Why You Probably Have a Leaky Gut & Really Need To Know About It

A little bit about leaky gut (it’s not as gross as it sounds)

If you’re at all interested in holistic health or modern approaches to wellbeing, you will no doubt have heard or read about the term, “leaky gut syndrome”. Essentially, leaky gut syndrome (or “intestinal hyperpermeability”) is a common condition that develops as a consequence of intestinal tight junction malfunction. These “tight junctions” are the gateway between your intestines and what is allowed to pass into your blood stream.  Your tight junctions are there to keep nasty things out like toxins, microbes and undigested food particles.

Having a leaky gut is pretty much like having the gates of your intestines broken, allowing many of these particles that are not supposed to be let through, to enter your blood stream.  When this happens, it causes inflammation throughout your body leading to all kinds of minor and more serious diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disorders (like thyroid disease), allergies, food intolerances, IBS, acne, eczema, psoriasis, depression, anxiety and other neurological disorders. Up to 70 to 80 percent of your immune system is situated in your digestive tract. As the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, said himself: “all disease begins in the gut.”

As most of us in the modern world are affected by poor diet choices, chronic stress, toxic overload and bacterial imbalances (caused by inter alia the widespread use of antibiotics), the prevalence of leaky gut has reached epidemic proportions.



Before I go any further, please note: I am not a doctor, a medical expert, a nutritionist, reiki master or sangoma, for that matter. What I am, though, is a very curious girl, extremely passionate about health and the undeniable relationship between mind, body and soul; I am someone who continually asks questions, wants to undestand “why” and seeks answers from the world’s leading experts. My write-up here is thus simply to be understood as relaying my own experience with leaky gut syndrome with the honest hope that it might be able to help someone else or, at least, make some of you want to know more or ask more questions.

My experience

thyroid-disease-1.jpgI came to learn about the overarching importance of a healthy gut when I found out, accidentally, a few years ago that my thyroid antibodies were abnormally high. In a nutshell, what this meant was that my body was in a state of autoimmunity (with my thyroid antibodies attacking my thyroid). The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in one’s neck, just above the collarbone. It is one of the endocrine glands, which produce hormones. Thyroid hormones control the rate of many essential bodily activities, including how fast we burn calories and how fast our hearts beat.

I visited one top endocrinlogist after the other, only to be told that “most doctors don’t usually test for thryoid antibodies, they only look at thyroid functions. Yours is still functioning, so just ignore the antibodies for now.” I was informed that there was in any event nothing that could be done to bring down these antibodies and it would be a “wait and see” game. I was told that it is only once your thryoid eventually becomes diseased, by being overactive or underactive (as a result of the antibodies), that you can be “treated”. Treatment involves surgically removing or chemically destroying the thyroid gland and/or prescribing lifetime hormone replacement medication. Neither the “wait and see” approach nor the eventual treatment options sounded particularly appealing to me and, if I had to pinpoint one moment in time when I started questioning conventional or “pill-popping” medical strategies, and becoming more curious about preventative or functional health, this would have been it.

Through weeks of intensive research, refusing to let my state of autoimmunity be a ticking time bomb, desperately wanting to hold on to my functioning thyroid gland (without taking hormone pills for the rest of my life), I ended up at the offices of Dr Susan Blum, a New York-based functional medicine leader. I had come across her best-selling book The Immune System Recovery Plan wherein she explains the link between gut disease (“leaky gut”) and autoimmunity.

p1030909.jpgI immediately started a gut health recovery program, which involved inter alia cutting out gluten, dairy and sugar (three rather frequently consumed foods which can significantly contribute  to intestinal permeability).

Whilst healing a leaky gut is a multifactorial process (involving dietary changes as well as taking digestive supplements, reducting chronic stress and repairing the gut lining), something dramatic happened when I took the first step and simply cut out gluten, sugar and dairy.  And, yes, in case you’re wondering, I have the blood tests to prove it. The gut repair process is not yet complete for me, but things are sure looking positive.

Thryoid peroxidase antibodies (they are supposed to be under 10):

  • July 2015 | 200.3
  • August 2016 | 92.3

I showed the blood tests in question to one of my doctors here in Cape Town and, let’s just say, he was surprised (to put it mildly) that, somehow, my autoimmunity was slowly but surely being “reversed” by a mere change in diet. (Bear in mind that once your thyroid has already been diagnosed as over- or under-active, it’s a different ball game and the damage has been done. I was lucky to have caught the high antibodies in time, albeit by accident, before it irreperably harmed my thyroid.)

Anyway, further to what I said before, this post is not here to serve as a comprehensive textbook on leaky gut syndrome (its causes, signs, symptoms and effects) or a guide on “how to cure whatever illnesses are plaguing you by cutting out gluten, dairy and sugar”. Instead, I am simply sharing a powerful, life-changing series of events that opened my eyes to the very real significance of gut health, beginning with the time when I saw my very own thyroid antibodies drop after a few months of cutting out inflammatory foods.

