My gut feeling is it all starts here!

Illawarra Athletic Health Hack: this week and for many weeks to come I’m going to discuss gut health and it’s relationship to your fitness levels regardless of if you’re a beginner taking those first few steps in reclaiming your life, a fitness junkie who is always looking for that white unicorn option to optimise your health within your busy life or the seasoned athlete looking for that “one-up” on your competition. Illawarra Athletic Health Hack will do it’s best to bring you the answers. For a while we will be discussing gut health and its massive role in what you’re trying to achieve by leading the active lifestyle you lead, whether weight management, an illness, health maintenance or performance.

As your destiny is to change humanity and be a representative of Team Health our vision at Illawarra Athletic, as may or may not be aware is to create walking/talking cyborgs so that you could be sent back in time to protect your pubescent teenager father from being assassinated by a overweight hitman from the sugar industry that is under heavy fire from health-seeking people such as yourself.


Right! I’ve “scratched” my movie analogy “itch”, let’s get down to brass tacks. Diets and weight control methods in the 21st century are about as difficult as trying to find the right shade of white paint for your interior walls from the colour cards at Bunnings, there are too many choices and you always end up choosing the wrong 5 choices before you get it right. In recent years calories have been all the craze, although counting has a use it is not the be and end all in terms of health and/or weight control. The problem is that many people who embark on a health breakthrough journey start with caloric control only to come up empty-handed in terms of a result. The people who we counsel for the most part eat as much as they like ant the food itself has the regulating properties within it.


In the western culture we are so bombarded with industrialised foods and this throws our insides way out of sync. In this instance I’m talking about gut bacteria as a collective otherwise known as your gut microbiome. Wheat, added sugar, too much meat (clean or processed), dairy all contribute to throwing our gut bacteria out of whack. The problem is that for many people in the western world the foods I mentioned above make up most of the foods they eat and therefore their gut bacteria balance is way off. This leads to some of the problems that have unfortunately become normal in today’s society, for instance leaky gut syndrome (inflammation) which leads to unwanted weight gain as well as arthritis, dementia, heart disease, cancer, mental health, learning disorders and infertility to name just a few. What’s worse is we can now trace up to 90% of the problems we face in the western world in regards to health relate back to problems in the gut? It seems like an inflated number, but it is not! Yes those bugs many people are so scared of and use hand sanitiser to kill actually help us by keeping us healthy.

But many will chase the smoke rather than eliminate the fire. You see in this instance many will go and buy a commercial probiotic (Inner Health Plus for example) and also do nothing about changing their current diet. Their attempts at starting a new bacterial colony in their gut are short lived as their habits that got them there in the first place are still there. Therefore they MUST add the probiotic culture as well as change their foods to match the to support the new culture.


“Where do I start?” You may ask.

  • First you need to be willing to make a change! I always start with this with the people we consult with. If you want change but are not willing to change the likelihood of success is greatly diminished!
  • Once you have decided that change is for you need to identify what it is that has caused a shift in the first place. Notice here I did not say replace, I just said identify. The main culprits are:
    • Refined vegetable oils (canola, soybean, corn etc.)
    • Processed carbohydrates (wheat, processed grains)
    • Pasteurised dairy products
    • Processed and bad quality meat, poultry and eggs
    • Added sugar (not just ‘sugar’ sugar, most don’t know that most packet foods have added sugar)
    • Trans-fat foods.
  • Increase prebiotic food intake with every meal, the fibrous nature of these foods means you can eat pretty much as much as you like as the food will give you satiety.
  • Use a high quality, dairy free probiotic supplement to lay the foundations of your new friendly bacteria colony.

Don’t bury your head in the sand with this. Don’t fall into the “well everyone else is doing it” trap, just cause everyone shops at Woolies or Coles does not mean that it’s right for you too. There is a reason why more than half of Australian adults are overweight or worse and it is the same reason why one in four Australian children are overweight. By first fixing the gut you have in one single move eliminated.

In summary:

Your nutrition and your gut health are by far the most important thing in regards to your health/weight management. Although important it dwarfs the importance of exercise multiple times over.

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