Happy Gut, Happy Life: This Wellness Influencer is Here to Help you with both!

Konsciously Klean is a blog dedicated to clean living and eating with a focus on understanding the nutrition behind what we put in our bodies. Kimberly, the founder of the blog and an advocate for wellness at every level, was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus and SIBO in 2015.

In an effort to regain control of her life (and her gut!) Kimberly embarked on a wellness journey that ultimately became the key to regaining her health. And now, she’s sharing what she’s learned with others!

We were so grateful to interview Kimberly and to learn more about Barrett’s Esophagus, SIBO, and the importance of clean living! Take a look at her interview below. We promise you’ll be inspired by her passion and the importance of good gut health!

Tell us about your background, like where you’re from, what your childhood was like, etc! We’d love to get to know you a little better!
Hi! I’m Kimberly and was born and raised in Sacramento, CA. It was a great place to grow up and I had the best childhood. I was very active and swimming was my favorite sport.

I moved to LA for college and attended undergrad and graduate school at Loyola Marymount University. I received a degree in Communications and then a Masters of Education. I moved to Orange County when I married my husband, Alan. We’ve been married for 2.5 years and loving every minute of it!

Tell us a little bit more about your husband, Alan! He sounds great!
Awww, he is! I met Alan through my cousin. They were best friends (and still are!) at USC. Alan is a Leo so he’s naturally a leader (no surprise he’s an attorney), loves attention, and is very loyal. He’s the smartest person I know and incredibly funny. Not to mention, handsome too!

He loves hanging out with friends. We host lots of parties, including our annual Christmas party which is always a hit. We also love to travel. We’ve been to the UK, all over Italy, Germany, the Philippines, and lots of places within the states. Up next is probably Poland (he’s polish!)

In October we ran a half marathon together which was a huge feat for him, being that he was never much of a runner prior to the event! He enjoys my cooking and definitely holds me accountable when it comes to staying on track and taking care of myself!

The year 2015 brought a multitude of challenges your way (you are so strong!). What were your symptoms like before you were diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus?
I had symptoms actually dating back to 2012 when I received my first upper endoscopy. The results concluded that I have a very small hiatal hernia, which I was most likely born with.

My doctor at the time told me there was not much we could do and recommended I take Prevacid (an OTC protein pump inhibitor). I was young and naive and took it occasionally, basically when I remembered.

Fast forward to 2015. We got married June 20, 2015. We honeymooned in Italy and I inhaled pasta and gelato like it was my job. I remember being so sick one day I couldn’t eat anything. I honestly couldn’t fit anything else inside my stomach.

So I sipped on sparkling water. This was the happiest moment of our lives, yet I was physically miserable. I knew that as soon as we returned home, I needed to seek help and make some changes. It wasn’t until that October when I was in so much pain, crying on the phone to my mother, that I came to realize that something was seriously wrong.

Now I am a hypochondriac and have always been known to self-diagnose and assume the worst, but this was different. This was debilitating. Imagine feeling constantly bloated (that was my normal, I didn’t know what it was like to not feel bloated), having your stomach in knots (sometimes I couldn’t stand up straight), and feeling as though your insides were on fire from your throat to your stomach.

I finally set up an appointment with a new gastroenterologist, Roxanne Lim (of Newport Beach, CA). Upon meeting Dr. Lim, I instantly felt that we were going to get to the bottom of my pain. She listened to my concerns and was extremely thorough.

She decided we would do another endoscopy and this time take a biopsy to closely look at the cells within my esophagus. December of 2015 I was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus and SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth).

Can you explain to our readers what Barrett’s Esophagus and SIBO is? What do you want others to know about it?
Barrett’s Esophagus is a precancerous condition in which the tissue lining the esophagus is replaced by abnormal, precancerous tissue. Basically my esophagus lining had been destroyed by stomach acid.

This condition is most common in males over 50 years old. I also have a hiatal hernia, where part of my stomach is pushing into my esophagus. This could also be a reason why I’m more susceptible to acid reflux.

