Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome otherwise known baffling abdominal issues consisting of: diarrhea, constipation, abdominal cramps and bloating for no other known cause. Doctors usually run tons of tests without finding an actual cause for the issues. It can be caused by stress, anxiety, depression, diet and food allergies, etc. The solution is not clear for most individuals, it take patience and time to figure out the right diet and stress management for you. My body was reacting to foods and triggering my IBS more frequently after I had children. My IBS was severe, resulting in a swollen belly that looked 6 months pregnant (with gas), indigestion, abdominal cramps, nausea and diarrhea. My gastric issues have been ongoing my entire life with constipation and reflux. The symptoms often required rest, heating pads, prescription Bentyl, activated charcoal and sleep to recover.
As a child I often went to doctor and hospital visits with severe constipation and abdominal pain. My reflux became extremely severe in my 20’s, the acid would travel up my esophagus all day long to my sinuses. I often had sinus infections, sore throat and headaches. I spent years on Nexium and Reglan to help with acid and emptying my stomach faster. The end result was a reflux surgery called a fundoplication and hiatal hernia repair. The Gastro doctor had run tons of costly exams and realized my acid was destroying my esophagus and sinus tissue, the only way to stop the problem was to partially close the opening of my stomach. I am very thankful for this surgery because It helped me tremendously with nausea and reflux symptoms, but everything has its negative results. The surgery caused me to experience extreme bloating, the gas just had nowhere to go, instead of belching, it would accumulate in my intestines.
This is a picture (left) of me with IBS. My swelling is pretty evident but it actually used to get bigger. In this picture, I look 4 months pregnant, but that is all gas, no baby in there. Prior to all my lifestyle changes, I used to bloat up to a 9 month gas filled belly. My IBS is impacted by diet, lifestyle and stress. Throughout my journey, I have tweaked my diet to improve symptoms and reduce my flare ups. The underlying issue is leaky gut at I suffered for years before I understood the root of my problem.
Leaky gut syndrome is growing rapidly and millions of people are struggling with it. Leaky gut affects the entire body, not just the digestive system. In some cases, like myself it can lead to other health conditions. What is Leaky gut? It is a condition where the small intestines are damaged with tiny holes in the membrane. This damaged tissue allows undigested food particles, toxic waste products and bacteria to “leak” into the blood stream. In my case, these toxins would reach my joints and chronic inflammation areas rapidly, increasing my pain, migraines, joint stiffness and muscle discomfort. In additional to the physical pain throughout my body, I also experience severe digestive symptoms: bloating, nausea, diarrhea, cramping and pain. Due to my severe digestive reactions, I was able to identify trigger foods very quickly and eliminate from my diet. My leaky gut had progressed into an autoimmune disorder which was later diagnosed as EDS III by a geneticist. The toxic substances and allergens entering the blood can cause an autoimmune response in the body including inflammatory and allergic reactions such as migraines, eczema, chronic fatigue, food allergies, IBS, etc. I suffered from a multitude of symptoms as a result of my Leaky Gut.
Learn more about Leaky Gut: Dr. Axe Heal Leaky Gut
An elimination diet is a short-term eating plan that eliminates food allergens that are causing symptoms or digestive issues. These eliminated foods are slowly reintroduced (one at a time) in order to determine which foods you don’t tolerate well. The purpose of an elimination diet is to pinpoint exactly trigger foods. These trigger foods are the culprits for digestive and other health issues with ongoing symptoms. My symptoms that lead me to this diet were: severe bloating, constipation, migraines, chronic pain, eczema, psoriasis and skin blemishes (acne).
I began my diet by incorporated foods that were soothing and gentle on my stomach. I ate a simple diet and introduced new foods every 3 days. If I would experience symptoms, I would take 5 days to recover before introducing a new food. I ensured I controlled the variables even further by cooking my own foods to ensure they were free of preservatives, spices and added ingredients. It is also essential to limit the number of items per meal to 2 or 3. For example: Breakfast- Shakeology with blueberries, Lunch: Chicken, lettuce and brown rice; Dinner: Steak, rice and asparagus. Remember to foods,I included in my diet, were foods I new I tolerated well. There was no question in my mind that these foods were beneficial and bland enough for my diet. On flare up days, I would eat gluten free oatmeal with brown sugar, until my symptoms subsided. Boring I know but very soothing for the stomach upset and bloating. It also helped absorb the toxins due to its thick and clumpy consistency.
My Basic Elimination Plan:
- Jasmine Rice
- Brown Rice
- Gluten Free Oats
- Sweet Potato
- Black Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Vegan Shakeology
- Romaine Lettuce
- Green Beans
- Iceberg lettuce
- Almond milk
My Food Intolerance List
These are foods I new I had to avoid, foods that caused me problems every time, I ate them. These foods are still on my avoid list, though some I can occasionally intake without a problem. The foods in red are my extreme allergens. These foods I always avoid, in the event that even a small amount contaminates my food, I experience symptoms. These foods are always on my allergy list when I eat out.
