My GUT story - how my inner Rainforest came back to life
My gut story
Since I was a young teenager I can remember having a sensitive stomach. I would often feel bloated and have tummy aches after meals and get a dodgy tummy before I was about to present in front of the class.
Having to hold in my farts in front of boyfriends was a given, and stomach pains from too tight trousers the norm.
But when I was about 20, I remember it crystal clear, I went to a Chinese restaurant in Sweden with my family and had egg fried rice. After about 6 hours I woke up and had what you might call a purge. This ‘event’ lasted for a good week or so. It was so bad for so long that I eventually went to the doctors.
They tested for the usual things, and when they all came back negative it was presumed I had had gastroenteritis which had worked its way through my system but that the residual ‘symptoms’ would go after a while.
They didn’t. For the first few years it was really awful, my guts keeping me house bound instead of partying, my tummy aches keeping me from enjoying food and my bloatedness kept me constantly aware the limits to my insides.
Despite all the possible tests, rigourous internal examinations and diet changes (including a very horrid week of drinking cabbage juice) I still struggled everyday. Nothing resolved my symptoms.
Eventually the doctors kind of gave up, and said that what I had was IBS, a group of symptoms that they sort of bunch together when they couldn’t find anything ‘REALLY’ wrong with me. According to one proctologist I had a beautifully pink rectum, (Woo hoo).
I felt pretty hopeless and self medicated with Imodium to get by. I tried hypnotherapy which was positive. I felt it gave me some tools to reduce my anxiety around needing the loo and in general I do think having a good meditation practice can really help get you out of thought patterns you easily get into when you have unreliable bowels.
Another thing that kept me going was the book, The recipes helped a lot and were written by a woman who suffers from IBS.
It didn’t resolve everything though and I still struggled a lot.
Anyways, that egg fried rice was Ground Zero. Since then my bowels have been in control of me pretty much and I had kind of come to accept it.
I decided to take life by the horns regardless and managed to move from Sweden to England and do a degree in Art & Design before becoming an Art Director. I spent a few years travelling and working on fun jobs having an awesome time. Everything I did was always tinted by my gut and I lived off Imodium on trips away. I became a gut ninja, being able to feel the slightest quiver in my colon and finding a loo with laser precision.
On a trip to America a friend of mine offered me some Kombucha, telling me that it might make me feel better. I tried it. It tasted lovely. I didn’t think it would help in any way, but it was a delicious drink so I thanked her.
She persisted, telling me to drink it over my stay and see if it might help. I agreed, and amazingly, it did. My bloatedness pretty much went away immediately. I didn’t feel sick after my meals and when going to the loo felt pleasantly surprised when there was, shall we say, more form than usual.
For me this was life changing. What was it? What the bloody HELL was this elixir that made symptoms I’d learned to live with over the last decade go away as if by magic?!
And why had I never heard of it? Not one doctor or medical person had told me about it. Or ever talked about fermented foods. Even my homeopathic doctor (yes, I had one of these too) had ever mentioned it to me.
I got to digging. I read every piece of available paper and article about it and was so intrigued. It seemed that my overall sensitivity responded well to having a daily dose of
good and friendly bacteria, yeasts and acids and meant I was more able to cope with stress- my main trigger. I ventured deeper into fermentation and tried sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and real sourdough bread. I started making Kefir at home as it seemed a little easier and my friend offered me some of her grains. It was quite obvious though that none of them worked as well for me as Kombucha did- my toilet roll usage went down with every bottle I had.
So I realised that Kombucha was the winner for me and my gut biome. I needed it in my life. So I tried and tasted every brand I could get hold of. To my despair they all lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. And that was, as they say, that. I decided that I had to make it myself in order to make sure it was as functional as I needed it to be, and I also wanted to manage and control the intake of sugar in my diet. And that was how WILD FIZZ was born.
I can safely say that Kombucha changed the quality of my life. I now have no symptoms of IBS. No bloating even though I tend to overeat, (although I do bloat on my before my period) I don’t have to run to the loo before I board a train with no toilets onboard and I can eat chocolate without stomach cramps the day after.
When reading up about it, and speaking to leading people in the gut disorder world it seems to me that what my gut really needed was a diverse army of soldiers to fight on my side of the never ending war that is ongoing inside me (and you) everyday.
I am prone to worry, stress and anxiety and they all have a detrimental effect on my inner Rainforest. No medicine I tried helped all my symptoms because they were too strict in their functionalities (except Imodium which I thank every known fairy in the universe for being invented #notad). I needed diversity. I needed really real stuff made by Mother Nature. Not lab grown strains in their singularity. And Kombucha was that.
In terms of actual proof on paper, you won’t find a lot of evidence from the medical world in regards to the effectiveness of fermented foods. But if you are the 1 in 5 people in the UK to have something dodgy going on in you tumtum I suggest you listen to all the anecdotal evidence from the thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people who have found fermentation to be their gut saviour.
Fermentation is the future and your inner rainforest deserves some diversity.
Big GUT love
Gina, founder and brewer of Wild Fizz Kombucha