I am so excited to introduce all of you to Anna Shadid, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Curator of the Gorgeous Gut here in Chicago!
Anna specializes in digestive health as well as GUT HEALTH which we will be chatting about today. She is definitely carving a niche in Chicago as the Integrative Nutrition Health Coach that everyone is wanting to work with. Why? I believe it's because of her unique individualized approach to health combined with her clients transformative results!
Prepare for an in depth education on the importance of healing the gut in order to heal your body. Please read Anna's own story here.
Anna & I met earlier this year because we are both heavily involved in the wellness community in Chicago. And we decided to meet for lunch to learn more about one another.
If you are an avid SW reader, then you know how selective I am about whose work (physicians, nutritionists, dietitians, etc.) I promote on my site. I really need to have a thorough understanding of their health/wellness vision -make sure that they are practicing a healthy lifestyle themselves and finally, that they are filled w/ integrity (a tough combination to come by in the health industry). To date, I have only promoted 4 physicians/nutritionists in totality over a 2 year time frame. And Anna Shadid will be the 5th! Expect to hear Anna's name often on SW as I strongly believe she is a clinical leader via gut health in Chicago.
I highly recommend that all of you peruse Anna's site, scroll through the Gorgeous Gut event page to get involved in the Gorgeous Gut community and above all, I genuinely believe that working w/ Anna one - on - one would transform your health - mind, body & spirit!
And while you're over at Gorgeous Gut, try Anna's delicious recipes!!! My personal favorite thus far is the Raw Sauerkraut! Andd I am giving the Mint Chocolate Truffles a go this week because they look beyond delicious!
Let's get started!!!
Readers, I recommend grabbing a pen & paper to take notes. And meet Anna and I over at the interview below....:
1. Anna, can you share with SW readers why gut health is often the underlying cause in so many people's health challenges? And if you would even share some surprising gut health facts that might surprise people, that would be great!
Great question. I could write a short book on this topic! Gut health is an emerging field of many research studies and it is fascinating that the information obtainable is perhaps just the tip of the iceberg. The gut is very complex. Based on my analysis, experimentation's and client case studies, I have found Dr. Alejandro Junger’s interpretation of breaking the gut down into four main parts, to be the best way to comprehend the gut ecosystem. Understanding the role of each part is imperative in knowing why gut health is often the underlying cause to so many health challenges. This way, you can effectively apply it to your own unique situation and build the connection and awareness that is essential for optimal health.
To get my clients thinking about the intricacy of the gut and how it functions, I first ask how they would treat a plant that is dying. You look at the soil and water the roots because that is where health and disease start, right? You wouldn’t simply paint the leaves green to give it the appearance of good health or replace whole branches with healthier ones.
So if you want to get truly healthy, you have to get to the root cause. The body’s health begins in it’s own internal roots, and that is the gut. The four main parts are: the digestive tube, the immune system, the intestinal flora, and the nervous system. As a basic understanding, each part functions as follows:
As you can see, your gut is always talking to your brain. It is in constant communication through nerves and hormones, having both a direct and indirect effect on every single cell in the human body. Consequently, the gut is exceptionally good at tricking you into thinking it is fine and that the real problem lies elsewhere, in fact anywhere in the body. Many factors can cause your gut lining erode including stress, antibiotics, lack of probiotics in your diet and eating the wrong foods. These instances can trigger and activate the immune system creating havoc that leads to problems system wide, unique to each individual.
2. As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach in a world w/ such a wide range of holistic health practitioners, when should clients/patients come to you and when should they go to a licensed physician?
My role as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach is not to prescribe or assess micro- and macronutrient levels; provide healthcare, medical or nutrition therapy services; or to diagnose, treat or cure any disease, condition or other physical or mental ailment of the human body. Rather, I am a mentor and guide who has been trained in holistic, Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching. I support clients to reach their own health goals by helping them devise and implement positive, sustainable lifestyle changes and mindset shifts. I take account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle and their unique expression of health and vitality. I am not acting in the capacity of a doctor, licensed dietician-nutritionist, psychologist or other licensed or registered professional. Any advice given by me is not meant to take the place of advice by these professionals. If my client is under the care of a healthcare professional or currently uses prescription medications, I recommend that the client discuss any dietary changes or potential dietary supplements use with his or her doctor, and should not discontinue any prescription medications without first consulting his or her doctor. Clients choose to work with me in this capacity and understand that the information received should not be seen as medical or nursing advice and is not meant to take the place of seeing licensed health professionals.
3. You've shared with me how you do not provide blanket healing protocols for your clients rather, you have a completely individualized approach because everyone presents with such a unique set of symptoms & circumstances. Will you elaborate on this?
This is the beauty of one-on-one coaching programs. In group settings, this is not practical. Everyone is different, so generalizing a strategy to eradicate gut dysfunction and meet individual health goals is not a one-size-fits-all situation. I have Gorgeous Gut Principles I use as the foundation of my coaching practice. These principles work best when you personalize them, doing what works for you and modifying what doesn't. I support my clients to become a detective in their own body. I empower them to listen to their body and make their own decisions about which foods work best, while giving them the support and accountability to do so. Through one-on-one coaching programs I am able to customize the path to follow and my recommendations each step of the way. I am able to provide specific tailoring to the individual to create and advise a rejuvenating lifestyle that will assist in resetting the body. By spending one-on-one time with these clients, I can listen to their health histories and look at correlations among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence their long-term health.
4. Can you share some basic health, supplemental & nutrition tips that all of us should be doing right now to improve our gut health?
