Karen O' Donoghue : Founder of the happy tummy co.

Aged 10, founder of the happy tummy co. Karen O’ Donoghue had a moment one day, planting another beach sampling into the ground at her parents nursery in Cork. An idea that a preventative approach to health could in many instances be a lot more successful than that of prescription.

Growing up in Ireland in the 1980s, Karen’s family like most were brought up with science and maths central to the educational system. Alongside the widespread importance and privilege of education sat the continued influence of the Catholic Church.

Karen’s mother Siobhán battled with cancer early in life and it was her mother’s approach to the illness that would go on to hugely inspire how Karen saw the world. In the treatment of her cancer, Karen’s mother pursued the medical route of chemo and radiation as well as a spiritual and in some cases inexplicable healing route. It was the open minded attitude of Karen’s mother that enabled Karen to look at life and health in a wider context from a very young age.

One specific pivotal moment was when Karen was 10 years old, planting another beach sapling into the ground at her parents’ nursery in Cork. Digging a young tree into healthy soil knowing that the future of this sapling depended on the health of its environment was the catalyst through which Karen began to believe that a life lived preventatively had better odds than one dependant on prescription.

Prescriptive medicine, in particular over the counter drugs can breed a nonchalant attitude to one’s health. So many instances in which drinking more water, getting adequate rest, eating better and moving are scientifically much better practices than swigging back a paracetamol or ibuprofen. If over the counter medication didn’t exist, would we work better at understanding and dialoguing with our bodies daily around what they needed to stay happy and healthy?

Growing up suffering with IBS constipation on a diet that didn’t seem to give the other members of Karen’s family similar symptoms baffled Karen growing up. When she was younger, she simply put the constant bloat down to bad luck. But as Karen aged and inflammation started to wreak havoc with the rest of her physical body and mental health Karen began to relook at how she was processing and consuming food. She went at this completely scientifically and mathematically as a science based solution was most important to her.

Food fads have long diminished the core, necessary value in the food that we eat. The commoditisation of food has diminished the quality of our food system. A growing dependancy on supermarkets to curate our health has made them not only food suppliers but pharmacists as well.

TEACH SCOILE by the happy tummy co. is a place to engage with the science behind the food that we eat. And in so doing, Karen hopes to prevent fatal illness more widely.