I had an amazing conversation with Carley Smith about gut health during this podcast.
Carley Smith, aka Fairy Gutmother, is a Nutritional Therapist, Certified GAPS Practitioner, and Registered Yoga Teacher. Carley became interested in health and nutrition after being diagnosed with Lyme disease and using food as medicine emphasizing gut health to help heal.
- How she was able to heal herself from Lyme disease through
- how she was able to learn what foods are best for her
- how yoga has played an integral part in her healing process
- why she is passionate about helping others
- and so much more!
Below is a portion of the transcript from our conversation. Remember you can listen to the full episode for free here.
I’m so excited to have Carley Smith here with me in studio today. And Carley is a nutritional therapist, a certified GAPS practitioner and a registered yoga teacher. And she will explain what the GAPS practitioner is here in a moment. But Carley, thank you so much for coming in.
Thank you so much for having me.
Well, it’s a pleasure. I’ve had the chance to meet you from taking classes here. I then learned that your career is helping people with gut health and that you have a website called https://www.fairygutmother.com. Correct? And also, we can find you at the same handle on Instagram @fairygutmother. I’m guessing the other social media channels are under the same name very as well? So on that note, can you tell me what your specialty is what what you focus on when helping people?
Sure. So I work with people to help them restore their health through the gut. That is through diet and lifestyle changes. I truly believe gut health is the foundation for our health. It’s where nearly the entire immune system is located. So basically helping people to optimize the health of the microbiome, putting, you know, bringing in different foods that help do that. And then supplements as well.
Nice. And you’re also a registered yoga teacher. So are you currently teaching classes?
I’m not currently teaching but I do weave yoga into my protocols with my clients. I think it blends very nicely in with gut health, because it’s kind of that lifestyle aspect. I tell people gut health is not just a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Stress is just as damaging on the gut as junk food. And that’s what clinical research actually says. So I love the way that yoga brings in that way to mitigate our stress levels, but also kind of gives the gut a little internal massage, helping to kind of increase that motility and just overall health of the gut.
Nice. Have you always been, air quote a “health nut?” Or did you have something happen to you in life that kind of pushed you in the direction of paying extra attention to your health?
Yes. So I’ve always been interested in health and nutrition and I always thought I was healthy but I ended up getting Lyme disease in 2014. Well, I’ll back up, I was probably sick for a year or two before that I finally found out and was diagnosed in 2014. But my whole experience was why I completely shifted the way that I view health and wellness. And like I said, I thought I was healthy. But after learning about gut health where nearly your entire immune system is located, and you know, I implemented a gut healing protocol. I was able to completely reverse my symptoms from Lyme. Based on just focusing on gut health completely changed my perspective on health and wellness, and what’s important and what actually is healthy as it relates to the gut.
Wow, when you were diagnosed with Lyme disease, what was the treatment that was prescribed to you via the Western field?
So at that time, it was mainly just antibiotics. So you go on a heavy dose of antibiotics for a prolonged period of time. And that’s basically the route I took at that time. I really wasn’t aware of any alternative therapies that are out there. So now I’m so much more aware of different modalities and treatments that are available for Lyme. But at that time, it was just straight antibiotics. And then that felt like it was doing more harm on my body than good. Because you’re obviously you’re killing the good and the bad bacteria with that. So I went off of all that medicine. And that’s when I started doing research and learning about gut health.
Nice. What did you start implementing? What were some of the first things that you began to utilize in your research and study?
So the first thing I did was the GAPS diet, which stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome. And so that’s really all about healing the gut. It’s an elimination and reintroduction diet. So you’re eating a lot of nourishing foods that help to heal the gut lining, and then obviously, eventually repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria. So you’re cutting out a lot of, obviously, any processed foods and sugar, things like that. But you’re really just focusing on bone broth, which was a huge part of my healing journey, animal meats and proteins and cooked vegetables. Foods that are going to be very easy to digest. And then as time goes on, you can slowly start incorporating more foods and more raw foods.
What were the main symptoms that you felt when you had Lyme disease? It sounds like you had Lyme disease for over a year before diagnosed? What were the symptoms you were feeling? When that was happening before you even knew what was going on?
