Thursday, 19 June 2014

Heal your gut and the rest will follow - a guest post by Toni Sicola

This blog post is an extract of a very interesting article, reproduced with the author's permission. Read on to discover why it is that if your gut isn’t working properly, nothing in your body can.

Toni, who's releasing her first e-book this summer for folk transitioning to the gluten-free lifestyle, and who's biography you will find below, is a wellness expert and in her article, she explains the link between gut health and overall health:

Vitality starts in the gut where we assimilate input from the outside world into resources for inside our bodies. Gut health is crucial for the health of every other system in our bodies. It affects our skin, our immune response, our hormones, our weight, or energy level, our bowel movements (obviously), even our MOOD and PERSONALITY. That’s right, there are studies being done now to attempt to isolate certain bacteria in the gut responsible for depression and anxiety. That level of detail hasn’t been worked out in the lab yet, but rest assured that altering the human biosphere to address any number of mental health problems is in the not-too-distant future.

The gut is often called our “second brain” due to the more than 500 million neurons that reside in the Enteric Nervous System.


In fact, communication between the gut and the brain is a two-way street, with information going from gut to brain far more often than we ever thought was the case. The term “gut feeling” is a lot less metaphorical and much more literal than you might think. A healthy gut means proper communication between the systems of the body.

So certain bacteria in our gut represent the body’s ability to fight off invaders, and they actually communicate with those neurons I just mentioned above. When the right bacteria are overtaken by the wrong ones, we start to see both acute and chronic malfunction in our bodies, often accompanied by inflammation and pain. A healthy gut means a healthy immune system.

It’s been shown that “bad” bacteria such as candida thrive on sugar and foods that quickly turn to sugar. When there’s an overgrowth of candida, the bacteria actually cause you to crave those foods that they like to eat! Likewise, when you have “good” bacteria at healthy levels in your gut, you’re more likely to crave a diet that they want to eat – one rich in fiber.

You might be surprised at some of the easy changes you can make to start improving your gut health today. Of the listed suggestions, (Read the full recent article here) for me personally eliminating sugar is by far the most challenging to stick with consistently. It might be a different story for you, but considering how much sugar we as a country consume every day, I’m guessing we might have this in common. Nathalie: "oh yes we do!"

If you completely eliminate sugar for at least two weeks, it will have a synergistic effect with the rest of the suggestions on this list. If you do all the things below but remain on a high-sugar diet, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle. Sugar is a highly inflammatory food. After your two weeks of cold turkey, test the waters with fresh berries or a small amount of dark chocolate, but pull back for another week or so of you see negative side-effects.

Toni's gut healing pointers include consuming foods rich in live cultures such as sauer kraut - which brings me to say that I have began experimenting and that my fermented vegetable recipes are coming soon to this blog! Another source of healthy probiotics is making your own unpasterized kombucha, like I do!

Toni Sicola is a wellness professional, holistic nutrition expert, and food enthusiast. In her day job, she manages the wellness program for over 5000 employees in 8 locations at Alameda Health System in the East Bay Area of California. She has a Master’s in Integrative Health Studies and a Certification in Integrative Wellness Coaching.
When she’s not working, Sicola is feeding her passions for cooking, gardening, rock climbing, creating, and playing with her dog Dexter. Her favorite places to be outside include the national and regional parks in Northern California, especially Yosemite, and her back yard garden. She loves to find ways to be creative in the kitchen, often using herself and her husband as guinea pigs for her latest ideas.
Sicola’s first e-book will be released this summer. She’ll be sharing her most practical tips for going gluten-free while continuing to live a sweet-rich life filled with delicious, satisfying, and nutritious foods. 
Visit her blog at, like her on Facebook at, and follow her on Twitter at @dailywellbeing. You can also join her mailing list to receive extra goodies each month including exclusive recipes, news, and an early copy of the e-book absolutely free.