For our fourth episode of the IGTV Live Chat, we recorded a video chat with Sheradyn Dekker on the last 28th of October 2021. With over 2000 followers on Instagram, Sheradyn offers her wide range of knowledge about gut health providing her clients with the right care they need for their physical and mental health. Having that sense of deeper knowledge about functional nutrition, Sheradyn does her best to explain how knowing the root cause of her client’s problems is very important to solving one’s issues with bloating, constipation, and other digestive and hormonal issues. 

Read more below to learn more about her and her expertise. You can also watch our video at the top of this page.

James: Hello! Welcome to another session of Live Giving Greens with Sheradyn, Functional Nutrition today. Just waiting for her to come online. We’re going to talk about gut health today. Here we go.

Sheradyn: Yay! Should be connected.

James: How are you going?

Sheradyn: Good, how are you?

James: Yeah, I’m not too bad. Thanks for taking the time to join me this evening. 

Sheradyn: Pleasure. When those days in Perth I feel like “I got this to do and that to do…” then it’s like the end of the day and like “Oh, yes cool! I’m doing that as well.” It’s nice to just be at it. …Perth businesses where sometimes I had, you know, one on one calls today and sometimes you just change people all around Australia and then you get who your local vibes are as well. 

James: It’s so easy to connect with certain people all in Australia. I guess I’ve been focusing more so in Perth. And I’ve met so many great people here in Perth, it’s amazing. Just all because of business. 

Sheradyn: I’ve just lost you for a second there I’ll just click my Wi-Fi over. Oh, there we go, that’s better. 

James: Alright. You back. OK. I think we might start with if you can just give yourself a quick intro. So who you are and what you do. 

Sheradyn: Yeah, sure. I call myself a functional nutritionist, but not a lot of people know exactly what that means. So my background is actually Sports Science, so I studied at Notre Dame in Fremantle. Did sports science and then actually moved to Queensland to do Masters in nutrition and then went on to do further studies in functional diagnostic nutrition and also some training and assessing stuff. I was working with PTs and I was essentially training to be a personal trainer, so doing a little bit of lecturing. And then, while I was doing functional diagnostic nutrition stuff because I was working in that real nutrition and health space. And I loved it like it was great. What I was finding that so many, ’cause I was working predominantly with women, we’re doing like, you know, all these health stuff not, changing their lifestyle and eating really well, when they were exercising, they’re still having all these bloating and gut problems and pain and digestive issues and fatigue and hormonal imbalances. And they’re like “Look, I’m doing all the right things. What’s going on? Why am I so constipated? Or why is my gut hurt or whatever?” There’s some mismatch in there and at the same time, I’ve gone through my own health journey with losing my periods and a lot of gut issues and fatigue and all this stuff. And also in my early 20s, so this is what, like seven or eight years ago, and I was kind of the same thing. I’m going on the same journey as my clients. I was like “This isn’t right.” like something’s not right here. So I’ve seen a lot of people, I’ve seen a lot of medical specialists. I’ve got a lot of testing done that done bone marrow biopsies and MRIs and all this stuff going. Don’t know what’s wrong with this chick. She’s like “fit and healthy”. Ladidadida. But, you know, nothing sort of adding up. Just take the birth control pill or take more laxatives and you know you’ll be fine kind of thing. And I was like when you work in the health space you don’t accept that like you go “No, that’s just a band-aid approach. What is actually going on?” So then, I can cross-functional diagnostic nutrition and I started studying that and through that, I then came across functional testing. So I call myself a functional nutritionist because my goal is to get people functioning optimally rather than just functioning. Because you know anyone can function but how well are you functioning? And through that, I use functional testing predominantly as well as nutrition. So around like the stool testing, hormone testing, urine testing, and thyroid testing. All that stuff to go. OK, what’s actually the root cause. And when I did that on myself, I found that I have two parasites. Have leaky GERD. All these allergies immune stuff and then all the hormones stuff. I was pretty much menopausal like I was totally burnt out. There are so many things from stressing over-exercising, and under eating, and you know all this stuff like I thought I was being so healthy, you know, was actually just totally overdoing it, which is super common. I say that all the time to women. So it was really good to actually have something like finding out I had parasites or had yeast in candid or overgrowth and I had damage to my gut line. I was like, “OK? There’s actually something there. It’s not just in my head. I’m not just making it up like my GP is actually wrong.” Of course, they don’t do stool testing, they don’t do comprehensive hormone testing because (a) they don’t have the time (b) it’s not Medicare relatable. So many of those sides of things, it’s gotta be done through someone who you know, like a naturopath or a nutritionist like myself. Your standard GP won’t do it. But for me, it was life-changing, like doing that and then going through – took a couple of years still to get where I am today. Because, you know, ten years of damage isn’t gonna get fixed in two or three months. But I’ve learned so much and then I started my own business, working one-on-one with men and women, but now I generally work with women. To do the stool testing and the hormone testing. And what I’m passionate about is (one) IBS is a BS diagnosis like it’s IBS and those PMS and thing, tagline, symptom thing we call are not real. Like there’s a reason. It will be parasites. It will be gut dysbiosis. So that’s one aspect of functional testing. 

