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Ep. 49 How to manage GI issues when you’re missing your period

 

 

If you are dealing with HA (hypothalamic amenorrhea) and/or disordered eating and GI issues then this episode is for you. This episode focuses on individuals dealing with the dual challenges of hypothalamic amenorrhea and troublesome GI issues. With Dr. Heather Finley’s and Lindsey Lusson’s guidance, this episode unravels the complex connection between disordered eating, gut health, and digestive woes. From debunking food sensitivity myths to exploring fertility management through gut health, the discussion offers invaluable insights tailored to this specific audience. If you’re seeking answers and solutions for the intricate interplay of hormonal imbalance and GI discomfort, this episode provides a comprehensive summary of how to navigate these challenges effectively.

 

Key Moments: 

  • Gut health and eating disorders. (5:09)
  • Gut health and digestive issues in recovery from disordered eating and eating disorders. (10:27)
  • Gut health and hormonal imbalances in individuals with a history of disordered eating. (15:00)
  • Food sensitivities and gut health. (19:24)
  • Gut health and period loss, including FODMAP diet and SIBO. (24:40)
  • Gut health and fertility management. (29:27)
  • Gut health, Candida, and digestive issues. (35:26)

Next Steps: 

Quotes:

  • Severe gut issues can prevent someone from eating enough to restore their period, and symptom management is key to making the process more enjoyable.
  •  Low FODMAP diet may not be helpful for gut issues, as it can lead to starved gut bacteria in the long term.
  • SIBO is a common gut issue that can cause bloating, abdominal pain, and other symptoms.
  • Diversity in gut bacteria equals variety of benefits, including anti-inflammatory short chain fatty acids.
  • Taking care of gut health can transform life, including potential for future generations, and generational change is an important factor to consider.

Connect with Dr. Heather Finley

Connect with Lindsey Lusson

 

Resources from this episode: 

 

TRANSCRIPTION:

SPEAKERS

Dr. Heather Finley and Lindsey Lusson

Lindsey Lusson 00:04

Will there ever be an instance where you feel that someone increasing the amount of the variety in their diet? Basically what they need to do to get their period back would be counter to what they would need to do to heal their gut? Like, is there ever an instance where it would be beneficial to table period recovery and focus specifically on healing a specific gut issue?

 

Dr. Heather Finley 00:30

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 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 gut. So it loves you back right here on this podcast. Welcome back to the next episode of The Love Your Podcast. I’m so glad that you’re here. And honestly, I can’t believe that it is episode 49. We are going to be doing a huge giveaway for episode 50. So definitely make sure that you tune into that. But I’m really, really excited about this week’s episode. I know so many of you that tune in weekly to this show, struggle with not only GI issues, but you struggle with hormone issues, you struggle with brain fog, you struggle with maybe histamine issues, rashes, etc. And it’s not uncommon that when you have GI issues, you will also have other symptoms maybe that are, you know, seemingly non GI  related. And so that is why I’m really excited to share this conversation with you that I had with Lindsey Lusson. So she is the host of the Period Recovery and Fertility Podcast. She is a colleague and a dear friend of mine. And over the last several years, we have actually referred to several clients back and forth between our programs because like I said, it is not uncommon to have hormonal issues and GI issues. And so in this conversation specifically, we’re talking about missing periods and GI issues. And I know that it is going to be really practical and helpful for all of you that maybe struggle with having GI symptoms having a missing or even a irregular period. And so I will of course link all of Lindsey’s information in the show notes so that you can check her out and look at her work and see how it might benefit you but really, really excited for you to tune in today and take a listen to how to improve your GI issues and your hormone issues and you know what order do you go in? What are the steps and and what are some action steps that you can take?

 

Lindsey Lusson 03:12

Hey everybody, welcome back to the food freedom fertility podcast, AJ recovery and beyond. I am super excited to bring on an expert in gut health. She is also a friend of mine and so I get so many questions from followers and also from clients about how to improve digestive issues and gut health as you’re working through ha recovery and I cannot recommend how they’re more to any other person. So Dr. Heather Finley is a registered dietician gut health specialist and sought after speaker on topics of constipation, bloating, gut health, disordered eating and how all of these topics intersect. Her clients often come to her as a last resort after they feel like they’ve tried everything. Dr. Heather loves helping clients go from restricted with food and frustrated with their symptoms to empower transformed and free. In addition to working with clients in the gutTogether program. Dr. Heather also trains practitioners to use her signature and gutTogether method while helping them build sustainable businesses in her gutPractitioner program. We are so excited to have you welcome Heather. 

