gut health – while still eating cake.

Jo Whitton, the founder of popular health and cooking platform Quirky Cooking, says she has experienced “first hand” the benefits of eating nourishing, fuss-free recipes.

“I encourage everyone to see traditional, whole foods as ‘nutritional medicine’,” Jo explains.

“I’m passionate about sharing practical steps to help with the transition to a healing, wholefood diet, as I have experienced first-hand the life-changing benefits of eating this way.

“I know all too well how overwhelming it feels to have to cope with chronic health issues, day in and day out.

“I also know that as you begin to use traditional whole foods as nutritional medicine, you will experience the life-changing health benefits our family experienced.”

Jo’s book Simple, Healing Food takes a deep dive into gut health, providing recipes, tips and information that are based on traditional healing foods and the principles of health and wellbeing, which were so life-changing for Jo and her family

Here’s Jo’s top tips for improving your gut health without harsh protocols and stressful diet changes.

1. Reduce stress.

“Constantly rushing, forgetting appointments, losing things – including your temper – brain fog… These are red flags telling you to reduce the stress in your life,” Jo says.

“Studies show an increase in inflammation-causing microorganisms in the gut of chronically-stressed people.

“There are always things we can’t change, but responding calmly and focusing on what we CAN change reduces the overall ‘stress load’, helping us cope better.

“Try reducing clutter, slowing down, and scheduling time to do nothing. Restart a hobby you once loved, get help at home if you can, and foster healthy relationships.”

2. Prioritise sleep.

“Sleep is crucial for gut health and stress resilience,” Jo explains.

“When you’re asleep, your body focuses on healing. Restful sleep enhances energy levels and productivity, stabilises your mood, and even helps reduce weight gain by slowing down your metabolism.

“Never feel guilty about resting when you need to, especially when working on healing.”

3. Drink filtered water.

“The quality of the water we put into our bodies is just as important as the quality of the food we eat,” Jo says.

“Domestic water can be contaminated by hazardous bacteria and other microbes, and can cause gastrointestinal illnesses such as gastro-enteritis, giardia, dysentery and hepatitis.

“To prevent this, tap water is treated with chlorine to reduce microbial overgrowth. However, when chlorine is ingested or comes in contact with our skin, it damages our microbiome! Filter your tap water to ensure it’s pure and uncontaminated.”

4. Detox your home.

“Avoid home and body products that contain fake scents,” Jo suggests.

“These scents contain phthalates which are designed to ‘stick’ to your skin, but cause hormone disruption and affect gut health.

“Your products may be putting a chronic toxic load on your body, making it difficult to heal. People who make the switch to natural products notice chronic headaches disappearing, skin rashes clearing up and brain fog lifting. It’s worth looking into.”

5. Spend time in nature.

“Zoo animals that are not in their natural habitat suffer from chronic illnesses they don’t have in the wild,” Jo claims.

“Similarly, humans are healthiest when close to nature rather than cooped up in an artificial environment all day.

“This means fresh air, bare feet, sunshine, breathing in the essential oils from the trees, getting in contact with dirt.

“Outdoor time strengthens the immune system, improves mood and reduces stress. Sunlight boosts vitamin D levels, has a powerful antibacterial effect and helps improve sleep patterns. Try getting up early and sitting in the sunshine or going for a walk first thing (when UV-B light is low) for a good start to the day.”

6. Eat a natural, whole food diet.

“The most nourishing foods are those as close to their natural state as possible: pastured meat and eggs, seafood, vegetables, ancient grains, nuts, seeds and fruit,” says Jo.

“Up until a couple of generations ago, these were the foods humans thrived on. It wasn’t until the industrialisation of our food system that we started regularly consuming highly-refined foods, and now food-related diseases are commonplace.

“Instead of resorting to fad diets, focus on whole foods, avoid refined foods, and include healing foods in your diet like meat stocks, egg yolks, natural fats and fermented foods.”

