The Whole View with Stacy Toth, Season 3, Episode 112: IBS is BS, Gut Health w/ Hannah Aylward

Certified Holistic Health Coach Hannah Aylward joins Stacy to talk about eating and digesting well, finding root causes to issues like IBS, and reminds us that feeling bloated all of the time is not normal! Hannah explains why our bodies need to feel safe in order to heal and practical and sustainable ways to start that process.

Find Hannah:

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Key Takeaways


  • Hannah is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, gut health expert, author of Recipes for A Healthy Gut, and the founder of HAN, a functional nutrition practice taking a root cause approach to repairing the gut for real.
  • After struggling with her own chronic digestive issues for years, Hannah dove headfirst into the latest in gut health research, seeking answers to her bloating, food sensitivities, and pain. After healing her own digestive issues, she has now helped hundreds of other women around the world do the same. 
  • According to her, when she isn’t helping clients you can find her singing RnB, dancing in the kitchen, or cuddling her cat Winston.


The more fear, the worse your digestion is, the worse your whole quality of life is, because that’s also very important. Your mental health is just as important as if you’re hitting your protein goals. – Hannah Aylward

  • The gut is really the center of your health (70-80% of our immune system resides in the gut)! Because if you’re not absorbing what you need to absorb then it doesn’t have the raw materials that it needs you’re just triggering that immune system cascade over and over, which will run into issues. So Hannah focus on testing (not guessing), reimagining relationship with food, identifying root causes, and enhancing the body’s own detoxification capabilities.
  • Ultimately, she wants to get your body on your side. So much of diet culture and all of this is fighting your biology. Stacy and Hannah explore this post about what “normal” gut health look like vs. the symptoms are associated with dysregulated gut health (like IBS)? Hannah notes that most women have similar stories that led them to a breakdown in gut function and lots of digestive issues. It goes something like: dieting for years, counting calories, HIIT multiple times a week, wanting to change their body for most of their life, birth control, always being on, putting everyone else’s feelings before their own, and gut issues start to arise.
  • Regarding testing, Hannah notes in this post that they see hundreds of clients a year that have “tried everything” and gotten all of the testing. But they still find underlying imbalances that can be fixed. When chronic Gl issues are present, there are almost always a few gut environment issues present causing these symptoms. 
  • So how does she test? Everyone gets a functional stool samples to get the data and figure out what’s going on: bacteria, fungal, parasitic, digestion-related, et. Will also test for mycotoxins (mold toxicity) and minerals as needed.
It’s not just food
  • By time they seek Hannah for help, up to 80% of her clients have already removed gluten and dairy, plus many more food items or groups. But ultimately those patients’ health got worse long-term. As she states here, “the more foods you take out of your diet, the more food intolerances you’ll probably develop (you’re reducing gut microbial diversity which will hurt you in the long run).”
  • Removing food groups like gluten and dairy will not “heal your gut”.
The reality is when your gut environment is out of whack, you can’t digest a lot of thing!

  • Food sensitivities and intolerances are largely due to inadequate digestive output, weak gut immune function, gut pathogens and a damaged gut lining.

Good news: these can be fixed!
  • The more foods you take out of your diet, the more food intolerances you’ll probably develop (you’re reducing gut microbial diversity which will hurt you in the long run).
  • Hannah also reminds us in that post and in the conversation that your body is resilient. It’s hangs in there with you, through all of these stressors, until one day it can’t. The symptoms will arise, so listen to these symptoms.

Next Steps

When we really speak to ourselves negatively, don’t hit our nutrient needs, under eat, are chronically stressed, not sleeping enough, the body isn’t feeling safe – Hannah Aylward

For those of us who have been told “it’s always food” for any body concerns we have. Stacy and Hannah talk through what she’s seen actually help (more details here!)

  • Brush your teeth first thing in the morning (before eating or drinking anything).
  • Hydrate with filtered water first thing. 16oz of water with a pinch of sea salt and/or trace mineral drops to properly hydrate. Straight water isn’t the best way to hydrate!
  • Eat a protein rich breakfast. Aim for 25-30g of protein. Pair this with fiber, a healthy fat source + a carb. 
  • Eat more polyphenol rich foods. Polyphenols enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibit the growth of pathogens. Eat “foods that stain” like beets, turmeric, berries, pomegranate, etc. 
  • Move daily (in a way that you enjoy!).  Avoid too much high intensity to reduce increasing stress hormones.
  • Help your body feel safe. Your body needs to feel safe to heal! Here are tools for how:
    • prioritize 7-9 hours per night
    • eat 3 full meals per day (no skipping)
    • stabilize blood sugar
    • use daily stress management techniques like breath work, meditation + journaling
    • set boundaries + prioritize your needs

Hannah recommends just picking ONE thing to start with, like swapping breakfast. And ultimately, ask yourself If you have any time in your day for you!


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Note: Stacy and her guests are not medical professionals. This podcast is for general educational purposes only. It is NOT intended to diagnose, advise, or treat any physical or mental illness. We always recommend you consult a licensed service provider.

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