Archive Monthly Archives: July 2022

Crohn’s & Colitis Friendly Condiments from the Condiment Queen

Do you love condiments as much as me? Ketchup, BBQ sauce, mustard, salsa, and dips like guacamole and hummus?

You bet you do!

They add a little flava-flav to just about everything you eat. But when it comes to being able to enjoy condiments like these on your favorite foods, you run into two problems…

#1- The ingredients in traditional condiments wreak havoc on your gut (whether you know it or not).


#2- Condiments like these, the ones you find at your local grocery store, are never on your gut healing diet. The ingredients are either full of sugar or chemicals (and often, both).

If you’re a condiment lover, hold on to your hat mama because this week on the podcast, I’m setting you up for condiment success.

I’m dishing out some seriously good news when it comes to these flavor makers. Condiments that turn your plain food from iffy to spiffy (yep, I said it) and at the same time, make your belly happy too!

We talk about:

  • The ingredients in 95% of all condiments that make your gut do a tailspin
  • Quick and simple recipes if you want to make your condiments at home (great for knowing exactly what’s in them)
  • How you know when you’re ready to start eating condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup, BBQ sauce (all the good stuff) when you’re on a gut healing diet
  • Why condiments are the key to getting your kids to eat healthy food

And so much more!

After this episode, you’ll have simple and delicious condiment recipes at your fingertips, knowledge about which store-bought condiments are gut healthy, and access to all the best condiment brands on the market. You go, condiment queen.

Episode at a Glance:

  • [07:00] The ingredients in 95% of all condiments that make your gut do a tailspin
  • [09:16] Why Mrs. Butterworth isn’t as friendly as she looks
  • [14:10] Quick and simple recipes if you want to make your condiments at home (great for knowing exactly what’s in them)
  • [15:00] Gut healthy, yet super tasty condiment ideas you can buy at the grocery store
  • [15:31] The absolute best condiment brands you can always trust
  • [16:18] How you know when you’re ready to start eating condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup, BBQ sauce (all the good stuff) when you’re on a gut healing diet
  • [19:15] Why condiments are the key to getting your kids to eat healthy food
  • [22:23] The benefits of the condiment caddy and what to put it in
  • [24:04] The best way to take this conversation to the next level and get your gut healing plan in place today

Rate, Review and Subscribe on Apple Podcasts.

Mentioned in This Episode

You’re FREE Resource: Condiments for a Healthy Belly and a Happy Mama

Book Your 30-Minute IBD Consultation HERE

DM Me on Facebook

Episode Transcript:

Do you love condiments as much as me? Ketchup, BBQ sauce, mustard, salsa… dips, aw dips, like guacamole and hummus?

Definitely tasty, but the problem is, with so many added ingredients like sugar and salt, plus chemicals to enhance flavor and color, and preservatives to increase shelf life, they’re usually not so healthy for your gut. But today we’re going to change all that so you can rest assured that the condiments your consuming aren’t messing with your digestive system. In this episode, I’m going to share with you the best gut healthy condiments you can have, ways to make the unhealthy condimnents healthy, and all the while, keep your Crohn’s or colitis belly happy.

If you love condiments as much as I do, it’s time to take your condiments from iffy to spiffy. Uh, the corniness has begun. Let’s get this condiment party started!


INTRO: You are listening to The Cheeky Podcast for Moms with IBD, a safe space for moms with Crohn’s and colitis, connect, explore powerful tools for healing and transform our lives to thrive in motherhood and in life. I’m your host, Karyn Haley, IBD health coach, integrative wellness enthusiast, and mom to three outstanding kids. After having Crohn’s disease for 30 years and working as a health advocate exclusively with IBD clients for the last 10 years, I know it’s time to bring the types of candid conversations I have with my clients out into the open. It’s our time to go on an IBD healing journey and do it like only a mom can. Let’s do this.


Hello dear one and welcome back to The Cheeky Podcast—the best place to be for moms with Crohn’s and colitis who are trying to heal with out of the box remedies that honor not just your symptoms, but your mom lifestyle as well. I am so thrilled to share this time with you today. Whether you’re dropping the kids off at school, washing the dishes, exercising or just laying down and chilling like you deserve mama, thanks for hanging out with me for a bit, I couldn’t appreciate you more. I love this podcast medium. It’s the perfect way to connect with you, my fellow gut loving mama.

After last week’s deeply personal and sometimes dark episode, episode 50 (go check it out if you haven’t yet), I needed something a little lighter this week. Something equally important for your gut health, but a little lighter. Something that brings joy to my life, and I hope joy to your life too.

And that’s condiments.

You know me as Karyn, the Crohn’s and Colitis Health Coach, but in my family, I’m known as the condiment queen. Move over Queen Elizabeth. I never met a condiment I didn’t like. Whether it was pre-Crohn’s as a kid, or after I started eating gut healing and healthy food, all the way to today. Condiments and I are, as the cool kids say, BFF’s. How about you? Do you love a good condiment? Do you have to have ketchup and mustard or mayonnaise on your burger? Maybe it’s relish or barbecue sauce? I’ll put condiments on anything but when it comes to a burger for me there’s nothing better than a barbecue sauce mayo combo and for a hot dog I like traditional yellow mustard and relish. If I’m lucky, some kraut.

Mouth watering yet?

[05:30] I’d love to know your sauce or a condiment obsessions. I remember way back in the day, when I was a kid, I had to put ketchup on everything. From breakfast eggs to dinner steak and everything in between, ketchup was my jam. My youngest child must take after me because he was quite the ketchup connoisseur as well. Lately he’s started to shy away from ketchup a bit, I think because his brothers like to tease him about it (and we all know how the whole older sibling younger sibling dynamic works), but if he had his way I think he’d put ketchup on salad.

Like I said, as a kid it was all about ketchup, but as I got older I fell in love with blue cheese on my pizza—maybe for you it’s ranch… fries dipped in mayonnaise (you can thank visiting the lovely country of Belgium for that), and to this day whenever I go out to a fancy restaurant, I have to order a sauce like bearnaise, or green peppercorn for my filet mignon.

[07:00] Condiments can enhance the flavor of pretty much everything we eat, but condiments, the kind we buy at the grocery store are usually really unhealthy for even healthy people, and for those of us with gut disorders like Crohn’s and colitis, the ingredients can be so disastrously disruptive, that at best, they said us to the toilet, and at worst they ignite the flames of a flareup.

Most store-bought condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, salsa, salad dressings, hot sauce, soy sauce… all the ones that are probably in most kitchen refrigerators are usually filled with added sugars and salt. And over time, the sugar especially, will mess with your gut and create a bacterial imbalance and a host of distressing digestive symptoms.

If it was only natural sugar and natural salt that was added to condiments, I think we could find some work arounds, but the worst part of about these grocery store condiments is that they are filled with artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, even chemical preservatives and those of us with the gut disorders can be really sensitive ingredients like these. Even if you don’t feel it right away (like running to the bathroom 5 minutes after you eat), these artificial ingredients can make your Crohn’s or colitis worse and be one of the factors that keeps us from finding true and lasting remission.

Let me  give you a few examples so you can see exactly what I’m talking about here.

Let’s take maple syrup- Mrs. Butterworth? Seems like a friendly lady right. Think again. That’s definitely not maple syrup that’s hangin out in that kind of freaky looking bottle where we pour the syrup from the top of her head—come on, you know it’s weird. Syrups like Mrs. Butterworth, not to pick on her because there’s lots of other maple syrup imposters out there, have no maple syrup in them. Instead they’re filled with high fructose corn syrup, and, because hfcs wasn’t enough, then some more corn syrup, and then some cane sugar because the hfcs and the corn syrup wasn’t enough sweetness for the manufactures. Also caramel color and sodium hexa-meta-phosphate, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (preservatives), and then there’s that added artificial flavorings (and who even knows what that means).

