Journey to Health and Wellness with Kyra Ann: Overcoming auto-immune disease & Leaky gut
Kyra is a Utah native with a passion for health and wellness. When she's not blogging or posting amazing photos on her Instagram page, Krya loves spending time in nature, hiking, creating beautiful food, buying excessive amounts of plants, and most importantly spending time with her husband Michael & playing with her baby boy Shilo. Below, Kyra talks about her journey to health and wellness, and overcoming an auto-immune disease and leaky gut.
This is a two part interview, make sure to check out the blog for the second part of the interivew in the coming week.
"I am so grateful to be a stay-at-home mama & spend every moment with my little one. It’s the best job ever! Although, it’s also been one of the most difficult things I’ve done, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually… I wouldn’t ever change that, because it’s caused me to grow, learn, and ultimately help me attain so much knowledge about myself, and about holistic healing – which is my passion"
When did your interest in wellness relating to food begin?
I became interested in a healthy whole food diet once I became pregnant with my babe because I wanted him to grow into a healthy little sprout. However, that passion accelerated a few months after he was born when I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease & leaky gut. I was determined to heal naturally using food. From this point it became a large part of my life and I spent countless hours learning as much as I could about the benefits of eating whole foods, especially through experience. Once I saw that I was healing and how much real, healthy food was changing my life, I knew I had found my passion!
How would you describe your diet now?
I would describe my diet as a real, whole foods diet. I do eat primarily plant-based but I focus more on intuitive eating and listening to my body than I do on labels.
Do you avoid anything?
I do have some food intolerances and foods that seem to cause inflammation for my body. The foods that I avoid are gluten, dairy, soy, corn, peanuts, refined sugar, anything processed, vegetable oils (canola oil, etc), and most grains & legumes. I don’t think that everyone needs to avoid these foods, this is just what I’ve learned through trial and error are the foods that cause me to feel bloated, inflamed, fatigued, or cause an allergic reaction.
Can you tell us a little about your auto-immune disease & leaky gut experience and how it influenced your current health and wellness lifestyle?
Like I mentioned briefly before, 3 months after my little son was born I started experiencing systematic inflammation. My throat would close off, I was fatigued beyond belief, and I was bloating after every meal. After meeting with a gastroenterologist I was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EOE). This is a chronic, incurable disease that is in the same family as asthma. Basically what it is, is an auto-immune reaction to what your body perceives as “toxins”. When I eat certain foods, my body will try to protect itself by sending little eosinophils (anti-bodies) to my throat to fight off the toxin. Unfortunately my body helps out a little “too” much, leading to my throat closing off not allowing me to eat until the inflammation is somehow reduced. It was so scary. I was choking on my food and not able to breathe on a regular basis. I was prescribed medications, steroids, and basically told I would never heal. At this time I was also experiencing extreme bloating after every meal, gas, excruciating bowl pain, constipation, nausea, vomiting, etc. but no tests confirmed anything. I self diagnosed leaky gut based on hundreds of hours of reading on the condition. I did NOT want to take pharmaceuticals for the rest of my life and submit myself to the idea that I just had a disease and that there was nothing I could do about it. That is when I completely changed my life style, started eating whole foods, herbs, and super foods… and implementing yoga and meditation into my life. My disease helped me realize that I needed to make a change and start taking care of my body. My body was trying to tell me something – that something was off. I listened, and through the listening process I was able to heal. It completely changed my life.
What are specific changes you were forced to make because of that experience?
Here are the biggest changes I made:
1. My diet. I stopped eating junk and started fueling my body with vegetables, fruits, and small amounts of high quality animal foods like pastured eggs and wild caught fish.
2. Adjust my type of exercise (more gentle and mindful) which includes yoga, walks, stretching and light weight lifting. I had to stop focusing so much on losing weight and more on what my body needed.
3. Getting enough deep restorative sleep. Going to bed early, stop using electronics and tv late at night, winding down, and blacking out my room.
4. Taking time for self-care
5. Adding supplements/herbs to my diet. My favorites are adaptogenic herbs like maca and medicinal mushroom extracts.
6. Having a positive outlook/never losing hope. Positivity is everything. I had to put myself in control of my situation and learn to manage stress by being optimistic.
7. Meditating daily and just always expressing gratitude for all the amazing good I have in my life.
What is currently your favorite workout?
Definitely restorative yoga. I feel my best after a practice that includes a lot of balance practice & twists.
Can you tell us a little about your blog and why you were motivated to start?
My blog shares some holistic tips I’ve learned for healthy living as well as plant-based or gut friendly recipes. I wanted to start a blog to help me to be excited about my change in lifestyle and also to help other people who are struggling with the same health setbacks as I have, and hopefully find the same healing as I have as well.
What are some of your favorite holistic remedies?
When I was experiencing a lot of digestive problems I loved starting my day with warm lemon water with apple cider vinegar. It also helped to soak in a warm bath with Epsom (magnesium) salt and lavender oil in the evenings.
Drinking bone broth or bone broth protein powder when my leaky gut symptoms start acting up also help to reduce bloating and inflammation.
Tumeric latte. Coconut milk, tumeric, black pepper, and Ceylon cinnamon sweetened lightly with raw honey or monk fruit extract help to reduce inflammation in the body.
Peppermint oil rubbed on my temples to relieve headaches or help increase energy on a day I’m feeling particularly fatigued. I do not drink caffeine, and this helps.
How do you stay motivated (health, wellness, fitness)?
My greatest motivation is a sincere love for myself and my spouse/son. Once I learned to truly love myself then that was and is now the catalyst for my motivation. I also want to be my best self for the ones I love and I know that I’m not when I’m not making healthy lifestyle choices.Staying motivated includes a practice of constantly trying to love myself and who I am. True love is the greatest motivator.
Take us through a day in the life of your food?
Wake up: I drink an herb elixir that usually contains cacao, maca, reishi mushroom & he shou wu mushroom OR bone broth. Breakfast: A superfood smoothie. Usually packed with frozen veggies like cauliflower, sweet potato, zucchini, spinach… fruits like banana, blueberries and avocado. Then I throw in sunflower seed butter, hemp hearts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and almond milk. Then whatever toppings I feel like…. I spoil myself there hehe. Snack: Handful of nuts or an RX bar with a drink of kombucha. Lunch: Usually some kind of salad. Greens like romaine, spinach, arugula, then some zucchini, cabbage, carrots, strawberries, sprouts, pasture-raised chicken breast and one of my homemade dairy free dressings or just some oil & balsamic vinegar. Snack: An avocado on rice cakes or with an egg & saurkraut. Dinner: One of my favorites is zoodles with a homemade tomato or dairy free “cheese” sauce with some wild-caught salmon. Before bed: I’ll drink some “natural calm” magnesium drink or bone broth if I’ve had a bad digestive day.
How do you decide what to make, day-in-day-out?
I just listen to my body. I wake up and try to tune into what I’m craving, and what sounds good to me that I know will nourish my body. I try my best to balance my day with a variety of foods and nutrients. That is basically it! Just intuitively trying to nourish my body with what it needs, which changes all the time.
When do you feel best in your body?
Right after a good yoga class I feel amazing. I also feel my best when I have spent my day being active (walking, running errands, cooking, cleaning) and especially when that day includes serving others. I get depressed and feel sick when I am too idle or not doing anything important.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
“Eating evolved” dark cacao chocolate bars (drooling)
Where can people reach you?