 

Dr. Heather Finley 04:23

Sure, happy to be here. I feel like that’s a long time coming.

 

Lindsey Lusson 03:12

I know I think it’s been hard for us to schedule. We both have young kids at home, but we’re making it happen. So I’m so glad we’re able to connect. Yes, so fun. Thanks for now. Yes, of course. Well, so Heather, and I’ve connected Gosh, what probably two over two years ago. And we refer clients back and forth because disordered eating and gut problems do you go hand in hand many many times. Heather for people who don’t follow along hopefully everyone already follows you but if they don’t Can you share a little bit about you know your background your registered dietitian but like How did you decide to specialize in gut health?

 

Dr. Heather Finley 05:04

Ah, so my journey to specialize in specializing in gut health was an interesting one. I tell people all the time I was born constipated, and pretty much just struggled with digestive issues my entire life. And for a long period of my life, I don’t think I realized that no one else felt the way that I did. Or most people didn’t feel the way that I did. I just thought this must be normal. Because I’ve always felt this way and realized, like in high school, and then in college, that there was no way that everyone woke up every day super bloated and feeling terrible. So partially, that’s actually kind of why I studied nutrition in school was to figure out my own issues and try to figure out what the doctors couldn’t figure out. And unfortunately, I left school still super bloated, constipated and confused, and really didn’t even know how to help myself, actually dealt with a lot of impostor syndrome as a new dietitian thinking How on earth am I going to be able to help clients if I can’t even help myself. And so long story short, I ended up working a clinical job and ended up starting a private practice. And through some other jobs that I worked over the years, in the eating disorder world, I primarily was seeing eating disorder clients in my practice. And what I was super frustrated with was that all of these clients were coming to me with all these digestive issues, and their GI doctors couldn’t help them, and no one can help them. And so I started really digging into why my clients had digestive issues, and how I could help them. And so when I started my doctorate program, I think that’s actually really, when everything clicked for me, I realized, we have been approaching digestive health all wrong, or I have at least and really, like all these poor clients, you know, have been getting terrible advice about their digestive symptoms, you know, most of the time they were getting told, just take miralax, or do the low FODMAP diet and unfortunately, still feeling super bloated, constipated, you know, acid reflux, all the things. And this moment that I had in my doctorate program, where everything clicked, I’m like, Oh, the body all works together, we’re trying to like spot treat these issues and like put people in a box in the reality is, we need to get people out of the box and really see like, how is the person’s body functioning as a whole? And how are all these external factors impacting their symptoms, their stress levels, their sleep, their lifestyle, etc. And I think that’s really where the intersection of eating disorders or disordered eating and gut issues comes is. There’s so many external factors, the under eating, the chronic dieting, and the restriction, the super limited menu choices, etc. And anyways, so that’s kind of how I ended up here. Although I don’t necessarily like my the program that I run isn’t necessarily for individuals with eating disorders and digestive issues. A lot of the women that we work with have had past disordered eating or eating disorders. Because we often run into this chicken or egg scenario, right? Did the digestive issues cause the eating disorder? Or did the eating disorder caused the digestive issues? And I would say it can go either way, really. But if you’re like me, and you were born constipated, and you start to blame and point fingers at the food that you’re eating, it’s very normal to feel super disordered around food because you think that the food is the problem? And yes, of course, there are certain foods that can cause symptoms, but it’s usually not the foods that we think that it is. And, you know, if you fix the underlying gut issue, then the food becomes less of a problem. 

 

Lindsey Lusson 08:57

Yeah, that’s amazing. What is crazy to me is that in all of our schooling, right, because all dietitians pretty much go to school at this point for like six or seven years studying nutrition. And it wasn’t until you got to the doctoral level, that you were actually able to expand your knowledge on gut health and how everything is related and how this holistic approach is really more necessary, rather than being like, Oh, you’ve got IBD or you’ve got Crohn’s, you know, treating when we’re already at the disease level. It’s crazy to me that, like, it took a while to get to where, you know, you can treat the individual but that’s so amazing. And I think that people really fail to make the connection. First of all, that it’s not always food, right, like you mentioned, like stress, like stress around food, external stress, you know, sleep, there’s so many other factors that impact our digestion than just what we’re eating. But also to, I think, like you’re already like, kind of hinting at here is sometimes restriction can actually cause the gut issues which is so backwards, because so many people think I have gut issues, I can’t eat X, Y, and Z. And so tell us a little bit more, you know, if you, you know, as deep as you want to go, how does restrictive eating and disordered eating actually contribute to or maybe in some cases cause digestive issues and gut health issues? 

