love the tummy!

I am about a week into Operation Restore Gut Flora (let’s keep that to Operation R.G.F for simplicity’s sake.)

I have officially started sugar free and on my gut restoring plan last week. (For anyone who is going sugar free I highly recommend Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar’ ebook, it gives lots of great suggestions and is very informative.) So I thought I would share with you what the next 3 months will entail for me as I sip my long black coffee with sweetened with a little Stevia (trying to get used to that taste…)

First things first though, facing a three month total ban from sugar had me suddenly thinking about all the sugary things I haven’t eaten in years. Honestly, I will only really miss honey and raw sugar in tea and coffee, and the fruit for the first month or so…but I decided to have one last sugar hurrah last weekend, just to make sure any cravings were well and truly out of my mind! It was my first junk food in a long time actually, normally I bake treats myself or make a healthier version of things. So this was rather indulgent and it included nothing less than Maggie Beer ice cream, Oreos (haven’t had those since I was a kid in Canada), almonds M&Ms & half a dark Cherry Ripe. It was fun & yummy but I always notice how sweet this processed food tastes…nice but honestly I prefer the things I make. So yes I do occasionally eat total crap but do prefer my treats to be more wholesome, natural & homemade i.e. Banana ice cream with raw choc sauce.

Cue Sunday morning and I was surprised that I wasn’t in a huge carb and sugar crash. My stomach wasn’t feeling awesome, but it was ok…nothing unusual for me and it could have been from anything really. I certainly wasn’t hungry but after a nice long beach walk I was ready for a late brunch at noon of eggs, spinach and avocado.

So before this post turns into a sugar fest, lets get back to what I’m doing to restore the bacterial balance in my gut. Actually first I should perhaps clarify the test results that I got back last week. As it turns out, it was not so much particular foods that have been causing my digestion issues but the fact that I have zero Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium (good bacterias) in my gut. Absolutely zilch. I also have low Bacteroides, around 32% when it should make up between 90-95%. Then if you add in the Streptococcus infection (levels of 56%, ideally below 5%) you pretty much have a recipe for disaster! My holistic GP actually said she hasn’t ever seen anyone with such poor levels of all three main good bacterias. I like to give 100% to everything so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised!

The end conclusion being I have gut dysbiosis and probably some leaky gut as well from it. So I need to focus on restoring my gut flora and nourishing with great nutrition for the next 3 months. It’s frustrating to realise this, as I know I eat well but it’s generally passed down from the mother to child so not really my fault. It’s great because I finally can work towards healing it and I’m actually quite excited! The gut itself is such a vital part in the body, in fact as Dr. Robyn Crawford points out it is “the body’s second largest nervous system and over 60 per cent of the immune system are centred in the digestive system. It shares neuro-transmitters with the brain and is where much of the body’s feel-good hormone serotonin is produced.”

Your gut is home to 10 times more bacterial cells than all those in your body. If you have a predominance of healthy gut bacteria, or beneficial flora, they produce nutrients to keep your metabolism healthy. The good bacteria also protect the gut wall, neutralise toxins, chelate heavy metals and modulate the immune system. If you have too many of the wrong bacteria, the opportunistic type, and not enough of the good bacteria, your immune system is weakened and you lose essential nutrients and the protection of the gut wall.
Additionally, those pathogenic bacteria make their own toxins that can damage the gut wall and result in a “leaky gut”. If your gut wall is leaky, these toxins can enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain where they cause inflammation or block metabolic pathways.  (Source: http://www.wellbeing.com.au/index.php?hidAction=article&id=231)

It really does knock you about when you are not digesting or absorbing nutrients properly. I know firsthand the lack of energy it causes and I’m also quite sure that it is related to my hormone imbalances; although that is a whole other area that we will tackle next. It’s just my gut feeling (no pun intended) that once my gut flora is healthier, everything will balance out in my body. I hope so anyway.

I have a fairly long list of supplements that I have to take for the next three months. Aside from my Juice Plus+ I prefer not to take supplements, but these are fairly necessary, so I’m behaving. I have a course of Mutaflor, Lactobac (both with are good bacteria,) a course of Allimax to kill off the strep, Gut Relief, and Elemental Zinc because my blood work came back low.

miso & bone broth soup

I am eating lots of nourishing and gut beneficial foods such as homemade kefir (with coconut milk or A2 milk or goats milk,) organic miso, homemade bone broths, sauerkraut, a little unsweetened yoghurt and of course lots of veggies. I’m keeping fruit low, just a few berries now and then. Carbs are still low to medium which works well for this stage as sugars feed any nasty bacteria. So sticking to just brown rice or oats when I am having some. I also decided that I probably need to drop my delicious coffee for a while as it definitely can irritate my digestion. My doctor said it’s fine but I do feel it does sometimes not do wonders for my tummy. Cutting my coffee is going to be harder than sugar, not even because of the caffeine but just because I love the taste. I will cut it for this week and then see how I go having one or two on the weekend.

So I am learning lots about things to do for a healthy tummy and fingers crossed that by next year I will be feeling a lot better!