Dani Conway, of Nutrition the Natural Way is a certified holistic lifestyle coach, advanced metabolic typing advisor, Kalish Method functional medical practitioner, functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner and expert on ketogenic nutrition... phew! She's here to answer some questions on all things gut and hormone health - check out her site for more info via the links below.

You mentioned you used to work a corporate job. What made you transition into the health and wellness field? What advice do you have for people who are working in jobs in which they are unhappy or unfulfilled?

I have always had a deep passion for nutrition, fitness and wellness. Yet the traditional jobs in this industry never really resonated with me because most of them required a lot of math, statistics and working in a hospital or some type of rehab facility. I was let go from my last corporate job extremely unexpectedly. It was super scary when it happened as I was newly engaged and we were planning our wedding with no financial help. When I told my fiancé (and now husband of 11 years) that I lost my job, he responded with “Congratulations! You’ve just earned yourself all the time in the world to do everything you’ve always wanted to do!” I was extremely confused at first, in good way, as of course I was not expecting this!! Then super grateful to realize that I could actually have a career that matched my deep passions and help others at the same time. I researched and received my certifications in holistic nutrition and functional medicine and opened my private practice. This was over 11 years ago and I’ve never looked back!

Advice… not to sound cliché, but JUST DO IT! Do whatever you can to get into a career that is fulfilling for you. And if it takes time? It’s totally worth it. In that process of getting there, make sure you’re doing things that you enjoy personally on a weekly basis. This will help to avoid ruts, irritability and moodiness!! Keep a gratitude journal and focus on positivity!

Focusing on digestive balance and gut health, what are some simple changes people can make to get more balanced and feel better on a daily basis?

Balancing digestion and overall gut health can be challenging. I struggled with my own gut health issues for years. What we have to realize is that it’s about strengthening our bodies! Removing sugar and processed foods may seem obvious, though definitely check those labels on “healthy” foods and be sure they’re free of preservatives and things that you don’t know how to pronounce! If you cannot pronounce an ingredient, or multiple ingredients, your body will definitely have trouble metabolizing them. Removing gluten is also essential for gut healing as well as it is truly one of the most inflammatory foods that is added in places that you would not even suspect!

Nutrient dense smoothies are a wonderful way to pack the nutrients in, and increase nutrient absorption, especially for someone with digestive issues. Collagen Peptides and bone broth protein powder are great for rebalancing. I love Vital Proteins! Fresh herbs like cilantro are wonderful for absorbing toxins and helping them pass through the system. Here is the recipe for my Cilantro Smoothie! http://nutritionthenaturalway.com/lowcarbsmoothie/

I also like to add products like Designs for Health L-glutamine and Vital Nutrients DGL that both play an integral role in really helping to things calm down in the stomach and intestines!

Last and not least, probiotics are extremely beneficial for gut health. Klaire is my favorite brand and I love either the Therbiotic 100 billion or their Metabolic Formula. Actually, they have an amazing Women’s Health Formula as well!

There is a lot of discussion lately regarding hormonal health and whether birth control is the best option for women. What is your take on this? What are some natural ways women can help balance their hormones?

Honestly, I do not agree that birth control is the best option for hormone balancing in women. The reason birth control is given to women with hormonal symptoms is because it suppresses all of our natural hormone production, and in turn the hope is that this will cause the symptoms to go away. It very well might. However, this is just a Band-Aid and not a long term solution to a problem, as the use of synthetic hormones on a long term basis shuts down any and all natural hormone production.

Natural hormone balance should absolutely be addressed with “food first!” Good quality protein and good fats need to be consumed on a daily basis as hormones LOVE these foods. Cholesterol is at the top of the chain, so to speak, for hormone production and we need good dietary fat in order to give the hormone pathways a chance to functional properly and rebalance. There are also tons of herbs that can help depending on the individual situation. Functional testing is also great to really see what’s going on to determine further needed solutions. It’s important not to just go for a general recommendation for a symptom. Two women can present with the exact same symptoms (cramps, irritability, depression), yet hormone levels can be completely different and therefore the rebalancing protocol would be different as well. We also can’t forget about the value of lifestyle factors such as walking, meditation, grounding and avoiding blue light exposure an hour before bed!

What is the one message you try to get across to your clients regarding their overall health and well-being?

Nutrition is the foundation for everything that we do! If we’re eating foods that aren’t right for our body and metabolism, in general and/ or they’re not in the correct amounts of each, then it is very challenging to create true, balanced health. Think of creating health as a layering process… nutrition first as the “foundation.” You can’t build a house on a muddy foundation, right?! You need cement! Figure out those ideal Macros (proteins, fats + carbs) that are right for YOU! Same with our body systems. We cannot have balanced hormones and digestive systems without a solid metabolic foundation.

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