Sheridan Austin may be a Sunshine Coast native, but it was on the other side of the world that she began her journey into what has become a lifelong passion for nutrition and wellness.

At the age of 18, while working in a prestigious boarding school in Wales in the UK, Sheridan was struck by what she saw as the negative health implications of the food that was being served at the school – not only towards the students’ health, but also her own.

The experience sparked a desire in Sheridan to make a difference. On returning home, she enrolled in a Bachelor of Nutrition at the University of the Sunshine Coast, beginning her formal career as a holistic nutritionist and gut and psychology syndrome (GAPS) practitioner.

GAPS is a condition that establishes a connection between the functions of the digestive system, the brain and the immune system.

She is also the founder of Foraged For You, a growing natural food supplement brand using entirely natural ingredients established in 2020, which has just released a new product designed specifically for children.

Sheridan’s personal health journey has fuelled her passion for her career.

“From a young age, I lived off antibiotics, anti-histamines, asthma puffers and pain killers due to suffering from consistent chest infections, sinus infections, hormonal issues, skin problems and hormonal breakouts, all along with extreme fatigue,” she tells salt.

“When I was 20, the penny dropped, realising I could be symptom-free.

“This blew my mind and sent me on a journey of healing my gut, correcting nutrient deficiencies, avoiding foods that created several symptoms, all while living a very balanced social and business life.

“While we are human and always working on ourselves depending on what life throws at us, I am confidently symptom-free with no medication, and it is liberating, to say the least.”

It was during her time as a nutritionist for a global company, developing recipes and working on product development, that she became fascinated with the connection between gut and brain health and the impact it can have on everyday life.

The effects of the modernisation of food production in the last 60 to 100 years, she believes, means that it is crucial for people to develop an understanding of just how profound those effects are.

“It wasn’t essential [in the past] to have a level of food and nutrition knowledge,” Sheridan tells salt.

“Food was food; however, after the industrial and chemical revolutions whereby non-food ingredients began to be added into our food supply and we had the introduction of quick foods, the lack of connection and people’s desire to get into the kitchen to prepare real, whole, nourishing foods for themselves and their family.

“The altering of our crops through genetic modification and chemical hybridisation; and so much more; all this means we now require crucial knowledge to ensure we do not become a part of another growing ill-health statistic.”

Sheridan advocates that one of the major causes of ill health is inflammation and that prolonged inflammation, combined with a diet high in sugar, can lead to an imbalance of the gut microbiome, which she says can have a negative impact on physical and mental health.

She says that transitioning from a processed diet to a “real food diet” can greatly improve overall health and wellbeing. One of the best ways to do this is to learn from the past, she adds.

“Be inspired by culture and tradition and how they have prepared foods for thousands of years, such as fermenting wheat into sourdoughs before consumption; embracing fermented foods; slow-cooked bone broths; using the whole animal including organ meats rather than just the fine cuts; and [eating] beautiful egg yolks that are like little vitamin pills.”

She also recommends consuming fats from nature, including saturated fats like animal fats, and avoiding laboratory-produced vegetable oils.

“When we allow the immune system and inflammation
to calm down, feed ourselves nutrient-rich foods from nature, it allows our body to feel safe and our minds to feel calm,” Sheridan says.

She is particularly interested in prenatal and early childhood health, with her own pregnancy being a catalyst to the development of her flagship product The Mother’s Blend by Foraged For You, a natural prenatal supplement designed to nourish pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

The latest release, The Children’s Blend, is formulated
for children aged seven months to 13 years, with the aim of supporting growth, cognitive development and immune function. While good nutrition may begin in the womb, Sheridan also believes that the benefits of improving our diets, gut health and overall wellbeing is not restricted to childhood – any age group can benefit from improved awareness and an increase in nutrient-rich foods.

“It’s never too late to start embracing real food-eating habits,” she says.

“It doesn’t need to be challenging, overwhelming or something that feels unachievable.

“While pregnancy and childhood is an incredibly nutritionally demanding time, our whole life and varying seasons can benefit from real food and enhance our nutrient status. Most individuals don’t even realise how good they could feel.”