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Anxiety and Depression—Why Your Gut Might Hold the Key with Rosemarie Rutecki

Updated: Feb 14

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Rosemarie Rutecki, a functional medicine health coach. Rosemarie has an incredible story of helping her daughter overcome a serious health issue using a functional medicine approach. In the interview, we talked about Rosemarie's journey, the connections between gut health and mental health, and tips for improving your gut health through nutrition.

The Path to Functional Medicine

Rosemarie explained how her journey to becoming a functional medicine practitioner started with her daughter:

"My daughter had a lot of gut issues and a lot of health always go to the doctors and they pretty much tell you that, you know, you're fine, you're healthy."

Despite doing all the "right" things like going to doctors and doing lab tests, Rosemarie's daughter still struggled with poor health. It wasn't until her son was born that her daughter started experiencing severe anxiety that manifested in her refusing to talk in school. The pediatrician dismissed it as just a phase, but Rosemarie's instincts told her something wasn't right.

After researching, she learned her daughter likely had selective mutism, an anxiety disorder where kids don't talk in certain social settings. Rosemarie knew she had to find the root cause to really help her daughter. This search eventually led her to functional medicine and discovering her daughter had genetic mutations affecting her ability to process nutrients and regulate neurotransmitters.

Within a month of starting a functional medicine protocol, her daughter began talking again. This experience showed Rosemarie the power of getting to the root cause of health issues. She has since helped her whole family improve their health through functional medicine.

The Gut-Brain Connection

I was fascinated to learn from Rosemarie about the deep connection between gut health and mental/emotional health. As she explains:

"When your gut microbiome is happy, when you're putting the nutrients that your gut needs, then you're going to feel happy."

The gut contains trillions of bacteria that play many critical roles, from digesting food to regulating immunity. The gut bacteria also produce many of the neurotransmitters responsible for our mood and mental state.

Rosemarie explains how this has been shown in people with severe depression doing fecal transplants from healthy donors and seeing their depression disappear. However, the effect doesn't seem to last unless they continue to care for their gut microbiome through proper nutrition.

This demonstrates the need to continually nourish our gut bacteria just like we exercise to maintain muscle mass. When our gut bacteria thrive, they make us thrive.

Tips to Improve Gut Health

Rosemarie shared excellent tips for improving gut health, including:

  • Get 25-35 grams of fiber per day from foods like fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains

  • Eat fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt to increase gut microbiome diversity

  • Avoid processed foods, fried foods, excess alcohol

  • Reduce stress

  • Avoid unnecessary antibiotics and other gut-harming medications

  • Get outside and don't obsess over hygiene - exposure to microbes is good!

  • Spend time with healthy, positive people - their gut bacteria will influence yours!

Starting with Nutrition

When I asked Rosemarie how someone new to health improvement should get started, she emphasized beginning with nutrition:

“Work on your nutrition, work on sleep, work on your relationships, move your body...if you have never exercised before, you start walking, gentle yoga - even when you’re just starting some type of movement, lowering the inflammation in the body by increasing fiber, fermented foods, decreasing processed foods - you will see your body start healing.”

For those with health challenges preventing exercise, she focuses first on reducing inflammation through an anti-inflammatory diet. She also provides a great online course on rebooting your gut health and health improvement basics.

Key Takeaways:

  • There is an important gut-brain connection - gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters affecting our mental health

  • Support your gut microbiome by getting enough fiber, fermented foods, and avoiding processed foods/alcohol

  • Improve your gut bacteria by spending time with healthy people

  • Reducing inflammation through nutrition is the first step to better health

  • When our gut is happy, our body is happy!

Rosemarie's story is inspiring and her functional medicine approach gets results. By starting with simple nutrition boosts like more fiber and fermented foods, we can set ourselves on the path to better health from the inside out. Our gut bacteria truly are one of our greatest allies on the journey to wellness.

***Rosemarie has generously offered the Begin Within community a $10 discount on her Gut Reboot course. Use the code podcast10 and this affiliate link:

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