Ask the expert: How does your gut shape your health?

Interview with Danna Levy Hoffmann

Edited by Aishwarya Viswamitra

Gut Health is connected to the general well-being of a person as it affects digestion, energy levels, immunity, and even mental health. The microbes in the gut play a huge role in maintaining its health.

Miyara’s Dr. Sanjana Rao sat down with Danna Levy Hoffmann, a certified IIN (Institute of Integrative Nutrition) Health Coach specializing in gut health, who is passionate about helping people everywhere heal their relationship with their food, their health, and their bodies. They discuss the importance of gut health and tips on where to start.

Watch the full interview here:

Sanjana: Please tell us about your health coaching journey, how did it begin?

Danna: I grew up with a family who was overweight. I saw my grandmother pass away from cancer, my mom has cancer now and my dad was obese for a very long time and has diabetes and high blood pressure. For me, it was always somehow clear that there has to be a connection with what we're doing, how we're eating, and how we're living our lives. I experienced it for myself after I gave birth to my second son, and had postpartum depression. I was 20 plus kilos overweight and I was just experiencing everything and I said, ‘I don't know what to do, I'm not sure what's going on’. I tried different diets, which obviously didn't work because diets don't work.

That kind of started me off on this journey to figure out what's going on: why am I losing loved ones to cancer and other illnesses? Why am I feeling out of control of my own body? That led me to start my own journey with a healthy lifestyle. I then started a business called “Miso cute cooking,” a healthy cooking class for kids and their parents. I was cooking with the kids and talking to the parents saying, ‘Maybe replace this with that, or try this and try that’. And so the parents actually asked me to come back to their home or to give them courses for adults. Then I realised how important it is. While I wanted the kids to understand what a carrot looks like before it's cooked and roasted, I realised that the parents are actually lacking a lot of these same basic skills and understanding nowadays.That basically led me to what I do today. I did a certification to specialise in gut health and I've been doing that happily for quite a few years now.

Sanjana: There's a lot of research going on about gut health, and its links to various things. Could you explain why gut health is important for a person?

Danna: It is a very hot topic nowadays. We used to think that the brain was the computer of the body, shooting all the information but we're slowly but surely starting to understand that the gut is actually the one responsible for everything. Our immune system is based in the gut, the brain-gut communication, or the brain-gut axis, as some people might have heard, is a fluent communication between the gut and the brain. But what's funny is that 90% of that is the gut talking to the brain, and only 10% is the brain communicating back to the gut. I found that super fascinating because we then understand that we are what we eat.

The information we are giving our body through food is through our emotions and thoughts. When we have a poor diet or a diet that does not support our health, everything will look differently correct, from our emotional states to our mental state to our actual health. So gut health is just super-duper important. If your little toe hurts in your leg, it most likely has to do with something in the gut. Everything usually starts and ends with the gut. And when we heal the gut, most people see a huge improvement in everything else they were suffering from.

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