Sleep And The Immune System – How Lack Of Sleep Affects The Immune System

Sleep and The Immune SystemSleep.

Sleep is important for the body.

Not getting sufficient sleep can affect our health.

Did you know that sleep and the immune system are closely intertwined? In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of sleep and how sleep deprivation (or lack of sleep), can affect the immune system.

Sleep – What IS Sleep?

What exactly is sleep? Although we all sleep, most of us would have a hard time describing exactly what sleep is.

Here are some characteristics that define sleep:

  • Sleep is a period of reduced activity.
  • Sleep means you are usually lying down with your eyes closed.
  • When you are sleeping, there is a decrease in responsiveness to external stimuli.
  • Sleep is a state that is relatively easy to reverse.


Physiological Changes

The body goes through some physiological changes during sleep. The body’s blood pressure and temperature drops. Plus our breathing and heart rate become very regular during non-REM sleep.

Brain Activity

During sleep our brain activity changes from variable, random activity during wakefulness and REM sleep, to a more coordinated synchronous pattern during non-REM sleep.

How Much Sleep Should I Be Getting?

The amount of sleep each person needs will, to some degree, vary however here is a guideline for you:

Adult: an adult should be getting 7 – 8 hours of sleep to bolster the immune system

Sleep and The Immune System

Teens: teens need at least 9 – 10 hours of sleep

Younger Kids (Grade School age): younger kids should be getting 10 or more hours of sleep.

After reading the above guidelines, ask yourself if you are getting enough sleep.

The Importance of Sleep On the Immune System

We all know that sleep is important. But do you REALLY know WHY?

Sleep is a natural state that our bodies need to be in order for us to be healthy.

While we are sleeping our immune system produces and releases cytokines.

What Are Cytokines?

Cytokines Sleep and The Immune System


Cytokines are a category of small proteins that are important in cell signalling.

This type of protein targets infection and inflammation. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep.

Certain cytokines MUST increase when you have an infection, inflammation or you are under stress. This is why sufficient sleep is so important.

Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines. Fewer cytokines means that your body has less of these important proteins to help fight off infection and inflammation.

Poor sleep or not enough sleep can increase inflammation, blood pressure, insulin resistance, cortisol (stress hormone), cause weight gain and cardiovascular disease.

Many studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. With this new Coronavirus going around, a good sleep is now even more important to help keep the immune system strong!

In one recent study on sleep, scientists discovered that a good quality sleep can bolster the T cells in your body that fight infection. A good sleep enhances the ability of the T cells to stick to and destroy cells infected by viruses and other pathogens.

How To Catch Up On Sleep

Of course, there are going to be times, when your sleep hygiene, no matter how hard you try, is not at its best. Having a baby, or young kids, or a child with a disability, can throw a wrench in a proper sleep schedule.

The good thing is that you can always nap to help to catch up on the sleep you need. Two naps no longer than 30 minutes, help decrease stress and offset the negative effects sleep deprivation has on the immune system.

The best way to take these naps is to have one 30 minute nap in the morning (mid-morning) and one in the afternoon (early afternoon).


Sleep and Your Gut Microbiome

Sleep and The Immune System


As a nerd of all things gut related, I wanted to cover sleep and the gut as well.

There is growing evidence to suggest that gut microbiome can influence sleep quality.

Sleep is a physiological state that is linked to the immune system, however sleep and the brain-gut microbiome axis (BGMA) is largely understudied, leaving very little known about the effects of sleep deprivation on the gut.

One study found that short term sleep loss induces subtle effects on the gut microbiota. Partial sleep deprivation can alter the gut microbiome composition in as little as 48 hours. However, this same study found that longer periods of sleep deprivation do not have this effect on the gut microbiome.

A more recent study showed that good sleep quality was associated with a gut microbiome containing a high proportion of good bacteria from the Verrucomicrobia. Having a high proportion of this type of good bacteria was then associated with improved performance on cognitive tasks.

However, the way in which the gut microbiome can affect sleep remains unresolved. The molecules that interface between sleep and the gut microbiome remain unidentified currently.

This same recent study also found that microbiome diversity was positively connected with an unfragmented sleep and total sleep time, but was negatively connected with a fragmented sleep.

The results from this study suggests diversity of the gut microbiome promotes a healthier sleep.


Sleep and How It Affects the Gut Microbiome Remains Unclear

From the few studies I was able to find and read, there are conflicting results. The relationship between sleep physiology and gut microbiome remains unclear.

Further investigations in large and more prolonged sleep studies are needed in order to assess how the microbiota is affected by sleep (or lack thereof).

In the meantime, be sure to make it your goal this week to go to bed 30 minutes earlier than you normally do. Give your body the sleep it needs to support your immune system. Be sure to read my other post on natural ways to strengthen your immune system for more ideas to support your body during this season of new and uncertain viruses!


Did you find this post helpful? Be sure to leave a comment and let me know. Or share your experiences with sleep and your immune health!

Protect Yourself From Viruses! Natural Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System

Photo by Andrzej Pobiedziński from FreeImages

A new virus has gotten the attention of all of us this 2020. Well maybe not everyone, but unless you are living under a rock or out in the wilderness with zero internet connection, you have more than likely heard about the newest coronavirus!

The newest Coronavirus has a lot of people worried and scared as there is very limited information about this current virus, and to top it off, the amount of people affected has risen.

As worrisome as new viruses can be, one good thing to note is that there are always natural ways to strengthen your immune system and help prevent or slow down the spread of a virus or bacteria.

What Is The Coronavirus?

What exactly IS the coronavirus? The coronavirus is a large family of viruses. They are zoonotic meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. These types of viruses can range from the common cold to more severe viruses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-Cov) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-Cov).

SARS-Cov was transmitted from civet cats to humans. MER-Cov was transmitted from camels to humans.

The current coronavirus is COVID-19. Not much yet is known about this newest virus. However, current knowledge about how this virus (COVID-19) spreads is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses (SARS-Cov).

How Is This Current Coronavirus – COVID-19 Spread?

Person to person:



This virus is most often spread when in close contact with someone (about 6 feet).

The virus is spread mainly when the infected person coughs or sneezes. Respiratory droplets from the infected person comes into contact with another person.

These respiratory droplets can land on the mouths or noses of people who are nearby, or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Infected Surfaces or Objects

While it is possible to get the COVID-19 virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching your own mouth, eyes and nose, this is not thought to be the MAIN way the virus spreads.

What Are The Symptoms?

First of all, keep in mind that this virus has a limited geographic spread. So if you are living here in Canada, you are fairly safe from contracting this virus.

However, there are symptoms to look out for with regard to this virus:




Shortness of breath

Breathing difficulties

Severe cases end up with pneumonia, kidney failure and even death.

But keep in mind, this virus, so far has been limited in its spread.

What You Can Do To Prevent Infection


You have been filled in on all the scary bits and the possible symptoms to look out for when dealing with this new coronavirus.

Now let’s focus on ways to prevent you from becoming infected:

1: wash your hands regularly. Good ol’ soap and water will work.

2: cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.

3: make sure the food you eat is thoroughly cooked

4: avoid contact with a person who shows symptoms of a respiratory illness – eg. coughing and sneezing.

Natural Ways To Strengthen Your Immune System

The best defence in preventing illnesses and infectious diseases is to build a strong immune system. There are many ways to naturally support and build up your immune system.



SLEEP: make sure you are getting enough sleep. Lack of the proper amount of sleep can directly affect the health of your immune system.

AVOID SUGAR: eating or drinking too much sugar impacts the immune system, so keep the sugars to the natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables.

VITAMIN AND HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS: help support your immune system with vitamins and herbal supplements. Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc are three top vitamins to take to help strengthen the immune system. These vitamins are also ones you should take daily when you feel like you are coming down with a cold.



Herbal supplementation is also a great idea to strengthen the immune system. According to Dr. Axe (author of Eat Dirt), bacteria and viruses in the intestines LOVE dampness and moisture. In order to change this, taking herbal supplements that warm the body, can help to kill off the bacteria and viruses. Bacteria and viruses cannot thrive in a warm and dry environment.

Some herbs to help fight off viruses and bacteria are echinacea, oil of oregano and andrographis. Herbs like astragalus, licorice root and ginger help to strengthen the immune system.

DRINK LESS ALCOHOL: excessive intake of alcohol weakens the immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight off infections.


EAT PLENTY OF FRUITS, VEGETABLES, NUTS AND SEEDS: these foods contain nutrients that are essential for our body and help to keep our immune system strong. Plus eating foods high in fibre will help to feed and nourish the good bacteria in your intestines. Good bacteria LOVE fibre!!


