There is part of me that is afraid to write this entry, as if writing that I feel better will somehow jinx it all. But I really can’t deny it anymore:
I feel tremendously better!
Would I say 100%? No, not quite. Maybe something like 80 – 85%. The awful bloating has significantly decreased, nearly dissipated all together, even through a weekend of not-perfect-food. This last weekend was a great testament to the progress in my gut. I spent the holiday weekend with my family and future in-laws, with the majority of food being prepared for me. While it was all healthy food, there were many fodmaps hidden within (soy sauce on the meat, cabbage in the salad, mushrooms and garlic in the eggs, for example). I stayed away from the worst offenders but took several others in and came away at the end of the day with a belly that looked about the same as the one I started the day with.
I wrote my last update almost two months ago. Within those two months has been lots of ups and downs, with a very slow but steady trend upwards. I saw my naturopath probably three or four times in those two months, mostly to get acupuncture treatments to help de-stagnate and harmonize my digestive system. These session helped me tremendously, and afterwards I would see a very slight jump in positive digestive symptoms.
Speaking with my naturopath, she mentioned how she would really like to write a book about the process of healing SIBO. What she has noticed in treating many, many cases is that patients experience what seems like very slow progress forward – and when I say slow, I mean on a scale of every two to three months between noticeable progress. This is what I have noticed, too. During these last couple of months, I also paid more attention to what I was eating and any symptoms I had afterwards. I realized around the first of May that cheese in any form – even small amounts of the low-lactose, long-fermented cheeses like parmesan – don’t work for me. This was a very sad day indeed to give up cheese, but the knife-stabbing stomach aches have stopped and my progress really accelerated after I removed cheese completely from my diet.
I’ve continued to take two capsules of my digestive enzymes before each meal; however, I forgot to take them before breakfast (almond flour muffin) this week and had no adverse symptoms. Depending on the size and protein content of my meal, I’m starting to reduce these enzymes back to one cap instead of two. So far, so good.
The main symptoms I’m still noticing are skin breakouts and some undigested food in my stool. For my skin, my hypothesis (which I’ll talk to my ND about Monday) is about how the liver and gut interact. In Ayurvedic medicine, most skin problems are linked to the liver and stagnation. You can see evidence of this in our teenage years, when our body starts producing more hormones, which are processed by the liver. As the liver takes on this extra job, it can become bogged down for a few years while it gets the hang of everything and our hormones find their balance. Some of these hormones are then further processed within the small intestine in small amounts. When the small intestine is overloaded with bacteria, is sans-bacteria, has lost motility or is otherwise overwhelmed, the liver can become backed up and “dump” some of this load onto the skin. My best guess is that my skin is breaking out now because my gut is remembering how to digest food, regulate digestive enzymes and process hormones all at once. I’m trying to treat my skin well by using pure, organic products, natural moisturizers like argon oil and aloe very, clay masks once a week and regular exfoliation.
I’m attributing food in my stool to my digestive fire still being low. In Ayurvedic medicine, there is thought to be a “fire” that aids in the breakdown of food. When this fire is low or variable, we can end up with several symptoms, including food in the stool. I notice that the more whole, moist, cooked foods I eat, and the more regular my meals are set on a day-to-day basis, the better these symptoms become. The more dry and cold foods I eat, and the less regular my food routine, the worse it is. So eating soups, stews and roasted meals are better than salads or low-fodmap “snack” foods like nuts and rice crackers. I try to eat each meal around the same time each day to help my body learn when it can expect food. This idea is similar to preheating an oven; you’ll cook (digest) your food more evenly.
Dry and cold foods can also lead to constipation, which tends to happen for me during periods of travel and stress and which seems to throw the whole system off. I continue to take Tri-Magnesium and 50mg erythromycin at night to help with this and to restore motility. I’ve noticed that when I skip my constructive rest pose (talked about here), especially after kickboxing, these negative symptoms can increase. I’ve seen my visceral manipulation practitioner once a month to continue to work with any adhesions causing loss of mobility and motility in the small intestine. This work has definitely been one of the cornerstones of keeping my whole system healthy and a subject that I will be writing another post about. Like, today. It’s that important.
One of the best things that happened in the last few months was that I was contacted by a friend who is also suffering from SIBO. She is in the process of creating a personal chef business for SIBO suffers or others who are suddenly put on a new, restricted diet by their doctors and don’t know how to start. She is currently in the beta- testing phase of this project, and I am lucky enough to be one of her test subjects. A couple of weeks ago, she delivered three full days of meals to my door, complete with instructions and ingredient lists. I will be sharing more details as they become available (she is AMAZING and I can’t wait to share her business with all of you), but let’s just say her meals were SO good that I snuck her single-serving, low-fodmap lasagna into a “no outside food allowed” event and didn’t even care when the condensation from the outside of the packaging leaked throughout my purse. The lasagna was that good. Trust me, if you’re in the Seattle area, you’ll want to hear about this. Here are some pics from this most awesome experience.