Recently we met up with Gut Health Coach, Mellissa Laycy, to have a deep dive conversation about gut health. In this interview you will learn how gut health is connected to other areas of your wellbeing; how to tell if your gut health might be taking a beating and most importantly learn some top tips to improve your gut health & overall wellbeing.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to become a gut health coach?
I became a gut health coach after suffering myself with poor health that effected my physical and mental wellbeing. I had always suffered from a young age with various digestive issues but in my late teens I developed horrendously painful periods, went through two eating disorders and suffered from depression and anxiety. I searched high and low for answers which took me on a long journey across many continents visiting shamans, doctors and specialists. It wasn't until I enrolled with The Institute of Integrative Nutrition and started taking probiotics (VSL#3) that I stumbled upon the importance of the gut and found the answers I was looking for.
What does a Gut Health Coach do?
I work intimately with clients over a period of eight weeks where I look closely at their diet, stress levels, quality of sleep, life purpose, relationships, exercise routine, self talk and of course their goals. After the first initial session I then work behind the scenes to curate a carefully thought out personally tailored plan to get them from a stuck state - to where they want to be. I coach each client throughout and make sure they feel supported and get exactly what they need for their particular concerns in the most natural way possible.
What are some things that affect gut health? What are the signs that gut health is taking a beating?
Our gut is a whole eco system of its own and the foods we eat and the chemicals, hormones and pesticides we consume with or without knowing it have a big impact on our gut health. According to Health Path one course of antibiotics has the power to irradiate your microbiome to a tenth of its previous level. We need our gut bugs to thrive as they play incredibly important roles when it comes to breaking down food into nutrients, our hormones, weight management and even our mental health!
I tend to ask my clients about what medication they are on, when their last course of antibiotics was and if they take the contraceptive pill. Stress can play a big factor in the diversity of our microbiome too so learning some mindful techniques can be very important as is getting proper amounts of deep restorative sleep.
Some tell tale signs of poor gut health could be eczema (and other skin complaints such as acne, psoriasis) food sensitivities, brain fog, painful periods, acne, bloating, constipation, autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue and mood disorders.
That’s fascinating that so many areas of our wellbeing are connected to the gut health. You mentioned that you ask your clients whether they are on a pill. Why is that? What is the link between contraceptive pill & gut health?
Being on the contraceptive pill means we are in a perpetual state of interfering with our bodies natural hormone balance. The pill is made using synthetic hormones that don’t get broken down in the body properly. Having unbalanced hormones may cause depression, anxiety, weight gain, skin disorders, candida overgrowth, liver toxicity and a whole host of other problems.
I recommend my clients to work with their health care practitioner to come off the pill and switch over to a more natural method of contraception such as using the app CLUE or Natural Cycles. These apps allow you to become familiar with your fertile window by using a thermometer, it also allows you to log your sleep, sex drive, mood and energy which all help you to become more familiar with where you are in your cycle.
You also mentioned that bad sleep also can indicate gut related problems. Could you tell a bit more how bad sleep impacts gut health? What would be your tips for improving sleep quality?
Our microbiome is affected by our circadian rythm and vice versa. If our gut is unbalanced through stress, poor diet, toxic exposure etc then it in turn could affect the quality of our sleep. Our quality of sleep is affected by the production of melatonin (some of which is made in the gut) so if our gut is out of balance so will our melatonin production be.
My top tips for better sleep.
- Journal before bed, write down what's on your mind making note of any pressing items that you want to get to the next day. If you have a to do list in your head then get it down on paper as you can carry this into your sleep which can lead to a restless night.
- Take a good quality magnesium glycinate supplement a couple of hours before bed, it can do wonders for a deeper more relaxing sleep.
- Lavender essential oil is one of my favourite oils to calm me down, I put a few drops on my pillow at night.
- Raised Spirit CBD oil - tsp 1 hour before bed can help promote deeper and more restful sleep, it is also great for relieving anxiety around sleep.
- 'Yoga for sleep' many of my clients have found this helpful, it is a 10 minute wind down with restful breathing included. You can try out for free on the home page of my website.
- It’s worth noting that some may find purchasing blue light blocking glasses very effective. They are best worn after 6pm. The light from our phones, tv and laptops stop our bodies natural melatonin production which is essential for sleep.
- Lastly I find that listening to binaural beats soundscape music can be very therapeutic. The music is specifically designed to help take our brain into a delta state which is what naturally occurs in deep sleep.
If someone suspects that gut health is an issue, what steps can they take to improve their gut health?
If you notice digestive distress after eating then it is most likely that you are eating something that is causing irritation and inflammation in your gut! The most likely culprits are usually gluten and dairy. It’s a good idea to cut out (even for a short time) gluten, dairy and sugar as these can all cause inflammatory responses in the body.
But when cutting major food groups out it is important to know what to replace them with. On my instagram and website I have lots of recipes, tips and other ideas improve gut health so be sure to connect and say hello to me over on my socials. For example, here is the perfect breakfast bowl recipe that not only tastes delicious but also nourishes you from the inside out.
Thank you Mellissa for such an insightful interview. If people want to know more about their gut health or get some help, where can they find you?
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