 

Dr. Heather Finley 10:23

Yeah, so I think the easiest way to explain this is it’s an energy equation. So I know, this is something that you talk to your clients about a lot, and over on Instagram is if you’re not eating enough calories, then like, obviously, you can deal with loss of a period, et cetera, et cetera. But same thing is when you have disordered eating, and potentially you are under eating, your gut is not an essential organ, your heart, your lungs, your brain, those are essential organs, your gut is not. And so if it’s trying to preserve energy, then your gut is getting the backlash of that. So your gut motility, which means the movement of food and waste through your digestive tract, that’s going to slow down. The interesting part about all of this is your gut is a muscle. So just like any other muscle in your body, it can get out of shape. So if you’re under eating, and it’s not having to work as hard to move things through. But also it doesn’t have the energy to do it, the gut can get really out of shape. And so that’s often why a lot of times people also when they start eating, again, they have a lot of digestive symptoms, because their gut is literally getting back into shape. Just like you know, if you broke your leg and you were in a cast for three months, and you started walking again, you would have to get back in shape. So same thing with your gut. And I guess kind of on the other end, like outside of the energy equation is your gut thrives on variety. And there’s two to five pounds of bacteria in your gut that we can’t see. But they’re very much a part of you. And these bacteria are picky eaters, they like variety. They don’t want to eat the same thing every day. So maybe actually the opposite of a picky eater is they want all the different foods. And so when you start cutting your food down and only eating a couple different foods, you’re actually restricting the diversity of bacteria in your gut. And that actually has an effect as well, on your overall gut health. 

 

Lindsey Lusson 12:25

Yeah, that is so helpful. I love that analogy about how you know the gut is a muscle and that, you know, it hasn’t been it, you know, we’re not using it if we’re not eating enough and things aren’t moving through. And then I also to love that it sounds like it’s not just like the lack of energy, because a lot of the people that I see that are struggling with period loss is they don’t necessarily identify with like, restricting or not eating enough. But they are clean eaters, right? Which means they might only be eating like 20 to 30 foods. And sometimes they’re doing that because they’re trying to fix their gut problems.

 

Dr. Heather Finley 13:03

Yeah, and I think gut health itself is a very trendy topic right now. And I think we have it all wrong. So if you are looking on Google for gut health, what you’re going to find is a detox or an elimination diet or this like magic bloat pill or whatever it is. And like, that’s just not what’s going to actually help your gut. Yes, there are foods that help to fuel your gut. Yes, there are supplements that can improve your gut health. But at the end of the day, it’s actually more about inclusion than it is exclusion.

 

Lindsey Lusson 13:41

Yeah, I love that. That’s, that’s why I just love your approach to everything. Because I think that there is so much information about the way that you fix your gut issues is to read. And they probably don’t say this, but basically what they’re saying is restrict, restrict, restrict, don’t eat X, Y, and Z. And what you’re saying is, well, first of all, we need to figure out what’s going on with your gut. But second of all, once we do, we should be able to liberalize your diet and get to eating more different more foods and more types of foods. Is that correct? Yes, yes.

 

Dr. Heather Finley 14:16

That’s awesome. Variety. The more variety the better.

 

Lindsey Lusson 14:19

Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, let’s talk about more some more specific gut issues. So when I’m working with clients, a lot of times we see gut issues improve with simply eating more and of course getting it some time, right because to your point, like it’s not like it’s sometimes things get worse before they get better. But usually I hear people feeling like digestion is improved. They’re going to the bathroom more often. Their metabolism speed up to their appetite speeds up I’m usually hearing that happens like in kind of a two to four week period after eating more, but sometimes that doesn’t happen and we kind of start to wonder, is something else going on? Is it not just restricting or lack of variety. So how like Heather, what would be the next steps for somebody who’s maybe been in recovery from disordered eating, eating disorder, and hearing loss? And they’re still experience like, How does someone know something deeper might be going on? Like SIBO? Like, I know, you talk about low stomach acid and like low motility, like, what are kind of the next steps for like, testing or exploring, like deeper issues? 