STOP SMOKING: not only does smoking increase the risk of heart disease and cancer, smoking impairs the immune system. The effectiveness of the immune system is greatly reduced in those who smoke, leaving them more susceptible to pathogens (viruses and bacteria).

EAT FERMENTED FOODS: as I have stated in many blog posts, fermented foods are a great way to get beneficial bacteria into your body, and eating these foods can help to strengthen the immune system. Some examples of fermented foods are: sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir.

PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENT: if the thought of eating fermented foods is something you just can’t stomach, then look into taking a high quality probiotic. A high quality probiotic taken daily will help to strengthen and grow the beneficial bacteria colonies in your gut and in turn, strengthen your immune system.


While you can’t 100% prevent sickness and infection, you CAN give your body a fighting chance by following the natural remedies above. Most of the natural remedy suggestions can be applied right away and do not cost a lot of money.

What about you? Do you have use any other natural remedies or suggestions to help strengthen the immune system?

If you do, comment below! I’d love to hear your suggestions.


The Gut Nerd

Am I Dehydrated? The Physical Signs of Dehydration

Do you feel thirsty?

Am I Dehydrated? The Physical Signs of Dehydration

If you do, that means that you are already about 1 – 2 % dehydrated!

What does it mean to be dehydrated ?

What are the physical signs of dehydration?

How does dehydration affect your gut?

These questions I am going to answer for you in this blog post today.

So, grab some water, sit down, put your feet up and take some notes!


What Does It Mean To Be Dehydrated?

Being dehydrated means your body does not have the proper amount of fluids it needs to function properly.


Our bodies are made up of about 75% water. We lose water every day in the form of water vapor when we breathe, sweat and go to the bathroom. In order to keep hydrated, our body is constantly re-adjusting the balance between water loss and fluid intake. When we are not taking in enough fluids, our bodies lose too much fluid and become unbalanced. This is when dehydration occurs.



What Are The Physical Signs Of Dehydration?

There are 3 Stages of Dehydration. Mild, Moderate and Severe. Mild and Moderate dehydration can be reversed by oral intake of fluids such as water with electrolytes that are lost during activity.

Symptoms of Mild To Moderate Dehydration

Mild to moderate dehydration can also be classified as acute dehydration. This type of dehydration usually occurs under certain circumstances like extreme heat exposure or prolonged physical activity.

Physical signs of mild/moderate dehydration:

  • Increased thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Tired or sleepy
  • Decreased urine output
  • Urine is low volume – more yellow than normal
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Dry skin
  • Few or no tears
Headache from dehydration. Photo by Steve Knight from FreeImages


This type of dehydration can be reversed fairly easily with water, electrolytes and rest. Mild to moderate dehydration can turn severe quite fast if not treated swiftly.

Symptoms of Severe Dehydration

If a person is not re-hydrated with water and electrolytes, severe dehydration will occur with worsening symptoms.

Physical signs of severe dehydration are:

  • Drop in blood pressure: this happens when a person tries to stand after lying down
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness that does not allow the person to stand or walk normally
  • Severely decreased urine output or no urine output.
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fever
  • Poor skin elasticity (skin slowly sinks back to normal)
  • Lethargy, confusion
  • Seizure
  • Shock



When Should I Seek Medical Care for Dehydration?


Again, mild to moderate dehydration can be reversed with rest and fluid intake in the form of water and electrolytes.

However, call your doctor if the person with mild/moderate dehydration experience any of the following:

Fever over 101 but less than 103

Diarrhea for more than 2 days

Weight loss

Physical Signs of Dehydration
Photo by RobinHiggins

Decreased urine production




Take immediately to emergency if these symptoms occur:



Chest or abdominal pain



Difficulty breathing


No urine in the last 24 hours


Physical Signs of Dehydration
Photo by RobinHiggins



Acute Dehydration VS Chronic Dehydration

Acute Dehydration

Acute dehydration occurs under certain circumstances like extreme heat exposure or prolonged physical activity. As we have already discussed, this typical type of dehydration can be cured with rest and a proper amount of fluid/electrolyte intake.

Chronic Dehydration

There is also chronic dehydration. This type of dehydration shows up differently. You may have the same symptoms as with acute (mild/moderate) dehydration or you may not even notice that you are low on fluids. This happens because your body is trying to “make do” with less water and starts to become less sensitive to water intake.

Some chronic dehydration signs are:

Physical Signs of Dehydration

  • dry/flaky skin
  • Constipation
  • Constant fatigue
  • Ongoing muscle weakness
  • Frequent headache

What Causes Chronic Dehydration?

Causes of chronic dehydration vary, however here are some risk factors for developing chronic dehydration:


  • Living in warmer climates
  • Working outdoors
  • Having only sporadic access to water

Frequent diarrhea can also lead to chronic dehydration. Chronic digestive tract conditions can cause you to be prone to diarrhea which in turn can put you at risk for chronic dehydration. Some of these conditions are:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • IBS
  • Nonceliac gluten sensitivity

How Is Chronic Dehydration Fixed?

With chronic dehydration, a person will need more than just water to restore the body’s electrolytes balance.

If you are suffering from chronic dehydration, you will need the help of a doctor to confirm this and than have a treatment plan set up.

Chronic Dehydration Test

Your doctor may perform the following tests to confirm chronic dehydration:

  1. Skin Tugor Test: this test is simple. Your doctor will gently pinch your skin and than see how long it takes for your skin to regain it’s natural shape. This will give your doctor an indication of just how dehydrated you are.
  2. Urinalysis: This urine test is to allow your doctor to see if you are producing too much or not enough urine.
  3. Chemistry Panel Testing: this is a blood test. This test shows the amounts of electrolytes (sodium, potassium) in your body. This test can also let your doctor know if your kidneys are efficiently getting rid of waste product.blood-test-for-dehydration

How Do You Treat Chronic Dehydration?

Treating chronic dehydration isn’t as easy as drinking water. At this point, if you are chronically dehydrated, your body will need more than just plain water. A few things you may need to do:

Physical Signs of Dehydration

  1. Drink fluids with added electrolytes. These types of drinks may be necessary to help recover lost fluids.
  2. Drink small quantities of fluids often instead of a large amount of fluid all at one time.
  3. If you are severely chronically dehydrated, you may need to be hospitalized so that you can have fluids given to you via intravenous directly into the bloodstream, until dehydration improves.

Your doctor may set a long term plan in place that will be geared toward preventing any future dehydration. There may be further testing done to find out what is causing the chronic dehydration in the first place – such as addressing any digestive or organ conditions.

If it is determined that chronic dehydration is related to your lifestyle or occupation, then your doctor will work with you to make changes to decrease the chances of dehydration.

Some options may be:

  1. Track your daily water intake. Writing down how much water you consume daily. Using an app to do this will help to keep you accountable and on track.
  2. Decrease alcohol consumption
  3. Watch stress levels:
  4. Cut back on caffeine if it’s causing you to lose fluids
  5. Cutting back on diuretic meds if you are taking them

How Can Dehydration Affect Your Digestive Tract?

Being dehydrated, especially chronically dehydrated, can have a detrimental effect on your digestive tract.

Dehydration can occur from more than just water loss. Medications, caffeine and alcohol intake can also cause dehydration.

Here are some effects dehydration can have on your digestive tract:


Physical Signs of Dehydration

Acid Reflux:Lack of water, calcium and magnesium can cause acid reflux. The stomach does not have enough water to produce stomach acid which in turn causes acid reflux. Drinking water can help limit these symptoms by temporarily raising the stomach’s pH.

Constipation: water keeps food moving down through the intestines. When your body is dehydrated the large intestine will soak up whatever water it can from the food in your guts. This will make the food hard to pass causing pain and constipation.

Bloating and Nausea: overeating causes pain and bloating. Sometimes we think we are hungry, when in fact we are actually thirsty! Thirst happens when you are 1 – 2% dehydrated. The body doesn’t know the difference and the feeling of hunger may be a masquerade for actually being thirsty. To help prevent this, drink a glass of water before eating. This will help to make you feel fuller so you won’t end up overeating.

Bad Breath: When you are dehydrated, you produce less saliva. This leads to bad breath.

How Much Water Should I Be Drinking?

The amount of water you consume a day depends on many factors:



Activity levelsPhysical Signs of Dehydration

As a rule of thumb, aim for half of your body weight. Those with diabetes and other chronic illnesses will need to consult their doctor to determine the appropriate amount of water.

How Can I Stay Hydrated?

Now that you know what dehydration is, the causes of dehydration and how much water to drink, let’s go over HOW to stay hydrated.

Drink water throughout the day. This will help prevent dehydration and over exhaustion. Use the color of your urine to guide you. The clearer your urine is, the better!

