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MY GUT + HEALTH HEALING STORY

THE PAST

One year, before and after… Intense chronic bloat and discomfort fixed.

I have always been a very healthy person. I recently discovered that the reason for this might have been influenced by my mother. Laying on my square play-mat as an infant, I would watch  her from the corner of my eyes insert a VSH into the TV and complete a Zumba, weight training, or kickboxing class in the living room. I clearly do not remember this, but my mother recently revealed this to me. It was then that I was conditioned to know that movement was vital. Throughout my youth, I engaged in ballet, modern and jazz  dance, gymnastics, soccer, softball, basketball, cycling, and track. I was introduced to Pilates on YouTube in high school and yoga through the girls who I lived with my freshman year in college. This is when I really started to connect to my body on a different level.

In addition to movement, my mother influenced me to fuel my body with vitalizing and  nourishing, whole foods. From meat and milk to fruit and vegetables, I only ate organic. The atypical food boxes and snacks my peers would eat during lunch were never allowed in my home. The only sweets we ate were biscotti from Italian bakeries and vanilla ice cream. On occasion we would drink Italian sodas as a treat when we would visit my nonni. I was even one of the only kids who had a lunchbox full of wholesome food. Lunch consisted of loads of lettuce, tomatoes, and turkey breast in between two slices of 9-grain bread, peanuts or almonds, and an apple – balanced, clean, and healthy.  Sometimes I would eat nachos from the cafeteria and never tell my mama.

Overall, My mother was my light and inspiration, a role model that helped form habits and structure, take health seriously, and learn to fuel and nurture my body.

Happy 5th Birthday!

THE CRISIS

I did not start to take my health seriously until MY CRISIS. It was a sudden cancer diagnosis at the age of 19, and chemotherapy for four long months at the age of 20. I lost complete control over my body, and  was on the bridge of death from the toxic treatment. The most difficult thing to process was that I had to undergo this treatment even though I could not see the disease. This took my body out of equilibrium.

One of my treatments.

Between losing  my physical  health and having difficulty to cope with everything mentally at my young age, I felt like there was no way out. I was in so much pain that I did not think I would be able to heal from this trauma.  In the early months after treatment, everything I did to try to “fix” myself did not work. I kept comparing my journey to others which did not fuel me at all.

I was overwhelmed and hopeless even though my doctors said I should not worry.

Everything and anything I tried to do would hurt me more. My gut was so messed up. The trauma my body was in put everything out of proportion and created an unhealthy population of digestive enzymes in my body.

I spent over a year trying to heal myself, and even went to specific health care practitioners to help get my body back. Nothing was working.

I told myself I would, and I believed I could.

It was honestly not until about two years after my initial diagnosis where I took it into my own hands and went through a body transformation through a reset. I was guided to do this by my holistic nutritionist, Nikki Yelton, RD, who taliored her practice to autoimmune gut health. She carefully and meticuously created protocols and plans for me, ranging from my fuel, to my sleep and movement. Follow her @nikkiyeltonrd on Instagram!

I stopped listening to the mainstream media saying “if you are not going hardcore and pushing yourself, then you are not trying hard” and encouraging others to engage in extrem diet trends. I spent time with my unique individual body and self and learned what made me feel good with the help of my holistic healthcare provider.

BALANCE through A 21-DAY RESET was the START OF A NEW CHAPTER.

Two years later . . .

Among all of my eastern and western-focused doctors and other health care professionals, I finally learned how BALANCE my body. My healing journey truly started with food and fixing my gut.

The way I kickstarted my body into healing, restructuring, and molding into its best self was by fixing my gut. My process began with extensive blood work and a 21-day elimination diet to ‘reset’ my body and discover my food intolerances. The more I continued to eat foods that hurt my gut, the more inflamed I got, and the less I was able to heal. 

Meal prepping with friends.

THE OUTCOME

I was difficient in vitamins because my gut was not able to absorb them correctly. I needed to include different vitamins and minerals that I was deficient in according to my blood tests. Read below.

I had a test which tested my gut permeability.This concluded that I infact did have leaky gut. I had to supplement with an intense gut-sealing powder for two months.

I had a test done to see my sensitivity to gluten which I have a NCGS – Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. I also discovered that I was grain sensitive as well. I needed to avoid everything and anything gluten-contaminated. (I still practice this. However, sometimes I eat gluten-containing foods. i .e. I cannot resist my nonna’s soecialies…In my own personal experience, in the beginning months of eating it when I eliminated it, I would feel extremely fatigued, nauseous, and itchy. Now, I do not feel those symptoms as much.)

I had to avoid snacking and made sure I ate 3 hours in between meals to help with my gut and bowel regular.

I had to increase my b-vitamins to help me with my energy, hormones, and metabolism.

I needed to increase my fats to improve my oleic acid which helps with inflammation reduction. It is a mono-unsaturated omega-9 fatty acid.

