Did you know that a colonoscopy can actually prevent colon cancer?

In this episode of the Love Your Gut Podcast, I’m joined by Dr. Zuri Murrell to discuss Colon Cancer Prevention, Screening, and Updates.

Zuri A. Murrell, M.D. is a leading Los Angeles Colorectal Surgeon & Specialist. Dr. Murrell is board certified in colorectal and general surgery. With his own practices located in Beverly Hills & Los Alamitos, California – lacolonrectalsurgeon.com – and has over 40 publications including scientific book articles and book chapters. He was the director of the Colorectal Cancer program at Cedars- Sinai Medical Center from 2010-2018. Dr. Murrell specializes in colon cancer, rectal cancer, hemorrhoids, Crohn’s Disease, Colitis, IBD Treatment, and Colonoscopies. Also, the developer of Anal Rejuvenation™.

He is also an inventor scientist who holds a patent for a novel anorectal cream. He enjoys educating the community on cancer prevention through nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle by giving lively, interactive, motivating educational seminars. He has educated audiences on television (The DRS, Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family, Telemundo, and various public service campaigns).



Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • How to prevent colorectal cancer – 8:03
  • The importance of vitamin D levels for women – 11:30
  • The importance of getting a colonoscopy – 25:58
  • Other tests that can be done in your practice – 29:31
  • Bacterial overgrowth in our intestines – 33:42

If this episode has been helpful, DM me on Instagram, and tell me about your experience!


  • And so I really believe that patient in power, maybe this is a disease that patients can be empowered to help prevent or make sure that if they do have Colorectal cancer is diagnosed early and diagnosed early, they can actually be cured.” [4:09]
  • And so when you do a colonoscopy, you’re able to remove these polyps before it becomes a cancer.” [6:43]
  • “Now, when it comes to our colon, our colons number one job is contrary to popular opinion is not to make the colon’s number one job is to reabsorb water.” [9:52]

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Dr. Heather Finley, Dr. Zuri Murrell

Dr. Zuri Murrell  00:00

Now only 8% of colorectal cancer is actually genetic. Well, we can identify. But people also need to talk once you get your colonoscopy if don’t have cancer, which most of us won’t. But if you have polyps, you need to share that with your family member also

Dr. Heather Finley  00:17

Okay. Welcome to the love your gut podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Heather Finley, I know what you’re thinking, how am I supposed to love my gut when all it does is hold me back. I thought the same thing before I found my own relief from my own gut health issues. I dedicated my life to getting to the bottom of my own gut issues, so I can help women just like you transform theirs. Now I’m here to guide you through your own gut health journey. We do this through identifying your root causes and making sustainable and transformational changes. As a result, you can unleash your true potential. My goal is to empower you with the information and tools you need to love your guts. So it loves you back right here on this podcast. Hello, hello, and welcome back to the next episode of the love your gut podcast. This episode is probably the most different of all the episodes that we’ve had so far, but it’s equally as important. As you guys know, colon cancer is very near and dear to my heart. I lost my dad when he was just 50 years old to colon cancer. And it was extremely unexpected. So colon cancer prevention and screening is extremely important to me. And it’s part of my mission here to empower everyone to be informed about their risk for colon cancer, their risk for other serious gi conditions and when to know when you should get screened and tested for some of these things. So I’m super honored today to be joined by Dr. Z. Dr. Z is a leading Los Angeles colorectal surgeon and specialist he is board certified in colorectal and general surgery with his own practices located in Beverly Hills and Los Alamitos, California. He has over 40 publications including scientific book articles and chapters. He was the director of the CoLo cancel Colorectal Cancer Research Program at Cedars Sinai Medical Center from 2010 to 2018. Dr. Z specializes in colon cancer, rectal cancer, hemorrhoids, Crohn’s disease, colitis, IBD treatment and colonoscopy. He’s also the developer of a national rejuvenation. He is an inventor scientist who holds a patent for a novel in a rectal cream. He enjoys educating the community on cancer prevention through nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle by giving lively, interactive, motivating educational seminars. So without further ado, please enjoy this episode with Dr. zine. Welcome back to the next episode of the love your gut Podcast. I’m so glad to be joined today by Dr. Z. He is a colorectal surgeon and we’re going to talk all about what colon cancer and of course gut health. So Dr. Z, why don’t you just tell us a little bit about yourself how you got into what you’re doing now. And then we’ll get started.

Dr. Zuri Murrell  03:19

All right. So I’m Dr. Zuri Murrell. I go by Dr. Z. And I’m so happy to be here today because I really love to talk about this disease and talk about prevention and things of that nature to a wide audience. And so the reason I got into this field is regardless touched by cancer. At an early age, my mother passed away about a month before I graduated medical school, she died of breast cancer, I always knew I would be a cancer specialist of some sorts on the colorectal surgeon, going into breast was a little too personal for me. And going into colorectal was something that I enjoyed because it could almost be prevented, it can almost totally be prevented. And you know, that’s my real goal. My real goal is never to have to operate on a colorectal cancer case. And so I really believe that patient in power, maybe this is a disease that patients can be empowered to help prevent or make sure that if they do have Colorectal cancer is diagnosed early and diagnosed early, they can actually be cured. And so you know, sometimes people say, Well, what are the reasons that you do colorectal surgery and as you know, to do what I do, there’s a lot of kind of colorectal little jokes that we tell so I always say that, you know, I was the smartest person in med school. That’s why I’m a colorectal surgeon. All colorectal surgeons are the people say why I said Well, you know, what’s the smartest organ in your body is the Amish you know, when you have to have a bowel movement, you know, when you have diarrhea and you know, and you have to pass gas, okay, so it’s a very smart organ, and you don’t appreciate it until it’s gone. And so that’s that’s really how I That’s how I got into this field.

Dr. Heather Finley  05:01

I love it well, and we have that personal connection. You know, it inspires us to help others. And for those of you that are new listening to the podcast in episode one, I share my story about how my dad passed away from colon cancer. So I was really excited when Dr. Z reached out to come on the podcast because I love to talk about it. I think colon cancer in some ways can be kind of a taboo topic. And I think a lot of people have the dreaded like, Oh, I’m 50. Now I have to have the colonoscopy and it becomes this like pain. But really, it should be something that we like you said, it’s there’s a lot of things that we can do to prevent colon cancer. And there’s new research coming out all the time. So I love I know, before we press record, you were telling me some of the newer things you’re seeing in colon cancer and even younger ages. So tell us kind of what the latest is with colon cancer that you’re seeing.

Dr. Zuri Murrell  05:58

So one of the latest, or the biggest changes is now a screening colonoscopy or other screening tests will be done at age 45. Now, that was a huge move, because we are seeing younger people get colorectal cancer, it’s important to say that I know a lot of people are worried about the colonoscopy. But the colonoscopy is one of the only tests of medicine, you know, we make people get blood draws and make you get CT scans will make you get all these tests. But a colonoscopy actually prevents colorectal cancer. Now, why is that? So all colorectal cancer starts as these little growths called polyps. Most pilots have no sign no symptoms or any, these polyps become a colorectal cancer, certain polyps do. And so when you do a colonoscopy, you’re able to remove these polyps before it becomes a cancer. Now, here’s a perfect example.

