Ep 5 Fortify Your Gut

Step 3 of my “Get Your Shit Together” system is to fortify your gut.  I say fortify because not everyone specifically needs gut healing, but everyone can fortify their gut so it works better.

There are 3 main habits that are important for this step:

  • Reduce or stop damage to the gut lining
  • Eat probiotic foods or supplements
  • Give your digestive system a break by waiting 4 or 5 hours between meals

Some probiotics to look for if you are prone to certain issues: 

  • Bifido strains for food sensitivities
  • Lactobacillus reuteri, lactobacillus rhamnosus, or saccharomyces boulardii for yeast, thrush, and fungal infections
  • If you have reactions to probiotics, try a spore based probiotic like MegaSpore

If you want a research-backed gut healing diet to reverse your systems and reset your relationship with food, visit goodpoopersclub.com to get the scoop.

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Music credit: “New Way Forward” by Young Presidents

A Podcast Launch Bestie production

Welcome to Science and Shit, the podcast where I show you how a healthy gut leads to a happier life. I’m your host, Michelle Casey. I’m a functional health coach who specializes in all things digestion, from heartburn to IBS to auto immune inflammatory bowel disease. I’ve seen it all. I’ve spent the last eight years in private practice helping people with chronic illness, reverse their symptoms and live their best lives. In this podcast, you will get empowered about what you can do to impact your health naturally. I’ll help you sort through the information overwhelm to figure out what’s relevant to you. If you want a holistic scientific approach, you’ve come to the right place! 

All right, first things first, if we’re going to talk about holistic health, we need to first acknowledge that white supremacy and colonization has wiped out much indigenous wisdom all over the world. And has led to gross disparities in equity and health care access. The ʻāina (land) on which I live and work is located in the ahupuaʻa (subdivision) of Kaloko, in the moku (district) of Kona, on the mokopuni (island) of Hawai’i, in the paeʻāina (nation) of Hawai’i. I recognize that Her Majesty Queen Liliʻuokalani yielded the Hawaiian Kingdom and these territories under duress and protest to the United States to avoid the bloodshed of her people. I also want to acknowledge that the Hawai’i that we enjoy today was very much shaped in a holistic and sustainable way by many generations of indigenous Hawaiians, Polynesian people. For these people, and for this work, I express my deep reverence and gratitude. Mahalo nui loa. 

It’s important to recognize and acknowledge the history of the land that we live on. Even though you or I may not be directly responsible for the harms done to native peoples. All of us non natives who live in the United States directly benefit from this harm. If you want to learn more about the land you’re on, you can start by entering your ZIP code at the native land website at Native-land.ca. 

Now let’s jump into today’s episode. Let’s get this party started.

Hello, and welcome back. In this episode, we’re going to get a little more detailed specifically about gut health. Which, of course, is my favorite subject and my favorite thing to help people with because it’s foundational to any other system in your body actually working. If we’re not absorbing and digesting the nutrients from the foods that we’re eating, we’re going to have a lot of issues. This is actually step three in my Get your Shit Together system, and I like to call it Fortify Your Gut, because not everyone specifically needs gut healing. Like there may not be actual tissue damage, although for most of my clients there is, but you actually can always fortify your gut. You can always work to make it stronger. And if we think about our digestive tract as a vital part of our immune system, and actually, its function is to keep things on the outside of our body and only allow things through that are meant to be on the inside of our body, like nutrients, then it makes a lot of sense that we would want that tissue and that barrier, that immune barrier to be very strong. 

The three habits to focus on for this step are number one, work to reduce or stop damage to the gut lining, so avoid foods that cause GI distress. Number two, eat probiotic foods or take a probiotic supplement. And number three, give your digestive system a break by waiting four to five hours between meals. 

So let’s dive in. There are a lot of other habits and a lot of other things that I could say are part of fortifying your gut. But these are what I kind of boiled everything down to that are the top three that are the most accessible for everyone in general. If I’m working with you one on one, obviously, we may have a different kind of order of operations depending on your symptomology. But, for the general populace, focusing on these three things will help your digestive system and actually help the physical tissue in your digestive system work so much better. 

So let’s dive in. So the first part is that we want to not eat foods that give us diarrhea. We want to not eat foods that make us constipated. We want to not eat the foods that cause bloating and gas and extreme fatigue after meals. Some of you have those foods, you may know exactly what they are, you may not exactly know what they are. For most people doing an elimination diet is the easiest way to figure this out. And of course, in my group coaching program, The Good Poopers Club, that’s what we do, that’s what we focus on, along with a ton of other education about gut health and nutrition in general. But a couple of episodes ago, when we talked about that kind of the 80/20 rule, maybe you can get away with the foods that cause you a little digestive distress 10 or 20% of the time, but you don’t want to have those symptoms regularly. You don’t want to have them daily, for sure, right? Because what can happen if you’re causing that level of inflammation in your digestive system every day, is that that can then become a chronic situation. And if you have the right genetic platform that could turn into auto immunity, like there’s a lot of potential issues that can happen if we aren’t mindful of what the foods that we’re eating are doing to our body. And so specifically looking at how you digest things, like actually looking in the toilet to see what is coming out. Is your stool fully formed? Are you going to the bathroom twice a week? Because that’s not good. Or are you going 15 times a day? Because that’s not good either, right? So having that sort of connection mentally between what you’re eating, and what your symptoms are, and what’s coming out, that’s a really important mindset for all of this. 

