21 December 2021, 07:11 AM
  • Read our interview with gut health expert and co-founder of Bio&Me, Dr Megan Rossi
5 minutes with Dr Megan Rossi, Bio&Me

What would you be doing if you weren’t in the food industry?

I would be working full time as a research fellow at Kings College London, rather than part time. I moved into the food industry out of frustration. I decided that I needed to move more into research translation then pure research because I was seeing that despite all the amazing research coming through on gut health, it just really wasn’t being translated into the food industry. I wanted to bridge that gap, which is how I came to launch gut health food brand, Bio&Me.

What was your first job?

I worked at the cinema when I was 14. From serving customers, to sweeping up popcorn off the floors, it taught me about the value of money and hard work. I also found out what goes into their popcorn and ice creams, and have never eaten them again.

What’s the worst job you’ve done?

Processing people’s poop samples for my PhD! Yes, that’s right, poop samples can tell you a lot about someone’s health. It might sound pretty awful for many people but it was key to my research so it didn’t bother me too much, I knew it would be worth it!

What inspires you?

Seeing how making small changes to people’s lifestyles and diets can have a huge impact on their gut health, and subsequently on their mental and overall health too. Seeing the transformation of people feeling better and feeling happier is the number one thing that keeps inspiring and driving me to build The Gut Health Doctor.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

Definitely taste testing for each of the different products that we make at Bio&Me. Alongside the health benefits, it’s really important that we also deliver on taste. To achieve this our products go through many rounds of testing and tweaking, and I’m lucky enough to get to taste all of them –  it’s a lot of fun for a foodie like myself.

And your least favourite?

My least favourite thing is reading and hearing myths around gut health. Sadly, all too often people with big influence send out inaccurate messages that negatively impact people’s gut health, such as following restrictive diets and paying big bucks for invalid food intolerance tests. My goal is to change that by bringing credible gut health advice and products to the masses.

How about the food industry?

There’s so much excitement around gut health. But there is a long way to go in terms of the research translation, bringing evidence-based products to the shelves. Food can have such a powerful impact on people’s gut health, both positively and negatively. I think young challenger brands like Bio&Me are really driving a positive movement right now, especially in the gut health space.

Tea or coffee?

Definitely coffee. My husband makes a brilliant coffee. I have my one coffee a day, every morning. As a new mum it’s definitely the thing that gets me out of bed. Plus coffee is a great source of gut-loving polyphenols (plant chemicals), so it’s a win win!

What would be your last supper?

A buffet. Not only because I love food, but also because of my gut microbes love diversity. We know that having a more diverse range of plant based foods is good for gut health. My ideal buffet would include seafood and a range of Mediterranean salads and roasted vegetables, including mixed legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains – I really love freekeh at the moment. For dessert I’d include my new prebiotic live yoghurt range topped with my granola (clearly biased, but I’m obsessed), dark chocolate and fresh fruit salad.

What’s your motto?

Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

I was in Mexico at a research conference and some of our local colleagues treated us to a selection of insects. They were surprisingly so flavoursome! Another unusual food I ate was Nopal, a type of cactus from Mexico. And actually, we have now been testing the health benefits of Nopal in a clinical trial. It’s rather versatile, you can have it in things like wraps, stir fries and even smoothies!

What’s your favourite book?

My favourite book would have to be the one I poured my heart and soul into writing, called Eat Yourself Healthy, which is a guide to good gut health. I also recently received a wonderful book for my newborn son, Archie, called My First book of Feminism (for Boys) by Julie Merberg. It’s such a smart way to educate the next generation about equality for males and females.

Sweet or savoury?

I do very much love chocolate. And that’s actually why I made my prebiotic chocolate bark to show that even white chocolate can be transformed into food that still tastes amazing, if not even better, with added prebiotics such as dried mango, pistachio, and even some dark chocolate, all of which feed our beneficial gut bacteria. With this super easy recipe that takes only five minutes, I’ve turned a food, white chocolate, which is a bit selfish feeding just my own taste buds, into something that feeds both my taste buds and my gut bacteria.