Finally, I was diagnosed with SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth). We all have bacteria in our gastrointestinal track (and it’s necessary to aid in digestion) but SIBO is an overgrowth or a change in the bacteria in the small intestine. It can lead to “leaky gut” (when the intestinal barrier becomes permeable, allowing large protein molecules to escape into the bloodstream) which is known to cause food allergies or sensitivities, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases.

SIBO can be treated and lifestyle changes can reverse the symptoms of both conditions.

Do these conditions affect your daily routine?

Immediately following my diagnosis, I decided that what I was doing before was not working. I also knew I didn’t want to have to take medication every day. There had to be another way. That’s when I decided to look at nutrition.

I decided to food journal and really take a look at the foods that exacerbated the acid reflux. After doing my research, trying an elimination diet, and keeping a food journal, I learned to crowd out irritants. These included: coffee, alcohol, chocolate, citrus, tomatoes, onions, refined sugar, dairy, gluten, and anything spicy. These foods were the majority of my diet prior to my diagnosis, so my day-to-day routine changed dramatically.

Coffee was the hardest thing to let go of, but luckily I found alternatives such as matcha lattes, and FourSigmatic mushroom coffee. I also began to cook a lot more because it’s important for me to know exactly what’s in the food I eat. Today, my acid reflux has improved tremendously so I’m able to live and function just like anyone else, however, if I have a flare up I’ll know to add in more greens, take a detox/Epsom salt bath, or apply my DoTerra DigestZen essential oil directly on the problem area.

Today I am very mindful about what I eat. I look forward to grocery shopping so that I can pick out fresh and nutrient-dense foods that will fuel my body. I look at menus before going out to eat so that I can best prepare to make proper selections at restaurants.

Sure, I eat chocolate (Justins!) from time to time and get an occasional latte from Starbucks (I’m human) but I make sure that I’m simultaneously filling myself up with lots of dark leafy greens, lean protein, and healthy fats.

Most days I start off with a green smoothie. I also try to drink water with apple cider vinegar and lemon, and also love adding chlorophyll to my water when needing to further detoxify.

What should women know about the importance of gut health that is often not communicated enough? This is a topic I could go on and on about. I’ve learned so much through my own struggle and also through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (a holistic health coach school I’m currently enrolled in).

The thing that people don’t realize is that 70% of your body’s immune system lies in the gut. I would argue that our gut is more of the brain in terms of how our body functions. Most people have suffered from one or more of the following: brain fog, acne or eczema, fatigue, hormone imbalances, arthritis, stress, headaches, autoimmune diseases, and allergies. These are directly related to our gut, or rather, the food we’re feeding it.

People who are suffering need to take a close look at their diet, rather than opting for a quick fix/pill to mask their symptoms. Our bodies are designed to heal themselves by themselves if given the proper nutrients. I remind myself (and my clients) that every time we eat, we are either fighting disease or feeding it.

What are some of your favorite foods to eat both regularly and when you feel bloated?
Every time I fix a meal I focus on getting a balance of macronutrients (healthy fats, protein, carbohydrates). I also focus on fiber and lots of vegetables.

That being said, smoothies have been a game changer for me. I am able to pack them full of nutrients and I’m left feeling full and satisfied.

I generally include: 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, ½ frozen banana, 1 tbsp ground chia or flax, 1 tbsp bulletproof MCT oil (great for healing inflammation and helps with mental clarity), 1 tbsp FurtherFood collagen peptides (great source of protein, also promotes gut health), 1 scoop pea protein powder (I love the vanilla Tone it Up), 1 tsp culinary matcha powder, and ice. I also love an egg scramble or avocado toast.

For lunch/dinner I love a big salad, fish tacos, salmon, or turkey burgers. I always shop organic and local if possible.

Favorite recipe to cook at home for healthy guts that our readers can try?
I focus on anti-inflammatory meals.

Some staples that I include daily are: Furtherfood collagen peptides. I put a scoop of collagen in my morning smoothie, or mushroom coffee, as well as baked goods, or my vegan meatloaf! The thing that I love about this product is it’s odorless and tasteless. It’s also packed with protein and is very good for our skin AND our gut!

