So 2017. The new year is a time we examine our lives. What's working, what's not, what we want more of, what we want to let go of and what we want to transform.
For me, 2016 didn't end on the highest note health wise. I found myself reacting to a lot of foods that I'd re introduced into my diet, my joints were constantly aching and some of my chronic fatigue symptoms were returning.
After some investigation I put this down to a couple of things.
Firstly I re introduced corn back into my diet & with hindsight this was a mistake. A while back a blood test showed I was cross reacting to corn, but to be honest I found cutting it out really limiting, especially when eating out, because suddenly many of the GF options weren't available to me either.
When I realised that things were going downhill I cut corn out again and saw an almost instant improvement. No more joint pain, insomnia or constant bloating, however I'm still suffering from multi food sensitivities, which is a major indication that the gut needs some healing.
The second thing is stress. I lost my Grandma, moved house and started a new job, and I'm a fairly anxious person anyway. Don't underestimate the negative impact stress can have on your health.
It ended up being a vicious cycle because the more stressed I got, the worse my digestive problems, which then made me stressed and anxious about eating out, socialising etc etc.
We can't completely avoid stress, and we don't have to in order to heal, but just simply taking time to take some slow deep breaths whenever you think of it, can have a massive impact. Also when you find yourself feeling stressed, slow things down. Your movements, your speech, everything. Smile, laugh, even if it's the last thing you feel like doing. These simple actions tells the body to switch off the stress response.
My ultimate stress busters are yoga and cuddles with my cat, but you will have your own way of de stressing.
We are all free to make our own choices, and I respect the choices of others, even though they may not resonate with me personally.
So this is what is working for me and I hope in sharing it might help someone else out there.
I'm taking probiotics, L glutamine, slippery elm and turmeric as gut healing supplements.
Turmeric lattes make the best wintery drinks and are very gut friendly. you can find a ton of recipes on the internet, but I basically just whisk a heaped teaspoon of turmeric into a cup of rice milk and warm on the stove, drink. Rice milk is naturally sweet so counteracts the slightly bitter taste of the turmeric without you needing to add any sweetener.
So here's the list of NO's for me at the moment. 1. Grains. I love them, they don't love me. 2 Dairy. A really common food for people with coeliac disease to cross react with. But is also a common problem food in it's own right. Kefir is the one dairy product you may find recommended on gut healing programmes - it has numerous reported benefits. 3. Meat. Personally I don't eat meat as a) it just doesn't feel right to me and b) I don't tolerate it well anyway. I don't believe that drinking bone broth is the only way to cure my gut issues (despite being told this a million times by well meaning nutritionists!). However I have met a number of people with coeliac disease & other autoimmune problems, who have healed on a paleo diet eating good quality meat & drinking the afore mentioned bone broth, so it's a personal choice. 5. Sugar (probably don't need to explain this one!) 6 Nuts. I'm having allergic reactions to nuts again, including coconut, so obviously these are out for me. that being said I have included some nuts in the breakfast recipe because for most people coconut oil is very beneficial for gut healing and the smoothie tastes much better (so I'm told!) with a handful of cashew nuts.
Some gut healing diets recommend you cut out potatoes, tomatoes, lentils and pulses, but those are all really good foods for me so I've kept them in. Although most people will advise you to cut out all grains, I'm actually eating white rice/ rice milk as well as pseudo grains Quinoa & buckwheat. This works for me. Likewise coconut oil, dairy kefir and bone broth which are commonly recommended, are not well tolerated at all, so they're out.
Smoothies are a great choice for breakfast because you get lots of nutrients into your body first thing and also they are easy to add your supplements into. However, in the winter months I need something more warming to entice me out of bed, so the trick is to make a smoothie bowl (thicker than a smoothie you can drink) add some toppings and have with a cup of herbal tea to warm you up.
for this one you will need Serves 1
2 medjool dates (hidden under the spinach!)
1 piece of broccoli (you can steam it first for easier digestion if you prefer)
1 handful of spinach
1 tablespoon cashew nuts or cashew butter
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 dessertspoon protein powder of your choice
place all the ingredients in the blender, add enough plant based milk (I used rice milk) to make a smooth but thick consistency. Open a capsule of L glutamine, tip the contents into the smoothie and mix in well. Do the same with any other supplements you are taking.
Decorate with any toppings of your choice. Some people find nut or seed butters easier than whole nuts or seeds for an irritated gut.
Lunch can be something like Quinoa, roasted butternut squash and sauerkraut. (this is red cabbage sauerkraut). This is also really good for gut healing. You can also add a spoonful of Kefir (again super good for gut healing- I don't have the time or space here to go into the benefits of these foods but there's lots of info out there if you want to know more!) If you can't tolerate dairy kefir, coconut Kefir is quite widely available, and a good alternative. ( Most Holland and Barratt stores stock it in the UK).
GUT HEALING SOUP
This is my alternative to bone broth!
You can discard the veggies and drink the broth to make a super nourishing drink, or as I have done here, make into a thick soup. To make it you will need the following.
2 ORGANIC medium potatoes. washed and scrubbed.
75g shitake mushrooms
1 medium carrot
1 x 1inch piece of ginger (peeled)
50g cabbage (I used Brussel sprouts!)
400ml vegetable stock ( If bone broth is your thing, this would be the time to use it! - if not, you can use homemade stock or stock from a cube)
(you can also add a teaspoon of garlic puree into the soup, if it's well tolerated - it's not here!)
1 peel the potatoes and add the peel to the saucepan. (discard the peeled potatoes - you can use them later for roasting, mashing, etc)
2 add the rest of the veggies and the stock.
3 bring to the boil, cover the pan with a lid and simmer until the carrots and potato peel are soft and cooked (about 10 mins). discard the ginger.
4 add 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce, a little black pepper.
5. transfer the soup to a blender and blitz.
this soup should serve 2. It's quite thick, but it's easy to add more stock, or dairy free milk if you want a thinner consistency.
If you are making a broth, rather than the soup, after bringing the soup to the boil and covering( stage 3), leave the veggies to simmer for at least an hour before straining the liquid off. - you can pour it through a sieve to get any little bits out. Keep the liquid in a sealed jar or bottle in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
Very ripe bananas, avocado, smoothies, dairy free yogurt - anything you can add some more L glutamine into! Another top tip is to make sure your food is not too cold (frozen fruit in smoothies) or too hot (piping hot soup or hot chocolate). Both these extremes "shock" the system, briefly producing the stress response, which is damaging to the gut and also shut down digestion . By the same token, other stimulants, such as caffeinated tea & coffee are best left out too if you can. (I'm sorry!)
Overall the message is to make 2017 the year you get back in touch with you. The foods your body wants and needs (at the moment, because we are constantly changing). Listen to the advice of others who have achieved the things you are aiming for, take on board anything that resonates and leave the rest. You know yourself better than anyone, but sometimes we get so bombarded with experts telling us what to eat, what not to eat, what's good, what's bad, that we forget to go inside, to listen to our inner wisdom. You are the only expert on you. You have all the answers, but you won't find them on the internet. Sometimes you just need to experiment and really pay attention with how X, Y or Z makes you feel, without being so brainwashed by popular opinion, that you are missing or ignoring the signs or signals your body is giving you.
Gut healing is a huge topic - I could write a book! - so this is an edited version, but if you want any more information about gut healing, what's worked for me, what hasn't etc, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. alternatively check out the website www.listentoyourgut.com where there is lots of useful information about all things gut related.
wishing you all a 2017 that is full of health, happiness, love and laughter and anything else you might wish for.
Till next time.xx