If you suspect that you might have a leaky gut and are keen to learn more about its effect on your health, I suggest you visit a holistic health expert (either a functional medical practicioner or nutrionist) to help diagnose it and guide you through an extensive gut repair program.

Read more

  • Functional medical expert Dr Mark Hyman has written several, very intersting articles on the subject;
  • Functional medical expert Dr Josh Axe has written an easy to understand article outlining the causes, symptoms and treatment options for leaky gut syndrome;
  • Read more about the fascinating gut-brain connection and how a leaky gut can affect your brain.

See a gut repair expert & get healing

  • I have found a South African version of Susan;) in the form of integrative health expert Hannah Kaye, who lives and practises as a nutritionist (with a very similar approach to Susan’s) in Cape Town;
  • The doctors at Skin Renewal are very holistically-minded and suggested, to my great delight, a full gut repair program for one of our makeover candidates, Bianca, who has been battling acne for years. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

With (non-leaky) love,







Beauty Express | The Best Quick Fixes

I often get asked, “what are the quickest or easiest ways that a woman can improver her looks & confidence?”  Unfortunately, the general rule when it comes to outer beauty is, “good things come to those who wait” and most of the seriously high-impact cosmetic treatments (as shown on our makeover series Mooimaak) take time to deliver lasting results.

However, luckily, there are exceptions. Here is a list of my favourite “beauty quick fixes” to make you look younger, fresher & prettier without the wait.



There are no two ways about it: whiter teeth make for a more beautiful, healthy-looking smile (regardless of how much you score on the Perfect Smile Metre). When I was getting ready for my wedding last year, teeth whitening was on the top of my to-do list (OK, maybe it was second, straight after “kissing carbs goodbye”). My family were so impressed by my pearly whites, they booked their own appointments with my dentist, Dr JJ Serfontein, immediately.

Treatment Philips Zoom In-Chair Whitening System performed by a qualified oral hygienist (including a take-home maintenance kit)

Duration of treatment 90 minutes

Results last 8 to 12 months (depending on smoking, coffee & red wine consumption)

If you live in Cape Town contact the rooms of the fabulous Dr JJ Serfontein to enquire about price & availability on (021) 424 5172


Brow grooming will always be on my go-to beauty recommendation list. I recently wrote an entire blog post about the transformative magic of shaping your eyebrows to instantly flatter & frame your face shape. I could not compile this list without mentioning it again. For more information on treatment duration & results, as well as the name of my favourite brow expert, click here.


You can have as many age-defying, damage-reversing, youth-boosting treatments as you’d like, but there is no denying that the finishing touches of good hair & makeup are just as important (and, luckily, quicker and cheaper to do). And, don’t hate me for saying this, but there is NO excuse, ladies, for chipped, broken or unkept nails. Ever. (I can’t tell you how many times my husband has told me that the first thing he looks at, when meeting a woman, is whether she looks after her nails. I must confess: I do the same.)


  • If you have limp, lifeless hair and don’t have time for an in-salon blow dry, add instant Hollywood glamour by using these va-va voom volumizing tricks & products
  • If you have frizz-tastic, untamed hair ask your hair stylist for an in-salon straigtening treatment that is, preferably, formaldehyde-free


  • Stay modern by keeping nails short and chic, unless you’re going au naturel with a clear, nude or creamy colour, in which case they can be a bit longer (but please keep Cruelle De Ville far away)
  • My favourite dark colours are Black Cherry Berry, Bella’s Vampire & A Touch Of Sass by Gelish (it takes longer to apply in-salon than regular nail polish, but it lasts over a week and does not chip)
  • My favourite bright reds are Lobster Roll & Wildfire by Shellac
  • My favourite light, neutral colours are Romantique & Negligee by Shellac (also an in-salon gel polish)
  • For at-home regular polish, OPI & Essie make the best range of colours (although it only last a few days)
  • Keep cuticles well-moisturized by applying a bit of coconut or olive oil every second day
  • Don’t mix & match: make sure hands & feet are painted the same colour, please


  • Get your hands on the best foundation you can afford (unless you have perfect skin, in which case, count your blessings, sister, and dare to go bare). The best foundations, in my opinion, are made by Armani, Chanel & Sensai
  • Never skip mascara – I alternate between Maybelline’s Rocket Volum’ Express Mascara, Lancôme’s Hypnôse Drama & MAC’s Extended Play Gigablack Lash
  • Invest in a universally flattering lip colour that is close to your natural shade but adds some colour, fullness & definition – my favourite shades are neutral/soft/pink-ish tones like Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk (I use both the lipliner & lipstick for longer wear), MAC’s Boldly Bare lip pencil and their Kinda Sexy lipstick. For those bolder moments, a kickass red like MAC’s classic Ruby Woo is a good one to have in your kit
  • Add a sun-kissed glow with Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder
  • Brighten up your cheeks with Bobbi Brown’s Apricot Powder Blush (it’s potent though, so go very lightly)

Phew, OK – so hopefully your application of the above tips & tricks will go somewhat quicker than my compilation of this list (just kidding – sort of;)

Until next time, ladies. As Rihanna says, “shine bright like a diamond.”