7. Reduce starchy foods.

“Starches feed gut bacteria, which is great when the starches are unrefined (from a variety of root vegetables, fruits and legumes), and your gut bacteria are balanced and thriving,” says Jo.

“But when your gut is struggling with bacterial overgrowth, the starches will feed those as well and they’ll continue to thrive.

“Refined starches also create an environment in the gut that pathogenic bacteria and parasites thrive in. Swap starchy fillers for extra veggies, and include protein and fat with each meal to reduce the need for snacking.”

But what about cake, you say?

“A nourishing treat now and then is important for well-being, and delicious cakes can be made with whole food ingredients,” Jo suggests. “So, enjoy some cake, and be well.”

How to make a Raspberry Jelly Cheesecake Slice


This popular recipe is a healthy revamp of the old Aussie favourite, Raspberry Jelly Cheesecake Slice.

It’s perfect for holiday celebrations and can be made dairy free or with quark or cream cheese. Our local organic dairy makes delicious quark (a soft, fresh cheese similar to ricotta), and I prefer it to cream cheese for making cheesecakes, however either one can be used in this recipe.

Makes 24 squares

1⁄4 tsp fine sea salt

1 Tbsp honey or pure maple syrup

1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon

3 Tbsp hot water

350g quark or cream cheese

600g pure cream

180g honey or pure maple syrup

1 Tbsp rosewater (optional)

2 Tbsp organic gelatine powder


38cm x 26cm baking dish baking paper

1. Line the baking dish with baking paper and set aside.

2. To make base, place pecans, butter, salt, honey or maple syrup and cinnamon in a food processor and process until mixture comes together to form a rough dough. Don’t overprocess, you want it to have a little bit of texture.

3. Press mixture evenly into prepared dish and place in freezer while making filling.

4. To make filling, combine gelatine and hot water in a small bowl and mix with a fork. Pour into a heavy-based saucepan and add quark or cream cheese, cream, honey or syrup and vanilla. Place over medium–low heat and cook, stirring, until gelatine is dissolved and mixture is smooth.

5. Remove base from freezer, pour on filling and return to freezer to set for at least 2 hours.

6. To make jelly, place raspberries, honey or syrup, water, rosewater (if using) and gelatine in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon and breaking up raspberries as mixture warms. Reduce heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until raspberries break down and release their juices.

7. Strain raspberry jelly mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing with

a silicone spatula to extract as much juice as possible. Discard seeds. Taste and add a little more honey if you prefer it sweeter.

8. Allow jelly to cool slightly – don’t let it set. Remove dish from freezer and quickly pour jelly over filling, tilting the dish to spread jelly evenly over surface. Return to freezer for 1 hour, or until cheesecake is set firm. Cut into 24 squares and serve.

Thermomix® notes

Place all base ingredients in TM bowl and chop 10 secs/speed 5. Whisk gelatine into hot water and set aside. Place all filling ingredients in TM bowl and cook 5 mins/60°C/speed 4. Continue as above.

Place all jelly ingredients in clean TM bowl. Cook 10 mins/100°C/speed 2. Continue as above.

Dairy Free: Base: Use coconut oil instead of butter. Filling: Soak 250g raw cashews or blanched almonds in filtered water for up to 6 hours. Drain nuts and set aside. Place 600ml coconut cream in a saucepan and sprinkle over 2 Tbsp gelatine powder. Warm over medium–low heat, stirring, until gelatine has dissolved. Remove from heat. Place nuts and coconut cream mixture in a blender or Thermomix and add 1½ Tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 150g honey or maple syrup, or to taste. Blend on high speed until smooth (1 min/speed 9 in Thermomix). Pour over base. Jelly: Follow directions above.

Nut Free: Swap pecans for sunflower seeds.

Serving suggestion

Serve cold from the fridge, or if frozen, thaw before serving.

This content was originally published here.

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