 

Dr. Heather Finley 15:31

 

Yeah, so I like to give the analogy of building a house. So you know, you may or may not have ever built a house before. But we I think we’re all somewhat familiar with the process. Before you actually lay the foundation, you have to have the plans. And so I think of this a lot with digestive health. And we get really caught up in like, what supplements should I take? Or what tests do I need to do or what foods do I need to eliminate, but the reality is that most people aren’t doing the basics. So these are the house plans. And these are the the foundation that we’re laying, we’re thinking about the fancy wallpaper that we want in our bathroom, which is you know, the elimination diets and the supplements, we’re not thinking about the actual foundation of the house. And your gut really functions with foundations, foundations, being your stress levels, your sleep, your hydration, your movement, which that’s kind of a Goldilocks mentality, not too much, not too little, you know, finding kind of that happy medium there. And so, what I would say to that is if the basics are addressed, so someone is eating enough calories, someone is working on managing our stress, of course, you know, we’re never going to be in a place where we don’t have any stress in our life. But like being able to manage stress and not being overworked or overcommitted, getting seven, eight hours of sleep a night drinking plenty of water, usually, our clients are drinking anywhere from 80 to 100 ounces, probably, and engaging in some kind of movement that’s going to stimulate the gut even like if you’re going on a 15 minute walk a day. This is I’m not talking about like hit training, right?

 

Lindsey Lusson 17:11

Thanks so much for you know, for for spelling that out. Because I know so many people listening are gonna be like, Oh my gosh, just because it’s I’m not exercising here.

 

Dr. Heather Finley 17:19

Because I’m not doing Orangetheory four times a week. Yeah, right.

 

Lindsey Lusson 17:23

Right here. 15 minute walk.

 

Dr. Heather Finley 17:26

Yeah, I’m talking about like a gentle walk, which can stimulate gut motility. So yes, hear me hear me when I say that. So if the basics are addressed, and you know, you’ve restored your period, and you’re still having digestive issues, then I think it’s, you know, you might want to go down the rabbit hole of looking at some of these other things. And one thing I will mention is, sometimes the reason that you’re having digestive issues is because you haven’t gotten your period back, we’ve had several clients in our program that don’t have a period. And when they do get their period back there, maybe their digestive symptoms don’t go away completely, but they do improve. And so obviously, you talk about that a lot. So I won’t go into the specifics of that. But if you’re addressing the basics, but you still don’t have a period know that when you get your period back, your symptoms could improve. If they don’t, then I think it’s important to look at, okay, do I have some sort of underlying gut imbalance, which to an extent everyone does, but it just depends when it becomes a problem, right? So do I have too many bad gut bacteria in my gut? Or do I not have enough good bacteria, which that’s probably more likely with someone who’s been super restrictive in their eating, it’s maybe not necessarily that you have an overgrowth of bad bacteria in your gut or candida or anything like that is that maybe you don’t have enough good bacteria because they’re starved because those bacteria needs food sources, then, you know, looking at slow gut motility. There’s lots of things that can trigger that, again, it’s an energy equation, but the imbalance of bacteria in your gut can actually affect gut motility. Food poisoning actually can disrupt gut motility. So if someone’s had food poisoning in the past, that can actually affect the gut very long term. Stomach acid, as you mentioned, which is a very common one that we see with our clients that have had disordered eating is your body can’t produce enough stomach acid, if it doesn’t have the nutrients to be able to do that. And then over time, it adapts. So with under eating for a long period of time, it adapts to that. And so restoring that function as well. You know, acid reflux is a pretty common symptom that people can experience when they start eating again. And actually sometimes that’s more to do with low stomach acid than it is to do with high stomach acid, which probably can be a podcast for another day. But seriously, I’m interrupting this episode really quick to tell you about our sponsor. element, you know that I am a huge fan of minerals for gut health. If you struggle with constipation, bloating, acid reflux or even poor energy, often the best place to start is by replenishing your minerals. And as we approach the summer months, this becomes even more crucial. Minerals are the sparkplugs of our body and help us to maintain adequate hydration. And that’s why I’m so excited for you to give element a try. The ultimate mineral boost for your gut packed with the perfect balance of sodium, potassium and magnesium element helps us to restore these essential electrolytes, ensuring that your gut stays happy and hydrated. It’s like giving your gut the fuel it needs to thrive. So here’s the exciting part. If you want to receive a free sample pack with purchase, be sure to check out the link, Dr. Heather finley.co, backslash element lm n t, or you can visit the link in the shownotes. Now back to the episode.

