How a plant-based diet bettered my gut health

Before you follow the next new trend of diets or lifestyle changes that promises you to lose weight or clear your acne, read how a plant-based diet helped put my Crohn’s Disease in remission and created a healthy gut flora

In 2012 at twenty-three years old, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease – an inflammatory bowel disease which causes inflammation in the digestive tract. Prior to being diagnosed, my Dermatologist had me on long term use of antibiotics treating my severe cystic acne. My skin had never looked better on it and I became addicted to taking the medication thinking it could keep my skin clear for as long as I kept taking them. After a year of obsessively swallowing antibiotics without the support of probiotics, I landed myself in the hospital. Taking antibiotics for that long completely killed off all the good bacteria in my gut and destroyed my health. Frequent trips to my GI doctor for colonoscopies and checkups became my new best friend. When one medication didn’t work and its side effects had me feeling lightheaded with my hair falling out, the next medication to try out came after.

The Doctor had warned me that eventually I could have major surgery to remove my colon if the pain continued and there were no more positive results.

Horrified by this news, searching for a solution to this whole mess I got myself into the first place was going to be hard but worth it in the end. Being married to medication and having the side effects that came with it and a chance of having major surgery felt like the end of my life. Holistic Healing always had my interest, so I had decided to go with my gut instinct.

Ever hear of the AIP diet? Its stands for Auto Immune Protocol which eliminates all inflammatory foods which aims to reduce inflammation, pain, and other symptoms caused by auto immune diseases. After a few weeks on this strict diet and taking in raw fermented goods for natural probiotic and prebiotic consumption, I helped get my gut back to a better place where I actually stopped my inflammation medication. My energy was lifted, my skin was brighter and glowing, and the pain was gone. Excited by these results, I wanted to dig in more since my health was my number one priority.

 “What the Health” had premiered on Netflix was raving reviews which caught my attention. It focused on people with disease and conditions who went plant based which helped them become the healthiest they’ve ever been and off medication.  I quit cold faux turkey since and so have the frequent trips to my GI doctor.

First things first, cut out all processed foods and meats from your diet and incorporate high fiber foods such as micronutrients. Even when It comes down to the oils you cook with- Canola, Soybean, Vegetable are extremely inflammatory to the gut. Olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil are only recommended to use and cook with. Even watch out with which olive oil your consuming because Recent studies showed 80 percent of Olive Oil brands on the shelf are cut with cheaper oils such as the inflammatory ones I had listed.

Think all nuts are safe? Almonds, Cashews and Peanuts are also inflammatory to the gut and sunflower seed butter is a great replacement. Little things I consumed mindlessly everyday had a huge effect on my health that I thought were healthy in the first place!

Another diet change to focus on is following the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list. Every year the EWG (Environmental Working Group) comes out with a list called ‘The Dirty Dozen’, which is a shoppers guide to pesticides in produce.  The EWG recommends which produce to always consume organic when in your control and which ones you can get away with eating conventional. Not to mention the most gut-wrenching fact, coffee. It has been shown to create an imbalance of gut bacteria called dysbiosis, by destroying your good bacteria.

And last, the spiritual side of Gut Issues. As Dr. Christine Northrup calls it, ‘Digestion: your third emotional center’. She claims bloating, gastric reflux, constipation, IBS, ulcers, are the second most common reason why people seek medical attention in North America. She believes emotions are tied in with digestion and why it is crucial to practice self-love and to honor yourself. Learning to meditate and practicing yoga helped with my body, mind, and breathing.  Not to mention the release of toxins and eliminating waste and improving digestion!

Working with a dietician who specialized in vegan diets, she had helped strengthen my gut lining and create a healthy microbiome to where I have been in remission now for years and off medication. My skin continues to be clear, my hair is strong and thick, and healthier than ever.

Setting my routine every day with my strict ‘diet’ and huge lifestyle change has become my ritual to wellness. By making little changes which added up to bigger ones, not only did I save my life, I have helped inspired others to step up and gain control with their help.

My imperfections became a road map to where my life has carried me and was certified in Vegan Nutrition and Eastern Medicine. I curate my own blog on Instagram and my website at Tijen the Vegan and TijentheVegan.com

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