In today’s episode, we’re joined by celebrity chef Dan Churchill, Co-founder of Charley St, a farm to table fast-casual restaurant in New York. Additionally, he shares some of his best recipes online to help improve your life, health and performance. Today’s conversation will involve all things food and nutrition, focusing specifically on the importance of gut health.
Dan‘s love for food began as a young kid growing up on the northern beaches of Sydney. He recalls loving to watch cooking shows and believes the act of cooking to be meditative, artful and a way to bring people together. He understood a base for cooking by the age of 14 and his interest only continued to blossom from there. When his mother was diagnosed with celiac disease, he began to learn more about health, nutrition and autoimmune diseases. At 21, he put together his first recipe book called Dude Food, which sold out in two weeks. His second book was built purely around health, taking into account different health conditions and lifestyles.
Then, the conversation shifts to discussing food as a means to enhancing oneself rather than taking away. Dan explains the vagus nerve, which connects the brain to the gut, and the difference between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The function of the parasympathetic nervous system is rest and digestion, while the sympathetic state prepares the body for activity. Hence the importance of being around food in the right setting, both physically and mentally, to help your body take it on and break it down properly. Many digestion issues can be solved through correcting one’s state of mind while consuming food.
Your body can adapt to anything over time, which is why Dan believes in the significance of the quality and quantity of the foods you eat, rather than when you are eating them. Every individual is different in their gut microbiome makeup and understanding what your body needs is so important. There is a strong correlation between performance, mental clarity and the gut.
The most important factor in maintaining optimal gut health is eating a large variety of plants. If the gut is lined correctly, it won’t allow anything to pass through it that shouldn’t, preventing autoimmune diseases. They then speak of the indications behind healthy bowel movements made possible through optimal fiber intake. Consistency and regularity of your stool is a direct communication from the gut. Since probiotics digest dietary fiber, we should focus on feeding our gut bacteria a variety of different types of plants to perpetuate the good bacteria.
Dan looks at his week in terms of the colors he’s consumed. He then speaks of the importance of soil health and how it impacts the nutrients of the crop produced. If the soil health is at a high premium, you’re ingesting the most amount of nutrients possible. While top-level quality foods may cost more individually, it tends to even out because you will actually end up needing to eat less of them to be satiated. Ultimately, humans and soil need the same core things: food, nutrition, hydration, sunlight and rest. Monoculture discourages regeneration in both.
In closing, Dan again articulates the importance of bio individuality and finding a lifestyle that is suited to your own particular needs. Being in tune with your own body, learning how to accept and understand it, is a responsibility everyone should uphold. Supporting your gut microbiome supports you, inside and out. The final idea is to work within your means to find the best thing for you.
0:05 – Introduction of today’s episode and guest
2:11 – Dan Churchill joins the conversation
8:25 – How Dan initially became interested in food and nutrition
17:30 – Dan’s beginnings as an author
27:40 – Food as a universal language
29:30 – Nutrition and eating for performance
31:00 – The connection between the brain and the gut
42:25 – Discussing the gut microbiome
49:00 – Foods to maintain optimal gut health
1:02:00 – The significance of soil health in nutrient content
1:16:00 – Bio Individuality and closing words
Learn more about Chef Dan Churchill
Learn more about Nick Bare
Learn more about Bare Performance Nutrition