Eat foods with high water content. 80% of hydration comes from liquids, 20% comes from foods. Incorporate fruits and veggies that naturally hydrate. Some examples:

  • Watermelonhydrating-foods
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries

If drinking water gets boring, get creative! Add fruit flavors by infusing fruit into the water. Lemon Ginger Water is a great change of pace from just plain water.

Avoid alcohol or caffeine when outdoors. Ice cold cocktails sound refreshing but they aren’t very hydrating to your gut. Alcohol and caffeine suck the moisture right out of you. Avoid this as much as possible, especially if you are outside in the hot sun all day. Or be sure to drink a glass of water for every drink you consume.

Avoid peak hours of extreme heat. Stay inside during peak hours of extreme heat when temperatures and UV rays are at the highest. Usually between 10am and 2 pm.

All of this talk of hydration has left me feeling 1 – 2% dehydrated!! Time to go and load up on some fluids!

Did you find this post helpful?

Share your thoughts and comments below! I would love to hear from you!



The Gut Nerd



What Is Gut Dysbiosis? Can It Be Fixed?

what-is-gut-dysbiosisThese days there are a lot of people dealing with a huge range of health issues. Many of these issues have a direct link to the gut. Your intestines are home to millions of bacteria. These bacteria are both beneficial (good) and opportunistic (bad).

Both bacteria are meant to live in harmony with one another; the good bacteria keeping the back bacteria in “check”.

Problems within the intestines begin to occur when too many opportunistic bacteria colonies are in the gut and not enough beneficial bacteria colonies. This is when gut dysbiosis can occur. Keep reading to find out what gut dysbiosis is and what can cause gut dysbiosis.

What Is Gut Dysbiosis?

Gut Dysbiosis is when there is a microbial imbalance in the intestinal tract. This imbalance occurs when the bacterial colonies in your gut become out of balance. Gut Dysbiosis is most commonly reported as a condition in the gastrointestinal tract and mainly in the small intestines. This is known as small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or small intestine fungal overgrowth (SIFO).


Typical microbial bacteria colonies found in the body are beneficial, helpful and necessary. These beneficial colonies carry out functions that help in areas such as digestion.

When the balance of this good and bad bacteria is disturbed, the good bacteria have a hard time keeping the bad bacteria’s growth in check. This then leads to an overgrowth of bad bacteria.

Causes of Gut Dysbiosis

When the balance of the flora (bacteria) in the bowels is disrupted; dysbiosis can occur. But what causes this disruption?

The current lifestyle of western living plays a big role in the negative impact on the microflora of the GI tract. This negative impact on the gut microflora are a result of:

  • High sugar intake
  • diet high in processed foods

    Processed Meats

  • drinking 2 or more alcoholic beverages a day
  • antibiotics
  • low fiber intake
  • pesticides (such as on unwashed fruit or veggies)
  • high levels of stress or anxiety which can weaken your immune system
  • poor sleep

Symptoms of Gut Dysbiosis

Symptoms of gut dysbiosis may vary depending on the types of bacteria that are out of balance. Common symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • constipationWoman-with-diarrhea
  • diarrhea
  • bloating
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • depression

Dysbiosis can also occur in other parts of the body, however for this blog post, I have chosen to focus solely on the gut.

Can Gut Dysbiosis Be Diagnosed?

If you want to find out whether you have gut dysbiosis, then you will need to see your doctor. Your doctor will go over your medical history, assess your symptoms and then may order one or several of the following diagnostic tests.

Organic Acid Test (OAT)

Your doctor will collect a urine sample and then send it to a laboratory. The lab technician will test the urine for certain acids that bacteria can produce. If acid levels are abnormal, this may mean that certain bacteria are out of balance.

My youngest daughter sees an integrative doctor. Every six months to one year, we take an organic acid test. I collect a urine sample from my daughter and send it to a lab to be tested. Based on the information from the organic acid test, the doctor knows which bacteria are out of balance and then we adjust my daughter’s diet and vitamin therapy accordingly.

Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA)

You will be given special equipment to take home to obtain a stool sample. You will then send this sample to the lab to be tested. The lab tech will test the poop to see what bacteria, yeast or fungi are present. The results of this test will tell your doctor if there is an imbalance or overgrowth.

Hydrogen Breath Test

Photo courtesy of

Your doctor will have you drink a sugar solution and breath into a special balloon. The air in the balloon can be tested for gases produced by bacteria. Too much or too little of certain gases can indicate a bacterial imbalance. This test is often used to test for small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

How To Bring Balance Back To Your Gut

If you have gut dysbiosis, there are many options you can choose to help bring your gut flora back into balance.


If you are seeing a doctor, he may suggest medications to help control the bacteria. Some medications he may suggest are:

  • Ciprofloxacin: an antibiotic that treats gut infection resulting from dysbiosis.
  • Rifaximin (Xifaxan): an antibiotic that treats symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common condition associated with dysbiosis.
  • Co-trimoxazole (Septrin): an antibiotic that treats gut and urinary tract infections that result from dysbiosis.

Keep in mind that these antibiotics given are for severe cases. The use of antibiotics can be helpful, but can also exacerbate the issue and continue the vicious cycle of gut dysbiosis.

Natural Ways To Help Balance The Gut Microbiome

There are many dietary changes that can be made to help restore balance in your bowels.

Foods to Remove From Your Diet

Remove processed inflammatory foods from your diet. Such as:

  • Pre-made packaged food
  • Foods high in sugar (corn syrup)Avoid Excessive Sugar
  • Processed meats: deli meat or canned meat
  • Dairy – this can be inflammatory for some
  • Breads, Oats: these foods can be inflammatory for some and cause a gut imbalance

Take one of these foods out at a time and begin to eliminate them from your diet until your gut dysbiosis is healed.

Having more colonies of beneficial bacteria will help to balance out the gut and keep the opportunistic bacteria in check.

Foods to Add To Your Diet

Here are some foods to start incorporating into your diet to help feed and strengthen this good gut flora.

  • Pre-biotic: add prebiotic (fermentable fibres) to your diet. The beneficial bacteria in your gut LOVE fermentable fiber! These bacteria feed off of this type of fiber which is exactly what we want when restoring balance to our gut microbiome. Here are some examples:
    • asparagus – great anti-inflammatory benefits


    • dandelion greens – great fiber rich substitute for greens in your salad
    • leeks and onions – both contain high amounts of inulin fiber. This in turn promotes growth of healthy gut bacteria
    • apples – high in pectin which is a type of prebiotic fiber
    • flax seeds – promotes healthy gut bacteria and regular bowel movements
  • Fermented Foods: add fermented foods to your diet. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics. These probiotics help restore a healthy gut microbiota and intestinal barrier. Here are some examples:
    • unpasteurized sauerkraut
    • kombucha
    • kimchi
    • yogurt (homemade is best)
    • keifer

A Few More Things

Aside from diet, here are a few more things you can do to help bring balance back to your gut microbiome.

  1. Focus on good sleep habits: get 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night. This will help to support good gut health
  2. Exercise: developing a daily exercise program will help to keep your gut microbes healthy.


  3. Find ways to manage stress: yoga, meditation, deep breathing – these are 3 ways to help your body to manage stress.

Make some of these a daily part of your life to help support your gut microbiome.

Although gut dysbiosis can be an issue, there are ways to help realign your body so that your gut is functioning properly again.

Start implementing these tips slowly and you will be surprised at how much better you will feel over time. None of this information is a quick fix. Remember, healing a broken gut takes time. However, with small steps in the right direction, you will help your body and get your gut back on track.

Have you experienced gut dysbiosis? If so, what did you do to help heal your gut? Share in the comments!

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope it helps you!


The 131 Method Online Program – Does It Work?

131 Method Online Program

If you’ve read my blog post on the 131 Method Book, you already know that this book was a game changer for me.  This book helped me so much that I decided to purchase the Online 131 Method Program.

I decided to give the 131 Online Program a try because I wanted more in-depth information on the process and phases of the 131 Method.

The online program goes into much more detailed information about the reasons and the science behind each phase.  I wanted to learn more so doing the online program seemed like the next logical step.

Now that I have completed the online program I thought some of you may have some questions so this post is all about the 131 Method online program and the ever burning question….does it work?

What IS the 131 Method Online Program?

The 131 Method online program is a 90 day eating lifestyle designed to teach the basics about how certain food may be affecting you.  If you are struggling with constipation, bloating, water retention, skin rashes, diarrhea, the inability to lose weight etc….. please know that all of these issues may have a direct connection to the food you are putting into your body.

These foods may be causing gut inflammation and hormone imbalances.

