Our gut affects so many aspects of our health — from our skin to our mood, our emotions, our hormones, our stress levels and more. So even the smallest improvements to our gut health can have huge on effects the rest of our body and mind… but the opposite is true too: if our gut’s in bad shape, everything’s going to be out of balance. So it’s really important to get our gut sorted, which is why I’ve chosen to dive deeper into this subject in our next workshop — due to popular demand — I have brought the amazingly insightful Katrina Browne!
In Balancing Act’s upcoming workshop, she will be answering all your burning questions to help you understand this oh-so-important organ — and get clear on how to take care of it — so you can experience massive shifts in your mood, energy levels and general vitality.
But for now, I wanted to introduce Katrina to you for those who don’t know her yet.
She is a Naturopath, Medical Herbalist & Clinical Nutritionist.
She provides natural solutions for digestive, hormonal and skin problems using herbal and nutritional medicine. She is on a mission to make a difference and takes the time to listen, guide and support people to optimal health.
Let’s get a snapshot of what you will learn more about during the workshop…
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into Nutrition and Naturopathy?
Hello! I’m a mum to three children ages 10, 16, and 19 (two boys and a girl). I have always been inspired by my own mum who use to give us natural remedies when we were unwell and always fed us wholesome good food. As a result, I had really good health during my childhood and into my 20’s, and it wasn’t until after the birth of my first child in my late 20’s that my personal health journey began.
It wasn’t an easy birth and resulted in an emergency c-section. Following the birth, I started to experience ongoing chronic fatigue, migraines and sore tummies which looking back was likely caused by the intravenous antibiotics used during the c-section operation and chronic stress looking after my poor baby son who was colicky and struggled to sleep.
My terrible gut pain continued for about 6 years and it wasn’t until I went to see a Naturopath that I finally found out what was causing my health problems. She put me on a 6-week protocol to treat my adrenals, and heal my gut, and after that, all my symptoms completely disappeared. This wonderful lady, who is now a very good friend, encouraged me to follow my dream to become a Naturopath and Nutritionist so that I could help others too.
What does a typical breakfast look like for you?
My favourite breakfast is a 2-egg omelette with green leafy vegetables such as baby kale, spinach, or silverbeet and a side of pesto. It is super quick to make, full of nutrition, keeps me energised, and sustains me through to lunchtime whilst keeping my blood sugar levels nice and stable.
Sometimes, I have a smoothie instead using unsweetened oat or almond milk, chia seeds, a couple of scoops of pea protein powder, leafy greens, frozen blueberries, cinnamon or turmeric.
If I am doing intense cardiovascular exercise in the morning then I will have ½ banana prior to the workout, then either eggs or a bowl of oats made with unsweetened oat milk, raw nuts, seeds and blueberries – depending on my energy levels.
What are some daily habits you can recommend for good gut health?
Enjoy half a plate of vegetables with every meal (even breakfast!). Our good gut bacteria which help to keep us healthy need fibre from vegetables to feed on and flourish. Insoluble fibre from vegetables is needed to promote healthy gut motility to prevent constipation and hormonal imbalances (oestrogen dominance is always linked with chronic constipation).
Also, enjoy foods high in polyphenols such as dark berries, nuts, seeds, and spices. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants which help to reduce inflammation and promote good gut health.
What do you think of intermittent fasting?
A 12-hour fast from say 8 pm to 8 am the next morning is considered a healthy fast and is important for allowing the body to restore overnight. Intermittent fasting for much longer than this can cause problems for those suffering from chronic stress and poor adrenal health, thyroid disease, low blood sugar and hormonal imbalances.
Not eating for a long period of time can create extra stress in the body which can increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol leading to hormonal imbalances and weight gain. Over time, some people can experience hair and muscle loss due to the body having to break down body proteins to provide energy in place of energy from food – this is particularly prevalent for those who are chronically stressed or with thyroid conditions.
We have a natural fast from dinner to breakfast which is why ‘breakfast’ is named as such as it ‘breaks the fast’. The body requires a regular supply of nutrients from food for optimal health and I highly recommend eating within an hour of wakening to prevent low blood sugar and cortisol production. High cortisol production leads to weight gain, especially around the midsection.
What is a keto diet and is it good for women?
A keto diet can be helpful for people suffering from certain medical conditions such as obesity, cancer or epilepsy. However, it can be very inflammatory for a number of reasons. Firstly, a keto diet tends to be very high in animal fat, and like humans, animal store their toxins in fat. Eating a high amount of animal fat can raise your toxic load causing inflammation.
Secondly, a keto diet is extremely low in carbohydrates. Healthy carbohydrates such as vegetables, low-sugar fruit, and gluten-free grains are vitally important to provide fibre for a healthy gut microbiome. Beneficial gut bacteria need fibre to feed on daily.
Following a keto diet for a long period of time can cause changes in your gut microbiome leading to certain strains of pathogenic bacteria, and low levels of beneficial microbes causing inflammation and disease. A low fibre intake can also cause constipation, leading to poor gut health and hormonal imbalances.
Thirdly, a keto diet causes ketogenesis which can be very acidic and hard on the body. People who follow a keto diet for a long period of time have been shown to age quicker due to increased acidity and inflammation. Lastly, a keto diet can also cause hormonal imbalances and sleep disturbances in women, especially during perimenopause.
If you are struggling with sleep, a small serving of a healthy carbohydrate with dinner can help promote melatonin production and sleep.
How can we reduce cortisol and support our adrenals through our diet and lifestyle?
Always aim to eat within an hour of wakening, and provide your body with nutritious, whole foods regularly for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If the body is receiving a regular supply of nutrients from whole foods, then it perceives that it is getting what it needs and doesn’t need to produce cortisol to slow down energy production and metabolism.
Try to include restorative exercise, meditation, or deep breathing as a regular part of your daily routine. If you are feeling extra stressed, avoid doing strenuous exercise as physical stress produces cortisol also. The body doesn’t differentiate between emotional or physical stress – stress is stress. and is the biggest cause of unexplained weight gain and health problems.
What is so amazing about bone broth?
Bone broth is an excellent source of collagen and glutamine to help strengthen the gut lining, skin, cartilage and bone. It is however high in histamine and is contraindicated if you have high histamine symptoms such as headaches or migraines, nasal congestion, hay fever, hives, or digestive issues caused by high histamine levels.
How long does it typically take to heal a gut?
This completely depends on the gut condition, however, it takes 6-8 weeks to eliminate gut infections, followed by a period of gut restoration. If food intolerances are causing poor gut health, then it is recommended to avoid aggravating foods for at least 3 months, after which these foods can be slowly reintroduced to see if they can be tolerated again.
Most people tend to be sensitive to gluten, dairy and sugar so it is recommended to avoid or minimise these foods long term. Complex cases such as autoimmune conditions can take longer. I really enjoy helping people improve their gut health as it makes such a huge difference in improving symptoms, overall health, hormonal balance, skin conditions, mood, and well-being. As Hippocrates says ‘All disease begins in the gut’.
I’m so excited to personally introduce you to Katrina on March 25th at Om Studio for a more in-depth conversation about gut health, inflammation in the body and what we can do to feel our best! You can get your tickets here.