Did you know it takes 17 years on average for new research to reach your primary care doctor's office? Discover the latest, powerful information in gut health science, so you can feel great from the inside out.
Your happiness. Your energy. Your confidence. Your health.
74% of people live every day with embarrassing and uncomfortable issues such as bloating, constipation, reflux, or irregular stools.
It doesn’t have to be this way. And even minor issues can signal larger imbalances.
Gut Health with Dr. Mary Pardee will empower you to get to the root cause of what’s actually happening in your gut, so you can work with your doctor to heal your gut and know how to care for it the rest of your life.
This is one of our most comprehensive and eye-opening courses. Join this course if you…
Dr. Mary Pardee is a functional medicine practitioner and Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in integrative gastroenterology, gut-brain health, hormones, and thyroid optimization. Her practice, modrn, offers the best of conventional medicine, naturopathic medicine, and functional medicine with a focus on preventative healthcare.
Here at Commune, learning is a daily experience: Once you sign up, you will receive a daily email with access to the course videos. This encourages you to develop a habit of wellness! After 5 days, the free period will end and the course will lock. If you want immediate access to the full course and the entire Commune course library, you can sign up for Commune Membership.
Part 1: Introduction to Gut Health
Fun fact: your gut has its own nervous system!
Your gut is known as the second brain because it contains 200 million neurons. The gut has the ability to function totally on its own! It also houses a colony of microbes, known as the gut microbiota, that have the ability to shift our mood, hormones, and affect our energy levels.
Over the course of the next 10 days, you're going to get the full scoop on, well, poop but plenty more such as the role that our nutrition, nervous system, and hormones play in our gut health. What happens in the gut does not stay in the gut, and we will discuss how important the gut-brain connection is for our health and wellness optimization.
Part 2: How Digestion Works
The GI tract is a long tube that's on the outside of your body. You might be thinking, "Wait, what? The outside? Last time I checked my guts were inside of me."
Think of your body like a roll of paper towels. The cardboard interior of the paper towel roll is actually on the outside, and the GI tract is the same way. It's a continuous tube that runs from your mouth to your anus and is technically on the outside of your body (mind-bending, right?).
Today, we take a closer look at the full digestion process. You'll learn how the body breaks down food like kale and chicken to single amino acids, fats, and glucose which are absorbed into the intestinal wall and made into energy by our cells. And that energy is what powers your life ... and makes it possible for you to enjoy the activities you love.
Part 3: What Healthy Poop Looks & Smells Like
Ever wondered if your poop is healthy? From the look of it to the smell and size, you’ll find out today.
Poop size, color, smell, and texture can offer valuable information about your health. Clay-colored poop, for example, might suggest an issue with your gallbladder and two-inch “pellet” poops could signal you are not eating enough food. You'll leave today's lesson with all the facts you need to know to make sure your number two ranks number one.
Part 1: The Gut-Brain Connection
There’s a powerful connection between gut health and how we feel. Did you know that your gut health can contribute to brain-based issues like anxiety, depression, and ADHD? Anxiety might be contributing to our gut issues, but there are likely gut issues that are perpetuating anxiety as well.
Today’s lesson takes a closer look at the connection between your gut and your brain. This relationship is bilateral, meaning both are likely affecting us - our gut is affecting our mood, but our mood is also affecting our gut. You can’t treat one without treating the other.
Part 2: Mindful Eating (Where Digestion Begins)
Most of us eat the majority of our meals on the go or quickly, and we wonder why we have reflux, constipation, and bloating. How often do you find yourself in situations like these? You're running from meeting to meeting, and in between, you eat a protein bar and a handful of nuts. Or you are driving in traffic and fit in a quick meal.
Mindful eating is the practice of looking at your food, smelling it, and being present before you start to eat. Digestion starts with sight. We need to be able to see our food so our brains understand we’re eating. We need to switch our thoughts to be excited and grateful for the food that we eat so that it fully nourishes us. The mouth being coated with saliva at the very sight of a meal is a key component in healthy digestion.
Part 1: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Infections in the gut can cause interference in the communication between the gut and the brain. For example: If you get food poisoning, travelers diarrhea, or you contract giardia while you are camping, this can change the way that your gut functions … even years later.
Today, we dive into the most commonly diagnosed functional GI disorder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), including common causes, treatment options, and how your lifestyle (read: stress!) can exacerbate the symptoms. Conventional medicine believes that it's partly due to anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders as well as stress, but it turns out that IBS can have multiple causes.
Part 2: Testing for IBS
Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be caused by a wide array of conditions. So, how do you know what you should be checking for?
