GUT HEALTH COURSE
Overview of the Gut Health Course
Course Description Welcome to the Gut Health Course! As the health coaching industry continues to grow at a staggering rate, we seek to provide our community with a path toward greater personal and professional success by cultivating an expertise in a particular area of wellness. The gut affects nearly every system and organ in the body. Research has linked gut health to a host of chronic conditions, and many believe it holds the key to physical, emotional, and mental well-being. This course emphasizes the interconnectedness of all parts of the body, focusing on how a compromised or imbalanced gut can affect the body as a whole. Through a mix of video lectures, readings, case studies, optional applied learning assignments, quizzes, and done-for-you handouts to support your coaching practice as well as interaction in the private Facebook group, you’ll learn about the digestive system, the gut microbiome, and the most common gut disturbances and how to use food and lifestyle shifts to help you and your clients cultivate a healthy gut! You’ll also walk away with a deepened understanding of how and why gut health can become compromised, the effects this can have on the body, and how to help you and your clients strengthen the microbiome and improve digestion through diet and lifestyle modifications.
Program Objectives As leaders in the holistic nutrition and health coaching space, we’re here to provide you with continued learning opportunities to further hone your passion and skills and excel at your craft. By the end of this course, you will be able to: • Explain the causes and symptoms of various gut health imbalances • Gain a working knowledge of the gut microbiome and the role that gut bacteria play in both digestion and whole-body health • Apply your knowledge to guide and empower clients to achieve greater gut health through diet and lifestyle modifications • Establish your boundaries in scope of practice as a Health Coach when working with clients who have gut health concerns or conditions • Demonstrate how to appropriately work alongside healthcare professionals to provide a complementary service for individuals with gut imbalances or conditions • Synthesize your coaching skills and knowledge of gut health to create individualized approaches to guide your clients as they work to achieve optimal health • Identify diet and lifestyle modifications that may naturally support the health of the digestive system, gut microbiome, and systems in the body
Content There are a total of 72 video lectures and 16 skill-building activities (applied exercises, suggested reading, and quizzes) to test your learning that span the various areas of study, including: • Gut bacteria and the microbiome • The digestive system, digestive hormones, and three phases of digestion • Common gut conditions, including leaky gut, candida overgrowth, GERD, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) • The difference between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) • Allergies, intolerances, and autoimmunity • Choosing the right probiotics and supplements • Stress management and lifestyle shifts for a healthy gut • The gut-brain connection • Healthy bowel movements • The connection between gut health, blood sugar, and obesity • Gut-healing foods and fermentation • The immune system and the gut • Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine approaches to gut health • Popular therapeutic diets, including GAPS, Low-FODMAP, the Body Ecology Diet, and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet • The connection between gut and hormones • Natural heartburn and acid reflux prevention • Common lab tests for various gut health conditions • Collaborating and networking with healthcare providers You’ll also gain access to a private Facebook group, where you can connect anytime with your course moderators and fellow students to ask questions, seek support, clarify concepts, and solidify your understanding of the content. Your course moderators are experienced Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches who specialize in gut health. They are in the group daily to support you with course content and incorporating gut health into your coaching practice and everyday life.
Done-for-You Resources and Additional Content Throughout the course, you’ll receive: 65 Handouts • 16 Specialized Guides – This brand-new feature will help deepen your understanding of gut imbalances and dietary approaches to support your clients! You’ll receive nine guides to common gut conditions, six guides to therapeutic diets, and two general support guides on supplements and lab testing! You’ll gain access to these guides as modules open each week! • 49 Readings and Resources – plus 22 done-for-you client resources! – In addition to comprehensive handouts with optional readings and resources, we’ve transformed 22 handouts into worksheets that you can print and use directly with clients as part of their gut-healing journey! This way, instead of creating content from scratch, you‘ll have these to use as part of your practice so you can focus on coaching. You’ll also gain access to a private Facebook group, where you can connect anytime with your course moderators and fellow students to ask questions, seek support, clarify concepts, and solidify your understanding of the content. Your course moderators are experienced Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches who specialize in gut health. They are in the group daily to support you with course content and incorporating gut health into your coaching practice and everyday life.