 

Lindsey Lusson 20:57

I mean, it’s so interesting, do you find you know in what you’ve observed in your practice, and maybe even more so like when you were working with clients specifically with eating disorders? Is there like this is probably individual but I do have to ask, is there like a timeframe that you see the more severe that issues? Like let’s say somebody had a severe eating disorder for 10 years versus somebody who had disordered eating for two or three years? Would it be more likely that the longer and more severely someone restricted? The more severe their gut issues can be? Or Not really? 

 

Dr. Heather Finley 21:31

Not necessarily, I can’t say that, that I see it one way or another because there’s so many other factors, obviously, it depends on the intensity of it, you know, if someone was severely restricting for two to three years, versus kind of restricting for 10 years, obviously, that’s going to make a difference, but maybe not. But also there’s other factors like genetics and environment and even like route of birth, and childhood trauma, like all of that can affect the gut too. And so there’s just so many factors, and not necessarily a way to determine, you know, what is going to create, which pattern of restrictive eating is going to create more disruptive environment than another. 

 

Lindsey Lusson 22:16

And that makes total sense, because our bodies are all unique. And we’re individuals. And so kind of to your first point about treating not health, like we don’t need to be putting people in boxes, we need to get them out of the box and be treating them as individuals. So I love that. But I also love to that you said, you know, if you’re listening to this, and you have all these gut problems, and you’re still missing your period, maybe step one is getting your period back, because it sounds like with a better nourished body. And with a properly working body, you know, everything’s related with hormones and everything. It’s possible that a lot of these gut issues can get to the point where they’re more manageable. So I think that’s super encouraging to hear. Yes, um, a lot of the people that I work with come to me telling me that they are allergic to certain foods, and what they really mean is that they are intolerant to certain foods. And sometimes people come to me and they say, Well, I, you know, I had I tested for this, like I did this, you know, food food intolerance test? What’s the accuracy of food intolerance tests? And I’m sure there’s some variability, but like your average food intolerance test, are those are those accurate? If somebody tests positive for being allergic to bananas, should they no longer eat bananas.

 

Dr. Heather Finley 23:29

So I think it’s helpful to specify the difference. So between like an intolerance, a sensitivity and an allergy. So if you have a peanut allergy, you’re gonna go into anaphylaxis, and you should not eat peanuts. Like if you have an allergy, please do not eat the food that you are allergic to that is life threatening, right? If you have an intolerance, that could be something like lactose intolerance. So meaning that you don’t have the enzyme to digest the lactose in the dairy that you’re consuming, which can easily be remedied by taking the enzyme so you can’t digest lactose, you can take lactase and you can then maybe potentially have the milk that you want to have, or you could get Lactaid and drink that or lactose free versions of the dairy and you would be fine. Then we get into this like sticky ground of sensitivities, which is what a lot of people like, well, I tested on, you know, for this sensitivity, and I can’t have bananas. So what those tests are basically showing us is that you’re having an immune response to these foods. And basically what that showing us is that there’s something going on in your gut. So whenever people show me those tests, and they have 30 foods that they’re reactive to, all that’s telling me is that their gut has permeability, which is the like actual term for the very term. undetermined leaky gut, which is not a thing. But there is something called increased intestinal permeability. When your gut is permeable, meaning that the lining of the gut has holes in it, you can think of it like a cheesecloth. So if like you’re you’re trying to strain not that probably anyone does this. But like, if you have the visual of a cheesecloth, and like big curds of cheese coming through, that’s kind of what’s happening in your gut is these food proteins are coming through, and your immune system is saying, Hey, I don’t like that banana, that’s a foreign invader attack, and causing this immune response. So the hopeful part about this is when you fix the underlying gut issue than the sensitivities go away, and you don’t all of a sudden have this sensitivity to bananas, or all the 30 foods that are on your list.

 

Lindsey Lusson 25:48

Okay. Yeah. So it sounds like, in some way, sensitivities might be real, but they’re kind of a temporary thing. Is that correct?

 

Dr. Heather Finley 25:56

Yes. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to like, I guess there’s two schools of thought one is, okay, you do this sensitivity test, you have these 30 sensitivities, eliminate them, and then, you know, slowly reintroduce them after three to six months, depending on the severity of it, blah, blah, blah, or the other school of thought is okay, we see that you have the food sensitivities, let’s fix the gut and work on like healing the gut, for lack of a better term, and do that, and then you can tolerate the foods again.

