Having the Guts to Get Healthy


If you are suffering from bloating, low energy, allergies, food intolerances, weight gain etc, you’ve tried to eat right, and maybe it worked for a while but then you found yourself right back at the same place you started – it could be there’s some imbalance in your gut and you literally don’t have the guts to get healthy.

When I began coaching my aim was pretty simply to help my clients make better choices more often. Help them understand how to cook once and eat often, crowd out less healthy foods with healthier options, get more sleep and exercise, try quinoa and kale and eat loads more greens etc.

Nowadays though, I see people getting less results, finding it harder and harder to follow through on their good intentions. They’re still bloated, not losing weight, have brain fog, low energy, lackluster skin, despite those good intentions.

I’m seeing people settle for less, and just assume this humdrum health is the new normal.

Let me tell you right now, NONE of this is normal!

Hippocrates was the one who said

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food

Problem is that today’s food has kind of become part of the problem, rather than being the solution. And you need to be aware of that, so that you can make better, more informed choices. Check out this blog post to see why you’re not wrong in thinking those decisions are hard to make.

Hippocrates was also the one who first said

All disease begins in the gut

And, while some diseases may not, a huge number DO. So let’s look at why that is and what can you do about it?

What is the gut? And what’s this micro-biome thingymajig I keep hearing about?

Ok first, what is the gut? It’s not your stomach, right? It’s your small intestines, large intestines, and colon, and it’s responsible for pulling off all the good nutrition through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream, and also for eliminating all the other crap – ahh see what I did there.

Did you know that us humans have over 100 trillion microbes living with us? They outnumber our own cells by 10:1! And the majority of them live in our gut, particularly the large intestine.

  • The microbiome is the genetic material of all the microbes – bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses – that live on and inside the human body.

  • The number of genes in all the microbes in one person’s microbiome is 200 times the number of genes in the human genome.

  • The microbiome may weigh as much as five pounds.

  • The bacteria in the microbiome help digest our food, regulate our immune system, protect against other bacteria that cause disease, and produce vitamins including B vitamins B12, thiamine and riboflavin, and Vitamin K, which is needed for blood coagulation.

  • The microbiome was not generally recognized to exist until the late 1990s.” https://depts.washington.edu/ceeh/downloads/FF_Microbiome.pdf

So, the micro-biome may be the most important part of our body that you’ve never heard about.

It is essential for our development, immunity and nutrition.

Autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia are associated with dysfunction in the microbiome. Disease-causing microbes accumulate over time, changing gene activity and metabolic processes and resulting in an abnormal immune response against substances and tissues normally present in the body.


Scientists also refer to the gut as our “second brain”.

Hidden in the walls of the digestive system, this “brain in your gut” is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think…”The enteric nervous system doesn’t seem capable of thought as we know it, but it communicates back and forth with our big brain—with profound results.”…Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes.


The microbiome is responsible for 80% of our immune response. Plus, most nutrient absorption and cleansing takes place in a healthy microbiome.

This means that everything from energy to weight management to digestion to mental clarity can be traced to the health of your microbiome.

It really is the root of everything, both the good stuff and the bad.

Ok so I’m convinced, it’s important. What’s the problem?

The microbiome is a delicately balanced system, and it can easily get out of balance. Think of a garden with birds and trees, grass, soil, flowers, bees, weeds, bugs, etc.

If the weeds get out of control they can choke out the flowers, change the quality of the soil so that other things don’t like growing there now. Suddenly you don’t have a garden you have a jungle, it’s out of balance and a bit of a mission to get back under control.

In balance, even the weeds can contribute to the health of the ecosystem, out of balance you have a problem. It’s very similar in your gut.

There are many things that can upset the balance of our microbiome:

Things that harm gut health can include:

  • Not enough fiber (both soluble and insoluble)
  • Too much alcohol
  • Too much sugar
  • Antibiotics (including in our meat and our dairy), and other medications
  • Stress
  • Not chewing properly

But these days, with the advent of modern farming, GMO’s Glyphosate, shipping, early harvesting etc another contributing factor is our food!

It is denatured by over processing and refining, chemicals and additives, bleaching, irradiation, and it’s nutrient density is compromised by storage, shipping, early picking times and poor quality, malnourished soil.

We also spray much of our food with chemicals and then there’s genetic modification. I’ll go over some bullet points here in terms of implications for gut health, but if you want to understand GMO’s and Glyphosate a little deeper check out the blog post GMOs what the Heck Are Those.

One of the biggest possible factors in terms of your gut is Glyphosate.

What is Glyphosate?