The Breakdown

Once you sign up for the program, you will be sent an email.  In this email will be a link to the online program.  Once in the online program, you will need to set up a profile before you can access the lessons.

In this profile set up, you will put in your goals and what you hope to achieve when on the program.  The initial goal that I put in was to stop the insatiable cravings for ALL THINGS SWEET….especially chocolate chips after dinner…. every single night.

Every week you will be sent an email letting you know what week and phase you are doing.  You will be given access to your 131 program syllabus one phase at a time. This is done so as to not overwhelm you.  There is a lot of information in each phase.


Once you have created your profile, I would highly suggest you listen to the welcome lessons first.  These quick 10 – 15 minute tutorials give an overview of the program, how and why it’s recommended to take before and after photos, plus how to navigate through the online program.

Once you’ve listened to these lessons, then you can begin listening to the required lessons under the “IGNITE” tab.


Welcome and Ignite Phase

Ignite is where you begin. There are required lessons and optional lessons.  The required lessons explain all about the ignite phase, what you are doing in the ignite phase and most importantly – WHY.

You are given meal plans if you aren’t sure where to start or what to make.  You are given a VERY indepth shopping list.  I suggest you take this list and only buy things from it that you are going to need based on the recipes you plan on using.  The shopping list can seem very daunting so please know that you don’t need to buy everything on this list.  Buy what you need based on the recipes you are going to make.

There are a bunch of downloads pertaining to the Ignite phase that you can print off.  Here are a few:

  • Shopping List
  • Shopping Tips
  • Meal Plan Ideas
  • Nutrition Solutions for Common Side Effects
  • Inflammatory Foods Guide
  • How To Track Your Macros
  • Carb Count in Every day Foods

What Is the Ignite Phase?

As I’ve explained in my previous blog post, the Ignite Phase of the 131 Method focuses on turning you from being a sugar burner into a fat burner.  And to do this you lower your carb intake and increase your fat intake (good fats, of course).

“This phase is meant to kickstart your metabolism, balance your hormones, reduce inflammation and begin to build a healthy gut” (quote from the 131 online program).

How do you do this? You’ll learn how to do this in the Ignite Phase through timing your meals and changing your macros.

The lessons in the Ignite Phase cover:

  • What you’re doing in Ignite
  • Inflammation
  • Ketosis and Ketogenic Eating
  • What are Macros and How To Track
  • Intermittent Fasting for Fat Burning
  • Fasting for Health

These lessons are audio and are 15 – 20 minutes in length.  You can listen to these lessons pretty much anywhere.  Plus if you prefer to read the lesson, they have transcripts of each lesson that you can print off or read online.

Once you have listened to all of the required lessons, you can then listen to the optional lessons.  There is one optional lesson for Ignite and it’s titled “Leaky Gut”.

After you have listened to all the lessons, you can then begin prepping for your 4 weeks on Ignite.

There is a section of the program titled “Recipes”. There are over 600 recipes!  If you have listened to the “WELCOME” section of the program, then you will know how to work your way around the recipes.  If not, refer back to the “WELCOME” section.

Tomato Basil Mini Tarts – Ignite Phase of the 131 Method

Once you have it figured out, you can pick and choose recipes based on the phase you are in.  Once you have your recipes you can then shop for the items you will need to make the recipes you have chosen.

From there, you being your IGNITE PHASE and SLAY IT!

Pros and Cons of the Ignite Phase

This is an honest review and I am now going to share with you my pros and cons of the Ignite Phase.  Keep in mind that this was solely my experience.  I am sharing this with you to help inform you, so you can decide for yourself whether this program is for you.


  • The lessons were easy to understand and quick to go through
  • The meal plans were great to use when I had no idea where to start
  • The print offs were a great tool to have on hand
  • Intermittent Fasting is an option – not something you HAVE to do.


  • The recipe section can be a bit daunting to figure out if you haven’t gone through the “getting started” tutorial.
  • Intermittent Fasting can be daunting
  • Getting the hang of an app for tracking macros can be confusing – especially if you have never used an app like this.
  • If you struggle or have had issues with constipation, you really need to be aware of this and listen to your body.



Nourish Phase

After 4 weeks on the Ignite Phase, you are now ready to move on to the Nourish Phase.

Once again the “required lessons” tab will fill you in on what the Nourish Phase is, what you will be doing in the Nourish Phase and most importantly – WHY.

Here are the lessons for Nourish. Again, you can print off the transcripts or listen to each lesson via audio.

  • What you’re doing in Nourish
  • Micronutrient Management
  • What you need to know about meat and too much protein
  • Hunger, Appetite and Emotional Eating
  • Fasting for Health

Optional lessons are available to listen to on this phase as well.

Another tab you can access as well is called “Club Content”.  This section will have extra information that you can access with regards to your current phase.  Most of these links are quick articles or videos on the 131 Method website.

What is the Nourish Phase?

This phase is building on what you have learned in the Ignite Phase.  The main objective of this phase is “to accelerate gut healing and optimize all functions of the body by increasing the intake of micronutrient dense superfoods”.

You’ll also continue to learn how you’ll monitor your macros, intuitively intermittent fast and how to “decrease animal protein, while increasing plants”.

You should be able to listen to all the audio lessons in about an hour and a half.  The last days of the Ignite Phase is a great time to start preparing for the Nourish Phase.

Again, there are TONS of recipes to choose from in the Nourish Phase.  One of my favorite recipes is the Carrot Walnut Burger!

Carrot Walnut Burger

The key to rocking another phase is to be prepared!  Having your meals planned goes a long way in being successful in this lifestyle.

Now you have the broad basics of the Nourish Phase, let me go over some pros and cons of this phase.

Pros and Cons of the Nourish Phase


  • If you struggle with constipation, this phase will fix that!  All of the plants you eat will keep you regular!
  • Trying new foods is always fun! Figuring out which vegan recipe you like is a good, mind opening experience.
  • You’ll notice how your skin glows by the end of the 4 weeks…for realz!  My skin was amazing in this phase.


  • If you have kids who are used to having meat every day with every meal, this phase will not be their favorite.   Because of this, you may find it hard to choose dinner recipes that you all enjoy.  You may have to improvise or make two meals.  I found recipes that I could add meat to as a side dish.  I also tried to feed my kids some of the straight vegan meals, but none of them went over very well.
  • The prep time is a lot more on this phase.  Especially if you know your kids won’t like the recipe, you’ll need to take a little more time to find recipes that can work with meat being added to it.
  • Grass fed/grass finished beef is expensive. Yes, the purpose of this phase it to focus more on plant based eating (which means only eating meat 3 times a week).  However, as important as it is to eat healthy good quality meat, the cost can be an issue for a lot of people.


This phase is the final phase in the 131 Method online program.  As with all the lessons on this program, the Renew Phase will be explained to you and you’ll be given the Why’s as well.

Renew Phase

If you need some meal ideas, then the meal plans under the downloads are a fabulous place to start!  Some other downloads under the Renew Phase are:

  • What You Are Doing In Renew
  • Meal Plans
  • Exercise While Phasing

What is the Renew Phase?

This phase is better known as your “real life” phase.  You will take a break from intermittent fasting and let your hunger be your guide.  Then you will learn what your are eating and HOW you are eating every couple of days.  This is called Macrophasing.  The required lessons are as follows:

  • What You’re Doing in Renew
  • Macrophasing Explained
  • Your Meal Plan in Detail
  • Fasting for Health
  • 131 Lifestyle, What To Do Next

Like with the other two phases, these lessons are 15 – 20  minutes each.  They are in audio form or you can read the transcripts.  This phase will require a bit more planning as your macros will be changing often throughout the week.


One Pot Chicken and Rice – Online 131 Method Program

The meal plans are great guidelines to help give you ideas and make everything less confusing.

This last phase was the BEST and the WORST for me.  Here are my pros and cons for this phase.

Pros and Cons of the Renew Phase


  • You eat healthy, high quality carbs!  I did enjoy the other two phases, but enjoying a wider variety of carbs, that are not just veggies, is a nice change
  • You can make the days work for you! Plan on going out for lunch? Awesome! Switch up your days to make that lunch date work for you.
  • NO intermittent fasting! Listen to your body and eat when you are hungry!


  • Some people get really, really hungry – all the time – in this phase.  It was hard for me to determine if it was true hunger or emotional hunger.
  • Listening to your body and eating when hungry takes practise and the first time around you may struggle with this.
  • Due to the higher carb intake, you may experience some weight gain.

After 4 weeks on the Renew Phase, you can choose to start back on the Ignite Phase or keep doing a Renew-type lifestyle.  If you want to keep doing the 131 online program, you will need to pay monthly to still have access to all the recipes and information

Overall Pros and Cons Of The 131 Online Program

I am now finished the online program and wanted to share the overall pros and cons.