Yeah, I mean, it honestly felt like my body was abducted by an alien. Like I had absolutely no control over my emotions. I forgot where I lived, driving home from work. And that’s really when I had to kind of just confine myself to my apartment. I couldn’t really leave. I was scared. Like a brain fraught with fog. I was like completely disoriented. I had no clue or recollection of where I lived. I didn’t know where to turn to or where I was. There was a whole neurological and cognitive dysfunction and I was just completely affected.
Are those common symptoms that most people that have Lyme disease experience?
Yes! A lot of brain fog, mental illness and loss of cognitive function. That’s a very big part of Lyme disease. And that I think is one of the hardest things about Lyme is that it is so difficult to diagnose and why it’s so misdiagnosed. Because there are so many symptoms of Lyme, in connection with that I also had a lot of issues with my hormones. So I was menstrual bleeding for about four months straight, and no one could figure out what was going on. The doctor just eventually told me to go lay at home in bed with my feet up. And that’s not a very common symptom. So I think it’s hard to, for people to get diagnosed, because there’s so many different things that people experience. I never noticed a tick bite, or anything like that. The thought is that perhaps I had that several years ago, and then a long period of stress weakened my immune system. And that’s when the disease flourished.
When you started taking the antibiotics, did you feel a little better? Did that work on some level?
It might have a little bit, initially, but I really was so sick that I couldn’t tell. And then there were so many other issues that kept popping up from the side effects of the antibiotics, that it felt like they were doing more harm than good. So it was hard to kind of pinpoint and truly that dietary change of shifting more towards a gut healing protocol was where I felt the biggest shift in my health. My memory was one of the first things to come back. I started to think more clearly I felt like I had a better control over my emotions. I was able to recall more information and just just felt better overall.
I’m just I’m trying to replay what you said. So you started with bone broth and eliminated almost everything else. You start off with bone broth as the basis for the diet? And then you said slowly implementing easily digestible foods like animal protein? And greens as well and vegetables, fruits, or no? Are you trying to eliminate carbs, the sugar from the carbs and that type of thing?
Yeah, so it’s basically on the veggie side, it was a lot of winter squashes, and everything is cooked. I know…. nothing raw, it’s a little bit harder to digest those foods, than the cooked meats and vegetables. That was a big thing, the animal proteins, what you’re looking to do with the proteins in the bone broth is really extract all those nutrients that help to support and heal the gut lining. So with those animal fats, and proteins are one of the most important things that you can do to help with that.
So being a yogi, and into yoga culture, where we are pressed in the direction of a “Ahimsa”, or non violence and vegetarian diet. And what are your thoughts regarding implementing animal proteins? In relation to that theory and approach that one should be vegetarian?
Yes, so you can absolutely still focus on gut health, with a more vegetarian approach. And I have a recipe for a vegetarian broth on my website. And basically, what you’re thinking, what you want to think about is pulling those nutrients from those vegetables that are helpful in healing the gut lining, and one of those is L glutamine. You can even just buy L glutamine in a powder form. And that’s very helpful in maintaining the integrity of the gut lining. So you can make a broth with lots of those vegetables like carrots, and beets, very high and L glutamine. Thinking again, about extracting those nutrients. One of the biggest proponents for gut health or components of gut health is fiber. So fiber feeds the good bacteria in the gut. So once the gut is healed, and a way to maintain that optimal gut health is just by, you know, adding in more fiber into your diet. In fact, the entire plate really should be plant based, lots of fiber, and then you can fill in, you know, the remaining parts of that. But as far as the animal base, I mean, for me that really helped. Those animal fats and proteins were one of the biggest things I think that helped my cognitive function and repair the gut lining. But if that’s not something that fits in, and I will note that it’s important to make sure that you’re sourcing those sustainably and that the animals are pasture raised and grass fed. Work with a local farmer and rancher is super important. But if that’s not something that works for you, that doesn’t mean that you still can’t heal the gut. There are other ways to get those nutrients.
Listen to the full episode here.
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