Tackling Gut Inflammation with Wellness Coach Camilla Dempster & The Food Diary Co

Gut inflammation is painful and frustrating to live with, causing a range of uncomfortable symptoms - anything from constipation to diarrhoea and back again.

Wellness coach Camilla Dempster is here to walk us through the mechanism of a dysfunctional gut and how to tackle the inflammation it causes.


Tackling Gut Inflammation

As someone who’s previously suffered with poor gut health for over a decade I was surprised when I learned that constantly oscillating between diarrhoea and constipation wasn’t ‘normal’. I honestly had come to accept that this is what the body was meant to do and I didn’t even realise that it could be any different.

After training for a marathon, and being severely afflicted with runners tummy, I decided enough was enough and began exploring ways to improve my gut health. In doing so I discovered that all gut health originates in chronic inflammation and therefore all gut health can be improved by reducing inflammation.

Tackling gut inflammation on the other hand, as I’m sure you’re aware if you’re reading this blog, is not quite so simple. I’ll be explaining the mechanism of dysfunctional gut health as well as providing a variety of ways that you can improve your gut health in this blog using The Food Diary Company’s diary.

The Mechanism of a Dysfunctional Gut

Once upon a time you didn’t have any bacteria in your gut. While being birthed bacteria from the birthing canal entered your intestinal system and began populating your gut flora. To clarify, the gastrointestinal system is made up of a pipe from mouth to anus that takes in food, digests it, and absorbs energy and nutrients; the gastrointestinal tract is made up from the mouth, oesophagus, stomach and intestines.

So, within the intestinal system the gut flora populates from your first contact with the outside world, great milk and continues with your nutrition throughout life. Beneficial influences upon the gut microbiome are:

  • probiotic and prebiotic foods,

  • alkaline foods such as green leafy vegetables,

  • balanced stress levels, and

  • hydration.

Non-beneficial influences upon the gut microbiome are:

  • living out of circadian rhythm (shift work/staying up late),

  • antibiotics,

  • sugary and processed foods,

  • lack of regular activity,

  • medications,

  • elevated stress levels and

  • bacterial/parasitic infections.

“What came first, the chicken or the egg. Neither, it was the cockerel.”

Often with gut health we look to the symptom as the cause of our discomfort. i.e. having IBS which causes intolerance. And recognising that the intolerance is the cause of further IBS problems. In this case it is clear to see in my clinical practice that neither the intolerance or the IBS are the root cause - they are mere symptoms. Neither the chicken nor the egg started it here. It was the cockerel.

The cockerel, and root cause, of all gut conditions is something else such as antibiotics, eating sugary & processed foods, lack of regular activity, medications, stress and even emotional trauma. In 90% of all the people I treat with ANF Therapy for gut health have some prior root cause between 5-10 years prior to the onset of the symptoms.

For example, one client began suffering IBS 9 years after changing jobs and re-training. Another suffered the onset of Crohns disease 10 years after her brother passed away. Another noticed symptoms appear 6 years after her first child was born via c-section (where she would have been given intravenous antibiotics).

To be clear - identifying the root cause (the cockerel) is imperative in order to find the best way to overcome the dysfunction.

Signs of Gut Dysfunction

  • Upset stomach. Stomach disturbances like gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and heartburn

  • High sugar cravings

  • Unintentional weight changes

  • Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue

  • Skin irritations like excess, rashes and acne

  • Autoimmune conditions such as IBS, MS, Psoriasis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Food intolerances such as coeliac, FODMAP intolerances and nut allergies

  • Inability to activate (or have awareness) of core & core connection

  • Lordotic posture where the back overly arches and potrudes the stomach

  • Mood disturbances like depression, mood swings, irritability and ‘lack of mojo’

  • Difficulty in passing poo, discoloured, overly smelly, or liquid poo

  • Recent course of antibiotics

  • Frequently getting ill with colds and flu

The Best Ways of Tacking Gut Inflammation

Living inside of your gut are 300 to 500 different kinds of bacteria containing nearly 2 million genes. Paired with other tiny organisms like viruses and fungi, they make what’s known as the microbiota, or the microbiome. Like a fingerprint, each person's microbiota is unique: The mix of bacteria in your body is different from everyone else's mix. It’s determined partly by your mother’s microbiota -- the environment that you’re exposed to at birth -- and partly from your diet and lifestyle. Below are ways in which you can use your nutrition, lifestyle and movement to positively influence your gut bacteria:

  • Be aware of your daily readiness levels when exercising. In doing so you will ensure that your oxidative stress levels remain within manageable levels. This ensures that no damage to the gut is done through your exercise.

