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Gut Feeling: an intro to gut health and healing

gut health and healing
Written by Flavia Giardino

Everyone says that trusting your gut feeling is often the best strategy for dealing with challenging situations. When I learned about my food allergies, all I wanted was to understand why my body had began reacting to what I was eating. It was not easy to find out what was happening to me. In fact, it took more than three years for me to figure out what was going on inside my own body.

After several visits to doctors, I was determined to investigate why my immune system was not fighting back. I realised that the old saying, “we are what we eat”, is true. When I changed my diet and cut out the gluten, dairy, eggs and other foods that came back as high in my IgG test, it did the trick: the symptoms cleared up.

My gut feeling was telling me that there was more to that than what the doctors were saying. During my quest for answers, I found out that our gut controls much of our immune system, and if you consume too much of the foods that can cause inflammation, it can be harmful to the health of your gut. I also learned that our food choices can not only affect the quality of our lives but can also influence our mood, energy, appearance and our overall health and wellness (see some evidence-nutrition resources at the end of this blog). I knew it then that this change in my diet wouldn’t be a temporary thing. If I wanted to improve my health, I needed to change my lifestyle completely.

One of the great resources I found when looking for information on gut health was a TEDx talk from Giulia Enders, a German doctor and PhD in Gastroenterology. Her cheeky presentation on the science of our gut went viral and resulted in her best-selling book: Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ. I love the way she describes how our gut functions, and I agree with so many things she said in that talk. There is so much that our system can cope with at a time and we need to pay more attention to how our gut feels.

I always heard that we should eat things in moderation. But what is moderation? Eating small portions of unhealthy foods every day? Or eating something that you know doesn’t make you feel good just once in a while? Surely, moderation has different meanings for different people. What works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for the other. So it’s about time we start taking some responsibility for our own health and nutrition.

In the TEDx talk, Giulia takes us inside the complex science behind how our gut works, including its connection to mental health. And once you gain a little understanding of what happens in our gut, it makes you appreciate how sophisticated our digestive system is. Check out her TEDx talk below.



After watching this talk, I went back to visit a naturopath because even though I was having a super healthy, nutritious diet, I wasn’t absorbing some nutrients I needed, such as Iron and Zinc. That was when I first heard of the term leaky gut. I will confess, it was too much information to get from a simple consultation. So I got some recommendations from the naturopath to start a gut healing process and ended up going back to my new GP who investigated my tests again and confirmed that everything indicated that I had leaky gut.

I was suddenly again overwhelmed with the fact that this “leaky gut” talk just came up after three years of me suffering from the same symptoms. And I still had so many questions! So again I went on a search for more information about leaky gut and came across two great articles by Dr Axe, an American naturopath and clinical nutritionist who specialises in gut healing. Dr Axe also runs free training on how to heal leaky gut, which is super informative if you would like to find out more about this topic.

If you never heard of leaky gut before, you are not alone. It is a new term that has been getting a lot of attention on medical blogs and social media. The leaky gut syndrome, also called increased intestinal permeability, occurs as a consequence of the intestinal tight junction (gut lining) malfunction. When the gut lining is working properly, it controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream. However, an unhealthy gut lining may have cracks or holes, which allows partially digested food, toxins, and bugs to penetrate the tissues beneath it. This may trigger acute inflammation and changes in the gut flora that can lead to the development of chronic diseases.

I’m sure I will learn more about gut health and leaky gut along my nutrition course and I will endeavour to share everything on this blog. But in the meantime, I’m trying to focus on reading more about this topic and being more aware of how my gut feels.

I personally don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all process for healing your gut as most of the things recommended for gut healing are not suitable for vegans or people with allergies to fermented ingredients like me. At the end of the day, you have to go with your gut feeling to see what works well for you. And always look for evidence-based articles, which references real research on the topics of your search.

If you are experiencing similar issues relating to your gut health and digestive system, here are some of the evidence-based nutrition resources I usually go to:

Nutritionfacts.org – is a non-commercial, science-based public service provided by Dr Michael Greger, providing free updates on the latest in nutrition research

Healthline Authority Nutrition– an evidence-based nutrition website that was acquired by Healthline in 2017. The articles are based on scientific evidence, written and fact-checked by licensed nutritionists and dietitians.

DrAxe.com – a holistic health website, which covers nutrition, natural medicine, fitness, home remedies and other health news.

Any questions you have, I would love to answer if I can. Please leave a comment below.

About the author

Flavia Giardino

Journalist, wellness enthusiast + nutritional medicine student. I am constantly looking to expand my knowledge of the principles of life and living. After being diagnosed with several food allergies, I have changed my lifestyle completely and have been experimenting new plant-based recipes, which are featured in the recipes section of this blog.

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