Gut-health. Is it just another ‘buzz-word’ or ‘fad’ that’s recently hit the world stage? I put my ‘curious hat’ on when I first heard about it. I’ve always had an interest in natural remedies, therapies, and the links between mental and physical health. So I decided to do a little of my own research and see what I could discover myself.
It’s really no secret that the evidence proving the link between the gut and the brain is growing rapidly. I’m not going to go into any great detail on that. There are many experts who can give you real research-based information on that. But I am going to share a snippet of my story. A journey that is in motion. My journey to gut-health.
My Journey to Gut-Health
In a nutshell, the past two years have been a journey to learning more about and improving the health of my gut! So, here’s a little bit more about it. The not so lovely part. That time in my life when I wasn’t coping well at all. There are occasional moments of ‘not coping,’ but this particular time was much longer and harder than others I’d experienced since becoming a mum. It was after the birth of my third ‘miracle’ child at the age of 41.
Initially, I put my plummeting energy levels down to a combination of my age, my third diabetic pregnancy, the fact that this was my third child, having a very energetic toddler, school runs with our six-year old, a busy social calendar, and steady flow of guests from interstate through our home, to name but a few things on my plate.
After the initial ‘high’ of welcoming our third little miracle into the world, I began to notice signs that my body wasn’t recovering quite like it had previously. I was SO, SO tired ALL THE TIME and I couldn’t get through the day without my ‘nana-nap.’ In fact, if I missed my nap I’d often end up with a migraine that would take me days to recover from. I just wasn’t functioning. There was something seriously not right with me! (*I’m blessed to have an incredible husband who’d pick up the balls I had dropped – when he wasn’t working fulltime and building his own business!)
I’d Had a Gut-Full!
At various stages up until that point, I entertained the thought that perhaps this was my ‘lot’ in life now. Maybe my capacity to cope with being a working wife and mum just would never be what it once was. And boy did I struggle with that! I just couldn’t reconcile myself to living a life of ‘surviving!’ I absolutely believed that there had to be a way to work out how to live my life with a greater fullness than what I was experiencing. I’d had enough of just surviving and was ready to get serious about finding some answers.
It was even earlier than the diagnosis (I’m about to share with you) that my awareness of gut-health began. In late 2016, I was introduced to a lifestyle program by Aussie, Sarah Wilson https://iquitsugar.com/ . She’s a huge advocate for all things ‘gut-health’ and sugar-free living. She completely inspired me with her education. So, after a little investigation, I launched in and did her program. The results for me were telling. My renewed energy and clarity were amazing. And my overall health seemed to be looking up!
After living a lifestyle of minimal sugar and its benefits for a year, I’d laid a good foundation for improved gut-health. Irrespective of that I came to a stand-still once more. Debilitating migraines. Excess bleeding. Little energy. Little endurance. The odds were stacking up and again I was feeling determined to find answers!
The Big Picture
I’ll spare you all of the intricate details, except to say that after a lengthy season, and discovering through some concise tests that I had a chronic iron deficiency and something recognized as ‘Adrenal Fatigue,’ it all started to make sense. Dr Libby is my favourite expert on this topic. If you’re interested to find out more, check out this link: https://www.drlibby.com/shop/rushing-womans-syndrome/
This is a controversial diagnosis for various reasons, but it absolutely resonated with me. It ticked all the boxes as far as my symptoms were concerned. I have a sneaking suspicion that there are masses of women in the world suffering these same symptoms, but completely unaware that’s what they’re dealing with.
Making sense of it all
This is where things began to turn around for me, and I received an injection of renewed hope. I was introduced to a gifted naturopath with decades of evidence-based research and practice behind her. With further education and personally tailored natural-treatments, I embarked on a journey I could only hope would bring the results I was looking for.
It was here that I would learn more about my gut-health than I was aware I needed to know!
I could go into great detail here about the do’s and don’ts around feeding our good gut bacteria (microbiome). Or what is required to positively affect our body and mind; however, I won’t. I’m NOT the expert on this. I’m simply another woman on the journey, figuring out how to live her best life – body, mind, and spirit.
Five Keys to Embracing the Journey
Here are a few points I think are worth sharing with you. Any new transition requires a shift in mindset/perspective. These apply to anyone embarking on the gut-health journey.
1. We’re all different.
The term ‘bio-individuality’ highlights that we’re all different. Your body’s needs and my body’s needs are different. So the plan, prescription, or diet that works for me isn’t necessarily going to suit you or the next person. Our genes also play a huge role in our gut healing. My genetic make up is different compared to any one else’s. Yours is too. So the path that each one of us needs to take will be different in various ways. Its important to find personal professional help to find out what your individual body/gut actually needs.
There are some things that will benefit all of us in our quest to a healthier gut. However, there are many other things that need to be specifically individualized for YOUR body, YOUR gut, YOUR circumstances.Glenda O’Neill (through conversation with various gut-health experts)
2. There is no ONE healing, miracle food to cure any condition.
A good healthy, balanced diet with a combination of healthy fats, low sugar, and other specifics for your circumstances is important. Obviously, this is where your ‘expert’ comes into the picture. Find out what YOUR body’s specific food needs are.The more whole, and the less processed food is, the better.
3. Lifestyle and environmental changes are important too!
Replacing old habits with new, healthier habits are just as important as changes to the quality and quantity of food we eat. My most recent quest has been around creating a Low-Tox environment for myself and my family. I’m introducing small changes one at a time. At the same time I’m educating my family about those changes as they’re made. They’re likely to be more sustainable that way. Modeling the whole picture to my kids for their future reference.
4. Listen to your body.
This is definitely a lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way! I only really started tuning into my body’s needs when I was so unwell I didn’t have a choice. I’ve learned SO much. Been kinder to myself over the past few years. Afforded myself the time to tune-in and do what’s required to maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit. PLEASE get help when it’s needed. Checking in with ourselves regularly may help to avert the big crises that can come our way when we don’t.
5. Do your own research.
Get empowered about how to look after your health. Most importantly, grow your understanding and knowledge about how to best look after yourself. Ask around for health professionals who offer practical, helpful remedies and therapies for growing your gut-health, which in turn will positively affect your life in other areas. Be wary of ‘diets,’ ‘quick-fix programs’ and ‘long-term medications’ offering a solution.
Not a Journey for the Faint-Hearted
Another honesty moment right here! This journey to gut-health. It isn’t for the faint-hearted. It IS for those who want to set themselves up for a FULL, ABUNDANT LIFE where functioning at your best is the norm, not the exception. At 45 years old, I’ve not fully ‘arrived’ yet. But my quality of life is significantly improved as a result of improving my gut-health, amongst other things!
So my goal is this – to live life to the full and fulfill the purpose I’ve been put on this planet to achieve. I have a lot of life left to live. I’m going to do everything in my power to ensure my body doesn’t let me down (as long as I have control over it). Not to mention the example I get to set for my kids as they grow into adulthood and make their own healthy choices. It’s part of the legacy I want to leave them.
In addition to all of this, I love helping others live their best life by navigating challenging emotions, baggage from the past, and other mental health issues. My approach is holistic and I’ll always advocate exploring other options alongside of therapy. Afterall, we are not just our mind are we? This journey to gut-health has benefited myself, my family, and my clients too. I’m committed to keep growing in my own knowledge and understanding. Also using psychoeducation to bring increased awareness to others around gut-health in order to improve overall health. In turn, more of us may just live out that full abundant life we were born to live.