BBQ sauce is loaded with multiple types of sugar.

Many queso dips contain MSG.

Teriyaki and soy sauce are both loaded with sodium and gluten.

And don’t even get me started on your favorite store bought, supposedly healthy salad dressing. A salad should be a healthy meal. But the chemicals, the artificial flavors, preservatives, the gut disrupting gums that are used to keep the ingredients emulsified, the added sugar… makes your “healthy” meal anything but healthy.

If you’ve looked into or started any gut healing diet for your Crohn’s and colitis, you know that none of these store-bought condiments are allowed. There’s just too much crap. They’re not natural, and their ingredients cause major disruptions to your already disrupted gut.

So, even though you know you’ll miss condiments like crazy, you are motivated mama and you start that gut healthy, gut healing diet and all these condiments are off-limits. You’re eating dry chicken and tasteless vegetables. Your food has no pizzazz, no flavor, no flair. And it just makes you feel serious FOMO. Everyone else can eat jazzy, spicy, bold, flavorful, delicious treats, but you’re stuck with boring, bland, tasteless cardboard.

[13:04] If you’re smiling or laughing right now, you get it. You get the dilemma. It’s not fair.

But, hold the phone mama because I’m here to change all of that for you. Just because you’re eating gut healthy doesn’t mean your food has to be tasteless or boring. Hell to the no! Healthy food can be super tasty. You just have to add your own flair to it.

You can say yes to ketchup, you can say yes to a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, you can say yes to creamy, delectable mayonnaise and salad dressing and sauces that make your Asian dishes sing. It’s all about finding a way to either create your condiments in a really simple and speedy way in your kitchen or knowing which brands have ingredients are best for your sensitive digestive system.

If you’re like me and you love condiments and food that tastes good, you’re going to definitely appreciate a brand new resource I have to share. I created this one especially for my clients who understandably refuse to give up flava when they’re in gut healing mode. It’s my pdf guide—”Condiments for a Healthy Belly and a Happy Mama” and it’s yours absolutely free. This condiment resource has quick and simple recipes for some of your favorite condiments, it has ideas for healthy condiments you can buy at the grocery store, and it also has my favorite condiment brands, so you know exactly what to buy and where, when it comes to your purchasing options. If you are a condiment queen like me, you’re going to love this resource. You can get it by going to That’s

You can also get your free resource by checking out the show notes. I’ll leave a link there as well.

Before we wrap up for today, I want to address one of the questions I always get asked about condiments when it comes to eating for your gut health. Many gut healing diets like the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, The GAPS diet, Paleo, even the gluten-free or dairy free diets, don’t get into when is it OK to add condiments (healthier condiments) like these to your every day eating plan.

[16:18] Although everyone is individual and some condiments that work for one mama will not work for another, the rule of thumb I like to follow is when you can eat all of the ingredients in the condiment separately without any G.I. or non-G.I. reaction, you can eat that condiment, in all its glory.

So if you’re waiting to enjoy mayonnaise for example, check out your mayonnaise recipe if you’re making it homemade, or the ingredients list for a store-bought option. It might include ingredients like eggs, a specific type of oil, maybe some Dijon mustard, sometimes you’ll see lemon juice or vinegar in mayonnaise. Can you tolerate all of these ingredients individually, by themselves? If you can, that condiment is yours for the taking.

Make sense?

Cool, so go for it with healthy homemade or store-bought condiments from my pdf resource guide because they really will jazz up any gut healing food you’re eating. I remember when I began the Specific Carbohydrate Diet back in 2008, condiments and seasonings became my go-to for every meal. It’s amazing how wonderful and deliciously healthy gut healing food can taste when you have the right condiments and the right spices and seasonings. It doesn’t hide the food like so many traditional condiments do. It brings out the natural flavor in the food. It’s just an absolutely different gastric experience when you eat this way.

So that’s good news isn’t it? Condiments are not off the table even when you are trying to eat gut healthy for your Crohn’s and colitis. Want to know something that might be even better than that? I’m going to tell you how to do condiments like the bad ass boss mom I know you are.

Let’s do condiments like only a mom can.

When you’ve collected all of these delicious and healthy condiments, you want to have them at the ready for you, but you can also have them at the ready for your kids too. Condiments are the key to getting your kids to eat healthy food.

[19:15] I’ve gotta shout that from the roof top one more time: Condiments are the key to getting your kids to eat healthy food.

The key to doing condiments like the mom I know you are is to set up a condiment caddy, one that is circular and spinnable. Some people call it a Lazy Susan. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google Lazy Susan. You’ll see exactly the device I mean. It’s a round platter that spins. When it comes to breakfast, or lunch, or dinner, set out the condiment caddy right in the middle of the table and watch what it does for your kids taste buds.

There’s two rules that bad ass moms follow when it comes to the condiment caddy. Rule #1 about the condiment caddy that works perfectly in your kids favor is that they are allowed to put whatever condiment from the condiment caddy they choose on their food. Even if you think it’s gross. I mean, even if they choose to put ketchup on their salad.

The second rule about the condiment caddy is that initially, they are allowed to put as much of that condiment as they want wherever they want. So again, back to getting your kids to eat salad, they are allowed to put as much salad dressing on that salad as they wish… at first.

Those two rules definitely go your kids favor. But with rule number two, as you get your kid used to whatever healthy food you’re dishing up, you start to pull back a little bit on the condiment. Eventually and hopefully you’ll be at an amount you consider to be sane.

[22:23] I got my kids to eat broccoli this way. A little parmesan cheese and butter on their broccoli and voila, they are now broccoli lovers. Same thing with spinach salad—at first they loaded it up with ranch dressing. Little by little, they were easing up on the dressing and loading up on the spinach—well at least it worked for 2 of my kids and don’t they say 2 out of 3 ain’t bad!

And if you’re wondering what would I possibly put in my condiment caddy, you’ll definitely want to check out my free pdf resource: Condiments for a Healthy Belly and a Happy Mama. It’s got condiments galore so I have no doubt you’ll find some condiments you and your kids will love. Remember you can find your PDF resource by going to the show notes or typing in into your browser.

Do it like a the amazing mom I know you are with the condiment caddy.

OK my friend, did I answer all of your questions about the best ways to use condiments to jazz up healthy, gut healing food… about buying healthy condiments at the grocery store and making super simple delicious condiments that will make your belly happy at home… and how to get the kids involved by making condiments the gateway to health food? If anything I’ve talked about today is unclear or you still have questions, be sure to DM me on Facebook. I’m happy to continue the conversation over there. On Facebook I am @TheIBDHealthCoach. @ TheIBDHealth coach.

[24:04] And if you’re a Crohn’s or colitis mama and you’re struggling—maybe you were just diagnosed, or you’re struggling to get off the toilet, struggling to have enough energy to enjoy time with your kiddos, struggling to get your head around the steps you need to take to create a healing path for you—that’s definitely my specialty… know that I’m here for you. I offer free 30-min coaching sessions for moms with Crohn’s and colitis who are ready to get clear on their healing path, so they can move forward with confidence, clarity, and good gut health. During our 30-minute consultation, we set goals together, we talk about how we can marry your symptoms and your lifestyle to create the best plan for your needs and wants, and we talk about how we can work together with me as your guide to get you to the other side faster and with less roadblocks. And whether we decide working together is a good fit or not, you leave the session with tools you can use to jump start your Crohn’s or colitis healing journey right away.


If you’re ready to take big bold steps mama to heal your Crohn’s or colitis, I’ve got you covered. Schedule your free 30-minute consultation at  That’s

Dear one, just for today because we like to take it one day at a time– be bold, be brave, be kind to yourself, but always, always be true to who you are.