I also use turmeric a lot. It has many anti-inflammatory properties and adds a nice kick to a savory dish. I love making loaded sweet potatoes with black beans and a homemade cashew cream sauce. I use cumin, smoky paprika, smoky turmeric, and lots of lime juice.

I also love making ground turkey burgers or broiled salmon with veggies. I try to post a lot of recipes on my Instagram (@konsciouslyklean and blog! www.konsciouslyklean.com)

To women who are interested in learning more about gut health, where are some good resources to start?
I would encourage women to seek out people who are also interested in gut health. The wellness community is full of knowledge and I’ve learned so much just from connecting with people on Instagram alone, or listening to podcasts. I would also encourage people interested in learning more about holistic health to enroll in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition!

I would love for you to feel free to share your voice here about anything else that we didn’t cover!
1. I recently became a consultant for Beautycounter. This is a nontoxic makeup and skincare company that is on a mission to get safer products in the hands of everyone.

I’ve worked so much to clean out my insides, that I felt it was necessary to do the same on the outside. Our skin is our largest organ. What we put on it directly enters into our bloodstream. I never thought twice about the products I was using until doing research through Beautycounter.

1938 was the last year that the U.S. passed a major federal law regulating the safety of the personal skincare industry. I also learned that 80% of the cosmetic ingredients used in convenience store products have never been tested for safety.

We can’t control our genetics, but we can control the products we use. I felt compelled to join this movement and have fully transitioned to using clean and safe products on my skin. If you want to learn more about Beautycounter please reach out. Or shop here!

2. I run 5-day sugar cleanses frequently. In fact I teamed up with two amazing ladies (@fitfabwellbychanel and @bringyourownkombucha) and we hosted a five-day-fructose-free challenge the week after Thanksgiving. See my Instagram @konsciouslyklean for details!

3.I am a practicing health coach. If you are interested in learning more or seeking help for any health-related issues please contact me. I would love to send you a health history form to fill out and then we can discuss how to best meet your needs. konsciouslyklean@gmail.com

I often get asked what I eat for snacks. Whenever I approach a snack or meal I consider macros and always make sure I’m getting protein, fiber, healthy fats and some greens! Today I couldn’t decide🤔 between almond butter 🥜 or avocado 🥑 so I had one of each! ✌🏻 . dEATs: . GG crackers (great source of fiber!) . 1) Topped with @hopefoods spicy avocado (fat) + bee pollen (contains antibacterial properties that reduce inflammation) & @nutiva hemp seeds (great source of protein, fat, vitamin E and other essential minerals). Didn’t have microgreens but definitely would have added those! . 2) topped with @onceagainnutbutter almond butter (fat) & goji berries (high in antioxidants) . Happy snacking friends! 💕

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🍰 Brunch Bites! 🍰

1. Any hero?
Oprah and Gregg Renfrew (CEO of Beautycounter). They are both lady bosses!

2. Favorite book?
Do cookbooks count?! I love Gabrielle Bernstein’s The Universe has Your Back and The Secret and Kelly Leveque’s Body Love

3. Favorite podcast?
I have so many! I’ve been inspired by Jordan Younger (the balanced blonde) Soul on Fire. I also love Lauryn Evarts and Michael Bosstick: The Skinny Confidential Him & Her. I like Chasing Joy, Earn Your Happy, The Goaldigger Podcast, Almost 30, That’s So Retrograde, Actually Adultish, and Straight Up Paleo.

4. Favorite mantra?
Food is medicine.

5. Favorite part about being a teacher and/or blogger?
Helping others. I believe everything happens for a reason; I got sick so that I could learn how heal myself, but more importantly, how to help others who are suffering from similar issues. I’m hoping my story will inspire others to live their healthiest, happiest lives!

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All images are property of Kimberly at Konsciously Klean.

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Tags: clean eating, health, healthy eating, wellness influencers