Ask the Gut Expert: Yalda Alaoui on Gut Health
“Fad diets can damage your metabolism for the long run; it isn’t without consequences,” says Yalda Alaoui, Founder of gut health and wellbeing platform Eat Burn Sleep. After suffering a series of health issues, Alaoui decided to take matters into her own hands and researched more holistic ways of curing her ailments. “Gut health is at the source of most health issues,” she shares. “A healthy gut also helps have less anxiety, improves body composition and helps achieve optimal health.” The Sybarite chats with Alaoui about how anyone can improve their gut health and how she keeps fit.
What was it like growing up in Morocco?
Absolutely wonderful. I grew up in a small town, Kenitra, which back then was full of beautiful Art Deco and Art Nouveau buildings. It is close to the sea and has a beautiful ancient oak tree forest nearby. We would play tennis, ride horses on the beach and in the forest, have barbecues on wild unexplored beaches and eat delicious fish and seafood.
The cultural diversity was also incredible. I grew up with Muslim, Jewish, and Christian friends, celebrating Eid, Bar Mitzvahs and Christmas. I never knew there were conflicts over religion in the world, and it is still a difficult concept for me to grasp. It was a special childhood as, at that time, there were no supermarkets in Morocco. I would go to farmers markets with my mum—the first supermarket opened in Rabat when I was 12—and there were virtually no TV shows! I think there was an hour a day of cartoons but no more. I would watch TV on Saturdays for an hour and that was it.
You went through a number of health issues over the years. What was it about traditional medicine that made you decide to create your own solutions?
Allopathic medicine has a place and it saves lives. It certainly has saved mine. However, I never was healthy or able to function normally with medication only. I had to completely change my lifestyle in order to improve my gut health and hence lower my inflammation levels. Lowering chronic inflammation allowed me to put two auto-immune diseases into remission and finally be medication-free.
Why is it so important for people to take on a healthier lifestyle and not just a fad diet?
Chronic inflammation is the cause of 78% of deaths worldwide and linked to depression, anxiety, psoriasis, diabetes, PCOS, autoimmunity, cancer, heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and most non-communicable diseases. By fixing your gut, chronic inflammation decreases and the body becomes healthier. This allows for younger and brighter skin and durable weight-loss.
How do you go about developing your different weight loss plans?
I work under the low-inflammation and gut health umbrella; within that, I offer different plans to target different issues. I also offer personal guidance through a private Facebook group that is exclusive to people on the 6-week plan. Weight-loss is much more than just food. My plan offers help with mental wellness, emotional eating, dealing with cravings and hormonal fluctuations, dealing with stress as well as exercising the right way.
You are a master in the kitchen! What recipe would you teach someone who is more inclined to order a takeaway than make their own meals?
Many people love my easy shakshuka as you can make it in 10-15 minutes with ingredients that people generally have at home. It is ready quicker than it would take to order takeaway food!
When you were developing your plans, which type of persona did you have in mind?
All my friends! We all have small or big health discomforts or concerns. I aim for optimal health in order to make the most out of life, and that includes going out and having a drink, too! My plans are not about putting your life on hold to get healthy but to get and stay healthy within a normal life. Some people do have time to cook so I share food lists that are compliant and how to order in restaurants for those who don’t.
For someone who is just starting on the path to better gut health, what are the three things in their kitchens or pantries they should get rid of right now, and what should they replace them with?
I am a big believer that one can carry on eating everything—unless they are intolerant or allergic—and my health plans are very much about an 80/20 lifestyle. Low inflammation diet for 80% of the time, enjoy yourself for 20% of the time. If you cut something completely out of your diet when you aren’t intolerant to it, you lose the bacteria to digest it and become effectively intolerant to that food. I share the details of this easily doable, effective and sustainable lifestyle on my 6-week plan platform. Most people who do it cannot believe how quickly they get results yet how easy the plan is. It is easy to implement but the advice I share is very precise and backed by over 12 years of research.
What do you like to do to keep fit?
Walking, hiking and the low-inflammation workouts I share on the 6-week plan platform. Less can be more. High-intensity workouts leave me feeling and looking bigger which isn’t a look I like for myself. I have devised workouts over the years that allow me to achieve the lean yet strong look I like yet prevent me from getting injured as I have in classes in the past. I work out about 20-45 minutes twice to three times a week, at the gym or at home.
Which restaurants in London do you head to for a gut-friendly meal?
You can make all of them gut-friendly thanks to my restaurant ordering guide on the 6-week plan platform! I believe being healthy should be adapted to a normal life!