 

Lindsey Lusson 26:28

Yeah, that’s great. And if somebody is in that boat, would you say what would you say? I’m sure there’s a lot more. But would you sit go Do you have like, three like top things that you would recommend just for general, gut healing or gut health.

 

Dr. Heather Finley 26:46

So the top one is managing your stress, which I know is not like the sexiest thing, I’m sure everyone’s wanting me to say like some supplement that you need to go out and buy and all that. And yes, there are supplements that can help with intestinal permeability. But obviously, you need to consult your provider on that. But your gut will continue to be quote unquote, leaky or permeable, if you are stressed, and one of the stressors on your body can be under eating. So if you’re under eating, and you’re trying to then continue to eliminate more foods, you’re just adding more stress on your body. So baseline, getting enough calories fueling your body, that’s going to decrease stress on your body. And then thinking about other stressors, you know, your relationships, your job, et cetera, et cetera. So like, number one tip, get enough, or manage your stress number two, get enough sleep, so seven to eight hours of sleep. And then really like number three, there’s a lot of different things. But as far as like something actionable, that you could actually go and apply today would be to try to actually decrease the exercise load on your body. So doing HIIT training every single day, when you have a lot of stuff going on in your gut and you have lack of a period is just adding more stress. So that kind of goes back to point number one. 

 

Lindsey Lusson 28:06

Yeah,that’s, that’s so helpful. It’s such a good reminder, because I think we forget that exercise is stress on the body. When we think about stress, we think about job, we think about relationships. So think about some of the obvious that you named, but we don’t think that eating a calorie deficit is stressful on the body. We don’t think that our high intensity interval training is stressful. So that is such a fantastic reminder. You know, another thing that I see that’s pretty trendy, and common, whenever people are having gut issues is, you know, going on some sort of restricted diet. And I know there’s good science to back this, but I also but I think sometimes people stay on these diets thinking that this is the solution if you eat this way forever. So I want to talk a little bit about the FODMAP diet. Can you explain what it is and whether or not following something like that may or may not be helpful for someone who’s experiencing period loss and gut health issues?

 

Dr. Heather Finley 29:06

Yes, you’re right. There is research to support this. But there is research to support a lot of other things that can improve your gut without doing low FODMAP. So what low FODMAP is, is it’s basically removing fermentable carbohydrates from your diet. FODMAPs are like specific, it’s a specific set of carbohydrates that ferment and cause symptoms, but most FODMAPs are a lot of FODMAPs are a prebiotic fibers meaning they feed your gut bacteria. So the long term effects of this can be starved gut bacteria. So low FODMAP is meant to be a four to six week elimination. The problem is most people make it a lifestyle and they’re like living this low FODMAP lifestyle and I’m not bloated, and this is great. And then all of a sudden they have like no good gut bacteria, because they’re so restricted, or like their life just sucks, they can’t eat well, they can’t cook with garlic. They can’t, you know, do all the things that they want to do. And so it just can become a problem down the road.

 

Lindsey Lusson 30:08

Yeah, yeah, definitely makes sense. You know, for somebody who has more severe gut issues, so we’ll just use because I hear this one a lot, like SIBO. And maybe maybe we can start by explaining what SIBO is. But something like this, let’s say someone has a specific gut health issue like SIBO. Do you think it’s possible for someone to heal their SIBO while working to get their period back? Or is it something that needs to be done? You know, one, one done first, and then the other done second?

 

Dr. Heather Finley 30:43

So I would say it depends. And I think probably because of all of the other factors, but what I will say is that if someone has SIBO, and they’re working to get their period back, and they’re, you know, either doing herbals or antibiotics for their SIBO. And they, you know, are able to eradicate the SIBO. But then they continue to not restore their period and continue to stay in a calorie deficit, then they’re more likely to have the SIBO come back. So yes, they may be able to eradicate the SIBO with the use of antibiotics or herbals. But at the end of the day, gut motility is super important for preventing SIBO from coming back. And gut motility will slow when someone isn’t eating enough. But then also, your gut bacterial balance is very important for preventing SIBO as well. And so if there is dysbiosis, or an imbalance in bacteria, and that’s caused by the under eating, or the restrictive eating that someone has, then it’s going to be the super vicious cycle. So I would say it depends on the mindset of the person, right? Like if they’re actively trying to get their period back and treating their SIBO, I think it can be successful, if they are not trying to get their period back, and they just want to get rid of the SIBO and get rid of their bloating, then more than likely, it will come back because they haven’t addressed the underlying root causes of it. And the under eating is then exacerbating some of the other root causes that can cause SIBO. 

