If I had a dollar for every person that asked me “why do I feel so unwell?” I would be loaded. If I also had a dollar for every client with mental health issues that ALSO has digestive issues I would be a millionaire. The link is staggering.
Are you eating well and exercising but for some reason are fatigued, have sleep issues, lack energy, feel low and have a list of little miscellaneous health issues (allergies, headaches, hormone issues) and are baffled as to why you don't feel amazing? If so read on. The answers you are seeking are most probably related to your gut.
Gut Health = A Happy You
If you want stellar health you must have stellar digestion.
Winta's Story - Living Proof of Healthy Digestion = Healthy Happy You
After my daughter was born she contracted a serious hospital infection and so did I. Five antibiotic IV's later we leave the hospital. Every time I have told that to a GP or Naturopath they wince and look at the their feet probably thinking 'oh dear, this is bad, really bad'. I didn't realise how bad until later. And so our health journey of hell began that soon became a gift in disguise. Fast forward to two years later and my happy healthy baby is living in a bubble mentally, violent, constantly in pain and....looking very much like she is somewhere on the scale of close to autistic. The 'A' word. I was heartbroken. I went into overdrive of research and TRIED EVERYTHING.
For 3 years we saw every health professional on the planet. Keep in mind we were eating wholefoods and organic. But we needed a whole lot more than that. After careful testing we found that her gut was shot and so was mine. And so the journey of guinea pigging myself on every diet began. And with careful testing and making small yet profound changes to what we ate; the unbelievable happened. We kind of found a magical formula combining diets that truly worked. This is now known as the Alive 4 Stage Diet. The tantrums stopped, she walked and talked and became manageable. And all we did was change what we put in our mouths.
You may not be dealing with an autistic child or serious health issues. You might just be an everyday person who wants better health. I simply am sharing what I know about the power of stellar digestive health to help you become the happiest healthiest version of yourself you can be. From a very real life point of view.
When we first opened our retreat our focus was always to be on stress relief techniques and diet/cleansing was always centre stage of the process. We didn't realise just how centre stage it needed to be until a few years in and the same old link between digestive issues and mental health issues just kept smacking us in the face. Our clients are everyday people just like you. Stressed from work and family commitments, lacking energy and have lost their direction or zest for life. Their health was being impacted by their stress and their stress was being impacted by their health. It was a hamster wheel they couldn't get off. So it was research time. And thank god for modern science because after careful testing we started to realise that this issue was HUGE! All severely stressed, anxious or depressed clients had very very poor digestive health. But why? Was it genetic? Sometimes yes. Was it stress? Sometimes yes. Was it diet causing the inability to cope? Sometimes yes. Was it all of these combined. Sometimes yes.
If you go through periods of stress absolutely the most important thing at that time is your diet but usually it's the first to go. When we are busy we lack time. Sometimes we don't even feel like eating or it becomes the most effective comfort. When we lack time we don't cook or take care of ourselves. When we eat on the fly we eat mindlessly. When we eat poorly we impact our ability to handle stress. The food is important but stress is a gut killer too.
I vowed to the universe that I would tackle this issue head on and learn everything I could to help others. And they say you should be careful what you wish for. Because my personal experience with Winta took me down the pathway of experiencing this head on for myself. In turn I now have both the personal and professional understanding of the importance of gut health for your brain, your moods, your happiness, your life force. We can't take it for granted. It really is all we have.
No one wants to lack energy or focus, everyone likes a good nights sleep and annoying health issues are expensive, time consuming and draining. No one. Absolutely no one likes to live in a body that feels lifeless. Yet how has it taken a few thousand years to figure out that was causes most of our health issues is a second brain we didn't even know we had in our gut? With our ever increasing fast paced lives, grabbing food on the go, the disconnection and misunderstanding of what is in our food and the lack of knowledge most of us have about what to eat and how to love our body is quite astounding. I like how Osho puts it...
‘The first thing is the body. The body is your base, it is your ground, it is where you are grounded. To be antagonistic towards the body is to destroy you, is to make you miserable, is to create hell for yourself. You are the body.' TWEET THIS QUOTE
I'll Tell You Right Now What to Eat & What Not To Eat for Digestive Health
You are the body Osho says. Wise words. You are what you put into your body. If you antagonise it it will get angry and rebel. At some point it will force you to listen.
