Why does gut health even matter?

Our bodies host an incomprehensible amount of living organisms both good and bad. Many of these bacteria live in our intestines and our colon & play a huge role in the creation of specific nutrients, breakdown of carbohydrates & toxins, protection of our intestines from foreign invaders (pathogens/immunity), promotion of tissue repair & they help us absorb fatty acids! Your gut can even play a part in the function of your brain and of course- your mitochondria! That said, it is obvious that it is super important to maintain a good balance and bio-diversity when it comes to this fragile ecosystem of ours.

So then… what can happen if our gut is out of whack?

  • Skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, rosacea & eczema
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Poor memory or slow processing/ difficulty concentrating
  • Indigestion &/or constipation
  • Inflammation (joint pain, auto-immune disorders)
  • Poor Immunity
  • Weight Gain
  • Fatigue
  • and MUCH more…
Lets Do It!
Interested in checking up on your current gut health? I made a fun quiz for ya below! 
**This quiz is not going to give you definitive answers or information, it is very generalized. If you are interested in seriously investigating your unique gut health and working with me to improve its efficiency please email me at or visit my website at and check out my Wellness Coaching services!**


  • Grab a pen and paper to keep track of your score (points are listed to the right of each quiz questions answers- record your points per answer and total them up at the end of your quiz!)


  • After you are finished and have your total you can then return to this e-mail to read about what your results may indicate and what steps you can take to increase both your good gut bugs and the biodiversity of this bacteria!


What Does Your Total Mean?
If you scored a 10-12
Congrats! You are doing an excellent job of nurturing your good gut bacteria and allowing them to flourish! Your choices if consistent will (and do) pay off tremendously in the arena of strong immunity, gorgeous glowing skin, hormonal balance, good digestion, great nutrient uptake, energy, metabolism and more! Keep up the great work!
If you scored a 12-24
You likely have some hungry good guys in those intestines of yours and some overly satisfied bad guys. This range is very reasonable and understandable when considering the lifestyle we are encouraged to lead in our modern world; however there is plenty of room here to improve decision making and feel even better by developing healthy habits that will encourage an abundance of good gut bugs in your micro-biome. You are most likely in the middle ground which means whatever direction you take from here can determine your future quality of life. Intentional, purposeful decisions mean the difference between moving forward in a positive or negative direction. Encouraging the good gut bacteria to prosper will result in improved immunity, improved digestion, improved skin tone and texture, improved energy levels, improved nutrient uptake and utilization, improved metabolism function, improved hormonal processes, and balance as well as a ton of other great benefits! Encouraging your bad bacteria to flourish through a high intake of sugar and processed foods (along with some other variables) can end up causing what is called “leaky gut” (where the mucosal lining of your stomach wears away and allows certain toxic substances to leach through into your bloodstream causing inflammation and a whole host of other problems) or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). See my top tips for good gut health that accompany this E-mail for some great suggestions as to what steps you can take to move forward from here positively.
If you scored a 24-40
It is highly likely that you are suffering from a few of the various symptoms that stem from a leaky gut or an unhealthy microbiome. If not, then inflammation, frustrating skin conditions, brain fog, low energy levels and/or other super crumby symptoms may be in your near future. I recommend checking out the tips I’ve offered in this E-mail to start rebalancing that delicate ecosystem of yours! These positive lifestyle changes don’t have to be drastic or all at once. Just start by incorporating one or two changes at a time, as you feel comfortable and you will be well on your way to healing your gut & enhancing your quality of life! You can take this even further by working with a nutritionist (I’d personally recommend one that takes a holistic approach) to create a personalized strategy based on your own unique symptoms, goals and lifestyle habits!

No Matter Your Total, I’d Like to Share Some Steps You Can Take To Either Maintain Or Begin to Promote A Healthy Gut Microbiome & Improve Digestion!

Probiotics & Prebiotics
Most of us have heard of probiotics solely from the recent increase in popularity but what are they? Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts within our intestines & do wonderful things for our health. These guys are responsible for immune function, the creation of specific vitamins and for efficient digestion. Probiotics are the good microorganisms or “gut bugs” that we want living in our small intestine. You can get them through specific types of food or in supplement form. If you prefer to use a probiotic supplement know that there are various probiotic products to choose from. In short, when choosing a probiotic you will want to be sure to check the CFUs (colony forming units) to ensure that they are in the billions, take a peek at the expiration date to ensure it is still alive and potent (it should specifically say that it is viable through its expiration) and do a little digging on that particular brand’s quality. Generally speaking, if the product is bargain priced it will likely not be the most effective. Quality does cost a little more. As far as incorporating probiotic-rich foods into your diet goes- try (properly) fermented foods! This is something that is super easy to do at home and I highly recommend looking up some recipes and getting direction so that you can create your own fermented foods. Plain (no sugar or flavors) organic, grass-fed yogurt and kefir are also effective. To take it one step further I would highly recommend looking into taking a prebiotic (in layman’s terms-probiotic food) to feed those good gut bugs and encourage them to develop and flourish!


