Hi Dr Hazel, tell us about you and your work…
My name is Dr Hazel Wallace - I’m a medical doctor, Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutR), author and founder of The Food Medic. I started ‘The Food Medic’ blog in 2012, as a medical student with a passion for the role of nutrition and lifestyle in health promotion and disease prevention. Since then it has extended to various other platforms and publications including books, webinars, and a podcast. I recently published my third book The Female Factor: making women' health count and what it means for you.
What motivated you to get involved with Symprove?
Our mission at The Food Medic hasn’t changed in the 10 years since I started, and that is; to bring evidence-based health and nutrition information that is easy-to-follow and practical to implement. I believe Symprove has similar values and I value their desire to engage in research and share that knowledge with their community.
What does your morning routine look like?
I’m not part of the 5am crew but I typically wake around 6:30-7am, depending on the day. I start my day with a coffee and spend 30 minutes with my boyfriend chatting about our day ahead. I then sit at my desk to write my to-do list and plan my day, often in front of a SAD lamp in the winter months, before having breakfast (usually overnight oats!) and getting ready for the day.
Where did your interest in gut health start?
I’ve always had a keen interest during medical school but I was lucky enough to work as a nutrition doctor within a gastroenterology firm at UCLH for a year working specifically with nutrition and neuro-gastrointestinal disorders. On a personal level, I have IBS and so I’ve worked hard over the years to find ways to manage my symptoms through diet and stress management techniques.
What one thing about gut health do you wish more people knew?
I think for many of us, when we think about our gut we see it as an organ that allows us to eat, digest and absorb nutrients - and not much else. But the gut has many other roles - for example, 70% of our immune cells can be found in the gut. The gut is also home to trillions of microbes, or gut bugs, known as the gut microbiota. These gut bugs interact with various systems in our body including our immune system, skin, our heart and blood vessels, even our brain. So it’s a very interconnected system and a core part of our overall health.
Tell us something about the gut that we might not know…
A lack of sleep can affect what we eat and also how our gut functions. Aim to get 7-9 hours per night (your gut will thank you)
Top tips for looking after physical health?
Eat a well balanced diet with lots of plant-based foods, move your body daily, nourish your relationships, and you probably should be sleeping more than you think.
And your mental health?
Exactly what I said above - in fact, it may surprise some people to learn that social connection was found to be the most important protective factor when it comes to depression in a recent study.
What are your top three tips on how to support good gut health
- Eat a diverse, plant-focused diet
- chew your food slowly
- practice stress management
Thanks Dr Hazel!
Hungry for more?
Dive into these 6 gut health tips from Dr Hazel.