I’m still on that journey of healing my digestive tract through the food I eat or don’t eat. Starting out I had no real knowledge of the extent of damage, I had no symptoms, and very little wisdom about certain foods. My baby had the symptoms. She would spit-up every time she nursed (when I was eating). When we did an allergy panel, I was the one with allergies. Meaning my intestinal tract was unhealthy and letting out bigger then normal molecules of food into my blood stream. My immune system, along with my daughters, was reacting. As it continued over the years I have had more and more symptoms immerge. Vitamin malabsorption, autoimmune, endocrine dysfunction along with external signs like extreme fatigue, sudden acid reflux, hives, painful bloating and strange things happening in the potty are a few of the uncomfortable issues. I have learned a lot these past five years. Everyone seems to have a diet and their diet is the best. After being on a few of these…OK…a lot of them, I have to say most of them don’t work for a deteriorated intestinal cell wall. The good news is that I have learned wonderful things from each diet and have manage to find some things that help. Here are the pros and cons of a few good healthy diets for already healthy people.
Elimination Diet: I had a complete igg and ige allergy test done for food antibodies. I stopped eating all of the things on the allergy panel. That is the “elimination” part of the diet. I could eat anything else. I did this along with adding kombucha to my daily diet. This diet completely consumed my life. Cooking/baking without gluten, sugar dairy and eggs is incredibly difficult at the beginning if you have never done it before. When I began there weren’t a lot of resources available to help. I really like going to a naturopath, but as with all doctors they simply tell you what to do without any help on implementation. It is up to you to go to the store, find recipes (hours), make it all work only to have your family mutiny. Making separate meals for your family and you, is part of the stress this life style change includes. The best thing to do is to keep trying new recipes until most of the people like the base menu. That way you and your family only have to eat it once. If they don’t like it…there will be something new tomorrow. There are recipes that don’t break the bank. I use Azure Standard quite extensively. They have great prices on bulk organic stuff. Now Costco has gotten on board: eating gluten free is not as pricey as it use to be. The elimination diet helped me greatly. I think that is why I didn’t realize how injured my intestines really were. In the end it wasn’t enough to heal me and I continued to get new allergies. Here is a link to the Allergy Free Baking Quick Reference sheet I made. (Click to link)
GAPS Diet: This is a great diet for gut flora imbalance without too much intestinal damage. I love the slow introduction to food and the heavy use of probiotics. And above all the chocolate. Because I really want to believe I can eat it without it harming my intestinal lining. Unfortunately, this is not the case. I hope there is a “yet” at the end of that last sentence. Another really big problem is the incredibly early introduction of cruciferous. The cabbage family may decrease inflammation in other places, but it is incredibly difficult to digest. It irritates the intestines and feeds the bad bacteria/yeast. Those with vit. and mineral malabsorption usually have struggling thyroids, and the cruciferous vegetables inhibit thyroid function(cooking decreases its effect but fermenting enhances the problem). Cruciferous, onions and leeks are all avoid items on the FODMAP Diet. When your gut is damaged, you will have little ability to digest FODMAP foods. It is the healthy gut flora that digest these FODMAP foods. If you don’t have a healthy gut, meaning the cell walls of your intestines are unhealthy and there is not a good balance of intestinal flora, the only things that will be eating the residual material are the bad guys.
Yeast Free Diet: This diet isn’t that much different from the GAPS diet. It additionally limits fruits, honey and yeast/mold foods. This diet is super hard to adhere to . Humans love the taste of sweets. I would say this diet got me use to stevia. The problem is that yeast (which usually lives with bacteria) is much more perserverant than we are. They can persist for years. You need to add herbal antifungus substances along with diet and even then you are looking at a year to be safe (safe-ish, ugh!!!).
Raw Food: This diet purports that you get the most nutrition from your food if you don’t heat it over 170 degrees. Yep, they don’t eat meat. The biggest draw to this way of eating is that these guys have the best healthy desserts. Unfortunately, high in yeast and bacteria-feeding fruit based sugars. 🙁 During my time, I learned how to sprout my nuts, seeds and bean. It is a great skill to have, and I still use it to this day. Sprouting significantly decreases the enzyme inhibitors that keeps the seed/nut/bean from being attacked by bugs/molds/bacteria and from sprouting in your cabinet. This enzyme inhibitor also tries to keep you from eating the seed/nut/bean. It damages the intestinal lining. The bummer is that sprouting doesn’t take it all off. It just reduces the enzyme. And heating only to 170 doesn’t always allow you extract the nutrients. In the end nut, beans, and seeds were still difficult to digest. There was little protein left.