- Black Pepper
- Fancy Lettuce
- Refined white Sugar
- Corn and corn products
- All packaged
- All processed foods
- All fast foods
The elimination diet helped me identify trigger foods that I was not aware of prior to the diet. It also provided me with a resting time for my digestive track to begin healing. Though the process of healing leaky gut is not quick or easy. I learned that I was allergic to Black Pepper on this plan. How you ask? I ate chicken two days in a row. The first day, I added black pepper and bloated instantly. I felt ill the rest of the day. The following day, I ate the same chicken without the black pepper and felt fabulous. Thus black pepper became my nemesis. I figured out my corn allergy in a similar manner many years earlier. I ate various foods and had a reaction over a period of time. I then decided to read the label for ingredients. I noticed they all had High Fructose Corn Syrup. Thus, processed foods with corn syrup were completely removed from my diet. Gluten was interesting, I had never though I was allergic to gluten until I began a very strict Gluten Free diet for 6 months. While on vacation, I decided to have some flour tortillas. Oh, what a mistake, I paid for it dearly. I instantly had stomach upset and a migraine. An intense migraine that was there for days. I also developed a rash on my abdomen. The rash was there for 2 months, It finally resolved after completely removing gluten and cleansing my digestive tract. Apples became a problem during my second pregnancy. I began getting symptoms of IBS instantly after drinking apple juice. I have never been able to eat any of these trigger foods again. The funny thing is I don’t feel deprived, sure I would love to have some cuban bread or pastelitos, but I don’t even notice it any more. I am often satisfied just by smelling the foods I can’t eat. My kids actually give me their food to smell (pizza, cake and pastries). It’s strange but satisfying. I have no desire to eat the foods that caused me so much pain and distress. After all a lifestyle journey is about finding the healthiest way to live your life.
Lear more: Dr. Axe – Elimination Diet
My Treatment Choice
I have tried many probiotic treatments over the years and natural supplements to heal my leaky gut and IBS but nothing seems to be working. In 2017 I started to research treatments specific for irritable bowel syndrome that were natural nutrient-rich and free of harmful chemicals. It was important for me to reduce the amount of prescription medications and heal my body using nutrients and healthy foods. After reviewing ingredients indifferent natural supplements I found a supplement that contains aloe and no added harmful elements or allergens that would affect my irritable bowel. The supplement I found is called digestacure and it was created by a physician in Florida. The supplement comes with specific instructions on its usage to heal the digestive tract. I began taking the supplement and increasing the dosage as described. After taking it for several months I noticed my bloating had decreased and my symptoms were less frequent. But I still felt my body needed some additional nutrition another supplement to help me heal and combat my nutritional issues. My friend had told me of a supplement that contains turmeric and she had been taking it for several years to help her with her multiple sclerosis. I decided with all my IBS issues, chronic pain and nutritional deficiencies that this was a good option for me. I started to take the supplement and was surprised after 3 months my irritable bowel symptoms continue to improve and my chronic pain had decreased. So I decided to continue taking the the supplement and was completely pleased by the benefits. After 5 months my pain was completely gone, numbness to my arm and leg had resolved and my IBS was rarely evident. The combination of digestacure and Protandim changed my energy levels, pain and IBS. Now I continue to take my Protandim twice a day and digestacure once a day. I’m very glad to see that my IBS symptoms are very mild and infrequent.
Signs of IBS Improvement
As the treatment progressed, I experienced significantly smaller abdominal distention and less bloating. My related symptoms were not as severe: cramping, migraines joint pains and muscle pain.
Before my nutrigenomics and aloe treatment my symptoms would be so severe that I was bedridden for hours sometimes the whole day. I was unable to eat food for several days you eating oatmeal only for 3 to 5. I would always develop gastritis and need to take prescription proton pump inhibitors. My reflux was so severe that I required multiple medications to control it. Eventually certain medicatios stoped working for me and I had to switch to Dexilant. I learned to combat my gastritis on my own using oatmeal (soothe my stomach), rest, heating pad, charcoal (absorb the toxins) and dexilant (heal the lining of my digestive tract). In 2017, I finally found relief from these severe symptoms and slowly the duration of illness decreased from 5 days down to a feew hours. I no longer needed to lay in bed with heating pad all day.
My secret drink is kombucha it helps relieve the gas and settle the stomach with natural probiotics. I’ve been using it for years during digestive issues to help with my irritable bowel. Now the kombucha works rapidly resolving the inflammation, bloating and pain in a few hours.
Leaky Gut Symptoms: (Symptoms prior to 2018)
- Abdominal distension and bloating to 9 month pregnancy abdomen
- Bloatinging for 24 to 48 hours
- Gastritis for 5 to 7 days
- Migraines for 24 to 48 hours
- Body aches
- joint and muscle pains unrelievable
- Severe cramping
- Inability to participate in activities
- Bed rest with Heating blanket required 4 resolution
- Prescription Dexilant for 2 weeks
- Charcoal for several days 3 times a day
- Oatmeal for several days
- GT Kombucha for several days
- Bentyl required for several days
- Increase doses of Digestacure Autoimmune-X to 12 a day
Current symptoms: (2018)
- Bloating to 3-month pregnancy abdomen
- Resolved bloating within 2 hours
- No need for heating pad
- No need for bed rest
- Charcoal for one or two meals
- Oatmeal for one or two to meals
- One kombucha
- Minimal cramping
- Bentyl as needed
- Digestacure Autoimmune-X maintenance six a day