Welcome to your weekly body-wise lesson: Write a New Health Story—talking all about your personal health story—the events and experiences that have shaped your health and how you feel today.
Before we dive in, take a minute to think of your top 3 to 5 top health complaints or struggles right now.
List them in order of importance—just 3 to 5.
Now think…how did these health struggles unfold? What contributed to not feeling 100% in your hormones, immune system, gut health and more?
That answer is part of your Health Story.
Feeling unwell does not happen overnight…
Everyone’s health is a sum total of life factors that cumulatively work together…
This is why pin-pointing key events in your Health Story is one of the first steps for getting to the root causes behind any of your health challenges.
My life long bloating story is a perfect example of this.
For as long as I could remember, bloating after every meal was my norm, no matter what I ate.
I eventually got diagnosed with SIBO—small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and yeast overgrowth—and I realized, if I didn’t want chronic bloating to be a lifelong struggle, I had to do some digging to figure out the triggers that set me up to bloat big time.
As you can see…my SIBO and bloating did NOT happen overnight.
As you better understand your personal Health Story—the factors that led you to where you’re at today—the better able you can also begin moving in a new direction.
Health Story 101
There are 4 categories in your life that influence your total Health Story. They include.
Category #1: Your Birth Story & Childhood
Hate to break it to you, but the cards were stacked against you in the first 2-3 years of life if you were:
This was totally me!
Even if you only experienced one or two of these, your gut health totally took a hit.
For example, did you know that breast milk contains over 7 different bacterial species essential for seeding a child’s gut, whereas formulas contain a big whopping…zero?!
And newborns delivered by c–section typically lack strains of gut bacteria found in healthy children and adults. Instead, the guts of c-section babies are dominated by bacteria that circulate in hospitals?!
You’re not screwed for life if this was you too…just know it explains you and I have a little more gut work to do.
Category #2: Pre-disposing Factors—these are the genetic, environment and lifestyle factors that set you up for poor health—things like your mom’s genetics for Hashimoto’s…going to college and eating cruddy dorm food for 2 years prior to the onset of your gut problems…or spending many years of excessive drinking or not sleeping…you may not get sick right away—it slowly builds over time…
Category #3: Triggering Events—specific events or triggers that act like a catalyst—directly onsetting your health imbalance—like taking a bad round of antibiotics…a bad breakup or job loss that rocked your world… or food poisoning from bad Chinese takeout…
Category #4: Ongoing Stressors—any current lifestyle, nutritional, medication and mental/emotional factors that don’t contribute to body balance or wellness….such as: intermittent fasting—when you’re body is already experiencing alot of stress…overexercising…sleeping 5 to 6 hours most nights……or drinking 3 cups of coffee every day…
The Key Theme in all these categories? Stress!!!
Big Idea: Stress is #1 Driver of Imbalance
Stress is the #1 driver of all body and gut imbalance—specifically altering your HPA Axis— a fancy word for your “stress management system” that balances out your cortisol to stimulate either the “fight or flight” or “rest and digest” response.
If your HPA axis is up-regulared from lots mental or physical stress, then it sends inflammation throughout your entire body—including your gut.
What Stress Is
Contrary to popular belief, stress is not just mental—in your head.
Stress also includes physiological stress—stressors like under-sleeping, under-eating, overtraining, and drinking out of BPA-leeching plastic water bottles.
Technically speaking, stress is defined as “any event, threat, or tension in which environmental demands, internal demands, or both, strain or exceed your ability to adapt or recover from that stress”.
Repat: stress is defined as “any event, threat, or tension in which environmental demands, internal demands, or both, strain or exceed your ability to adapt or recover from that stress.”
Above all: Your body and your mind desire balance—homeostasis—especially if we want to be well and stay well.
But…if we get out of balance in our lives, and stay out of balance, stress arises and influences our health.
Unfortunately, our modern world stands in complete opposition to how our human genes are innately wired to survive and thrive.
In the midst of work deadlines, takeout meals, artificial sweeteners, restrictive low-carb diets, getting less than 6-hours of sleep, and constant blue light screen exposure, our bodiesare constantly on high alert at all times of day— subconsciously sending out a “stress response” signals.
As a result, we currently face the worst health epidemic of all human time!
More than 1 in 2 people have some sort of chronic disease or multiple health conditions that were unheard of 100 years ago!
Hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, asthma, PCOS, IBS—you name it.
During the previous 200,000 years of life on earth, humans worked and played during the daylight hours, and rested and de-stressed during the nighttime hours.
Humans lived in strong tribes and bonded communities.
They ate natural (unprocessed) seasonal and regional foods…they walked a lot, occasionally sprinted and lifted heavy loads—no chronic cardio marathons for them…and human found meaning and purpose in spirituality, nature, work, and family.
Our ancestors’ primary stressors were things like storms and earthquakes…escaping bears and lions…occasional food scarcity from droughts or seasonal changes…and tribal disputes.
Fast forward to the 21st century and, Dorothy, we are no longer in Kansas!
Many people don’t even realize their body is stressed because mentally, they are not stressed out. However, physical stressors also play a role.
You can be sitting on a beach in Tahiti, no care or worry in the world, but your body still be stressed: Suffering from a leaky gut, eczema breakouts, allergies and blood sugar dips—relying on coffee and sugar for energy to function.
How Stress Works
Now that you understand that too much stress is not great for our health… how exactly does stress work in the body?
After all, doesn’t it seem far fetched to say that drinking one too many cups of coffee can lead to an autoimmune disease flare up or chronic bloating?
Not when you understand the brain-gut connection!
The brain-gut connection is the #1 reason why stress wreaks havoc on your total health.
The Brain Gut Connection
In case you’ve been living under a rock: Your gut health is the gateway to your total health.
In fact, nearly 80% of your immune system is housed in your gut, and your gut is your largest endocrine organ—producing and activating your hormones.
Additionally, your gut is often called your “second brain”—because you have over 500 million brain cells in the gut alone and 90% of your serotonin—your feel good brain chemicals—are also produced in there.
Your gut is also directly connected to your brain by a nerve called the vagus nerve—the longest nerve in your body.
The vagus nerve acts like a telephone line between the gut and brain, constantly sending messages back and forth between the two.
Hence, you can see why if you are stressed…your brain sends “stress signals” to your gut…which in turn affects your immune system, your hormone balance and your ability to digest, absorb and metabolize your food for all energy and life purposes in the first place!
Hello body imbalance!!
Sooooo…how well is your brain-gut axis working?
This week, as part of your Weekly Project to complete your Health Story, you’ll also complete a short “Stress Scavenger Hunt” to identify any leading stressors that may be wreaking havoc on your brain-gut connection.
Slide #10: (dont need to list the mini bullets, i will list them, just the main categories – birth story, health history, etc.)
To help you do this, go on a “Stress Scavenger Hunt”! Identify at least 5 to 10 stressors, triggers, circumstances, or events that comprise your own health story, your journey. These can be both mental, emotional and physical factors.
Write them down.
Modifiable Lifestyle Factors
Perceived Mental and Emotional Stressors
*You don’t have to list everything, but include at least 5 stressors from your past and 5 current stressors in your present to visually see what has potentially contributed to you not feeling your best or being where you want to be.