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Welcome to episode 38; Your Gut Health Post Sickness
What I share is intended to inspire. I am going to share what my family does and how we nurture our gut bacteria post sickness. None of this is intended as medical advice.
70% of your immune system stems from your gut. Sickness can cause a gut imbalance and an imbalance can cause a weakened immune system. It can sometimes be hard to decipher which causes which but the bottom line is - it doesn’t really matter. When you have the awareness about why and how to nurture gut balance your immune system is strengthened and you won’t get sick nearly as often or nearly as bad.
Everyone I talk to and everyone I see on Instagram is battling flu after flu followed by pink eye, ear infections and RSV so I want to address this if you are in the thick of it, feeling so over it and defeated.
First, let’s talk about how normal it is to get sick, especially this time of year. Yes. We all know this is true. We all have years and years of evidence that proves it. But! I want to stop you right there. Just because we have all been conditioned to settle with regular sickness does not necessarily mean it has to be YOUR normal.
But wait, you might be saying. Isn’t it good for my children to get sick? Doesn’t it help build their immune system? Yes. But sick doesn’t have to look like down hard, in bed and barely surviving the meltdowns and restless sleep.
In my own life I have two categories of sickness. Sick before our gut health journey and sick today - where our gut health is at the center of our priorities.
Life before our gut health journey was so hard. We caught every single cold and flu. Our whole family would be down so hard for significant periods of time. My children would get ear infections, they always had green boogers and it felt like we could never catch a break. I remember there were times where I wondered what was wrong. It didn’t seem right to be sick so often. But everyone we knew seemed to experience it all the same so I settled into accepting it as a normal part of raising a family.
I am here today though with a different knowing. My sons gut health journey completely and unexpectedly changed how our family is impacted by flus, colds and viruses. We very rarely get sick and when we do it is so minor that all we typically feel is a bit more tired than normal.
Chronic sickness does not have to be your family’s normal. You can proactively support the foundation of your family’s wellness, your gut health, and you will become the wild and free family that skips right on past most sicknesses.
This episode is timely, as my family is recovering from a little bug and woowee! For a couple of days last week we were in the thick of the hard cycle that follows sickness.
It goes something like this . . .
- Sickness takes its time to sweep through our home.
- We all start feeling better - this one only seemed to last about a day. Our tummies hurt, we threw up and within 24 hours we were pretty much better.
- Except one key part. Which is the thing I most want to talk about in this episode. The sickness is gone but do you know what it left behind? A minor gut imbalance. You know how after a sickness sweeps through your home, sleep tends to be pretty restless for a while and moods are all over the map. Your child is needy, their tolerance is significantly lower than normal and meltdowns happen way more frequently? Your child doesn’t want to eat the foods you serve them and instead screams for a processed bar or repeats off the wall requests for things you never do. Like chips for breakfast kind of thing. And then they are so upset when you say no. You as a parent are sleep deprived and parenting an irrational child is so defeating and hard. It can be easy to assume that these are lingering symptoms from the sickness. You might assume that your child’s body is achy and give them Tylenol or ibuprofen. Or maybe you find yourself silently worrying that something terrible has happened and that you have lost your child. You might take them to the pediatrician, cry when they say everything is normal because a diagnosis of something would be better than the mysterious battle you are up against and all in all you are left feeling stuck. This is all very very normal. This happens to every family. What I want to teach you in today's episode is how to change the trajectory of what happens next.
Typically what happens is that all of this lingers and eventually peters out and then wham! Your child gets sick with something new and the cycle repeats itself. Every time you get there you find yourself so bewildered. But! If you implement what I am about to teach you you will be able to end the cycle quickly and you will go quite some time before another sickness sneaks in.
So my family has just come out of being in the thick of the hard. There were 2.5 days last week that kicked our butt. I want to make it a point to share this before we keep going. You need to know that gut fluctuations are normal - balance is not a destination. No matter how intentional you are about nurturing gut balance, your gut bacteria will naturally fluctuate. Natural things like sickness impacts your gut bacteria. But there are many things you can do to support your bacteria from becoming significantly imbalanced. You can occasionally ebb and flow between minor imbalance and balance which is the goal. For 2.5 days last, my family had a normal minor gut imbalance and with intentional care, we are back to feeling, sleeping and acting like our best selves.
The difference between this week and our life before our gut health journey is that if I didn’t have the awareness of why we were having such a hard time it would have lasted much longer and I wouldn’t have had the tools to get us back on track so quickly. We homeschool and ōNLē ORGANICS is now my family's main source of income. We depend on a life where we are thriving because that is where the magic happens. If we lived in a prolonged state of imbalance we would drive each other crazy. All six of us live in a tiny 200 square foot, one room cabin and are preparing to move into a 15 foot bus. Maybe I will share more about this another time because I get a lot of questions but being able to nurture balance is how we love it so much. It is truthfully what makes it so we want to be together all day, how we are productive and have so much fun.
So? Where do you start? What changes can you make? How can you recover quickly after the next sickness sweeps through your home so that you aren't stuck in a rut and are barely able to catch a breath until the next sickness comes along and then you are right back in it again?
