Exploring Gut Health

I will never take my health for granted again. I used to eat whatever I wanted, at any time of day, without a second thought. Now, I have a severe gluten-intolerance and I will never take my health for granted again.

A couple of years ago, on my husband’s birthday, we went out for Vietnamese. I used the bathroom as soon as we got there. It was okay clean, but not great, and the pipe under the sink was held together with duct tape. All of a sudden, I thought of Anthony Bourdain’s comment in one of his books. He commented that the cleanliness of the restaurant’s bathroom is a reflection of the cleanliness of the kitchen. If it is not at the highest standard- leave. I shook it out of my head- he was just being paranoid and picky….right? WRONG. After my meal, I didn’t feel great. The next day I felt downright horrid. I had food poisoning for 4 days before I went to the doctor. On the third day, I was going to go, but I was afraid I wouldn’t make it that far. By the time the medicine the doctor gave me took effect, I had been sick for over a week. I was informed that my gut had probably been stripped of the good bacteria and that the villi were damaged.

As a result, I am now severely gluten-intolerant, as well as dairy sensitive and cannot eat too many starchy vegetables. I have to be extremely careful of what I eat and when. I find that if I get too out of routine, I will feel flushed, bloated, gassy and nauseous after a meal (even a small one). I was okay for awhile- avoiding gluten and mostly avoiding dairy seemed to be working! Did I want to live like this forever? Obviously not, but what choice do I have?

(Instagram photo of my stomach after eating gluten….)

Awhile back, I came across information about doing an elimination diet to find the foods that bothered you, then following a Low FODMAP diet to fix the gut. However, both options seemed overwhelming and unnecessarily drastic.

Until this summer.

This summer I felt like I had become a walking food intolerance. I could name a list, as long as my arm, of foods that seemed to bother me. I wasn’t sure about any of them except gluten. I kept starting a food diary and quitting. I kept feeling crappy, too. It was always a gamble on whether a meal would leave me incapacitated or feeling great. I became sick of it.

It came to a head recently; I knew I was done not trying to change my gut health. I knew I couldn’t live like this anymore. The nail was driven in to the coffin the other night when I accidentally ate a small piece of glutinous deli meat (of all things!!) and felt sick all night. It took two Gravol pills and an Imodium just to make me feel like I could lay down without throwing up. I was achy, flushed, feverish, and my skin felt like tiny pinpricks of fire. I was bloated, gassy and extremely nauseous(even after the Gravol). I spent all night traipsing back and forth to the bathroom.  The next day, still feeling like I was fighting an infection (which my body views gluten as, apparently) or a flu, I began to research, heavily.

I had already been taking a gut course online by the knowledgeable Dr. Terry Wahls, and it gave me the perfect jumping off point to take control. I am now researching nightshade vegetables, gut bacteria, elimination diets and fermented foods. Fermented foods I had been introduced to when I lived in Japan, where I ate kimchi like it was going out of style, and some of my students then educated me on why it was so healthy. I had even passively followed a blog called Cultured Food Life, where she gives you the reasons to have fermented food at every meal, and why that is so important, as well as the knowledge to make your own! Over the past year, I have checked in on her blog, thought it might be useful but dismissed it as “too much work”. Now, living with a gut that may turn on me at any time and triples our grocery bill is “too much work”! (Finally! I’m a slowwww learner).

I have decided to fully research gut health, possible solutions, and meal plans for gut balance. I plan to add (homemade, eventually) fermented food to every meal. I am going to see where I am, gut health-wise, in; two months, then six, then twelve. I will keep you updated! I know a lot of people out there have gluten intolerance and gut issues and I hope to share my journey and new-found experiences with you!

Do you suffer from a food intolerance?

Did anything you tried in the past help?

What about fermented foods- do you eat them or make your own?


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