Gut Instinct

Visit Rashi Chowdhary’s on Instagram (@rashichowdhary) once and you will find yourself hooked to post after post about women’s health that may speak to you. There is a wide repository of information on the internet, it’s hard to tell the authentic sources of information from the rest. We spoke to the nutritionist on common challenges faced by women all over and why ignoring gut health is never a smart idea.

Women tend to put families before themselves. What are some common aspects of maintaining health you find women tend to put off?

Women often neglect their own needs–not paying attention to symptoms like period pain, fatigue, gut issues, forgetfulness, low sex drive, when it could actually be signs of hormonal imbalance. And let's not even get started on how we ignore our mental health! You know how we just power through the stress and anxiety like it's no big deal? Well, that's something every woman should start working on. When it comes to diet, women are often in a rush and go for quick fixes, be it keto, calorie counting or juice cleanses. Sure, you might drop some kilos at first, but only to mess up your hormones later.

What are some checks you recommend for women above 30?

If you’re over 30 these 7 tests are a must

  • Complete Thyroid Panel including antibodies
  • Vitamin D (Because helps with bone density after 30)
  • Hba1c
  • Fasting Insulin
  • Cortisol
  • Estradiol
  • Progesterone

I insist on getting the full thyroid panel because that's often missed and while your TSH maybe be normal your reverse T3 or antibodies levels might give you an answer to why you are feeling the way you are feeling.

Your gut cleanse program is a clear hit, what are some reasons women need to do this once a year?

Your gut is responsible for not just your digestive issues but also your immunity, how happy you can be because 80% serotonin which is the happy hormone is made in the gut, skin issues caused by inflammation, even your weight since it controls the production of your appetite and satiety hormones. Your gut has its own nervous system, hence called the second brain. It nurtures the sense of who we really are. And I always say we are as healthy as our gut Microbiome! And thats why its so important for women, actually not just women but for men too to start working on their gut health not just as a once a year thing but constantly strive to improve their gut health all year round.

Why is nutrition so important to maintain a balanced lifestyle and what is the impact it has on one's mood?

I firmly believe in saying that “you are what you eat”. The food you eat provides the body with nutrients needed for proper functioning of hormones which influences your mood, sleep, appetite and even digestion.

When discussing mood, let’s discuss serotonin - the happy hormone. 80% of your serotonin is produced in the gut. It’s a fascinating connection. A healthy gut microbiome can directly impact your mood. We’ve helped almost 5000 people on our 2 week gut cleanse program and the one thing they do notice a change in is their mood after the cleanse; studies support this connection too. It's called the Gut Brain Axis. And when you have a compromised gut this communication is shut off and that's why you feel the way you do when it comes to your mood.

Cortisol is everyone's enemy, and we lead lives of immense stress. How do you recommend balancing it with nutrition?

Cortisol always gets a bad rep, but you know it is actually a very important hormone when it comes to responding to stress. Imagine Cortisol as your teammate, an all-rounder who helps manage end-moment stuff or reduce the workload. However, what if the pressure is relentless, and your teammate gets overwhelmed and can't keep up well? This is when chronically high cortisol can affect you.

So don't look at Cortisol as a villain. Our fast-paced world keeps our cortisol fired up, eventually leading to adrenal fatigue. As a Nutritionist, I look beyond it and what is the root cause that is triggering it, like work, relationships, social life, etc., or any missing puzzle that has gone undiagnosed.

It's about a holistic approach; one size doesn't fit all.