A review of Heal Your Gut by Lee Holmes

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Heal Your Gut
By Lee Holmes
Murdoch Books
Sept 2015, Paperback, 280 pages, $29.95aud, ISBN: 9781743365601

Did you know that your gut is at the heart of good health? All disease originates in the gut, or so said Hippocrates, the “father of medicine”. I suspect that there are few people who haven’t been affected by gut issues at some point in time, whether that’s something serious like Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Crohn’s disease or some thing more mild like bloating, constipation or indigestion. According to the National Institutes of Health, autoimmune diseases are on the rise, and nutritionist Lee Homes is all too aware of this. Holmes was diagnosed with autoimmune disease and fibromyalgia some years ago and was only able to get her condition under control by changing her diet dramatically. It’s all about bacteria balance or gut flora if you prefer: getting the bad bacteria under control and replacing it with good bacteria.

Heal Your Gut is an attractively presented (suitable for gift giving) practical workbook that provides guidelines on just how to do transform the gut flora. It’s designed to be used by those with major gut issues – taking the reader through a four-step process that involves resting the digestive system with a vastly simplified, mostly liquid diet, incorporating detoxification techniques, introducing simple wholefoods high in probiotics, and developing ongoing habits for eating and taking care of the body.

If you’re in serious strife, the protocol should probably be followed to the letter and will help transform the way your body functions. The four week liquid diet is pretty drastic though, even though it’s nutrient rich and does contain a good range of soups, smoothies, and vegetables. The menu builds a bit as the weeks go by, and I don’t think anyone would starve or even be too hungry on it, but it’s still a pretty drastic change from the usual diet and would take a lot of willpower and extra effort, especially if you’re cooking for a family.

The detoxing involves adding in things to your routine like oil pulling, Epsom salt baths, herbal teas and supplementation. I’m not sure that the efficacy of oil pulling has been proven (though even my dentist was talking about it), but all of this self-care is bound to make you feel better—even if it’s just because you’re taking time to look after yourself, and that alone has got to have a positive impact. Once you’re past the initial resting period, you can add in fermented foods and test out the impact of reintroducing other types of foods like dairy and gluten. It’s quite possible however to just use the delicious recipes and information to gradually improve your diet and swap unhealthy choices for healthy ones (there’s even a swap out chart).

The recipes themselves are really innovative, and include lots of smoothies, “elixers”, teas, soups, and desserts. – over 90 recipes in all – enough to consider this a kind of cookbook. I particularly like the fermentation section, which includes some very simple recipes or getting started on fermentation. The recipe for “Cultured Vegetables” is a great place to start and doesn’t require any fancy ingredients or cultures – just a few days in a jar. I’ve got a jar in my cupboard now and can’t wait to taste the results.  Another new favourite in my house is the “Chocolaty Mousse” which is so healthy it can be eaten for breakfast.

Many of the recipes can be tested out at Holmes’ site http://www.superchargedfood.com, where Holmes also runs a four week “Heal Your Gut” program for people who want additional support. The site itself is a great resource, and the easy-to-read book is an excellent way to find out more about how to have a happier gut. I didn’t realize until reading Heal Your Gut just how critical good gut health is, and how integrated gut health is with overall health. For people who are really suffering with gut issues, and I know from personal experience that this is not fun and can be debilitating, following Holmes’ full protocol can be life changing. For everyone else, this is a very useful resource that will help improve the diet, improve gut function and overall well-being, while providing a treasure trove of easy to follow gut-friendly recipes suitable for the whole family.