James: I think it’s a really big umbrella that gets all a bunch of things. 

Sheradyn: Yeah, exactly, and it’s so frustrating because people then accept that. Like they go to their GP saying this means like they go “OK. Well, you’ve got IBS, drink more water.” And for those who don’t know irritable bowel syndrome, so basically you either have constipation or diarrhea or a mix of both, usually with the cramping pain and a lot of bloating, So it can vary – this looks different; some people have constipation, they are only going once every two days. Someone’s going once every 10 days like it’s there’s a spectrum and same with loose stools that might be 4,5, 6 times a day. Some people do it over 20 times a day. Like this just… It’s so different and that can alternate in people as well, and then it usually counts with the bloating and the pain, and usually, it’s a reaction to food. So if someone said to you or you’ve got IBS, well then you go, “They didn’t come to me.” And I go, “Oh, you’re a gut health nutritionist.” “I’ve got IBS. What can I do about it?” Well firstly, you don’t have IBS. You’ve probably got dysbiosis, an imbalance of good to bad bacteria. What can we do about it? Well, we can test for the root cause. We can make dietary changes. We can address your lifestyle. We can address your stress and then all those things. Then they would tell us why you’re hormonal, why you’ve got fatigue, why you’re deficient in all your nutrients. Because that is linked. If you’re not absorbing it or not breaking down your food, not digesting your food properly, how the heck are you gonna have energy, like how are you gonna function from day-to-day? Because your gut is the key to everything else. Like I pull it, you know, the bottom of the pyramid. It’s gotta be functioning right. Because your sex hormones, your adrenals, your thyroid, everything else is secondary. So you getting that gut right first. That’s sort of my approach now. I still have two avenues that do that. There’s my nutrition first, and nutrition only sort of approach like a six-week programme that we just nailed the foundations. ‘Cause so many people just don’t even, you know, understand, not their fault, but things like how to digest your food properly, why you’re not digesting properly, why you’re getting bloated, like what probiotics? Do we even need probiotics? What probiotics? Do we need them? Like should I be eating gluten, dairy, or sugar? Yeah. So it’s a minefield. 

James: Yeah, I mean it’s something that keeps popping up a lot online lately is talking about gut health. You speak about gut health in your podcasts. The breakdown of what gut health means, I guess why it’s so important?