Dr. Zuri Murrell  06:52

You know, talking about this disease and talking about how taboo it is, you know, I make when I give these talks, I usually make an audience say the words colon, say the words rectum and say the words anus. And I always say you shouldn’t die from fear. And you shouldn’t die from embarrassment. And that’s what’s actually happening. People don’t discuss these things. I always tell people, the best time to discuss this with your children with your relatives, okay, is at the dinner table. Because that’s where we can make the biggest change and the biggest difference. So first thing is, you know, in terms of prevention of colorectal cancer, we know that age, traditionally, most colorectal cancers start between the ages of 50 and 85. However, we’ve seen an 12 fold increase in people less than the age of 50 getting colorectal cancer. Okay, so that’s number one. Now, what the question is, why do we see that when the body is inflamed, it allows it can’t fight other little changes that are going on in our body all the time that are going on in our colon all the time. And so that is one of the biggest risk of colorectal cancer, especially in young people. Now, it’s important to know, also your family history. Now, only 8% of colorectal cancer is actually genetic, where we can identify, but people also need to talk once you get your colonoscopy. If you don’t have cancer, which most of us won’t, but if you have polyps, you need to share that with your family member. Also. I am very open. My father and I discuss things all the time now while he’s disgusted by the word, rectum and anus. We still talk about this all the time. And I talk about this with my children. And I’ll tell you why. Because my father has a history of multiple polyps, I was able to get my colonoscopy sooner than the age of 45. I’m 47. Now, I have my colonoscopy at age 42. Now even though I practice what I preach, and we’ll talk about some keys, how you can help prevent colorectal cancer. I had a large two centimeter polyp in my right COVID That would have been a cancer if I would have waited to 45. And the only thing that saved my life was knowing my family history, which is why dinner table conversations are important. Now why are vegetables important? I talk about this Dr. Phil you know this well. blackberries, blueberries, raspberries to me, are perfect foods, they have the highest amount of fiber. Now, as a doctor, you know, we tell you eat a lot of fiber, drink a lot of water, but nobody explained why. So fiber is very, very important. Because fiber helps to decrease something called your colonic transit time. Now what does that really mean? That means from the time that we eat something, so we put it in our mouths and we masticate we chew it up, it goes down our esophagus to our stomach. The stomach grinds up the food then it goes to our small intestine where all absorption occurs. Then whatever’s leftover comes to our colon. Now, when it comes to our colon, our colons number one job is contrary to popular opinion is not to make the COLAs never One job is to reabsorb water. Okay. And so fiber is important because fiber is not absorbed in the body. When it gets into the colon and helps the, it helps to create an environment where water can stay in the colon, okay, so that you can have a quicker, easier bamboo. That brings us to water. consumption of water is very important because you want enough water that your colon can reabsorb water, but then you have some that can stay in the lumen, so that you can have a easy, regular problem. Now, that’s important because everything we eat still can have carcinogens in it. And so you want to waste to be eliminated as fast as possible. So I always tell patients a quick and dirty way. And I do mean that but a quick and dirty way to see what your transit time is, it’s hard to tell your particular colonic transit time. But if you eat a plate of beats, the time you eat those beats to the time you defecate and think you need to call somebody like me, because you think you see blood. Yeah, is your overall transit time. And we’d like that to be about 20 or 30 hours. And that’s kind of a way you can see if your body is clicking the right way and optimizing. So we talked about low consumption. We talked about making sure you get your fiber, we make 20 to 25. And now I believe Dr. Family, they increase it to 30 grams, if I’m not mistaken of fiber a day. Yeah, the way I get my fiber is you know, people always think especially people our age, always think of fibers as like Metamucil or citrus Hill things that our grandmother took. There’s other ways to get fiber. Like I said, the blackberries, blueberries, raspberries have between five to 7.5 grams of fiber per cup. Every morning, I take two cups of the of the fruit, I do a cup of almond milk, you can use oat milk, things of that nature. However, I just learned from one of my Instagram followers that I guess all the milk is is not good for the environment because of the large amount of water. So I’ve switched to oatmeal. And I do a protein powder and I do ice and I blend it. And I drink that before I leave the house because that gives me about 14 grams of fiber out the door. Okay, and then I can make up the rest of the vegetables. Now, what I’m also very proud of is I have two daughters for 13 and 15. And they’ve heard me talk about this all the time, and they actually make smoothies for themselves for me, before we leave the house, because it’s ingrained in them. And that’s really why especially for women, okay, especially and I’m so glad that I’m able to reach out to women, because no matter what women are still the anchor of the house, and that I’m not talking about cooking, I’m not talking about cleaning, I’m not talking about any of that, but I’m talking about the anchor, women are the ones who guide the family. You know, the most common reason a male comes in to see me for a colonoscopy is because of the wives because of the partner. Women help that, you know, my kids as much as, as they tried to emulate me they even they emulate mom. Okay, and so it’s important for these kinds of these kinds of knowledge to be passed on. And, you know, we look up to mom, I look up to Mom, I miss her every day. And so that’s why these, these facts are very important. So we have fiber, we have water, and we have low red meat consumption. Now, doctor, finally something that I think is very important is vitamin D levels. Okay, nobody thinks about vitamin D. So vitamin D is synthesized from UV light, hitting your skin, okay, in your standard, basically, it causes a reaction so that you get vitamin D, and vitamin D is anti inflammatory, and vitamin low vitamin D levels are a very high risk of colorectal cancer. Now, most of the studies have been done in Caucasians in terms of low vitamin D levels, and we see that in the Caucasian population, it leads to begin is associated with colorectal cancer in the African American population, it’s actually we have a higher, we have a higher incidence of lower vitamin D levels, because we have to be out in the sun longer, because while our melanin protects us from UV light, that protection can also lead to low vitamin D levels.

Dr. Heather Finley  14:13

In your opinion, what is low vitamin D? Because it can be all across the board? What do you see in practice as like adequate vitamin D.

Dr. Zuri Murrell  14:22

So it’s interesting because you know, every lab kind of depending on what their standardized is, is, you know, it’s a little different. It’s a little bit of, of a, you know, it depends kind of on what their, what their standard is. And so usually it’s any layout that when your vitamin D level comes back as low, then you need to increase it now. Here’s the issue. We don’t know how much exogenous to take, because for each person to get above whatever normal is for them can be a challenge. However, what I do is you can take 500 of the IU units and take that even twice a day. You know, there’s GAVI versions. There’s pill forms, all of those things, and you should have a check every single year. That’s very important, okay. And that can really help, you know, have a major impact on your Vita on, on your overall health and polyp formation. So that’s that’s why that’s so important. Now, we’ve just talked about many things that you actually could do to decrease colorectal cancer. There’s two things you can’t do anything about, right? You can’t do anything about your age, you can’t do anything about your race. So African Americans have one of the highest rates of colorectal cancer in America. But to show you how powerful diet, nutrition, sunlight is, is that Nigerians and gardens have some of the lowest rates of colorectal cancer in the world. Okay? Now, genetically, there is barely any difference between a Caucasian person African American, let alone African American in Africa. What’s the difference? In Uganda I do a lot of or I was blessed to do work at before COVID In Uganda, doing medical outreach. You know what, I never operate on it, you got the coal, right? Okay. So it’s still a very physical kind of environment, meaning that people get a lot of physical activity just as part of their normal life. When you go over there, it’s mostly a vegetarian diet. So you have those two weeks. And because it’s a physical activity, there’s no beat, there’s not a lot of obesity, but also, you’re outside, so you get a lot of indie life. So I use this as a harbinger for all types of patients of all races to show that you have the power to help prevent this disease. It’s very important people think, well, you know, I can only get it if my family has it. Some women think that men are the only ones that get it, men think women are the only one. So it’s very, very important to know that we all hear Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancers in this country of men and women. But when you put men and women together, it’s responsible for the second leading cause of cancer related death in this country. Okay, so I just told you all of the ways that it could be prevented, right, I just told you all these things, but it’s not happening. Now, it’s not happening on multiple levels, the screening, what people need to understand is that screening means that you have no symptoms, no family history, and you just want to see if you can detect something that has no sample. And the reason we decreased it to 45, as opposed to 50 is once again, because we are seeing a younger younger population get this disease. Okay. So that’s very important. And there’s different tests, there’s still tests you could do, I am partial, and I really believe, and a lot of physicians believe that, especially when you hit that age, you at least need a colonoscopy. Because once again, the colonoscopy could find polyps and can remove them, whereas stool tests don’t really see polyps. Okay,

Dr. Heather Finley  17:58

tell us more about that. Like, what are the if someone’s, you know, 30 years old, worry about calling cancer? Because maybe family history or whatever? Should they do? Should they get a colonoscopy? Should they do a stool test? Should they do both? What’s the what’s the action plan?

