The gut Wakeup


My mom was diagnosed in 1989 with breast cancer which she fought with every bit of courage, humility and determination that she had until it took her life in 1992. I was 13 at the time she died and although this isn’t about my therapeutic nuances growing up without a mom, I can say the grief is beyond what someone might initially think as extremely tough. The emotional roller coaster of trying to seem ok when behind it all was a young girl who was looking for confidence, reassurance, mostly motherly love and belonging. When I left home for college in Dallas Texas I realized I needed to look at my own health in a different way given my family history. This is where I began to obsessively over exercise and eat what I thought was a healthy diet for a college student- now realizing I was basically poisoning myself 13 hours a day with sugar and chemicals but it was the thought that counted! I always had cancer in the back of my mind and health just became part of my daily thinking. Although I didn’t always hit the target- my dear college friends will joke that in those days I thought a can of corn and a hot dog for dinner was relatively “healthy.” Ok so college health wasn’t always accurate and research based but the intention was there and it was essential to me. I read somewhere that these huge silver fillings that I had in my teeth from eating too much sugar as a teenager were mercury and not good for children so I found a good dentist to have them removed. I limited my carb intake because Atkins was famous and said we could all be thinner and live longer without carbs. I drank only green tea because I read in a magazine it would help my skin and help me lose weight. So to be honest I was on the right path but my directions were not clear. Many years later I knew my health needed a check to perform as a mother myself I began looking closer into holistic/gut health.

At the height of my divorce and a 6 year old with autism my stress levels were excruciating. I was in constant pain in my stomach area so much that after seeing 3 doctors I decided a colonoscopy at 32 was my only option to get to the bottom of it. After this and further testing I was diagnosed with IBS and SIBO. There are few doctors who will now give you a diagnosis of IBS because its basically saying there isn’t much we can do- try eating more fiber or taking a laxative everyday for constipation. I was given antibiotics for SIBO which destroy the gut lining and microbiome even more and sent on my way. Again I learned to cope as happily as I could with life but it was difficult although i didn’t know what it felt like to feel good and have consistent energy without as much anxiety. I still had headaches constantly, I couldn’t sleep without help from medication, my stomach was always upset and bloated and my anxiety was at an all time high. Looking back I can’t believe how I managed to smile, laugh, work and love those close to me. When we look closer at anxiety through health it is obvious that the places where it shows itself are just like little red lights going off on a what is really a large alarm. The great news is this alarm is telling you something in your body isn’t operating at full capacity and with a little diving in and determination life can become even better than it feels, more energetic and in my terms like a waking up.

Waking up means looking at each symptom in terms of the whole health. For example, my anxiety was affecting my sleep, my energy during the day therefore my job, my family, my children etc. The same goes for energy. The first question I always ask people is what is your energy level like throughout the day. A closer look into diet and the gut micro biome and you will most likely have most of the answers you need. The word micro biome is well known but it covers all of the organisms that live in or on your body. It is comprised of bacteria, fungus, viruses, and a lot of genes as well. It can tell you about your whole life from your first sips of milk to recent infections, chemicals and toxins you may have been exposed to at any point. Some would say it is even better at identifying you than your DNA! Therefore I can’t stress enough how important it is to look at your overall health and well being.

There is some hesitancy as this is a large area however we can break it down into simple identifications and move from there to healing;

  • What are the symptoms? most often the response is bloating, uncomfortable feeling after eating, acid reflux, and energy levels.

  • Elimination Diet; this is an easy way to reach closer and study what feels good and what doesn’t after eating- take notes and write it down

  • Nutrition and health coaching; when doctors don’t have time to go through the daily diet that works specifically for your health and lifestyle a coach is a great way to get support in this area

  • At home testing for food sensitivities and allergies is an affordable way of reaching deeper and getting more questions answered

  • Evaluating stress levels and areas where an alternative option can fit into daily life - although there is a lot of anxiety these days, we also have SO many more options for learning to cope and live with it. Mediation, intention setting and movement are all great supportive tools to help

Using the gut wakeup method I was able to journey into a much less anxious, stable, energetic, loving and joyful way of life. I encourage anyone I know to look deeper at their gut health for so many reasons, if not to feel better but awareness of what you are feeling and what your body is telling you. When the domino effect of change begins to transform your health you are truly living your best life.

Jennifer Duffie