Sheradyn: For me, I put myself as a gut health nutritionist because everything I do around food, I’m thinking about the gut like some people might call them a weight loss or hormones or whatever it is, you know, that sort of specialising in that area. For me, I wanna know that your good bacteria are being fed, that your bad bacteria are getting re-balanced out. There are some bacteria, yes that need to be removed completely, but usually, it’s a re-balancing. It’s these herbs. It’s these foods that we’re gonna use to balance out that bacteria so that we have more good gut flora than we do bad so that you gotta feel better. So that’s part of the gut health picture. The other part is digestion, like are you absorbing, are you taking in those nutrients? Then the other part really is like your gut lining. So if someone’s got autoimmune conditions or triggers usually, and then you know not only autoimmune, but usually there’s then a leaky gut lining issue. So basically in layman’s terms, there’s a single cell layer in your gut, and the cells should sit shoulder to shoulder. They come apart, so than food particles, which should be by one molecule, come through the cell into your bloodstream and get taken around as energy, they actually come through between the cells. These large particles of food get into your blood, and then your immune system fires up. Does it go, “What the heck are they doing there? That shouldn’t be there.” And then you start this whole systemic sort of, you know, inflammation around the body ’cause it’s trying to dampen everything going on and then you get you to know, your arthritis, Hashimoto’s or whatever it is. You start getting these more chronic effects. So gut health is maintaining the integrity of your gut lining so not only can you absorb nutrients, you can use them. It’s maintaining the quality of your gut flora, so making sure you have enough good gut flora and making sure you’re digesting and breaking them down absolutely properly. 

James: I have a little bit of experience with the kind of, I guess the bloating from various foods and I just cut them out and I’m fine. But all the effects that it has, it messes up your confidence so much. And I’m thinking I had a really good breakfast. Gonna have like oats and apples and honey. I’ll be like this is an amazing breakfast, this is great. And I like, go to the uni and I was sitting there and uncomfortable. I can’t concentrate on the lecture whatsoever. 

Sheradyn: Yeah, I know. I’m exactly the same.

James: … once you’ve worked this stuff out and just like for me, small changes like this to what I hate is fine. I know there are a lot of people that I’ve known that have gone through a much more challenging journey just trying to work this stuff out and the things that got through some. Most of the women have been on the pill. I had no idea until you’re telling me about this stuff. It is mind-blowing. 

Sheradyn: No, the bloating is really hard and the problem is that we take something that works like some of the viewers might know about low fodmap diets. You can Google it. If you don’t, I don’t mind going to it. But basically, it’s a tool, a tool that I use, a dietary tool that I use that can reduce symptoms like classic… had a client today who had really bad loose stools every day. Propped her with the low fodmap diet until we get a GI map, so a stool test results back. Propped her that just to alleviate the symptoms. Now what happens is some people do this by themselves and they don’t work with the practitioner. They jump on a low fodmap diet. They feel better and then they go, “You know what? I’m just gonna stay on this.” And I’m like, “No, no you can’t. That’s the thing. It’s six to eight weeks and then we start to come off it.” Because low fodmap is actually taking out all these fermentable fibres like for example onion, garlic, legumes, right, classic high fodmaps that most IBS people will react to. So if you take them out of the diet, that’s fine, short term because you need symptom relief and you need to figure out and re-balance that gut flora. But what happens is we take them out for years so I took them out for 4/5 six years. I have clients come to him being off all these foods for over 10 years because they don’t want the reactions which are totally fair enough. But by doing that you stop feeding bifidobacterium, your lactobacillus. Those are your two classic good gut flora which then like this is probiotic. So this is actually what they need. But they can’t have. So it’s a real issue in a sense because you’ve got to re-balance that flora, start to feed them but start to feed them slowly, usually with supplements ’cause then you can tolerate like you can do a quarter of a teaspoon over three weeks and then got half a teaspoon. Whereas it’s hard to have like a quarter of the garlic and know how much you’re reacting to it. It’s just not as, it’s not so controllable, you know. There’s a process. It’s rebuilding those things and then once you’ve done a couple of months work of that, then hey, try again. Add it in. Track your symptoms. How do you feel? And work your way out because the thing is you won’t react to all these high fodmap foods. Like you don’t. And even…yeah it’s just a process, but we do… we grab one thing and we go, “This is working. That’s it. I’m never eating them again.” I might, “No, but that’s what you need. Like that’s actually the prebiotic fibres you need to feed those bacteria for long term health.” So it gets so tricky. 

James: And this is the benefit of having a coach or someone like yourself. If you’re making them do this, then you jump on Google and people just like Googling things. And I just end up in all sorts of… 

Sheradyn: Especially bloating. Google bloating and you come up with everything under the sun. Google IBS and it’s like, God I just got… I don’t even. 

