The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Road to recovery

January 17, 2023

Furthermore, Rubinchik attributes her recovery to a temporary strict diet during the period of transitioning her medication. Like many other Americans, she and her mom tirelessly researched ways to relieve symptoms, starting with what she was putting into her body. 

“My doctors were telling me, ‘No, you need to gain weight; you can go eat McDonald’s every day, eat Taco Bell every day, eat wherever you want, eat pie for breakfast, just as long as you gain weight.’ They were more worried about me gaining weight, which is where my mom came in with a more holistic approach,” Rubinchik said. 

Motivated by her ultimate goal to change her daughter’s health for the better, Laura Rubinchik, Rubinchik’s mother, did extensive research on veering away from Western medicinal approaches and instead a more natural approach based upon lifestyle changes. 

“She was like my angel; she helped me so much. We watched tons of documentaries about things like, you know, becoming vegan and how it helps with inflammation. And it really did help,” Amy Rubinchik said.

For a long period of time, she focused on promoting her gut health. 

“I went vegan for like six months. I went full vegan and I also went dairy-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free. Basically, just by eating beans and quinoa and really healthy vegan things, my physical health improved so much,” Amy Rubinchik said. 

Ciorba maintains that simple diet changes can have lasting effects on our gut health. 

“A diverse diet, a diet rich in natural foods, and eating vegetables that have fiber; all those things can improve gut health,” Ciorba said.

Rubinchik’s intricate diet based on whole foods like lentils and quinoa is not only pertinent to her. In fact, Russell-Murray says eating whole foods is one of the best things you can do for your body and gut health. 

“A high fiber diet is going to get you further in terms of gut health than any other supplement and not just a high fiber diet, but in a wide variety of different plant foods because all different types of plant foods have different types of fiber and they feed different types of gut bacteria,” Russell-Murray said. 

Rubinchik and her mother weren’t alone in their diet quest. According to a study by Food Insight, 39% of respondents adhered to a diet to improve their gut health in 2022, and 24% of all respondents said improving their gut health was their main health priority. Though not as severe as Rubinchik’s case, Americans have increasingly made strides to improve digestive health. 

In addition to the increase in “gut healthy” diets, Americans have bought into prebiotics and probiotics. The probiotic industry was worth $48.9 billion in 2019; probiotics are estimated to be worth $94.9 billion by 2027 according to a study by Fortune Business Insights. 

“Prebiotic is just a fancy word for the type of fibers that are healthy gut bacteria,” Russell-Murray said. 

To add, Ciorba believes the market is taking advantage of consumers by pushing the overarching label of a probiotic. 

“Companies have just selected this phrase in general, “have been known to be beneficial,” when the product is essentially cultured or fermented milk, and then they put them in a product and they call it a probiotic,” Ciorba said.

While the composition of probiotics is fairly simple, they can still make a difference in people’s health. However, people are often led to independently purchase them and self-diagnose, rather than consult a professional to target their specific needs. 

“They can be beneficial absolutely in certain circumstances. But it’s not a ‘take any strain and expect it to fix your particular health problem’ kind of situation,” Russell-Murray said. “ I really caution people with probiotics because I think they can be really great and useful but you have to be taking the right one for what you want to target.” 

Overall, Russell-Murray believes that people are led to believe that we are more affected by gut health than we really are. As research evolves, gut health is becoming more of a centralized issue in the health world; however, most of the population’s gut health isn’t as affected as the health industry often makes it out to be. 

Both Russell-Murray and Ciorba assert that above all, the best thing to do to promote general gut health is to follow a healthy diet. 

“We know that exposure to processed foods and lots of preservatives and chemicals and artificial sweeteners and things like additives in food are not good for our gut health, so prioritizing a diverse, high-fiber and unprocessed diet is the best thing we can do,” Russell-Murray said. 

About the Writer
Photo of Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman, Scot Scoop Editor
Emma Goldman is a junior at Carlmont and this is her second year in the journalism program. She enjoys staying informed about the world around her, both by staying up-to-date with the news and interacting with people in the community. In her free time, she enjoys running for the school's cross country and track teams, as well as trying new foods and cooking.

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