Dr. Zuri Murrell  18:14

Right? So it depends. So if you are have a family history where someone in your family had colorectal cancer, very by fit, right, the standard would be, if you have no GI issues, no change in bowel habits, no rectal bleeding, none of those issues, you should get it 10 years earlier than the person who’s a first degree family member will diagnose that. Now, if you have any kind of gut issues, okay? Meaning that you’re somebody who’s just been constipated a lot. You’re somebody who has diarrhea, but like, and even if you’ve had a lifetime of that, that would make it harder for us to know if you had a change of bowel habits. So those are definitely people who I would say colonoscopy at 30. You know, and so what are the the reason that we recommend these tests is because, is because once again that the symptoms of colorectal cancer, especially early are so nondescript. How many of us have had about a constipation? How many of us have occasional had diarrhea? How many of us have had a little blood in the stool? So what I tell people is, for instance, rectal cancer, one of the most common symptoms is blood in the stool. Okay, now or blood on top of the stool. Now, mind you, most of the time, it’s hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are basically vascular cushions that are in the areas that are 5% responsible for our continents, okay. And they can believe what we’re constipating we have a hard boundary. So what I tell patients is, if you have that and you do some over the counter remedies, or if it’s continuous over the course of a month, you need to be evaluated by a doctor. The issue is that especially with men because I think women are used to having more invasive exams, because be getting pap smears for a long, long time. A lot of men are not used to that. And so when you see younger Are men who have these problems, they just often are embarrassed or they let it go. And so what I tried to tell people is that if any of these changes, or any of this bleeding lasts longer than a month, you need to be evaluated. And so just a 30 year old who, who has a, a first degree relative who had cancer 50, and up that would be about to end who has no symptoms, that would be about 10 years out. But the key is really to be in tune with your body also. So if you know that, you know, you typically run constipated, you know, it’s an all of a sudden you start having like four bowel movements a day, and that persists, then that’s a change in bowel habits, okay? Ideally, you won’t be constipated. Ideally, as you teach all the time that there are things you could do to help change that. But I think really, it’s about being in tune with your body and not being afraid to get help when you have when you do have any details.

Dr. Heather Finley  20:57

Hey there, I know you are absolutely loving this episode. But I have to jump in really quick and remind you that I have a quick, free quiz that will help you finally figure out why you’re bloated. In order to live a life free of discomfort. You need to figure out what the root causes that’s making you experience these uncomfortable symptoms. The easiest and fastest way to do this is by visiting Dr. Heather finley.co backslash quiz, take the quiz as soon as you can. So you can transform your gut issues and lead a happier, more vibrant life. Now, let’s get back to the episode. I like what you said at the beginning about prevention starts at the table and talking about it. I think obviously, it’s something that my family talks about, just because of what I do. It’s something that your family talks about. But even with the clients that I work with, you know, they their partner, or their kids may have not even been aware of the symptoms they were having because they were embarrassed about them. So what is your suggestion? Or what do you tell your patients? Like? How do you even start talking about that with their kids or with their partner spouse? What are what are some strategies for people that might feel a little bit more embarrassed or uncomfortable?

Dr. Zuri Murrell  22:09

So you know, what’s really interesting is, I look at the smoking paradigm. Okay, so one of the biggest ways to get people to stop there’s two ways to get people to stop smoking, a doctor mentioned the to the to the patient, but also the kids. And so they did a big push for the kids to you know, talk about how bad smoking is. And that actually was a big contributor to parents and older generation to stop smoking. So it’s interesting. There are more vegetarians under the age of 50, than there are above the age of 50. There are changes and they’re more pescatarians, which means that the younger generation, even though there’s more obesity, they’re still more apt to be aware of nutrition, especially if we can teach them and so they’re the ones that sometimes say, Hey, Dad, Hey, Mom, have you had a colonoscopy? Okay. Secondly, I always say that patients need to be there to help their own advocates, okay, when it comes to the medical field. So as physicians, physicians, we get pulled by health insurance, we get pulled by medical, by hospital system, in addition to patients, so sometimes, when you’re pulled in all these directions, you know, things may or may not slip through the cracks. But, you know, things may take a little longer than they should. So patients need to also know their, that need to kind of do their own research to know what they need and things of that nature. That’s number one. Number two is winning of parents spouse gets a colonoscopy, you need to share it with the rest of the family. Hey, I had my colonoscopy today. You know, it’s funny when I even mentioned that at the table. It used to be Oh, why are we talking about this? Well, hey, I want to know that we’re preventing cancer. Hey, so would you say is like, Hey, guys, guess what? I forbid a cancer today. That’s what I tell patients, when they get their colonoscopy and everything’s clear. I say, Guess what? You help to prevent colorectal cancer. When you have a parliament, we’re able to take it out because you got that colonoscopy, you help prevent colon cancer. And then you go and you talk to your family at the table like, hey, guess what? I had a couple precancerous lesions that were removed. And so that’s just important, because that will help you get a colonoscopy earlier. You know, we, we you know, the reason that and if they say, Well, why are we talking about this while we’re eating once again, that’s the biggest way he can also help prevent Colorectal cancer is by what you’re putting in your mouth. So it all it all ties together, but we really have to get over that taboo. And I do see the younger generation I mean, there’s hardly any taboos now right, which with kids and what what I mean, there’s no privacy there’s none of these things. So I’m hoping that will change. You know, as it goes on and on but you basically need one family member who is outspoken and they and kind of push that out. Yeah, that that happened to be me because of what because of what I do. But then it happened to be my father, because I had talked to him so much about it, being able to share his history with me. And so, you know, I helped save his life and he helped save my life, you know, and it becomes, it becomes a circle, I really, you know, believe that if you are going to be successful, like my ideal would have a 360 practice, right, you come in, you see me, for either a colonoscopy or some other preventative work, you go see the doctor of nutrition, right, you go see a physical therapist to learn about exercise, like that would be the real key. So one of the things that we do in my house, and we don’t do it as much as we used to, because of, because of, you know, certain activities that my kids have, but we used to go on a family walk in the afternoon, like when I got home, you know, we would go on a walk around the block, little things like that, that serve two purposes. Number one is we could talk. But number two is we’re getting some exercise, you know, we’re not just sitting around watching TV. So little things like that, you know, can can make a big difference. And I think, often we think little things don’t matter. But big events only happen once in a while. Yeah, little changes happen every day.

Dr. Heather Finley  26:12

Yeah, you can prevent so many things by making small sustainable changes, like going on a crash diet, after you have a polyp on your colonoscopy, but then going back to exactly what you’re doing before is going to make a difference. But if you go on a walk once a day, and you add a cup of berries, once a day, like these changes can make such a huge difference in our system, because

Dr. Zuri Murrell  26:37

much alcohol, you know, you reduce your alcohol level, which can lead to colorectal cancer. Obviously, I don’t even mentioned smoking, because by this point, if you know, you don’t know smoking is bad for every single organ you have, you know, I can’t do much for you.

Dr. Heather Finley  26:50

Yeah. So just to kind of cover also the clients that we work with, and the primarily the women that listen to this podcast, you know, maybe they’ve had a colonoscopy, but all of them struggle with some type of digestive issue. So whether it’s bloating, whether it’s gas, whether it’s constipation, SIBO, et cetera, it kind of can span the gamut. But a lot of people, as we mentioned, at the beginning, aren’t a huge fan or wanting to get a colonoscopy. What would be besides prevention, for like, an age 45 or earlier, if you have family history, what would be some other reasons that you should go get a colonoscopy, if you’re experienced with symptoms,

