Naturopath + Nutritionist Jess Blair of Wellness by Blair talks us through the connections between gut health, hormone health, stress + sleep
I have always been interested in health and wellness growing up on a farm, and have always been really into sport as well. Growing up rurally my mum often took us children to see a naturopath. I first studied nutritional medicine, and then decided I wanted to study naturopathy which is definitely my calling, I always imagined being in a job where I helped people. Since being a naturopath I have continued to study in the health field including health promotion, currently studying a short course in skin health and also my Masters in Public Health. I have worked in my own clinic for about 6 years helping women and men, I have also worked doing seminars on different health topics, as well as being a regular on TV. I have also worked with some amazing companies formulating different products, and have written a book which talks a lot about my philosophies around food, exercise and natural medicine.
What are some of the common problems your clients come to you for
Health can be so overwhelming, and when you do not feel great it is even more daunting. I would say 80 percent of my clients are women with Gut health, Stress, Sleep and hormone imbalances, some with all of them some with just one of them. They are all interconnected, you mostly see someone with all of them at once, and it’s just finding the root cause and helping support that. With our fast – paced never ending work day, I find more women are burning the candle at both ends. With hormones and chronic gut conditions, I always do recommend my clients to speak to their GP too. I think naturopathy is a great addition to main stream medicine and can work really well together. This year particularly has been extremely challenging for a lot of people going through COVID, stranded or separated from loved ones as well as trying to home school children. Gut health is something though everyone can work on every single day, stress needs to be addressed and worked on as well. I always say you can have the most perfect diet but if you are stressed all that goes out the window.
Explain the connection between gut health, hormone health, stress, and sleep and how they impact each other.
If you are stressed, the food you eat doesn’t get digested properly so your body is missing out on key nutrients that you need for all your systems to work efficiently
If you have poor gut health it can affect your happy hormones like your serotonin, which is made in your gut. It can also cause a plethora of other issues, including skin issues and even affect your immunity.
If you are lacking sleep or have poor sleep quality it can affect your hunger hormones too.
What are some signs / symptoms that one or more of these systems might be out of balance?
Every client and person I see is so different. Stress manifests and affects everyone differently too, some people can handle stress and some people find it difficult to handle stress. Also, how people choose to deal with it is different too.
Here are some of the signs and symptoms, however every client is addressed differently.
Stress can be shaky, loss of appetite, loss of weight or weight gain, tired, wired inability to concentrate.
Gut Health Cramps, pain, abdominal bloating, tired after eating, diarrhoea, constipation.
Hormones Skin changes, weight gain or weight loss, PMS, hirsutism, acne, it can really depend on the hormones that are affected too.
Do all four need to be aligned?
Yes absolutely, they all need to be addressed. Our gut is called the second brain for a reason, it’s like the motherboard, we really need to look after it and it will look after us. Some Gut issues are much more complex and serious than others and need to be addressed accordingly.
Stress and sleep deprivation can also cause havoc on many of our bodily systems.
As a naturopath, we always look for the root cause, and address the person as whole, holistically. Addressing how someone eats, sleeps, stress is really paramount to helping to treat someone but also taking into consideration their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health as well.
We all know how important sleep is for our health, and how our immune system is impacted and even our hormones from sleep deprivation!
How can women start to naturally improve all four of these aspects of their health?
The best thing you can do is address stress and your sleep and then get your gut and hormone issues looked into as they are much more complex.
Looking into your Sleep Hygiene practices, making sure you are getting quality sleep.
Sleep Hygiene Tips
- No caffeine after lunch time
- No screens an hour before bed
- No scrolling socials before bed
- Look into a magnesium supplement if you have trouble falling asleep
- Try to go to sleep and wake up the same time every day
Stress Management Techniques
- Never be afraid to ask for help from a professional
- There are herbs that are helpful in times of stress including Withania and licorice.
- Limit your caffeine
- Exercise regularly
- Learn to say NO
- Eat regularly and good wholefoods.
How long will it take to start feeling a difference?
Everyone is so different, depending on how deep rooted and complicated your health issues are, more serious gut health issues can take months to see and feel a difference, and sometimes chronic gut issues are never ‘cured’ However, some gut issues that arise that are not as serious can be balanced and addressed quite easily.
A good night sleep though you will feel the difference straight away.