James: I can imagine. What is that something that causes behind the beginning of some of these things that are categorised under IBS? Like for me, it seemed really sudden. Like round up the mid-20s. I was drinking a lot. Obviously, it didn’t help, but it seems like all of a sudden it came off. Like for many people, there’s a point where it just changes. What do you think causes these changes? 

Sheradyn: Yeah, that’s a tricky one. So there are a couple of things. There often is… that feels like a point where it just changes either you just tip the scale too much so the classic causes are birth control pills, antibiotics – like yeah, sure – Panadol. So long term and noninflammatory, so the steroid use can impact or lighten Nurofen and stuff that can impact it. A poor diet will over time if you haven’t been eating enough fibre or foods for your good gut flora. Stress is a biggie. For me, it was actually travelling overseas so I went overseas to Bali and when I was over there yeah I actually ate something that wasn’t quite right. I came back two weeks later. I’ve got glandular fever and from there I swear hand on my heart my health was never the same. So since I got that virus, I have hit up two parasites. I became gluten intolerant or more celiac. I can’t eat gluten anymore. No matter how much I’ve tried. So yeah, it’ll be like a bug or virus or parasite which you can pick up from travelling, camping, dogs, fish, anything, contaminated food. So sometimes it’s just as simple as that to just be that little bit that tips are scales and then you got those you know I can’t handle. Otherwise, it’s stress or someone’s gotten sick from some virus, or when you get a virus, like glandular fever, the Epstein Barr virus, you can stuff up your whole immune system because the weight can embed in your body and be really hard to get rid of. But a lot of those parasites are blastocysts hominins and defrag are called the other one (scientific term) can’t remember the name, but defrag. I see them in 99% of stool testing. So in the GI map, nearly everyone’s got the parasites and got the bacteria overgrowth. 

James: Yeah, right. How much of a role do you think things like trauma and stress play? 

Sheradyn: Yes. We very much underestimate. Yeah, we underestimate stress and everything else going on now. It’s definitely. 

James: Yeah, amazing. I love one of the things you said in… I went through some of your podcasts yesterday. I love what you have said ‘test or guess’. And important testing and… So functional testing as we spoke about all those ranges of tests – all the stool testing or that sort of… Alright. That was my question what was functional testing? 

Sheradyn: Yes, yes, like you can get standard blood testing, which I do in my 6-week programme though they might go out and just get some blood test from their GP and look at your sort of basic markers and whatnot. But for those that I work one-on-one with, who’ve had chronic ongoing issues, and need a little bit of a deeper approach than functional testing. So you get your GI map, it’s called, which is your stool testing. Which is, basically, you take a stool sample, and send it off to the lab. Because I’m 100% online, so I see my clients online. I will order the testing for them and it get sent to their house. They just do the stool test, send it off to the lab, I get the results, or if it’s the comprehensive hormone testing for all your adrenals or your sex hormones, your B vitamins, organic acids, all that stuff then it’s a urine test and again get sent to the house, they complete it at home and they send it off. So the data is super interesting. It’s a lot of data like they’re very in-depth, but like the stool testing is still one of my favourite tests because it tells you a range of different parasites, arranged good bacteria range of bad bacteria range of, you know, worms, a range of leaky gut, digestion mark, there’s inflammation. There’s so much stuff in there that it’s just telling us exactly what’s functioning in your large intestine in the sense but in the whole body spectrum. 

James: Yeah, so a lot of the health and fitness topics obviously go online. It’s going to be a whole bunch of different information, perhaps not so accurate information. What are some of the most interesting non-factual information you’ve come across? If you like you will fall into a lot.

