I’m having a rough week. My gut is too. Or my gut is having a rough week and therefore so am I. Tomato-tomato.
So tonight I made a pot of kitchari to try to reset my gut, resolve some lingering pain and discomfort, and feel better.
As I’ve mentioned before kitchari was one of the first real meals I could eat after treatment. In addition to being gentle on the gut and easy to digest, kitchari has a number of nutritional benefits to promote healing.
For example, Moong or mung beans are incredibly beneficial. Read about 10 major health benefits here. Most notably for c-diff recovery: “Mung beans contain soluble fiber and resistant starch, which can promote digestive health. The carbs in mung beans are also less likely to cause flatulence than those of other legumes.”
Here’s hoping a quick kitchari cleanse gives my body the break it needs to get back to normal (or what counts as normal these days anyway).
During my recovery, I started learning more about Ayurveda (5,000 y/o holistic healing system) and adopting more of its principles (eating according to my dosha; daily tongue scraping; healing spices like turmeric; yoga & meditation, etc.), including a nightly dose of Triphala. According to my book, “triphala is made from three detoxifying and tonifying fruits that help you more effectively absorb and assimilate nutrients and get rid of waste through healthy bowel movements.”✳️ Sounded good to me as I was recovering.
This morning I read this article that explains more of the health benefits of Triphala. 📝 Note: it does say it has a natural laxative effect. I’d guess it’s pretty mild because I’ve never had that affect me personally, but obviously everyone is different. Some key points from the article:
👉 The most commonly known health benefit of Triphala is that it helps in the digestion process. 👉 It also helps in strengthening the digestive tract of the body by increasing the number of good bacteria in the intestinal tract. 👉 According to a study published in The Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Triphala is great for our immunity and also acts as an immunosuppressant. 👉 Regular consumption of Triphala can help fight infections and control allergies due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
➕ It also explains its effects on dental health, enhanced vision, and weight loss.
I stumbled across this today. Yoga poses for digestion were really helpful for me (and still are) as I was healing. I was able to relieve the discomfort of bloating and gas and even relieve some cramping and pain in my intestines. In fact, I use to lay on the floor in the supine twist A LOT for pan relief (and I promise I’m not that flexible 😂). So sharing in case anyone else wants to give it a go:
I’m telling you that yoga poses make a big difference in relieving the pain and discomfort of PI-IBS!
But don’t just take it from me, science says, “From a neurological perspective, practising yoga tends to increase our parasympathetic response (rest and digest) and reduce the sympathetic (fight or flight) one. As a result, IBS symptoms subdue, and the person starts to feel better.”
I think I finally have a regimen that is working to naturally control my reflux post-c-diff. PPIs and H2 blockers are risk factors for recurrent CDI, and since once is enough for me, I ditched the heartburn meds I’d been previously taking. And yet, the heartburn didn’t go with it. But with a combination of diet & lifestyle changes and natural remedies, I’ve mostly been able to control it. So here’s the combination of strategies I’ve been successfully using:
Diet: In keeping with Ayurveda, I avoid or limit foods that increase Pitta. I miss you, tomatoes. I really do. And all the spicy things, I miss y’all too. SN: other Ayurveda habits that may or may not contribute: I gave up cold beverages and only drink room temperature drinks. I make lunch the biggest meal of the day, and I always walk (I try for 20 minutes) after eating. I have mostly given up snacking between meals. I traded lemon in my water for lime in my water (better tolerated by Pitta).
Eating: I’ve slowed it down. A lot. I take my time eating. A lot of time. I’ve found practicing mindfulness while eating or doing meal meditations have helped me retrain myself (Buddhify is a free app that has 3 eating meditations). I try to taste and savor every flavor in every bite. Even if I’m just eating a sweet potato. No more eating on the go. No eating while standing. I sit, and I sit up as straight as possible, lengthening my torso. I schedule my lunch time, and I use it all. I breathe deeply between bites. Speaking of breathing…
Breathing: I focus on deep, belly (diaphragmatic) breathing in a lot of situations. For example, this helped me when I was struggling with pain during my treatment and healing, and it still helps if I start having digestive problems. Obviously, breathing is a part of both meditation and yoga, both of which I relied on heavily during my active infection and initial healing. It’s great for stress and anxiety too. And then I discovered that if I started focusing on deep breathing during discomfort, it actually helped. Does it also help with reflux? I think so. As this article says, “Heartburn relief could be as easy as sitting up straight and learning to breathe a bit more deeply and slowly — an approach that has no side effects. And best of all, you can give it a try right now.”
