“All disease begins in the gut.” Hippocrates
I had the pleasure of speaking with “The Fairy Gutmother” and was blown away by how much I learned about gut health. You can also hear her fascinating story on “The Dr. Oz Show” on Monday, April 30th.
Carley Smith, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Certified GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) Practitioner is a gut health expert, but she hasn’t always been this interested in gut health. “If you would have told me five years ago that I could be this excited about gut health today, I would have never believed you,” chuckles Smith, “but focusing on my gut health has changed my life.”
It all began in 2013 when Smith was having some serious health complications affecting her endocrine system, hormones and female organs; including abnormal bleeding that lasted for four months. “My health got so bad, I was even starting to lose cognitive function, like one day, I was driving home and forgot where I lived. It was scary,” recalls Smith.
Eventually Smith was diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2014. After many doctor’s visits and prescriptions for various medications, Smith wasn’t seeing progress. “It got to the point where I felt like I was taking medications for my medications. I knew I wanted something to change so I started doing some research and found the GAPS Diet. I learned that 80% of the immune system is in the gut. I was shocked. I started changing the way I ate and almost immediately started feeling better.”
“I went off all my medications and used food as medicine to heal,” says Smith, “I became so empowered with my healing and progress in my health, just after being on the GAPS diet for a few weeks that I changed my career, and I went back to school and became a nutritional therapist,” says Smith.
More from my interview with “The Fairy Gutmother,” Carley Smith:
What is the gut?
Our gut has a balance of good and bad bacteria and fungi; if that bacteria gets out of balance (chronic stress, sedentary lifestyle, processed foods, medications, antibiotics, artificial sugars, unhealthy diet, etc.) then our health can suffer.
Why be concerned with gut health?
Nearly 80 percent of the immune system is located in the gut, which is why any alterations in bacterial balance can lead to various health conditions. If we can heal our gut, we can help boost our immune system and help fight off whatever ailments we have going on.
How can we have a healthy gut?
I always tell people gut health is more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle. New research is showing chronic stress can be equally, if not more damaging on gut health than junk food. Exercising and having a healthy mind-body connection, such as practicing meditation and certain yoga poses, can also support a healthy gut.
What does a gut-healthy diet look like?
I always encourage my clients to eat high-quality, nutrient-dense foods. A diet high in fiber from good quality grains and greens, good quality fats, coconut oil, avocado and clean meats will help support a healthy gut. Prebiotics -essentially what probiotics (or healthy gut flora) thrives on- and probiotics are also very important to include in your diet.
Can bone broth really support gut health?
Absolutely. Bone broth helps to heal the gut lining, reduce inflammation, replenish a lot of nutrients, and it also helps with metabolism and detoxification. You can blend bone broth with soups, cook with it or even add it to your oatmeal, hot chocolate, apple cider, I like to challenge clients to be creative with bone broth because it has so many great gut healing properties.
Where should people begin?
The Fairy Gutmother has a 70/30 Plan, an easy way for anyone to transition into eating healthier. I really like the quote, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” so I really emphasize meal prepping throughout the week. The 70/30 Plan is a sustainable approach to eating healthy: 70% of the time eating eating healthy with an emphasis on gut health.
With spring upon us, it’s the perfect time to enjoy fresh vegetables for gut health. Focus on spring cleaning from the inside out. Go to FairyGutMother.com to get tons of gut-healthy recipes, snack and meal ideas- even sign up for a wellness retreat or workshop. Carley Smith also works one-on-one with clients to help restore their health, mainly using food as medicine with an emphasis on gut health.
Lemon Chicken Bone Broth
“This is my most favorite bone broth to make because it is so light and versatile, it tastes great plain but also is wonderful as a base in making other soups or marinades,” says Smith, “I always tell people that are interested in making bone broth to start out with chicken broth as I feel it is the most gentle and easily tolerated broth. Plus, I think there is something so nourishing about a chicken broth, it warms the soul from the inside out so you almost instantly feel the healing benefits. I love adding a little lemon to the broth as well because I think it makes it lighter and more flavorful, making it also easier to sip on throughout the day.”
1 Free-Range, organic Chicken
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
“April showers bring May flowers.” Rain is often symbolized as dark and dreary; but this classic rhyme reminds us that after the rain comes sunshine. “This too shall pass.” So we wait, endure the rainy season and our patience will eventually be rewarded with beautiful flowers come May.
Even though we understand that rain is necessary for flowers to bloom, we often shake our fists at a stormy sky. Surely we have all experienced “rainy” seasons in our own lives. Setbacks, disappointments, deaths, hindrances or feelings of unfairness may leave us cold, wet and defeated- doubting the sun will ever shine again.
But what if we could reframe our thoughts about our past setbacks or “failures?” There is a Chinese proverb: the traveler hopes for sunshine- the farmer hopes for rain. It’s all a matter of perspective.
My mom once heard, “Things do not happen to us, they happen for us.” What a beautiful way to reframe and accept life’s raindrops as blessings. One of my dad’s favorite songs is “Blessings,” by Laura Story, “What if trials of this life: the rain, the storms the hardest nights; are Your mercies in disguise.”
We cannot change what has already happened in our lives, but we do harness the power to change our perspective on life’s setbacks- big or small. Its called “cognitive reframing.” With cognitive reframing, you can change the way you look at something and consequently change how you experience it. Stuck in traffic after picking up your child from school? Instead of being annoyed with the extra wait, you could reframe with a positive mindset and view the extra time as an opportunity to have uninterrupted conversation with your child. The event didn’t change- you just changed your perception about the event. This cognitive reframing can be especially useful for wanting to release negative feelings from a past experience.
I believe I have shared this story before and would like to share it again, as it is a powerful example of how perspective and forgiveness can be life-altering. My uncle Peter was tragically killed by a drunk driver at the young age of 20. I can’t even imagine the grief and heart break my grandparents suffered with the loss of a child. The drunk driver was around the same age as Peter and unfortunately had taken the lives of two other college students that same night.
The morning after Pete’s death, my grandmother imagined what it would have been like if Pete was the drunk driver of the car who killed three students. She envisioned herself trying to console Pete and he recoiled from her attempt to comfort him, feeling unworthy of her love. Telling grandpa of this experience, they both decided to call the young driver and offer their compassion and forgiveness, knowing this was a tragic accident. Armed with this new perspective, my grandparents also asked the judge for leniency when it was time to sentence the young driver. With God’s grace and the experience of grandma’s vision, they understood it was a tragic mistake their own children could have made.
Just as rain is nature’s way of replenishing life and allowing flowers to bloom; how can you reframe your own “rainy” days?