When I created Guts Need Love, I envisioned a site where I’d write about holistic health and the gut-brain axis. It’s an area I’ve wanted to learn more about so I thought the perfect way to do that is to create a blog about it.
I think when people first read the title of the site, they probably think it’s a site about physical gut health. I would like to help people see the connection between our gut health and our mental/emotional health. It’s a very clear connection since it’s not our brain, but our gut that produces 90% of our serotonin – the neurotransmitter nicknamed the “happy hormone.”
But the connection goes deeper than that.
Part of “loving your guts back to health” is understanding that every part of ourselves is connected and affects all the other parts. Whether we’re talking about our small intestines, a memory, bacteria, our emotional reactions, our breath, or our soul.
These are all parts of the whole that makeup you and your human experience.
I don’t want to separate physical health from mental or spiritual health in my life, or in this blog. I don’t even believe it’s actually possible.
In my past, when I only paid attention to my romantic relationship all other areas of my life suffered, as well as my relationship. It drew attention away from my health, my finances, my purpose, my spirituality, and my friends and family. This put mental and emotional stress on me, which affects everyone around me. It’s a cycle.
The same goes for someone whose 9-5 becomes their entire life. What happens to the workaholic’s health, relationships, family life, and mental health? They wither from inattention.
What about the farmer whose so focused on killing pests in order to get the biggest harvest that he poisons his customers? Maybe he could have learned the reason why the pests were taking over was because of his own farming practices that work against nature rather than with it. Maybe our entire society needs to rethink the way we grow food in the first place.
What about the doctor who’s so convinced her patient is making up their symptoms because they don’t seem to have a cause. What if she is looking in the wrong places and the answer was simply a diet change.
Sometimes we need to take a step back and look at the whole picture instead of just the small parts.
Modern conventional medicine is an innovation for humanity that has saved millions of lives and has helped elongate our lifespan. I’m excited about new discoveries and research happening consistently to reduce human suffering.
But conventional medicine also separates us into fragments.
It doesn’t look at the big picture. It doesn’t take into account that you are a whole human being with an emotional, intellectual, spiritual, financial, social, business, and, yea, physical life.
Even just within the physical realm, they want to break us down into body parts without looking at the whole system.
Conventional medicine is focused on treating symptoms.
Holistic practices such as integrative medicine, functional medicine, and naturopathy are focused on getting to the root cause of the symptoms in order to solve the underlying problem. Those who practice in this type of medicine are interested in answering the question, “Why?”
One summer day back in 2018, when I was living and working at a retreat center, I woke up feeling awful. I don’t remember all my symptoms but I felt fatigued, nauseous, had heart palpitations, and it was as if I was trying to walk in Jell-O rather than air. I took the day off and drove an hour over state lines to get to a clinic in my home state where my insurance would be accepted.
I asked them about the possibility of Lyme disease since I had been working in the world-wide epicenter of the tick population and knew of other people that had Lyme where I worked.
The clinician ended up doing an EKG for my heart palpitations which came out normal. They offered to prescribe me medication to ease my discomfort.
I was furious.
Have you had frustrating experiences with a doctor like this?
I wasn’t there for drugs that would cover up the signals my body was giving me. Those were a warning.
I didn’t even mind the discomfort. I wanted answers.
Why is my body telling me something is wrong? Isn’t that what doctors are here for? So they can tell you what’s wrong and then we can fix it?
But that’s not (usually) what they do. Especially not in a walk-in clinic.
Honestly, I don’t even remember if they sent me the results of the Lyme disease test. The symptoms I experienced that day didn’t return. It could have been stress. But without an integrative holistic approach, there were no questions about my life, my environment, my diet – nothing.
How was I to know the “why?”
My body was trying to tell me something important and the doctors wanted to shut it up for me. What I should have done was rested, drink plenty of fluids, breathwork, and journal. A day of self-care and inner work.
But sometimes we get scared.
We want to work with a professional to make sure nothing serious is happening and we should be able to have that kind of conversation with someone who has a background in medicine as well as nutrition, herbalism, somatic therapy, and other holistic modalities.
What do I think is at the root of this societal problem that we seem to have regarding our health care industry?
The same thing that messes up so much of our human experience:
Humans separate themselves from nature, from other people, and from themselves. And because of this, we’ve made a big mess of nearly everything you can think of: relationships, the economy, our food system, health, government, countries, culture, ecosystems, and the earth itself.
We separate ourselves from Nature.
It’s like we forget that we’re made of the same exact building blocks as all of life. We forget that we are a community of cells working together as a whole bodymindspirit that is creating and experiencing all the weirdness of life.
We think we’re made of some superhuman, invincible, alien substance that makes us different or better than all other life on this planet. Of this planet.
This enables us to treat our bodies as if they aren’t vulnerable to what you expose them to, what you tell them they’re worth, or what you force them to do.
We separate from our Selves.
This sends the message to yourself that you don’t really matter. You’ve got things to check off the list and places to be that are more important.
How we can do all the things and be in all the places without our health is not called into question.
And if we are separated from ourselves we don’t know ourselves.
We don’t know what we want, what our talents are, what our strengths and weaknesses are, we don’t know our patterns or how to change them, we don’t know our purpose…
How are we supposed to take care of ourselves and live a fulfilling life if we aren’t living in our own bodies?
We separate ourselves from Others.
When we are disconnected from nature and ourselves, how can we connect with others?
We are social beings. We’ve evolved to scan our environment to look for social threats because without the tribe, you didn’t survive.
So we’re naturally fearful of social rejection, conflict, and isolation. In fact, when we detect any of these, it triggers inflammation in the body because it perceives danger that it needs to protect itself from.
If we’re in this state for a long time disease develops.
This makes it clear, again, that everything is connected. Our body is not separate from the other areas of our life.
Putting our pieces back together is a long process.
Maybe it’s a life-long continual process.
We are all works in progress and the work is never done. There’s always more to learn.
How do you want to start healing yourself? What parts of yourself need some extra love and attention? What areas of life have you been ignoring or avoiding? Let us know in the comments!
Healing your gut is a great start because it’s the foundation of our physical health and is so closely tied to our mental health. If that is the beginning of your journey, you’re in the right place.