I must admit, I didn’t really give that lunch much thought for a couple of years as life just got busy. However, there were 2 specific events that happened a few years after that got me thinking seriously about gut health.
The first event happened to a friend of my son. They were great little friends and played on the same soccer team. This 7 year old boy got a fairly innocuous flu but was prescribed a course of antibiotics. The flu cleared up as expected, but the following months turned into an absolute nightmare. It started with migraine like headaches but quickly progressed into complete exhaustion. He couldn’t do any physical activity, stopped attending school and ultimately couldn't get out of bed. His parents tried multiple specialist but got no clear indication of what was wrong or what could be done to get him back to normal. Eventually they went to an immune specialist in the UK who took a fecal sample and found that his gut flora had been completely stripped, with that course of antibiotics the likely culprit. He went on an intense program to restore the micro-flora in his gut which included treatments of probiotics, prebiotics, and fecal transplants. Within two weeks he was back and school and within a month he was back playing soccer. This was my first real “oh cr@p” moment!
The second was a conversation that my wife had with a work colleague of hers. Again, a similar age to my wife and I. They were talking about childhoods and how they were bought up. As part of this conversation my wife’s colleague mentioned that she couldn’t remember having a home cooked meal her entire childhood. Her dinners were eating out, take away or microwave packaged meals. This blew my mind! I’ll admit, I grew up in a bit of a backwater and the only time we went out for dinner was to the golf club once a month or when we got take away pizza. Also a monthly occurrence. Every other meal was cooked at home. This really got me thinking about “the lunch”. I went back and asked those two guys with the peanut allergies about their diets growing up and both of them had a similar experience. I thought i was onto something but once again, I was a bit slow off the mark and found out there’s been a huge amount written on America’s “Take away generation” and the problems their having with gut health as a result.
After reading a bit more it became apparent to me that this isn’t just America’s issue. Similar trends are being see across the rest of the world and it’s just that the US was the first to experience it, so it's more pronounced. Australia is about generation behind the US in terms of food processing and preparation and when we moved back to Australia whaddya know... there are multiple children in my kid's schools with allergies to peanuts..