Dealing with food sensitivities? Your treatment may consist of simply cutting the offending foods out, but IQS Gut Rebalance Program expert and functional nutritionist Fran Dargaville believes you don’t have to say goodbye to your favourite ingredients – there is a way to get to the heart of the issue. She sat down with Unprocessed hosts Clara and Grace to give us the 411.
“You deserve to be free to eat your favourite foods without pain and discomfort,” Fran says.
Before we dive into how this Aussie nutritionist suggests you address some of those symptoms that arise from certain foods – think gas, bloating and constipation – let’s find out how Fran first became passionate about helping others with their health. Note that we’re not talking about conditions like celiac disease here, but rather food intolerances that come about as a result of gut imbalances – but more on that later.
Having sailed competitively since childhood, Fran has long been interested in nutrition – but her interest soon sparked passion around overall health.
“From quite a young age, but from a different standpoint, I was into training and counting my macros and those kinds of things, and also I was doing competitive sailing at the time,” she told Unprocessed. “It was really focused around performance and aesthetics and not so much health, if I'm honest.”
It was after experiencing chronic fatigue syndrome that Fran realised how broken the system was, with so many doctors unable – and some unwilling – to figure out the cause.
“Nobody really had any answers in terms of why I was feeling so exhausted, why my skin was terrible, why I had this horrible brain fog, why I had all these gut issues, and I was just so frustrated, so confused and I just really had no idea what to do,” she shared. “So that just led me down a rabbit hole into researching a lot and just becoming really interested in what I could do for myself to basically recover my health and shift that focus away from the aesthetic side of things and more into that health focus.”
That’s exactly what Fran did as she embarked upon higher education in nutrition, initially studying to improve her health, but eventually discovering a career path she was passionate about.
“I had managed to have such a huge impact on my own health that I was really excited to share that with other people.”
Fast-forward to the present and Fran is a master degree qualified functionalist nutritionist with her own business and a goal to empower others to take their health into their own hands.
As she says, “You’re not stuck with your symptoms - they are simply messages from the body that something is out of balance.” With a gut microbiome riding a balance of trillions of good and bad bacteria, it’s no wonder so many of us struggle to get it right – especially with the rise of ultra-processed, sugar-laden foods that the bad guys love to feed on, not to mention our high-stress lives that send our hormones haywire. Now let’s take a look at some of the major warning signs Fran recommends looking out for when it comes to gut imbalances:
- Digestive symptoms: “So that could be bloating, it might be constipation, they’re not having frequent bowl movements,” Fran says. “It could be loose stools or diarrhoea which often goes hand in hand with food sensitivities.”
- Heartburn and acid reflux
- Stomach pain after eating certain foods
- Low energy and cognitive symptoms: “We’re muti-faceted and it’s rarely just the digestive system, it goes hand in hand with low energy, brain fog and signs of hormonal imbalances.”
- Period pain
“So, we often see a lot of these different symptoms going on, and all of those can be related in some way or other to our gut health as well,” Fran says.
But what is the link between gut health and symptoms like food sensitivities, acne or constipation? Fran says it’s all about looking past those symptoms and finding out what’s happening in your gut – this means looking at the food we’re eating, stress management, physical exercise, for starters.
“When we start to look at the root cause approach, we see that it's a lot of the same things that are interconnected and affecting each other.”
Medication, for one, can also cause an imbalanced gut – from the pill to a recent dose of antibiotics – Fran says it’s important to take action to increase those good gut bacteria.
“With antibiotics, you want to be looking at repopulating that gut microbiome and with the pill, definitely it's looking at the gut microbiome and then also looking at nutritional deficiencies.”
The deficiencies with the biggest contribution to pill-related gut issues? Fran says to watch vitamin B12 and zinc – getting a blood test is a simple way to figure out your course of action. But it’s not all about food – sometimes it’s about stress. And with many of us juggling excessive commitments and responsibilities, stress management falls to the wayside.
“When it comes to our ability to digest our food, absorb those nutrients and move away from having digestive symptoms, it's really, really important that we look at this piece; with stress, our autonomic nervous system essentially has two modes,” Fran says. “We’ve got our fight or flight mode and we've got our rest and digest mode.”
You can probably guess that the state you want to be in when you’re eating is the latter. But so many of us are instead feeling stressed, tense and on edge when we’re eating. So how can we change that? Fran says just a few simple can be enough to make a difference.
“There are different ways that we can do that specifically around meal times; getting away from your computer, even if it's just 10, 15, 20 minutes, whatever you can do, putting your phone away, taking a couple of deep breaths, which can help shift you into that calm state and then just slowly and mindfully chewing your food, eating slowly chewing each mouth full 20 to 30 times and just focusing just on your meal,” she reveals.
Keen to learn more about your gut and how to treat the root problem rather than the symptoms alone? Check out the full episode with all of Fran’s top techniques in the latest episode of the Unprocessed podcast. Take a look at Fran’s website and socials learn all about her goals and how she can help you.
If you're ready to put your gut woes behind you and learn how to heal your body from the inside out, the IQS team have something special for you. Our ALL NEW 21-Day Gut Rebalance Program kicks off soon with delicious, nourishing recipes and exclusive expert content to support you on your way to better health. Whether it's constipation, bloating or even stress that's got you down, it could be your gut warning you that you're missing out on the gut-nourishing foods that help us thrive. We'll show you the ins and outs of healing, from the benefits of probiotics and prebiotics to the inflammation-busting foods you should be eating. Take a look at some of the exciting new recipes on the program:
- Pork Kimchi Dumplings
- Homemade Sourdough Bread
- Miso-Baked Salmon
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- Chinese Beef + Broccoli
- Chocolate Chia Smoothie Bowl
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