MODULE OVERVIEWS On the pages that follow, you will find a module-by-module overview of the content in the Gut Health Course.
Pre-Course Bonus Module To help you make the most of your five months, you’ll gain access to a pre-course module as soon as you enroll. This bonus module contains an overview of the course and foundational information to get you started. You’ll receive a preview of what you can expect to learn, discuss why gut health is such an important area within health and wellness, explore IIN’s unique approach to gut health, and discover how a Health Coach can support clients around this topic from within their professional scope of practice.
Topics Covered: • Course welcome and overview
• The future of healthcare
• A collaborative approach to healing the gut
• Health Coach scope of practice
• The IIN approach to gut health
Handout: Gut Feelings; Scope of Practice for Health Coaches
Module 1: Introduction to the Microbiome What exactly is the gut microbiome? This module will give you an introduction to the gut and the microbes who call the gut their home! You’ll discover the intimate connection between gut microbes and both proper digestion and good overall health. In addition, you’ll learn about germ theory and how the eradication of germs and modern standards of ultra-cleanliness may actually be leading to a rise in chronic disease. Finally, you’ll explore the full process of how the human gut microbiome develops in utero through early childhood and best practices for nourishing your gut microbes, keeping them diversified, and minimizing harm!
Topics Covered: • The human microbiome and its microbes
• The development of the gut microbiome
• Gut dysbiosis and why this occurs
• Microbiome and chronic disease
• Gut diversity and the keys to microbial health
• Germ theory
• Feeding your microbes for gut health
Handouts: Microbiome Basics; Feeding Your Microbes; The Development of the Gut Microbiome
Module 2: Introduction to Digestion One of the first things we think of when we think of the gut is digestion. This module will take you through the expanse of the digestive system, looking at everything from its anatomy and physiology to the two types and three phases of digestion. You’ll understand how nutrients are absorbed during digestion and the hormones that are involved in the digestive process. Additionally, you’ll get helpful tools to think about how, as a Health Coach, you can effectively inquire about a client’s digestion and their relationship to eating as a key step to cultivating a healthier gut!
Topics Covered: • The human microbiome
• Gut diversity
• Microbiome and digestion
• Feeding microbes
• Types of bacteria
• Reducing overgrowth and dysbiosis
Handouts: The 30-Foot Journey; Dangers to Digestion; Food Diary 101; Food Diary Template
Module 3: Bowel Movement Basics While bowel movements are seldom spoken about in everyday conversation, in the context of health coaching, it’s an important topic! Stool quality is an indicator of what might be happening in the digestive system. This module will go over everything from the different types of stool and signs of possible digestive issues to how you can encourage clients to converse freely about such topics and support clients in improving the quality of their bowel movements through simple diet and lifestyle changes.
Topics Covered: • Identifying a healthy bowel movement • The seven types of stool • Constipation • Lifestyle recommendations for healthy bowel movements • Basic overview of laxatives • Diarrhea
Handouts: Potty Language; Electrolyte Drinks; The Poop Log
Module 4: Eating for Gut Health Hippocrates’s famous words “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food” sums up the power of food to create better gut health and promote overall well-being. Because the foods you eat have a significant impact on your gut bacteria, in addition to discussing gut-irritating foods to crowd out, you’ll focus on the types of food you should be eating more of, including herbs, spices, and probiotic-rich foods. We’ll also cover gut-friendly food preparation methods and tips for dining out with dietary restrictions.
Topics Covered: • Overview of eating for gut health • Cooking with gut-supporting herbs and spices
• Polyphenols and antioxidants • Navigating restaurants and social events with dietary restrictions
Handouts: Dining with Dietary Restrictions; A Touch of Spice; Pack-aPunch Polyphenols
Module 5: Stress and Gut Health Stress is one of the biggest disruptors of gut health. Long-term, or chronic, stress alone can undo even the healthiest of diets and lifestyles, especially when it affects mealtimes. In this module, you’ll understand exactly how stress impacts the microbiome and a person’s ability to properly digest food. You’ll learn all about the power of positive emotions, stress management, and primary food for helping clients support their parasympathetic nervous system, healthy digestion, and overall well-being, which in turn can support a healthy microbiome. You’ll also learn how to help clients with mindful eating and creating a peaceful mealtime ritual.