First, we have to address this - culturally we treat every symptom with medication. This isn’t always bad but is rarely necessary. It is important that you know how medications impact the gut bacteria. For example ibuprofen and Tylenol - while they relieve aches and pains, they are very disruptive to the gut bacteria. The more disrupted the good gut bacteria is the more compromised the immune system is and your sickness will be prolonged and you will get sick more frequently. This is true for over the counter sleeping medications, antihistamines, laxatives, cough medications and pretty much all synthetically made medications. You are given antibiotics for every type of infection no matter the severity or your age. And really, I am not anti medicine. That isnt what this is about. It is about learning that there are alternatives that can be used as your first line of defense. Alternatives that both relieve you or your child’s symptoms AND nurture your good gut bacteria. This is called healing.
Have you ever paused to consider the difference? We live in a culture that treats and medicates. But you can take a different approach. You can make healing your goal behind every decision you make and this will greatly change the actions you take which will then create the results you get.
Of course there are times where medications are necessary and please, always listen to your inner voice of wisdom and trusted healthcare professionals. Medicine should not be looked at negatively. They should just only be used when necessary instead of as a first line of defense.
Okay. I am going to share with you exactly what my family did this week to bounce back so quickly. And I should preface this by saying that we do most of this all the time. We intentionally live a lifestyle where balance is our priority and I highly recommend you do the same.
So - when I noticed that my first child wasn’t feeling well I started giving my whole family a larger dose of Cleanse. Cleanse is a natural supplement that kills the bad bacteria and yeast in the body while leaving the good undisturbed. We typically take 2 tsp daily for gut health maintenance and immunity but when I notice a sickness coming on I up it to 2 tsp twice a day. I give everyone two Nourish capsules a day instead of our typical daily maintenance dosage of w capsules. Nourish is a powerful spore forming probiotic that is the most effective probiotic for nurturing balance. I also doubled everyone's Balance CBD. CBD helps support your endocannabinoid system. This system's job is to regulate balance in all of your bodily systems including your digestive and immune system. It is a wonderful way to support the immune system all the time and especially during times of sickness.
In addition to supplementing I watch everyone for symptoms. If my child pulls on his ear or complains of an eat ache I immediately drop some Cleanse in the ear with a q-tip and it kills the infection that is causing the ache. Therefore there is no need for antibiotics. My children have never once taken antibiotics because I intervene at the onset of symptoms with these natural remedies. If my child has a fever I take their temperature and give them extra Balance CBD. I believe in letting the body do the work and only offering the body support. Again, please listen to your inner voice of wisdom and your trusted healthcare professional but in my years of experience — the more educated and confident you are, the less you need to lean on chemical medications and the stronger the body heals.
As for food. When my first child started feeling unwell I made a menu and shopping list. It consisted of simple meals that wouldn't take a lot of my energy or time to create but nurture gut balance and therefore immunity. I stocked up on a ton of fresh and frozen fruit and I let my children be their own guide. A lot of times when a child is sick they don’t want to eat much. This is because they are so in tune with their bodies. When the body is fighting off a bug it wants to put all of its energy there instead of digesting lots of food. Offer growing foods but follow your child's lead. Blend frozen fruit into “ice-cream”, serve rice cakes with a nut butter and banana slices, make soup with miso for the broth and settle in. Keep it simple. I will link my cookbook in the show notes if you want to explore it. All of the meals I served my family throughout our sickness and during the few hard days following are in there. Food is your power. It makes all the difference and when you are sick it is so important to avoid foods like refined sugar that feed the bad bacteria and therefore suppress the immune system.
Now we need to talk about the behaviors that follow sickness. While it feels intuitive to want to parent every bad behavior - it's a waste of your energy and your child is not able to retain anything you teach them when their gut is imbalanced. The gut/brain axis is so strong. The imbalance - no matter how significant or severe - causes inflammation and that inflammation causes the brain to misfire. This is why your child has meltdown after meltdown. It is literally impossible to parent a child in an imbalanced state. The best thing you can do is love them and teach them that we all go through hard times. What matters most is honoring ourselves and allowing our bodies to heal so that we can get back on track. Ignore the bad behaviors as best as you can and celebrate the good behaviors.
I know being sick and having sick children sucks. It is so hard and challenges you in every imaginable way. But the more you resist it the harder it is. Symptoms are always a gift. They are your body working for you so try to embrace the symptoms by teaching your child why they have them. Boogers are their body trying to secrete the germ that is making them sick. Diarrhea is their body flushing out the system to hopefully get the germ out. Fevers are miraculous. Your body knows that germs can’t survive heat so your body raises its temperature to kill the bad germs.
Okay, to recap. Boost your balancing supplements, proactively watch for symptoms and intervene when necessary with effective natural alternatives before jumping to chemical based medications and really lean on the power of growing foods. Love through the hard times, parent through the good and instead of resisting symptoms - try to embrace them. Let the body do its thing and offer natural support. Support that heals the body. I am going to link everything I shared in this episode in the show notes for you.
Alrighty, next week's episode is going to be a little bit different and I am so excited for it! I will catch you then!