Spring has sprung and with it comes an opportunity for renewal and vitality – the invitation, should you choose to accept it, is to support the body in letting go of the winter and clearing out the pipes for a stab at another year ahead. This year I’m all over it and for the next few weeks will be walking some of that gut-healing talk, as I embark on an intense two week cleanse – what my coach calls a ‘reset’. Let’s hope.
AlchemyFlow is a personal journey turned social venture. In grappling with my own gut health I also made it my business. After my initial gut-ruption six years ago, in complete disillusionment with mainstream medicine and their approach to GI health, I was propelled into a world of alternative therapies and research. The ethos, principles and structure of AlchemyFlow were born out of that experience and has been a reciprocal process of sharing and learning ever since.
Earlier this year, after so many wrong turns and inconclusive testing and procedures, I had my full gut mycology assessed by BTS Testing in Brighton – with help from my long time Osteopath, Astra Grayland. If I’ve learned anything along the way it’s that this should be the first port of call for anyone struggling with digestive health or an autoimmune condition. The results were fascinating. Across 13 broad phyla of bacteria, two were out of whack, causing what’s termed a ‘dysbiosis’ – a disorganisation of the population of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your gut; usually in favor of pathogens, disruptive yeasts and / or parasites. Dysbiosis usually occurs because of environmental factors of which antibiotics can play a major part. The damage done to my gut by a long term dysbiosis has been compounded by numerous parasite infections after traveling in various parts of the world – take note, opportunistic parasites find an easy home in a gut where the mucosal layer is left compromised or damaged through dysbiosis.
The future challenge is to ensure the science is picked up by our front line medical practitioners and health providers – that’s where we come in as patients. Be courageous! Do your research and don’t take no for an answer.
The frontier of medical research continues to shed light on how dysbiosis underpins a range of different conditions, from depression to cancer. The future challenge is to ensure the science is picked up by our front line medical practitioners and health providers – that’s where we come in as patients. Be courageous! Do your research and don’t take no for an answer. Know when to cut your losses too – there’s a whole community of alternative practitioners who are enlightened and skilled in digestive health.
To that effect, after years of different protocols, through the GAPS diet to different herbal regimes and mountains of supplements and fermented foods – I chose to work with Dominic Rapson from Origins of Vitality. A Brighton based primal-patterns coach and what you might call, evolutionary nutritionist – Dominic really stands out with his enthusiasm and passion for his work. Not to mention it’s hard to miss that he seems to embody what a healthy gut might mean for health and vitality. Dominic practices a type of nutrition and lifestyle coaching that is cutting edge yet grounded in the wisdom of our ancestors – which seemed to bring together coherently some of the knowledge I had come across in my own learning over the years.
The plan Dominic has created is a full gut reset and cleanse – a combination of a preliminary ‘keto’ cleanse, slow nutrient build via a five day juice fast and then finally, a water fast for five days. The nutrients that have been organised into the cleanse are focused and intelligent. For instance, bone broth features liberally to reduce inflammation in the gut and initiate healing of tissues and mucosa – as does papaya seed in juices, which is a potent natural anti-parasite treatment.
As I write this blog post I am just on the cusp of entering the water fast, which will happen tomorrow. I now have minimal work to do before I spend most of my time in the coming week at home, trying to surrender. I swear I can smell a curry at a hundred paces – but interestingly, I have little appetite for food.
Our prevailing culture of consumption in the secular West denies us a proper frame of reference for fasting – in that sense, it’s easy to see how this healing practice has been lost to the mainstream.
Fasting is an ancient practice for health, a chance for the body to occupy itself with repairing its inner landscape without the constant pressure of processing food and everything else we throw at it. The promise of fasting for dysbiosis in particular, is to give space for the various colonies of bacteria to self-regulate to their normal numbers. The energy and immune investment in churning three meals a day, everyday, detracts from the bodies ability to re-balance, recycle and / or purge what’s not needed and to carry out essential maintenance and repair. The rise in popularity of intermittent fasting is testament to the powerful regenerative capacities of the body when we give it a bit more space outside of the dogma of breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner. Our prevailing culture of consumption in the secular West denies us a proper frame of reference for fasting – in that sense, it’s easy to see how this healing practice has been lost to the mainstream.
The absence of food creates a lot of room for consideration on our habits and behaviours – in the past week, I have noticed a great deal about our relationship to food; portion sizes, frequency and so on. I’ve also noticed other addictions in my environment – digital addictions, smoking and drinking. My Osteopath calls me highly sensitive – both blessing and burden. Stripped bare, I’m feeling into that sensitivity and questioning whether I fully do it justice through my own addictions / distractions / indulgences and what the impact of that is on my well being. In terms of emotions – when you fast, expect to experience the whole wheel of emotion, intensely at points. After a breathless and anxious afternoon, my coach told me to suck it up and expect such wobbles as emotions are released from the body. Suppressed emotions, much like how unwanted critters / pathogens and toxins are excavated enough to be cleared, are revealed – and must be felt, accepted and honoured enough to be released.
Overall, earlier on today I felt mostly light and happy – although this lead me to spontaneous bursts of energy which made me quickly aware of my limitations. As the day progressed, my heart raced and I felt heavy in the chest as something worked it’s way through. Now I’m going to watch some Netflix and drink a cup of stock before the real test begins.
See you in over a weeks time when I let you know how it all goes.