When thinking of where my gut health journey began (other than the obvious being from birth) I have to start at my age of perhaps 16/17 where I craved sweets and carbs… Having just gone to boarding school and being able to buy foods for myself, I was reaching left right and centre for junk I had never had growing up! Coming from a healthy home environment where eating well and nourishing our bodies was huge, I was literally a kid in a candy shop going crazy for all things SUGAR.
Piling them into my temple, where I always had a fast metabolism and not seeing a change in body due to the crap I was eating. However my skin suffered, I thought then it was only due to that adolescent time and hormone related (which I was right as I was then diagnosed with and under active thyroid causing my hormones to go crazy in my body and skin, one of the signs things weren’t right) but being my senior high school self I didn’t think anything of it, going on thyroxine medication to level out my thyroid but still always feeling bloated, waking up with breakouts accompanied by brain fog and anxiety…
In 2016 during my full time dance year, I was extremely fit and active eating “healthy” and moving my body everyday. I experienced even MORE awful bloating (and pain that came with it), terrible headaches becoming migraines and would take a few mouthfuls of food and whilst still hungry instantly felt full! WHAT WAS GOING ON!
I took myself to the GP and ran some tests including gluten intolerance and coeliac disease. Test after test still no sign of a cause for this feeling and I was getting fed up. The doctor prescribed antibiotics (oh yes) and tablets to stop acidity in the gut (which I reluctantly took hating putting medication into my body) but I was desperate for this feeling to stop.
After some self research (yes I am a bit of a geek when it comes to books and the internet) I thought that the one common thread that kept coming up was being on the contraceptive pill and what I was eating. I listened to an amazing podcast about being on the pill and gut health etc. and decided to no longer take it and therefore taking some major hormones out of my body! This sure helped a lot and I felt better after the first few months. It took a while for my body to regulate my periods after that (after being on pill for 2 1/2 years) but once I started getting periods regularly my body instantly felt less stressed. You can read more on periods, the pill in my experience and fertility in a full blog post here.
At this same time I was reading more into natural therapies, using food as medicine and all things GUT HEALTH suddenly made its way onto my radar. “Boom” I thought I am onto something here, I started seeing a naturopath trying to find natural ways to get my thyroid levelled instead of feeding my body with medications every morning. She explained the major connection with the thyroid and gut and how when one is out it almost always effects the other and vice versa. We did a stool test and came across a parasite.. here we go I thought, onto something!
In the mean time my beautiful best friend was going through her own gut health journey and had come across Colonic Irrigation therapy as a treatment. Colonic therapies are used to cleanse the colon and intestinal tract of toxins. A tube is inserted into the patients rectum and into the colon. Water is then flushed through which allows the colon to irrigate and evacuate stool and other build ups of toxins.
Once speaking to one another about our journeys and the results she received from colonics I thought I had to try and see how it went for my gut. Tying up with my nutritionist who also runs colonics I did a set of 4 over a few weeks. The results were AMAZING, not only did I feel lighter and less bloated, my skin cleared majorly, my energy levels were higher and I wasn’t as… gassy.
My nutritionist/naturopath got me onto the book “Eat Dirt” which I speak briefly on another blog post you can read here. I highly recommend reading it as it has taught me so much about the gut, what foods support a healthy happy gut and how important it is to get some “Dirt” in our overly sterile lives. It is also delivered in an extremely easy to understand and relatable way. I have also just finished reading ‘Gut’ by Giulia Enders and this walks you through each process from seeing food to it coming out the other end read more here.
Having a stressed gut from years of eating high sugar and processed foods at boarding school, battling with stress and anxiety and always reaching for high carbs my gut was in a world of panic, and whilst I still have a long way to go I am so glad I finally listened to my body and made some super easy changes…
Here are a few of the changes I have made that I believe have all helped to allowing me feel happier and healthier than ever before.
Meditation/Mindfulness: Adding daily meditations and breathing exercises has helped massively with stress also. It gives me a chance to calm my body and not trigger that fight or flight response doing so much damage when triggered to easily. I use an app call “Insight Timer” where I generally just use the timer which has lovely bells and deep chants. I do this for either 5 or 10 minutes depending on how much time I have. If I have the day off or do one before bed when I have no where to be I opt for one of the guided meditations focused around sleep or grounding.
Gluten: I attempted to cut out gluten completely and it lasted a little while, I saw amazing results and wish I didn’t love bread so much… Over the next few months this is going to be my challenge again as I have started experiencing more bloating again and need to continue to look after my gut!
Organic Wholefoods: I have started eating organic where I can (I no longer shop in the supermarket only for basic essentials, I stick to whole foods markets and shops where options are generally organic and have nutrient rich forms of gluten free vs white processed gluten free breads of supermarkets), eating less sugar, not buying packaged processed foods as much as I was, swapping out all chemical dense products in my toiletries and also with all house hold cleaning products etc with essential oils! Taking time to de stress and work on how I manage feelings of being overwhelmed or anxious. Making my own treats that are sugar free has helped that “craving” that people feel they have when reducing sugar as I LOVE the food I eat, I do not restrict myself to diets I simply choose to NOURISH my body. Eating more fermented foods has also helped majorly but please get tests done to see how your gut bacteria is before shovelling all the pre and probiotics and fermented foods. You may do yourself worse than good!
Colonics: As mentioned before I have found colonics to be very beneficial for getting my gut back on track.
As has always been said “Go with your gut” it really does know what it needs and if its not happy its hard for you to flourish!
Stay happy, healthy and get that gut happier and healthier IT ALL STARTS IN THE GUT!