This is why the Goodwood estate is spearheading good gut health - and how it can 'transform your life'

Stephanie J Moore, Clinical Nutritionist Health-in-Hand. Contributed photograph. (Photo: Contributed by Stephanie J Moore  Clinical Nutritionist Health-in-Hand)
Stephanie J Moore, Clinical Nutritionist Health-in-Hand. Contributed photograph. (Photo: Contributed by Stephanie J Moore Clinical Nutritionist Health-in-Hand)

Newly published research concluded that eating ultra-processed foods - such as ready meals, fizzy juice, cereals, and fast food - drastically increases our risk of serious health issues such as high blood pressure and can raise the risk of heart attacks and stokes.

The results come as no surprise to clinical nutritionist Stephanie Moore who is working with the Goodwood Estate to promote good gut health. At the end of September, the Duchess of .Richmond is hosting a Goodwood Health Summit to investigate the growing cost of poor nutrition, and help drive fundamental shifts in our food systems in order to tackle ill health and obesity, and move to a healthier future for all.

Stephanie said: "The message is simple and it is getting through now thanks to Chris van Tulleken's book about ultra processed food and various other people talking about these things. We have to go back to old principles.

"Eat food that looks like it did when it was growing or walking around and eat less often - snacking is one of the worst things that has happened to the Western diet. And think about quality, not just quantity. If people were to just increase wholesome foods and reduce packaged foods, it would change everything for them - the way they sleep, how they manage their stress, their metabolic health, their gut health. And once you get healthy it's so much easier to make good choices. When you are feeling tired and crappy and overwhelmed and fed up with the world, all you want to do is drink a glass of wine and have a packet of crisps. I do get that."

Stephanie learnt the hard way so she can empathise with everyone struggling to eat the right foods. "I was diabetic at 28 because I was a low fat vegan running 10 kms a day, living on bread, pasta and rice and loads of fruit and I completely broke my system - so I get it. And I understand people trying to do their best by having orange juice and muesli in the morning and then a brown bread sandwich at lunchtime and thinking they are doing really well. These are all the wrong foods. They are really wrong."

Her lightbulb moment came in the early 1990s when she was studying in America and a ground-breaking book The Zone Diet was published. "For the first time it was talking about the importance of fat and protein. All I had been focused on before was energy balance, reducing calories, fresh food - but not the quality of the fresh food. It got me thinking differently and I related to the symptoms they were talking about. But this was such new information. Shortly after that a book came out called Protein Power. It now seems so old fashioned but at the time they were revolutionary."

The secret, according to Stephanie, is to follow the three F's - fibre, fermented foods, and fasting - and to eat less grains, potatoes and sweet tasting foods.

"If we are eating good protein and good quality fats we are sustained for long periods of time so we are not crashing and we are not looking for our next food fix. That then allows the body to recover its blood glucose management.

"Whenever one eats a meal you have to think: Have I got protein on my plate, have I got some healthy fats, have I got plenty of fibre? That's what ties into the gut health because our gut microbes feed on fibre.

"If you've got a nice range of plant based foods with some nice olive oil on and a nice piece of protein you have everything your body needs. We don't need any stodge. We don't need any rice, pasta, bread - but that's what people want because it's cheap and familiar and easy and quick."

She doesn't pretend that it is easy. Foods that a readily available are often highly processed and full of carbs and refined sugars. "It takes forethought and planning. So if one is going into a long meeting and you know there is going to be a platter of sandwiches and nothing else and you are choosing not to do that type of carbohydrate which is what I would recommend you have to have planned ahead to have a real hearty breakfast to avoid that.

"People think they have to eat regularly. And some people do because their body is so broken that without regular drip feeding of sugars and carbs their body crashes. But if we can get people's systems to be working well, people can manage very comfortably on two meals a day. So assuming one isn't eating out every single day, maybe for most people they can have what they fancy when they do - as long as six nights a week they are going to be eating at home and what they are eating is good.

"The trouble with human nutrition is people want absolutes and there are no absolutes because everyone is different and everyone's situation is different. So I try to create some core principles. If I am stuck in a burger bar I will have a burger, maybe two, but no bun and a salad, which fills me up, is tasty and is totally on message with what I do for my body."

She claims refined sugars and refined starches serve no purpose other than giving us immediate high levels of energy which most people simply don't burn off. "And if they are not burning it off fast enough it becomes body fat and triggers inflammation. And when we have too much body fat it has a very significant damaging effect throughout the body. It is an inflammatory response. So the body is more inflamed and can't heal or restore because it is in fighting high alert mode all the time.

"So if we are to create the optimal environment in the body to keep burning fat, to keep inflammation under control and to give us energy - all the things we want, good sleep, good stress management - we have to master blood glucose control. That message is slowly starting to get through thanks to the likes of Michael Mosley but I think people only think of blood sugar in the context of diabetes and it is so much more than that. Poor blood sugar management can lead to type 2 diabetes but it leads to so much more before one becomes diabetic."

Good gut health is at the heart of it all.

"I've just written a new book about brain health - particularly anxiety and depression and the very direct relationship our brain health has with our gut health. If our gut health is good it will literally change the way our brains work. That is so powerful. Sugar, artificial sweeteners, too much alcohol, even too much gluten can be very detrimental to gut health. These are things people are having all the time. So they are compromising their gut microbes - killing off the good ones, feeding the bad ones. That's what we are dealing with. Gut health is so fascinating. We still don't understand how it all works but we do know more than ever that it is the master controller.

"If people could understand on a daily basis that what they are doing is either healing or harming their gut microbes which will determine how the rest of their body functions they might want to take a bit better care of their gut microbes."

Her message is that everyone can change their diet and although protein is more expensive than carbs it is far more filling and sustaining so we need less of it - so cost does not need to be a barrier. But when making any major changes you should always first seek professional advice from a doctor or dietician as everyone's circumstances are different.

At the Goodwood Health Summit, Justin Webb will lead the conversation with a world-class line-up of speakers, including, Dr Chris van Tulleken, Jessie Inchauspé and Professor Edward Bullmore, and debate the need to promote gut health as a fundamental part of overall well-being.

In response to the latest research published this week, Dr van Tulleken called for the government to implement urgent change to food packaging to warn people that the item they've picked up off the shelf has been highly processed. He said: “Much of it will be familiar as ‘junk food’, but there’s plenty of organic, free-range, ‘ethical’ UPF which might be sold as healthy, nutritious, environmentally friendly or useful for weight loss. Almost every food that comes with a health claim on the packet is UPF."

As part of their Gut Health Programme, Goodwood hosts regular specialist stays from Sunday to Thursday where visitors receive comprehensive one to one advice and support from experts. Prices are £2,225 per person sharing in a twin or double room or £2,600 for a single occupancy room. Locals wishing to attend but not stay can do so for £1,900.

[] Stephanie J Moore, Clinical Nutritionist Health-in-Hand website:

[]Watch our video: Goodwood's Head of Health and Wellbeing Jen Evans-Brewer, talks to Editor in Chief Gary Shipton of Sussex World about good gut health.