Topics Covered: • The connection between stress and gut health • The different types of stress and their consequences • The “fight or flight” stress response of the sympathetic nervous system • The “rest and digest” response of the parasympathetic nervous system • How to help clients tune in to “rest and digest” at mealtime • How to help clients manage their stress • Primary food for gut health
Handouts: Nourish the Gut with Primary Food; Keep Stress Off Your Plate; All About Adaptogens; Reframe Your Stress Story
Module 6: The Gut-Brain Connection Did you know that the gut is often referred to as “the second brain”? In this module, we’ll explore the intelligence of the gut and its connection to mood, emotions, and the brain. We’ll also discuss the vagus nerve – the cranial nerve that creates an information pathway from the brain to the gut. You’ll learn about lifestyle practices to strengthen vagal tone, which supports the parasympathetic nervous system and the health of the gut. We’ll explore a common condition related to dysfunction of the gut-brain axis called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the low-FODMAP diet, which can help individuals with this condition manage their symptoms.
Topics Covered: • The gut-brain connection
• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
• Introduction to the vagus nerve
• The low-FODMAP diet
• Vagal tone and gut health
• How to support clients with IBS
Handouts: The Gut-Brain Connection; Seven Ways to Strengthen the Vagus Nerve; Guide to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS); Guide to the Low-FODMAP Diet
Module 7: Immunity and the Gut Did you know that the majority of the immune system resides in the gut? We’ll take a look at how the immune system works and how it is intimately connected to the health of the gut. You’ll learn what happens when immunity is compromised and how autoimmune conditions develop. Specifically, we’ll explore several autoimmune conditions tied to gut health – celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We’ll also explore anti-inflammatory diets that can support clients with autoimmune conditions and share lifestyle changes that can support overall health and quality of life.
Topics Covered: • Introduction to the immune system
• Autoimmune conditions related to the gut
• Overview of immune response
• Dietary approaches to reduce inflammation
• The connection between the gut and immune system
• The Specific Carbohydrate Diet
Handouts: Guide to Celiac Disease; Guide to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD); Guide to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet; Guide to Anti-Inflammatory Diets
Module 8: Allergies, Food Intolerances, and Leaky Gut We hear a lot about food intolerances and allergies, but have you wondered how exactly the two differ? This module will distinguish between allergies and intolerances and share testing methods for each. You’ll also learn about histamine intolerance. We’ll discuss a common condition known as leaky gut that can arise from chronic irritation of the gut lining. By the end of the module, you’ll walk away with a solid understanding of what this condition entails and best practices for supporting clients with strengthening their gut lining. You’ll also become familiar with the GAPS diet – a therapeutic diet that can be beneficial for some clients who have leaky gut.
Topics Covered: • • • •
Allergies versus intolerances Common food intolerances Histamine intolerance Elimination diets
• Overview of leaky gut • Healing a leaky gut • The GAPS diet
Handouts: Guide to Histamine Intolerance; Elimination Diet Diary; Guide to Leaky Gut; Guide to the GAPS Diet
Module 9: Blood Sugar, Metabolism, and Obesity Rising rates of obesity and disorders related to high blood sugar and inflammation are rapidly gaining prevalence in modern society. This module will clarify how these factors influence, and are influenced by, the health of the gut. We’ll also consider the gut’s role in obesity and weight loss, discuss how to balance blood sugar, and share ways that Health Coaches can help their clients with weight management by supporting the health of the gut.
Topics Explored: • Body fat and inflammation • Gut health and weight • Introduction to blood sugar
• The different types and impacts of sugar • How to balance blood sugar • Introduction to diabetes
Handouts: Gut Health and Weight Loss; Blood Sugar Basics; How Much Sugar Do You Really Eat?; Sweet Swaps
Module 10: Fungal Overgrowth Candida is typically talked about in a negative context, but a small amount of candida in the gut is normal – and actually a good thing! The problem occurs when an imbalance in the body triggers an overgrowth. You’ll learn about what candida is, the reasons overgrowths can occur, and what they look like. You’ll learn about diet and lifestyle modifications that can promote greater balance and help control a candida overgrowth. You’ll also learn about other common overgrowth conditions that can be traced back to the gut and manifest as skin conditions.