Dr. Zuri Murrell  27:41

right? So if you have, for instance, chronic diarrhea, okay, there’s many, there’s many causes of it. But when you do a colonoscopy, you can do multiple biopsies which don’t hurt and so those patients need a colonoscopy to make sure there is not a, a anatomic issue, meaning not just colon cancer, but sometimes you can have inflammatory conditions, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, especially if you have a family history of that those need a colonoscopy. If you are constipated, for instance, you can also need a colonoscopy first to make sure that there’s no obstruction, no, anything like that, and then you go on and do the other work of that’s necessary. There’s something called microscopic colitis, there’s lipo sitting colitis, there’s all of these, these kinds of inflammatory conditions that can only be diagnosed with a colonoscopy, because that’s when you would take biopsies. And so, you know, it’s really important. I mean, especially in the hospital, where I work, there’s a large population, and I’m at Cedars Sinai, there’s a large population of patients who have IBD, which is inflammatory bowel disease. Now, these patients often have blood mixed in stool. So this is one of the and thank you for asking me that question. differently. Even patients who don’t have inflammatory bowel disease, if you have blood mixed in your stool, you need a colonoscopy. I don’t care how, okay, and the reason being is there could be something higher up now, it could be hemorrhoids, that bleed backwards, okay, into the colon, but there can be something higher up that is bleeding. So that is one indication where doesn’t matter how old you are blood mix in your stool, it can also be an ulcer, you know, you need a colonoscopy for that. So, you know, a colonoscopy is often a first step to rule out anything that is pathologic. And then you can go on and do other other studies. But the key is when I say Be your own patient, that doesn’t mean when that happens, you vessel, they go to the doctor to say, I want this and the doctor says no, and then it turns into an issue. It’s basically sharing your goals with your physician, but also making sure they understand what is going on. And if and I’ll be honest, if you are having these issues, and you don’t either feel comfortable will not to discuss it with your doctor or they are adamant not to give you that particular test when you need it. And when data shows you need it, then you need to sometimes find to do that. But realize that you and your doctor or team, especially the family, medicine, doctor, Family Medicine, doctors are kind of the gatekeepers. And I always say, a lot of surgeons are jerks, okay, but you’re not going to be friends with surgeon anyway. Okay, even though I still think that that’s in this day and age, that’s inexcusable. But your family medicine doctor has to be somebody you feel really, really comfortable and you trust, but we are they also have to trust you. And so that is something that I think can also really save your life, because the doctor needs to understand when you say something is real, and you need to believe the doctor, too. And so, you know, those are, those are, you know, not only reasons that you would need a colonoscopy, but I guess on the bigger picture, or the reasons for all aspects of health, you need to make sure you have a family medicine doctor who you trust, and who you relate to, and who you will take their opinion seriously, but they also will take your symptoms, and your opinion seriously. Like that,

Dr. Heather Finley  31:13

yeah, working, you’re on the same team, you’re working together. So we tell our clients, you’re the expert of you, I am not the expert of you, I need to understand from you what you’re experiencing so that we can work together. So colonoscopy is are obviously very well known. That’s everyone. Primarily, we’ll know what a colonoscopy is. But what about the other tests that you that you do routinely with clients? What are some other common tests that can be maybe preventative or just helpful if someone is in kind of this IBS bucket of like, I have all these symptoms, nothing came back on the colonoscopy. But I still have all these issues, are there other things that you’d recommend that you do in your practice, because I know every doctor is going to be a little bit different, a little bit

Dr. Zuri Murrell  32:02

different. So one of the things real quick also want to say is that if you are refusing to get a colonoscopy, because you’re scared, things of that nature, there’s other tests like stool DNA test, where you basically sit in some of your stool that can find you know, any blood or cancer kind of in the stool, then you get a colonoscopy after that. So I do want to say that there are other tests you could do, that is good and not preventative as a colonoscopy, but are also used to determine colorectal cancer now in answer to your question, other tests that can be done. And as a colorectal surgeon, I do call the Nazca PS but I don’t do the upper GI endoscopy. endoscopy is goes through your mouth looks at your stomach and your smile in the first part of your small intestine. But that’s also a study that be done for blood mixed in stool. And also can be done for like ulcer symptoms like pain in the abdomen, things of that nature. Something else other tests that we routinely do our CT scan. So if you have a domino pain, that is acute, often we’ll get a CT scan first to make sure there’s no anatomic issue and then follow that up with a colonoscopy. So those are the issues and abdominal pain. If you’re not, if it’s a more diffuse pain, there’s no fever, there’s no vomiting, then often you go to your doctor, and if it persists, then those are patients that need a CTC. Now if the pain is ever admitted, and it’s comes on like this, and you have fever, chills, you need to go to the doctor right away, or the emergency room and their CT scans are kind of the quickest thing that we can see, to see if there’s anything that is extremely dangerous. So that’s really important. Now, sometimes what can be done also is tests for SIBO. Now don’t do that the GI doctors do that. But SIBO is basically a bacteria overgrowth, in our intestines that can cause chronic constipation, that can cause chronic diarrhea, that can cause so many symptoms. And this is and that’s more of an IBD and IBS, which is inflammatory of which is I’m sorry, irritable bowel syndrome. Now that is very prevalent. And, you know, we think a lot of that is diet related and bacterial related, you know, we’re getting better and better at figuring out that bacteria, which helps to metabolize different nutrients, we all have bacteria through our mouth, all the way to the anus, can have a depending on the bacteria can have a deleterious effect, which means that everything’s in harmony in our body, and we mess it. We mess it up by carcinogens in the air, small smoking and what we put in our bodies. And so sometimes the good bacteria dies, bad bacteria grows more and more and that can lead to abnormalities. We learn more and more about how bacteria and the lack of or the overgrowth of actually lead to IBS, IBS, other medical problems we really which is why probiotics really help. There’s no data that shows that probiotics prevent colon cancer. But probiotics can help with a lot of these nonspecific diseases once you know that there is no cancer, meaning like constipation, diarrhea, all those things, but you have to remember that you don’t just say that this is what it is you make sure first, that is nothing else that can kill you, frankly. And then you can say is these other problems, there’s other tests, you can do that. But I don’t want people to leave and just think, oh, it’s probably this, I’m just gonna let it ride for six months. Okay, if anything lasts longer than a month, and you’re really trying to make some of the changes you read about on Google, or that you’ve heard, like, even this podcast, if it’s not changing, you need to be evaluated. And I think that’s the biggest, the biggest issue, more people now have healthcare than ever before. Okay. And, you know, everybody pays money for this, use it. Okay. Usually, that’s the biggest, that’s the biggest thing.

Dr. Heather Finley  35:57

Yeah, taking the day to go get a colonoscopy could save your life. Or save, like you said it could have I like thinking about it zoomed out, like what generational impacts, it could save. Your grandchildren like it’s even in, you can think about the microbiome that way too. Like, when you’re born, you inherit the microbiome of your mother, which inherited it from your grandmother, and like how all the like the bacteria that were born with are passed down, like through generations. So there’s so many ways that I think we can feel empowered in our gut health one, buy prevention, and two by just going and evaluating what’s going on.

Dr. Zuri Murrell  36:40

You had asked earlier about, you know, how do you talk to people about colonoscopies, things of that nature. So prior to the death of of Chadwick Boseman, who died really young, you know, he was Black Panther, basically, I’d never had had, especially men come in unless their spouse made them, you know, to get a colonoscopy. Okay. And I used to have to say, you know, do you love your significant other to a male, but do you love your significant other, you should get a colonoscopy. Now, whether a male was married to a male or married to a female, they would always say the same thing? Well, my partner would be fine. You know, if something happens me, my partner is fine. I’m okay. And then I say, what do you love your kids? And I’m like, What did my kids have to do? And I said, Well, if you get a colonoscopy, and you see you have a polyp, or you have some problems, you will tell your kids, and then your kids will be able to, you know, act accordingly. And so just as you said, think about the big picture, if you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your generation, you do it for your generations to come. Because that’s what this really is. I always say that colorectal cancer, but more importantly, colorectal prevention is a team sport. Even if you don’t have kids, you have cousins, you have brothers, you have sisters, and all of this can help them. Okay. And so that’s why that’s why you talk about, you know, that’s why you discuss it, that’s why you share it, because it is not just about you, you know, in our in our country, especially it’s very BB BB century, at least your family, okay, at least it should be at least about you and your family. So these are, these are ways that you can really get people to get colonoscopy. I mean, it’s or, or, you know, stool tests, things of that nature, or make these dietary changes, yet is responsible for the number two cause of cancer related death. So we just have to be proactive, you got to have knowledge, I really think that, that you’re the key, you know, people in your profession are the key. And I think, as a medical doctor, we’re learning more and more about the importance of nutrition, which is something that we’ve never, you know, really discussed before, because people did not know how important it was. So, you know, like I said, I really appreciate you having me on here and I and I really think the power of what you do, you know, is prevention. I mean and look like I say I never want to operate on another colorectal cancer again ever does other things I treat Hemorrhoids you know, I do I do a lot of things and rejuvenation, I do a ton of other things that I would I, you know, would, and when I say would rather do meaning that if that. If I never did a colorectal cancer again, maybe the happiest man in the world.

Dr. Heather Finley  39:18

Yeah. Like how many lives would we say I know. Well, thank you so much for coming on today. It’s super informative for everyone listening and I know people are going to take away so much good, just actionable tips. So the last question I have for you is because it’s called the love your gut podcast. What’s your favorite way to love your gut?

