A healthy gut is important throughout our lives. Dietary factors are considered to be the single leading cause of death. That’s hardly surprising because what we drink and eat provides the building blocks for our bodies. Poor building blocks mean poor health.
Diet can play a significant role in the management of conditions and can influence disease risk. Your nutrition has a significant impact on the frequency and intensity of menopause symptoms.
My guest on the Hot Women Rock Radio Show this week was Culinary Wellness Coach, Nikkie Windsor. Through her 35 years of experience of looking for answers to her own health issues, Nikkie has recognised the importance of gut health to her emotional health and overall wellbeing. She was also realised the importance of mindset in achieving long-term positive change.
Nikkie shared with me her story and her 10 top tips for a healthy gut and a happier you.
Nikki was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when she was 15 years old. Chrohn’s Disease is an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation in the bowel. It damages the digestive tract. It can cause inflammation, ulceration, blockages, weight loss and extreme urgency to defecate. It prevents the gut from absorbing nutrients giving rise to other wellness issues. There can be genetic or environmental causes.
She experienced symptoms for about 12 years and went into remission for five years and was finally able to enjoy food again. During that time her career in corporate IT was taking off and she transitioned into leadership roles.
“And then I went into what is called ‘flare-up’ again. I was given the choice of surgery to remove the inflamed part of my bowel or long-term medication. I had already been on so much medication that I opted for surgery. Almost straight away I got sick again.
I started to recognise pattern. I took time off over Christmas and my symptoms eased. I went back to work in my high stress job and my symptoms flared up. I was signed off work for a month and I could barely leave the house.
At that point I decided to pursue a passion for travel. I gave myself six months to sell up my belongings and rent out my house. I went to Costa Rica to help out at a sloth sanctuary for seven weeks. I feel in love with the little coastal village and decided to stay and train to be a dive master.
My symptoms were still on a rollercoaster. Due to the diving, I had to stop taking my immune system suppressant drugs. Also, I was still drinking alcohol. But there is a lot of healing work going on in that area and I started learning about holistic therapies.
My next step was to ferment my food because I had heard that it was good for gut health. People heard about what I was doing and suggested that I sell my products. That was the start of Jungle Goddess.
The big difference to my health came I combined mindset with a consistent approach to achieve prolonged health. I realised that I couldn’t just give things up for a short time and then go back to them. I had to make the choice to eliminate some things completely.
I returned to the UK in 2019 and during lockdown trained as an Integrated Health and Nutrition Coach to expand my business beyond fermenting and into health and wellbeing. Now, I use my experience and knowledge to inspire and motivate others on their own journey to gut health happiness.
I am grateful for the challenges, setbacks and hurdles that life has set before me for they have shaped me into the person I am today. They have given me skills, knowledge and experience that I use to help others struggling to find their way.”
10 Top Tips for a Healthier Gut
We are all unique and you may have to try different things to find out what works for your gut. However, there are some guidelines.
- Don’t normalise digestive issues such as bloating, acid reflux, constipation, diarrhoea, and pain. These symptoms can be addressed if you identify the root cause of your issues and address them. You may need help with this.
- Reduce the high sugar foods in your diet. Sugar is inflammatory and drives cravings. Examples of sugary foods include soda drinks, breakfast cereals, cakes, and biscuits. Read the labels on processed foods to raise your awareness of how much sugar is in your food.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates which are converted into sugars in the body. Eat more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, and lentils
- Review the oils in your diet. Reduce Omega 6 oils such as vegetable cooking oils, and fast and processed foods. High levels of Omega 6 oils can lead to increased inflammation and high blood pressure.
Foods containing Omega 3 oils are more beneficial. These include fatty fish, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
- Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water or non-caffeinated, and low-sugar drinks.
- Reduce or eliminate alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and it dehydrates the body and the brain. It can aggravate menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, weight gain, low mood and poor sleep.
- Include fermented foods in your diet such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir. They help to promote balance in the gut microbiome. Be cautious if you are buying processed fermented foods as some brands contain high levels of sugar.
- Manage your stress to have a healthier gut. A relaxed gut processes your food better, works more efficiently and absorbs nutrients more effectively. Eat slowly and mindfully. Take time to breathe deeply while you are eating. Rest and digest.
- Get active. Exercising is important for gut health, mental health, weight management, and mobility.
- Cultivate a positive mindset, challenge your inner critic, and believe that you can change. Focus on the wellbeing result that you want to achieve from making changes in your nutrition. How you want to feel is a more powerful long-term motivator than a target weight. Do you want to feel happier, more relaxed, calmer, energised, balanced, or generally healthier?
To inspire and help women to create healthy lifetime habits in January Nikkie is offering three coaching sessions for the price of two.
If you need more information or support to manage your menopause symptoms contact me for a free 30 minute consultation.