 

Lindsey Lusson 32:21

When there ever be an instance, where you’ve feel that someone increasing the amount of the variety in their diet, basically what they need to do to get their period back would be counter to what they would need to do to heal their gut. Like, is there ever an instance where it would be beneficial to table period recovery and focus specifically on healing a specific gut issue?

 

Dr. Heather Finley 32:48

Or to say, yes, and yes and no. So we have some clients with like, really severe gastroparesis, or like, really slow gut motility, where, like, the symptoms that they’re having, are so restrictive to them eating more that they just physically can’t, because they’re so uncomfortable. And so sometimes, it’s more of working together versus like working on one thing and another. But I would say if someone’s in a situation where like, their gut motility is so slow, that they can’t pass a bowel movement that they physically cannot eat enough. Or, like, let’s say their acid reflux is so terrible that like, it’s it preventing them from being able to eat enough calories, or the bloating is just so painful and terrible than Yes, I do think that it would be helpful to work on not even necessarily resolving the gut issues to start, but like symptom management, so that then a person can eat more, and then simultaneously working together to do that. 

Lindsey Lusson 33:56

Yeah, thanks. That’s so that’s so helpful. Heather, and I mean, it sounds like it’s just gonna come down to the individual. But it sounds like there are benefits for at least doing some things for recovery. Like it’s what I’m hearing is it’s yes, there are instances where there can be severe gut issues preventing you from actually doing what you need to do to get your period back. But it also sounds like it’s never beneficial for you to continue to restrict, restrict, restrict. Even if you do have gut issues, it sounds like there needs to be kind of a multi pronged approach in doing doing both. Is that correct?

 

Dr. Heather Finley 33:56

Totally. Yeah. And a lot of the clients that we work with, like are kind of in that situation where like, like I said, not all of them have disordered eating or eating disorders, but we have many clients that are in that situation where they’re like, my doctor told me I need to do this or like, I’m really trying to restore my fertility do X, Y and Z, but my SIBO is so bad and the my Bloating is so painful and acid reflux I waking up with like a burning esophagus at night like I literally can’t do it. without the symptom management and so, like it can help the process to be a lot more enjoyable when you don’t feel awful the entire time.

 

Lindsey Lusson 35:09

Right? Yeah, it’s such a good point. I mean, everybody’s coming from such a unique situation, it’s hard to say what’s going to be the right thing for each person, but it’s good to know that there is support and there are people like you, if somebody again does have some, you know, you mentioned gastroparesis, like some very severe gut issue, and they’re experiencing period loss, there’s hope for you too. And you might need to be working with an expert like Heather, to, you know, two birds one stone and fix both things. So that’s, that’s amazing. Um, first, somebody who is missing their period, and they’re really struggling with eating enough, we’re gonna pretend for a second, there aren’t deeper gut issues going on. Because a lot of times, it is related to the restriction. That’s what I’ve seen in my practice, what would be your top three tips for somebody in getting over the hump, if you will, on learning to eat enough and reminding themselves that this is actually going to benefit your bat, what would be your top three tips and helping somebody eat more if they’re experiencing some of these digestive issues that we see?

 

Dr. Heather Finley 36:15

So I think number one would be reminding yourself that diversity is the name of the game. So the more diversity on your plate equals the more variety in your gut. And we know that the more variety of bacteria in your gut equals a lot of benefits. There’s, this could be a whole podcast episode. But there’s something called short chain fatty acids, when your gut bacteria eat fiber, they produce short chain fatty acids. And these short chain fatty acids are anti inflammatory to your body, to your brain, to your gut. And when you have those byproducts produced as a result of you eating a variety of fibers from foods, it will benefit you, you will feel better, your gut will feel better, your brain will be happier, all sorts of things. So variety is the name of the game would be the number one thing. Number two is like I guess, more kind of a mindset thing that you likely don’t want your life to revolve around your gut or your fertility for the rest of your life. And I think just keeping in mind that when you restore your gut function, and you restore your fertility, I think there’s so many parallels here, like your life transform, so you’re, there’s so much potential for the things that you can do when you’re no longer stressing about every single morsel of food. And obviously, there’s a lot of complexity there. And it’s not as easy as it sounds necessarily, but, you know, just thinking about, okay, like, like, what will I be able to do as a result of this, like taking care of myself? And then I think number three, that’s probably pretty applicable to your clients is like the generational change, you know, it’s, if you’re struggling with fertility or digestive issues, like think about how you can then transform your gut, to then transform the guts of your children,your future children.