I'm not going to go into detail about the exact science and construction of your gut. Check out my other posts on how exactly it works. Its truly interesting especially if you are a science nerd like me. I'm just going to cut to the chase and ask you to trust me on this advice given how many years I've spent trialling every diet, testing every stool sample (yuck sorry) and watching clients regain their sense of self, energy and love of life purely from an awareness and commitment to what they eat. I get emails that say 'I just woke up happy for the first time ever in my life for no good reason and all I'm doing is changing the way I eat!'. The more 'gung ho' you approach this the better you will feel. I want you to knock this out of the ball park for me and give it a red hot go.
How Do We Do It?
Our goal with the following steps is to improve our digestion and understand how important the gut/brain link is for health by feeling and experiencing the changes (not just reading about them).
Step 1 - Remove and Reduce The 'Gut Bullies'
Remove or reduce troublesome foods from your life. I call them gut bullies. They bully the 'good guys' (healthy positive gut bacteria that leads to the creation of healthy but bacteria that leads to healthy moods) into submission and allow the 'bad guys' - unhealthy gut bacteria to wreak havoc. Don't cry about it just do it. You won't look back. I've had adults on retreat have full blown foot stomping tantrums about having their favourite foods taken away. Literally hide in their room and cry. We are weirdly attached to anything that goes into our mouths! Yet not so attached to doing what it takes to find health and happiness. Us humans are strange.
Troublesome foods that affect digestion are:
Sugar. This includes anything that breaks down to sugar including dairy, grain and fruit. Your plate should have no more than 20% of sugar on it at every meal. If you are experiencing health issues remove it completely. It feeds negative bacteria in the gut and helps it to grow. It upsets your endocrine system, blood sugar levels and doesn't offer sustainable energy. (Find out more about our 80/20 rule by listening to my free audio guide by becoming a free member).
Alcohol. Save it for the weekends and DON'T give it a red hot go. It's full of sugar and down right makes you feel foggy, tired, dehydrated and look old. Alcohol kills healthy gut bacteria. It is not your friend. We all think the world is a better place when a little tipsy but the next day...not so much. There are so many other things in life where we can find our high and pleasure. Alcohol is not the long term answer to happiness and contentment. (Listen to my free audio on mind tools and purpose to find out how we do just that).
Coffee. Destroys the lining of your gut (literally the most essential part of your gut is the lining) especially on an empty stomach. Take it weak and black and only one a day first thing after food and lots of good quality water. If it makes you nervous or strung out remove it and replace with green tea or another herbal tea. If you want a good quality nights sleep remove it completely. If you are really stressed and anxious remove it completely.
Gluten. In some grains but the most common is wheat. Wheat in the west is literally in everything. Toast for breakfast, sandwhich for lunch, pasta for dinner. Gluten is a hard-to-digest protein that should be broken down in the stomach by a powerful acid called HCl (hydrochloric acid), or your digestive fire - something that diminishes when stressed. If gluten is allowed to go undigested from the stomach into the small intestine, it can act as an irritant to the skin and villi (little hairs that absorb nutrients and help transform nutrients and transportation of neurotransmitters - the keys to mental health - to your brain). Studies have shown that the gluten protein in its undigested form is such an irritant that it can inflame, flatten and separate the intestinal villi, and allow gluten and other undigested proteins and toxins to move into the lymphatic circulation surrounding the digestive tract. Bloating, fatigue, brain fog, compromised immunity, allergies and numerous forms of discomfort can all be tied to gluten-related lymph congestion due to poor digestion. Remove it.
Additives. Preservatives suck (tweet that one if you want to on my behalf). Want your child to behave better? Want to sleep better? Want to reduce your risk of cancer? Want to not feel anxious? Take additives out of your life. The level of mood upset caused by additives is astounding. They were never meant for human consumption. Insert [mother nature crying emoticon here]. Preservatives are chemicals used to keep food 'fresh'. Hmmm. Mother nature intended it to be that way? No way. Although there are a number of different types of food preservatives, antimicrobials, antioxidants, and products that slow the 'natural' ripening process [insert another crying emoticon], some are more common (and deadly) than others. Despite their important function, preservatives can pose a number of serious health risks. If you eat fresh food you don't need to consume them. Period.