Dr. Zuri Murrell  39:40

My favorite way to love my gut, and I’ve mentioned this before is my breakfast. I am I am telling you that blackberries, blueberries, raspberries also have vital nutrients which helped to prevent all types of cancers. And that is what keeps me regular. And that’s what gives me energy is twofold. Number one is all that fiber, I drink. I drink my smoothie and I’m pretty much good for the day until there. So that’s number one. Okay, being that actually that’s number two, literally, it helps helps you. It also helps you go to the bathroom so you feel light and easy, and it helps to prevent cancer. So that is what I do the love bye.

Dr. Heather Finley  40:19

Bye Love it. Well, thanks so much.  Well, that wraps up this episode. Thank you so much for listening. 

Please note that this episode is not a substitute for medical advice. And you should always consult your healthcare provider prior to making any changes.

If you are a registered dietician or health professional and you want to learn how to treat even the most complicated GI cases with confidence, and build a sustainable and profitable business, my gut practitioner mastermind is for you. This deep dive mastermind will help you transform the way that you work with complex cases and become known as a go to gut specialist. Surround yourself with like minded professionals build your confidence and absolutely soar in your career. Trust me. This is the training that I wish was around when I was searching for answers. Visit DrHeatherfinley.co/gutPractitioner to apply and for more information


Knowledge is power, and if you are a health-conscious person then you must be aware of the fact that there are many natural cures for common digestive issues. The idea of food sensitivities has grown in popularity over the last decade as more people discover they react differently to different foods. Even if you don’t suffer from allergies per se, there can be many other symptoms like bloating and constant indigestion which can make life miserable.

Today is a very special episode because we get to share this one with Stacey and Macy. Stacey and Macy are registered dieticians and nutrition specialists. They’re not only experts in the field, but they’ve also been where you are right now. Stacey and Macy share how stress can definitely destroy your digestive symptoms when left unaddressed, and stress of all kinds, not just emotional stress. They’ll also talk about over exercising and under eating, as well as a lack of sleep. If you’re feeling stuck, don’t miss this episode!

In Today’s Episode We Discuss:

  • The definition/meaning of “root cause of your digestive symptoms” [03:57]
  • Clients’ most common root causes of their digestive symptoms [07:39]

  • Why over exercising  and under eating are stressors and how they impact gut health [15:29]

  • How under eating affects digestion [17:52]

  • Why joy, happiness, are super important, as a part of the gut picture [23:12]

  • Things you may do to make the eating process more comfortable, especially if you have food phobia/fear[24:44]

  • Sleep as a root cause and a good sleep routine [28:38]

  • Macy’s favorite way to love her gut [34:25]

  • Stacy’s favorite way to love her gut [35:43]


A lot of our lifestyle factors can contribute to our gut symptoms. And some of these root causes are things like stress.” [04:37]

“Stress is going to be stress on the body, wherever that’s coming from, your body’s going to have the same physiological response to stress.” [12:13]

“When you don’t sleep, you’re not resting and digesting. And you need to rest and digest to have proper digestion you need to rest and digest to be able to repair your body especially if you are working out if you’re not resting and digesting your muscles in your body do not have time to glue themselves back together.” (29:28]

“When you’re rested, your brain functions better and so do your gut.”[32:46]


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Heather Finley
Macy Essman
Stacey Chimel

Heather Finley  00:01

Hey, welcome to the love your gut podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Heather Finley, I know what you’re thinking, how am I supposed to love my gut when all it does is hold me back. I thought the same thing before I found relief from my own gut health issues. I dedicated my life to getting into the bottom of my own gut issues. So I can help women just like you transform theirs. Now, I’m here to guide you through your own gut health journey. We do this through identifying your root causes and making sustainable and transformative changes. As a result, you can unleash your true potential. My goal is to empower you with the information and tools you need to love your gut so it loves you back, right here on this podcast. All right, welcome back to the next episode of the love your gut Podcast. Today is a very special episode because I get to share this episode with two of my most favorite people, Stacy and Macy. They’re both registered dieticians on my team. And I brought them on here to talk to you all about why you might be stuck with your digestive symptoms.  So I’d love it Stacey, if you would first just tell us a little bit about yourself so everyone can get to know you. Tell us where you’re from and how long you’ve been on the team. 

Stacey Chimel  01:22

Thanks, Heather. As Heather mentioned, I am a registered dietician, I can’t believe it but this is year number eight and the nutrition fields for me. I have received my Masters and undergraduate nutrition degrees in the Dallas Fort Worth area at Texas Woman’s University, and actually met Heather during my dietetic internship almost eight years ago, which is crazy to think about. I came on board about three years ago now, right when the gutTogether program was getting started. It’s been quite an incredible journey to see how the group program has transformed over the years and continues to transform. We’re always bringing new ideas to the table. 

Heather Finley  02:07

Thanks so much, Stacy, I think like you said, you really are kind of the OG you’ve been here really since the beginning. And you have really seen this program transform. And a lot of the transformation is because of you and your brilliant mind. I am so grateful to have you on my team. You are the expert at putting all the puzzle pieces together. And it’s so cool just to see how you work and how you really walk alongside and support our clients. I’m so glad to have you on my team. And really just all of the amazing ideas that you bring. So I’m excited for everyone here to learn from you today.  So Macy, I would also love if you would introduce yourself to our podcast listeners and tell us a bit about you and where you’re from. 

Macy Essman  02:55

Sure. Thanks, Heather. It’s great to be here. So I’m glad everyone’s tuning in. And I am also a registered dietitian from Midland, Texas. I completed my master’s program and dietetic internship at the University of Kansas Medical Center. And ironically, actually met Heather as one of her patients. So while back, which is pretty ironic how that all worked out. But I’ve been working for Heather for about six months or so. And on her team working with clients in the Get Together program. 

Heather Finley  03:28

Thanks, Macy. Like Macy said she was a former client and I was so impressed by her brilliant mind as well. And it’s really cool to have seen her gut health completely transform also was instantly connected to her because she went to my alma mater, Texas Christian University Go Frogs. And so that’s how we originally connected but really glad to have her on our team. She is so thorough and so detail oriented, that we don’t miss a beat between the three of us. So thanks so much for introducing yourself.  It’s very common that we get clients that show up to our program. They feel like they have tried everything. They’re hopeless, they feel stuck. And they really don’t know if they’re ever going to feel better because they’ve tried all the elimination diets. They’ve tried all the protocols, all the supplements, all the detoxes, everything that you can think of, and they’re starting to wonder, will I actually ever feel better? And these are actually our favorite clients to work with. Because sometimes the missing piece is maybe not as complicated as you might think it would be. So we will have multiple parts of this series. The Why are you stuck series. So this is part one. We’re gonna go into a couple reasons why you feel stuck with your digestive symptoms, and potentially what’s holding you back from feeling better. And then also I’d love it if you would Just tell us what is actually a root cause, oftentimes we’re talking about, get to the root cause of your digestive symptoms. And I think sometimes we don’t even really know what that means. So if you could just define that for us, I think that would be a helpful way to start this. 

Stacey Chimel  05:15

Yeah, so root causes, I think this is a new, maybe a new term for a lot of our clients. You know, as we get going, in this series, you’ll hear about various root causes, I think it’s really common to hear something called like a kill Protocol, or, you know, focusing on bacteria as the end all be all. And we’ll, we’ll provide some episodes that get more into the science of that. But we get these clients who come to us and they feel like they’ve taken all of these products to kill bacteria. And yet, they still have symptoms, because they’ve never heard this term root cause, you know, a lot of our lifestyle factors can contribute to our gut symptoms. And some of these root causes are things like stress, which Macy will go into more detail about and the various types of stresses because as Macy will talk about, I think, sometimes we think about stress, kind of in a you know, in one, one line, stress being maybe more emotional, you know, how we exercise, how we eat, maybe what we eat, what we restrict our mindset around food, our sleep patterns, you know, what, how is our body perceiving the stress around us? How are our digestive secretions? What variety do we eat day to day, week to week, those are just some of the root causes. You know, as we get going and more into the science, you could even start talking about, maybe hormones, things like estrogen, progesterone, but cortisol as well. So there are many root causes. And I think that’s why this no, that got together program is so helpful, because we use a team walk alongside our clients in identifying, and many times more than one of those root causes, and then set goals around how we can move forward in what we’ve identified.

