So how do you create a healthy gut flora? The key is 'clean eating', which means nothing processed and as organic as you can get it. Your gut bacteria love a variety of vegetables and they don't like man-made chemicals, antibiotics, processed sugars and additives. Eating a 'from-scratch' diet sounds difficult, but when you start to feel the benefits, you won't mind the extra chopping and cooking involved!
I discovered a version of the diet for myself recently, when I came across the mung bean and rice cleanse. I was feeling like I could do with a bit of a detox and this diet promised to be gentle (gone are the days when I can survive on celery sticks and water!) The basics of the diet, as its name suggests, are mung beans and brown rice, which together make a complete protein. Without getting too scientific, this means that they provide all of the nine essential amino acids that the body needs. You cook them up with spices such as turmeric, fresh ginger and garlic, all of which have known health benefits, including lowering inflammation in the body, cleansing the blood and assisting the liver. While on the cleanse you need to give up caffeine, all processed foods, nuts, milk and butter, although a small amount of cheese, yogurt or tahini are allowed. This diet is designed to be kind, so a little tinkering to make it do-able is ok. Fresh fruit and vegetables are unlimited. And you will need to stock up on a variety of herbal teas.
Be prepared for the first few days to be difficult. So start it when you can clear a bit of space for yourself. Like any detox, the body will be ridding itself of poisons, and healing itself, so drink plenty of water. In my case – I had headaches for the first four days. This told me that I must have been more addicted to my cups of tea than I thought. But I stuck with it and soon I was sleeping better – and just feeling better in myself. The most astonishing thing was the effect on my mood. It was very noticeable: I found myself calmer and less anxious (even with a lot of emotional stuff going on in my life at the time).
I wasn't craving chocolate, bread, alcohol or chips. Mainly because my body was getting all the good fuel it needed. So why crave? The diet balances blood sugar levels and keeps them steady, so no need to self-medicate with sugar or caffeine.
And in case you are wondering – all those beans didn't make me farty!! In fact it had the opposite effect – my gut felt less bloated and more settled than ever. Mung beans, when cooked properly, are very easy to digest and highly nutritious.
But it has to be said that after a while, boredom may set in – there are only so many combinations of fresh vegetables you can make!! And this is where a delicious dressing comes to the rescue!! Honestly this is a fabulous dressing – it is delicious and enhances the flavour of salads and steamed veg. You'll find the recipe on the Kundalini Community Group website. Lots of other interesting info there too.
So if your body needs a gentle cleanse and restoration, this diet is a good choice. Even just a few days on it will give your body a boost, by resting and restoring the liver. It is actually an ancient diet, based on Ayurvedic principles, where it is known as kichari. It makes an excellent food while convalescing or when you need to support yourself through emotionally fraught times.