So if you reduce or remove all of those what does it leave you with? Fresh, clean, vibrant, living food. Will you feel as though you are going without? Nope. Will you love the changes. Yep. Listen to my Nutrition Audio Book to help you kick start these changes here.
Step 2 - Improve Vitality
Eat. Fresh. Food.
Ditching packaged food was the first and final step onto my journey of wellness with Winta. We removed all packaged food from the house. Even the organic natural crips and crackers and bars. That also happen to have additives and sugars and fillers. She would climb the cupboard looking for it like a stray dog that hadn't been fed in weeks. All that was left kind of startled me but like any new change now it is completely normal to only have fresh meat, eggs, vege and fruit in my house. To her (Winta) it's completely normal. Children only eat what you feed them. Foods that are Alive will literally help you feel more alive. It truly is that simple.
GO! Chemical Free
Get your veges and your fruits and your meats untouched. The additives sprayed on and injected into livestock are quite shocking. Ask questions like 'what is that ingredient?' Think 'what is in this?' Go to a local market and marvel at the colours and smells and works of farmers who bring the abundance of fresh food there for you and get to know them. Be grateful for their hard work and passion. Ask them how they produce YOUR FOOD, YOUR LIFE FORCE. Avoid major supermarkets. Go local, shop local and source people who farm with respect for both the food, the body and environment. They are out there. It is heart filling. It becomes a way of life. It feels good. It energises you. It's your responsibility as a human on this planet to do so. It's your responsibility to choose what is right for your body. Eat as close to possible as mother earth intended. Faffing with nature over the history of time never ever got us anywhere good.
Drink Good Quality Water. ***Not from your tap.
An acidic environment (sugar, excess grain, alcohol) breeds unhealthy bacteria. An alkaline environment (green vege, fresh living food, alkaline H20) wards off disease. Negative gut bacteria love an acidic environment. The most common mistake is thinking you are being 'healthy' but yet drinking altered chemical filtered water from your tap. What process did it have to go through to get from the lake to your house? What's in it? Get yourself a good water filter (reverse ozmosis with alkaline attachment) and ditch the tap water and plastic water bottles. Not only will it save you money it will save your health.
Learn Lifelong Tools To Manage Your Stress. For Good.
Stress is a gut killer. It's easier said than done but I've got a load of free help for you here on this site to start dealing with your stress and have tools that stay with your for life. Your environment, what is around you, what you are dealing with directly impacts your health. More than you know. Psychosocial factors (what's happening in your 'inner world') influence the actual physiology of the gut, as well as symptoms. In other words, stress (or depression or other psychological factors) can affect movement and contractions of the GI tract, cause inflammation, or make you more susceptible to infection based on the fact that your gut is the epicentre for all immunity and mental health.
I often work with LBA (Live Blood Analysis) on retreat to help us see what is really going on beyond other tests and assessments internally. Something that our LBA GP is always astonished with is how fast our clients physical healing is compared to her general clients that just visit the clinic. The reason our clients heal faster? Environment. Stress being reduced massively but tools such as life coaching, daily meditation and yoga, time in nature, silence mindfulness and stillness. It impacts the healing process in ways you wouldn't believe possible. Do not underestimate the ability of the body to heal rapidly when it receives what it needs IN ALL LIFE AREAS. Hence the point of our process.
Ready To Start?
Please take a minute to share with me below any of the above changes that are going to implement starting today. The first step is starting. As soon as you acknowledge to the world you are going to start, magic happens. So let us all know what one change from above you will start today!
'Your Gut and Your Emotions Are A Two Way Street. They both impact on each other so addressing the state of your gut health, not just the food you eat, is incredibly important to your mental health' Food Matters
I've offered a tonne of helpful advice in my free audio books and blogs. The first audio guide on nutrition will help you kick start the above. You can also get started on your own wellness and life changing journey by taking my wellness quiz.
Lots of love