Until we meet again, I’m wishing you a cheeky and healthy gut healing journey.

Chat soon!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This podcast, video, and blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Could Your Water Source Be Harming Your Crohn’s or Colitis?


It’s something we all take for granted. In the United States and in most countries, we turn on the facet in our home and we’ve got fresh, clean, pure, hydration right at our fingertips, right?

Actually, it turns out this isn’t always the case.

Often times our tap water and even our bottled water can be filled with odorless, tasteless contaminants, irritants, hormone disruptors, gut disruptors—all invisible. We don’t see it. We don’t taste the problem so we keep drinking, thinking we are doing our body good.

Today on the podcast, I’m sharing the challenges with most tap water and even many of the most common water filtration systems, ones you might even have in your home right now. And I’ll be sharing with you how you can make one small water change to positively impact your life.

For your IBD health, for you kids health, this is an important episode to check out.

Four Things You’ll Learn in This Episode

🌿 Two key factors that determine if your water is gut healthy and whole body healthy.

🌿 The best water check resource to see where your tap water stacks up.

🌿 Why reverse osmosis may not be all it’s hyped up to be (and don’t get me started on the filtered water that comes from your refrigerator).

🌿  The best water filtration system on the market today.

Rate, Review and Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Mentioned in the Episode:

Your FREE Water Quality Resource Guide Cheat Sheet

EWGs Tap Water Database (how safe is your tap water?)

Consumer Reports: Find Out What’s in Your Bottled Water

The Berkey Water Filter

Episode Resources:

Is Water the Forgotten Nutrient?

Drinking Water Contaminants

Distilled Water

Can you Drink Distilled Water?

Purified Water vs Spring Water

Is Reverse Osmosis Water Good for You?

The Dangers of Refrigerator Water Filters

What is Alkaline Water?

Alkaline Water: Beneficial or All Hype?

What is Ionized Water?

Berkey Water Filtration Process

Connect With Karyn:

Karyn on Facebook

Schedule Your FREE 30-Minute IBD Consult

Episode Transcript:

Could Your Water Source Be Harming Your Crohn’s or Colitis?

Water. It’s something we all take for granted. In the United States and in most countries, we turn on the facet in our home and we’ve got fresh, clean, pure, hydration right at our fingertips, right? Actually, it turns out this isn’t always the case. Often times our tap water and even our bottled water can be filled with odorless, tasteless contaminants, irritants, hormone disruptors, gut disruptors—all invisible. We don’t see it. We don’t taste the problem so we keep drinking, thinking we are doing our body good.

Today on the podcast, I’m sharing the challenges with most tap water and even many of the most common water filtration systems, ones you might even have in your home right now. And I’ll be sharing with you how you can make one small water change to positively impact your life. For your IBD health, for you kids health, this is an important episode to check out.

Let’s dive in.


Hello my friend, welcome to The Cheeky Podcast. It’s great to be with you again. Summer is flying by as it always does. The weather is hot, hot, hot, and we are all reaching for some water to stay hydrated. I thought that it was the perfect time, when we’re all drinking more water, for us to have a candid, open conversation about what’s really in your drinking water and what you can do to make sure you have the best water source at your fingertips, in summer especially, but all year long.

So, most of the time when we talk about water, we talk about how much water you should be consuming. What’s a healthy amount and how can you make sure you get it in throughout the day. But before we even get to that conversation, before we talk about how much water to consume, we need to address an even bigger question. And that question is: What’s the best water source for you? Because without good, clean, quality water, you can drink and drink and end up doing more harm than good.

Clean, pure water is important for everyone, but like many things, when it comes to Crohn’s and colitis, we need to be especially careful about the water we consume because of the challenges of our compromised intestinal system. Research by the American Gut Project shows that the source you pick for your water is a key factor in the variation of gut bacteria in your microbiome. The simple act of picking the right source can make a big difference in diversifying your bacteria, the bacteria in your gut, for better digestive health—and frankly, better health overall.


We’ve talked up and down, this way and that, endlessly about how food impacts our gut health on this podcast, but what about water? The problem of not talking about where our water is sourced from starts at the very top. I mean way at the top, at the institution level, the government level. Was water part of the food pyramid of our youth? Remember the food pyramid we learned about in health class? No, it wasn’t. Is water a part of the latest dietary guidelines in the My Plate chart. Nope. And this omission is causing many scientists to classify water as the “forgotten nutrient.”

Our government and national healthcare agencies may not be talking about the importance of your water source, but the research is clear, the water source you choose will positively or negatively impact your microbiome. In an recent study, participants who drank well-water had higher microbiome diversity in their stool—over tap water, bottle water, or even filtered water.

Of course we don’t all have access to well-water, let alone good quality well-water and if you’re like me, you can have well-water and still struggle if it’s not potable or drinkable. You should see the number of filters our water has to go through, just to pass inspection. That cannot be good for our family’s health.

So, if you don’t have access to well-water or you’re well-water is less than desirable, what can you do to make sure you are using the highest quality filtration system to get the best benefit for your gut health and your overall health as well? There’s so many choices out there… spring, distilled, mineral, reverse osmosis, ionized water…

What’s the best water for our sensitive bellies, the one that will give us a healthier microbiome, more diverse bacteria, and aid us as we combine all the other gut healing modalities we’re using to combat our Crohn’s and colitis. And if you’re anything like me, you want to keep this water decision, easy peasy. You spread enough time on food, supplements, medications, lifestyle factors. Your water source needs to be an easy decision, and an easy set up.

Let’s see if we can simplify all your water choices. I’m going to tell you the absolute best water source for you, for your endocrine system (your hormones), your metabolism, your connective tissue, and of course your digestive system.

On the way there, we’ll evaluate your current water sources—ones you might be using right now, so you can see which ones make the grade and which ones might just have to go. For each of the options, there’s two specific goals we have to keep in mind when it comes to water: purity and mineral content. Water, in many cases can be contaminated with pathogenic microorganisims—heavy metals, pesticides, and endocrine and gut disrupting chemicals. We need to demand water that’s as pure as possible for our own health, and also for the health of our kiddos.

And minerals—why do we want minerals in our water? Well, our whole body can benefit from maintaining minerals in our water sources. Especially in America, we are mineral deficient, we’re afraid of salt, we don’t eat enough mineral rich sea vegetables, but our digestive system and our other organs benefit from minerals. Minerals found in quality water sources like sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. High quality water sources include minerals and we don’t want a water source that excludes these vital nutrients.

Just to recap before we move on, quality water is about #1 purity (no contaminants that can disrupt your microbiome and in turn your Crohn’s and colitis) AND #2 the presence of trace minerals that positively impact not only your digestive system, but also your endocrine system, metabolism, neurological pathways and the connective tissues in your body.


If you want to get the full picture on water quality—broken down in a one-page format, that gives you the load down on all the filtration methods (the pros and the cons)—what we are talking about today, but in a handy dandy condense version, I have a one-page cheat sheet I’ve created just for you, You can go to It’s my Water Quality one-page PDF and it will give you all the deets you need to get the best water filtration system for your home.

So, yes, I’ve got the cliff notes version all ready for you to grab, but if this has really been a question in your mind, if you want to make the best decision with your whole family’s health in mind, want to have what you need to make the most informed decision, stick around because I’m about to give you the full scoop on choosing the best water source for your home.


OK let’s start with our most common source of water, the water that comes straight from our facet at home, tap water. Remember, we are looking for purity and minerals. So how does tap water stack up? Well, the good news is that tap water has the potential to be full of healthy minerals. Nothing has been filtered out so the minerals that are in the water are there to benefit you.