Increase your veggie intake & keep some raw
Three words- Taste The Rainbow! Fiber is incredibly encouraging when it comes to increasing your ratio of good to bad gut bacteria and veggies are one of the most wholesome ways you can get this fiber. Processed foods actually deplete your good gut bugs and encourage the bad guys. Furthermore, veggies (of every color) contain various vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants which will support many healing processes and even enhance natural beauty! Our small intestine is responsible for the absorption of vitamins and minerals so as we improve it let’s also give it the tools it needs to do what it does best! Raw veggies will provide you with digestive enzymes that will enhance nutrient uptake and decrease the energy demand on your body for digestion! I always suggest starting with an enzyme-rich salad before the main entre for this very reason.
Eat your bitters! Specifically right before or with a meal in order to increase digestibility
This can be coupled with the salad suggestion above. Bitters are something that our bodies contain specific receptors for, they are THAT important! There are so many bitter herbs (you can google) that can be used to flavor your cooking as well as many stand-alone bitter foods that you can consume to start using them now! Bitters have that pungent or bitter flavor. Examples include peppermint, ginger, lemon, dill, coffee, (very) dark chocolate or cacao, arugula, dandelion, chamomile and more… Bile and hydrochloric acid production plays a HUGE role in digestion and even cleansing your food before it is passed to the small intestine. Without proper “cleansing” of that (now digested) food, any bad bacteria can pass through, hang out & grow in our small intestine which can lead to SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). You can research for yourself to learn more about SIBO and what can happen with this imbalance. Try making those salads I talked about above with bitter greens or including dill or peppermint (or any of the other various herbs) in your cooking. Sip on some ginger or peppermint tea throughout the day or add lemon to your water!
Try to keep your beverages & meals separate
This is simple. You don’t want to dilute your digestive juices and enzymes too much. Keeping things concentrated by keeping liquids minimal before eating can encourage maximum break down & cleansing of foods leading to better absorption of nutrients, less bad bacteria passing to the small intestine and minimal digestive discomfort.

Eat Organic
Pesticides were created to poison insects in order to prevent them from eating crops. With this in mind, it is pretty common sense to consider what pesticides will do to our good gut bugs… it will kill them and decrease diversity within the microbiome. In order to maintain their integrity and a healthy balance within this delicate live ecosystem of ours, it is wise to keep poisonous toxic substances to an absolute minimum. If you purchase organically grown produce then you can rest assured that you are not ingesting pesticides. This same statement goes for genetically modified foods. If you cannot shop organic then do your best to avoid GMO’s as these foods are actually developed to grow with the pesticide as a part of the plant, therefore it cannot be washed off.

Enjoy some grass-fed butter!
Butter is an incredible addition to the diet for so many different reasons but when we are talking gut health specifically my reasoning is because it contains a short-chain fatty acid that is crucial for good gut health called butyrate. Quality is key here though. When shopping for butter be sure that it is grass-fed, preferably organic and yellow in color. The reason for the grass-fed bit is due to the fact that it has been scientifically proven that when butter comes from cows raised on grain instead of grazing in pastures it is actually devoid of critically important compounds that your body thrives on- one example would be conjugated linoleic acid (or CLA for short) which some studies have shown can potentially prevent cancer! Use butter on your veggies or in your legumes or grains- just be sure to remember that it has a smoke point of 300 degrees therefore it is not ideal for high heat cooking.
Avoid Fried and Processed Foods
Unfortunately, though they taste oh so good, these foods break down into components that the bad bacteria love to live off of. When we eat fried & processed foods we are essentially feeding the bad guys and encouraging them to thrive. Studies have actually demonstrated that fried and processed foods greatly reduce the diversity of our overall gut bacteria which can have pretty severe consequences on our health. Try re-training your taste buds to love whole unprocessed foods.
Decrease sugars & if your carbohydrate intake is high- that too!
As with the fried and processed foods- sugar feeds the bad guys and gives them exactly what they need to thrive. Carbohydrates are converted to sugars in the body therefore, in excess, it can disrupt your bacterial balance causing the balance to shift in a negative way.

Don’t rush meals, eat intentionally
Digestion starts in the brain. All it takes is the mere thought that we are going to eat to stimulate the digestive system and get it moving. In our modern ways of doing things, we are often eating in a hurry and on the go. In order to prepare and enhance our digestive processes it is important to take our time and eat intentionally- chewing well and really (mentally) enjoying our food will further stimulate the release of bile and hydrochloric acid which again, will ensure that your stomach is more effective at killing bad bacteria before it enters your small intestine and breaking your meal down for enhanced nutrient absorption and utilization.

So guys- I really hope you enjoyed getting to know your gut a little better! Thanks so much for taking my Gut Check Quiz!! Have a lovely day friend!

Yours Truly,
Haley Marsteiner                          Haleys logo

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3655 W 13th Ave

Eugene, OR 97402-3487

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