Do you experience gut problems? In order to know where you are going, you have to know where you are coming from…especially if you want to improve or change your health and body. You have to get to the root cause of your gut problems before you get the best treatment.
Root Cause of Gut Problems
Enter: The Gut Timeline—pin-pointing and piecing together your own unique health history, lifestyle factors and experiences that have shaped your health to be where it is today, in order to understand what current underlying health issues, roadblocks or struggles may be standing in your way to getting where you want to be.
Gut Timeline Example
For example: Take Vicky* (*name has been changed).
Vicky came to me wanting to shed some body fat, increase her energy, banish her bloating and lose about 10 pounds of unwanted weight gain that she couldn’t seem to lose (no matter what she tried).
“I don’t get it! I’ve tried Paleo, Keto, Intermittent Fasting…but no matter what I do, my weight won’t budge!”
To say the least, Vicky’s body was stressed—real stressed! It wasn’t until we pieced together her own unique health history and Gut Timeline that she began to understand that there was MORE to the story than the amount of carbs she ate (or didn’t eat).
Vicky’s history of chronic dieting and overtraining (i.e. stressing out her body), coupled with living in a moldy apartment 5 years ago, plus history of birth control use, SSRI drugs, drinking artificially sweetened protein shakes, typical 6-hours of sleep each night and stressful job as an ICU floor nurse ALL were reasons WHY her body was seemingly “working against her.”
Working with me, I was also able to help Vicky LOOK DEEPER beyond her frustration with the scale into the REAL health issues holding her back, which included:
- HPA-Axis Dysfunction (i.e. “adrenal fatigue”)
- SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
- Hyperglycemia (blood sugar imbalances)
I created a nutrition, supplement and lifestyle-change plan to help Vicky address the stressors wreaking havoc on her health, and long story short, in a matter of 3 months, Vicky had MORE energy, less bloating, MORE body love and she dropped 8 pounds. This lifestyle change is essential to solve gut problems too.
Win. Win. Win. Win!
Moral of the story: When we address the underlying causes of health imbalances and UNDERSTAND the root causes of where our imbalances come from. This is a great way to treat gut problems.
Stress is the #1 driver of ALL DISEASE and is the #1 reason WHY any of us feel stuck in a health rut, or stuck in our own skin (myself included).
Use this simple exercise of creating your own Gut Timeline to PINPOINT the exact stressors and experiences in your life that have shaped your current state of health and body where you are today.
Stress goes FAR beyond mental stress alone too!
Some of the TOP stressors (from your personal Gut Timeline) that may influence your health and current state of not feeling 100% today include:
Physical & Lifestyle Stressors
- Blue light screen exposure (long times on screens)
- Light at night time
- Less than 7 hours of sleep most nights
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Imbalanced exercise (i.e. doing HIIT or chronic cardio all the time without mixing it up)
- Exposure to chemicals in beauty, cleaning and hygiene products
- Plastic Tupperware/container use and other environmental toxins
- Mold exposure
- Lack of outdoor/nature and fresh air
- Endlessly Google searching answers to your health questions
- NSAID use (headaches, etc.)
- Oral birth-control
- Long term prescription medication use
- Disconnection from community/meaningful relationships
- High coffee/caffeine consumption (more than 1 cup quality coffee/day)
- Disrupted circadian rhythms for sleeping, eating, working and resting patterns
- Artificial sweeteners (most commercial stevia included)
- Eating packaged, refined or processed foods
- Low water intake (less than half your bodyweight in ounces)
- Tap water (not filtered)
- High alcohol consumption or smoking
- Frequent eating out (more than preparing/handling your food)
- Stress over food/diet
- Low fiber (Fermentable prebiotic fiber foods)
- Lack of quality protein (amino acids for your brain)
- Conventional meat and dairy consumption
- Grains and “gluten free” processed products (with gluten-cross contaminants)
- Binging/Purging and disordered eating habits
- Jet lag
- Foreign travel
- Shift work
- Pain (joint, musculoskeletal)
- Infectious/bacterial disease
- Gut inflammation & Underlying gut conditions (SIBO, parasites, etc.)
- Type A personality—and difficulty listening to your body over your schedule
- Relationship stress
- Financial stress/pressures
- Lack of control
- Not talking about your stress (bottling it up)
- Lack of play/fun
- Not doing things you love
- Serotonin suppression (“feel good” brain chemicals)
- Social Media comparison/endless scrolling
- Trying to be all things to all people/people pleasing
- FOMO (lack of downtime for yourself)
- Burning a candle at both ends
- News binging
Any of these sound familiar?!
Although stress is inevitable in life, it is when we have LOTS of stressors accumulate (without managing them) that our gut health and other parts of our health take a hit. Thinking about how you feel TODAY in your own skin, think about what lifestyle and lifetime stressful triggers may have played a role.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR GUT TIMELINE
When we talk about gut problems, healing the gut and improving your gut health, many people instantly jump to asking about what lab tests to run and what supplements to take.
However, first and foremost, nothing replaces your own (gut) intuition, and we must FIRST understand what stressors have wreaked havoc on our health in our past and present in order to fully heal.
Create a “Gut Health” Timeline for yourself with the top 10-15 events, memories and/or stressors you have in your own general health journey that may have shaped how you feel today. This will help a lot to address your gut problems.
Some examples you may find yourself including could be:
- Being a C-section & formula-fed baby (processed foods early)
- The first time you remember having gut issue (like having to run out of your 1st grade classroom to use the bathroom or letting one “rip” during reading circle and everyone laughing)
- Taking several rounds of antibiotics for strep throat, ear infections, allergies and everything in between
- Growing up on Lunchables, Goldfish crackers and Hamburger Helper
- The chronic acne breakouts you had as a teen or young adult, and the birth control pills you took to “cure” them
- Trying out a specific diet plan that felt good…at first. But then left you constipated or bloated all the time
- Four years of chronic constipation during college—living off Lean Cuisines, energy drinks and protein bars
- A shoulder surgery or car wreck injury, along with the pain meds you had to take which killed off gut bacteria
- Your trip to Thailand and coming back with a tummy that didn’t feel “right”
- Working the nightshift as an ER nurse for 2 years with poor sleep habits and high coffee intake
- That time you got mono or anemia
List any of the top 10-15 events, lifestyle factors or indicators you can point to as “stressors” and triggering events to your own gut and health dysfunction.
This log will help you piece together some of the top stressors in your current lifestyle and history which may have contributed to your health, as well as understand any current stressors continuing to drive your symptoms.
SUMMING IT UP
In my own health journey, I know that IF I want to add some healthy weight to my body, improve my gut health and reverse my metabolic dysfunction, I MUST FIRST UNDERSTAND how my health got here in the first place.
The same thing goes for you. In order to know where you’re going, you must know where you’re coming from. I’ll teach you more about what to do with this information as we go along. I have a solution for your gut problems.