Sheradyn: Usually it’s about foods I have to avoid. So the IBS is one thing that you’ve got IBS and that’s that. The other one is that you have to take a birth control pill. That annoys me dramatically because if you’re taking it just for contraception, that’s fine. But if you’re taking it and generally, it’s not just contraception. Generally, it’s for acne, missing periods, painful periods, heavy periods, irregular periods, flippin’ all that other stuff then that’s bullshit. You shouldn’t have to do it. Those are usually the big ones, but then also the stuff about avoiding gluten, dairy, sugars and things long term is also such a debatable topic because it’s like every gut is different and everyone can digest different things. So it might be that you have to avoid it for a period of time, but you might not as well. And that’s the thing like we do jump into these elimination diets really quickly, which is why I do like people to remove certain foods depending on your symptoms for a period of time. And then add them back in and see how your gut reacts and tolerates and stuff like that. That kind of big ones, just like the gut thing that it’s a diagnosis when it’s not. It’s a collection of symptoms. And also yeah, the birth control pill and what foods to eat and not eat because so many people avoid foods unnecessarily, but also other people have a real, real food fear. In fairly so, because they get triggered so quickly. But I think that that’s it and they need to avoid these foods forever or that they can’t ever eat carbs because their candida is overgrown or their yeast overgrowth is gonna come back. Or you know like that, there’s just so much stuff out there. It’s like no because you can heal. Then you can fix it and with a healthy metabolism and in a healthy body, you’ll function fine. Eating sugar and carbs and things as well in moderation from the right sources like that’s the thing we just grab one thing you go “No, no, I can’t do that.” So I know it’s the types and the how, this and the like. It’s just and supplements as well. Everyone thinks that they always need to take everything and I’m like, well, some people do need to take some things. But why are you taking them? And you said a long term approach. Do you have a root cause? Like that’s my thing, like what is your root cause here? Are you just supplementing why you’re fixing stuff? Or are you actually deficient? Have you looked at the way the minerals interact? Have you looked at your diet and where you’re getting your minerals from or your fibre… Like it’s just… Yeah, we go crazy with everything but yes, this is the QL. Let’s play, grab it, run with it. You know, like your microgreens. Like, they’re amazing, they’re beautiful and they’re such great produce but for you to say oh they’re gonna heal everything you know like is it? Yeah exactly but some people will… I’ve actually had people say to me, “Oh, well I’m having microgreens like, it’d be fine.” Nothing, nothing works like that. 

James: That’s not what I believe. I don’t believe in emphasising microgreens and all of the sudden it’s gonna be amazing. I think it might be better to start a discussion about nutrition. And their difference in the nutrients you can have. I’m not an expert in nutrition. I mean, I’m PT that’s closest I’ve come, but everything I’ve learned about, through my experiences or they go along. And some of it is even… I probably have more of an understanding of plant nutrition. Even nutrition, but the same things kind of apply. For example with plants. (24:50 inaudible) Access our nutrients. And it’s kind of the same thing with plants as well. It could be nutrition-filled deficient in a nutrient. And maybe we are just deficient in magnesium? Yes, yeah. And all these different minerals and vitamins that interact with each other, like none of them, work on their own. If you think about all the other… 

Sheradyn: The mineral wheel that looks like this right? Like copper, magnesium, and zinc. 

James: Like all these different minerals and vitamins, impact these ones…and absorption. Yeah like macronutrients like proteins, fats and carbs. Like you could be… On paper, it looks like we’re getting the right amount or if not getting the right amount of micronutrients to help the metabolisation of these things like yeah. 

Sheradyn: It is. I know. It is very. 

James: Well, I feel like I’ve learned a lot already. That was a lot. 

Sheradyn: Yes. It is good. Once I start talking… Which is why I have a podcast because there’s only so much you can teach on Instagram, and social media before you go. But people don’t have the attention span on social media, but when they listen to podcasts and they’re like, “OK? I’m listening for twenty 30-40 minutes and it makes such a big difference.”

James: Yeah, just give you a podcast a little bit of a plug. 