When it comes to a diet and lifestyle change, the 131 online program is a total 180 to what most people are accustomed to.  You MUST be in the right mindset for this lifestyle to work.  With that being said, let’s go over my pros and cons of this program.


  1. The 131 online program is filled with lots of support and information.  Have a question regarding the program? No problem! There’s a tab where you can ask a dietician. Simply type in your question and they will get back to you with an answer.
  2. Each phase is explained in great length.  As long as you listen to the required lessons, the phases will be straight forward and make sense.
  3. Need some moral support? The online 131 program has a tab you can go to and connect with others who are doing the 131 program as well.  You can share your victories, your struggles, your questions, etc…..
  4. Recipes galore!  There are so many recipes to choose from and more are added all the time.
  5. This program is always changing.  More phases will be added in 2020 which is exciting.
  6. The program works!  There are no hard and fast rules. You make this program/lifestyle work for YOU!


  1. Once you sign up for the program, you are inundated with emails.  Some are helpful such as knowing what phase and week of the phase you are in.  Some are annoying and can be overwhelming.
  2. There is a lot of information to take in!  This can be daunting and if you are not in the right mindset, then this will turn some people off and they wont complete the program.
  3. Phase One (Ignite) can be a major problem for some people.  This phase could exacerbate acid reflux and constipation issues.  If you have any problems with one these issues, I would suggest adjusting your macros accordingly.  DO NOT start with your fat macro being at 70%, start lower….. a lot lower.  Really listen to your body.
  4. Phase Three (Renew) can cause weight gain for some people.  Most of this weight gain is minimal and more then likely just extra water due to the complex carbs. However, this could be a deterent for some people.  Especially those who are struggling with a dieter’s mind.

To Sum Up My 131 Online Program Experience

The 131 online program has helped me to really understand how the body works and how it can respond and react to certain foods.

I am so VERY in-tune with my body now and know when something I’ve eaten is causing me problems and possible inflammation.

When I make unhealthy food choices, like eating copious amounts of chocolate and baked goods, I sleep horribly and then wake up feeling bloated and puffy and sometimes even slightly nauseous.

A great side effect for me on this program has been weight loss! Losing weight was not something I was trying to do, but it has been great to have my clothes fit just a little bit better and to see more muscle definition in my body.

Before and After
before and after photo on the 131 Method program

The pros of this program for me, far outweigh the cons.

I highly recommend giving this online program a try.  If you are tired of the dieting/weight loss/weight gain yoyo; if you want to stop your sugar craving;  if you are looking to balance your hormones….this program is WORTH the time and effort!

You have nothing to lose (except perhaps a bit of weight) and EVERYTHING to gain (like in-depth knowledge of how your body works best).

Have you done the 131 online program? If you have, leave a comment below and let me know YOUR experience!


The Gut Nerd

Restoring Gut Flora After Diarrhea



Everyone at some point in their lives will experience the joys of diarrhea. Yes, this entire post will be discussing diarrhea. Specifically what it is, how and why you get it, plus how to restore your gut flora after the onslaught of constant bathroom breaks is done.

Having diarrhea chronically is just as bad as being chronically constipated. Before we get into chronic and acute diarrhea, let’s discuss exactly what diarrhea is, shall we?


Diarrhea is characterized as loose, watery stools or the frequent need to have a bowel movement. Diarrhea can be acute or chronic.



There are many causes that result in diarrhea.

  • VIRAL INFECTION: Rotovirus is a common cause of childhood diarrhea. This is a viral infection that causes diarrhea and vomiting. Initial symptoms of rotovirus are fever and vomiting followed by three to eight days of watery stools.
  • BACTERIAL INFECTION: several types of bacteria can enter your body through contaminated food or water and cause diarrhea. Common bacteria that cause diarrhea are E. Coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter. These are all foodborne illnesses that you can get from contaminated food.
  • TRAVELLERS DIARRHEA: this is another foodborne illness caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites. Travelers diarrhea is usually acute and clears up fairly quickly.
  • ADVERSE REACTION TO MEDICATION: many medicines may cause diarrhea. Medicines that may cause diarrhea are antibiotics, antacids and some cancer treatments.


Acute diarrhea usually only lasts a few days. This type of diarrhea could be from a viral infection or from something that you have eaten or a reaction to medication you are taking. This type of diarrhea is fairly common and clears up fairly quickly. Some examples of acute diarrhea: viral infection, bacterial infection, travelers diarrhea, adverse reaction to medications.


Chronic diarrhea lasts longer, at least 4 weeks. Chronic diarrhea is usually the result of an intestinal disease or disorder. Some examples of intestinal disease that may cause chronic diarrhea are:

  • SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth)
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • FOOD ALLERGIES: could cause chronic diarrhea. Some examples of food allergies that may cause diarrhea are:
    • lactose intolerance
    • fructose intolerance
    • sugar alcohols: sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol may cause diarrhea in some people.
  • ABDOMINAL SURGERY: you may develop chronic diarrhea after abdominal surgery. This type of surgery includes:
    • gallbladder
    • large intestine
    • small intestine
    • spleen or stomach
  • LONG TERM USE OF MEDICINES: medicines taken for a long time may cause chronic diarrhea. Medicines such as antibiotics, can change the gut flora and cause bacteria overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria which can cause chronic diarrhea.



Drinking Water

What do you do when you have diarrhea? How do you treat it? While you are dealing with diarrhea, the best thing to do is to replace lost fluids. Drink water and an electrolyte supplement to help replenish lost electrolytes as well as lost fluids.

If the situation becomes serious and you become severely dehydrated, then you will need to be hospitalized and put on an IV to get fluids into your body.

If a bacterial infection is causing the diarrhea then your doctor may need to prescribe you antibiotics.

My oldest daughter contracted salmonella when she was six years old.

She was a thumb sucker.

One day she went on a field trip with her class to see baby chicks at a farm. They all washed their hands after touching the baby chicks however my daughter had also been sucking her thumb before washing for hands.

I did inform her before the field trip to NOT put her thumb in her mouth until AFTER her hands were washed but she was a six-year old at the time and it was such a habit to put her thumb in her mouth that she did it without even thinking.

Salmonella works fast let me tell you! She felt sick by the time she got home that afternoon and by that evening she had a fever and was throwing up!

Then came the diarrhea!!

It went from bad to worse to so disgusting that it didn’t even look like diarrhea anymore.

The poor little girl!

She had so much pain and cramping. I can’t remember if she had to go on antibiotics, but I know it was at least seven to eight days of nasty loose, bloody-swamp-water-looking stools, before the diarrhea started to clear up.

If I knew then, what I know now, about the importance of balanced gut flora, I would have started implementing some flora replenishing steps as soon as she was feeling even just a little better.

Once she was no longer infected with salmonella, she was still very weak and pale. It took her months to look and feel better. Now I know this was because her intestinal tract was depleted of all good bacteria and very unbalanced. At the time, I went back to feeding her, her regular diet, which wasn’t an unhealthy diet by any means. However, she could have used some extra help in the rebuilding of good gut flora.

Here is what I would do now to help restore gut bacteria after diarrhea. I would feed her foods that helped to replenish her gut bacteria.


Once your body has healed and the diarrhea has stopped, you can now begin to replenish your gut with good, helpful, beneficial bacteria.

All the good and bad bacteria have been pretty much wiped out with that bout of diarrhea.

It takes about one month for your gut microbiome to recover after having diarrhea. You will want to take care of your intestines during this time and help to re-establish a healthy balance of your gut mircobiome.

The foods you eat following a bad case of diarrhea will have a big impact on how quickly your guts recover. Let’s look at some foods to eat that will help to replenish beneficial bacteria in your gut.



How To Heal Gut Flora After Antibiotics

  1. FERMENTED AND CULTURED FOOD: some examples of fermented and cultured foods are; sauerkraut, kimchi, keifer and naturally pickled vegetable. Try to eat a variety of fermented foods as this will provide your gut with bacteria diversity which will help to restore your gut faster.
  2. PREBIOTIC FOODS: you will want to feed your new beneficial bacteria. These bacteria LOVE fiber rich foods. Foods high in soluble fiber are considered prebiotic and will work best at feeding your good gut bacteria. Here are some examples of prebiotic foods: broccoli, chia seeds, beans and legumesraw-vegetables
  3. RAW VEGETABLES: organic vegetables are best as they won’t have pesticides on them. These pesticides will kill off the good bacteria basically working against what you are trying to do! Raw veggies are a great source of fiber. If your body is having a hard time with raw veggies, then steam them. Steaming cooks the veggies slightly making it easier for your body to digest.