  • Manage your daily stress levels which also have an impact upon gut health. You can find a deeper explanation why here.

  • Consume probiotics to replenish lost beneficial bacteria. This is especially important if you’re recently had a course of antibiotics in the past 5-10 years and are still suffering gut health symptoms. It is also worth noticing here that if you’ve recently had a baby (especially the case with C-section) you will have had a huge dose of intravenous antibiotics, maybe without realising.

  • Include fermentable prebiotic foods daily. Because recent research has shown that consuming probiotic supplements alone is not as effective long term as consuming those probiotic supplements alongside probiotic foods AND prebiotic foods.

  • Have bone broth daily. The collagen within the bone broth is very gentle on the gut lining and will assist growth and repair for eh gut lining, especially in cases of leaky gut, IBS, boating and gas.

  • Sleep & recover adequately between workouts

  • Try fasting. There are many benefits of fasting, including allowing time for the gut membrane to heal. It isn’t safe for everyone. Here is an example of the method I recently tested out.

  • Remove dietary toxins such as trans fats, processed foods and GMO foods.

  • Remove processed, sugary & refined carbohydrates from the diet. Note that I didn’t say all carbs - carbohydrates are beneficial (especially to women) when it comes to fat loss and hormonal balance. You can read more here.

  • Practice eating slowly at each meal - there’s a reason this is the first habit I will give to every single one of my clients. And partly this is to refine the body to understand hunger signals, the other part is so that the food is actually broken up before entering the remainder of the digestive track.

  • Try Amino Neuro Frequency Therapy for an instant reset and change to gut health. The course for gut health with me in Bristol will cost from £250 to £350 depending on the severity of your symptoms.

Using The Food Diary Company’s Food Diary

If you’re anything like me, and most of my clients, you really hate having gut dysfunction. It’s not convenient, sexy or comfortable. Its so frustrating and goes on for a really long time. It’s something that most will literally do A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G to improve. So please, do try all of the above methods in order to improve your gut health, BUT please do not do them all at once. When you do, it’s very much like starting a fad diet and cutting carbs, fat and eating after 6pm - of course you will lose weight to begin with, but you won’t really know which bit of what you did caused that.

And that’s the same with gut health. If you take 2-4 of the points from above, say for example to sleep 8 hours per night, take bone broth daily, practice eating slowly and take a probiotic and your symptoms improve, then GREAT. Honestly that’s fab news, but, which out of the four was it that positively influenced your gut health??! There is literally no way to tell. So unless everyday for the rest of your life you’re going to do all four things, you may experience a relapse. And that can be truly disheartening.

And this is really where the magic comes from the diary. I’ve been using mine now for a while and it’s clear to see the patterns emerging. By noting one habit to focus upon for 14 days and seeing the changes (or lack thereof) it becomes clear as to what has the ‘biggest bang for buck’ in terms of improving gut health. And quite frankly, why do it all when 1 or 2 small things, can have the biggest impact?!

The Food Diary Co’s diary is really clear and simple to use and will guide you through making the best choices for you, your patterns and your gut health. So that over time you can really see marked improvements long term for your health and performance. I love how it allows you to track your food, mood, energy, exercise and sleep. Taking such a holistic approach you will truly begin to identify the patterns and in doing so empower yourself to make the best choices for your gut all day, everyday. And that’s where the long term reduction in gut inflammation happens. To overcome that root cause and begin to truly heal your gut.

Camilla Dempster is your lifestyle companion promoting body positive awareness. She facilitates change through movement, nutrition, pain management therapy, events and life coaching. Having been both overweight and underweight she coaches from a point of empathy. Her experience spans over one decade and she is an internationally recognised presenter presenting at conventions such as Fitpro in the UK, IHRSA in the US and workshops throughout the Middle East. She provides transformational coaching both online and in person and you can find her at www.nlperform.com and on Instagram.