You may have noticed I haven’t posted much in the last couple months (or maybe you didn’t ;) and I apologize. The whole reason I started this blog was to help other people with their pain and health issues by sharing my own yet I went radio silent with a recent bout of crazy gastro-intestinal issues. But I’m back! And feeling a bit better, though not wholly recovered. And I may not be wholly recovered for some time and hope to share that journey with you, too.
Food Poisoning (?) Jacked Me Up
Me and my new team of doctors (including a general practitioner, a gynecologist, a gastroenterologist, an allergist, and an internist with a future endocrinologist in the wings) aren’t sure if it was food poisoning or not but I got REALLY sick after a conference in Long Beach in August. Like, sicker than I’ve ever been. Both gnarly and scary sick (I’ll spare you all the details but suffice it to say I couldn’t be more than a few feet from a working toilet for two solid days which was followed up by another 5 days of cramping, bleeding, and extreme fatigue). After this highly unpleasant week of my acute symptoms, I became highly reactive to almost every food I ate. As soon as I’d eat anything my stomach would cramp and blow up like I swallowed a gigantic beach ball. I started measuring my belly circumference because it was such drastic change and it would grow by 5-6 inches! That’s nuts.
A Doctor Parade
Obviously, that’s not normal. So I went to my GP and got referred to the gynecologist (because I went through menopause at 32 – a whole ‘nother issue – and he was worried it may be related to my reproductive organs), the GI doc (for a sigmoidoscopy – I prefer not to have another), and the internist. The internist also referred me to the allergist. I can’t tell you how many times I was poked and prodded but it was A LOT. The consensus? Whatever made me so ill completely disrupted the balance of bacteria in my gut. As I have been sharing on my Facebook page for some time, our gut health is integral to our overall health and I am now living proof of this statement! My stomach acid was (is still) too low, my good bacteria got wiped out, and opportunistic bad bacteria took over. So now even when I eat some “healthy” foods (like apples, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower), my stomach revolts. And it could take YEARS for it to get right again.
Restoring Gut Health
So how am I going to make my gut happy again? I’m not eating things I know I’m sensitive to (gluten, grains, soy and legumes) as well as other foods that lead to GI issues in a lot of people (dairy, natural and artificial flavors). For a while I also had to eliminate nuts, seeds, eggs, and night shades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers). I was able to reintroduce those foods after my last doc visit and the only thing I seem to be highly reactive to is some types of potatoes. Going forward, it’s been recommended that I pick about ten safe foods (that I don’t react to) and eat only those for two solid weeks and then gradually start reintroducing other foods back in to see what I react to. Over time my gut will continue to heal and I should be able to keep introducing more foods (although I’ll never reintroduce gluten – gluten wrecked me long before this recent GI episode!). If this approach doesn’t work, I may try the GAPs diet which is a bit more restrictive and comprehensive but requires a long commitment that I’m not quite ready for yet. I’m not mentally prepared yet so know I won’t be successful if I try it now but I am building the mental fortitude to jump into it if my symptoms don’t continue to get better.
So for now I’m drinking ginger lemon tea every morning (just warm water with grated fresh ginger and fresh squeezed lemon juice). I’m also taking a probiotic in the mornings and before I go to bed. I’m eating more fermented foods, mostly sauerkraut and pickles. I hope to reintroduce fermented raw dairy soon, too. I had been making my own yogurt and kefir before all this happened and hope to incorporate them into my diet again soon. I take betaine hydrochloric acid with pepsin with every meal. I’m continuing to eat whole, nutrient dense foods that I don’t react too much to (cooked veggies and squash, wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, bone broth, some fruits like bananas, grapefruit, and blueberries). I still blow up after eating sometimes and frustratingly don’t always know what food triggered it, I even blow up sometimes when I haven’t eaten anything for a while and have learned that you can react to something up to two days after eating it! But I don’t always blow up like a beach ball any more. now it’s usually more volleyball-esque. And it’s not all the time like it was before, which makes me feel like I’m on the right track. And I’m not miserable any more so that’s something! Feel better has allowed me to get back to walking every day, aiming for my 10,000 steps, and I also plan to start yoga again soon.
Take Care of Your Gut
I guess my take-away point here is to start taking care of your gut now. If I hadn’t been taking care of my gut before this episode took place, I probably wouldn’t have fared as well as I did. Research is coming out daily on how important the bacteria in our gut is to our overall health, contributing to about 75% of our overall immune function. There’s a reason scientists call the gut our second brain; gut health is linked to mental health, cardiovascular health, respiratory health, metabolic health, and decreased cancer risk. Take care of your gut health by supporting the good bacteria by eating a diet full of nutrient dense foods (think whole, unprocessed, properly raised and prepared foods like I talk about in my “farm test” post ) and adding probiotic foods to your diet (like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled veggies, kefir, plain yogurt, and kombucha), and not feeding the bad bacteria, which love sugar. And it’s not just about what we eat, it’s also important to get adequate sleep (typically 7-9 hours for adults, more for kids), to get outside every day, to purposefully move your body every day, and to spend quality time with your friends and loved ones (with no distractions!).
Here’s to Our Gut Health!
Just to reiterate (and for those that just scan posts for lists!)
- Eat nutrient dense, whole foods that are properly raised and prepared
- Add probiotic foods to your diet
- Get enough sleep every night
- Get outside every day
- Get moving every day
- Spend quality time with your friends and loved ones with no distractions
Thanks for reading my post! Stay healthy, my friends! And keep those guts happy :)
Note: This post contains some links to Amazon for products that I use. If you were to click on the link and make a purchase, I would receive a small commission. I’m not telling you this because I want you to buy something but only because the FCC wants me to make that clear :)