Science and Shit with Michelle Casey is brought to you by The Good Poopers Club. If you want to find out how you can use a research backed gut healing diet to reverse your symptoms and reset your relationship with food, head on over to goodpoopersclub.com to get the scoop.

The other way that we could be potentially damaging our gut besides food is obviously with alcohol, right? Or a lot of sugar can feed bad bacteria and yeast. A lot of processed food can do the same thing. But there’s also other types of exposures besides what we eat that can actually damage the gut lining. So if you are celiac or have gluten sensitivity, and you work in a bakery. I had a student in one of my programs that that was how she found out she had celiac when she was working in a bakery. And that’s really not a good thing because if you are sensitive to gluten and you’re breathing flour, that’s going to get into your GI tract, and that’s going to cause a lot of distress. So that’s something that people don’t necessarily think about. I’ve had other clients that were celiac that were preparing their kids sandwiches and not wearing gloves and were they touching their face afterwards? I don’t know. But they were clearly having symptoms. So some contamination was happening, some kind of cross contamination, or exposure, I guess we would call it. The other things that can potentially cause you know, damage or distress to our gastrointestinal tract. Things like pesticides, not necessarily only like on your produce that you eat, but also if you’re spraying things like Roundup, or using really hardcore weed killers in your gardening or your landscaping. Other types of exposures like heavy metals or mold. Mold just wreaks havoc on all of our systems, but especially, our GI tract. Those are the kinds of things to think about environmentally and nutritionally. So that’s number one. 

Then number two, eating probiotic foods or taking a probiotic supplement. Now, this doesn’t have to be an either or, you can do both right. And for some people, there are certain probiotic strains that are going to feel better for them than others. And I may do a more in depth episode on probiotics, if that’s something that y’all are interested in. But specifically, if you have a lot of allergy symptoms, if you’re one of those people that is reacting to a lot of different foods. You may want to try probiotics that are high in the Bifido strains, because Bifidobacterium actually degrade histamine in the gut. Then things like yeast and thrush and fungal infections, those can be helped by either a lactobacillus reuteri or a lactobacillus rhamnosus. Or it’s not a bacteria, it’s actually a friendly yeast called saccharomyces boulardii. We’ll put the spelling in the show notes for you so that you can look them up. But for some people, any probiotic that they take, they have a reaction to. Especially if you’re someone who’s dealing with a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth situation, or you do experience a lot of bloating, or if you have chronic constipation. Sometimes actually, a spore based probiotic is more helpful than the full formed, fully fledged bacteria. So something like megaspore biotic by Microbiome Labs is a really great option. You do have to start really slow with that one for most people. You wouldn’t even take a full capsule, you might just sprinkle a little bit on your food. But that’s a really good one if you do have a lot of bloating. If you notice that you’re reacting to a lot of those higher FODMAPs foods, and I’m not going to get into FODMAPs too much here, but you know what they are if you know what they are, then you want to avoid probiotics that have prebiotics in them. A lot of the probiotics that you get at the store, that have all the different strains, they also have something like inulin, which is derived from chicory root, which is a prebiotic fiber. It feeds the probiotics, but it can also feed the bacteria that is overgrowing that you don’t want to feed. You just want to be aware of that. 

Now a really great option that I think is actually superior in a lot of ways is to eat probiotic foods. And if you have histamine overload issues, if you are reacting to everything, if you’re having skin reactions, and a lot of allergy symptoms might not be the right time to start with fermented foods. But, if not, and you want to try it, they can be really, really great for digestion. Sauerkraut that has the good probiotic bacteria in it that’s got more live organisms than a capsule. So it’s a really great option and you can certainly make your own. There’s a lot of tutorials online about how to do that. Lots of books, Wild Fermentation by Sandra Katz is a great one. But you can also, if you’re not quite that brave, or don’t quite have that kind of time to devote to it, then you can also just check the refrigerated section of your health food store. So Whole Foods or whatever health food store you have near you, look for things like sauerkraut, kimchi, Cortito, pickles that say that they have live organisms. Live probiotic bacteria, something like that. But they’re not going to be on the shelf, they’re going to be cold, they’re going to be refrigerated. They will have been fermented in the traditional way, which actually breeds probiotic bacteria. Pretty cool. Again, with those because they are very potent, if you have not been eating them before, you’ll want to start small. Start with just a little teaspoon of sauerkraut juice, maybe not the whole sauerkraut. I definitely recommend eating them with a full meal. They’re going to help you break down protein. Those sour and bitter flavors are really, really good for stimulating digestion. Really, really great. 