Aloe Vera juice: I take a shot glass of it and dilute it into 16 oz. of water, and I drink it 30 minutes prior to mealtime.
Goli ACV gummies: If I do feel some heartburn coming on despite all my other efforts, I eat a gummy, and that usually takes care of it.
Remember when I shared with you the idea of a “sacred illness,” “an illness that educates us from the inside out, provides experiences and therefore knowledge that we could not possibly achieve in any other way.” Well, I’ve definitely learned a lot on my c-diff journey. And some of what I’ve learned is helping me be a better, healthier person. I’ve made significant lifestyle and diet changes.
💊 “Use of PPIs was associated with moderately increased risk of community-associated CDI. The risk remained elevated up to 1 year after PPI treatment had ended.”
💊 “Previous observational studies have reached varying conclusions. This large study with thorough control for confounding significantly adds to the body of evidence that increased risk of CDI, even in the community setting, should be considered when prescribing PPIs, although the underlying biological mechanisms need to be explored.”
I said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you’d asked me last year what I’d be eating for breakfast, the answer would not have been sweet potatoes. But then c-diff happened…1, 2, skip a few…sweet potatoes are a diet staple now. Well cooked sweet potatoes are an easily digestible and nutritious food. They’re great for boosting the immune system if you eat them regularly—they’re high in beta carotene and Vitamin C, and can help develop resistance to infection. Yay! While I rely on the overnight oats for weekday meals on-the-go, this is a go-to for me on work-from-home days (it can do its thing in the oven while I’m getting ready (pro tip: prep ahead by having sweet potato already peeled and chopped) or on weekends.
What I Use:
1 small sweet potato or ½ large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into about1-inch cubes.
½ banana, sliced
Small handful of blueberries
Modification notes: When I first made this, I just did sweet potatoes and a tiny bit of peanut butter. After that went well, I added the banana and a little more peanut butter. When that went well, I graduated to the blueberries. I don’t measure the spices. I sprinkle them until it looks like what I can handle. I increased the amount of sprinkle as time went on.
What I Do:
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix the sweet potato, ghee, cinnamon, and cardamom in a baking dish. I actually plop some ghee into the dish and put it in the oven a minute to melt. Then I add in the others and stir/flip well until they look covered.
Put the dish in the oven for 10 minutes. After ten minutes, scoop, flip, mix the potatoes around. And then give it ten more minutes (about 20 minutes total, until fork tender).
Add banana and blueberries, toss. Put back in oven briefly just to heat up the fruit. Note: if your peanut butter is too solid to drizzle, now is a good time to heat it up in the microwave (about 30 seconds).
Remove from oven, toss, plate, drizzle with peanut butter.
Eat! And don’t forget to turn the oven off. 😊 (You might not need that reminder. My husband will tell you I do.)
So I already told you some reasons why sweet potatoes are great. But for those who want to know more about the other ingredients, here you go:
Blueberries: They have lots of nutritious benefits, but the one I care about most right now is that they contain something called anthocyacins. These are antibacterial antioxidants effective against causes of gastroenteritis, such as e. coli. They combat bacteria that cause diarrhea.
Cardamom: Also has a lot of benefits, like helping break up chest congestions, but what I am currently interested in is that it can reduce the acid in some foods (or beverages like coffee!), making them easier on the stomach. Also, it’s an effective digestive stimulant (and diuretic). It’s also actually been shown to be effective in combatting H. pylori, the bacterium that causes ulcers.
Cinnamon: In Ayurveda, cinnamon is well-known for stabilizing blood sugar and is also used to balance digestion, inhibit bacterial growth, and pacify stomach disorders. Elsewhere, I’ve learned more specifically that cinnamon is a digestive aid that helps to normalize levels of both glucose and triglycerides (a type of fat) in the blood, reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease. It is also a “first class antiseptic” that can help fight bacteria, viruses, and fungal infections. It’s rich in antioxidants, which give it a mild analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect.