In the following lesson, you'll learn the different kinds of tests that are available to examine your gastrointestinal health, such as a complete blood count and stool tests to rule out a parasite or infection. You'll also learn actionable tips that you can start doing right now to improve your gut health.
Part 3: The Cause of Chronic Diarrhea
If your pancreas isn't functioning optimally, it's not producing the digestive enzymes needed to break down your food. And if we don’t break down fat, we can get loose stools (aka diarrhea).
The focus of this lesson is to educate you on the chronic causes of loose stools, which include gallbladder issues, pancreatic insufficiency, and the use of other medications. Having chronic diarrhea can be dangerous due to dehydration, so it's important to find and treat the root cause.
Part 1: Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Acute inflammation is essential for the healing process to occur. Inflammation repairs wounds and fights off infections. However, once it starts occurring for prolonged periods of time, chronic inflammation becomes an issue.
Think of today's lesson as a crash course on Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), which occurs when the immune system is dysregulated and there is an inappropriate immune response to the microbiota in the GI tract. We'll discuss the symptoms, causes, tests, and treatment options to improve your quality of life.
Part 2: Helminthic Therapy
Autoimmune conditions occur when your own immune system starts attacking your body’s cells. But why does this confusion happen?
One hypothesis is that our body is designed to be constantly scanning the environment for pathogens; but when we are too clean and aren't exposed to dirt and nature, our immune system starts to get bored and may even start to attack our own body.
One possible solution to this is helminthic therapy. The use of parasitic worms can actually be used to treat certain conditions. Yup, we are introducing worms to help the healing process!
Part 1: The Gut & Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD)
You shouldn't feel uncomfortable after eating, yet Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) is one of the most common reasons that patients visit a physician in the US. In fact, in 2000, there were over 96,000 hospital admissions for GERD alone.
Chronic unmanaged reflux and esophagitis can also lead to Barrett's esophagus, which increases the risk of esophageal cancer.
If the food that is supposed to nourish you is actually causing you discomfort, then it’s time to make it a priority to figure out and address what is going on.
Part 2: Leaky Gut & Food Intolerances
Your cells sit next to each other like bricks in a building. There should not be any space between them. But when there's damage, these tight junctions can become leaky.
One of the main symptoms of a leak is when foods that should be healthy like broccoli, apples, or squash cause GI complaints like constipation, diarrhea, bloating gas, or stomach upset.
If you are dealing with bloating, brain fog, fatigue, or skin issues, you are going to want to take notes during today’s lesson because “leaky gut” could be the culprit. Together, we'll learn the causes, symptoms, conventional and holistic treatments, as well as the link between food sensitivities and a leaky gut.
Part 3: Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivity is a big, big topic that can be easily misunderstood.
After all, what is it? Is it the same as an allergy? How do you know if you have one? Are there certain triggers?
Food allergies and food sensitivities are not the same thing. An allergy is an immune reaction to a foreign particle, and you know right away due to experiencing allergic reactions. If you have a food sensitivity, on the other hand, the reaction is typically delayed and more nuanced. You might be exposed, but you may not experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, or brain fog until hours or even days later.
When inflammation or an imbalance in the microbiome is causing issues, removing the foods that exacerbate these issues is not the solution. You need to figure out why there is inflammation, and you need to rebalance the microbes in your gut.
Part 4: The Importance of Neuroinflammation
Neuroinflammation, which is inflammation of the brain, helps repair the brain when there is injury. It’s the body’s natural response. But again, a problem arises when it becomes chronic or severe.
Inflammation of the brain can have a huge effect on our ability to digest foods because it disrupts the communication between the gut and the brain, two systems that are intimately linked. Symptoms of chronic neuroinflammation are brain fog, fatigue, slow cognitive processing, and unclear thoughts.
While research on the connection between gut health and brain health continues to grow, one thing clear:we need a healthy gut to ensure a healthy brain.
Part 1: The Gut Microbiome (Good & Bad Gut Bacteria)
Here’s a fact you may need to read twice: 99% of the genes that make you, well, you are from bacteria (yes, bacteria!), and only 1% of your genes are human. This means that 99% of our genes can be changed.
To truly understand digestion, we first need to understand the gut microbiome. With 99% of our genes being microbial, we need to start to use the term holobiont instead of human. Holobiont refers to the fact that we are the collection of human cells along with all of the microorganisms.
We are an ecosystem, and anything that can shift the microbiome will shift these genes.
Part 2: How the Microbiome Affects Our Health
Gut bugs are a good thing.
We have symbiotic relationships with them: they get a home, and we get their beneficial effects on our immune system, metabolism, brain health and so much more. But how do these microbes actually affect our health?
