Akesi Gut Health

Victoria from Akesi on Top Tips for a Healthy Gut Microbiome

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Hey Victoria! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi! I am a mum of three - two of my children were born in Tokyo (sons, ages 16/14) and my third was born in Singapore (daughter, age 10)… an expat for 18 years. Around doing all the mum things, and working on my good gut health company Akesi  (is it work when you love it?!), I live very much in the wellness space. I love adventures - especially climbing mountains (Kilimanjaro, Everest, Fuji to name a few!), trail running (Routeburn Classic has been my most challenging to date)... I am most happy moving in nature with the sun on my skin… particularly in NZ (where I was born and raised). My most favourite activity though is jetty jumping into the glorious glistening ocean with my kids!

How did you go from studying a Bachelor of Arts to starting Akesi?

Prior to the inception of Akesi I worked in brand strategy, I had always considered myself healthy (ate well, always exercised - did all the things!) then in my early 30s I discovered a scary large lump on my thyroid. Within 3 days from my discovery I had half my thyroid removed and was on a slow road to recovery.

Whilst knowing that my thyroid tumour may have occurred regardless, I felt it necessary to assess my  family’s diet - this was over 12 years ago so there is a lot more awareness now but I noticed that although I was buying groceries that were considered healthy, my family was inadvertently consuming chemicals and a lot of different types of hidden sugars.

I met with nutritionists, dieticians, naturopaths and doctors who each had wise advice to impart. I became overloaded with information so instead of worrying about what to eat I took control and along with my own research chose my own balanced pathway to health. 

As with all things, once you uncover one element that needs improving another one comes along, and I started learning about the importance of the body’s microbiome. I learnt how to ferment at home, and it made a positive impact (but was time consuming and messy). I learned that just a single course of antibiotics in the past may have wiped out a third of my beneficial bacteria and that brain fog may not be caused by running after my young children but in fact an imbalance in my gut…. my mind started contemplating creating a ‘food as medicine’ fermented product to help the many busy mums out there just like me.

What was the driver behind Akesi? 

Coupled with my personal health journey, my third child was then born prematurely by emergency caesarean and developed Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC), my daughter was in the NICU for a month and received vital yet strong intravenous antibiotics. Knowing my daughter had missed out on the beneficial bacteria children born through the birth canal receive, and compounded by the antibiotics required to treat NEC, I agreed wholeheartedly with my Paediatrician’s advice: beneficial bacteria were administered to minimise the damage to my baby’s precious microbial colonisation. This of course pushed me to now action all my ideas around what was to become Akesi. I teamed up with a dear friend - who happened to be a trained medical doctor - and Akesi was born. It was so important that the products we developed were family-friendly, delicious and easy because we ourselves have 7 children between us and definitely did not need another step to add to our already chaotic households. I am so proud of what Elizabeth and I have created, Akesi can be taken any time of day, with or without food - and our kids adore the products!

What does a day in your shoes look like?

Possibly like most mums - my alarm goes off at 5:30am, I do my morning routine with a large glass of warm water, followed by my matcha (ceremonial matcha with a scoop of collagen and a mushroom elixir added) while I make the kids their breakfast and school lunches. After dropping them to school I either run or do a weights session before returning home to walk the dog (as fast as my little cavoodle will allow) around the block. Then it is time to work as much as I can (essentially racing the clock before the kids’ activities begin), then I change careers and turn into a Driver shuttling my kids to their various activities, then home for dinner and preparing for the following day. I still absolutely love hopping into bed with my youngest (now 10!) to read to her - we always have a fabulous chapter book on-the-go.

What are your top 3 tips on gut health for men and women? 

Fibre, fibre, fibre - very few people consume enough vegetables and they are the fuel source for your beneficial gut bugs (prebiotics), if you have fussy children then consider a probiotic that includes prebiotics (such as any Akesi product). Prebiotic fibre is a non-negotiable for good health - if you have an abundance of good gut bugs they will help keep your body functioning optimally.

Diversity - eat as many different colours at every meal, including breakfast! The more variety of plants you eat the more variety of good gut bugs you will have thanks to the different polyphenols plants provide. 

Embrace fermented foods and drinks - this is food as medicine. I know that most children don’t like smelly sauerkraut, kefirs and kimchi and whilst kombucha is a fermented product most store bought kombuchas are simply healthier sodas with very little probiotics and certainly no prebiotics. Meanwhile, the ease of those popular little fermented dairy drinks (you know the ones!) are counter productive as they’re packed with sugar and are dairy based.

This is where Akesi comes in as an obvious choice for my household - our products contain prebiotics, probiotics, postbiotics and plant polyphenols which is the ideal combination for good gut health and even better, they’re yummy and easy… so no complaints from my kids!

How do you ensure your kids have good gut health and understand what it means?

We chit chat about the importance of the community of bugs they have in their tummies working hard to keep them strong… when they were younger we had a Rainbow Chart on our fridge (you can print it off from our Blog if you want to try this approach too) and they would tick off the different coloured fruit and vegetables they had eaten each day, with a ‘winner’ at the end of the week. They know that their microbiome is absolutely essential for their poops to be healthy (a soft sausage that sinks… once to twice a day) and to have healthier immune systems… no one likes missing their sports due to a common cold. And lastly, lead by example. They observe me eating well, moving daily and getting sunlight so they know how important good health is to me; and that to really embrace life they need to have a healthy body and mind.

What is your all time must have Akesi product and why?

For me it’s Akesi Turmeric, I don’t have a sweet palate and I love my morning shot of Akesi Turmeric. The speed of a simple shot also appeals as well as the anti-inflammatory benefits.

For my children it’s Akesi Berry - they have a large glass of water with their tablespoon serve every afternoon (which also helps them to rehydrate).

What is your favourite go-to recipe?

Easy! It’s our healthy fudge which I religiously keep in the freezer whenever I have an urge for something sweet.

Hitting the Sweet Spot

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