It all started with a trip to Thailand in July of 2013…
I was struck down with the craziest bout of Gastro I have (still to this day) ever experienced. I’ve read some articles and blogs that may suggest it was actually cholera, but then I’m probably overreacting. Self diagnosed hypochondriac. On return, I slowly recovered with the usual IBS symptoms. However, in November of 2013 I was struck down with shingles – this time diagnosed – and my IBS symptoms continued to rapidly flare up. I was studying for 2nd year Uni finals, moving, and working two jobs with full time hours.
Reading journal articles and medical blogs I convinced myself that I had picked up worms whilst holidaying. Considering all I did was play with Gibbons and not wash my hands before eating – you show me a clean wash basin in Thailand before you judge.
On presentation of my third and final stool specimen to my GP he kindly informed me that if I were to present again with the same pathology request he would refer me on to community mental health. He had exhausted all avenues: stools, urines, bloods, and all had come back normal. He suggested a scope if the problem didn’t resolve within 2 months. But if I didn’t pick myself up and get on with it, I’d have to be referred to counselling. He knew I was studying nursing and suggested that I research the gut-brain connection before booking another appointment regarding the same issue.
I left the consultation extremely disheartened until… I got home and researched, and I don’t think I have ever stopped. I found a youtube clip of Dr Oz explaining it. I’d always hated the man, and thought he was super narcissistic, but maybe, this time, he was on to something. I found a copious amount of literature: journal articles, blogs, books, newspaper articles. Was there / is there a connection? I started researching the sympathetic nervous system. I started shoting apple cider vinegar like vodka (I later came to the self realisation that this made me feel worse), and I started eating plain greek yoghurt. I planned my days full of activities to keep me distracted from my gut issues, and I followed a strict IBS diet, slowly cutting out most sugar and white breads. And, most importantly, I started talking to anyone that would listen.
I spoke with the girls in my Nursing degree and found that 80% of them had experienced the same acute on chronic IBS symptoms from time to time, and that it mostly occurred when they were stressed. One girl even told me of a story where she was driving and had to pull over a go bush for a trip to the no.2 loo. Bear in mind we are coastal/country here. Could we all be a pack of anxious 20 year olds, with our bodies responding the only way our bodies know how to – shitting toxins quickly?
The more I spoke with people, the more normal it became. I slowly reintroduced items into my diet, and would watch my poo’s and mentally chart my guts progress.
I worked out, by pure diet alteration, that I couldn’t digest steak, raw onions were not my friend, and I had to stay away from greasy foods. Extremely processed like Maccas – fine – but fish and chips from the take away store, not my friend. And alcohol, which i am still slowly teaching myself – my kryptonite.
I kept on keeping on with my greek yoghurt full of probiotics to help enhance my gut flora.
In 2015, I moved, solo, to the city to work as an RN in the ED of a busy inner city tertiary level hospital. Within 4 months on the go I was a wreck. My mind was in pieces – I was isolated from my fiancé, family and teeny-tiny community, and my brain was overloaded with information. My body was harbouring a sort of Sydney Super Virus that I just couldn’t shake, and it was exhausted – getting by on limited sleep thanks to late-early and night shifts, and whatever food I could fit into it, quickly. My immune system was in a sedentary state of melt down thanks to being overly exposed to a variety of different pathogens, being walked through the door on a, lets say, minutely, basis.
I found Kombucha stocked at the 5-star Grocer near work. I studied the Remedy brands nutritional information and was excited by its low sugar content. I knew I had to quit it AGAIN altogether, but I knew I couldn’t take the withdrawals that went with it. I thought that this would have to be my next best option.
The relationship was instantly established. I was sipping on the Hibiscus Kiss flavour, and was hooked by the end of my first drink. I decided that I’d start with 3 a week, one every 2nd day of work. By the end of the first week my constant evolving Sydney Super Virus had almost entirely resolved. To get my hands on the Kombucha meant leaving the ED for my lunch break and walking 500m return. Breathing in the fresh air, getting some sunlight, I’m sure it all contributed. After 3 weeks on the stuff I was back, and a committed loyal follower of the ‘booch.
Then, by God, it started popping up everywhere, even back in my hometown on the Coast. I got my hands on some Mr Kombucha Blueberry and Mint’ flavour whilst I was home. A 900mL bottle would last the weekends when I’d return home. My obsession left me feeling energised. And my palate was constantly evolving. I’d start to crave natural foods, like bananas and apples, instead of chocolates and chips. I was re-obsessed with plain greek yoghurt and would have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And my number one hideous craving for Coke, was gone. Thank the Lord.
I’m now an absolute avid Kombucha enthusiast. I tell anyone who listens to go and get their hands on the stuff – cashiers, friends, family. People think I’m mad. I vowed never to return to Asia post the traumatic events that went with the Thailand trip. However, since my IBS issues had laid practically dormant for 6 months on Kombucha I decided it was time to give my gut flora a go. I travelled to Singapore, Cambodia and Bali with no problems at all earlier this year. No diarrhoea, no vomiting, nothing. I drank water, and ate ice, and bam, nothing. I thank the ‘booch for this.
I’m currently in the process of brewing my own. I have my first ferment batch hidden in my coldest darkest cupboard brewing away. My family recite Macbeth whenever I bring it out to check on it. It’s definitely a work in progress. I still eat crap, every now and then, ya’ gotta live. But I encourage everyone that will listen, and even those that won’t, to educate themselves on the gut-brain connection, gut flora and their biome. And this post is just an extension of that encouragement.
Give Kombucha a try! It’s no fad or hipster brew. It’s a soft drink alternative, that does so much more good for you than a can of Coke. And, it tastes good! What have you got to loose?
The ‘Booch Challenge:
Take a before photo. Ladies, an honest one of the love handles.
Keep an activity / outcome diary. Enter something, anything, daily.
3 x 600mL Kombuchas a week for 4 weeks.
No soft drinks.
Eat as you already do.
Take an after photo, as above with the handles.
You’ve got nothing to loose, and everything to gain.
Follow the ‘gram.
Health and Happiness,
A couple of links of encouragement x