Can I heal My Gut? – Story So Far
January 24, 2014
My first post on my pet subject of ‘Can I heal my gut’? This is my story so far.
As far back as I can remember, I have had more than my fair share of burps, and stomach ache’s (as it used to be called). This was a normal activity for me, and a dose of Alca-Seltzer soon did the trick. The ingredients are harmless compared to more powerful ant-acids that are available these days, nevertheless to me back then it tasted disgusting.
My gut problems became more serious when I had my first gut wrenching cramp. This was shortly after eating a Chinese takeaway meal. I did not really take much notice at the time, as it passed after a few minutes, but the pain was intense enough for me to remember it distinctly almost 30 years later. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and if I knew then what I know now…
I soon developed increasing bouts of heartburn, and stomach cramps which went on for years. Like most people though, I just took the advice of doctors and the media who informed me that taking ant-acids were the best course of action. For fear of running out, I would buy these things in bulk! I could take six rennies before any effect could be had to stop my heartburn. The worst attacks would be while I was asleep, which would awaken me to intense discomfort. Zantac was effective against cramps, but sometimes I would have to take three in order for the pain to subside.
Lager, or beer was bad for me (obviously I know now), but back in my 20’s and 30’s I would drink a lot, and my recovery from a binge would take longer and longer, with vomiting a certainty. One thing I noticed was that food I had eaten perhaps eight hours before would come back up undigested. All these symptoms I put down to getting older – I just couldn’t take it like I used to. I moved on to drinking Guinness, and the symptoms improved – Guinness isn’t brewed with wheat, so doesn’t contain Gluten. It does contain Hordein, which is similar to Gluten, but I was okay with it. Not realising at the time the connection, I put it down to Guinness being a more ‘healthy’ drink. Later on, I started drinking red wine which seemed even more tolerable, white wine doesn’t agree with me though.
Apparently, as one of the consultants informed me, being of Irish descent, I was more likely to become Gluten Intolerant than others. So, I can thank my father for passing this on to me – he had similar stomach problems to me. Sadly, he never got to realise the cause.
Moving on to 2013, when I developed consistent constipation. I had had this condition on and off for a few years I suppose, but last year it became an issue. I also started to get pains in the right side of my gut. Upon visiting my GP (to be fare, he acted quickly), he sent me for various tests. After the tests came back, I was diagnosed as being a potential member of the ever expanding Coeliac Society. Of which I had heard about, but was never really a fan. So, yeah this was my fate and – for better or worse, the rest of my life.
I began researching this disease – if you can call it that. To me it’s more like a condition. I soon realised that Gluten intolerance was only the start of my problems. The first thing I realised was that the causation of my condition was an out of control gut bacterial imbalance, and this was when I first came across the word Candida. Candida for those of you that don’t know, is a gut living bacterium – one of the bad ones, and this lives quite happily amongst your fellow gut dwelling microbes waiting patiently for an opportunity to advance it’s cause. Opportunities were abundant in my body, as frequent courses of anti-biotics, a less than favourable diet, and stress had all been gradually chipping away at my defences for years.
That was just the start though, as more research led me to the conclusion that I have a leaky gut, with low stomach acid. I now knew the reason for my constant bloating, and burping. Numerous visits to various doctors over many years had been ineffective in finding this out. But now, thanks to the internet, my condition is understood. I had mentioned self diagnosis via the internet to people in the past, who had ridiculed the notion as complete madness. Apparently, you cannot believe anything you read on the net, and don’t even do it as you’ll scare yourself to death are two of the most common responses. Well, no thanks to well meaning individuals, and the NHS – I am now a learned scholar in the various aspects of gut dysbiosis, err, and feel liberated!
I had been losing weight steadily over the last few years, and no amount of eating could get it back. I must point out that I was also exercising regularly, and would have periods of intense workouts if I was preparing for an event. I entered a few 10k events, and half marathons. Consuming large amounts of pasta didn’t help with my weight gain, I just figured that as I was training quite hard, I was just burning it off. I look back now and see that all that pasta contributed greatly to me becoming intolerant to gluten. Not only pasta though, but I also ate vivaciously – bread, and cakes. Another daily staple was musli for breakfast, as I aimlessly followed the misguided advice that this stuff was ‘good for you’. I even took to making my own concoction from ingredients found at Holland and Barrett – the well known pedlars of so called ‘health foods’ for the uneducated.
It was a great shame as I had discovered a love of baking bread just a few months prior to me being diagnosed, and had even been developing the art of Sourdough. I am at this moment of the opinion that Sourdough bread could be a bread that I may be able to eat in the future, as some research I did led me to believe this a possibility. In a more recent report from CBC News in Canada, they found Sourdough bakers had many customers who were on a Gluten Free diet. I know it’s not politically correct in this country to say that Coeliacs can eat Wheat flour bread, and a discussion with two separate NHS dieticians told me the same, but as soon as my gut has healed enough, I am going to try it.
I have at this point various minor ailments, that I realise are all connected. Which include an arthritic right knee, flakey-itchy scalp, constantly clogged left ear, tiny white patches on my legs, and also a big mole looking growth on my forehead. I could go on, as my hair seems to be falling out at a faster rate, manic insomnia, my memory is very poor, with the ability to find the correct word at any given time being sometimes impossible.
Having read about the Candida diet, the GAPS diet, and the SCD, I have taken an objective sampling of all these views, and cut out all processed foods, grains, rice, and potatoes. I have also cut back on fruit, and now make and eat my own Kefir, and Sauerkraut.
Onwards, and upwards…