The problem with tap water though is in it’s purity rating. Many tap water sources contain microorganisms like E. coli, giardia, noroviruses, inorganic chemicals like arsenic, nitrates, lead. And organic compounds that are hard to pronounce like glyphosate and tetrachloroethylene.

Of course, in America, our tap water is regulated by the FDA and the EPA. They wouldn’t allow any of the crap in our water, would they? Unfortunately, there are levels of these known contaminants that are considered safe and allowed by the FDA. Plus there have been several case studies, news reports (I’m sure you’ve heard about them), where contaminants in tap water have reached concerning levels. Let’s take lead for example, a known toxic substance. That’s one that I’m sure you’ve heard about as being of concern in certain cases.– in the home where you deserve safe drinking water. This is especially challenging in children as they are still developing but also concerning for those with immune disruptions as well. People like us.

Other contaminants that have been known to seep into tap water include fertilizer, livestock manure, human sewage. Also, some tap water contains nitrates, nitrites, arsenic, parasites, and bacteria. Now, of course these are extreme cases and these may not be substances that are in your tap water. Let’s hope not.

If you are wondering about your tap water right now, for my folks in America, you can get all the information you need through the EWG’s website. That’s the Environmental Working Group. The watchdog company for all things food, environment, and health related. They have a tap water database and you can type in your zip code to see how the water coming out of your faucet stacks up.

I put in my zip code in as prep for this episode and was surprised to find a total of 12 contaminants in my tap water. Seven of them exceed the EWG’s health guidelines. Yikes! This is in my own tap water that I’ve had tested and is supposed to be safe. Thank goodness I have a water filter I trust. I don’t want to expose my kids to that. You might want to check out your own water purity if you use tap water in your home. I’ll leave a link in the show notes to the EWG’s tap water database so that you can type in your own ZIP Code and find out what’s going on with the water in your area. The show notes can be reached at /99. The link will be there.

Now, many of us are aware of the pitfalls of tap water because we hear about it all the time, this is the reason why the bottled water industry has boomed into such a powerhouse. Filtered water, distilled water, mineral water… All the things that make our water pure and clean… supposedly. But how are these methods really stacking up? Let’s find out.


So first we’ve got distilled water. Distilled water is created when tap water is boiled into a vapor and then condensed back into a liquid. That sounds promising right with all that boiling it’s got to be really pure. And yes, indeed, it is really pure. No microorganisms to upset our G.I. tract. Problem is, it also purifies out so much of the minerals and salts that our digestive system benefits from. That’s definitely not a good thing.

And not only that, but distilled water also pulls in properties of anything it touches. So put that in a plastic bottle and guess what it’s leaching? Yeah, it’s leaching plastic and then you are drinking it so for the most part if you’re looking for a drinking water, I have to give distilled water a thumbs down. Yes it’s pure but it’s missing some vital nutrients that our body needs.


Now how about spring water? We all know about spring water and so many of us consume it when we drink bottled water. It comes from a spring so we’re thinking babbling brooks and nature and water that is in a peaceful environment. With all that goodness, it must be healthy.

First, let’s get on the same page with what exactly were talking about when we’re looking at spring water. Does Springwater actually come from babbling brooks? Well, spring water is ground water. It’s ground water that lives underground in an aquifer. It sits below the earth’s natural water table. Sounds good so far, but the problem here is that getting information on how a particular brand or product is made (about its purity and mineral content) is really tricky. The companies that make spring water aren’t required to give us this information, so we are left with variable purity ratings and variable mineral ratings.

That’s not to say that all spring water is bad, the problem is we really just don’t know. Some are probably good and some are lacking. Without any real transparency in the bottled water industry, the authenticity of the water source becomes really murky.

There is, potentially some good news on the spring water front though. If you’re like so many Americans and you have come to rely on a particular brand of spring water… maybe it’s Daissini or Fiji or Deer Park—my brother only drinks Deer Park and swears by it. He swears that if he drinks any other bottled water he hast to run to the bathroom. I definitely think there’s a psychological component going on there. What do you think? But there is a way to find out about the specific nutrient and purity information about a particular bottled water company.

Consumer Reports has a online spring water database where you can click on a particular brand of spring water and check out all of the nutrients and purity levels in that product. You may not be getting the full picture about your particular spring water, but at least it’s more than the information you’ll find on the bottle . I’ll leave a link for you to check out that website in the show notes as well.


Now I know there is some of you out there listening saying Karyn, I never drink my tap water and I definitely don’t drink bottled water. I know that the purity and the mineral content is very variable and I don’t want to drink out of plastic bottles. I know all of this so that’s why I have a reverse osmosis system in my house. Let’s talk about that filtration system for a moment because I know it’s really popular and several people have that type of system in their house.

Reverse osmosis, most of the time called RO, is a purification process that uses a semi- permeable membrane to filter out contaminants like sediment, chlorine and microorganisms. The good news about RO is that it’s great if you live in an area where the water is really contaminated because it’s definitely removing those contaminants. But, how much of the contaminants it’s actually removing really depends on your RO system because there’s a ton of variability in these systems.

Also we definitely need to talk about the mineral content with reverse osmosis. After having heard about the other options we’ve talked about so far in seeing how RO works with its purification process, you can probably guess that there’s a problem here. All that purification is also removing the good trace minerals that we need for better digestive health. Iron, magnesium, manganese, and so many more.

And there’s more when it comes to RO filtration systems. If you’re using an RO system in your home that connects to your water faucet and you use that water for all the cooking in your home, here’s where trouble can happen. This demineralized water removes the vitamins and minerals in the food as it’s cooked. That’s because water bonds to everything it comes in contact with so the nutrients from the food you’re cooking gets leeched into the water and then you throw all those nutrients away when you strain your food.

Even the WHO, the World Health Organization is concerned about RO filtration stating that, “It has a definite adverse influence of the animal and human organism.” Not a good look RO!

OK, so so far we’ve talked about tap water, lots of negatives with that one. We’ve covered spring water with so much variability you really just don’t know what you’re getting and we just covered the pros and cons of reverse osmosis. Some positives when it comes to purity, but lots of negatives with the removal of all those much needed trace minerals.


Let’s move on and talk about one of the filtration systems most of us have in our kitchen. That’s carbon filtration. This is really common if you have a refrigerator that has a water spout built in. These type of refrigerators usually use a carbon filter. The bottom line with carbon filtration is that they can be really variable in their effectiveness with both purity and minerals.

First of all, the good news, they remove contaminants that we can taste and smell, but other contaminants do remain. Secondly, some studies have shown bacteria like salmonella can still be present in carbon filtered water. And of course there’s the problem of changing the filter enough. How many of us remember to do that? And to make matters worse, the constant water formation on the surface of the spout encourages mold and yeast growth. So that yeast and mold is getting into your water glass and then into your body every time you take a sip.

I remember one time, a babysitter who was at our house taking care of the kids saying to me have you looked up inside your refrigerator water spout? There’s all kinds of mold growing in there. I was mortified and terrified of what we had been drinking for so long. I tried repeatedly to clean the area with bleach and get the mold away, but no matter how hard I tried, that mold was just not going anywhere so we stopped using the refrigerator water now we don’t have that refrigerator anymore, so good riddance.

The bottom line on carbon filtration is variable purity and variable minerals at best. Not the best water source for our health or our family’s health either.

Now, so far we’ve talked about water filtration systems that have the potential to be threatening to our health, let’s turn the page and talk about some possible options for us when it comes to healthy, pure, mineral rich drinking water. There’s two of them, and I would call these my honorable mentions when it comes to quality drinking water.