Heather Finley  07:12

Awesome, thanks for that breakdown. And so if you’re new to this concept of root cause, I also like to describe it like a tree, I think everyone has probably had a tree, maybe that has had a dead branch, or maybe you have a garden and like some of it is flourishing, and some of it is not. So instead of just cutting off the tree branch, or, you know, pulling out the the plants that aren’t flourishing, the concept here is let’s get to the root of the problem, let’s figure out why this tree branch is dead, or why the garden isn’t flourishing. And let’s give it what it needs. So the right amount of water, the right amount of sunlight, the right amount of fertilizer, if needed. So when you’re thinking about the root cause, I think it’s a completely different mindset shift. Because you’re no longer thinking, I just want to get rid of symptoms, you’re thinking, I just want to get rid of symptoms, and I want to be empowered to keep the symptoms away. So although getting to the root cause might actually take longer for you to see relief, it’s going to be a lot more sustainable. So if you’re someone who’s just gone through all these protocols, all these antibiotics, all these elimination diets, and you feel like you’re just riding this rollercoaster, or this merry go round that you cannot get off of finding the root cause is what will allow you to get off that roller coaster and stop buying tickets to the proverbial fair that you no longer want to attend and share with us one of the top root causes stress that we see in our clients. 

Macy Essman  08:57

So as Heather and Stacy were kind of talking about those root causes, one of the main things we see with a lot of our clients actually is stress. And I think the word or you know, when someone’s like maybe stress is at the root of your problems, that’s kind of this like, you know, thing that you can’t really physically see. And that can often lead to clients kind of being a bit shut off and not really wanting to take in, okay, maybe stress is actually at play here. But it’s really kind of important to think about all the different types of stress. So stress can for sure be emotional, that kind of emotional stress. Maybe that’s you know, a death in the family a divorce, or maybe just like a high stress job, you then causing more of that like emotional stress. But stress can also be you know, physical stress. Maybe that’s like an injury or surgery can also be inflammatory stress. So, you know, those can often be some like hidden sources of stress in the body. So maybe that’s something like an actual gut infection or even if it’s just, you know, general dysbiosis, which would be, you know, an imbalance Send that you know that good and bad bacteria within the gut. Also something like excessive exercise, and even like under eating, which Stacy will get into a bit as well can be a form of stress on the body. So it’s really kind of important to think about, you know, all of these different forms of stress where, you know, kind of thinking about it as a bucket. So you know, you have a bucket and kind of adding into that bucket, little stresses at a time until your bucket essentially overflows. So it’s, you know, not trying to eliminate all stress in your life, because that’s pretty much impossible, but trying to think about, okay, where are some of these sources of stress coming from? What can I modify, to help kind of lower that overall stress bucket, and kind of get your body back into that like balanced state. So you know, stress has a big impact on overall digestion. And so we see a lot of our clients with this really, really high stress state, being at you know, one of the main drivers of their kind of digestive dysfunction. Because really, if you think about it, your body needs to be in that rest and digest nervous system state, for your body to essentially signal digestive juices for your stomach, stomach acid, and, you know, overall, like digestive enzymes and gallbladder flow, contraction of your intestines, all of that, you know, happens in that rest and digest state. So if you’re in that fight or flight, acute stress state, essentially, your body’s going to, you know, shut blood away from the digestive tract, all of those digestive processes are going to slow down and be inhibited. So you’re not going to be properly digesting and absorbing your food, you’re probably going to have to or start to have some issues with motility. Sluggish motility, over time with chronic chronic stress is a really common thing we see with a lot of our clients. So it’s really trying to think about, okay, you know, what are all these areas of stress in my life, and how can I start to reduce that, and that can be, you know, something that can be a slow process over time, but they can greatly improve your overall digestive function and your ability to really digest and absorb your food properly, we find that you know, a lot of our clients are eating on the go, they’re eating in this really high stress state. But if you think about it, you really need to think about your digestive function, you know, from a top down approach. So really, the start of your, your, your digestion is going to be, you know, adequately chewing and really kind of relaxing at meals, so you’re able to better digest and absorb your food. Because if your foods kind of going in, you know, partially digested, you’re not able to properly break down your food that’s just going to set you up, you know, for downstream digestive dysfunction. So kind of really starting to think about all those different areas that we can get into that Stacy will chat more about as well. 

Heather Finley  12:53

Awesome. So basically, what you’re saying is, you can still be stressed, even if you don’t feel stressed. Yes, exactly. And I think that’s a big kind of, like lightbulb moment for a lot of our clients is there can be lots of internal stressors. So you know, maybe you’re pretty, pretty calm person and or you don’t have a high stress job. And you know, all of those things are kind of going well for you. And you’re like, No, there’s no way stress is at the root of my issues. But kind of like I was mentioning with more of those like physical or like inflammatory stressors on the body, essentially, stress is going to be stress on the body, wherever that’s coming from, your body’s going to have the same physiological response to stress. So again, you could feel like stress isn’t really at play, but maybe you have a hidden gut infection, or maybe you’re excessively over or over exercising or under eating, and your body’s just in a really kind of high stress state, you don’t have enough nutrition coming in, to kind of help with, you know, overall rest and repair of the body. So yeah, Heather, like, you know, a lot of our clients, maybe they don’t feel that stress, but there’s definitely a lot of stress going going on which we start to kind of uncover as we start to see kind of all these hidden, HIDDEN stressors that are at play. Yeah, it’s so amazing, I think the way that our bodies are designed really, to protect us. So the body is interpreting any stress as the same type of stress. So like Macy said, whether you have a stressful job, whether you are under eating, whether you are sitting in traffic and you’re stressed, the body is interpreting that stress the same, but it really is doing that to protect you. Because any sort of threat. Your body is thinking I need to get ready to run away from this proverbial tiger or bear whatever you want to think about. And I need to make sure that I’m saying If so, we can’t be too upset about this because really our body is doing what it’s designed to do. But it’s our job to really tap into that nervous system piece, showing our body that it can be safe, and showing our body that even like food can be safe again, which Stacy will definitely talk about as well. So, Stacy, why don’t you take us to number two, which the another reason why we find our clients are stuck is over exercising and under eating. So tell us more about that.