Topics Covered: • Introduction to candida
• The Body Ecology Diet
• Candida overgrowth
• Common skin conditions that originate in the gut
• Diet and lifestyle recommendations for candida management
Handouts: Guide to Candida; Guide to the Body Ecology Diet; Common Gut-Related Skin Conditions
Module 11: SIBO, Heartburn, and Acid Reflux Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is a medical condition many people struggle with today. We’ll clarify what this condition is and how to support clients who struggle with SIBO as they undergo medical treatment. You’ll also learn how to help clients who have had SIBO in the past bolster efforts to prevent flare-ups. We’ll break down the three main types of esophageal discomfort: heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD; their differences; and the role stomach acid plays in each. We’ll clarify common triggers and how you can guide clients in identifying and crowding out their triggers and curb symptoms for the long haul. Then we’ll bring it all together and explain the connection between SIBO and GERD.
Topics Covered: • Overview and causes of SIBO
• Support for SIBO management and prevention
• Natural support for managing heartburn and reflux
• Acid reflux
• The connection between SIBO and esophageal conditions
Handouts: Guide to SIBO; Guide to Intermittent Fasting; Take the Burn Out of Heartburn; Guide to Heartburn and GERD; The Connection Between GERD and SIBO
Module 12: The Connection Between Gut and Hormones It should come as no surprise that your hormones and gut are closely tied, since both systems can significantly impact your emotional, physical, and mental health. This module dives into their relationship in greater depth, focusing on the thyroid and estrogen and looking at their connections to digestion and microbiome balance. You’ll learn why thyroid disorders can have such a large and lasting effect on the digestive system and how to support thyroid health through diet and lifestyle modifications. Then we’ll shift the conversation to estrogen and introduce the estrobolome – the collection of microbes in the gut that process free estrogen in the body. You’ll learn steps to balance excess estrogen production and how to nourish the health of the liver to support estrogen processing. By the end of the module, you’ll be able to guide clients in promoting thyroid health and estrogen balance by way of a healthy gut!
Topics Covered: • Introduction to the thyroid and major thyroid disorders
• Estrogen dominance
• Gut-thyroid connection
• The connection between estrogen, digestion, and liver health
• Diet and lifestyle support for thyroid health • Introduction to the gut and estrogen
• Introduction to the estrobolome
• Support for estrogen balance
Handouts: The Connection Between Gut and Thyroid Health; Eating for Thyroid Health; The Estrobolome Explained; Support for Estrogen Balance
Module 13: Toxin Exposure and Detoxification Support for a healthy gut often focuses on diet and lifestyle, but reducing exposure to toxins and supporting the body’s natural detoxification process can also make a huge impact! This module is all about examining how common toxins in everyday life can enter the body and make their way into the gut through food, environment, and personal products. You’ll gain a solid understanding of how environmental toxins can disrupt gut health and how to identify the top sources of toxins in consumables and household products. Then we’ll talk about the different ways you can safely support the body’s natural detoxification process and adopt a detox lifestyle.
Topics Covered: • Introduction to environmental toxins
• The role of the gut in detoxing
• How toxins disrupt the gut
• Two phases of liver detoxification
• Common toxins inside the home
• Supporting clients in creating a longterm, sustainable detox lifestyle
• Introduction to detoxification
Handouts: Do-It-Yourself Cleaning Products; Lessen Your Toxic Load; Nutrition for a Detox Lifestyle; Help Clients Detox Their Lives
Module 14: Probiotic and Supplementation Support While a strong diet and balanced lifestyle provide the foundation for a healthy gut and overall wellness, supplementation and probiotics can help individuals who need an extra boost to achieve optimal health. With so much buzz around probiotics and supplements in the wellness spotlight, it can be confusing to know what products to choose and which to avoid. We’ll explain the different types of probiotics and supplements, why quality matters, who may benefit most (and least!) from probiotics, and what to look for when trying to identify a high-quality supplement. We’ll also explain the benefits of prebiotics, synbiotics, and fermented foods so you can maximize how you nourish your gut!