Of course, once you are feeling better, you usually go back to your regular way of eating, However, keep in mind that if you want to restore your gut microbiome to a healthy balance, you will need to avoid these three foods.


  1. SUGAR: it’s always good to limit your refined sugars to no more then 25grams a day. However, when you are rebuilding your gut flora, you will want to avoid sugar altogether. Opportunistic bacteria thrive on sugar and we want to limit the production of these bad bacteria as much as
  2. RED MEAT: limit your red meat (pork, beef) to once or twice a week while your gut heals. Too much red meat can lead to an unfavorable shift in your gut bacteria.
  3. UNDERCOOKED EGGS OR SEAFOOD: avoid raw eggs and seafood (sushi) while your gut flora is rebuilding a strong population of friendly bacteria.raw-seafood



You now know what causes diarrhea, and how to heal your gut flora after a bout of diarrhea.

So how do you go about making sure you don’t get diarrhea again? Here are a few tips to help prevent diarrhea.


  1. WASH YOUR HANDS: to help prevent spreading a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea, wash your hand frequently with soap and water.
  2. THAWING FROZEN FOOD: always thaw your frozen food in the refrigerator
  3. LEFTOVERS: refrigerate leftovers right away. Do not leave out.
  4. FOOD PREPARATION: wash cooking areas and food preparation areas frequently


If you have read any of my previous posts, then you will start to notice a trend. Our guts NEED bacteria to keep us healthy. But in order to have the good, high quality bacteria, we have to nourish our body with foods that feed the BENEFICIAL bacteria and starve the OPPORTUNISTIC bacteria.

This is why it is so important to be mindful of the food that you put in your body.

I would love to know your thoughts. Have you experienced gut issues after a bad bout of diarrhea and if so, what did you do to help heal your gut?


The Gut Nerd


5 Steps To Heal A Leaky Gut Naturally


It seems that the term “leaky gut” is becoming more and more popular. This term is heard, written and spoken in every method of communication: TV, newspaper, magazines, online and social media.

Do most people even know what “leaky gut” means?

What images pop into your head when you hear the word “leaky gut”? For me, I picture some sort of green goo oozing slowly from a bunch of small openings.

green-gooThis image is actually not too far off!

The good news about leaky gut is that there are steps you can take to heal a leaky gut naturally! But first let’s discuss what it means to have a leaky gut.

What Is A Leaky Gut?

What exactly does it mean to have a leaky gut?

To keep it simple, having a leaky gut means the lining of your intestinal wall has minuscule holes in it. Through these teeny tiny holes, bacteria, food particles, and antigens have all started to slowly escape the confines of the intestinal tract.

This, my friends, is the simplest definition of leaky gut.

Still confused?

Think of your gut lining (intestinal epithelial lining) as a VERY thin, yet tightly woven stocking. The stocking weaving is super tight, and only minuscule nutrients and minerals are allowed to pass through this weave. These minerals and vitamins are allowed to pass through because of the “tight junction protein” gatekeepers. These gatekeepers (TJP) only let the nutrients your body needs, through their gates. They do not allow antigens, food particles or bacteria to get through their gates.

Now imagine that these gatekeepers (TJP) have become weak, and there are no new, strong gate keepers to take over. These weak gatekeepers do not have the strength to keep the gates closed and now all the riffraff (bacteria, food particles, antigens) are escaping the intestines and getting into the bloodstream.



What Causes Leaky Gut?

So how does leaky gut, or intestinal hyperpermeability happen? Here are some factors that are believed to play a role in leaky gut.Avoid Excessive Sugar

Excessive Sugar Intake: a diet high in sugar, especially fructose, harms the barrier function of the intestinal wall.

NSAID AvoidNon-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID): examples of NSAID’s are: ibuprofen and aspirin. Overuse or long term use of these drugs can increase intestinal hyperpermeability and contribute to leaky gut.

Excessive alcohol intake: too much alcohol consumption may lead to a leaky gut.Margarita

Inflammation: Chronic, ongoing inflammation can contribute to gut hyperpermeability.

Nutrient deficiencies: deficiencies in Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Zinc may increase the chances of a leaky gut.

Stress: Chronic stress is a contributing factor to many GI disorders including leaky gut.

Leaky Gut PicturePoor gut health: there are millions of bacteria in the gut: some good and some bad. This gut microbiome must be in perfect balance. When this balance is disrupted, the gut lining is affected which in turn can lead to leaky gut.

Yeast overgrowth: there is yeast naturally in the gut. However, problems can occur if there is an over growth of this yeast.


Signs And Symptoms Of Leaky Gut

Leaky gut, also known as intestinal hyperpermeability, shares a lot of its symptoms with other health conditions, which makes it very difficult for doctors to identify.

Because of this, “leaky gut” is not recognized in the mainstream medical community. Leaky gut is more theoretical than scientifically proven at this point. However, there is growing evidence to show that gut microbiota (good gut bacteria) plays an important role in supporting the gut lining and increasing the amount of tight junction proteins!

Here are possible symptoms of a leaky gut:

  • Chronic diarrhea, constipation or bloating
  • Difficulty ConcentratingNutritional deficiencies
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Skin problems such as rashes, eczema
  • Joint pain
  • Widespread Inflammation



Diseases Associated With Leaky Gut


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): symptoms are abdominal pain, excess gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBS is a digestive disorder. Studies have shown that those with IBS have increased intestinal hyperpermeability.

Celiac Disease: this is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by a severe allergy to gluten. Several studies have found that intestinal hyperpermeability is higher in those with celiac disease.

Crohn’s Disease: is a chronic digestive disorder characterized by persistent inflammation of the intestines. There are a few studies to show an increase in intestinal hyperpermeability in those patients with Crohn’s.

Food Allergies: a few studies have shown that those with food allergies often have impaired or weakened gut lining. A leaky gut may allow food proteins to cross the intestinal barrier causing the immune system to respond. An immune response to a food protein (an antigen) is the definition of a food allergy.

5 Steps To Heal a Gut Naturally

Now that we have discussed the reasons for a leaky gut, the symptoms of a leaky gut and the diseases associated with a leaky gut, we should discuss ways for YOU to help improve and heal a leaky gut.

White Pasta

Here are 5 ways to improve your gut, strengthen the gut lining and ultimately heal your leaky gut.

  1. Limit Refined Carbs: opportunistic bacteria (bad bacteria), absolutely LOVE sugar! They thrive on sugar! Cut out highly processed foods like white pasta, white bread, white rice, chips, candy. All of these foods help to increase the bad bacteria, and in turn continue to weaken the gut lining and continue the cycle of a leaky gut.
  2. Eat Fermented Foods: fermented foods are great for helping to boost good bacteria in the gut thus strengthening your gut lining and improving your gut health. Some examples of fermented foods: Keifer, sauerkraut, and kimchi just to name a few.Fermented Food
  3. Take A High Quality Probiotic: probiotics are beneficial bacteria in a pill. Once these bacteria make it to your digestive tract, they can start strengthening your gut lining.
  4. Eat Plenty Of High Fiber Foods: soluble fiber found in fruits and veggies feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut. So make sure to get at least 30grams of fiber a day! The more fiber your beneficial bacteria get, the more they will grow and help to keep the opportunistic bacteria to a minimum, in turn strengthening that gut lining!
  5. Limit The Use of NSAIDS: keep usage of aspirin and ibuprofen to a minimum to prevent damage of your gut microbiome.

Eating whole foods, with little to no processing is the key to healing and maintaining a healthy gut lining and gut microbiome.

If you want to learn more about your gut, consider reading these books:

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Bodies Most Underrated OrganGut: The Inside Story Of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giula Enders

Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be The Root Cause Of Your Health Problems And 5 Surprising Steps To Cure It by Dr. Josh Axeeat-dirt

The Microbiome Solution by Dr. Robynne Chutkan


The Microbiome Solution
The Microbiome Solution


Also, see below for research articles relating to this post.


Comment below and let me know your thoughts on leaky gut or share your experiences with healing your leaky gut.


Anna aka The Gut Nerd
















Content goes here.

Top 5 Vegetables for Better Digestion and A Healthier Gut

You have been struggling with bloating, morning puffiness, joint pain and brain fog over the past few years. After months of specialists and your own research, you’ve discovered that you may be suffering from an inflamed gut.

Now that you have figured this out, you’re researching ways to heal your gut naturally with food. This can be a bit overwhelming as there is so much information out there.

Where do you start?

Allow me to help you out with just a small portion of the big pie that is “gut health”. In this post I’ll cover 5 vegetables for better digestion. Start by slowly incorporating these vegetables into your diet one at a time and they will start building up your beneficial bacteria. This in turn, will start to heal your inflamed gut.