Sheradyn: Oh yes, I started this year. The Empowered Hormones podcast. So it’s called Empowered Hormones because so many women that I work with, have hormone issues and they don’t understand that that’s coming from gut issues. So when we work on our gut health, we empower our body to have healthy hormones to have you know adequate cortisol levels which stops your fatigue, have regular pain free periods, to feel a lot better. So it’s just that root cause approach and I like I’ve talked to some amazing women and experts of people on there and I’ve got a good lineup coming out for next season once I get on to recording that. Just, yeah, digging into some of those taboo topics like I’ve gotta epic parasites line in there, some of the bacteria ones are really, really great as well. Some really good skin doctors from overseas and stuff. Like it’s just …I love it ’cause I learnt so much every time I chat to them on my “Oh! I didn’t know that.” “Oh! I didn’t know that.”  So, it’s just as much for me as it is for everyone listening. So I yeah I love chatting and… Yeah, for anyone who has listened DM me because I always get DMs from people who listened and they got, “I didn’t know that, but that’s me down to a “t”.” And I’m like “yes, good” like “I’m so glad you learned something.” So yeah, it’s amazing. 

James: Yeah, I think it’s so important to explore lots of different topics like if you have no idea about these issues, topics like other people experiencing. Like you just have now… There’s just nothing but once you start learning about it “Oh wait, this kind of resonates to me today.” And I know, there’s one of your podcasts that I listened to. And you have up to 43 episodes already. And you started this year. 

Sheradyn: Yeah, yes I did. I did have a break but yeah, I’m 45, 46 or something and I launched on February or something, something, pretty consistent. One a week. Some weeks I was doing two a week and then I had a couple of weeks off and then I’ve just. I think the last one goes out next week and then I’ll have a couple of weeks break. Just ’cause I’ve launched this new programme which kicks off Monday. So that’s really exciting as well. The Gut Health Solution. I’ve got such a great group of women and I’m so excited so much fun. So, that would be really cool, but because my energies have gone into that the last couple of weeks to make sure that’s all set up and sorted. Yeah, I need to get back into recording my podcast sitting here going, “I want to record.” It’ll happen. I just need to get back into the habit of it so it’s good. I love it. 

James: Yeah, beautiful. Alright, so I have one more question for you. And we’ll wrap up. So what does living a healthy, happy life mean to you? 

Sheradyn: It would mean one symptom-free as majority-symptom-free. Because I spent years with gut symptoms. So now for me, I feel so much healthier and happier without having constipation and bloating every day. But also the mental space and the mental freedom it gave me because I struggled with anxiety and social fear. Kind of like talked to you about it there but I couldn’t concentrate, I couldn’t work properly because my gut was so unhappy. So being able to run my own business now and have the clarity every day because I’m doing a million different things every single day as you would know as a small business owner. And there is no way I could do that with all my gut symptoms. So it’s the ability to do that, is the ability to travel and socialise again because for years I was the worst person to go out with because I would just get bloated and sore like as soon as I ate something and I would just wanna go home. I mean I stopped travelling for three or four years and now can’t go overseas anyway but I didn’t want to go overseas because I just knew my gut would be so uncomfortable like I couldn’t snowboard properly, I couldn’t surf properly. I couldn’t do any of the things I wanted to do. I couldn’t, you know. Happy, healthy for me that starts with the gap because from there, I know my mental spaces better. I know I can then be a better person for everyone else. I can give back to my clients that I can give to my family and friends. Whereas figures I couldn’t do that ’cause I couldn’t give to me so that’s now. Definitely, the life I live. 

James: Yeah! Amazing, I love that answer. Good answer. Alright, so in thirty we’re gonna wrap up. I am gonna send you a micro tray of microgreens next week. 

Sheradyn: Yay! 

James: You’re from the South, aren’t you? 

Sheradyn: Sorry, what was that? 

James: Are you in the South? 

Sheradyn: Yes, yeah I’m Coogee. Just round from Coogee. Yep, perfect spot. I love it here.  Near the beach and it’s lovely so I’m stoked. Oh, that is awesome. Thank you so much.

James: I’m free-diving around there. 

Sheradyn: Oh yes, yes. Yes, you would do. 

James: Alright beautiful, I’ll get that to you… I’ll send an email and I get to you that next Wednesday. Thank you so much for your time. I hope everyone got a great deal out of that I I think I certainly learned a bit more. And I hope to see you around. 

Sheradyn: You sure will. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. 

James: No worries at all. You take care. 

Sheradyn: Bye.