To be clear, I’m not saying these spices or the breakfast will cure you of anything. It’s definitely tasty, and it’s easy on my system. That’s what I can see and feel myself. If these ingredients do what I’ve learned they can, that’s a bonus! As Katherine Harmon Courage says, “Diet is one of the most powerful ways we can influence our microbiotas,” and I gotta influence mine to be its strongest, healthiest self!
This recipe was given to me by an Indian friend who said it’s what she makes for herself, her children, and her husband whenever any of them have a stomach virus. I had posted online about how kitchari was the first real food I was able to eat after treatment. And I had shared that I had returned to the lessons I’d learned from Ayurveda at a yoga retreat, since so much of Ayurveda is about digestion and aligns well with modern research into gut health (even though it’s a 5,000 year old traditional holistic medicine practice).
Some modification notes: I do not use tomatoes because they’re hard to digest, especially for Pitta, which is me! Also, early in my recovery I couldn’t use onions at all. Now, I can use them (yay prebiotics!), but I use far less than called for in any recipe. So when I made this yesterday, I took a small onion, and made one slice. I chopped that tiny bit up. I also did not use the chili (again, hard to digest, especially for Pitta).
Some ingredient notes: Moong or mung beans are incredibly beneficial. Read about 10 major health benefits here. Most notably for c-diff recovery: “Mung beans contain soluble fiber and resistant starch, which can promote digestive health. The carbs in mung beans are also less likely to cause flatulence than those of other legumes.”
Ghee is clarified butter. That makes it more digestible for those of us with a lactose intolerance (common after c-diff infection). There are a number of purported benefits to it as well. The same is true for cumin and ginger. In Ayurveda, these are staple spices because of their health benefits.
Moong Dhal Khichdi
Rinse and wash ½ cup moong lentils and ½ cup rice together very well. Soak both of them together for 30 minutes in water. Then drain and keep aside.
Heat 1.5 tbsp ghee or oil in a pressure cooker. Add ¾ tsp cumin seeds.
When cumin splutters then add finely chopped onions (1 small to medium-sized onion). Sauté onions until translucent. No need to make onions light brown or golden brown.
Once the onions become translucent, add 1 medium sized chopped tomato, 1 small sized chopped green chili and ½ inch grated/grinded fresh ginger
Stir and add ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder and a [pinch of asafoetida (hing). – if you don’t have it, it’s okay].
Sauté till the tomatoes soften.
Add the drained rice and moong lentils to the pot. Stir for a minute.
Add 3.5 cups water – for a more thin consistency, add 4 to 4.5 cups water.
Add salt as required. Stir well.
Bring to boil, then turn heat down to medium. Cover & cook 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if needed to reach desired consistency. It’s okay if it’s soup-like, might be good for you if you’re still looking to settle your stomach.
Serve dal khichdi hot. You can top it with ghee while serving. It also can be eaten with a dollop of plain yogurt.
One more note: If you can tolerate vegetables, you can add them to the khichdi to create an even more complete meal. I did this by adding sautéed mushrooms the other night. I have also added finely chopped cooked carrots and peas. This dish is really versatile.
Post-treatment, kitchari was one of the first real meals I was able to eat. An Indian friend of mine porch-dropped it for me. It will always hold a special place in my heart because it was tasty and stayed inside me! When the brain fog lifted a little, I realized that it was kitchari—and that it was not unknown to me. I had learned about it at a yoga retreat a few years ago during a class on Ayurveda. This recollection sent me back to my notes from that class, and I began following Ayurvedic practices. I also learned to make my own kitchari. And it has proven to be a great food choice for me again and again. Plus, it’s versatile—you can add toppings and veggies as desired (and tolerated). This recipe makes 4 servings.
½ c. moong dal
½ c. basmati rice
4 c. water
1 tbsp ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (can omit)
½ tsp fresh minced ginger (or a pinch of ground ginger)
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
In a medium bowl combine rice & moong. Pour enough water to cover & soak 15 minutes. Pur through fine mesh strainer, rinse with cold water until it runs clear.
Warm ghee in medium pot over med-low heat. Add cumin seeds, cook about 1 minute until they start to brown, become fragrant. Add other spices, stir, cook about 1 minute.
Add rice and moong to pot. Stir, add salt & pepper.
Increase heat to med-high, bring to gentle boil. Turn heat immediately down to gentle simmer. Simmer uncovered, stirring to desired consistency.