Our Interview with Alana and Lisa MacFarlane, The Gut Stuff
The Gut Stuff was launched in 2017 by identical twins Alana and Lisa Macfarlane, following the founders’ participation in a ground-breaking piece of research into whether gut health (your microbiome) is determined by genetics or environmental factors. It was here their gut journey began.
It was sharing 100 per cent of their DNA that made Alana and Lisa’s participation vital to the results, which culminated in the finding that, despite being identical, the bacteria in their guts were just 30% the same – meaning that no two guts are the same. We interviewed Lisa and Alana to learn more about their journey and interest in the gut microbiome…
1. What got you interested in the gut microbiota and founding ‘The Gut Stuff’?
We came into this very randomly – despite having a keen interest in science at school (Lisa very nearly became a doctor!) we were DJ’s touring the world – so could not have been further from the health and wellbeing industry. That all changed when we volunteered for Tim Spector in the twin research department – mainly due to a curiosity as to what was physiologically different about us – and were asked to take part in some research around the effects of diet on the gut microbiome. As you can imagine we knew NOTHING on the topic as we were going through the research, we merely set up our website to interview some of the scientists we were speaking to and to share everything we were learning. The rest, is really “gut” history.
2. Could you tell us about the main activities at The Gut Stuff’?
The main core and heart of our business is education through our website content, social media channels, talks and partnerships. We also wrote a book with lots of different scientist and healthcare professionals that breaks down the science into digestible chunks – with some humour sprinkled in! We also have a FMCG snacking range, and non-food tools and resources such as fermenting kits and a b-to-b services arm where we’ve created workplace wellbeing talks and workshops with the aim of empowering gut health in everyone, and not just the early adopters.
3. Our goal is to help HCPs and researchers expand their knowledge around the gut microbiota. In what ways can The Gut Stuff aid HCPs in supporting their patients?
All of our tools and resources are with fantastic credible experts, but we’ve made them simpler (and more fun) to understand and also clearly labelled the site so information is quick and easy to find if people need to locate their specialism/a specific area of research.
4. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned from working with experts in the field of gut microbiota?
So many things, I think the gut brain axis is always something that takes our breath away with the pace and findings of all the research coming out – to think gut health could be a tool in the armoury when it comes to mental health is truly revolutionary.
5. You’ve had quite an interesting journey – from your successful career as DJs to embarking on your ‘gut journey’. Based on your experience, do you have any tips for those interested in pursuing a career in science communications?
YES! Firstly, don’t be afraid to show passion and excitement -that is always the first thing people need to feel before the facts. And always keep a friend who is disinterested close by – and trial things on them, as they’re ultimately the ones you need to win over – the people that don’t care, but will soon!