My eighteen-month journey on the road has finally brought me back home to Bali; and what a pleasure it is to be back. Throughout my travels, I have experienced times when I am completely out of control of my “everyday” ways, more specifically with my eating habits. Being vegan, you find sometimes find yourself in situations where your go-too foods are not so readily available. So it didn’t come as any surprise that lacking in those little things would occasionally send my gut health into a spin.
I have figured out the hard way to detect when something is not quite right. My mind will become foggy and I will lose focus; I will also experience physical symptoms, such as unexpected breakouts that I cannot link directly to my hormones, fatigue, low mood, bloating, all of which I now trace back to my gut.
You’ve heard the saying the gut is your second brain, right? Well, in case you haven’t, let’s explore that notion a little further.
Research reveals we hold an entire ecosystem of bacteria and neural connections that operate in our gut. This is the ecosystem we refer to when we are talking about our ‘second brain,’ comprising over 100 million neurons… This is more than our spinal cord! Although your gut can’t reason, solve puzzles, or articulate written articles, there is mounting evidence to suggest that gut health strongly influences our mood.
Inside the digestive system, communication is mainly with the bacteria that survive and breed there. The good and bad bacteria are what makes up our microbiome. Our gut “bacteria” has evolved with us since birth and we depend on this army of microbes to keep us alive; acting as a protector against germs and viruses, breaking down food to release energy and most importantly to produce vitamins. However, in order for those bacteria to keep us healthy, they need to be healthy and abundant.
If you are noticing any symptoms similar to mine, then it may be worth taking small steps towards healing your gut. Even if you’re not experiencing symptoms, I personally don’t think it’s a bad decision to heal your gut anyway, give it a break, stop overloading it, and let it reset. Trust me, you will reap the benefits.
List of benefits from healing your gut
- Improved digestion.
- Produce essential vitamins.
- Lower cholesterol.
- Regulate hormones.
- Boost immunity.
- Increase resistance to infections.
- Lower risk of certain cancers.
- Improve overall mood and well-being.
Whenever I want or need to re-set my gut I follow a model set out by the Institute for Functional Medicine known as the 5 R’s.
Step one: Remove – start by removing unhealthy or allergenic foods; now this step, albeit the first, takes a little bit of investigation. Sensitivities to food or external sources can be particularly tricky because symptoms don’t necessarily occur straight away; it can be hours or days after exposure that you have a reaction. For example, my recent gut healing occurred when I arrived in Bali. I had run out of my natural toothpaste and had to purchase one here which of course, contained fluoride. I haven’t used toothpaste containing fluoride for quite some time, so it sent my gut into a spin. I noted my symptoms closely for one week, and the pattern included breakouts, bloating, and a rash on my neck and chest. Luckily, I was able to source a natural charcoal toothpaste (ps. This is the best natural toothpaste I’ve ever tried!) and my symptoms have started to subside.
Step two: Replace – help out your digestive systems with enzymes and gut-healing foods. Some of my favourite foods I consume to heal my gut are: Kombucha (daily), fresh fruit and vegetable juices, and fermented vegan foods such as sauerkraut.
Step Three: Re-inoculate – in this step, it is super important to add in some beneficial bacteria. If you’re constantly on the move, the best source of bacteria may be probiotic and prebiotic supplements. Otherwise, you can consume kombucha daily or simply add sauerkraut to your dishes, and supplement whole-meal bread for sourdough bread. Alternatively, many fortified nut milks contain live cultures.
Step Four: Repair – heal the gut with nutrients and a diet full of antioxidants, healthy fats such as avocado and coconut oil, and amino acids. Personally, I also choose to juice cleanse for a whole day when I am healing my gut. Fresh juices can be found almost anywhere these days and whilst here in Bali I buy from Remix Juice. For the single pack cleanse I consumed:
Al Green – contains pineapple (high in Vitamin C), celery (rich in fiber), apple (anti-oxidant) & key lime (more C, minerals and fiber!).
Oldie but Goodie – containing the powerful healing herb turmeric, combined with ginger, carrot, orange and maca root, this super anti-inflammatory juice is not one you want to skip as it will calm down any inflammation you are experiencing as a result of your irritated gut.
Black Magic – this powerhouse juice contains activated charcoal; it absorbs toxins, chemicals and poisons before they can interact with your body and also reduces bloating & gas in your stomach. Just be sure to consume a lot of water on the day you are taking this juice as it is hugely detoxifying.
Love potion No.9 – this beetroot, carrot, apple, key lime, and ginger concoction increases your blood flow, fills you up with anti-oxidants & beta-carotene, and helps cleanse out your liver).
Step Five: Rebalance – slow down, take care for your overall wellbeing on a holistic level – embrace an eclectic approach. I have always been a big believer in practicing yoga to reset and restore my head space, but more recently I have tried doing at least 15 minutes of meditation when I wake, and I found this has improved my sleep, mental support, rest and relaxation habits.
So, if you’re with me, and what to kick-start your gut health, I would love to hear what works for you.
Do you follow the 5 R’s, or do you have your own remedies?
Also by Victoria: Skin Revitalizing Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowl
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