Thank you to my friends and neighbors at KrickFit for having me as their guest blogger; it was such a treat to dive into one of my favorite topics. Enjoy!
When we’re tuned in, we’re listening to them. When we’re brave, we’ve got them. When we’re honest, we’re spilling them.
Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, noted that ‘all disease begins in the gut’ over 2,000 years ago.
Whether it’s clear intuition, big life moves, impactful art, courageous service or simply feeling better, that you’re after, gut health is a wise place to start.
A healthy gut positively impacts all of our body’s systems. Integrated with our nervous system, the gut plays a role in our reflexes and sends more information to our brain than it receives, guiding our mental states and energetic connections. A healthy gut supports robust immunity, shaping our reactions to viruses, parasites and fungus, toxins, physical and emotional stress. Good gut health ensures a peaceful, balanced response to life, even during hard moments.
Vibrant gut health lays the foundation for all over wellbeing.
What is The Gut?
The gut is the gastrointestinal (GI) tract running from the mouth to the anus, including the esophagus, stomach, colon, small and large intestines and is famous for its work in digestion and elimination.
Colonization of gut bacteria begins at birth, during the journey from the sterile womb through the vaginal canal, and is further supported by skin-to-skin contact, breast-feeding and first year of life nutrition. We inherit the blueprint for our gut health from our parents.
There are close to four pounds of hundreds of species of bacteria in the human gut, comprised of over 100 trillion microorganisms, carrying over 3 million genes (150 times more genes than a human being).
A balance of opportunistic and beneficial bacteria aids in digestive function and nutritional absorption, protects the intestinal wall, supports immunity, manufactures and regulates vitamins and hormones.
Tight junctions between the cells of the gut create a boundary between our body and the outside world. The integrity of this wall is greatly supported by balanced gut bacteria.
Stressed digestive function and poor diet support opportunistic bacteria and cause permeability in the gut wall, or leaky gut syndrome, allowing particles of undigested food, toxins and bacteria to enter into the bloodstream. Our wise body, sensing foreign substance in the blood, launches an immune response. A prolonged immune response leads to an autoimmune response, compromising our natural defense and leaving us vulnerable to sickness and disease. Systemic inflammation sets in, leading to more leaky gut, encircling us in a vicious cycle.
Is My Gut Leaking? Why?
Are you stressed?
If you are, it’s likely your gut could use some attention. Leaky gut syndrome is the result of stress from imbalanced diet and lifestyle and if you’re living a modern life, you’re likely over loaded with stress. Stress isn’t all bad. We need some stress to help us learn and grow, form community, sharpen our instincts and keep us strong. But these days, most folks are struggling day to day to achieve a low energetic baseline, totally overwhelmed by their stress load.
Digestion is a function of our parasympathetic nervous system, the ‘rest and digest’ branch. The body is designed to absorb nourishment and eliminate waste in a relaxed state. When we’re under pressure, in a sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ response, energy and blood flow are directed away from our core toward our limbs and digestion slows (if we’re running from a dangerous beast or hunting for food, we need energy to run without bathroom breaks).
Most people living a modern life are in a constant state of fight or flight:
Slam a cup of coffee while worrying about bills, sit in traffic for too long before doing unsatisfying work while sitting all day long, no breaks, no lunch, no fresh air, no natural light, more coffee and a donut at 3:00 pm just to make it to 5:00 pm, chug some water to relieve desperate thirst, race home for not enough time with loved ones, eat take out while watching the (bad) news and simultaneously checking emails, down a pint of ice cream at 10:00 pm, struggle with insomnia and anxiety until midnight before crashing, up at 6:00 am to do it all again.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
Stressed living and eating equals poorly digested food. These large particles damage intestinal structure, causing the leak in the gut wall. Throw in chemicals, additives, dyes and flavors rampant in processed, packaged foods, tons of sugar and gluten found in the standard American diet (SAD), and your body is likely spending more energy processing toxins and fighting opportunistic bacteria than it receives from the limited nourishment food-like substances offer.
Talk about stressful! We’re basically going into energetic debt to eat garbage!