Topics Explored: • Introduction to probiotics
• Supplements and scope of practice
• Common probiotic myths
• Common supplements for gut health
• Factors to consider when choosing probiotic supplements
• Factors to consider when choosing a supplement
• Prebiotics, synbiotics, and fermented foods
• Supporting clients around supplements
• Introduction to supplementation
Handouts: Guide to Supplements for Gut Health; Supplement Questionnaire; How to Choose a Probiotic; Guide to Researched Probiotics; Make Your Own Kefir
Module 15: Eastern and Alternative Approaches Even today, age-old philosophies like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are highly regarded for their wisdom on all things wellness! But did you know these approaches have dedicated practices to support the gut? This module will go into the three doshas and five elements of Ayurveda and how they relate to gut imbalances. You’ll explore Traditional Chinese Medicine and consider how concepts like qi, yin, and yang can relate to gut health and digestion. You’ll also get an overview of alternative therapies that can support a healthy gut and complement Western approaches for treating various gut conditions. By the end of this module, you’ll know how to incorporate Eastern ideas and practices into your gut health toolkit and support clients who see Ayurveda and TCM practitioners.
Topics Covered: • Overview of Ayurveda • Role of the elements in Ayurveda and gut health • Dosha imbalances as they relate to the gut • Five principles of Ayurveda for gut health • Overview of TCM • Five basic principles of TCM
• Yin and yang: functions, organs, and foods • Bridging the gap between clients and TCM practitioners • Five overarching recommendations for applying TCM perspectives • Alternative therapies that can support a healthy gut
Handouts: Balance the Doshas with Diet; Ayurvedic Questionnaire; Balance the Earth Element; Alternative Support for Gut Health
Module 16: Collaborating with Healthcare Professionals As a Health Coach, there are many ways to empower clients to achieve better gut health. At the same time, it’s important to be mindful of your scope of practice so you can establish expectations with clients and understand how to coach within the boundaries of your profession. When working with clients who have gut issues and health concerns, a Health Coach can make a huge impact and have an important role within the larger treatment team. This module will guide you on how to collaborate and work alongside various healthcare practitioners to create more powerful outcomes for your clients. Many clients are interested in lab testing as a tool for diagnosis and tracking health outcomes, so we’ll teach you about the basics of lab testing and how Health Coaches can work with a client’s healthcare provider to provide support in this area.
Topics Explored: • How to collaborate with various healthcare practitioners • Related healthcare professions and their roles • Establishing partnerships in the healthcare community • Introduction to lab testing • Common lab tests for digestive and gut health
Handouts: Collaboration Brainstorm; Build Your Referral Network; Client-Patient Form; Lab Testing 101; Guide to Lab Testing for Gut and Digestive Health
Curriculum Structure The Gut Health Course consists of a pre-course module and 16 modules of course content. New modules are released every Monday at 9am Eastern Time, with the exception of holidays and assessment weeks. The Course Schedule, which can be found on the Documents page of the Learning Center, contains specific dates. Each module will guide you in becoming a gut guru for yourself and your friends, colleagues, and clients. Within each module, you’ll find: • Learning objectives • Video lectures • Skill-building activities, including a module recap document, an optional real-life application, additional learning links, and an ungraded self-assessment quiz to test your understanding of the module concepts We recommend setting aside 3–4 hours for each module, including time needed to review concepts, participate in the Facebook group, and complete your skill-building activities. There is a mix of required and suggested elements in the course (see Graduation Requirements below). As such, we encourage you to allocate your time in a way that aligns best with your personal and professional goals. You will have access to all module materials in the Learning Center for six months following graduation.
Graduation Requirements To successfully complete the Gut Health Course and receive your certificate of completion, digital Credly badge, and continuing education credits for the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) provided you are a National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach, you will be required to pass two tests with a score of 70% (21 of 30) or higher. As an NBHWC approved continuing education provider, you can earn nine continuing education credits by successfully completing this course if you are a National BoardCertified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC) to renew your board certification.
CEP #: 100143
There is one test halfway through the course after Module 8 and another at the end of the course after Module 16. New modules are not released the weeks of the tests to allow time to prepare. The module recaps provided in each module’s skill-building activities can be used as study aids to support your success. Tests must be completed during the allotted time frames, which are noted on the Course Schedule. Two attempts are allowed per test, and you have up to two hours to complete each attempt.