Are you suffering from Shameflammation?

In this podcast (episode #467) and blog, I talk with Dr. Will Cole about how shame and trauma impact your gut health and body, how to heal your mind, body and gut, and so much more. 

Dr. Will is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the world via webcam, having started one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is also the host of the popular The Art of Being Well podcast and bestselling author of Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum, and the New York Times bestseller Intuitive Fasting.

Dr. Will’s new book, Gut Feelings, continues his amazing work by exploring the relationship between our gut health, physical health and mental health, and what we can do to improve not only the health of our gut but also our lives. As he notes, this book is all about healing the shame-fueled relationship between what we eat and how we feel. 

What does shame have to do with the gut, you may be wondering?  As Dr. Will discusses in his new book, it's easy to suffer from frustration and confusion when it comes to nutrition and health. With so much focus on what, when, and how to eat, the emotional component of eating tends to get left behind. 

This is why it is so important to recognize the relationship between our physical and emotional health. Research shows us that our gut and brain are inextricably linked through what is known as the ''gut-brain axis.'' This connection means that what affects one will often affect the other.  

The gut doesn’t just exist to help us break down food. There is a constant conversation going on between the brain and gut, which also has its own amazing neurons, just like the spinal cord! This relationship is incredibly important when it comes to our mental health, which is both directly and indirectly affected by how we live our lives. In fact, 95% of serotonin and 50% of dopamine are made and stored in the gut, which plays an important role in how we feel and our mood. No wonder many researchers call the gut our “second brain”! 

The more we understand the gut-brain axis, the more we can influence this connection for the better, especially when it comes to dealing with emotions like stress and shame. These emotions, if left unmanaged, can cause chronic gut inflammation and sabotage our health in a process Dr. Will calls Shameflammation. Indeed, shameflammation is often connected to health conditions such as autoimmune disorders, leaky gut, IBS, and other GI disorders. On the other end, problems with the gut can often present themselves in the form of mood swings, anxiety, and food cravings. Everything is connected! 

We need to recognize that true health isn’t just about what you eat, but how you feel, too! Mental health is physical health, and physical health is mental health. 

Thankfully, it’s possible to heal the connection between the physical and mental with good food and practices that support a healthy gut and brain, which Dr. Will provides in his book Gut Feelings. These include:

1. Re-examining your relationship with your phone. Making sure you have self-boundaries in place when it comes to how you use technology, whether this is for work or pleasure, and how it affects your mental and physical wellbeing: how does being connected to your phone affect how your feel? Is this impacting your health? 
2. Doing one simple, accessible thing every day to support your gut-brain axis. This includes eating foods that help promote your gut health and are more easily digestible, such a soups and stews, which make it easier for the body to absorb the nutrients you need. (This will look different for everyone, as we have different needs and food sensitivities.) 
3. Putting away all those wellness books. If you are feeling overwhelmed with health information and are stressed about what to do, edit your life: watch what you read, look up online and who you follow on social media. Make time in your life for more things you find nourishing and uplifting. 

For more on mind, brain and body health, listen to my podcast with Dr. Will (episode #467) and check out his amazing work. If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).     

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This podcast is sponsored by: 

BetterHelp. Therapy is a great way to take care of yourself. We don’t have to be in a crisis mode to benefit from therapy. Therapy can provide preventative and protective strategies, so that when things do get tough, you will know what to do—it is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. And this month, BetterHelp online therapy wants to remind you that you matter just as much as everyone else does, and therapy is a great way to make sure you show up for yourself! BetterHelp is online therapy that offers video, phone and even live chat sessions with your therapist, so you don’t have to see anyone on camera if you don’t want to. It’s much more affordable than in-person therapy and you can be matched with a therapist in under 48 hours. Visit, and join the over 1,000,000 people who have taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. In fact, so many people have been using BetterHELP that they are recruiting additional counselors in all 50 states! I am proud to say that this podcast is sponsored by BetterHelp, and Cleaning Up the Mental Mess listeners get 10% off their first month at   

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Podcast Highlights

2:00 Why our gut health is so important 

3:00 Mental health is physical health

4:30 How the gut & brain are connected  

7:02, 13:07 The science behind the gut-brain connection

16:55 Shameflammation: what is it & how it affects us 

21:45, 47:15 Shame & the wellness industry 

26:00 Why we need healthy self-boundaries 

32:00, 43:56 Practical tips to improve the gut-brain connection 

Switch On Your Brain LLC. is providing this podcast as a public service. Reference to any specific viewpoint or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by our organization. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. If you have any questions about this disclaimer, please contact

This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.        

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