Beloved former reality star Lo Bosworth of Laguna Beach and The Hills fame has evolved into a brilliant science nerd, and she would say so herself. Let Bosworth’s in-depth off-hand knowledge about the brain-gut-vagina axis be a lesson to anyone prone to minimizing reality TV teens. One day they might grow up and create quality supplements and write a book full of important information you’ve never heard before.
Love Wellness, launched by Bosworth in 2016, has been a successful supplement company for years, and it just keeps growing. Now Bosworth has packaged the knowledge she’s learned through her research in one convenient book. The book not only breaks down challenging science terms, but also includes a five-day plan created with nutritionist Janine Higbie to realistically implement the knowledge into your life.
The voice and playful chapter names in Love Yourself Well ($25) makes all these useful lessons fun. During our conversation, phrases like “It’s either in Leaky Vagina or Happy Vagina. I think it might be in Happy Vagina,” popped up as Bosworth is always referencing—and she knows her book inside and out.
As a beauty editor, I’ve been following the Love Wellness journey for a while. I’m excited to have all the information you’ve learned along the way in one spot. What inspired you to channel it into a book?
“I think when it comes to personal care, health and wellness, especially with our focus on the gut, brain and vagina, there’s a lot of information out there. And to your point, it’s never been packaged together and presented well in a single book or a single guide for women’s health and wellness. It really is a book about, in my opinion, enlightenment when it comes to women’s health. It really sheds light on a lot of the bad things that we’ve been doing to our bodies unknowingly for decades.
I’m personally really excited because I feel like the information in the book, from a science perspective, is really groundbreaking in that I think it’s the first time that a lot of the information is being shared in a way that is super digestible and connects the gut, brain and vagina on this triple-organ axis. It’s a very interesting, well-rounded, straightforward guide on total body wellness for women and how all the different pieces are connected together.
Nobody is talking about the brain-gut-vagina axis, except Love Wellness and this book now. A lot of people are talking about the gut-brain axis. This book goes a lot deeper and talks about the immune system connection, the endocrine system connection and the different ways that all of the organs are connected. The microbiome in your gut is really sort of the main focal point of the book. I call the gut microbiome the master microbiome, and it’s the home of the immune system. It keeps you healthy. Your gut lining is incredibly important.
There are tons of different ways that all the organs are connected. The book really talks you through the microbiome, how mucus plays a huge role in the body and how the nervous system is incredibly important throughout these three big organs. It also provides you with a five-week plan to heal all three organs that builds week over week. It involves an elimination diet, but not one that you have to stick to forever.”
You mentioned an elimination diet. Tell us a bit about it.
“Very few people have actually done an elimination diet. The book is a pretty straightforward guide on how to do that. It’s not about depriving yourself of certain foods forever. On our diet, you can still have white rice and certain types of cheeses and things. The idea is to remove foods that are known to be inflammatory from the diet through an elimination diet over five weeks. Eventually, you bring those foods back in. It also goes into how to remove different types of toxins from your food, your kitchen, your bathroom and existing personal care products.
Even making slight tweaks to your day-to-day diet can have a monumental effect. Especially because 90 percent of your happy hormones are produced in your gut. If your gut is in bad shape, you’re not going to be getting the serotonin you need. You could be getting chronic bacterial vaginosis because you’re just eating something that’s causing some kind of inflammation. That’s surprising information for a lot of people.”
Can you explain the brain-gut-vagina axis for the readers?
We know a lot about leaky gut at this point and how that sort of trickles up into brain and neurological issues. But that leaky gut also leads to a lot of feminine health issues. It’s one of the reasons why our women’s probiotic, Good Girl Probiotics ($21), is one of our best-selling products, and it always has been. It’s because there’s a gut-vagina connection as well.
The gut microbiome actually communicates with the vaginal microbiome in two ways. The first is called quorum sensing. Let’s say the bacteria is in bad shape in your gut because you’re eating too much inflammatory food, or you took an antibiotic or whatever the reason is. Then they’re going to tell the matching vaginal bacteria to also be in bad shape. Then you’re going to experience a sort of snowball effect of vaginal irritation and infection.
Basically, the bacteria in your gut microbiome is responsible for your vaginal pH and keeping your vaginal pH acidic. You want it to be acidic. If it’s acidic—think about it reasonably—that prevents the overgrowth of bad bacteria, pathogens, yeast, fungi, etc. Maintaining that vaginal microbiome and—in essence—maintaining that acidic vaginal pH keeps you healthy and happy. That gut-vagina connection is just as critically important to women’s health as the gut-brain connection. Then there’s a brain-vagina connection through the vagus nerve.”
Love Wellness began as a supplement company. Where do supplements fit into this plan?
“The implementation of some really standard multivitamins and supplements is important here, like multivitamins, fiber and probiotics for different parts of your body. We make a gut probiotic, a brain probiotic that just launched that’s already so popular called Big Brain Probiotics ($21) and a vaginal probiotic. The plan involves the implementation of easy straightforward supplements that everybody should be taking.”
Where does mindfulness come into play?
“There’s a series of mindful movement activities that you can do like dry brushing, vagus nerve exercises, cold showers, things like that. It’s really about getting your body back to homeostasis in an environment in which everybody is constantly affected by the food they eat, the things they’re breathing in, the things they’re putting into and onto their body.”
You’re talking about all this new information in the book. What was most surprising for you to learn?
“God, there’s so many things. There’s one really interesting part of the book on page 60. If you eat something bad, your gut and the acid will immediately try to kill it. It knows what is not self versus self. Not self is like bad guys, bacteria, pathogens.
The vagina does the same thing. It identifies things that are not self that are bad for you and actually has its own immune system that helps protect against yeast infections and the overgrowth of bacteria if you’re healthy. However, the vagina makes an exception for sperm, which is not self it’s not part of us, but it identifies sperm and knows that sperm is not a bad invader or infection. In fact, it helps sperm along to help women get pregnant, so sperm is the exception to the rule. The vagina is smart enough to know the difference between sperm and things like a pathogen or STI.
After doing all of this research and reading all of these papers, I was like, ‘Oh my god, that is absolutely incredible. We need to give our vaginas so much more credit than we are giving them. They are genius organs.’ There is still such a lack of research when it comes to women’s health. We are still so behind the mark. It’s pretty remarkable.”
I’m so impressed by how much knowledge you have off-hand on these topics.
“I’m really a big nerd about this stuff. It’s why I started this company. It’s just fascinating to me. When I was dealing with my own health issues, back in 2014 and 2015, I started to discover that all of these legacy personal care brands were not making products that actually worked with our unique biologies—and my jaw hit the floor. It became my mission to create products that work better for women’s bodies. It just was such a no-brainer to me. Why wouldn’t we want to make products that actually support the way our bodies work and give us the results we’re looking for? At the time I started the company, people really gave me the side eye. They were like, ‘Why are you starting a vaginal health company?’ It was 2016. Everybody gets it now.”
So we’ve discussed that there are personal care products that aren’t great for your gut, vagina, microbiome, everything. Are there any products that you do trust?
“Natural and clean are buzzwords. Just because lotion has some chemical ingredient in it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad for you. It could be perfectly safe. So I think it’s important that people just do their own research when it comes to ingredient profiles and understand that there are classes of ingredients that are very harmful and toxic to humans and be up to speed on them.
You have to be your own advocate with what you’re putting in and on your body. We are making you aware. Everywhere you look, brands, individuals and experts are making you aware of toxins and carcinogens and things that are out there that could be harmful. It’s up to you to get that information for yourself. Go read the book—there’s a lot of information in here.”
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