In the following video, we'll look at how our microbiome affects our health, both positively and negatively. For instance, your microbes are able to produce B vitamins that are needed for detoxification, whereas a lack of good microbes might make you feel overwhelmed and reduce your ability to handle stressors.
You'll also learn ways to optimize your gut microbiota and make your microbiome bulletproof. Because happy gut bugs equal a happy gut.
Part 1: Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT)
You’ve heard of transplants for the heart, the liver, the kidney. Did you know there’s also transplants for feces? It’s called a fecal transplant, or FMT. But why in the world would anyone ever have one done?
During FMT, feces from a healthy donor is turned into a slurry mixture, which is then rectally infused into the colon of someone who has a condition such as C. diff that may benefit from changing the microbiome.
This procedure can help restore the terrain that should be in a person’s gut but, for some reason, has been disturbed.
Part 2: Probiotics vs Prebiotics
Probiotics: It’s way more than a buzzword. Nowadays, many people are turning to probiotics to optimize their gut microbiome, but there are many questions that remain to be addressed. Do probiotics really help? Should everyone take a probiotic? How should you decide which one to take? What do those strains of bacteria even do? And should you be consuming fermented foods?
In this lesson, we are going to hit all of these points and address the differences between prebiotics, which is the food that feeds our microbes, and probiotics, or the microbes themselves. You'll also learn when you should and shouldn't supplement your current diet with probiotics, because too much of a good thing is never a good thing.
Part 1: How Sex Hormones Affect Our Digestion
For every 1 man that has IBS, there are 5 women who have it.
Today, we look at the relationship between your sex hormones and gut health. Estrogen and progesterone receptors are found in the GI tract. Progesterone, for instance, plays a big role in stress management and the reduction of anxiety. The lower our progesterone levels get, the more we are prone to irritability and anxiety.
And as we know from the gut-brain connection, anxiety can have a big effect on motility and overall gut health.
Part 2: The Thyroid, Adrenal & Gut Connection
Today, we look at how your thyroid and adrenal glands affect your gut health.
Think of your thyroid as the metabolic regulator of your body. In terms of gut health, you need thyroid hormone to move your intestines for regular bowel movements. Your adrenals secrete DHEA, a hormone that regulates our blood pressure, and cortisol, our stress hormone. Understanding how the three are intertwined can help you get to the root cause of your symptoms.
Part 1: Nutrition and Elimination Diets for Gut Health
Not-so-new newsflash: There is so much conflicting information about nutrition! Fat is bad. No, fat is good. Carbs are bad, so avoid grains. The list goes on and on. So, how do you know what advice to actually listen to?
The following lesson will help you simplify and personalize your approach to nutrition so you can attain optimal gut health by following an elimination diet, a mindful process for removing the most common inflammatory and allergenic foods from your plate so you can identify potential food sensitivities, restore a healthy microbiome, and promote a great awareness of how foods affect your mood and energy levels. But removing foods is only half of the story.
Part 2: Adopting Therapeutic Diets
If you've been diagnosed with a certain condition, chances are you've probably asked the internet one or two questions about what diet you should be following to help you feel better. Unfortunately, Google doesn't know the best answer for YOUR specific case.
If you're finding that you only eat a handful of foods, or you feel like you have been on a restrictive diet for way too long, then you are probably right! Together, we'll go over a few gut-specific healthy ways to eat, such as the specific carbohydrate diet, which can be used to treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Part 3: Supplements for Gut Health
Not all supplements are made the same.
If you have trouble digesting fats or if you have discomfort after eating a meal higher in fat, then your gallbladder might need the support of Vitamins A, D, and K. If you experience indigestion or bloating, you may benefit from supplementing with digestive enzymes.
Your specific condition should determine what you should or shouldn't take. Today’s lesson explains more.
Advanced Testing for Gut Health
Test, don't guess! Think of today's lesson as a crash course on testing for gut health. Should you have a stool test? When is a SIBO breath test a good idea? Does everyone need to be tested for food intolerances or sensitivities?
In naturopathic medicine, we have the luxury of having access to testing that conventional doctors are not trained in, so today we cover which tests give us additional information about what might be causing someone’s gut symptoms. Knowledge is power!
"Dr. Mary Pardee’s Gut Health course on Commune provides the information, support, and practical strategies to rebalance your gut so you can take steps to heal. As a specialist in integrative gastroenterology, gut-brain health, hormones, and thyroid optimization, Dr. Mary Pardee provides a comprehensive approach to reclaiming your health, starting with your gut."