Gluten Free Vegan: I switch to veganism. At this point I was allergic to dairy, gluten, sugar, eggs and meat was difficult to digest. I had never eaten so much fiber and so many different veggies in my life. The first few months were the worst. I didn’t have any recipes that were vegan gluten free and my family has never eaten so many vegetables. They complained about the whole procedure, but they all made it through without needing counseling (yet anyway). I’m the one that needed counseling. My symptoms continued to get worse. I was so tired (after sleeping 10 hours a day), and I continued to get more and more allergies. I developed an allergy to nuts around the same time I found the Gluten Free Society. At Gluten Free Society, Dr. Osborne makes a good case for a grain free diet. Some of the other grains have proven to be just as damaging to the intestinal lining as gluten is for gluten sensitive people. Corn, rice and quinoa have studies supporting this hypothesis. That could be why my gut wasn’t healing? Many of his patients don’t heal on a traditional gluten free diet, but when they go grain free, they heal. Protein was now a real problem. I had to switch, but not before I found some amazing, super nutritious vegan gluten free recipes my family really enjoys. Great for the budget too. Now what? I listened to an interview Dr. Osbone had made with the guys at SCDlifestyle.com. They told how the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) had healed their intestine. So, I checked it out. Can you tell by now that I learn things by doing them? 🙂
–All of the diets before focused of the idea of elimination. Take out what your body reacts to and eat anything else. That doesn’t work well, because there are things your intestines react to but it is so use to reacting to them that you can’t tell. And because you are still eating it your body can’t heal. This is a top down approach to healing through diet. Food is more than nutrition. It is spiritual (fills you apart from God), emotional (got to have it), and social (helps you feel a part of your culture). It is VERY DIFFICULT to give comfort foods up! Unfortunately, the best chance of healing is a bottom up approach. Starting with the least difficult foods to ingest and slowly (1 every 4 days) adding foods back into your diet. Becoming a hermit at this point would make the process a whole heck of a lot easier!–
Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD): I bought the kit and went full force on my gut healing program. They are very encouraging but not very good cooks. It was difficult to make anything without eggs and dairy. I had great success in the first few weeks. For the first time my body started moving in the healing direction. Then I started noticing specific items my body could not digest properly. I checked out the FODMAP diet, and yep lots of things on the first part of SCD are on the FODMAP avoid list. When Elaine created the diet, which is based on each food’s chemical make up, FODMAP wasn’t even known.
Sherry’s modified SFG Diet(The SCD, FODMAP and GAPS combo): I was so impressed with the science and the introduction of foods that are laid out in stages from easiest to hardest to digest that I wanted to stick with SCD. I needed to modify it to incorporated the new FODMAP and GAPS information. That’s right the GAPS diet was a modification of the SCD diet to help the mind/nervous system. I think the GAPS diet had more up-to-date information on the importance of probiotic foods and the safety of stevia. Why not combine the three diets to create a truly gentle and healing introduction to food for damaged intestines. Check out PecanBread.com for more information about the SCD. Check out http://cassandraforsythe.com/blog/Complete+FODMAP+List+For+a+Happy+Gut for FODMAP information. And check out http://www.healthhomehappy.com/grain-free-2/gaps-intro for an over view. As on any journey, I learned as I went. I bumped into other foods that are more difficult to digest and looked them up. Usually others with unhealthy intestines were having difficulty too. I found that each original stage of the SCD could be broken down into two more stages for slower progression. So I added an A and B for each stage. More stages gives more clarity to which food should be tried first.
The main goals is to:
- Heal the intestinal lining.
- Reestablish healthy bacteria and yeast to balance the intestinal flora
- Restore thyroid, pancreas and gallbladder function
- Replace deficiencies in vitamins and minerals
- Reduce immediate symptoms of indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, hives, and brain fog
- Detox from toxins released from fat loss, emitted from dying bacteria, yeast, and parasites, and environment
The bad news is that climbing out of the hole is a whole lot more difficult than falling into it. Each new sign and symptom puts up a road block to healing. If your thyroid is low, you won’t produce the things you need for proper digestion, and it will be more difficult to eliminate the toxins from your body (sweat). Without proper digestion the thyroid won’t get the important vitamins and trace minerals it needs for proper functioning. The same is true for the rest of the digestive system. Without the proper vitamins and minerals, your stomach can’t make the acid to extract the vitamins and minerals you need, and your intestine can’t absorb the nutrients it needs to heal. This is the conundrum. You need a healthy system to heal, yet the unhealthy system is keeping you from healing. That is where supplements can play a wonderful role in healing.
Supplements to heal the intestinal lining:
- Pure L-Glutamine Powder: The building blocks for healing the intestinal wall. Mix in soup because it doesn’t taste.
- Bone Broth with Himalayan salt
Rebalancing Gut Flora:
- Ultra Flora Acute Probiotics
- Homemade Coconut Kefir, grape juice kefir
- Homemade fermented vegetables
- Herbal antifungals, antibiotics and antiparasitic: Kill the bad guys with tinctures and essential oils. Look them up! They work best in combination with each other and in combination with SCD. Most are good at all three. There are some rockstars like oregano EO, thyme EO, black walnut and wormwood tincture, goldenseal tincture, oregon grape tincture, and many more. There is another herbal product for parasites but also kills yeast and bacteria (that is how herbals work). It is called Humaworm. My friend got a 3 foot tape worm out of her autistic daughter with it. You must take herbals for a longer period of time than the over the counter drugs, but the herbals don’t kill as many of the good guys in your gut. They are better at balancing your flora. Ask your naturopath.
