August 13, 2021
*photo c/o David Dobreski
My healing journey has always served as my north star in building Shop Good. How could I help inform and support others with what I wish I knew back then… that I know now? And while everyone’s wellness journey looks so incredibly different, mine all started in the GUT.
About 2500 years ago, Hiprocrates said it best. “All disease begins in the gut”. And today’s scientific literature increasingly points to our gut microbiome and the health of our intestinal lining as a direct influencer of our overall vitality and levels of inflammation (and psst, we know that internal chronic inflammation can lead to many other diseases in the body.) So, this is important!
Throughout my twenties, my weakened intestinal tract led to increased intestinal permeability… and later, chronic fatigue, food allergies, bacterial overgrowth, constipation, acne, hormonal imbalances… and more. ‘No fun’ is right.
So, how did I work through my chronic health puzzle and finally heal my gut? Today, I’m sharing my biggest ‘aha’ moments and most useful tools in a little gut-healing toolkit I’ve put together for you.
But before I jump into this toolkit, I want to place a little asterisk on this post. Despite my efforts and hopes and dollars spent, It wasn’t the countless supplements, healthy elixir additives, all-natural body creams or wellness tools and trinkets that gave me the final hall pass to heal. Nope. While these all *supported* my healing journey immensely, it wasn’t until I took control over my thoughts and utilized the power of the mind to heal the body – that I really began to see results. Truly- it was mind over matter for me. I’ll touch on a few of these critical mindful practices below, alongside the more tangible items that made my journey easier… more efficient, and a lot more enjoyable.
Meditation and the breath
Finding a meditation exercise you can get down with *daily* is step one. I get it… where’s the time to shut the brain down and shut your busy and demanding world out? Whether it’s a 15 minute guided via Insight Timer, a 10 minute simplified whirl with Headspace, or simply 5 deeeeep belly breaths as you’re commuting to work. It all counts, all lowers that nasty chronic stress hormone, cortisol, and it all cues the body that you’re creating space to slow down, sending the breath to nooks of the body that maybe haven’t received a healthy burst of oxygen in a while for a more optimally functioning body.
I wish the ‘Begin from Within’ journal existed during my healing process. This beautifully bound and locally created daily healing notebook really provides an opportunity to record exactly what you might be enduring all while focusing a sense of gratitude. My outlook instantly lifted when I was able to empty my mind on paper as journaling is an incredible tool for better understanding your triggers or fears while gaining perspective and sorting through emotions.
Moving the Lymph
Your lymphatic system is a crazy complex system responsible for moving waste out of the body. It doesn’t have a natural, passive pump, and when the lymph goes without activation, toxins may become stagnant in the body and back up like a clogged drain. Because my digestion was weak and had difficulty with regular bowel movements, it was critical that I moved stagnant toxins out as often as possible. The number one way to do this is exercise. When I finally committed to working past my fatigue and incorporating gentle daily movement, I remember feeling things start to finally moving again. Another easy way to activate your lymphatic pathways is dry brushing. Keep a handy handle brush next to your toothbrush or in the shower for quick sweeping motions. A bonus to lymphatic movement? Exfoliated, soft and healthy skin.
Bone Broth + Collagen
The benefits of bone broth are endless. When made over hours (preferably homemade or of small-batch processing) nutrient-dense ingredients like glycine and other essential amino acids, collagen, powerhouse minerals and anti-inflammatory spices can nourish, heal and even help to seal the intestinal lining while encouraging your body to produce glutathione (your body’s natural antioxidant). I made this in batches weekly so I would always stay stocked and incorporated one cup per day for maximum healing benefits. Check out this (way back in the day!) blog post with my Bone Broth recipe, or incorporate some of my favorite collagen in your AM coffee like this one and this one.
Supplementation can be a super powerful way to pull specific levers to help bring the gut and body back to homeostasis. While I depended too long on too many supplements that were not serving my body in finding its own path to healing, (Yes! The body is an incredible machine that is wired to heal itself!) there are a few critical gut-friendly supplements for sustained gut health and general wellness that I recommend daily due to the stress of today’s environment and depletion of nutrients and minerals in today’s soils.
A great probiotic – to continue repopulating good bacteria in the intestinal tract.
A quality Vitamin D – we all don’t get enough. And Vitamin D is essential for regulating gastrointestinal inflammation and promoting diversity in our gut microbiome.
Omegas 3’s – these fatty acids have been shown to reduce oxidative stress in the gut and are linked to greater microbial diversity.
Glutathione – the body’s great liver detoxifier and tissue repairer. Made from the amino acid, glycine, it works to protect the body from oxidative stress.
Magnesium – it’s responsible for over 300 cellular and enzymatic processes in the body, some of which help the digestive system break down and assimilate foods properly, which can have a direct effect on the health of your intestinal tract. It’s also critical for supporting relaxation, regular bowel movements and even brain health! I love this one at bedtime.
The Mouth x Gut Axis
Picture our oral cavity as having a direct channel or secret pathway straight to your gut microbiome. Just think – every time you swallow, you’re ingesting thousands of bacteria helping to define the diversity of your gut flora. In order to keep things happy and balanced, make sure to practice great oral hygiene. However, avoid aggressive antibacterial toothpastes or mouthwashes that kill not just the bad bacteria, but the good too! I love our mouthwash we carry with natural bacteria and odor-fighting tea tree, chamomile and myrr.
Finally, you heard it here first. If you practice just one wellness ritual every day (ok aside from drinking water and wearing SPF!) please tongue scrape! Once you reveal the film removed from twice daily tongue scraping, you can thank me later and never look back. Plus, I notice a direct correlation between daily tongue cleaning and decreased breakouts, gently cleansing my mouth area from excess bacteria.
A Nighttime Skin Ritual
When we carve out time to wind down and remove ourselves from our screens, we’re supporting our natural circadian rhythms, alerting our body when to invite cortisol to rise and fall. When cortisol stays unnaturally peaked, the adrenal glands don’t get a break and this fight-or-flight response can cause abdominal stress and chronic inflammation. One of my favorite gut-loving practices is committing to a ‘power down hour’ where I put my phone away and shut my computer screen to only focus on me. And what better pastime than skincare!
My current ritual is decadent enough to call me away from the Instagram scroll and effective enough to keep my hormonal acne at bay. Here are a few of my forever favorites:
G.Tox Malachite + Fruit Acid Pore Purifying Cleanser – gently detoxifies and exfoliates with fruit enzymes while not over-stripping your moisture barrier.
Lesse Regeneration Mist – works to decrease redness or inflammation, repair damaged skin cells and draw moisture back into the skin.
and Botnia’s Clarity Oil – works as a decongestant and treats inflammation while rebuilding a healthy skin barrier.
While everyone’s health journeys, gut concerns or wellness goals vary, my hope is that we can continue to openly discuss not-as-mainstream health issues and ways to navigate them by supporting one another with information and tools. Feel free to send me a DM if you’d like to share. We are here for you at Shop Good!