This interview is part of the Real Talk Real Women interview series, where we bring you the life-changing, heart-warming and inspirational stories behind the most successful women in health and fitness. Make sure to follow us on Instagram for the latest interviews! For this installment, we are joined by Jamie Morea.
Let’s start off with a general introduction. How would you describe yourself?
I’m a self-proclaimed gut health evangelist who is committed to using whole foods, clean products, and natural ingredients to nourish my body, inside and out.
After experiencing the detrimental effects of living life not so in-tune with my body’s natural needs, I am equally committed to sharing this message with others so that they too can experience health as I believe it was meant to be. This desire is why I started both Hyperbiotics, a premium probiotic supplement company, and most recently, Valentia Skincare, a truly pure solution to beautiful skin that doesn’t compromise your health.
Furthermore, as a woman and mother, I’m on a mission to empower women around the world by advocating for equality in education, safety, family planning, healthcare, childbirth, maternal health, breastfeeding, and economic empowerment through a collective we’ve started called Change for Women.
Several years back you were faced with unexpected health issues - how did you learn about this and how did you deal with it at the time?
I was living my dream, traveling around the world with my husband and exploring amazing cultures and beautiful environments. On our way from Guatemala to Thailand, I suddenly experienced debilitating nausea, incapacitating fatigue and brain fog, and an extremely swollen stomach.
At the time, there wasn’t much I could do besides head home to lie in bed. This went on for several months, as I consulted with countless doctors and specialists to try to figure out what was wrong with me. After six months, I finally got a proper diagnosis — I had contracted a parasite called Entamoeba histolytica.
I know there’s an old saying you like that goes along the lines of “a man with his health has many dreams, but a man without his health has only one” - what can you tell us about that.
I thought of this Indian proverb often when I was bedridden, scared, and feeling hopeless about ever being able to regain the level of health I had once enjoyed (and, to be honest, health that I taken for granted). What really hit home for me during that dark time was that, without my health, I couldn’t even begin to dream and make plans for the rest of my life—all I could do was survive, make it through each day, and hope to get better.
As I found answers and began to recover, however, my world opened up again and I started to understand just how precious health is. And I found my purpose: to help others regain their health, and their dreams.
What are the most unexpected lessons you’ve learned on your health journey this far?
The two most significant, and unexpected, lessons I learned throughout my journey were that all health begins in the gut (where 80% of our immune system resides) with the trillions of bacteria that live there, and that our modern lifestyles are oftentimes detrimental to all the beneficial microbes that support nearly every aspect of our health, day in and day out.
Before my own health was so drastically affected, I didn’t know that our bodies are host to a huge, dynamic ecosystem of microbes that play a dominant role in our emotional, physical, and mental health. Once I learned about the importance of these friendly flora, I also quickly discovered that they are constantly under attack by a variety of factors in our daily lives—like antibacterial products, excessive hygiene habits, processed foods, antibiotics in food and as medicine, toxic personal care products, and even stress—that deplete their populations and limit their ability to support our health and well-being.
I know you learned a lot about nutrition and specifically probiotics - this is still a new area for many - can you give a basic explanation of what they are and how they affect our lives?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that reside in and on our body. The vast majority of them live within our gut environment, where they help us digest food and absorb nutrients. What many people don’t know is that probiotics also have a hand in nearly every other bodily process, from optimizing our immune system and balancing our metabolism, to regulating our emotions, boosting our cognitive function, and even helping us sleep.
All of the microbes in our body (both good and bad) make up our microbiome, and an ideal balance is 85% friendly flora and only 15% of the bad guys. When the inhospitable microbes start to take over, our health begins to go downhill, fast.
You also have a keen interest in probiotics as they relate to child health - what are some key insights you can share around that?
We’ve learned that babies inherit their microbiomes from their mothers—while in utero, during delivery, and through breast milk. And because the microbiome is truly the foundation of health, it’s imperative that babies get the absolute best microbial start as possible.
What’s more? The first several years of life are crucial for immune system development, and our immune function relies on cues and information from our resident bacteria to develop properly. But, without a healthy microbiome in place to act as our immunity “advisor” in those first couple of years, our immune system can learn to both underreact and overreact to stimuli, causing all sorts of lifelong health issues.
By educating families about the importance of having a thriving microbiome before and during pregnancy and also throughout childhood, we hope to pave the way for a lifetime of health and immunity for as many children as possible.