Supplements to replace deficiencies:
- Fermented Cod liver oil is the most absorbable form of Vit. A and D. Plus it adds a good dose of inflammation reducing Omega 3s.
- Ionic Selenium: It absorbs through the mouth and skips the broken digestive system. It much improved my thyroid function.
- Ionic Iron: It absorbs through the mouth and skips the broken digestive system. It also doesn’t create constipation problems.
- Magnesium: Ionic and transdermal both avoid the broken digestive system. Apparently most people are low in the essential element that plays an important part of over 300 biochemical reactions. Your heart stores the most. If you need magnesium and have none readily available your body will take it from your heart!
- zinc: I use Trace Minerals in my kefir, and squirt some in my soup. Plays a part in immunity and is a catalyst for approximately 100 enzymes.
- B12 (methylcobalamin): active B12
- Folic acid (5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid): active folic acid
- Vitamine C: Systemic C
- Oregano EO capsules: 3 drops of Oregano EO in an empty capsule fill the rest of the space with organic flax seed oil. Three times a day. I am thinking of alternating Tea tree EO with oregano.
- Morning Yeast Cleanse: 1 Tbsp powdered bentonite clay, 1 Tbsp liquid Caprylic, 2 drops peppermint EO, mixed with 1 c water. Taken with 2 activated charcoal capsules or psyllium husk fiber if you aren’t on the elemental diet.
Supplements for symptom mitigation:
- Acid Reflux: Digestive Bitters super-duper worked for me! I was taking 2 Prilosec per night after Tums stopped working. After 2 I had to move to the lounge chair to sleep. My acid reflux was that bad. I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling like I was throwing up. I started taking the bitters at night and it went away. I think the no sugar/ no grain thing helped too. I have since found I can take as many doses as I need of the bitters. The problem, all along, wasn’t high stomach acid (as I was told), but the lack of acid. The high acid triggers the sphincter to close the door on the stomach.
- Constipation/diarrhea: a mixture of psyllium fiber, bentonite clay and senna powder mixed with 2 drops of peppermint essential oil and 2 c water.
- Pancreas and Liver function: Carrot ginger juice eaten with meat helps to digest meat. Bitters before eating anything helps your body prepare for digestion. Digestive enzymes help to digest the fat and meat. I had to use Cren and Oxbile before the SCD. Dandelion water (a few drops of glycerin dandelion extract in filtered water) and Milk Thistle Extract helps with liver and pancreas detox.
Supplements for Detox:
- Liver/Pancreas: Dandelion Extract in filtered water and Milk Thistle Extract mixed in soup (doesn’t taste)
- Die off Help: activated charcoal, psyllium fiber, and bentonite clay and LOTS of water
- Lots of Water: 8- 8 oz cups of water per day
- Epsom Salt Bath and Foot Bath: 1 c for a foot bath and 2 c for a bath
- Skin Brushing: Scrub skin with a natural brush
- Homemade body products: They really work! You can make organic body products for less money. Hair shampoo, conditioner, and styling; skin cleaner; lotions; and make-up. Toxins are like heat under a teapot. Every additional toxin makes the pot just a little hotter until the teapot boils over. As you balance your gut flora the nasties are going to give off toxins. They won’t leave without a fight. The healing process will already be taxing your system. Here is a link to the Homemade Household Basics Recipes Quick Reference Sheet I created. (Click to link)
- House hold cleaning products: These can be very toxic but most of those toxins are unnecessary. My Homemade Household Basics is a quick reference card for many of my tried and true non-toxic recipes.
–As I started to replace supplements, detox and eat healing foods (Sherry’s SFG Diet) my pancreas, thyroid and liver started to function better.–
About one month into my Sherry’s SFG Diet, and I got the news that I still had SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) via 3 hour breath test. I have a choice. To stay on the protocol or do something wild, crazy and very extreme to get rid of the bad guys once and for all. Incidentally, I was surprised to find out that the 2 weeks of diet and herbal antibiotics had significantly decreased the population of bad guys. That was good news, but I am tired of playing around. The bad guys in my gut need to be evicted! I also want a chance for my intestines to heal. The elemental diet gives the best opportunity to recover. You make shakes with amino acids, honey (very small amount) and coconut oil. Add vitamins, minerals and antioxidants…and there is your complete meal. There are a few other things that are allowed on ListenToYourGuts.com‘s IBS Remission Diet i.e. bone broth, gelatin, clear organic juice (Even diluted, I’m not going to add it…oo much of a yeast rick.), oils and minerals. If it sounds extreme…it is! But extreme is not the same as unhealthy, and extreme health problems (4yrs. worth) requires extreme healing protocols. So for the next 2-3 weeks I am going to implement an Elemental Diet! I will say more on the matter as I go. I need prayer.
**For more information on IBS check out the ListenToYourGut.com website. It has a lot of free information.