All right, and then the third habit here for or fortifying your gut, is to give your digestive system a break by waiting four to five hours in between meals. So there’s some reasons behind this that I want to share with you. And then there are some tips that I have for you to make this easier, because for some of you, this might be the hardest part. Because you’ve been so used to grazing or just eating every couple hours. Maybe you don’t feel well if you eat a big meal. So you feel like you kind of have to eat smaller meals throughout the day. Maybe your blood sugar crashes if you wait that long. But one of the things that needs to happen in our digestive system is that there’s a complex of muscles in our GI tract called the migrating motor complex. And what the migrating motor complex is responsible for is sweeping through our intestines and moving our bowels. So actually moving everything through via peristalsis. This needs to happen when we don’t have food in our stomach. And it does happen when we do have food in our system. But if we constantly have food in our stomach, then our resources are diverted. And we can’t actually have that kind of clearing out period where our digestive system just gets to kind of flex and do its thing. And that can actually contribute to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth because our bowels aren’t moving fast enough. It can also contribute to constipation. 

The other thing that can happen when we’re constantly producing digestive enzymes, and when we eat, they get released from the pancreas into the duodenum, which is the top part of the small intestine. And that’s all great. But when we’re not eating those digestive enzymes can actually go around and break down damaged tissue, dead cells, and kind of get everything out that needs to kind of be cleared out. It’s a little spring cleaning moment. So if we are constantly eating, if we’re not giving our digestive system a break, then those things can’t happen. And again, that can lead to a lot of other issues. If this is the first time you’re hearing of this, don’t worry, I was raised in the bodybuilding world where you were supposed to eat six times a day and X number of grams of protein every three hours or two hours or whatever. And I literally made myself hypoglycemic because I then couldn’t go longer than three hours without eating or I would have a literal meltdown. 

The other thing that can happen, another reason why people can maybe feel like this is too much. And indeed, it might be too much for you to start with just all of a sudden tomorrow, going four or five hours in between. You could actually have some blood sugar issues. Where your blood sugar is not regulated very well due to either nutrient deficiencies or carbohydrate intake that’s too high and so you’re kind of always on this roller coaster. So you could have that going on. 

You could also not be absorbing nutrients very well. One of the things that I see a lot with my clients that have gut inflammation and gut distress, is that they have this sort of secondary hypoglycemia. And it’s not because necessarily their blood sugar is the root cause, it’s because they’re not absorbing the nutrients that they need from their diet. And so they are constantly hungry. I remember being either starving or stuffed, like there was just no in between. Because I couldn’t and even sometimes when I was physically full, I would feel hungry. And I hear this from so many of my clients that have IBS, IBD, autoimmune disease, just it’s wild. So for some people, just all of a sudden, taking those long breaks or just going down to eating only three times a day is going to feel really uncomfortable, and they just won’t be able to function. So what you need to start with, if you’re in that place, is start focusing on protein and veggies at every meal. So even if you still have to have a snack in between meals, try to make sure it has protein. Try to make sure it has a little bit of good fat. So things like and, I don’t mean protein like peanut butter, can we just stop calling peanut butter protein, I’m going to lose my mind. I mean like animal protein, like eggs, like if you tolerate dairy, maybe some cheese, some nice artisan crackers. I don’t know, whatever works for your body. But, if you want to do apples and peanut butter, listen, that’s a wonderful snack. I’m a big fan. I’m basically a five year old so I love those snacks. But if we’re thinking about what’s going to keep our blood sugar stable, you want to be thinking more about heavier proteins and veggies if possible. So things like salads. Things like roasted root vegetables. Things like veggie chips or veggie sticks and some kind of dip. Making sure that you’re building each meal around the protein and around the veggies. And try to avoid having super processed carbs at every meal, unless you’re very, very active. But even then, I think, there’s a time and a place for things like bread, even if it’s gluten free. We want to be thinking more about starchy foods that are going to keep our blood sugar stable and keep us full for longer, and those are going to have more fiber in them. And if you find that you absolutely cannot tolerate eating a big enough meal so that you’re not hungry for four hours, please get some support around your gut health. Because your body should be able to adjust to that over a few weeks. And if it doesn’t, there might be some underlying infection or imbalance going on, that might be good to check out, right? That is step number three, fortify your gut.

Again, work on reducing or stopping damage, so don’t eat foods that cause GI distress. Number two, eat probiotic foods and or take a probiotic supplement. And number three, give your digestive system a break by waiting four to five hours in between meals. Work up to that if you’re not there yet, if you’re close, if you’re just holding on to your snacks for a security blanket. Just focus on eating a little more at each meal. You can do it. I believe in you. Alright y’all, I’ll talk to you next time. Bye. 

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Science and Shit with Michelle Casey. If you want to stay in touch head on over to michellecaseynutrition.com/podcast to get in on all the goodness. I know you have a lot of things you could be doing with your time and I really appreciate you choosing to spend it with me. If this episode was valuable for you, please subscribe, follow, and share it with your friends and family and or leave a review as an offering to the algorithm gods. Until next time, be excellent to each other!