It’s a little known fact that cesarean birth has significant impact on our gut bacteria as we age - impeding our immune system and its development. Why is this and what can you do if you were born through a C-section?
It’s true—research shows that babies born via C-section don’t get the same, beneficial microbial inoculation as babies born vaginally who are exposed to their mom’s intestinal and vaginal flora as they make their way through the birth canal. Because this initial infusion of bacteria during birth is the start of the microbiome and the foundation of immunity, it’s imperative to make sure babies born via C-section have as much exposure as possible to the beneficial bacteria they missed out on during the birth process.
Some hospitals use vaginal swabbing to coat C-section babies with their moms’ vaginal microbes, but breast milk also provides loads of friendly flora straight from mom’s gut. Breastfeeding exclusively for at least six months, and continuing to nurse for as long as possible after that, can help to replace the bacterial diversity that may have been missing at birth.
For older kids and adults born via C-section, it’s never too late to build up your microbiome with beneficial bacteria! Probiotic supplements, prebiotics (to feed the good bacteria), and fermented foods can all work to give your microbiome the boost it needs to support your optimal health.
When it comes to supplementing with probiotics - what is the most important thing people should look for in a product?
The most important thing to take into consideration when choosing a probiotic supplement is finding one that can actually deliver viable bacteria deep into your gut. Remember, probiotics are living organisms, and many brands don’t go the extra mile to make sure their flora are protected during manufacturing, shipping, storage, and on the perilous journey through the digestive tract. This means that, if you don’t do your research to find an effective probiotic supplement, you could just be ingesting a bunch of dead bugs!
At Hyperbiotics, we use a patented manufacturing process and delivery method that protect the delicate probiotics from manufacturing all the way until they make it past your stomach acids—delivering them alive deep into your intestines where you need them most.
Many young women who want to lose weight believe that not eating is the way to do it, without realising the consequences of that kind of behavior.
Why do you think this is and what’s your perspective on educating society on healthy nutrition habits?
Unfortunately, the message many young women get from society these days is that they have to be abnormally thin to be happy, loved, and successful, and not eating has long been an “accepted” method for achieving that goal. But, what most of these young women don’t realize is that when we starve ourselves, we starve our precious microbial friends within as well, and we sabotage our overall health and our weight loss efforts by compromising our body’s ability to absorb nutrients, digest food, and properly regulate our hunger hormones and metabolism.
Now that we understand the entire picture and the role our gut flora play in our health and weight, we need to make sure this information gets passed down to individuals and families so they can adjust their lifestyles accordingly. From avoiding unnecessary exposure to antibiotics (did you know farmers give antibiotics to livestock to fatten them up?) to prioritizing a whole food diet high in plant based prebiotics, we need to protect and nurture our friendly microbes so they can, in turn, help us achieve and maintain our ideal weight.
In short, living a life that nourishes your total self (mind-body-spirit and microbes) will almost always translate into loving what you see when you look in the mirror.
You have made a career out of your passion as the founder of Hyperbiotics and Change for Women. As you decided to make a career out of your passion - what were your biggest stumbling blocks along the way?
When I first started learning about gut health and the importance of probiotics, I struggled to find probiotic formulas that were effective enough to make a real difference in my health. And when I couldn’t find the kind of high-quality, trustworthy supplements that I needed to truly enjoy vibrant health, I knew that it was time to create my own.
I’d say the biggest challenge I faced was being an outsider in a very established industry (nutraceuticals), where things had always been done a certain way and often common sense questions or refuting the status quo was not embraced.
That said, carving our own path and thinking outside of the box (because we were never confined to the box the industry operates in) turned out to be an incredible advantage that led to health-enhancing, life-changing innovation, as did having a genuine passion and conviction to impact the lives of others and educate, inspire, and engage with our customers.
I guarantee that if you contact our company, you will be taken aback at the level of care, time, energy, and attention you receive from our team. You really are the reason we do what we do.
If you could only choose one thing, what would you tell your younger self?
If only I could go back and have a nice chat with my younger self!
I would definitely say to her (and to all of the other beautiful, young souls out there), “Trust the voice inside of you, follow it wholeheartedly, as it will not lead you astray. There is only one you, don’t try to be anyone else. You owe it to yourself and the world to discover who that ‘you’ really is and then to shine in all of your fullness and uniqueness. You can have and be and do everything you have the ability to dream. It’s all working out for you. And most importantly, have fun along the way, that’s the point of it all.”
Where can people go to learn more about you online?
Stay tuned for the next interview of Real Talk Real Women!