Reboot Your Gut Health—And Your Immunity—With Sakara Life

Food & Drink

Achieving health and wellness of my mind, body, and spirit are a focus for me at the moment—and strengthening my immunity is part of that goal. With the gut playing such a prominent role in our immune health, I thought it would be the perfect time to embark on dietary reboot. So, I turned to Sakara Life.

Founded in 2012 by Danielle Duboise and Whitney Tingle, Sakara is mission driven wellness and lifestyle brand on a mission to transform lives through the power of plants as medicine. I recently sat down with Tingle to understand a little more about the brand and how their meals, supplements, and snacks can help you detox your gut and improve your health. 

“We created Sakara as a solution to our health struggles with cystic acne and disordered eating—both symptoms of an unhealthy gut and undernourished bodies. Sakara was born from an authentic place of honoring our own needs and the needs we saw for others. We believe in the science behind a whole food, plant-rich diet that includes high-quality organic ingredients and superfoods to flood your body with nutrients and build a healthy gut microbiome,” Tingle tells me. “Our philosophy toward food and supplements is best summarized in our proprietary 9 Pillars of Nutrition, which includes no calorie counting, plant protein, eat your water, greens, good fats, eat the rainbow, nutrient density, sulfur rich veggies, and body intelligence.”

Tingle makes clear that Sakara’s meal plans are not strictly for eating cleanly or solely eating a plant-based diet. In fact, less than 5% of their client base identifies as vegan. 

“It’s about striving for balance, not perfection. One of our mantras, ‘eat clean and play dirty’ (also, the name of our debut cookbook), celebrates our belief that joy is the greatest nutrient. We also believe that while food is the foundation, who we surround ourselves with, what we watch, what we listen to, what we eat, and the information we take in, also greatly impacts the way we think and therefore who we are. We each harness the power to turn our thoughts into things, our dreams to reality, and ultimately shine our brightest light.”

I wanted to know if the brand worked with any medical professionals to help create their meals, supplements, and other products. 

“At Sakara, we value science and spirit, taking a balanced approach of cutting edge nutrition science—like epigenetics and the microbiome and paired that with ancient wisdom including Ayurveda, macrobiotics, and even Taoism,” Tingle responds. “Sakara’s 9 Pillars of Nutrition serve as the guiding foundation for our meal program and were influenced by the teachings of doctors, functional medicine physicians, and herbalists alike—some of whom now serve on Sakara’s Science & Advisory Council. Additionally, we have an in-house RD and LDN to ensure everything we create is nutritionally optimized. Today, we have hundreds of doctors and nutritionists all over the country prescribing our nutrition program to their patients. Food really is medicine.”

The terms ‘cleanse’ and ‘detox’ are often used interchangeably so I wanted to get some clarity on the differences between the two.  

“A cleanse is a short-term elimination of the ‘noise’ that disrupts our body’s natural function. This includes highly processed food that disrupts various processes and signaling within the body. By removing inflammatory foods that don’t fare well within the body, a cleanse gives your body a digestive rest and returns it to natural equilibrium,” explains Tingle. “At a cellular level, a cleanse reduces the amount of harmful, oxidative stress by removing inflammatory foods and poor mitochondrial and metabolic function. It also floods the system with micronutrients pivotal for standard processes like metabolism, leaving you feeling reset, rejuvenated, and energized.”

“A detox is a deeper approach to nutrition specifically designed to reset our overworked digestive systems and flood our natural detox pathways with essential nutrients we are often lacking. Through a detox, we enhance or ‘jumpstart’ our body’s systems with nutrient cofactors required for optimal function,” continues Tingle. “We use a detox to start the healing process from nutrition and lifestyle factors that contribute to systemic inflammation and cellular oxidative stress. Sakara’s Level II Detox is a nutrition plan that is scientifically designed to supply your body with the essential nutrients it needs to heal and restore it’s self—not about deprivation or liquid meals. When choosing a detox, look out for programs that may be rich in refined sugars from juice, low in energy from fasting, or simply void of nutrients your body needs.”  

So what are some of the side effects of eating processed foods? 

“When you continuously feed your body processed foods (like sugar, alcohol, etc.), they can disturb the body’s existing detox systems such as the liver and kidneys, as well as your body’s natural communication systems and hormone signaling,” Tingle tells me. “This may cause inflammation and could throw off your appetite and satiation. Nourishing your body with diverse, whole-food, plant-rich ingredients ensure that you are getting enough nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and polyphenols to contribute to your body’s functions for a more ideal natural detoxification. This also supports your hormone signaling so you can start to trust your body. Programs such as our 30-Day Reset (which the brand offers 3 times a year) are about recalibrating — clearing out the noise, focusing on your relationship to food, and bringing awareness back into what habits you create. The work during a reset doesn’t just happen while on the program, it’s how you set yourself up for a healthy lifestyle full of vitality and joy.”

I know from doing detoxes in the past that there can be some unpleasant side effects. So I wanted to know what folks can expect when they embark on a Sakara detox. 

“When we detox or transition to a more plant-rich, clean diet, our bodies can go through withdrawals from foods like sugar, caffeine, gluten, simple carbohydrates, and dairy. This may lead you to feel a bit run down and experience headaches, and irritability,” shares Tingle. “These symptoms are normal, and can be alleviated by focusing on getting plenty of water, sleep, replenishing your body with electrolytes, and eating enough healthy fats. In general, when doing any type of detox, it’s crucial to choose one that is backed by science and research to ensure that it is done properly and safely.”

For those looking to specifically detox their bodies, Sakara offers one program, which is their Level II Detox program. “It was created with functional medicine doctor Aviva Romm, MD, as a transformational, ready-to-eat cleanse for the mind and body. Using effective dietary principles like ketosis and intermittent fasting, Level II will help heal the gut, restore the metabolism, release years of toxic build-up, and hit reset on the body’s systems—revealing a healthier, more vibrant-feeling you. This program temporarily removes inflammation triggers (meat, dairy, gluten, all sugars including fruit, grains, nuts, soy, nightshades, pesticides, harmful chemicals, and GMOs) and floods your body with plant nutrition for accelerated results,” she explains.  

Tingle goes on to say that the Level II Detox program is best suited for individuals who’ve already tried Sakara’s Signature Meal Program or already eat a clean, plant-rich diet. “This is for people who are looking for a deep detox that will completely reset their bodies and are willing to fully commit to their health for 5 days (clearing your schedule, potentially cutting back on exercise and taking a break from caffeine and alcohol). Anyone interested in the program should consult with their doctor first. We don’t recommend it to anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding. We personally do the Level II Detox once a year to reset our bodies and release any chronic stress or toxins we may be holding onto.” 

I didn’t opt to do the detox program this go, but after two full weeks on Sakara’s Signature Meal Program I’m definitely feeling a difference. While I typically eat a healthy diet, I do see value in occasionally switching it up since I have a tendency to eat the same types of food regularly. I was also incredibly impressed with how tasty Sakara’s food is and the fact that it arrives surprisingly fresh (and stays fresh in your fridge). The best part for me is that I haven’t felt like I am missing out anything in my meals (like the usual dairy I eat along with occasional animal-based proteins). I definitely plan to go back on my normal diet at some point. But will be adding many of the brand’s supplements and snacks to my regular rotation and I plan on doing the Level II Detox once a year to reboot my health.

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