Here’s a checklist of symptoms of leaky gut syndrome. Our body is a collaborative system of systems; gut health plays a huge role in many of them. Signs of leaky gut syndrome don’t always appear as digestive trouble.
If you answer yes to a few or more of these questions, lifestyle changes focused on your gut will do you well.
How Do I Heal My Gut?
There is no magic bullet pill instant cure for improving gut health. Good gut health is the result of nourished, balanced living. If your gut is damaged, balance will require time and commitment to lifestyle changes. The great news is, as you heal, you’ll get to know your body’s needs and better know what’s best for you.
Incorporate these practices in your life to return to traditional, whole, organic foods and a slower, happier life.
Heal Your Gut to Hear Your Gut
Food, medication, environment, relationships and lifestyle are all potential healers or stressors. Conscious, balanced living is key to good health. When we live in balance with our rest and digest and fight or flight systems, we can navigate life’s twists and turns more gracefully and enjoy feelings of peace and serenity most of the time.
Maybe you’re thinking, ‘That sounds good, but do I have to live like a sequestered monk for the rest of my life just to heal my gut?!’
No. Not for the rest of your life. But, I do recommend strictly sticking with this outline for at least eight weeks and then aiming for 80% of the time. Once you know how great you can feel, you’ll never want to go back. Start slow if you need to. Do the best you can and don’t give up. A healed gut will change your life. You are worth it.
I coach heart-driven, ambitious folks who understand the importance of connecting with their truth before launching into impactful action.
Our truth is housed in our intuition – in our gut feelings. So, gut health is the first place I begin with clients. Every one of them who commits to cultivating a strong and balanced gut environment flourishes physically, mentally and spiritually, finding previously unknown wells of energy and joy. They get the guts they need to live their dreams.
My wish is for you to heal so you might hear your calling. Because we need you.
Have you healed from leaky gut syndrome? How are you feeling now? Leave and comment and let us know what has worked for you!
Digest more before you consume more.
Digestion is the middle man…using energy to create energy.
Assimilate and transform what comes to you.
Take in what you love/need/cherish. Eliminate what you don’t.
Create impact without becoming impacted.
Mindfully complete what you start (completion does not always mean finishing).
Gracefully close what you open.
Stop before you’re full.
Say yes to more when you’re inspired to.
Call in everything you dream of while you carefully attend to what the universe has already delivered to you.
And speaking of digestion….my friends at KrickFit asked me to pen a piece on my favorite topic of gut health.
We want to feel better. In fact, we want to feel amazing and free and enthused. Jazzed. Free. Whole. We want to drop the crap, to be safe and to feel sound. We want to heal. We want to heal for real. We want to heal for good.
Healing begins with tenderness.
I learned this recovering from my unplanned, deeply unwanted C-Section that left me with, what I deemed my ‘I was sawed in half by strange men because I’m a broken failure of a woman and I’m a selfish, moody bitch for feeling anything other than gratitude for the safe birth of my son’ scar. In my effort to heal, as quickly and perfectly as I possible, I found the beautiful self-care technique, Maya Abdominal Massage, that I faithfully performed every day I could (still do twice a week). I’d begin the passage called ‘digging for potatoes,’ and you bet I’d go rummaging around my guts for those potatoes, intensely kneading my belly, face clenched, determined to root up any lumps of scar tissue, and while I was at it, any buried trauma, denial, self-hatred, fear, etc., pummeling myself trying to erase a wound.
The day I caught myself ‘caring’ for my scar with vigorous self-bullying, I had to laugh at my misguided, ironic technique. We want to heal. We want to repair the tear, wipe off, feel better, and move on with our life experience backpack fuller. But taking aim at our hurts (or at another person’s) with a closed fist doesn’t work. In fact, it makes things worse, reinforcing imbalance, magnifying faulty thinking, further inflaming swollen tissues, hardening the injury with more and more scar tissue.
Healing is transformation. It is change, movement, regeneration, and sometimes, resolution. This means that it won’t be like it was before. To begin to heal, the pain must be approached. And just as you would meet a new baby, the pain is best approached with presence, patience and gentleness.
The How To
(The order of these actions and attitudes is flexible. Trust you’ll know in each moment.)