One option is alkaline water. You might’ve heard about an alkalizing diet, eating with less acidic foods, finding a better pH for your body, eating food that is more basic (as opposed to acidic) for your overall health. A healthy digestive system is the main focus for an alkaline diet because the predominant thought is that disease cannot survive in an alkaline state.

Just like alkalizing foods, water can be alkaline as well. Alkaline water boasts of higher mineral content like calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. Right now it’s all the rage. But is it better? Well the jury is still out on that. I will say that alkaline water certainly has potential. One recent study actually found that alkaline water was better for bone health (largely due to the mineral content) and another study found that it did reduce acid reflux symptoms which isn’t surprising since it is less acidic. As aging women we all need to think about better bone health. And of course as women with Crohn’s and colitis, acid reflux is something we may deal with as well. So that’s promising.

All and all, I’d give alkaline water a halfway thumbs up for purity and a thumbs up for mineral content. Yes the studies I’ve read look good, but I just think we need to have this type of water filtration system out a little bit longer before we can definitively say it’s a go.


The second honorable mention it’s worth mentioning, is ionized water. The best news about ionized water is that you can be sure it contains minerals. The whole filtration process starts with electromagnetism that separates positive charged minerals and sets them off to one side from negative charged bicarbonate that gets separated off to another side. Ionized water can also be alkalized so now you are drinking water with a higher pH, meaning less acidic, more basic water and water that has been proven to have a high mineral content. That definitely is promising.


So I’d say alkaline water and ionized water definitely have benefits and are worth looking into for a pure and mineral rich drinking water that’s good for your whole body and your family’s health as well. But I have to say, that there is an even better option on the market today. Let me tell you about that option now. This is my favorite overall option when it comes to drinking water, it’s the system we’ve had in our house for the last seven or eight years. I’m a huge advocate of this type of water, but right now I am not an affiliate for the company. That may change in the future because I just can’t say enough about this filtration system, but as of right now I’m just telling you this out of my research and my experience with the product.

I’m talking about the Berkey filtration system. Is this a filtration product you’ve heard about before? It’s definitely gaining in popularity because it’s been reviewed by scientists and consumer groups alike. And everyone is raving about the quality of the water it produces.

Berkey filters work on a filtration system that uses gravity fed filtration. It’s high in purity and high in the mineral department. I really like that with the Berkey filtration system, that it doesn’t require anyone coming in your house and work on all of the pipes and change all of the inner workings of your tap water. It’s just a canister that sits on your kitchen counter and pound for pound it’s in definitely a cheaper option than many of the filtration systems on the market.

So I mentioned gravity fed filtration. How does all of this work? The Berkey water filtration system starts with microfiltration of your own tap water. So no special water needed. It gets rid of the microorganisms in your tap water. So we’re talking about a 99.9% of the arsenic and bacteria and chlorine. It’s also removing huge amounts of E. coli and fluoride, as well as glyphosate, heavy metals, etc… All those microorganisms that can have a negative impact on our digestive health.

Then, the Berkey filtration system ionizes the water. Just like the ionic process I mentioned earlier, it’s the same principle. Contaminants attract to contaminants and then get absorbed by the filter. Contaminants don’t get past the filter in into your drinking water.

Lastly in its filtration process, the Berkey purifies by removing submicron (that’s teeny tiny—if you want to be technical about it), viruses from the water. This is B Big because most water filters can’t accomplish this task without the use of toxic chemicals.

If you’ve seen a Berkey filters before, maybe on someone else’s counter or maybe on your own, you know what it looks like. It looks like one of those metal coffee urns with a spout on the bottom. You see them at events and in hotel lobbies. Do you know what I’m talking about? The Berkey company makes different sizes of this urn and the one that you get depends on your needs and the size of your family. Like I said earlier, pound for pound this is really an economical option. There is an upfront cost for the Berkey that may seem high to you, but when you think about the fact that the filters in the Berkey only get changed every two years, and I always change mine during the holidays because that’s when they have their super sales, in the long run it’s a much cheaper and definitely it’s a much healthier option than any we’ve talked about so far today.

The Berkey water filter, big thumbs up for purity, big thumbs up for mineral content. You won’t be disappointed with this water filtration system. Just make sure you get a size big enough for your needs because my family made the mistake of getting what’s called the Big Berkey and I think we probably could’ve used a size bigger. I use it for everything, for drinking water, for cooking water, for the pets water and I’m filling the water more often than I’d like. One day we are going to upgrade. But if you have a smaller family, I’m sure the Big Berkey would be the right size for you.

So that you have it. My favorite water filtration system the Berkey and the honorable mentions that almost measure up plus the methods you should absolutely think twice about before you make a long-term commitment. If you want more Berkey info, if you want to check this water filtration system out for yourself, I will leave some links for you in the show notes. Remember that if you want my recap, the cliff notes version of everything we talked about today, go to Everything you need to know about quality water in a one-page PDF version. And if you’re not in the market for a water filtration system today, you can keep that on hand for when you are.

OK my friend, how did that information land for you? What questions do you have about getting quality water in your life? Which system seems to fit best for you? You know my opinion, there are some honorable mentions out there but they just do not meet the quality standards of the Berkey water filter. I’d love to know your thoughts though. Come on over to the show notes at and let me know what you think.

Until we meet again I’m wishing you a cheeky and healthy gut healing journey. Chat soon!

9 New & Noteworthy Gut Healthy Snack Foods {no baking necessary}

Thanks to gut healing diets like Paleo, FODMAPs, Keto, gluten free, even to some extent the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, we’ve seen store-bought snacks rise to the occasion.

Gone are the days when we have to go without or suffer through the long hours of making our own snacks at home.

Today’s gut healthy store-bought snacks are all about flavor. They’re all about saving you time in the kitchen. And they’re all about ingredients that work best for your sensitive belly.

Raise your hands in the air like you just don’t care if that’s got your name all over it.

Three Things You’ll Learn in This Episode

🌿 The one brand of gut healthy snacking goodies that covers everything you ever wanted to snack on.

🌿 The best snacks to satisfy your salt cravings and your sweet tooth.

🌿  The family who turned an autoimmune disease into a gut healthy, thriving snack business.

Rate, Review and Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Mentioned in the Episode:

Simple Mills Soft Baked Bars

Purchase Information

On The Website

On Thrive Market

On Amazon

Purely Elizabeth

Purchase Information

On The Website

On Vitacost

On Thrive Market

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From the Ground Up:

Purchase Information

On The Website

On Thrive Market

On Fresh Direct

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Epic Bone Broth:

Purchase Information

On The Website

On Fresh Direct

On Vitacost

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Birch Benders:

Purchase Information

On The Website

On Target

On Thrive Market

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Simple Mills Crackers:

Purchase Information

On The Website

On Amazon

On Thrive Market

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Host Defense Mycobrew:

Purchase Information

On The Website

On Pure Formulas

On Amazon

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Hu Chocolate:

Purchase Information

On The Website

On Thrive Market

On Vitacost

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Siete Foods Tortilla Chips:

Purchase Information

On The Website

On Vitacost

On Hive

Connect With Karyn:

Karyn on Facebook

Schedule Your FREE 30-Minute IBD Consult

Episode Transcript:

Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve for Better Gut Health

When we deal with challenges like Crohn’s and colitis, we feel its impact daily. The digestive system and other parts of our body seem to fail us at every turn.

What if we could use our gut-brain connection and our vagus nerve pathway, (this amazing super communication highway between our brain and our microbiome) to our IBD benefit?

And what if it was amazingly simple? What if there were no-brainer, easy peasy ways that increase our vagal tone and ultimately create a positive impact for our gut?

Reducing symptoms like inflammation, boosting our immune system, reducing our stress response, balancing our mood with less anxiety and depression, healing the lining of our digestive tract.

