I was lucky enough to chat with Women’s Holistic Health & Nutrition Coach and Gut Specialist, Jasmine Fitzgibbon.
I picked her brain about why gut health is so important when it comes to balancing our hormones, as well as its importance for so many other health concerns.
I also asked her advice on some simple ways people can start looking after their gut health, no matter where they are in their health journeys.
For me personally, I know what a huge difference having a healthy gut played in healing my PCOS, so hopefully, this will help lots of you too!
You won’t believe how much your gut can affect your hormones, and can either cause or heal many PCOS related symptoms.
SO ladies, if you don’t know much about your microbiome, then this is the interview for you!!! Oh and did I mention Jas has a really adorable chocolate lab puppy? #obsessed
So Jasmine, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
I’m a Women’s Health & Nutrition Coach, and I specialise in Digestion & Gut Health. I am obsessed with my puppy Winnie, a 10-week-old chocolate Labrador! :D my fav thing to do when not working is sit in the sun with a coffee, Winnie and boyfriend – sun, park or beach! Anywhere in nature.
I love nothing more than chatting about poo and periods with my clients. Even though these subjects make some people uncomfortable, I talk about them so much it’s like chatting about the weather to me! Both your stool and cycle give me incredible insight into what’s happening on the inside of your body, and what we should be working on.
What did life look like for you before you started The Wholesome Heart, and did you experience a breaking point that motivated you to change your life?
I certainly did hit rock bottom. I spent a lot of my childhood and early 20s with many ailments, from severe gut issues, food intolerances (Gluten, Lactose & Fructose), chronic constipation, continuous bouts of tonsillitis, parasites, depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, kidney issues, acne, insomnia, the list could go on. I like to tie it in a bow as an ‘overworked and undernourished lifestyle’. I was working in a demanding role as an executive assistant with long hours and minimal downtime.
My body finally gave up sending me all the warning signs to stop and slow down, and it decided it was time for a boulder to (literally) stop me in my tracks. I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after a bout of Glandular Fever. I was forced to stop work immediately, and I physically was unable to do anything. I was bed-bound 24-7 – a complete shock to my type-A system.
I started noticing how my food choices were impacting my recovery, so I decided to study integrative nutrition and learn how to heal my body from the inside out properly. I did a full 360 on not only my food choices and gut health but also my mindset, and I began to love myself again and see that I was worth living a healthy life and started taking better care of myself! I knew that with all I had overcome I needed to share my tools, so someone else didn’t need to hit rock bottom before realising the detrimental effects of a ‘overworked and undernourished lifestyle’ – which lead me to change careers and start The Wholesome Heart.
Why do you think gut health is so important, especially for women with PCOS or hormone related issues?
Who would have thought the gut and hormones had anything to do with each other!
I know Gut Health is not something you jump to, but it should be on your radar right from the beginning.
The gut microbiome and liver (which is a part of the digestive system) plays a central role in the regulation of hormone levels within the body.
When the gut microbiome is healthy, it allows the estrobolome (which are the microbes that metabolise estrogens) to maintain estrogen homeostasis - aka balance.
However, when the gut is imbalanced, this can cause either a deficiency or an excess of free hormones recirculating around the body. When the body cannot use and eliminate excess hormones through its normal channels, it reabsorbs and recirculates them, which results in an overflow of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, even cortisol (the stress hormone).
We also understand that diet and lifestyle can affect the gut microbiome, but these can also alter the estrobolome, things like antibiotics and hormonal contraceptives (aka the Pill/IUD etc.) have been found to alter both the gut microbiota and estrogen levels within the body. These are things that most women need to consider, as we grew up in an era of overuse of antibiotics and were given ‘the pill’ at a very young age and extensive continued use. A lot of women are still taking the pill without realising the potential dangers to their hormone and gut health.
I am very passionate about looking at our health with a holistic approach. When we are given a diagnosis or have symptoms, we need to ask WHY this is happening within our body? What is the root cause?
Our body is extremely smart; given a chance, it WILL heal itself. However, due to our toxic overload, stress levels and food choices, it can take a little extra effort to bring it back into balance. That’s where a health practitioner can really help you navigate your body.
What are some simple steps you would recommend to women (no matter what stage they are at in their health journey) to take control of their hormones and gut issues?
First things first, look at your symptoms and diagnosis and work out WHY is this happening?
Then look at your stress levels, are you constantly rushing, sitting in ‘fight or flight’ (sympathetic nervous system). When we spend a lot of our time in this system our body shuts down digestion, hormone regulation, immune function etc. thinking it needs to protect our body in case we need to run from a bear or something stressful! So, work on reducing your stress and switching your body back into ‘rest and digest’ (sympathetic nervous system). I talk a lot about simple tricks with my clients.
Then look at your gut health, as I’ve mentioned how important this is for metabolising your hormones and eliminating the excess.
Increase your healthy fats. Gone are the days of fearing fat! We now know the importance of healthy fats in our diet, including how they impact our hormones and brain health.
Increase cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach etc as they assist the liver to detox excess hormones and regulate.
Some final words from Jasmine...
Trying to navigate the health world can be really intimidating and confusing, I know this because I once was completely confused at what to do. It is important to surround yourself with a support network of health professionals and friends/family. I also know how hard it can be to find a health practitioner that you click with and that understands you and your needs. If you would like to chat, I offer free 20-minute discovery consultations to see if we are a fit and how I can help you, no strings attached.
Otherwise I suggest following reputable people on Instagram. A couple of my favs;
Monica Yates (https://www.instagram.com/monicayateshealth/)
Nat Kringoudis (https://www.instagram.com/natkringoudis/)
Dr Libby (https://www.instagram.com/drlibby/)
Of course Brigitte :D (https://www.instagram.com/pcos_to_wellness/)
My Instagram: (https://www.instagram.com/thewholesome.heart/)