Perhaps a soft touch or voice, a smile, listening very closely, waiting, expanding into something sharp or someplace dark. Deal with it (them, yourself, her, him) as though you’re holding an infant child, a new puppy or gorgeous budding flower in your hands. We’re all just finding our way in our bodies, in this world, in these hours.
Tenderness doesn’t negate the often called for discipline and/or Power, nor does it mean the path ahead will be cushy. It’s just the style best suited to the task.
Start with Love
Keep the word LOVE in mind and behind your eyes when you’re: helping, cleaning, paying, waiting, speaking, looking, listening, approaching difficult moments, running with the wind or feeling the walls closing in — when you feel overwhelmed, tired, mad, sad, afraid, enthralled, jealous, jilted, wronged, amped up, and oh so joyous. Everything will be different. You go first.
Remember to remember your breath. Breath is paramount. Simple, in and out, sometimes delicate, sometimes rolling and heaving, always moving.
Make it deep, make it quiet, make it continuous, make it feel good. Breath connects us with all Life. Let it take you there. Breath nourishes cells, brings what’s needed, takes what’s not, the wind from an open window blowing through a musty room, the waves in the ocean, the warmth that melts rock to lava.
Approaching pain (and fear, disappointment, anger, frustration, rage, grief, fill in the blank) tenderly won’t make you a weakling doormat loser. It will take you deeper and light you up. Starting from love will remind you of what you’re made of. And remembering to breathe will change everything.
When I realized my approach to healing was off and adopted my new mantra of tenderness, I discovered a deep well of magnetic love and resource. I came face to face with my darkest parts, the place where the Goddess’ shadow is cast in the light that illuminates the Treasures of Life and Death.
As Pema Chodron says, “…if you touch that soft spot, you find the vast blue sky.”
I still give great effort to my abdominal massage, breathing through the hard spots in my gut. But I do it with sweetness and trust, without an agenda or timeline. My scar represents one of the most important events of my life. It has been a tremendous teacher. It may never fade and may always feel kind of itchy. Maybe all of emotional energy swirling around in my abdomen will never completely unwind. Maybe it will.
Tender is the place to start — to approach the doorway to expansion and freedom from the hallway of the crappy situation. This is how the shitty, inconvenient, painful, unfair, horrific, grievous curves we’re thrown, which, by the way, everyone will have in some way or other, transform (sometimes eventually, sometimes only kind of) into beautiful lessons connecting us to our Brothers, Sisters and Spirit. And then we see how all of it is unfolding toward the Good.
I am anchored by activist Marianne Williamson’s epic sprit and famous words,
‘…as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’
Last week I wrote about the fire getting going inside of me. AND the simple things I was committing to do about it. Because…
‘When you pray, move your feet’
RECAP of RECENT 7-DAY QUICK & EASY PATH TO LIFE CHANGE
Longing to create, to share, to inspire and SIMULTANEOUSLY
Really bad/bored/lonely so bad that I had no choice but to
I shared (BEFORE I felt ready, before it looked super polished, before too many edits)
I said Yes
I moved in straightforward, tuned in
Signed up for further education from folks who I am totally excited and inspired by
Cleaned out closet of almost everything
Kicked ‘I’m sorry’ out of my regular conversation/interaction
One person asked to subscribe! (Subscribe to what!!? We’re getting there. Stay tuned.)
One person shared what I wrote! The Fire throws sparks.
Two J-O-B offers (big time)
Multiple inquiries about my work
Weird post-partum depression fog boredom GONE
Super charged in-loved with my Man
Better sex 😉
Feel all jeuged up
Longer spine, perkier boobs (looking the world in the eyes, heart opening)
Six different people commented on how great my skin looks. Chinese medicine posits that the pores are the Doors to Qi. Tiny action opened the gates for my Life Force to shine through…
Ideas coming fast
WOMEN all around inspiring and teaching me
Baby napping better (just kidding)
You know that place inside of you…maybe you’ve been ignoring it…feels a little out of your league, very vulnerable, so tantalizing, kind of risky, the seat of the Power. Yes, you DO belong there. GO there. Find out why, then…
Do what you want to do. Do it with love. Share the good and the bad.