Sometimes gut healing is hard.

Sometimes we need to take drastic, challenging steps to heal. And sometimes gut healing modalities are so simple that they are right at our fingertips.

No side effects, no toxic pills, no special diets to follow.

Just simple steps you can start right away.

Well, grab a and pen and paper, get out the notes app on your phone because today is all about some simple, no brainer steps you can take right now to improve your gut health and it’s all thanks to our amazing, often undervalued vagus nerve.

Three Things You’ll Learn in This Episode

🌿 The specific bacterial strain that’s been found beneficial in helping IBDer’s achieve remission.

🌿 How vagus nerve stimulation therapy is being used to help those with IBD find relief from mild to moderate symptoms.

🌿  The link between singing and IBD healing.

Rate, Review and Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

Mentioned in the Episode:

Episode 6: Use The Gut-Brain Connection to Your IBD Advantage

IBD Research Studies:

The Probiotic Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 Reduces Pathogen Invasion and Modulates Cytokine Expression in Cao-2 Cells Infected with Crohn’s Disease-Associated E. coli LF82

Mutaflor- E. coli Nissle 1917 Probiotic

Non-Invasive Vagal Nerve Stimulation to Treat Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis in Children and Young Adults

Vagus Nerve Meditations:

Insight Timer: Vagus Nerve Stimulation by Chibs Okereke

Insight Timer: Vagus Nerve Breathing Meditation by Camilla Sacre-Dallerup

Insight Timer: Vagus Nerve Half Salamander Practice by Chastitie Vallance

Episode Resources:

Gut Microbe to Brain Signaling: What Happens in Vagus

The Vagus Nerve: Gastroparesis, Vasovagal Syncope, and Other Health Conditions

Vagal Tone: The Gut-Brain Axis and The Vagus Nerve

5 Ways to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve

Mind Body Green 11 Ways to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve

15 Ways to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve to Improve Gut Health

Connect With Karyn:

Karyn on Facebook

Schedule Your FREE 30-Minute IBD Consult

Episode Transcript:

Gut Healing Through Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Gut instinct, gut feeling, even butterflies in your stomach… You might think these thoughts in your head, but you’re feeling them in your gut. That’s the gut/brain connection in action and its pull is strong. You can think of it like this: Maybe you have a friend or a family member who you chat with all the time, you know each other so well that you finish each other’s sentences, the two of you never run out of things to talk about… that’s the connection between the brain and the gut. It’s solid and no one is tearing it apart.  This glorious link, this super communication pathway is all made possible by a part of the central nervous system called the vagus nerve. It travels down the back of your body and connects these two body systems so they can talk like two young girlfriends who stay up all night at a sleepover.

Now let’s bring IBD into the equation. When we deal with challenges like Crohn’s and colitis, we feel its impact daily, where the digestive system and other parts of our body seem to fail us at every turn. What if we could use this gut brain connection, this vagal pathway, this amazing friendship and connection, to our IBD benefit? And what if it was amazingly simple? What if there were no-brainer, easy peasy ways that increase our vagal tone and ultimately create a positive impact for our gut?


Reducing symptoms like inflammation, boosting our immune system, reducing our stress response, balancing our mood with less anxiety and depression, healing the lining of our digestive tract.

Sometimes gut healing is hard. Sometimes we need to take drastic, challenging steps to heal. And sometimes gut healing modalities are so simple that they are right at our fingertips. No side effects, no toxic pills, no special diets to follow.

Just simple steps you can start right away.

Well, grab and pen and paper, get out the notes app on your phone because today is all about some simple, no brainer steps you can take right now to improve your gut health and it’s all thanks to our amazing, often under-valued vagus nerve.


Hello my friend, welcome back to The Cheeky Podcast. It’s a treat to be with you today, talking about one of my favorite gut healing topics that just doesn’t get enough attention—it’s the vagus nerve. I just stimulated mine right before I hit record on this episode so I am feeling energized and ready to tell you all about it.


Before we dive into the juicy details, I want to leave you with one final reminder… you might remember me talking about this at the end of the last couple episodes—my private health coaching practice is about to hit pause for new clients. I’m booking my last consult calls before I’m enacting my waitlist on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. If you and I are already working together, this won’t impact you at all. You are still good to go and it’s my honor to be by your side on your gut healing journey. But from time to time, I reach my client limit and in order to best serve the clients I do have, I need to press pause on taking any new clients.

One of those pauses is about to happen so if you’ve been thinking about how health coaching might be just what you need to get some clarity on getting your IBD into remission, if you’ve been feeling stuck in a rut, spinning your wheels and getting nowhere with your current IBD healing plan, or if you just feel overwhelmed with all your healing options and you don’t know where to start—hop on a client call with me. My 30-minute consults are completely free and we’ll chat about how your IBD is impacting your life, we’ll make a plan to get you started on the right path and we’ll talk about how we can work together to help your gut healing goals become your reality.

After these sessions, the comment I always get is “Wow, I don’t feel as overwhelmed anymore. Now I have a plan and a path forward.” That’s the best thing to hear for me. It truly lights me up. After all these years with Crohn’s, giving back in this way really feeds my soul. You know if you are a long time listener, supporting you on your IBD healing journey is my mission in life. I suffered for way too long before finally finding ways to help put my IBD symptoms in their place and I don’t want you to suffer like I did. There’s just so much that can be done to help. Sometimes, we just need someone to take us by the hand and walk with us as we figure things out.

Did I mention an IBD consult call with me is absolutely free? What are you waiting for? Now is the time mama. If you’re ready to take big, bold, IBD-sized action steps, I’m here to help. Go to to book your session with me today. Remember, it all goes away on July 12th, 2022 so take advantage of this opportunity before then.

OK my friend, it’s vagus nerve time and we are about to talk about some simple action steps you can take today, ones that can have a positive impact on your gut and the rest of your body. And let’s be honest here, this might seem like an episode that you want to skip because it’s not the sexiest topic and it may not be something you’ve heard about before so you’re not sure if it’s worth your time. Let me tell you my friend, you should definitely stay for this one because I’m about to share with you things that your doctor probably has never talk to you about before. You are not going to believe how profound and how simple some of these steps are that really can help with your Crohn’s and colitis symptoms.

But let’s take a quick step back before I share with you 11 simple ways that you can engage in stimulate your vagus nerve for better gut health because in order to fully embrace the simple action steps I’m going to lay out for you today, you’ll want to understand exactly what we’re talking about here and why this vagus nerve and the gut/brain connection has anything to do with your IBD.


Now, we’re not going to get too detailed here, because there’s already a Cheeky Podcast episode about the gut/brain connection out there. It’s an oldie and for me it’s cringy to listen to, but the information is valuable so I’m going to swallow my pride and dread of you going there and taking a listen to remind you that it’s episode 6. We are up to 97 at this point, so please be kind. I hope the flow has improved since that one. But if you’re looking to expand your knowledge about the gut/brain axis, this episode is really intriguing to you, that’s the episode for you. It’s a good companion episode for this one. So go check that one out as well, but in this episode we are going to move beyond what the vagus nerve connection is and talk more about how to stimulate it for better gut health. Let’s just do a quick refresher of how this connection works and why it matters especially for those of us with IBD.

So, if you remember studying anatomy and physiology in school (and who doesn’t), you might remember just how amazing our body systems are (that part I do remember). The fact that they work in such harmony to keep us alive is truly astounding. The vagus nerve is one of those body systems. It’s part of (as the name suggests) the central nervous system or the CNS. The CNS breaks into different types of nerves and the vagus nerve is part of a CNS system called the parasympathetic nervous system. Its opposite counterpart, the sympathetic nervous system is the fight or flight part of our anatomy we need in dangerous situations and when we see that there is no real danger, it’s up to the parasympathetic nervous system and our vagus nerve to kick in and calm us down.

