edible notables

SETTING THE BAR
Locally made, healthy snacks support digestive health.

WRITTEN BY TAMSIN EDWARDS
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ROWDY PREBIOTIC FOODS CO.

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When outdoor enthusiast Kellie Lee of Reno started experiencing intense stomach pain six years ago, she never anticipated having surgery to remove her gallbladder, then being diagnosed with hypothyroidism shortly after. As an athlete, she had always been conscious of eating as healthily as possible, but digestive issues had begun to surface despite her attention to a clean, organic diet. 

web RowdyBar1622Kellie Lee, founder of Rowdy Bar, shared her story on Kathy Ireland’s Modern Living television program in May 2019

Lee decided to take her health into her own hands after the diagnosis. She knew that food has the power to heal, having witnessed firsthand the positive impact that certain ingredients can have on the body. Through research, she quickly discovered that low thyroid function has a direct impact on the intestines due to a deficiency of the hormones involved in digestion and metabolism, with the potential to increase gut permeability in the long term. Predisposition to an autoimmune reaction also means that ingesting common foods, such as gluten, grain, and soy, can increase the likelihood of systemic inflammation and an erratic immune response, causing further damage. 

As the thyroid is controlled by the pituitary gland, symptoms such as debilitating fatigue, mood swings, and brain fog often arise when the thyroid is functioning at a lower capacity. Nutritionally deficient forms of energy such as refined sugar foods or caffeinated beverages often are sought by sufferers as a result. 

This is where Lee’s story turns a corner. Her athletic lifestyle meant that she was often outside for long stretches of time. She knew that processed foods were only going to exacerbate her symptoms, and that’s when she discovered yacon root, which quickly became the base of her kitchen experiments. 

Cooking up solutions

Originating in South America, the yacon root was a superfood of the Andean diet long before the term was ever coined. With a taste akin to apple or watermelon and the texture of molasses, it makes a great natural sweetener, but the real bonus is that the syrup can actually improve digestive health because it’s packed with fructooligosaccharides — sugars that the body won’t digest and absorb, better known as prebiotics, but which are healthy because they feed the probiotics in your gut.

Always one to look for a silver lining in any challenge thrown by life, Lee turned her struggles into a lifeline for others who wanted to live active lifestyles while fueling themselves sufficiently to do so.

After starting in her kitchen in Reno, Lee officially launched her snack-bar production business in January 2018. As a company, Rowdy Prebiotic Foods Co. is committed to empowering people to have better digestive health to restore balance in their lives. Not only are the bars packed with prebiotics, but they’re also dairy, soy, and gluten free; 95 percent organic; non-GMO; low glycemic; and paleo friendly — all while providing a healthy dose of protein and good fats.

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“I talk to so many people with Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and celiac disease, and hearing how the bars help them is what keeps me going!” Lee says. “This happened to me for a reason. [God] put the dream in my heart to help other people like me who are struggling.”

Having been on her own journey back to health after an autoimmune diagnosis in 2012, writer Tamsin Edwards is passionate about educating people on the subject of gut health and wellness.

For details, visit Rowdybars.com.

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