My top tips (in no particular order) would be to:
5. What are some of the most remarkable improvements in health that you have seen in any of your clients after they 'heal their gut'?
I have seen many clients who struggled with stomach pain, nausea, acid reflux or GERD and IBS (since they can remember), finally identify what causes those symptoms, remove them and live in control of their health and life without those concerns. Clients with arthritis have been relieved from years of pain. One client, who is a musician, had the best performance of her life, booked more shows than ever before in one weekend and for the first time ever did not need caffeine to boost her energy afterwards! Overall my clients experience satisfaction, relief from digestive distress, more energy (abnormally high energy levels have been reported), less inflammation, minimal cravings for refined sugar, a love for clean eating, relief from asthma and allergies, improved mental clarity, better meditations, better self care and self love, decreased anxiety and depression, healthy responses to stress, weight loss when needed and positive focus, attitude and mindset shifts.
6. What do you recommend that people completely eliminate from their diets and or lifestyles to improve gut health?
In general, what I recommend to eliminate can be different for each person based on their unique situation and severity of gut dysfunction. Additionally, how long I recommend to eliminate, whether it be 2 weeks, 6 months or indefinitely, can vary. The most common toxic triggers based on clinical research studies and my own client case studies are gluten, dairy, sugar, corn, soy, eggs, nightshades, alcohol and coffee. Majority of my clients come to me unsure of what is causing their symptoms. I believe that doing an elimination diet is the best way to identify what isn’t working with your body. The reintroduction phase of an elimination is such a rare opportunity. You see exactly how certain foods affect you, body, mind and spirit. It is very powerful.
7. Let's talk about the patients with the most compromised gut health. I am referring to the patients with parasites, chronic infections and/or chronic illness rooted in the gut. What is your approach with these particular patients?
My approach again is customized based on the client's overall health goals, concerns and lifestyle. They understand my role as a coach, and work with me for the support, accountability and recommendations I have for their unique circumstances. However, sometimes clients will come to me without any diagnose or thought that what is going on is more of a serious issue. After working with them for a month or so I can usually tell that there is more than likely an underlying issue or issues - whether it be a parasite or chronic intestinal infection of sorts. At this point, I would recommend they go see a Functional Medicine Practitioner, in addition to working with me. If I can, I will refer them to one in their area that I recommend or I will assist them with doing research to find one. The Institute of Functional Medicine’s website is a fantastic resource to find a practitioner who has trained with IFM in your area. In addition, I will ask other Functional Medicine Practitioners I know if they recommend any referrals.
8. Can people really heal 'leaky gut'? It seems leaky gut has become almost a 'tagline' in wellness. There is a lot of confusion as to whether a detox protocol can heal leaky gut or if leaky gut reappears.....repeatedly.
People can heal their gut. So just like no two people’s health problems present themselves in the same fashion, there are endless ways in which the gut gets injured and at varying levels of severity. This is precisely why personalizing a path based on the unique circumstances that exist for each person becomes critically important. The body is always changing, and what works for you today may not work for you tomorrow. Personal experimentation and patience are key through the gut-healing process and life. Small habits done consistently tend to work best and produce big results down the line. I know how difficult it can be to change your lifestyle, but the more you take pleasure in and celebrate each success (no matter how small it may be) along the way, the more it will stick with you. I believe that periodic gut repair is the best preventative medicine of all. Once you are aware of the factors that can destroy your gut lining and understand the core principles assisting your body with rebuilding your gut, you can’t go back. The real secret to lifelong, vibrant health is to learn how your gut works, understand how to repair it, keep it clean and balanced.
9. You've shared that gut health is not just about the physical state of a person's body but their emotional, mental & spiritual health as well. Can you share more about this?
Of course, this is such an important aspect of overall health and well-being that often gets overlooked. A core coaching principle of mine revolves around the concept of primary foods and secondary foods. Nutrition is a secondary source of energy. Primary foods, or nonfood sources of nourishment, are what really fuel us. Primary food goes beyond the plate, nurturing us on a deeper level. The four main primary foods are: career, relationships, physical activity and spirituality. The more primary food we give ourselves, the less we depend on secondary food. On the contrary, the more we fill ourselves with secondary food, the less space we leave for primary food – our true source of nourishment. I always recommend clients take quality time to explore their personal balance between primary food and secondary food, and ask which area could use some attention? With this approach, I have been able to help clients find the root of their problem, learn how to become in-tune with their body’s unique language, establish necessary mindset shifts and maintain results while living life to the fullest.
10. If there was one last tip to share with SW readers about healing their guts, what would you add?
The intention is not to be a purist for the rest of you life if you enjoy the foods and behaviors that become known as your toxic triggers. Have them and enjoy them, bringing your awareness fully to the present moment with each bite, sip and step of the way. Oftentimes there is nothing worse for digestion than guilt. What’s most important is that you dedicate time to explore this process and build the strong connection between what you consume and how you feel. Your lifestyle wasn’t created overnight, and it won’t be reset overnight either. There are thousands of theories and opinions about diet, lifestyle, stress management and health. New philosophies are coming out all the time. But nothing is more reliable than your firsthand experience.
What I realize from my interview with Anna is just how complex the gut is and how worthwhile it would be for all of us to join the Gorgeous Gut community whether that be working with Anna one on one as a client, attending an event she is hosting or simply getting educated further on digestive and gut health via her blog.
Anna, thank you so very much for sharing your expertise with all of the SW readers today! And readers, please share what you have learned today with others as that is how we thread wellness into community!
Created and curated by Kelly, Snapshots of Wellness encourages all of you to cultivate your 'joie de vivre': Compassion for Animals via food, style & lifestyle.