Scott Mathias became a fully plant-based chef and digestive health specialist after suffering from a chronic digestive illness for 45 years. Having made plant food a part of his everyday diet, the Sunshine Coast local says it’s changed his life. Tell us about your own experience suffering from a chronic digestive illness My issue started at the age of eight, growing up in New Zealand on a predominantly animal-based diet. In those days, they called reflux, spontaneous vomit and that’s exactly what would happen. At the age of eight, my tonsils and adenoids were removed and I received the first of a series of oral polio vaccines. I am convinced that this, along with the heavy animal-based diet, caused my gut muscles to literally stop working. Now, I have determined a correlation between gut action and the lack of good gut bacteria – antibiotics from time-to-time kill off gut bacteria. What changes did you notice when changing to a plant-based diet? My energy levels increased and all of my illnesses disappeared over a 12 to 18-month period; my depression switched off after the eight month mark; I lost 25kgs in unwanted body fat; and my skin improved dramatically. How important is it to look after our gut-health? Without a proper functioning gut, the body will ultimately succumb to death; if the gut cannot break down food properly and that unprocessed food stays inside the body and rots, then acidity levels increase and disease follows. Raw food has become quite trendy in recent times, but what are the nutritional benefits? Over-cooking or over-processing will not only remove any solar energy inside the food, but also reduce the nutritional value of the food. The less cooking, the more nutritional benefits the body receives. With raw plant food, all of the nutrients are retained at the time of chewing – the body gets 100 per cent. I also create flavours which I bring into the vegetables; it’s as simple as creating a mushroom sauce using cashews and coconut cream, adding chopped fresh mushrooms and serving with a pilaf of cauliflower rice. How can we start following a plant-based lifestyle? One day at a time, even if it is starting the day with a bowl of freshly chopped fruit, which is what I do daily. Light greens or soup at lunchtime and a snack in the evening. If people are wanting to improve their gut-health, what is the first step they need to take?
- Have fruit in the morning.
- Gradually move away from diving for the frying pan and instead go to your blender and whip up a cashew cream sauce.
- Remove all animal products from your daily food intake and after a week or two you will start to feel 1000 per cent better.
- Your gut might be in a state of paresis or paralysis. I used green papaya powder to kick-start my gut function again. This is a functional fruit powder high in the papain enzyme, which supports the breakdown of proteins, including all plant proteins, in the gut. I know some people who’ve been quite ill, turned to a plant-based lifestyle and felt worse simply because their gut wasn’t breaking down food satisfactorily.