Rosie Saunt and Helen West set up The Rooted Project in an attempt to make evidence-based nutrition available for all, not just health professionals.
Their aim is to cut through the layer of ‘mystery’ and inaccessibility that science can sometimes present, and give reliable information to those interested in nutrition. In this day and age, many people are used to educating themselves on all aspects of their health and it is imperative to know which information they can trust.
This is where Helen and Rosie come in – as registered dieticians they are able to build a bridge between the public and the scientific information they have been trained to interpret and analyse. It might seem a simple concept, but one that Helen and Rosie firmly believe can really enhance the way that people access information about their diet.
The team are running various events and talks, given by leading industry professionals. These will give realistic information from reliable sources. Although they are leaders in their fields, they can use everyday language and translate the science into interesting content for all. And because it comes first hand the information hasn’t been distilled down too excess, and there is also a chance for a two-way dialogue to work through what is being discussed.
Their second event is on 31 January in central London, and covers gut health. It has been amazingly popular and sold out within 3 weeks from the on-sale date, – just proving that the appetite (no pun intended!) for these sort of events is huge. For those disappointed not to be able to attend, there will be some content available online afterwards at www.therootedproject.co.uk
Symprove is thrilled to be the official sponsor for this event, and happy to align ourselves with some great work on health and of course specifically gut health. Like The Rooted Project, we are keen to share our scientific basis for the benefits of Symprove through the trials there have been. And we are keen to make sure that it is given to you in everyday language that is easy to understand. We want it to have an evidence-based process of validation, as well as the anecdotal evidence that ‘it works’.
We spent some time with The Rooted Project, asking Helen and Rosie about their motivations and ambitions, and their experiences with food.
What inspired you to start The Rooted Project?
We noticed a gap in the industry to bring science-based wellness to the masses. We felt that despite it being incredibly positive that people were starting to focus on their health, there was a lot of nutrition misinformation out there. We wanted to help people make sense of all the sensational claims and contradictions, and make science-based nutrition accessible and fun.
Rosie, what was it that made you change career (previously Rosie was in the fashion industry) and dedicate yourself to nutrition?
I was diagnosed with coeliac disease aged 12 so had to be acutely aware of what was in food from a young age. I did well in the sciences at school but was drawn towards the arts at university. It wasn’t until I was working in the fashion industry that I realised I wanted to do something more vocational. Dietetics could combine my love for science, food and creativity all in one.
Helen, how did you and Rosie meet?
Rosie and I originally connected online through blogging. However, we first met in person in Bali, Indonesia where I was living and Rosie was on holiday. We had a lovely seafront breakfast and found we had a similar views and shared passions, particularly in relation to being creative in helping people understand the science of nutrition.
What’s it like working together?
A lot of fun! We are lucky that we work well together and we both love discussing our thoughts and having another person to bounce ideas off.
What are your memories of food as a child?
Helen: Fast. Haha. I had two busy working parents, two brothers and a mountain of hobbies. Most of my memories of food are eating on the go, usually grabbing breakfast in a taxi after an early morning training session for example, or on the bus on the way home from a swim meet. I have lovely memories of Sunday dinners though – the one time we all sat down to eat together.
Rosie: I’m one of four, so mealtimes were noisy and often messy! My mother is an artist and very creative: she would put on incredible birthday parties for us and I remember being in awe of my brother’s 3D pirate ship cake with edible sails. We lived in the beautiful Suffolk countryside so had lots of picnics and barbecues, and often collected veg from the vegetable garden. Other memories are hot porridge cooked on the AGA on cold school mornings, a sponge pudding called apricot surprise and another family classic: lemon flummery.
What makes the Rooted Project stand out?
We’ve tried to create a brand that people want to engage with and a community where wellness and science can mix. As part of that we have created a platform where people with robust training e.g. academics have the opportunity to interact with the pubic on a personal level, through a company that understand the importance of being credible, transparent and evidenced-based.
You talk of making sure things are evidence-based – how easy is that to achieve and can you give us an example?
As Registered Dietitians we are trained to translate complicated science into practical advice. It’s not necessarily an easy task, as there is a lot to keep up with and nutrition science is particularly complex with lots of different variables affecting how people interact with and react to food.
What “evidence-based” essentially means is that it’s an approach or intervention that is most likely to have a beneficial effect and least likely to cause harm – based on the best available science. The difficulties come when a topic hasn’t been investigated by many people, leaving a gap in knowledge.
The most obvious example I can think of off the top of my head is the low FODMAP diet for IBS. We know that this approach can be effective for managing symptoms in around 86% of people with IBS, so, if needed, this is often the first therapeutic diet that we would recommended people try as we know it’s very likely to be effective. For people who don’t find relief with a low FODMAP diet, then we might go down a different route, which has less robust evidence or isn’t as well studied.
This way of approaching nutrition is the most ethical and the least likely to cause harm.
What would your favourite plate of food look like?
Helen: A cheese plate.
Rosie: Truffle risotto with a side of spinach.
You are focusing on gut health for your next event. Why is gut health so important?
Gut health is a hot topic. It’s an evolving area of research, which has captured the public interest. It’s important for a number of reasons but because although “invisible” to an outsider, on a practical level poor gut health has the potential to impact on people’s lives – as anyone with a gut disorder or disease will know.
How do you manage trying to distill science for others to understand, and work with them for their own diets?
We want to create memorable events to empower people to make positive decisions about their life. The information we provide at these events is from credible sources and laid out in a way people can engage with and understand. We want to sift out any complex language and jargon without losing the message, so that people can use the information to inform their own choices.
What motivates you to improve nutrition?
We believe that healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. So we’re both passionate about making complex nutrition science easy to understand and accessible through creative outputs.
Name three things that you feel keep you ‘rooted’ in life.
– My little boy, Austin
– Taking time to be outside and move, e.g. go for a walk or a run
– Coffee *(perhaps not in this order)
– Reading books and taking time away from technology (working on-the-go means I’m often stuck to my phone)
– Cooking and eating with friends
– Touching base with my family