 

Lindsey Lusson 38:14

Yes I like that. 

 

Dr. Heather Finley 38:17

There’s so much really interesting research about the gut microbiome and how we pass down our microbiome from generation to generation. So your gut microbiome is actually affecting your future grandchildren. And that’s so cool to think about, like, it’s not only affecting your children that you birth, but it’s also affecting the children that your children have. And so like what an amazing responsibility to be able to help future generations with their health.

 

Lindsey Lusson 38:47

That is so fascinating. Thank you for sharing that. I think that those are some really good motivators for people maybe struggling with their digestive issues and the period loss because it can feel kind of daunting, but like those are, those are awesome reminders and great motivators. So thanks for sharing. Okay, last one, and this is kind of off the wall, Heather, but I sometimes get you know, this hecklers on social media whenever they’re like, you know, I can make a comment on something that’s completely not relevant to the actual topic, but it makes you wonder, right? So um, I have heard from time to time that people feel that eating more, especially eating more sugar can contribute to this gut issue. Can Didya Is there any truth to the fact that eating too much sugar or eating more sugar is going to actually cause a specific gut issue and maybe even explain what Candida is so we can kind of better understand why there’s this theory that that might be true and whether or not it is actually true. 

 

Dr. Heather Finley 39:50

Yeah, so Candida is yeast overgrowth, and I feel like it’s very trendy. Everyone thinks that they have Candida, and the reality is lots of people do about Candida, but not everyone has it. And, you know, I think there’s kind of this misconception of like this star mentality. And what I mean by that is people think, well, you don’t want to feed the Candida because if you feed the Candida, then you’re gonna have symptoms. Yes, carbohydrates and sugar, do feed Candida how ever you have to feed it to kill it. So if you’re just constantly starving Candida, then you’re not actually addressing the root cause of the reason that you have Candida in the first place. A lot of our clients, we find they have Candida because they have low stomach acid. So if you address the reason for why then you don’t have to worry so much about feeding it and actually feeding it obviously, within reason. I’m not telling everyone that like, only go eat sugar or something like there’s a balance here. But like, if you can address the root cause, and you can feed it so you can kill it, then great. So yeah, like, yes, yes, it is feeding it. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Because starving, it is not what we want to do.

 

Lindsey Lusson 41:12

Yeah, I mean, the first thing that sticks out to me is that it sounds like this is one of those things that does happen. But that social media has really hyped up and saying everyone is having it. And, you know, the trendy thing to do is to go on a low sugar diet, you know, so it sounds like this is something that’s definitely been perpetuated by social media. And what I’m hearing is the solution is if you really do it, first of all, you know, find out whether or not you have this and if you do work with the gut health expert, like how they’re so she can really guide you on how to get rid of it and don’t just follow some blind advice on social media. 

 

Dr. Heather Finley 41:50

Yeah, the reason that you feel better when you don’t eat sugar if you do have Candida is because it’s not causing the symptoms of Candida because you’re not feeding it. So like, I know that the in your mind you’re thinking, Oh, I just won’t eat fruit and sugar and carbs because I feel terrible, but like, the reality is, you can’t do that for the rest of your life, nor should. And if you can get rid of the Candida. That’s, that’s the goal.

 

Lindsey Lusson 42:18

Well, thanks for answering that question. And just sharing your wealth of knowledge about gut health and the connection between restrictive eating disordered eating, period loss and some of these digestive issues.

 

Dr. Heather Finley 42:33

As always, please note that this episode, or anything discussed on this podcast is not a substitution for medical advice, and you should always consult your health practitioner before trying anything new. Thanks so much for tuning into this episode of the love Europe podcast. I love to help you understand why you’re bloated. And so that is why I have created my free quiz. Why am I bloated? In this quiz, you will learn what could potentially be causing your bloat and what you can actually do to fix it. So if you want to learn why you’re bloated and how to fix it, visit Dr. Heather finley.co backslash quiz, or visit the link in the show notes. I’ll see you next time.

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Hi, I’m Dr. Heather

Registered dietitian and helps people struggling with bloating, constipation, and IBS find relief from their symptoms and feel excited about food again.

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