Interview: Professor Green On His Mission To Help Transform Your Gut
BALANCE editorial director, Tim Arthur, caught up with Stephen Manderson (aka Professor Green) to talk about the rapper’s new product launch – a range of liquid shots that aims to revitalise brain and gut health
Stephen is a man on a mission, and I could hear the mental health advocate’s passion and excitement for his new business venture ooze through the speakers while discussing Aguulp, the supplement he’s created after suffering with gut health problems all his life.
“It’s funny, we’ve had sayings like ‘gut feeling’, ‘leaving a bad taste in your mouth’, and ‘you are what you eat’ for centuries. We’ve known, whether or not we even realised it, that these things are very much a matter of fact, they’re not just a play on words.
“It’s pretty simple. If you eat a bad diet and you don’t move, you’re probably going to feel pretty shit. Your body isn’t going to function the way it should because it doesn’t have what it needs to nourish it.”
He’s got a point. “We have an incredible National Health Service, albeit strained and underfunded,” continues Stephen. “But it’s reactive, right? And it’s the same for mental health. People tend to go to a therapist or seek advice when they’re at a point of crisis. Well, I always think prevention is better than cure. So, the idea that we might now be able to fashion some sort of preventative medicine to help people avoid common chronic conditions that everyone suffers with later on in life is incredible.”
“I NOTICED THE BETTER I TOOK CARE OF MY GUT, THE BETTER MY HEAD WAS”
A BUMPY RIDE
“I think some people are surprised that I’ve done this because, although they might have heard me talk about mental health issues, they don’t really know about my gut health journey. I mean, it would have been easy for me to have brought out an alcohol brand because everyone would have said, ‘What, that rapper? Yeah, we know he’s a piss artist. I’ll have a bottle of that.’ It would have been a much easier sell. But I haven’t just put my name to something, this has been my baby since the moment of conception.”
The ‘journey’ Stephen refers to has been a long one. He had his first operation at six weeks old to fix his pyloric sphincter, which regulates the flow of partially digested food from the stomach to the duodenum. His was ‘completely rock-solid shut’ meaning everything he ate came straight back up. He was only five when he was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). “I was quite a sickly child. I was always saying ‘Nan, Nan. My tummy aches.’ What I didn’t realise was this became the start of my mental health journey. At that time, I didn’t have the tools, or language or understanding to know that the knot in my stomach, the tummy ache, was actually anxiety. Studies show that IBS can precede conditions like anxiety and depression. But it can also appear post-trauma. So, it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. I don’t know which way around it was for me.”
HOPING FOR A MIRACLE
Stephen suffered increasing problems with his digestive system and occasionally required hospitalisation, but his world-view changed in 2017 following a hiatus hernia operation. What was meant to be a standard procedure didn’t quite go as planned and 16 hours after being discharged, due to a rare reaction to the medical mesh, he was readmitted with pneumonia, a collapsed lung, ileus (a lack of movement in the intestines that leads to a build-up of food) and abdominal distension. After more surgery and blanket antibiotics, he was stable but left with a partially paralysed stomach.
“I was back to being six weeks old again,” he recalls. “Everything I ate was putrefying in my stomach and nothing was getting through to my small intestine. My only hope was to wait for a miracle or have more surgery.”
Unwilling to accept a potentially life-changing gastric bypass, Stephen ‘fell down every internet rabbit hole’ and read every book and piece of research he could find about gut health. He started taking probiotics, prebiotics, bone broth, kombucha, anything he could, to improve his gut biome. And slowly his stomach started to heal.
Not only did his stomach heal but he experienced a distinct knock-on effect to his mental wellbeing, too. “I noticed the better I took care of my gut, the better my head was.”
A EUREKA MOMENT
“One night I was talking with a friend, Kev (Godlington), who’s ex-SAS and has had his own journey with mental health and gut issues, about all the medication we were taking and I complained, which I do a hell of a lot because it’s my birthright being a British man, that there wasn’t one formula out there that contains everything we needed. And we just said, well, could we make one?”
Cue a long search to find a lab, scientists and nutritionists to help the pair create a cutting-edge solution unlike anything else on the market. Although, as Stephen points out, he’s not ‘a real Professor’, he’s incredibly knowledgeable on the science of gut health and Aguulp is the result of some seriously clever brains.
Aguulp’s gut formula contains a cocktail of amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, prebiotics and protein. The brain formula mixes plant extracts, nootropics and minerals, among other things, plus cognitive enhancers specifically designed to aid focus, mood improvement and sustained energy.
EXCITING TIMES AHEAD
“Right now, there’s no one fix for all,” says Stephen. “Aguulp isn’t going to be a magic cure for everyone’s ailments, but the results we’re seeing are remarkable. To create probiotics for specific individuals and conditions such as anxiety or mood disorders, based on the results of their gut tests and the bacteria that they’re most lacking, is really exciting.” There’s no mistaking it, the Professor’s on a mission. “I think, similar to mental health, we’re currently in a stage of awareness as far as gut health is concerned. But after awareness comes understanding, and that’s the point that I’d really like us all to get to.”
To read the whole of our lovely Winter/Spring Digi Magazine click here: Hope Issue
One more thing…. Note from Tim: I’ve now been on Aguulp for about two months and I can honestly say it’s transformed my gut health. I suffer from IBS and the bloating, tenderness and acid reflux has reduced dramatically which in turn has had a great effect on my mood and energy levels. I should point out we’re not receiving any payment for this endorsement I just really wanted to share my direct experience because it’s helped me so much. If you want to find out more about the product just click here: Aguulp