Let’s clarify what vegetables are, you know, just for fun.

Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans and other animals as food.

The majority of vegetables are good for you. However, keep in mind that not all vegetables are good for everyone. You may find your body doesn’t like certain vegetables. Nightshade vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants can actually be inflammatory for some people.


Cucumbers are a member of the cucurbitaceae family along with squash and different kinds of melons. Which means cucumbers are actually a fruit!!



Cucumbers are made up of 96% water, are high in fiber and are known to help prevent constipation. Pectin is a soluble fiber found in cucumber. This fiber has been shown to speed up the movement of the intestinal muscles while feeding the beneficial bacteria in your gut. The more beneficial bacteria the better!

There are also antioxidants found in cucumbers such as Vitamin C, beta carotene and manganese. Also, flavonoids like triterpenes, lignans, which have anti-inflammatory properties.

Most of the fiber found in the cucumber is found in the skin. If your body is having a hard time breaking this food down and digesting it, peel the skin. Yes, this will lower the fiber content, but your body will have an easier time digesting this food. Once your body adapts to the higher fiber, you will be able to start leaving the skin on.




What do you think of when you think of celery? I know I used to think of a model going on a “celery only” diet. However, there is SOOOO much more to this vegetable and it should be looked at as a great addition to the fight to heal your gut and NOT a food to help you get skinny.

The nutrition of this vegetable is found in every part of the plant, from the stalk to the leaves and seeds.

Celery is full of water and fiber: two elements that are essential for keeping the digestive system moving.

Here are some vitamins found in celery:

  • Niacin (Vitamin B3). This vitamin is necessary for the metabolism of food including the production of gastric juices and the secretion of bile needed to digest fat.
  • Vitamin B6 aides in digestion. It helps your body process proteins from the food in your diet.
  • Riboflavin (B2). Celery has 3% of the daily value of riboflavin per cup. This vitamin helps keep the mucosal lining of your digestive tract healthy.
  • Thiamine (B1) helps with production of hydrochloric acid in your stomach.
  • Antioxidants like polyphenol, Vitamin C, E, Copper, Zinc, and magnesium are all found in celery

As you can see this vegetable is much more important for your body’s intestinal health than you may have ever realized!

Lightly cooking celery will make it even easier to digest, but just be sure not to overcook as you don’t want to destroy all of those amazing vitamins and minerals.


Zucchinni is known as a courgette in some parts of the world. It is part of the squash family. This veggie is high in water, but very low in sugar and carbohydrates which makes it very appealing to those on a low carb diet (think Keto).

Here are some nutrients found in this veggie:

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A



Anti-inflammatory properties can be found in zucchini which is what we want when trying to heal our gut. Pectin is one of these anti-inflammatory properties.

PECTIN! Like celery and cucumber, zucchini also contains pectin which not only has anti-inflammatory properties, but it is a soluble fiber that helps to move the intestinal tract. With the ability to lower gut inflammation and the ease with which it is to digest, zucchini is the perfect vegetable to add to your daily meals.


Spinach is a superfood! Remember how Popeye would eat a can of spinach and immediately his muscles would get huge and he’d become almost super human?

Even though this exact reaction will more than likely NOT happen to you, it is good to know that spinach is loaded with tons of nutrients such as:

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron

Like celery, cucumber and zucchini, spinach is high in fiber AND water. Both of these promote a healthy gut and intestinal wall.



Remember! The beneficial (good) bacteria in your gut LOVES fiber, so the more fiber you eat the more good bacteria you can feed and have multiplied in your gut. These good bacteria will help to destroy and keep in check the opportunistic (bad) bacteria.


Winter Squash


There are a great variety of winter squash to choose from like butternut, acorn and spaghetti. Most people love squash as they are creamy and buttery in taste and texture.

Here are some gut healthy nutrients found in winter squash:

  • Carotenoids (a precursor to Vitamin A)
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B6
  • Fiber
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • And even Protein!!

Winter squash are also highly anti-inflammatory. Squashes have a compound called ‘cucurbitacins’. This compound inhibits (stops) chemicals and enzymes that induce inflammation in our bodies. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients in winter squash support immune system function. Plus squash are a lot easier to digest since we tend to eat them mashed, roasted or pureed.


Keep a food journal so you can keep track of how you are feeling and if you’ve noticed a difference in how your gut is feeling after incorporating these 5 vegetables into your diet.



Be sure to comment below and let me know your thoughts on how eating these vegetables has made you feel.


Related research to the above post:


Take care!


The Gut Nerd




How To Heal Gut Flora After Antibiotics



Sometimes you have no choice but to go on antibiotics. You’ve been sick for weeks and you’re not getting better, so you go to the doctor and he confirms what you have been hoping to avoid: ANTIBIOTICS!

Here’s the thing, antibiotics can wreak havoc on your gut flora, but your infection won’t get better until you take those damn pills.

You are caught between a rock and a hard place.


Antibiotics kill off the bacteria responsible for the infection you are targeting. However, they also kill off the good bacteria you DON’T want to touch.

Taking these antibiotics may just give you gas or diarrhea. However, some people may develop more serious issues due to antibiotics, such as:

  • malabsorption
  • Acid Reflux
  • Candida (yeast overgrowth)
  • Acne
  • IBS (irritable Bowel Syndrome)

The good news is you can help your body to stop these issues from occurring, by restoring your gut flora while on antibiotics AND once you are done your antibiotic treatment.

Keep reading to find out how to heal gut flora after antibiotics.



OK, you’re on antibiotics, but you want to get a jump on restoring your gut flora.

What do you do? Here are a few things you can do.

Being restoring your gut flora by taking a probiotic while you are still on antibiotics. Be sure to take the probiotics 2 hours BEFORE or 2 hours AFTER taking your antibiotic.

Why take within a 2-hour window?

If you take a probiotic too close to taking your antibiotic, the antibiotic will just kill all the good bacteria.

Taking 2 hours before or 2 hours after the antibiotic creates a bit of a buffer. The good bacteria won’t have time to colonize in the gut while you’re on antibiotics, however the good bacteria just passing through will help to keep the opportunistic bacteria in check.



Cut Sugar Out of Your Diet When On Antibiotics

Opportunistic bacteria LOVE sugar. As do Candida, which is a type of yeast. The beneficial (good) bacteria help to keep the yeast and bad bacteria at bay. However, these good bacteria can get killed off and greatly diminished with the use of antibiotics.

As stated before, using a probiotic 2 hours before or after taking your antibiotic, will help. Cutting down or eliminating sugar is another step you can take to lessen the chance of yeast and bacteria overgrowth.

Yeast is a type of fungi that resides in the gut. Antibiotics cannot kill this yeast so this leaves them prone to getting out of control during antibiotic use. Candida is a yeast that can become problematic. Candida thrives on sugar and simple carbohydrates. If there are no beneficial bacteria around to keep the Candida at bay, the yeast will flourish. To keep these fungi from taking over, keep your sugar and carbohydrate intake to a minimum.

Candida won’t get very far if they don’t have a huge sugar food source. Staying away from sugar is always a good idea, but its even more important when you’re taking antibiotics!

After you are done your round of antibiotics, continue to limit your sugar intake. Remember that sugar is not just found in candy and junk food. Carbohydrates like white pasta, bread, rice, and starchy vegetables (potatoes), are all sources of carbohydrates that easily convert to sugar which Candida and opportunistic bacteria LOVE!


Bone Broth

The good bacteria that line your digestive track help to keep the mucus lining intact. This mucus lining keeps the intestinal contents on the inside of the intestines where they belong.

When you are on antibiotics, these bacteria decreases leaving the opportunity for fungi to take root on the intestinal wall. These fungi shoot their roots into the intestinal wall leaving tiny holes. This allows partially digested food particles to seep out of the digestive tract which in turn causes problems.


Hydrolyzed Collagen

Collagen is a protein that holds membranes together. Collagen is found in bone broth or it can be taken in the form of a powder (hydrolyzed collagen) that can be added to other foods or drinks.

Collagen can help to strengthen the wall lining and strengthen the good bacteria that is protecting the intestinal wall.

Taking collagen and/or sipping on bone broth won’t 100% prevent fungi from attaching themselves to the intestinal wall, but it will help to make the good bacteria more resistant to damage and more resilient when the antibiotics are done.



Fermented Foods

Fermented foods contain healthy bacteria such as lactobacilli. These bacteria can help to restore gut microbiota to a healthy balance after antibiotics.


Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, keifer and kombucha are some great examples of fermented food to eat after antibiotics.

