How Resetting My Gut Energized Me
Always go by your gut, they say. Your head and heart can deceive you, but never your gut. This age-old advice is backed by scientific reason — the gut is more important for our wellbeing than we realize. In fact, more than 70% of our immune system resides in the gut.
What we put in our bodies, then, is of utmost importance. We can enhance our gut health, and thereby overall wellbeing, naturally through the foods we eat, exercise, and by maintaining mind-body balance. A gut-healthy diet is diverse and largely plant based — including vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, probiotics (yogurt, kefir, kombucha etc.), prebiotics (banana, oats, garlic, etc.), fibre-rich foods, and fermented foods. I always strive to live a life of Wholistic Wellbeing, paying attention to my food and sleep, ensuring I get enough exercise through yoga, walks, hikes, etc., and staying centered through meditation and mindfulness practices.
So, when I was in India recently and visiting the Roundglass Wellbeing Center in Mohali, Punjab, I decided to try a wholistic treatment comprising a mix of functional medicine and ayurveda. Dr. Purnima Siddhanta, the integrated medicine expert at the Center, designed a five-day program to improve my gut health that left me feeling energized and helped me sleep better; I plan continue it here in the US.
Dr Purnima’s focus was on internal purification and healing my gut through a sattvic diet, herbal remedies, Ayurvedic therapies, yoga (which I practice every day), meditation, and energy healing.
Resetting the Gut
Dr Purmina, a traditional medicine specialist considered my symptoms, nadi pariksha (diagnosis through the pulse), dominant dosha (life force or energy in Ayurveda), and overall constitution to design the special wellbeing program. She found that daily stressors such as work and travel across time zones were affecting my health and wellbeing. I was surprised, as I do a lot of wellbeing practices to stress less, but she explained that stress is a normal human reaction. She said while I was managing my stress well, it had altered my gut biota or flora, which was impacting my digestion and my body’s capability to absorb nutrients from the foods I eat.
She explained that the Ayurvedic program would combine herbal remedies along with diet, lifestyle changes, and physical therapies to balance my doshas — Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The goal of treatment is to cleanse the body of undigested food and toxins, which can lead to illness. This process — called “panchakarma” — is performed over the course of five days or more to remove toxins from the body and balance the doshas, thereby enhancing wellbeing.
An imbalance in the doshas often leads to an imbalance in the gut, causing gastrointestinal (GI) problems. A disrupted gut not only results in physical symptoms such as digestive problems, bloating, food intolerances, and aching joints, but can affect mental wellbeing as well. Think back to all the times when you had a “gut-wrenching” experience, or a situation made you “feel nauseous”? These feelings are real and a result of the intimate connection between the GI system and the brain. Stomach or intestinal problems can both cause and be triggered by anxiety, stress, or depression.
A Calm Gut Equals a Centered Mind
I was introduced to an anti-inflammatory program to help improve my digestive system and open the “channels” in my body. Within just three days, I noticed improvements in my physical and mental wellbeing. The food I ate was light and easily digested, the massages and treatments worked in sync with the diet to improve enhance my overall wellbeing, and as a result, I was doing better in my yoga sessions. I felt energized, less stressed, was more productive, and was sleeping better.
The program helped me expand my horizons and gain a deeper understanding of Ayurveda. The 3000-year-old healing system focuses on the whole body and emphasizes that wellbeing depends on a delicate balance of the mind, body, and spirit. This aligns with my philosophy of Wholistic Wellbeing or wellbeing across dimensions. After doing this program, I was more aware of my body’s changes and its functioning. I I was able to live in the now due to the sense of equanimity and presence induced by the treatments and a balanced gut.
What brought me even more joy was being able to spend time and have some authentic conversations with my friends, family, and colleagues in India after a gap of three years. I came back to Seattle feeling greatly motivated to continue spreading the word of Wholistic Wellbeing.