Earlier this year I wrote a two-part post titled “Addressing My Stomach Pains.” I discussed the GI struggles I’d been having (an ulcer, indigestion, gas, bloating) and wrote about reasons for completing the Whole30 challenge. As a refresher, I saw great success during the 30-day-challenge. The combination of the food elimination, digestive enzymes and a general stress-free lifestyle did wonders for my digestive system, particularly in comparison to how I felt last year.
However, I’m now three months off Whole30 and even though I’ve been following the basic Paleo guidelines, I don’t feel as good as I did when I immediately finished the program. My stomach issues have been building for years and Whole30 was a good start, but there was/is more to the story. I wanted it to be an easy answer like “just eat Paleo” or “just eat low FODMAP” (both of which I think help my issues) but after months of small progress followed by setbacks, I was discouraged and looking for more relief. Therefore, last month I decided to start seeing a holistic doctor to get to the root of the problem.
First things first: There are dozens of different theories for solving health issues. Go vegan! Go paleo! Go raw! Use supplements! Eat fermented foods! Practice yoga! Hell, I should know…I did Whole30! (I’ve now fulfilled my exclamation point quota). Seriously, walk into Barnes & Nobles and the health/medical section is overwhelming. There is no one right answer, I’m confident in that. But why not explore different options in the search for health?
Functional medicine is still very new to me. Parts of it are kind of crazy and hard to grasp and I understand if you think it’s weird. What I ask of you, as a very conservative person myself, is that you are open to what I have to say. I’m just sharing my experience and not saying “this is the way to go.” I’m traditional to no-end, but I’m learning that with our (my) health, it’s really important to approach things from a holistic view and be your own advocate. I want to solve the problem, not mask it with temporary solutions. And after being on a PPI for years, I’m all for measures without extreme risks.
This is part 1, mainly because I’m only half way through the 6-week healing process and I want to keep these posts easy-to-read. I debated on whether or not to share this and then how to approach it. I decided that there are people out there who are struggling with pain (of all kinds) and looking for other solutions. Yes, this is initially expensive and time-consuming but it’s an investment in my health. I finally feel like I’m getting to the root of the issue and setting myself up for longterm success.
Lastly, I’m by no means an expert on this topic. I’m learning more every day and taking things into my own hands.
*Edited to add: all doctors have degrees in both alternative and traditional medicine. They have the board certifications needed*
At my first visit I explained my health history to the doctor and I was “diagnosed” with leaky gut. This is not an actual diagnosis but the term for an underlying condition. It’s also not recognized in the medical world (read more about that here).
What is leaky gut?
“Essentially, leaky gut syndrome (“intestinal hyperpermeability”) is condition that happens as a consequence of intestinal tight junction malfunction. These “tight junctions” are the gateway between your intestines and what is allowed to pass into the blood stream. Your tight junctions keep things out like toxins, microbesand undigested food particles. But having leaky gut is essentially like having the gates broken from your intestines to your blood stream so many of these particles that should never have been able to enter have now gotten through. When this happens it causes inflammation throughout your body leading to a variety of diseases.” (Source)
It was at this appointment when I was introduced to muscle testing. I’ve linked to a longer explanation but here’s my version: every item (including food, our bodies, even rocks) has an energy. We each react differently to different energies so muscle testing helps to narrow down what substances we are sensitive to. Simply by touching certain body parts or placing foods/supplements on your body, you can find weak spots. (Sounds crazy, right?)
My weak spots? The gut (duh). I have inflammation in the gut caused by bacteria, mold, low stomach acid and food-sensitivities.
How do I reduce this inflammation? By “solving” leaky gut –> remove the bad stuff (toxins, bacteria, inflammatory foods) and add the good stuff (supplements essential for proper digestion; enzymes).
Putting it into practice
What does the healing look like right now? I’m taking 5 supplements 3x a day and undergoing a food desensitization test for one week. More on that test in the part 2.
More importantly, how do I feel? Physically, I feel like I’m making solid progress. Emotionally and mentally I’m feeling even better. First, I loved the office and all the practitioners. Second, I was comforted to know that I was not alone in my struggles. They gave me the time to talk through my health history and they listened with intent. I’m so used to being shuffled out of doctors’ offices so fast so this was a nice change of pace.
As I said, I’m only 3-weeks in, but I’m already seeing changes. However, there is more that I need to do for full gut healing, and that will be discussed in part 2.
That’s a long enough post for day but I hope it was somewhat informative. I find these posts interesting so I apologize if you don’t. Thanks for sticking around! Back to regular “lighter” content tomorrow :)