Anoushka is very cool and not just because she shares the same name as one of my favorite musicians, Anoushka Shankar (daughter of the infamous Ravi Shankar who was friends to the Beatles), but she is an incredibly talented fashion designer and a wonderful person. I met her this past summer at a memorable wedding in East LA. I don’t know exactly how we got talking about health and nutrition, but she came out and told me that she suffers from IBS as well as thyroid problems and has gone on a wild goose chase to find answers to feel better. Since those conditions can be quite painful and uncomfortable she sought help and shared her journey with me. She has given me great health tips that help with well being, regardless of our differing health situations. I hope that people, with or without current health issues, will learn something valuable from her long and wild journey towards a higher state of health.
Not all of us suffer from gastro intestinal problems, well maybe we did that day when we pounded that pint of Cherry Garcia, but for the most part our digestion and elimination is status quo. For Anoushka, she knew something was definitely different with her body. She could tell that her food was not making the same journey as it does for the rest of us. When she got to college, the typical alcohol, burrito, sugar, birth control diet didn’t help. When she got laid off from one of her first design jobs she felt a great amount of emotional stress, which translated into more bodily pain. After that she decided it was time to meet with a nutritionist. Based on her IGG (blood) test to find out what she was allergic to, she was recommended to try the rotation diet. This diet is like playing musical chairs with your food. You avoid the most common foods that cause allergic reactions (corn, soy, dairy, meat and wheat) for several days and then you reintroduce them after time and see if your body produces an allergic response. This helped her tremendously. Yet it wasn’t until later, that she found relief when she decided it would be a good idea to fully eliminate dairy and gluten from her diet and relief soon followed.
Next she went to see a holistic doctor who did a full panel of tests (blood, urine, stool, etc.) and discovered she had an autoimmune hypothyroid issue called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Also, she learned she had contracted an H. Pylori infection and started taking expensive antibiotics. The drugs didn’t help much, so she did extensive reading and came to the idea that she might have a Candida overgrowth. She followed the Candida diet, which encourages you to avoid sugar, starchy vegetables, bread, mushrooms and other things that are yeasty such as wine, to kill off any evil yeast or bacteria lurking in her gut. While this diet did help alleviate her symptoms, she was still feeling weak, malnourished and tired.
Next up to bat was a naturopathic doctor who discovered her adrenal fatigue. She recommended a natural antibiotic protocol, followed by supplements for adrenal support. This helped a little, but she still had so many symptoms such as being underweight and suffering from the fatigue. Right after, nutritionist #2 did a hair test, yes a hair test! She recommended cutting way back on the supplements and vitamins that Anoushka was taking, especially the digestive enzymes. The idea was to get her body working on its own without any support. It had gotten lazy from taking enzymes for over a year. It was then when she started to get more energy. Her new diet included cooked spinach, wild fish, grass fed meat, and antibiotic free eggs. She avoided raw spinach because of its oxalic acid (which interferes with our bodies ability to absorb nutrients) as well as flax seeds (which had too much estrogen and did not help with her thyroid). A few months later, she found out about… drum roll please… Kombucha and she started making it for herself. She bought an online kit that include a SCOBY (stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), starter liquid and tea leaves. To this day she enjoys her homemade elixir. Kombucha is great because it detoxifies your liver/gall bladder and helps build gut flora (aka healthy bacteria that helps you fight off the bacteria you don’t want lurking in your body). She drinks about one cup everyday after a meal. So we made some seasonal berry Kombucha at her home and had such a blast. (See recipe below)
As you can see there were many twists, turns, tests and dollars spent on finding a resolution for this situation, but Anoushka is feeling so much better now. I hope that if you know of anyone who is struggling with these same issues please send them this story. Maybe it will help better direct them on their path to higher ground and to just know that they are not alone. I do not struggle with IBS but I have adopted Anoushka’s determined sensibility (through trial and error) to find out a diet that works for my body and I already feel better.
Check out her website for her clothing and drink a glass of kombucha to celebrate a beautiful woman who did not give up. May this story help and inspire us all.
Anoushka’s Top Health Tips
1. Don’t drink water directly before eating, or during meals. It dilutes your gastric digestive juices that break down your food. This can result in indigestion and food not being absorbed to its fullest potential. If you are going to drink water, stop at least 20 minutes before your meal, and wait one hour after eating before drinking anything. We know this sounds difficult but try it out and see how your body feels.
2. Chew your food! This is so important because it releases digestive enzymes that help your body break down and absorb the food so that it can be used for energy. Undigested food can linger in the body and cause bacteria to grow, which can lead to (easily avoidable) pain. When we chew our food slowly we consume our food more mindfully to get the most bang for our bite.
3. Stay away from refined grains and processed sugar. No matter who you are you can benefit from adhering to this tip, which typically decreases inflammation in the body. If you like grains try cooking with gluten free grains such as quinoa and millet. If you have to sweeten, use a light amount of sugar from nature, such as organic fruit and raw honey.
1. Homemade bone broth
2. Baked sweet potato
3. Lard/tallow (on her food)
4. Bone marrow
5. Fried plantains
7. Almond Butter
This recipe is for those who already have a scoby (a live probiotic starter, and it stands for Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) and want to make a flavored kombucha with fresh fruit, black tea and organic refined sugar.
(to make 1 gallon of Kombucha Tea)
12 Cups of purified water
1 cup of white organic sugar
1 cup starter liquid
Boil 4 cups of water.
Add hot water & tea bags to pot.
Steep 10 minutes, then remove tea bags.
Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
Add 8 cups of water to the pot and wait for it to cool to room temperature. It should be cooler than your body temperature if you dip a pinkie in.
Once cooled, add this to your SCOBY and starter liquid in your brewing vessel.
Cover with cloth cover and secure with the rubber band.
Set in a warm, but well ventilated location out of direct sunlight (unless vessel is opaque)
Do not disturb for 7 days.
Note: Please check this link to know if your SCOBY has acquired molding if so you will have to throw it out and start again.
To make a second fermentation with fruit:
Once your kombucha has fermented and tastes less like sweet tea, get your glass bottles ready. You want to first add your fruit, and it needs to either be diced or minced well, or mashed if necessary. Cutting the fruit makes it look more appealing, but blueberries should be pulverized to make it easier. The more surface area the fruit has, the faster it will ferment and the more bubbles there will be.
1 /2 pint blueberries
1 gallon kombucha
Muddle the berries until you can’t tell one berry apart from the next. Using a funnel, put about 1 Tablespoon of it into the empty bottle. Then simply pour in your kombucha almost to the top- leave only 1/2” of room. Screw the cap on, and let it sit in a dark, warm place for 1-3 days. Then refrigerate if desired.