You can even eat these foods while on antibiotics. Just be sure to follow the same rules as when taking a probiotic while on antibiotics. Eat these fermented foods 2 hours before or after taking your antibiotic. This will allow the good bacteria to kill a few opportunistic bacteria and fungi as they pass through the intestinal tract.



A lot of vegetables are loaded with fiber. Fiber can’t be digested by your body, however it can be digested by your beneficial gut bacteria which will stimulate their growth. This is good as we want as many beneficial bacteria as possible!

High Fibre Foods

Here are some high fiber veggies to start incorporating into your diet once you are done with your antibiotics:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Sweet Potato
  • Artichoke hearts – cooked
  • Pumpkin

One word of caution regarding Fiber: although it does restore beneficial bacteria after a round of antibiotics, it is best to wait until AFTER you are done your antibiotics treatment before upping your fiber intake.


Well fiber can slow the rate which your stomach empties which will slow the rate at which antibiotics/ medications are absorbed.

Instead, start consuming more fiber after you are done your antibiotic treatment.


We are lucky to be living in an age where we have access to many medicines to help us. However, we need to remember to use these medicines only when absolutely necessary. Overuse of medications like antibiotics can wreak havoc on the gut, which in turn can cause many health issues.

However, when there is no choice and antibiotics must be used, it’s good to have a back-up plan to help keep your gut strong while you are taking antibiotics and to help your gut get balanced after.

I hope this article was helpful. Please see some further studies below for more information on the impact of antibiotics to the gut flora.

Gut Health Books – 5 MUST READ Books on Gut Health


5 Must Read Books on Gut Health

On my journey to becoming The Gut Nerd, I have read a lot of books. Most of these books in some way or another have had to do with the gut. As I have stated in previous posts, most of these books were read solely for the purpose of helping heal my youngest daughter’s gut.

During this time I wasn’t really thinking about how I could apply this information I was learning, to my own health. However, as time went on and the more books I read, and the more online articles I read, I realized that I could use some help in the healthy gut department as well.

If you are at that point in your life where you are fed up with how you are feeling, or if you just know that you need to learn more about the gut before starting to incorporate changes, then keep reading.

I am going to share 5 gut health books with you. These are must read books that will help you learn how the gut becomes damaged and what it means to have a damaged gut. Plus some gut friendly recipes to get you started on your journey to a healthier gut!

Let’s get started!

1) Breaking The Vicious Cycle by. Elaine Gottschall


Breaking The Vicious Cycle
Breaking The Vicious Cycle

In this book, author Elaine Gottschall discusses how to heal many intestinal problems such as Chron’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac Disease.

You will learn about why these intestinal issues exist. Elaine Gottschall discusses in detail the reasons as to why the gut doesn’t absorb food properly therefore leading to major health issues like diverticulitis and chronic diarrhea.

Scientific evidence will be given relating to the positive effects of dietary changes on intestinal disease. Elaine writes about the microbiome of our intestines in great detail. She emphasizes that the “good” and “bad” bacteria must be in perfect balance in order for the body to function properly.

Elaine Gottschall given in depth knowledge of how to introduce the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to either yourself or a loved one.

The end of the book contains many delicious recipes for you to use when on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).

I make the Cheese Bread and the Peanut Butter Cookies often. They are delicious and easy to make.

2) The 131 Method Book by Chalene Johnson


131 Method
131 Method


In a previous post, I wrote an in-depth review of the 131 Method Book. This book helped me to lose that bloated feeling after every meal and helped to stop my insatiable NEED for all things sweet.

Author Chalene Johnson writes about a life altering experience and how it led her to want to heal her gut.

In this book you are provided with knowledge on food and how it can help or hinder your body.

You are given information on gut inflammation, the symptoms of inflammation and why you may have gut inflammation.

Chalene provides you with useful information that you can use right away! You aren’t told what you can and cannot eat. You aren’t told when and what to eat.

You are given information about foods and how certain foods may work for you and how some foods may work against you.

Information is given on your hunger hormones and how balancing these hormones is the KEY to stopping cravings.

You are given information on the importance of letting the digestive system rest through intermittent fasting.

But MOST importantly, you are given all of this information so that you can use it in a way that will work for YOU!

I can’t say enough good things about this book. If you are looking for a step by step approach to improving your intestinal health, and overall health, then this book is a MUST read!


3) Gut And Psychology Syndrome By. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, MMedSci(neurology) MMedSci(nutrition)



Gut and Psychology Syndrome
Gut and Psychology Syndrome

I’m sure many of you have heard about or maybe even read about the GAPS diet. Well this book is where the GAPS diet stems from and as you can see GAPS stands for Gut And Psychology Syndrome!

The connection to what is happening in your gut and how it’s affecting your brain is talked about at great length in this book. Dr. McBride writes in easy to understand language, how the digestive system should work and how this system actually works in a body with a broken digestive system.

This broken and inflamed digestive system is the root of many health issues including depression, autism, ADD and ADHD.

Dr McBride breaks down how the cells in the digestive tract are supposed to work and how they are actually working in an injured body.

Good bacteria and bad bacteria must all balance.

So, how do you heal a damaged gut? This book covers all the steps you need to take to slowly heal your gut.

The love and real interest that Dr. McBride has in helping heal children who are hurting, is wonderful to read.

The GAPS diet is extreme and necessary for a lot people whose guts are extremely damaged and inflamed. However, if this diet is something you cannot do, at least implementing some of it into your life will help to heal your gut.


4) Cooking For The Specific Carbohydrate Diet By Erica Kerwien


OK, so this book isn’t a book to read in the same sense as the 3 other books I’ve discussed.

This is a great book to have on hand if you want to heal your gut, eat whole foods and find tasty recipes to boot.

There are sooooo many recipes in this book!

Cooking for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet
Cooking for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet

Basic recipes like how to make yogurt! If you want to try to make dairy free yogurt, then there is a great Almond SCD Yogurt. (pg.17) You’ll need to purchase a yogurt starter if you don’t already have one, but no fear, this book has product sources in the back pages, to help you!

Wanting to try to make some grain free crackers? Perfect! There’s a great recipe for making Almond Flour Crackers (pg.47) and even Parmesan Crackers (pg.46)!

I found the almond crackers a tad dry when I made them the first time so the second time around I added grated cheddar to them and voila, they were much yummier and less dry.

Under Salads and Soups, the Tomato Cheddar Basil Soup (pg.60) was super easy and quick to make. I found it a tad bland so I just added a little more salt and then paired the soup with the Parmesan crackers.

It was filling, and DELICIOUS!

In the “Poultry and Seafood” section, I made the Fennel Pesto Meatballs (pg.127). These were extremely fragrant, tender and tasty.

One more recipe I want to share is the Crunchy No Grain Granola (pg.138). It took me a couple of tries to get the recipe cooked perfectly, but once I figured it out, this granola was yummy, crunchy and sweet! Such a perfect combination! I haven’t made the SCD yogurt, yet, but I’m fairly certain this granola would pair PERFECTLY with the SCD yogurt!

This is a DEFINITE book to have when looking to make small changes in the food you eat.

5) The Microbiome Solution by Robynne Chutkan MD

The Microbiome Solution
The Microbiome Solution

This book is written in a very easy to understand language, so if you are new to the world of gut microbiome and all the science behind it, you will have no problem understanding this book and you will be able to put into use the practical advice given.

Author Robynne Chutkan is a gastroenterologist and she wrote this book based on her own research and experiences within her practice. Her ongoing research about how the gut bacteria in our body affect our health is what compelled her to write this book.

In this book, Dr. Chutkan explains how our bodies have beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion and help to prevent disease. However, with today’s highly processed diet and the overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial products in the home, this beneficial bacteria is decreasing while the opportunistic (bad) bacteria in our bodies is increasing. This is causing gut dysbiosis, which in turn is causing many health problems.

Dr. Chutkan points out that illnesses like Chron’s disease are common in more developed countries yet rare in less developed countries. She uses the “Hygene Hypothesis” suggesting that less childhood exposure to bacteria and parasites in affluent countries like Canada, the USA, Europe, actually increases susceptibility to disease by suppressing the natural development of the immune system.


My mind was blown when I read this.

Live dirty. Eat clean was the mantra of this book.

Chutkan offers tips on how to help re-balance your gut microbiome which is fantastic! She also offers some basic day to day living advice.

Such as:

A little dirt is a good thing.

Open a window to let in fresh air.

Go outside

All of this is beneficial for our gut microbiome.

At the end of the book, there are also some recipes to help feed the good bacteria and suppress the bad bacteria. I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but some of them look delicious!

All in all this book is a great read especially if you are new to all of this and are just starting out on your journey to attain a healthy gut.


So there you have it! 5 Books to get you started on your gut health journey.

Did you find this helpful? Comment below and let me know your thoughts.