I had to introduce Vitamin D and magnesium supplements.

I needed to work on my antioxidant intake and introduce CoQ10 and vitamin c. I also started to eat Brazil nuts for selenium and sunflower seeds for vitamin e.

I increased cinnamon powder to help regulate my blood sugar and only ate 2-3 servings of fruit a day.

*I was only on my supplements for a short amount of time until my levels stabilized.*

FOOD

I was encouraged to 4-5oz protein

2-3 servings of healthy fats

1-2 servings of starchy carbs

0-1 fruit serving

I avoided grains, beans, dairy

Every morning I had apple cider vinegar in water before my meals.

In addition to my IgG food sensitivities: gluten, eggs, dairy, turkey, salmon, apples, bananas, and a few more, I also personally eliminated:

  • high histamine foods- sardines, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, avocados, whole olives, mushrooms, spinach, dried fruit, raspberries, mustard
  • foods with nightshade – tomato, eggplant, peppers
  • foods with lectins – beans, peanuts, white and red potatoes (sweet potatoes were allowed!)
  • sweeteners – processed sugars, honey, stevia, syrup, etc.
  • fermented foods and beverages – kimchi, vinegar, alcohol, kombucha
  • grains – oats, rice
  • packaged goods and canned meats and fish

**MY HUNGER STARTED TO INCREASE THE MORE I ATE, AND MY BLOAT AND PUFFINESS STARTED TO GO DOWN!**

WHAT I USUALLY ATE: VEGGIES, FRUIT, NUTS, MEAT, FISH, SWEET POTATO [MORE TO COME ON THIS SOON!]

ACTIVITY

10,000 steps and yoga everyday.

Made sure I got quality sleep to replenish and rejuvenate my body and assist in repair. CALM MAGNESIUM helped with this. When you sleep your body is also in “rest or digest” mode and you are processing toxins and detoxifying them through excretion.

Chewed thoroughly and carefully so that the enzymes in saliva could help break down food for digestion purposes.

Added restorative exercise like yoga to help reduce stress.

YIN YOGA IS MY FAVE!!!!!

Meditated to renew my sense of clam and reduce negative emotional charges.

YOUTUBE IS A GOOD RESOURCE; I WILL BE CREATING SOME SOON XX

Used of essential oils on my temples, like lavender.

AFTER THE FIRST MONTH

GUYS, it was INSENSE. I had to make sure I prepared all of my meals before I went ANYWHERE. Essentially, meal prepping was the way to go. I even had to bring my own food out to restaurants. At the end of it, I felt major shifts in my body, watched my bloat decrease, and learned what my body could handle once I slowly started to ease my way off of the diet.

After the first month, I would slowly reintroduce all foods that were not on my IgG test (above). However, I made sure to not consume my IgG sensitivities since these were scientifically backed to cause me issues. I would document down everytime I felt ill from any foods as I slowly started to introduce them back into my diet and notice how they reacted with my body. After 6 months of my intense diet, I began to slowly introduce the sensitivity foods back in my diet and recorded how they reacted with me.

Eating out during the cleanse. Only menu
option: bacon and tea.

ONE YEAR LATER

Before: leaky gut, brain fog, depression, anxiety, sluggish, chronic bloating, SIBO, fatigue, stomach discomfort/ pain, puffy

After: bloat down, gut healed and repaired, mood stabilized, clear-headed

Overall, I have noticed that the foods that do consistently bother my gut are eggs, banana, avocado, mushrooms, and beans. I try to stay away from them, but will eat them on occassion if I am out at a resturant or if a recipe includes them. Eggs are my number one sensitivity, so I really and truly try to not eat them.

Also, on an activity level, I now resort to low-impact workouts like pilates and yoga. They balance my hormones and make me feel good. I also walk every single day. This is a non-negotiable.

THE CONCLUSION

PATIENCE!!!!!!!!!

I am one year out of healing and recovery, and finally started to see results about eight months into being consistent with cutting the foods out to heal my gut.

ALSO, BALANCE!!!!!!

Life should not be full of restrictions. It is a gift to be alive, and here on earth we are meant to explore, enjoy, and feel happy. In my opinion, do not completely restrict something unless it is actually harming you.

MY LESSONS LEARNED DOWNLOADABLE BELOW.

DISCLAIMER

I encourage you to look at my experience as inspiration for hope. Remember, this was specifically tailored toward MY body. Not everyone has the same background and outcome. Please speak to a healthcare professional.

Other resources:

Power to Persevere: Inspiring Stories to Help You Get Through Challenging Moments

MY INSTAGRAM

By ALEXA NICOLE CUCCHIARA

I am the author of Power to Persevere, cancer survivor, business student, and healthy foodie. I use my passion for health and wellness to helps inspire others to transform themselves to live their best lives.

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