Google tells me:

Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, meaning it will kill most plants. It prevents the plants from making certain proteins that are needed for plant growth. Glyphosate stops a specific enzyme pathway, the shikimic acid pathway. The shikimic acid pathway is necessary for plants and some microorganisms.


Now, human cells don’t have a shikimic acid pathway and therefore Glyphosate is considered safe for us.

  • BUT the thing is bacteria DO and you just learned we have millions of bacteria in our gut (and so does healthy soil). Consequently, Glyphosate damages the soil and it’s also harming the balance of our own healthy gut flora.

Glyphosate is in 75% of our food supply, and that’s not just 75% of processed foods, that’s 75% of everything in your local supermarket and farm stands/markets.

You have to understand this isn’t just the corn cob, this is anything made with a derivative of corn – High fructose corn syrup, dextrins, maltodextrin, dextrose etc, same with soy, wheat, and some legumes.

The only way to steer clear of Glyphosate is to buy 100% organic.

So we have Glyphosate itself, and then we have genetically modified many crops to withstand being sprayed by Glyphosate, so that we can eliminate weeds without damaging the crop.

We’ve also used GMO to help with pests, engineering the plant itself to basically BECOME the pesticide and kill the larvae of the pest. they can achieve this by inserting a naturally occurring soil bacterium that has a gene that produces a protein that kills the larvae of the pest.

“Within minutes, the protein binds to the gut wall and the insect stops feeding. Within hours, the gut wall breaks down and normal gut bacteria invade the body cavity. The insect dies of septicaemia as bacteria multiply in the blood.”

https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef130 by Ric Bessin, Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Why is this relevant apart from depressing me half to death?

Well, we’re talking about gut health, right? We talked about the microbiome and the wonderful world of beneficial and some less than beneficial bacteria and protozoa, flora and fauna living there. Anything that compromises the balance of life living in your gut is a factor, and anything that can compromise the permeability of your gut is also a problem.

I’m sure you’ve heard of leaky gut, or gut permeability?

Our intestinal wall is just ONE cell thick, it’s like a mesh and if it pulls apart a little, then large chunks of undigested proteins etc can seep into the bloodstream where they are NOT supposed to be.

This is why we can have all the autoimmune type problems – because only tiny completely digested nutrients should pass into the bloodstream. If your gut lining is “leaky” then bigger chunks of undigested stuff can pass through where it ain’t supposed to be – and your immune system now considers it a pathogen.

The combination of possible effects from Glyphosate and GMO can lead to all manner of immune issues

  • Food Intolerances
  • Allergies
  • Digestive Issues
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Autism
  • Cancer
  • Endocrine issues (hormone issues)
  • Obesity
  • Damage to organs

So, if you have been struggling with any of the above, you’ve tried to eat well/diet/exercise and not had great results, chances are your gut is out of whack. Honestly, I suspect that most of us are.

How to protect and heal your microbiome

  • #1 go organic as much as possible, (and I say “as much as possible” to be kind and gentle and make it easier and less daunting but seriously go organic full stop – it’s the only way to avoid as much Glyphosate and GMO as possible, and even then it’s likely you’ll still have some exposure)
  • Eat lots of vegetables, greens and a variety of color
  • Eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods
  • Eat less sugar and more fiber
  • Cleansing and Detoxes – can help you kill and eliminate the bad bacteria
  • Probiotics, – restore the good bacteria, flora and fauna in your gut. Find a good probiotic product, and add fermented foods and yogurts with probiotic cultures into your diets
  • Digestive enzymes – help break down food. Fermented foods can help out here as well.

Healing the gut can take some time. You need to avoid toxins and things that feed the bad guys, you need to replenish your stores of the good guys and then heal and repair the damage.

If you think of our garden again, you’re going to rip out the weeds, plant lots of flowers, plant things that encourage the good bugs like bees and discourage the bad ones, like snails, and you may need to do some pruning and feeding nutrients to heal the soil and immunity of your plants.

Same thing goes with your gut. So get out there and find a good probiotic, get some digestive enzymes, add in fermented foods like Kimchi, Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Yoghurt (real yogurt with active cultures), Coconut Yoghurt for those of us who are dairy free, etc.

Go organic, get the Glyphosate out, consider seasonal detoxes and cleanses, avoid processed, refined and GMO foods as much as possible and trust your magnificently clever body to do the rest.

To learn more, sign up for THIS WEBINAR I recently did with Mandi Elmore, health coach extraordinaire!







About the author

Susan Vallelunga

Susan graduated as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach in 2009. She has coached in a gym setting and private health clients. She has also coached students of Integrative Nutrition and continues to coach both private clients and health coaches. She is an avid learner of permaculture and self-reliance, getting back to basics and all the juicy things life has to offer.

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