Naomi battled in the past with anxiety and addiction, and ultimately triumphed after transforming her mental and physical health by fixing her gut.
This experience makes her a compassionate and determined coach. When you combine this with her geeky academic credentials and enthusiastic passion for the subject of gut health, the result is formidable.
Overcoming Stress & Anxiety Naturally
I was brought up in Wales on a farm, loved the outdoors and came from a loving family. I am one of 4 siblings – an older sister and two younger brothers.
When I was 7 years old my father committed suicide. I don’t remember grieving at all and just muddled on as you do, putting on a brave face.
My older sister and I were sent off to boarding school when I was 9.
Coming from a local state school in the middle of Wales this was a huge change and I felt completely out of my depth and incredibly insecure.
I had a constant underlying fear and anxiety that I wasn’t able to express at the time. How does a child talk about such a thing? Holding onto these kinds of fears and feelings of insecurity from such a young age becomes a deeply rooted habit and difficult to shake off.
I dreaded being asked ‘what does your daddy do?’ by my friends. I managed to dodge the question on many occasion, but I felt on edge all the time. I had endless sleepless nights and was always the only one awake in the dormitory.
Bouts of insomnia continued to plague me over the years until I turned my health around (more on that below).
Using Alcohol to Cope
I found the transition from school to university difficult. Having come from a boarding school with all my friends around me I actually had to go and meet people! Looking back, I was actually incredibly scared and anxious.
My coping mechanism was to party hard with drink and drugs. This continued throughout my 3 years at university.
I later moved to London for work and carried on much the same (minus the drugs). As the years went on I suffered more and more with anxiety and bouts of depression.
I carried on drinking but now also started taking anti-depressants. I couldn’t go to a social occasion without being slightly ‘gone’ already. I carried anxiety around with me everywhere. I tried to drown it out with alcohol but it was a losing battle.
I was very dependent on booze and did many things that I am not proud of. It was the only thing that enabled me to get through stressful times, relax in the evening, sleep, socialise or stop the anxious feelings and continuous thoughts.
I was very up and down, sometimes feeling good and having a great time. On the down side I was a nervous wreck and panic attacks were all too familiar.
Lip trembling, heart racing, sweating profusely was common for me even just around friends. So I stopped seeing my friends and soon it felt like I had lost everyone. I knew I needed to make an effort to see people but I just found it too stressful.
Something needed to change, I needed to do something to make me feel good about myself and to boost my self-esteem. I was in need of a massive transformation!
Ironically, even though I have abused my body in the past, from a really young age I have always been very interested in health and this was the area I turned to.
I enrolled at the College of Naturopathic Medicine to study Nutritional Therapy. I wanted to help others but slowly figured out I had to sort my own problems out first. I was no good to anyone the way that I was!
Studying nutritional therapy exceeded all my expectations and it was the best decision I ever made. I discovered that it is so much more than just healthy eating: it is a completely holistic view of health, tapping into your mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing.
In the end, by repairing my gut I was able to turn my entire physical and mental state around.
Thanks to this transformation I am now completely free from the torturous chronic anxiety that I carried with me for so many years. I am no longer dependant on alcohol, and that feels so good to say!
I want to share with you some more details of how I get myself better With the right knowledge and guidance you can do it too!
I started by talking to a nutritional therapist. Yes, there were tears and I was a mess but that in itself was very therapeutic and part of the healing process.
Lab Test Results
I love science and geeky facts so I wanted to do some testing to see what was going on in my body in black and white. The tests showed I had:
- High levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) which is closely linked to being in a state of high anxiety. This made sense and explained why I would wake up with a racing heart every morning and then have an energy crash at 8.30pm when was body was exhausted.
- Dysbiosis in my gut (imbalance of gut bacteria). I used to get sugar cravings all the time, which I now know is linked to bad bacteria. My good bacteria levels were so low that I wasn’t producing the right level of neurotransmitters – namely serotonin (the happy hormone) and GABA (the anti-anxiety hormone). Our body actually needs the help of good bacteria to produce these neurotransmitters.
- Severe deficiency in B vitamins, which is closely linked to depression. This makes sense because alcohol impairs absorption of vitamins. Also good bacteria are needed to produce B vitamins and mine had left town.
- Low tryptophan levels which is the precursor to serotonin
- A lot more issues too!
The Steps to Healing
I focused on reducing my alcohol intake. I didn’t stop drinking completely but I cut down considerably. Alcohol has so many implications to mental wellbeing. For example it impairs the movement of tryptophan (the precursor to serotonin) across the blood brain barrier
To get the best results I followed a systematic ‘5R’ gut repair protocol which involved:
REMOVING the underlying cause of imbalance including any bad bacteria that were residing in my gut through the use of correct food and supplements.
REPAIRING my gut lining as there was a high probability that this was leaky and inflamed. A leaky gut can lead to undesired particles such as toxins, bad bacteria or undigested particles passing into the bloodstream, causing inflammation throughout the body and the brain. Depression is an inflammatory illness so it is important to reduce inflammation in the body for optimal mental wellbeing.
REPLACING essential digestive enzymes to aid in digestion and absorption. An insufficiency will inhibit digestion and utilisation of nutrients. This means that vital nutrients pass through the body unabsorbed and unused.
REINTRODUCING good bacteria through probiotic supplements and later through fermented food and drink. This further supported my gut repair and increased neurotransmitter production. 90% of the body’s serotonin is made in the gut with the help of these good bacteria.
RETAINING a healthy gut through healthy eating, exercise, stress management, proper sleep and continuing to maintain a diet that supports my healthy bacteria.
As well as following this gut repair protocol, I also took steps to support my parasympathetic nervous system. This is the resting and calming side of our nervous system as opposed to our sympathetic nervous system (our fight or flight) which my body was in 99% of the time. This helped my body to calm down and reduce my anxiety, aid me in a good night sleep and to lift my mood.
In turn this helped me stop reaching for the alcohol. This was huge for me as up until this point the only way I knew how to relax was to have a drink.
I’m now full of energy and loving life! Fixing my gut was the key to getting rid of the anxiety that had made my life a misery since childhood.
I now know just how much our gut health affects us, as if it were the roots of a tree. It’s not only about our digestive system but also our mood and mental health. On top of that the state of our gut has a direct impact on our immune system and metabolism. In other words it affects every system of our body and our entire wellbeing!
Whilst practicing nutritional therapy, I have worked with many different clients of ranging symptoms and concerns. These include typical gut issues such as IBS and Crohn’s to further afield health complaints such as anxiety and depression, autoimmune disorders and allergies as well as fertility support to name a few.
It makes me so happy to have helped so many people already and can’t wait to help you too.