Stacey Chimel  15:37

Yeah, over exercising and under eating are definitely two root causes that we see in many of our clients. And I feel like this is an area that I can definitely empathize in, I shared with many of our clients. And they got together program that when my gut symptoms were kind of, at their worst, about 11 years ago, I was stuck in this vicious cycle of over exercising under eating, I had all of these gut symptoms that were just roaring every day. And so I would restrict and it created this cycle of food fear under eating low variety. And it was this vicious cycle that I was thankfully able to break through and move past and I’m very, I’m very, I guess compassionate in this area, empathetic because it’s something that I struggled with. And so I get very excited when we help clients kind of break through some of their food fears, and encourage them to add variety. So I’ll go into a little bit more detail over why these are stressors and how they impact our gut health. So over exercising, I feel like that’s something a lot of our women can resonate with. And it’s interesting, because Heather’s you were saying that stress response is very protective for us and our body tries to communicate with us. And sometimes, we don’t either don’t listen or don’t realize that it’s trying to talk to us. You know, as Macy was unpacking the different types of stress, I’ll paint a picture, you know, say we have this gut infection that we just never know about, and we have these alarms going off in the body. And, you know, maybe five years ago, we used to go to, you know, be able to go to the gym for 3040 45 minutes, and we felt energized and so we tell ourselves, we should be able to do that now. But because of that underlying stress those alarms going off, you know, now we leave over depleted and we’re confused what’s going on, and we maybe don’t know, to kind of lean into our body’s communication with us. And so, you know, as a team, when we step alongside our clients and you know, have them start asking themselves, you know, what type of movement makes you feel rejuvenated, you know, what type of movement calms your nervous system, what leaves you feeling kind of replenished, it might not look the same as it once did, especially if you are in this cycle of under eating and just don’t have those same reserves, right, that that that energy to put forth currently. And so a lot of our clients actually see that once they kind of take a step back and start asking themselves like what movement makes me feel kind of rejuvenated and that might be walking outside in the sunlight. Maybe that’s you know, gentle yoga or pilates you know, still moving their body but in a way where they’re not essentially you know, over depleting themselves and then they’re down for the count for the rest of the day. And so, you know, I think being okay and having compassion for yourself that movement may look different during different seasons of our lives depending on all the different stressors inside of us and around us. And along that you know, under eating and, and food fear that restrictive diet pattern we see a lot with our clients. I like to talk about you know how and your eating affects digestion in a couple of different ways. A lot of our clients battle not emptying their bowels efficiently day to day or maybe this resonates with you just you know that feeling like foods just sitting there and it doesn’t want to move. And when we get to the science of what that what’s going on there that you know could be slow motility and when we under eat our body is so smart and wants to keep us alive and surviving. And so it has to start prioritizing what is most important. You know in our bodies want to keep our brain functioning our lungs, our heart, and motility or digestion is just not going to keep us alive running away from that bear that tiger right that those alarms are going off and so motility has to slow down I want to protect us. And so with a lot of our clients, you know, one of the priorities is working with how you eat and making sure that your body is getting what it needs. So we get some of those alarms, you know, turning off, so your body is like, okay, I can survive, I am surviving, and now we can start functioning like I was made to function. And that, you know, I understand that I make it sound so easy, and it’s not. And that’s why it’s so important to have a team walking alongside you. I think overcoming food fear is really empowering. And we see a lot of our clients succeed in that area, we work on different ways to do that different ways to approach it, you know, celebrating big wins in your gut healing journey that reminds you that your body is capable, maybe foods, you’ve been able to add back journaling about it, really journaling about adding new feedback, and the most possibly the most positive outcome before it happens. I’m trying to, you know, recognize that when we are anxious and have kind of stuck in that food, fear mindset, if we have a symptom, a lot of times, it’s actually not the food, it’s the anxiety or the fear that’s causing the symptom, and then it’s so easy to demonize the food when it really wasn’t the food at all. And so, you know, we really want to work on, you know, when you add the food back, what does your environment feel like, how’s your mood that day, and those are things we work on with our clients. You know, and with that restriction, I think food fear and restriction plays a role in so many different areas, you know, not only do our clients start restricting, and they get down to, you know, barely any variety, and yet, their symptoms are still there. And then we’re like, you know, maybe it’s actually not the food, you know, you’ve you’re eating, you know, foods that I can count on one hand, and you’re still having symptoms, let’s think outside the box here. And so once you kind of have that lightbulb moment, it’s easier to add foods back, and then you know, start changing that mindset of, okay, instead of what can I take out, what can I add back, I think that’s really fun. You know, having fun with cooking again, and realizing that the more variety you add, the more justice you’re doing for digestion, you know, all of our different gut bugs, like different foods different, you know, prebiotic fibers, it’s, you know, I Heather’s painted this picture before, and I it’s so true. Like, I have very different favorite foods and my husband, we have very different preferences. And so if I was to only purchase the foods I like, you know, maybe he wouldn’t flourish as much. And that’s like our gut bugs, right? Like not one gut bug eats the same as another. And so when we restrict our diet, we’re restricting kind of the grocery shopping for all the different gut bugs to flourish. And, you know, one of the greatest predictors of gut health is the variety in our diet, specifically plant foods. And so the more restrict, we restrict, the more or get bugs, I guess, essentially don’t get that variety and don’t flourish as well. And the last point that I’ll make is with restriction comes isolation. And one of the root causes that we, you know, that I forgot to mention earlier, is just how important relationships are in the gut healing process. And when we isolate, we hyper focus on their symptoms and get stuck in this vicious cycle. So the more variety, the more flourish you never get bugs. And honestly, what I’ve seen in my life, the healthier my relationships, because I’m, you know, enjoying time spent with others, specifically around meal times. Hey, I know you’re absolutely loving this episode, I have to interrupt real quick to ask you a huge favor. My mission is to empower as many women as possible to find relief from their digestive symptoms, and you are a part of that missions. The best way that you can help me to pursue this mention is by going over to iTunes, and giving us a five star rating and review so that more people can find this podcast. Now back to the episode. Yeah, that’s so good. And I’m glad that you brought up the point about isolation because joy, happiness, pleasure, all of those things are super important as a part of the gut picture. And like you said, when you’re isolating yourself because you’re the girl that’s only eating five foods, and oh, I can’t go to that restaurant, like how is that then affecting your relationships and then as a result, just continuing this vicious cycle of symptoms so Stacy really quick I think the like under eating Oh,

Heather Finley  25:00

over exercising is a really common thing. And sometimes people don’t even know that they’re doing it, they just don’t feel good. They feel like food is sitting in their stomach, like a brick, like you mentioned earlier, they feel physically uncomfortable, they might have a lot of food fear, they might not even know what to eat. Or maybe they’ve been to multiple practitioners and one practitioner told them to be gluten and dairy free. And then one practitioner told them to do a low FODMAP. And then the other practitioner told them to do low histamine. And now they’re looking at their list of foods that they can eat, and there’s barely anything on it. So where does someone start? What are some, like? What’s a good starting place for someone even looking to add in food or thinking about how do I increase food? If I’m physically uncomfortable? And if I just have a lot of food fear? Are there things that you can do to make the actual eating process more comfortable? Is there a mindset thing? Where Where does one start with this?

Stacey Chimel  26:02

Yeah, that’s a great question. So a couple suggestions here, I’m going to go back to Macy’s explanation of stress and how stress impacts digestion. As I was saying earlier, when if we have a bad day, let’s say we read an email, a work email, and there was some, you know, some surprising information in there or receive a text from a close friend, and emotions are high. You know, watch the news, whatever that may be, again, get into a fight with a spouse. In that moment, it actually might not be the best time to add in that new food, because your nervous system is kind of in that fight or flight, right, it’s ready to flee from that bear that tiger that you were talking about. So, you know, I actually recommend starting with kind of getting our body’s perception of stress, helping our body’s perception of stress, before we add a new food back, one that could start with journaling about a food that you’d like to add back a couple of days before you plan to do that, if we can visualize our body tolerating that food, it maybe we start journaling about the aroma, the appearance, you know, eating the food, you know, that was an enjoyable experience with with others, you leave the meals symptom free, and you start to picture that in your head. As that meal approaches, you’ll feel more confident that there is another option outside of having, you know, X y&z symptoms that you’re assuming will happen. So I think visualization type techniques like journaling, about the experience is helpful. And I’ve had clients do that prior to Thanksgiving meal or holiday gatherings, and they’ve had a lot of success. And that I know, it sounds kind of, you know, thinking outside the box a little bit. But it really does help like calm your nervous system before the event takes place. And even right around the mealtime, the more you can enter the meal confident and relaxed, the better your body is going to handle. That new food, something we talk about in our group is meal hygiene. And that is really focused on how your eating the food, how you eat, the food will impact how you digest it, and a lot of times how you feel afterwards. So you know, maybe that’s doing some deep breathing through your diaphragm for 60 seconds before you start eating, you know, really relax your nervous system. So now you’re entering the meal. You know, with this visible visualization of succeeding, you’re taking some time to relax your shoulders, to breathe through your diaphragm, to diaphragm to calm your nervous system before you start eating that meal. And I think it’s important to get excited about adding new foods. So something we’ll often do with our clients is have them write a list of foods that they’re excited to add back, or that would make their life easier, you know, easier and that, you know, everyone in the family eats x and I would love to be able to just cook one meal for my family. And this would make you know meal prep a lot easier. And start there start with something that you’re excited about. If you can get excited leading into the meal that will also support I’m sure we’ll do an episode on the gut brain access but support that gut brain access and how you know and how you tolerate that food. Awesome. I love that. I think that mindset piece is so so important. And you’ve given some really, really practical good tips for how to approach the food fear piece, how to make sure you’re eating enough and make sure you start to incorporate some of that variety. So the last root cause that we will talk about today there’s many more so stay tuned for the rest of this series is sleep. So if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably

Heather Finley  30:00

Leave at some point in your life use the mentality or the phrase, I’ll sleep when I’m dead. If you knew me in college, you probably knew that I didn’t sleep very much, I would always wake up early to exercise and was just running on adrenaline all the time. And to be honest, I was super proud of that I was like, I can get more done than anyone else before eight o’clock in the morning, and I can totally function in my life. Well, one of the reasons I think that I was so stuck with my digestive symptoms was because of this, not only because I wasn’t sleeping, but also because of the stress that that was putting on my body. So we’ve talked a lot about stress today tying stress into all the different root causes. When you don’t sleep, you’re not resting and digesting. And you need to rest and digest to have proper digestion, you need to rest and digest to be able to repair your body, especially if you are working out. If you’re not resting and digesting your muscles and your body do not have time to glue themselves back together, let alone digest the food that’s sitting in your digestive tract. So one of the top things that I think keeps people stuck is just our gogogo culture, where we’re not prioritizing sleep, we’re scrolling on screens late at night, trust me, all three of us are guilty of this, we’re not perfect either. But prioritizing sleep is one of the best things that you can do to start to improve your digestive symptoms, because it’s going to have an effect on both of the things that Stacy and Macy just talked about, it’s going to actually help you to be able to tolerate more variety of foods, because you’re going to be resting and digesting is going to decrease that stress load on your body. So you’re no longer going to be operating from a state of adrenaline and cortisol all day long. So one of the things that you can do is get into a really good sleep routine. And I think a lot of times people are focused on their morning routine, but you cannot have a good morning routine without a good evening routine. So maybe it’s overwhelming to think about sleeping, or you’re thinking I don’t have time to sleep. And if you don’t have time to sleep, I would really challenge you to think, what am I doing? Or what what am i Life is causing me to have such little time? So what can I say no to because if you think about it this way, every time you say no to sleep, you’re in, you’re saying yes to something else, you’re saying no to your health. So are there things that you can cut out temporarily, so that you can maybe even just go to bed 15 minutes earlier, 15 minutes earlier and night over a week is several extra hours of sleep if you add it up. So that alone can make a huge difference. We’re not saying that you need to go to bed TWO HOURS EARLIER every night. Although that would be awesome if you have the ability to do that. But even 15 minutes over a week can make a huge difference. So think about maybe how you could turn off the TV 15 minutes earlier or put your phone in the kitchen instead of in your room so you’re not stuck scrolling at night, or you know, shut down your the lights in your house so that it’s a little bit darker so that you’re queued to sleep earlier, drink some warm chamomile tea, something that will relax you and cue you to sleep so that your body can actually rest and digest. You’ll wake up you’ll feel refreshed. And one of the things that we hear from our clients when they start to improve their sleep is man I didn’t realize how much more productive I would be if I was rested. So although you might feel like you don’t have time in your day, when you’re rested, your brain functions better and so does your gut. So you will actually be able to get more done in less time. And then the other thing that you want to think about and if you’re a shift worker or you work odd hours, then there’s probably a whole nother podcast episode that we could do on this but if you work a regular job, you your gut wants to be asleep when it’s dark, and your gut wants to work when it’s light outside. So the more that you can prioritize rest, sleeping when it’s dark outside or waking up when it’s light outside, getting that morning sun in your eyes for 10 minutes to then improve your circadian rhythm. It will actually also improve your gut motility. It will tell an alert your gut Hey, it’s light outside it’s time to work. And when it’s dark outside, you’ll go into that rest and digest state which can overall improve your digestive symptoms. So just to kind of wrap it up the three things that we talked about today, we talked about how stress can definitely destroy your digestive symptoms when left unaddressed, and stress of all kinds, not just emotional stress, we also talked about over exercising and under eating, and how those things can affect your digestive symptoms, and then a lack of sleep. So just to wrap it up, Stacy and Macy, I would love for each of you to share what you do to love your gut.

Macy Essman  35:42

Sure, thanks, Heather, I would love to go first, kind of what you were mentioning, about prioritizing rest, one of the things I really love to do is really just that prioritizing rest and nourishment. Just because in my kind of my journey with my own digestive health issues under eating, and over exercising was really a big part of my journey. So you know, just kind of really prioritizing that listening to my body. Whereas, you know, in the past, if I was tired or feeling rundown, I would, you know, still kind of be grinding it out, wake up at 5:30am to go to the gym. And really, now I kind of tune into that, and maybe I get a few extra hours of sleep. And that day, I really just go on a quick 2030 minute walk or even shorter outside, just take kind of get, you know, some natural sunlight and just some gentle movement. So that’s really kind of the main thing I like to do is just kind of tuning into my body and seeing how I feel and what what I should do that day as far as exercise and, and nourishment goes to really kind of give my body what it needs, for, you know, for it to function properly, and ultimately, just kind of continue healing and everything. Awesome. Thank you may see, Stacy, what about you?

Stacey Chimel  37:01

For me, I’m gonna cheat here and kind of put two together. I think for me kind of going back to what I spoke on earlier with variety, I kind of joke and call myself the like a lazy cooking dietitian, because I’m terrible at following following recipes. So for me, knowing that a large variety of plant foods be tweaks important, I tried to simplify meal prep and have colorful produce on hand at all times. So what I mean by that I’ve gotten into the swing of maybe roasting, you know, two sheet pans of veggies on Sunday. And I’ll use four types, maybe it’s, you know, bell pepper, onion, carrots, and green beans. And then on Wednesday, I will rotate in for new veggies, you know, maybe it’s sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussel sprouts. And I just threw those out there that having those on hand has been super helpful for me to just, you know, maybe throw together with eggs in the morning or with different types of grains and proteins for lunches and dinners. So I just tried to keep a similar, maybe structure and rotate what I put into help ease some of the stress around cooking for me personally and, and then the second part of that is once those foods are prepared, I tried to eat them away from the computer. I am super guilty of that, as Heather said none of us are perfect. But if I can eat outside or away from distractions, that is something that’s made a huge impact on my digestive symptoms personally, the more relaxed I am, the more I taste my food and enjoy my food, and feel honestly better after eating. I love that. And I don’t even think it’s lazy. I think it’s smart. Stacy actually did an amazing training for our clients on meal prep. And that’s kind of part of what she shared was just cooking a lot of things at once. And if you saw my Instagram reel a couple of days ago about resistant starch, if you’re cooking potatoes or starchy foods, and you’re meal, prepping them and letting them cool after you cook them, you’re also getting the benefit of resistant starch there too. So I don’t know if it’s lazy or if it’s smart Stacy, but I think you know, there’s definitely some beauty there. So for me, I think right now the way that I’m loving my gut the most is getting some walks just like Macy. I’ve really scaled back on exercise recently because I have a newborn I guess he’s not necessarily a newborn anymore. He’s a baby, but I am trying to just be gentle with myself. So trying to get some walks outside in the Texas heat before it gets too hot in the morning loving that. And that is my favorite way that I’m loving my gut right now. So you guys, thank you so much for joining me today. This was so

Heather Finley  40:00

Fun. We are gonna do another round of this going into more of the nitty gritty science reasons why you might be stuck with your digestive symptoms. Think things like gallbladder and low stomach acid and digestive insufficiencies. So part two, definitely coming your way. But thank you, Stacey and Macy for joining me today. And join us for the next episode of the love your podcast. I’m giving your gut a thumbs up because you just finished another episode of the love your gut podcast. Thanks so much for listening in to this episode. I hope it was helpful. I know you feel like you’ve tried absolutely everything to get to the root cause of your gut symptoms. And if you ask me, I think it’s about time we find a long term solution. My gut Together program is a life changing program that will help you finally understand what’s going on in your gut and the steps you need to take to find relief. Visit Dr. Heather finley.co backslash gut together for more information so that you can start transforming your gut today. And as always, remember to love your gut so it will love you back

Please note that this episode is not a substitute for medical advice. And you should always consult your healthcare provider prior to making any changes.

I’m giving your gut a thumbs up because you just finished another episode of the love your gut podcast. Thanks so much for listening in to this episode. I hope it was helpful. I know you feel like you’ve tried absolutely everything to get to the root cause of your gut symptoms. And if you ask me, I think it’s about time we find a long term solution. My gutTogether program is a life changing program that will help you finally understand what’s going on in your gut and the steps you need to take to find relief. Visit DrHeatherfinley.co/guttogether for more information so that you can start transforming your gut today. And as always, remember to love your gut so it will love you back

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