You’re motivated and ambitious but feeling miserable at the same time. It may be hard to hope that one day, your unhappy gut will flawlessly do what it is supposed to without so much complaining – heck maybe you’d even settle for a few small grumbles. Your discomfort probably reached a point that drove you to become “proactive”, go to your doc and take care of your business. What happened next- another rabbit hole of testing, wrestling with insurance, and confusion? What is really wrong down there? Irritable bowels? Diverticulitis? Inflammatory bowel disease? So now maybe have been given a clear yet still ominous GI diagnosis. What to do next? Your doc seems out of satisfying resources and answers (unless they are trained in integrative and/or functional medicine). Take a prescription drug? Take Miralax or psyllium? Lower your stress? Avoid FODMAPs? Is there any real cure here? Are we having fun yet?
For those unaware, there is an epidemic of GI unrest brewing and it is affecting the masses in all kinds of ways. It’s almost good to have an outright GI condition – because then your body is almost slapping you in the face that something is wrong. Without that gut-gone-wrong emblazoned red flag, you could have all sorts of problems like rheumatoid arthritis, depression, anxiety, acne, an eating disorder, fibromyalgia, diabetes, the list goes on and guess what? Most of these conditions have origins in gut malfunctions. Just like most people that suffer from gluten sensitivity don’t have GI symptoms (up to ¾ of them!), your obnoxious health issues are most likely related to what’s going downtown.
For those that have been arduously and avidly working on amending their aching innards with very little or no real progress… there is hope. A bunch of tests and handfuls of pills may not necessarily help you. Starting with what you are eating however may be the best first baby step. Ultimately, you aren’t going to get better until your diet is re-framed.
Empirically, diets such as GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) and SCD (The Specific Carbohydrate Diet) born out the unprecedented book by Elaine Gotschall “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” have benefitted untold numbers of hurting people. The books and these diets are based on the premise that in order to heal, one must remove the offending foods – most of which are starches and disaccharides. A compromised GI system does not fare well in trying to break down complicated foods and the ominous onslaught of SIBO (Small Intestinal Bowel Overgrowth) has made this path more confusing and treacherous. Although there have been stories of recovery on these diets, there is criticism that for some, it is hard to break free from them.
My question, is “were you truly not meant to eat starches or disaccharides, or was the original affliction not addressed?” It may be that we are looking at a constellation of environmental influences spanning from heavy metal toxicity (and others such as plastics, GMO and pesticides) to pathogens such as bad bacteria upgraded silently by several rounds of antibiotics and possible viral constituents. If this is true, what’s wrong with you and what the heck can you do about it? It’s not easy. Many providers- even in the realm of functional medicine are having a tough time solving GI issues.
Looking forward, beyond the conventional wisdom of continual kill therapy using antibiotics and medications/supplements to control our symptoms – we must look to a place where we can actually get better. For some, that may mean getting through the day without an episode of pain or diarrhea. In considering our whole health and not just that of our intestines, we have to be wise about employing natural healing foods over a long period of time and not expect a 2-week miracle. Your body wants to feel better, it just needs to right tools from you to accomplish that. In moving forward – consider the following:
- Heavy metal cleansing every day – not with toxic or strong chemicals; use natural agents such as cilantro and spirulina
- Consuming a much larger bandwidth of fruits and vegetables (berries secrete antimicrobial substances to kill pathogens)
- Avoid using more antibiotics – if possible
- Nutrition – GI illness will tax your nutritional status; get a high quality supplement to cover minerals, B vitamins, and antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E.
- Lower your consumption of fats and animal proteins – yes -you heard that right! Your liver will thank you.
- Avoid alcohol and products high in refined carbohydrates and sugar
- Potatoes and tubers are good for you!
- Practice deep breathing and singing to put your nerves at ease
- Make a healthy juice every day
- Make a healthy smoothie every day
- Go to the farmers market and get organic, farm-fresh produce
- Go for a walk every day
- Have fresh squeezed lemon in your water – in the morning upon waking and before every meal
- Have a meal out of sweet potatoes, steamed dark green leafy vegetables, winter squash and strawberries – a liver pleasing meal to feed you and not your bad bugs.
*Contact a skilled practitioner that can design a meal plan and herbal/nutrition strategy to rehabilitate an angst-y gut.
This information is informational purposes only and should not be considered to be healthcare advice, treatment or prescribing. None of this information should be considered a promise of benefits, a claim of cures, or a guarantee of results to be achieved. This information is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other healthcare professionals. You should not use these recipes for treatment of any health problem. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet. No food, product or service mentioned is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.