Gut Health is often a topic which is overlooked. Deemed not a priority. But wait. There is a lot more to it than first meets the eye. The wellbeing of our gut has direct effects on our mental, emotional and physical health. It’s time more of us took an interest.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Ben Payne, entrepreneur and co-founder of Bottlebrush Ferments. A brand making high quality raw fermented foods made with fresh ingredients and a lot of love. They are on a mission: “making gut health easy”.
Here is what he had to say on the matter…
Firstly, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hesh, my business partner and I are both from Australia. Hesh is from Perth and I’m from Sydney.
I’ve been a personal trainer and health coach for 15 years and Hesh is a chef of about 17 years.
What drove you to start Bottlebrush Ferments? And where did your interest in gut health stem from?
We started Bottlebrush Ferments for a few reasons;
We both love great tasting food and have a passion for health.
We wanted to help people feel better and still be able to eat the foods they loved.
We felt like we could bring something different to the table (literally and figuratively).
My interest in gut health came from my experience in working with body transformation clients. We noticed that so many people had a compromised gut and impaired digestive health. By trying to improve these issues, we noticed a massive positive knock on effect on so many other things.
I also had my own health journey where I tried to heal my gut after getting sick and taking some hard core antibiotics years ago. I basically did a combined elimination diet and gut healing protocol, which included eating and drinking loads of fermented foods and drinks. I’ve been hooked ever since.
Gut health is becoming an ever more spoken about topic. What is the importance of gut health?
It is definitely having a moment. Gut health or the gut, is basically the route of all health or illness. If you have a nice robust gut, good chance you will be healthy overall. The flip side of that is that if your gut is compromised, you will most likely be unwell.
The gut plays a role in virtually every function in the body and can influence energy, mood, behaviour, metabolism, skin, inflammation, immune response and weight gain, as well as playing a role in the development of many auto-immune type diseases and allergies. It can also contribute to an increased risk of cancer and developing cardiovascular disease. Just to name a few, so it pays to look after it.
How did the company evolve to where it is today?
It’s all still very new and exciting to us. We’ve only been trading since November 2107, but we started the business back in September
2016. We always wanted colour to be a big part of our products as we know people taste with their eyes first and we wanted them to be drawn in. We also wanted to educate people about what fermented foods could look and taste like.
We wanted bright, vibrant natural colours that looked appealing. With this in mind, we had an initial plan of launching with three products, sort of based on the traffic lights – Green, yellow, red.
We never wanted a plain white sauerkraut, as we felt that it fed into most peoples misconceptions about fermented food. Soggy, smelly, grey looking cabbage in a jar, err! No thanks.
We got the recipes for The Yellow One and The Purple One quite quickly (yes, that’s the name of our products, we like simplicity;) and tried and tried, but just couldn’t get the green right. We were using superfood powders like Moringa or Wheatgrass, but it just went smelly and mushy, so we took the green out and went for red.
We decided on our version of Kimchi. We originally did it traditionally with fish sauce and shrimp paste, but the smell was too much and with the other two products being vegan friendly it sort of made sense to be consistent across the board.
So here we are, we have The Red, Yellow and Purple Ones, not quite the traffic lights, but still pretty to look at.
What are the effects of fermented products on the gut?
Fermented foods benefit the gut in a number of ways. Here are a few;
Fermentation partially pre-digests and breaks down our food, this helps to combat digestive issues like gas, bloating, indigestion, heart burn and diarrhoea.
They improve the gut’s ability to process food and speed up transit time which can help eliminate constipation.
They help the gut work more efficiently to extract nutrients from our food. And in fact, fermented foods often have more bioavailable nutrients as the cell wall of the plant is broken down during fermentation, therefore releasing more of the stored nutrients.
They contain beneficial bacteria, which can take up residence in the gut helping to improve wellbeing and to boost the immune system.
Fermented foods help restore balance and combat things like Candida and IBS.
Fermented foods contain pre-biotics. Most people have heard of probiotics, but prebiotics may be as, if not more, important. This is because they are food for your good bacteria. Prebiotics are indigestible plant fibres that do not get broken down by the gut. They pass through the digestive system to the large intestine and feed your microbes.
All of these things contribute to the overall wellness of the gut, which in turn, has a knock on effect to things like energy, mood, hormone and neurotransmitter production, weight loss and detoxification.
Where do you see Bottlebrush going in the future? What is your vision for the company?
Big picture we’re not really sure. It is still a learning curve for us and we are growing all the time, so we want to enjoy this stage and continue to grow organically. We have just started working with a couple of new distributors so are adding new stockists all the time. We also have plans this year to crack a couple of the big main, health focused retailers.
We do a handful of farmers markets across London, which is great as we get face time with our customer and get to hear their feedback which is really cool, so we’ll continue to do those and we are actually in the process of bringing a few people on board to help us grow.
Mostly we want to be educators and help take fermented foods to the masses, so watch this space.
I can safely say the Kimchi, featured in the photos, is exactly what Bottlebrush aims for: full of flavour, bursting with vitamins and minerals, and most importantly rich in gut-friendly enzymes and probiotics. Delicious and nutritious.