Meet Clinical Science Lead Brad Leech
Meet Brad Leech, our Clinical Science Lead and internationally recognised Clinical Nutritionist and Ayurvedic Herbalist. Get to know Brad as he shares his experience, learnings and tips on how to best support the microbiome in clinical practice.
About Brad Leech
After entering the integrative medicine profession in 2008, Brad has taught and developed subjects at leading academic institutions in Integrative Gastroenterology, Naturopathic Medicine, Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine and Public Health Research. As Clinical Science Lead in Integrated and Functional Medicine at Microba, his expertise in integrative gastrointestinal healthcare enables him to translate the latest science on the gut microbiome into practical clinical application. Brad is undertaking his PhD at the Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine, University of Technology Sydney. His research involves developing the IP Guideline, an evidence-based clinical practice guideline for the management of increased intestinal permeability. His previous research has focused on autoimmune disease management, health outcomes associated with food-based probiotics and healthcare management.
Q&A with Brad Leech
Why are you passionate about the microbiome?
Understanding the microbiome isn’t just my passion; it’s my purpose! There is always something new to learn about this intricate ecosystem we call the microbiome. Something that never ceases to amaze me is our ability to influence intestinal and systemic health by modifying the microbiome.
What are three things you do each day to support a healthy microbiome?
While making my morning smoothie, I’ll always “feed” my microbiome. In addition to the usual protein powder and berries, full of microbiome promoting polyphenols, I’ll add one teaspoon of banana flour (resistant starch), one teaspoon of psyllium (soluble fibre) and two tablespoons of rolled oats (beta-glucan). This way, I know that both myself and my microbiome are fed.
What are your favourite diet or lifestyle interventions to influence the gut microbiome and why?
Diversity, diversity, diversity! There are so many unique plants we have the option of eating, yet we often become complacent and buy the same ten veggies every week. However, each edible plant has its own unique composition of prebiotic goodness that can feed different species in our microbiome, from different fibre types to the complex combinations of polyphenols each plant contains. Consuming diversity in the diet helps provide a broad spectrum of prebiotic compounds to feed the microbiome.
What have been some of your biggest learnings about the microbiome?
During my undergraduate training, a significant emphasis was placed on total lactobacillus and bifidobacterium as a treatment objective for a healthy microbiome. However, with the advancement of metagenomic sequencing, we now know that this is only one tiny piece of the microbiome picture. There is so much more clinically relevant information that we as clinicians need to know about and use in practice to modify the microbiome.
What do you believe are some of the biggest misconceptions about the microbiome?
Around 20 years ago, the concept of “weed, seed, feed” was introduced and employed by many naturopathic practitioners. However, I prefer to follow the concept of “feed, feed, feed”. It’s the most effective way to help clients achieve a balanced and robust microbiome for long-term health. This shift in understanding and treatment objective promotes the feeding of beneficial bacteria with targeted prebiotic dietary compounds. The aim of this approach is to create a healthy microbiome and gut environment, which is essential to keep more detrimental bacteria at bay.
What is your favourite metabolite and why?
Hexa-LPS. As my PhD background was on the management of increased intestinal permeability, I am fascinated by the ability to measure the potential of our microbiome to produce Hexa-LPS. Although this area is still in its infancy, each journal article I read provides more insight into the role of Hexa-LPS plays in health and disease.
If you could only take five essential microbiome feeding foods to a desert island, what would you take and why?
I would take my microbiome-friendly banana muffins to ensure they produce the most beneficial metabolites. The muffins would contain rolled oats, banana, banana flour, almond flour, ground flaxseeds, and MCT oil.