What The Human Gut Needs to Thrive with Cheri Stoka

In part 2 of this “Gut Wrenching” interview with Dietician Cheri Stoka, Dave Sherwin dives into the nitty-gritty of what the foundational biome–the human gut–needs to thrive.

Gut Health:  The New First Step

Cheri Stoka is an expert in weight loss.  As a former professional women’s soccer player, she found many misconceptions and flaws in the nutrition and weight-loss arena.  “Many people still don’t know what’s holding them back, even after multiple attempts at dieting.”

This is where “The Test” comes in.

“Gut health is paramount.  It’s foundational to human health,” says this experienced health expert.

Test, Not Guess

Most insurance plans now cover 100% of a yearly physical exam, complete with blood-work. The “unknowns” about the body are usually where the problems are hiding out. Bacteria in the body can be good or bad…testing is the only way to find out.

“If you don’t have a healthy gut, it’s like the root of the tree –everything else will suffer.”

The GI-Map

“The gut consists of trillions of important bacteria, and we have to protect it,”  but this is easier said than done.

*Pathogens are harmful bodies of living and non-living organisms that are constantly attacking the body.
*  The symbol “<dl” on the GI-Map refers to “less than a detectable level” in the gut, which is usually a welcome  marker.
*  Parasitic Pathogens are tiny living freeloaders that commonly cause bloating, diarrhea, and nausea. Parasites can even prevent the proper nutritional absorption of our food and are usually caused by eating exotic meals (travel much?).
Viral Pathogens are the little anti-biotic resistant warriors that may hide dormant in the gut. They often come out of hiding when the body is stressed or experiencing trauma.

“About 30% of my patients exhibit some of these GI-Map pathogens, so they’re fairly common,” reveals Dr. Stoka.

Bacteria Barrage
In the next section of the GI-Map, the existence of harmful bacteria, such as H. Pylori,  is exposed.  This little monster burrows its way into the lining of the stomach and reduces the ability for the stomach to produce the all-important acid it needs to digest food.

“It can cause major problems downstream,” says Cheri.  “You’re always starting from the top (the stomach) and working your way down.  A lot of people have this problem, and it doesn’t always cause problems, so that’s what you have to determine.”

** Prefer To Watch? Check Out Our Livestream On, The Fascinating World of Gut Health and the Incredible Value of a GI Map Test with Cheri Stoka, RDN, CD, CLT Here!**

Normal Bacteria Flora

These “good-guys” play multiple roles in protecting the intestinal tract. Certain flora must be “repopulated” after being diagnosed as deficient. Supplements and specific pre-biotics are commonly used to restore the strains. Fruits and vegetables play a huge roll in helping good bacteria thrive.

Opportunistic Bacteria

“This is the kind of bacteria that has the propensity to over-grow given a compromised environment.  The stomach was meant to have acid, but certain organisms will overgrow if the acid content of the stomach is lowered.”  Not a good thing when you’re trying to digest your latest Big Mac.

The All-Or-Nothing Approach

“Cutting back on certain flora-harming foods can be beneficial.  An over-active immune system is often caused by a food sensitivity.  Dairy and gluten are often very hard for humans to digest because we don’t have the enzymes to break it down.”

“You are consuming antibiotics and hormones that are injected into the cows. It’s not necessarily eating the same dairy we ate 100 years ago but, it’s eating the dairy now that is causing our gut problems.”

You don’t have to spend a lot of time reading labels –just cut back on dairy.

Potential Autoimmune Triggers

IBS, MS, and Rheumatoid arthritis are just a few of the autoimmune diseases that are triggered by elevated “Potential Immune” bacteria found in the gut.

Fungus and Yeast

“When the immune system is compromised for a period of time, bacteria such as fungus and yeasts will overgrow very quickly.”

These little gems include Candida, Geotrichum, and Microspordium, which even by name sound like villains from another world.  These cause more of an immediate response to causing disease.

“They can lay dormant in our bodies for-EVER, for our entire life,” says Cheri. “Then all of a sudden, some traumatic event or even a vaccination can put your body into a state where those dormant species come to life.”


Just the sound of this word makes our skin crawl.
“30% of my patients manifest parasites in their GI-Map (yikes!)”
*World travelers and pet owners most commonly exhibit signs of parasites.
*Some are visible, others are microscopic in size.

“We literally manifest the eco-system of everything that lives within us.  It’s kind of crazy if you think about it.”

Intestinal Health

“Colonoscopies don’t show anything until you have a serious problem,”  but….”When we start to rebalance the gut, it literally changes people’s lives.  It’s one piece to a very complex puzzle.”

  • Absorption of nutrients and production of enzymes is shown in this section.
  • GI-markers show your body’s overall ability to detoxify.
  • Elevated numbers show liver damage—the pathways of detoxing are congested.

“The liver cannot detox if the pathways are clogged. That’s like trying to stuff something down a narrow drain without any success.  We teach you how to unclog that drain.”

Immune Response

  • Immune response is usually determined by what a person eats.
  • Dairy and gluten are common causes of a lowered immune response
  • Allergies can take up to 3 days to manifest in the body

Inflammation and Dehydration

“Most people are chronically dehydrated.  Drinking enough water is everything.  It’s such a foundational piece of gut health. It does so much for the health of the whole body.”

*5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables promotes the healthy bacteria in the gut, like a prebiotic.

“Supplementing with pre and probiotics can help the body to break down foods they normally couldn’t do on their own.  They help break down the food into useable pieces, and if your body is not breaking down the food you’re consuming, that is when auto-immune disease starts happening down-stream in the gut.”

“We’re always recommending enzymes to our patients.  You feel the effects almost immediately with them.”

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Intermittent Fasting

When the body doesn’t have to work 24/7 at digesting food, it has time to go to work on other important tasks in the gut.
“We have gotten into the habit as Americans of eating every 3-4 hours. Your body’s working non-stop on digesting, and it doesn’t have time to do anything else.”

  • Eating dinner earlier helps focus more evening energy on attacking pathogens.
  • 12 hours is a scientifically sound eating window according to UCLA research.
  • Those who stop eating after 7 pm will find great health benefits.
  • Everyone can fast for 12 hours. It’s powerful.”

The body is so good at acclimating to new and healthy eating habits.  It’s all about unlocking the power in the gut and getting rid of the outdated myths that constantly side-track our success.

Watch the interview with Cheri Stoka and Dave Sherwin for more GUT-punching tips!

Websites Mentioned

Weight Loss MD

Instagram – Weight Loss MD 

DWeight Loss MD on Facebook

Cheri Stoka on LinkedIn

Recommended Episodes

Restoring Your Health Through Detoxing, Gut Health & Mindset with Steve Q Wiltshire

High Performance Health with Angela Foster

The Gut: Gateway to Excellent Health and a Better Brain with Dr. Vincent Pedre

On Gut Health with Sinead Urwin, M.A.

Download this episode here