Gut Health Update

Hey peeps!

Long time no talk! The whole “being consistent” thing with blog posts has not been learned yet. But still have high hopes for consistency in the future.

Two weeks ago I had my first follow-up appointment with a functional medicine MD whom I started seeing late February for my long history with digestive issues that’s been a wild roller coaster of a ride at least since I started college in 2015. It all began with severe constipation the summer before my freshman year (thanks anxiety, love ya… #not), and I basically took Miralax for 2 years whenever “it” would happen since my primary care physician told me to. I like to follow directions. Then I heard from a holistic dietitian that Miralax is basically what jet fuel is made up of. WAIT WHAT? Whether that’s actually true or not, this was a major eye opener to the ingredients that go into food products or supplements. I don’t want to put jet fuel into my body…that is a hard pass.

Anyways, besides frequent constipation episodes, I began dealing with abnormal stomach distention (no, this is not simply bloating which happens for most people after every meal). Stomach distention is much more painful and looks like you’re 6 months pregnant, when I assure you I (or maybe you) are not. Not sexually active over here, thank you very much. This even happens at times when I don’t have food in me, like waking up in the morning for example. This is not normal and is a sign of whacked out intestines. Some time passed, and then the summer before my junior year in college I was referred to a GI doctor at my hospital. He immediately thought it sounded like I had SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), so I took a SIBO hydrogen/methane breath test to confirm. Came back positive, so I was given antibiotics for a few months and was told many people in my boat have benefited from a low carb diet or low FODMAP diet. Followed the low FODMAP diet that fall 2017, which definitely helped the gas situation that I had goin on along with not consuming too much sugar which also helped. BUT! I ended up losing my period AGAIN for 5 months. Idk why exactly… but my hunch is that it was due to eating too little carbohydrates. That winter break I participated in an Italy study abroad trip with some fellow nutrition & food-loving students, and after lots of zero-restrictions eating entire pizzas and plates of pasta and gelato and tiramisu, my period came back full force the day we left to go home. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. I think my body needs a decent (read: healthy) amount of carbs to sustain a regular menstrual cycle. Always learning about myself!

Over the past year (2018), lots of stressful and anxiety-provoking things happened. Some had to do with 2 different boys I had “things” with I guess you could say (separate times of course). Other things had to do with job stress and trying to get comfortable there which took a LONG time, stress over an achilles injury (UGH!), and overall continued body image struggles and turning to food for comfort, which then for me always spirals down into being more stressed over the look and feel of my body that changed because of some not-good-food-choices that would happen on the daily (specifically overeating all the time), and even though I was already stressed over my appearance I’d continue to go to food because that initial taste numbs the emotion in the VERY short-term (do you see how this can be a vicious cycle?!). It is HARD to get out of. My gosh. I get it.

ANYWHO, since I completely gave up on healing my gut in 2018 and threw all the low FODMAP, low sugar thing out the window, my stomach issues came back with a vengeance. Definitely didn’t want to go back down the antibiotic route if I were to be diagnosed with SIBO again, so I found a functional Medical Doctor in my area who works with GI troubles. I got a bunch of blood drawn for a food sensitivity test, and completed another SIBO hydrogen breath test along with urine and stool analysis tests.

RESULTS:

FRICKIN NUTS. That is both my emotional reaction to the food sensitivity test and the actual foods I’m HIGHLY sensitive to lol. Frickin nuts man. Highest on the list? PEANUTS, ALMONDS, flax seeds, hazelnuts (aka…filberts…such a funny and awkward word), walnuts, pecans… Cue my tears… Jk. Well… actually I am really going to miss my nut butter drizzles, peanut butter banana toast, and PB&J’s. But learning that food is not my everything, and I can’t rely on it alone to bring me happiness and fulfillment. This can be hard though when you’re a foodie and love to EAT! nothing wrong with that.

Other things I’m very sensitive to that I have to take out of my diet for about a year: mushrooms (ew), shellfish, nuts, most seeds, and allspice. And I need to limit gluten, wheat, chocolate, some fruits, and chickpeas.

Good news? No more SIBO!

Bad news? My serotonin metabolism is slightly low, my gut bacteria is very unbalanced, and I am not digesting fats well at all, which has resulted in whats called “fatty stools.”

Lessons learned? Treatment?

  1. Low carb & HIGH FAT diets ain’t for everyone. GASP! Wuuuuuuut? I have to dial my fat intake down a little because this is healthy for me right now in this season of my life. The undigested long chain fatty acids that showed up in my stool test have been causing me tons of gas and stomach pain.

  2. Specific digestive enzymes provided by my doctor to assist with digesting food + making sure to eat slower + CHEW CHEW CHEW. Don’t want to miss out on releasing those good juicy enzymes in your mouth that get secreted when chewing food.

  3. Soil-based probiotic to help the growth of good bacteria, especially the strains that showed up as ZERO on tests :O

  4. A botanical oil to rid off the bad or unnecessary bacteria

Now What?

Although seeing functional medicine doctors is relatively pricey, I am so thankful I’ve gone to him to see what’s happening in my body with the help of these tests. I’m seeing him again in a few months to see how I feel after the probiotic/enzymes/eating lower fat/killing the unnecessary bacteria, and probably in another year I’ll take the tests again to reevaluate my status.

However… I know there is more going on.

My underlying anxiety has turned into depression, which I know is playing quite possibly the biggest role in my gut health.

See my next post for more on anxiety & depression.

Thanks for reading and joining me on my journey through health and I guess just life in general. Love you all. And I appreciate you.

💙, Janie