The cool thing about this system is that it’s autonomic. We don’t have to think about it to make it work—our breathing, our heat beat, our digestion.  All parts of this system are well-oiled machines that don’t take conscious thought to work. Well, the vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system, this calming system and it starts at the base of our skull and travels down our back with nerve endings moving into our heart, our immune system, and our digestive system.

When we talk about this nerve, we talk about it connecting the gut and the brain, but we really should include the microbiome in there as well. That’s the gut connection. Those trillions of tiny microorganisms, gut bugs if you will, play a crucial role here as well. You can think of this connection like an information superhighway and even though it contains no wi-fi, or dial up internet connection, it’s even faster connection than the world wide web, and definitely a more important because it connects all these major organs in you.

To keep our amazingly well-crafted bodies going, our organs need to be in constant communication with each other in for us to maintain homeostasis—or balance. And this communication is bi-directional so these are not one-way streets. The vagus nerve is not just the brain sending information one way down the road and the gut sending one way as well. It’s constant information going both ways all the time. Talk about a complicated system! Because of this complicated, constant communication, the vagus nerve gets to plays a roll in our food intake, our hunger, our satiety or feeling full when we eat, but also our physiology and even our behavior. Even just simple thoughts and feelings we’ve gotten used to when we have IBD are linked to this vagus nerve. The feeling of a rumbly, gurgly belly, feeling nauseous or queasy, even how your mouth waters when you think of your favorite food. It’s all about the gut/brain connection.


So far so good? Well, the this is where, in my opinion all this complicated anatomy gets interesting because it turns out that the health of the vagas nerve and the communications we are having between our microbiome and our brain actually have links to all kinds of illnesses, when the communication isn’t working at its peak. Autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, major depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS… research shows major connections to disrupted vagas nerve communication and because this nerve ending also plays a role in our fight or flight response, it also plays a huge roll in our stress response (how we experience stress and anxiety) and also in how inflammation shows up in our body.

See why if we could, we’d all want to find ways to have our vagas nerve working at its peak, why we’d want to stimulate it so it’s working to its fullest? Because when the vagas nerve is happy, the inflammation in our digestive track is lower, our stress response is more regulated and balanced, and we are at decreased risk for the other illnesses I just mentioned—both physical and mental health challenges.


A couple minutes ago, I said that this is where it gets interesting, the vagus nerve and its strong connection to disease and illness, hold on to your hat mama and get ready to geek out with me, because if that was interesting, it’s about to get fascinating. Everything I’ve mentioned so far has been information that’s been around for a while, but lately this gut, brain, microbiota connection, all through the vagus nerve has gotten even more fascinating because lately researchers have found that when we take specific bacterial strains (think probiotics, prebiotics), we can change the course of some of these types of illnesses.

So, it used to be that scientists would say, we know that probiotics are important for your gut health, but we’re not exactly sure which probiotic you should take. Take a multi-strain one because I’m sure one of the bacterial strains will help. But now, researchers have been able to pinpoint specific bacterial strains and say, “This one helps for depression, this one helps for Parkinson’s, this one helps for IBD.” And through treatment options like these, we are stimulating the connection between the gut and the brain through our microbiome for a healthier vagus nerve connection and a healthier whole body for you.

Now there’s a long way to go with this research, but it’s coming along more rapidly now that ever. Just think, if we could use very specific strains of bacteria on our own body, imagine how much more effective they’d be to control our Crohn’s and our colitis symptoms. For example, some new research has studied a bacterial strain called E. coli Nissle 1917 and it’s been shown to be beneficial for patients with both Crohn’s and colitis. Have you heard about this strain? I actually have some clients who swear by this probiotic as an integral roll in their Wheel of Wellness. Of course, everyone is individual and more research needs to be conducted, especially more human trials (so far it’s mainly been animal studies), especially before you know if it’s the best approach for you, but it’s an exciting start and I think it’s really going to move the IBD needle in a positive direction. Hopefully in our lifetime.

If you want to read more about this specific bacterial strain, the E. coli Nissle 1917 and see the research for yourself, go to the show notes at and you can check out the research for yourself.


Thanks to all the new research currently being conducted, we can also get really specific with conditions that can be helped by stimulating our vagus nerve. Medical centers like The Cleveland Clinic have been treating gastroparesis (where food stops moving from the stomach to the intestines) and vasovagal syncope (basically fainting) with vagal nerve stimulation or VNS as it’s called. Those are more traditional uses for VNS, but information put out by the Cleveland Clinic also shows indications for VNS for other health challenges like cluster headaches, PTSD, and guess what other condition near and dear to our heart—yep, you guessed it VNS has been used to treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

And here’s where we get to the most useful part of this whole conversation today. We now know the why. Why the link between the brain, the gut, the microbiome, and IBD so important. Now we get to the how. How can you stimulate the vagus nerve to help as a healing tool for your Crohn’s and your colitis. Well, one way is through medical VNS (vagal nerve stimulation) I just mentioned.

So far, there have only been a few human studies looking at medical uses for VNS in IBD. In one study, patients with IBD had the VNS device inserted cervically and the device was implanted  internally. This study did show promising results. But in a newer study the VNS devices were being used in a non-invasive way (not inserted inside the patients). One research study in 2021 I looked at showed a younger set of IBD patients, 10-year-olds to 21-year-old. They all had mild to moderate Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis and they didn’t respond to conventional treatment. The people in the study also had calprotectin levels of 200 or higher. I know most of us if not all of us are familiar with the lovely calprotectin level. It’s an IBD measurement tool through a stool sample that looks at IBD inflammation in our body. And level of 200 would be considered active inflammation.

So the young people in this study were either given VNS treatment externally through their left ear or externally on their lower leg. And although this was a small study, it at least was a human study and it definitely showed promising results for several of the patients—inducing remission for many. This is definitely prompting more research in the area of vagal nerve stimulation to help with IBD symptoms. We’ll have to see if this ends up as a treatment in our doctors’ offices. Wouldn’t that be cool?

So that’s what’s happening medically. That’s what’s happening with gut brain vagus nerve stimulation with research and possibly at some point, an option for treatment in your doctor’s office. But what can you do right now? What can you do to help increase your vagal tone right at home so that you can find gut healing benefits for you as well?

I mentioned the at the top of the episode that activating and stimulating your vagus nerve for better gut health is simple and something you can do right away. And as I give you these examples today, you’re going see just how accessible and easy this process is. Here’s 11 ways you can stimulate and increase your vagal tone to help you control inflammation, boost your immune system, heal mucosal lining, decrease your stress response and your feelings of anxiety, modulate your mood (especially for depression), become more resilient, and enjoy so many more of the benefits of this vagus nerve gut/brain connection.

Vagal tone, or a well-stimulated vagus nerve, is accessed by looking at your heart rate and your breathing rate. We want there to be a difference between your inhalation heart rate and your exhalation heart rate. Your breath should speed up when you breath in and slow down when you breath out. And this means higher vagal tone means which equals a healthier gut/brain connection.


So let’s increase your vagal tone, all with ways we don’t need to go to the doctor’s office for. All with easy ways that need no special equipment, shall we?

#1: You can increase your vagal tone with gentle exercise.

And I think you’ll find that gentle exercises like yoga is especially beneficial here as there are lots of twisting your torso exercises in this type of practice. Twisting exercises help with smooth muscle contractions and smooth muscle contractions aid in digesting your food. Gentle impact exercise stimulates your vagus nerve for better digestion.

#2: You can increase your vagal tone with deep breathing exercises.