Stolen On Set | Makeup Tips & Products I’m Loving Right Now

TheGlobalCriticWhilst filming our television show, MOOIMAAK, I was spoiled rotten with daily makeup  tips from my friend (and the best makeup artist in the business), Renee De Wit from Gorgeous2Go. Seeing as I always ask the poor woman 2 million questions about every single thing she recommends (come to think of it, I’m quite surprised she still recommends things to me at all, seeing as it’s always such a leeeeengthy cross-examination:), you can rest assured that I did my homework before trying all of these out myself and, what’s more, am still a loyal fan of each tip & product mentioned here (even now that production has ended).


(1) Moisturize & hydrate skin | No amount of makeup can hide dehydrated, dry or lifeless skin. To get that youthful, dewy complexion, make sure, before applying your makeup, that your skin is clean, exfoliated (2-3 times per week is enough), well-moisturized & well-hydrated. Dry skin is super ageing.

(2) Wake up tired skin | Wake tired skin up, by gently massaging your moisturizing & hydrating products into the skin, to stimulate blood flow and really get circulation going.

(3) Prep your pout | Before applying lipstick, brush dead skin cells off your lips by using a toothbrush with a little bit of coconut oil, a touch of honey and some brown sugar mixed into it (an easy at-home lip scrub) to make sure the skin on your lips is smooth so that makeup adheres to it better. Afterwards, if lips feel dry, apply a thin coat of lip balm. I always prefer using something completely natural here, as we swallow so much of what’s on our lips. Products like Lanolips 101 Ointment (a rather pricey cult favourite) or Bee Natural Lip Balm (a more affordable option) are petroleum free and completely natural.

(4) Get your lipstick to stay all day

  • First apply a thin coat of lip balm (you don’t want your lips to be too oily, just genthly nourished)
  • Then, apply your lipliner to the entire top and bottom lip
  • On top of that, apply a slightly moisturizing lipstick (which will stop lips from looking too dry). Renee always says “it’s all about layering” when you want to ensure that product lasts. Make sure the lipliner and lipstick you use are the same shade, unless you’re going for a super technical ombré technique, which is not something I would recommend trying at home:)

Clare Wiese Wentzel

  • To really set the colour in place, put a thin tissue over your mouth and sprinkle a light dusting of loose powder through the tissue, onto your lips. Renee did this with many of our participants, where the lip colour was the main feature of their particular makeup look

(5) Invest in an eyelash curler | It’s a lot of admin, yes, ladies, I know. We don’t always have time for all of this, but a curled, open lash instantly opens up your eyes and your face. It’s worth it (and, yes, so are you)! I prefer the good old-fashioned ones, that look like mini-torture devices, to the battery-operated heated wands. Get the best of both worlds by heating up an old-fashioned curler (MAC makes a good one) with a blow-dryer, using medium heat. Then, using the heated curler, curl lashes (first at the base and then at the mid-lash lengths) before applying liner and mascara. Your eyes will really pop!


  1. I’m absolutely in love with the Chanel Les Beige Healthy Glow Luminous Colour (Medium Deep) (each skin tone is different though, of course, but this colour works well for fair to medium skin tones). I love its powder-cream texture and the fact that it’s not shimmery, but still somehow dewy and luminous. I use it daily.
  2. The Smashbox Contour Kit is insane, for contouring your cheekbones, sculpting your nose and highlighting under your brows and eyes. I bought mine at Woolworths and use it all the time. Believe it or not, whilst it is by no means the last word on contouring, I actually use the clever little diagram inside the palette to guide my highlight & bronzing endeavours.
  3. Sensai sells a velvety soft, easy-to-apply brush-tip under-eye concealer that really works to ligten and brighten those pesky under-eye shadows (the bane of my existence). It’s always in my makeup bag for quick touch-ups and cover-ups throughout the day. On those mornings, however, where nothing but Level 10 coverage will do to rescue my dignity, I thank my lucky stars for Benefit Bo-ing Industrial Strength Full Coverage Concealer. If you can, get both of these heavenly products to make sure you always look like Wide-awake Wendy.
  4. MAC’s Boldly Bare Lip Pencil (not photographed above). This is a colour we used on my lips all the time. Because I quite enjoy (to put it mildly:) a smokey eye, my lips needed to be toned down but (for television) not invisible. This colour is beautifully soft, nude and neutral (without being too brown or too light that it washes you out) and yet it still defines your mouth and helps to create subtly sexy lips, hence the perfect name for it, “Boldy Bare”. I have yet to meet a professional makeup artist that doesn’t have this lipliner in their kit.
  5. Eylure Pro-Lash Individual Lashes is something I got very used to, very quickly, and – without them – my makeup just never looked the same! I have yet to try and apply them myself, and I’m sure it’s not easy but also not impossbile. We stuck to the “short” lashes, as the medium and longer ones look a tad “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”. So try and get a pack containing only the “short” lashes. They are amazing and really add drama and definition, without being obvious. I’m obsessed.

Enjoy, ladies and, as always, feel free to send me feedback or ask any questions by getting in touch.