Wellness Starts from the Inside Out

Wellness Starts from the Inside Out

By: Dr. Naika Apeakorang

Optimal gut health is one of the most important foundations of health. Fueling our bodies with foods that nourish and heal us, while supporting our gut microbiome, is key to optimizing our digestion. Gut health is so important because it is connected to our mental and emotional wellness, vaginal health, immune health, and so much more. What’s the major connector of these health systems? The gut microbiome, or, the community of trillions of microorganisms that work together to keep harmful bacteria at bay, defend us against pathogens, and keep our internal world in a state of harmony.

With the holiday season slowly creeping up, it’s even more important to care for our gut, as we make our way through all the delicious and indulgent treats. As the holidays approach, sugar, heavy carbs, gluten, dairy, meat, and alcohol become a much bigger part of our diets. And though they are delicious, they can have some unwanted impacts on our health, such as digestive discomfort, microbiome imbalances, low energy, and more. By taking some simple, yet proactive steps to care for our gut, we can gently and responsibly enjoy some of that mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, pies, and alcohol that will be gracing our tables all season long.

The link between gut health and vaginal health:

Your gut health and vaginal health are largely connected via the microbiome. Therefore, when our microbiome gets shook up due to diet, stress, illness or other factors, we can actually see the manifestations of this in our vagina. Let’s say that you went to a big holiday gathering and came out of it with leftovers galore that you continued to eat every day. You may start to feel symptoms of consuming that bevy of different foods. Excess sugar, alcohol, dairy, etc. can disrupt your microbiome and cause digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, flatulence, acid reflux, and more. But you might also notice some changes in your vaginal environment, as your pH starts to shift due an overall imbalance. This could look like a change in vaginal odor or vaginal discharge, or even the early signs of a BV (bacterial vaginosis) or yeast infection.

Diet is key for managing our microbiome. We can nourish our gut and vaginal health by making health-supportive dietary choices. While we should all give ourselves the grace and space to enjoy some holiday goodies, you can do so by prioritizing your microbiome. Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables on your daily plate, incorporating probiotic supplements and Probiotic foods into your diet (such as kombucha, miso, sauerkraut and probiotic yogurt), and avoiding your known dietary triggers, will all invite some nutritional balance and help you to feel your best.

It’s important to note another key factor, beyond diet, which can impact your gut and vaginal health. And that key factor is stress, which can absolutely be exacerbated during the holiday season. Stress can affect our energy levels, our digestion, our sleep patterns, and our mental health. Whether it’s due to juggling all of your holiday events, dealing with the financial pressures of gift-giving, struggling with isolation and loneliness, meeting end-of-year work deadlines, or being emotionally triggered at family gatherings, stress can have a direct impact
on our microbiome. So, it’s really important to take extra good care of ourselves and each other all year round but most notably during this time of the year. We can do this through exercise, mindfulness, as well as self and community care.

Another highly effective way you can care for both your gut health and vaginal health is to take a probiotic, which can help you maintain a balanced microbiome. The Honey Pot Co.’s Vaginal Care Probiotic with Urinary Support equips your microbiome with good bacteria to support key bodily functions. It also contains inulin, a prebiotic soluble fiber that nourishes the gut bacteria,
and antioxidant-rich pomegranate and cranberries, which protect against the growth of “bad bacteria” (harmful pathogens which can cause disease).

5 Practical gut-optimizing tips for the holiday season:

  1. Fill up on greens before eating indulgent foods.
  2. Portion is key! During holiday meals, start with smaller portions, then go back for seconds if you’re still hungry.
  3. Honor your satiety and fullness cues. Stop eating before you actually feel the sensation of fullness in your stomach or any abdominal discomfort.
  4. Incorporate supplements into your wellness regimen to support your gut health, such as a probiotic.
  5. Incorporate mindfulness strategies to navigate through the stress of the season. This could look like forming and maintaining boundaries, incorporating meditations in your day, or taking time-outs when you feel overwhelmed by your surroundings.

Wishing you a happy holiday season and an even happier microbiome!