Deep breathing promotes the parasympathetic nervous system’s state of relaxation, calm, and peace. There’s several ways you can incorporate deep breathing into your day. I’m a huge fan as you already know of the 4-7-8 breath. This is the breath where you breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, you hold it for 7 seconds, and then you breathe out through your mouth for 8 seconds. It’s a breath you can do anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

I’m also a huge fan of taking three slow, deep intentional breaths in the morning before I get out of bed. And also taking three slow, deep intentional breaths before I go to bed at night. It’s just very calming and soothing and a lovely way to start and end the day and good for that vagal tone.

Alternate nostril breathing is also a wonderful breathing exercise to stimulate the vagus nerve. It involves blocking off one nostril, while breathing in and then taking turns closing the other nostril as you breath out. You can repeat this breathing exercise on both nostrils 10-20 times playing with how slow or fast you complete the cycle.

The most important part about deep breathing is no matter how many seconds you decide to make the breath last, when you breathe in and then breathe out, try to make your exhalation breath double the time of your inhalation. So if you breathe in for four seconds, you’ll want to breathe out for eight seconds. And if you choose to breathe in for three seconds you’ll want to breathe out for six seconds. Continue to try to lengthen the time of your deep breathing and you’ll be sending signals of calm and relaxation to your vagus nerve.

#3: You can increase your vagal tone by singing.

Yes, you heard that right singing. Whether you’re tone deaf or you sing like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, it doesn’t matter. Just the act of singing is all you need for this vagus nerve stimulator. This is my favorite way to stimulate my vagus nerve. It works because vibrations in your body from singing gives your vagus nerve a workout. There’s no fight or flight response while we are singing. Just lots of rest and digest which is all part of the parasympathetic nervous system and the vagus nerve.

#4 You can increase your vagal tone by side sleeping.

Are you already a side sleeper? If you are, that is a bonus and if you are sleeping on your right side that’s a double bonus. Right side sleepers are stimulating their vagus nerve and increasing their vagal tone while they sleep. It couldn’t be simpler than that.

Now if you are a back or tummy sleeper, you can always use a pillow to help. You know one of those long pillows or U-shaped pillows. I always called it my boyfriend pillow. They’re those long body pillows you probably remember from when you were pregnant. I would always tell my husband, my boyfriend’s coming to bed with us tonight. Totally bad joke but he always laughed at it which is how I know I picked a keeper. If they laugh at your bad jokes, they are a keeper. If you prop that type of pillow behind your back, it can help you stay on your right side while you sleep.

#5 Speaking of laughing with your spouse, you can increase your vagal tone by laughing.

Laughter truly is the best medicine. Laughter stimulates your vagus nerve and increases vagal tone. So often as moms, we forget to laugh. We’re so busy running our household and taking care of our health that laughter gets left behind. I was definitely the victim the cheerless mom. So, this year I made a pact with myself that I would have a huge belly laugh at least once a day. I love to watch comedians (Jim Gaffigan is a personal fav, he always makes me laugh), but I’ll also watch funny YouTube videos, and I’ve asked my older teens to send me funny animal memes on my phone because they always crack me up. It’s my goal to laugh hard, get in a true belly laugh, at least once a day and getting my family involved in it helps me stick to my goal.

Not only am I stimulating my vagus nerve here, but I feel like laughter is just good for my whole body, mind, and soul.  

#6 You can increase your vagal tone by getting some acupuncture.

Great if you already have an acupuncturist, I don’t know if I would go out and get one just for this benefit because there are so many other options here. But if you already have an acupuncturist, you might want to let them know that you are interested in stimulating your vagus nerve for better gut-brain health. They are trained in increasing your vagal tone and will definitely be able to help you out.

#7 You can increase your vagal tone through meditation.

And you know I am not a “make your mind blank” type of meditator. So you know that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about active mind visualizations that help strengthen your gut-brain connection. Meditations like this not only improve your vagal tone, but they can also improve the quality of your sleep, how you express pain in your body, it can help decrease anxiety, as well as your G.I. symptoms.

My favorite meditation app is insight timer, it’s full of free meditations and they even have great vagus nerve stimulation options. I put my top three favorite in the show notes so if you’re interested in using meditation to stimulate your vagus nerve, go check it out at

#8 You can increase your vagal tone with cold exposure.

Have you tried this before? This is something I’m really getting into lately, and I’m not going lie, I’m really struggling with it. I’m not going to give up though because I know just how beneficial cold exposure can be. Cold situations like a cold shower, a cold plunge pool, an ice bath… people swear by these and research shows that it benefits our vagal tone as well.

If you’re new to all of this like me with cold therapy, you might want to just start by drinking a glass of cold water or splashing cold water on your face. That can be a baby step and can help get you moving in the right direction with this vagus nerve stimulator.

#9 You can increase your vagal tone by taking specific bacterial strains.

We talked about this earlier in the episode, this new research showing that specific bacterial strains rather than multi strain probiotics may be a direction that can help your Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Remember E. coli Nissle 1917? That’s one in the research that  is promising for Crohn’s as well as colitis.

There are also several bacterial strains that have been shown to benefit the vagus nerve. Another one is Bifidobacterium longum. That has been found helpful for those with anxiety. So if that something that you experience, you might want to check out the research on that as well. I’ll leave the links for that in the show notes as well.

#10 You can increase your vagal tone by cutting down on sugar.

What ailment can’t be helped by cutting out sugar? This is a no-brainer. Sugar causes chronic inflammation, and it impairs your vagus nerve pathways. Inflammation of the mucosal lining is also present when there’s too much sugar in the diet. It disrupts the microbe communication between the brain and the gut. So as best you can, get rid of the sugar. It will help your gut brain connection.

#11 you can increase your vagal tone by gargling.

Yep, simple gargling. Getting a bunch of warm water and gargling it in the back of your throat. This option works much like singing because it is all about the vibrations it creates in your body. Those gargly vibrations stimulate your vagus nerve. It’s like in giving the vagus nerve a work out.

For a highly effective IBD gargle and swish, especially to keep the mouth sores away which are so common with Crohn’s and colitis, I highly recommend adding into your warm water a touch of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Now you’re helping the health of your mouth and stimulating the vagus nerve at the same time. Win, win.

I told you those were simple right. We’re not talking about rocket science here. These are things that all of us can do right now, today, to help with the health of our gut. I know you can do at least four or five of these right away. Maybe more!


Let’s recap increasing your vagal tone ideas real quick before we go.

1-Gentle exercise

2- Breathing

3- Singing

4- Laughter is the best medicine

5- Side sleeping (right side)

6- Acupuncture

7- Meditation

8- Cold exposure

9- Specific bacterial strains

10- Cut down on the sugar. You are sweet enough.

11- Gargling

Right now, the ones I’m most actively working on are deep breathing, singing, laughter, meditation, and cold exposure. All of them probably play some sort of roll for me, but those are the ones that I think are most important for me right now. How about you? Which of these are you currently actively engaged in or which ones do you feel like you could do more of? As always I want to hear from you. Let’s connect so you can tell me what vagal tone exercises you’ll be trying. There’s a comment section at the bottom of the show notes. Tell me what one or two vagal tone strategies you are going to start right away. Ones that will help not only your Crohn’s or colitis, but your whole body as well. I can’t wait to hear from you. The gut-brain connection, it always makes me feel lucky and grateful for all my body does for me.

Don’t forget, you’ve got only a few days to book your free IBD consult with me and for us to work together with me by your side as you find your best IBD healing path. My free consultations and private 1 on 1 health coaching sessions are hitting pause. It all goes away on July 12, 2022 so book your free consult at

Until we meet again, I’m wishing you a cheeky and healthy gut healing journey.

Chat soon!

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This podcast, video, and blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.