Alright, confession time.
For almost a month now I’ve been experiencing some digestive issues. And up until about a week ago I had been ignoring those digestive issues. As some of you may know, last Winter I developed some all but lovely full-body guttate psoriasis. In order to get the psoriasis to go into remission I decided to experiment with following a more restrictive version of the paleo diet known as the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (Paleo-AIP, for short). The basis of this protocol is to remove the remaining possible gut irritants from a standard paleo-based diet in order to allow the gut, and thus the body, to heal. This experiment worked. After about one to two months of a stricter diet, consisting of mainly meat, veggies, & high quality animal/plant fats, I was able to say farewell to the greater majority of my psoriasis. (You can read more about my personal experience & success with the paleo-AIP here & here, if you’d like.) After following this type of diet for a couple months, I no longer viewed it as an experiment, but more of a lifestyle change. While I do enjoy (and did occasionally miss) some of the foods I had cut out, such as nuts & nightshades (mostly the tomatoes & peppers, I’ve never been much of a spicy pepper or eggplant fan), not including them in my daily diet & watching out for them when eating out at restaurants & such became like second nature. But as I began to feel better I slowly started to reintroduce some foods such as coffee, dark chocolate, eggs, & some nuts/seeds. Oh & I also began allowing myself slightly more flexibility with the quantity & types of alcohol I consumed. (You’re only in college once!)
And things were seemingly going great. My digestion was pretty regular, my psoriasis was almost completely gone, and none of the foods I was reintroducing seemed to be causing me any problems. Except perhaps the nuts, and of course, the alcohol. But if anyone claims that their body handles alcohol well & that they thrive after a night of drinking I call bullsh**. It just ain’t so.
Anyway, I visited home for a weekend for my little sister’s graduation (about a month ago) & when I came back the first either Monday or Tuesday back was when things took a turn for the worse. Now I’ll save the dirty details for my immediate family & roommates (pretty sure they know enough to cover the rest of you) but basically it initially started with an urgency to “eliminate” soon after eating meals so I just assumed I was eating something my body couldn’t handle. After cutting back on the FODMAPs (I’ve had some difficulty with these in the past) it seemed to help this issue a bit. But then it progressed into basically every morning having a sudden urge to go as soon as I was mentally awake & having to
run fast-walk into the bathroom. Good thing that baby is right next door. For a few weeks (during my whole ignoring what was going on phase), this usually would just happen once a day, first thing in the morning, & then I’d happily go about my day, eating whatever meat + veggies + fat, & occasionally fruit combinations I pleased. But then this past Monday things took a turn for the worse-er & when I realized that I was clearly not fully digesting all of my foods properly it hit me that it was time to put a solid plan into action to get my digestive system back on track.
One of the most frustrating parts about this situation is that I’m not exactly sure what’s going on or how my digestion has gotten so wacky. I believe my diet to be one that is very nutritious – I incorporate bone broth, high quality fats such as coconut oil & avocado, plenty of leafy greens (kale & I know each other quite well), & organ meats such as liver & heart into my weekly routine – and have been feeling great eating this way. Which is why I think I was in denial/ ignoring the whole dysfunctional digestion situation. How could I possibly be dealing with gut issues again when I’m eating such a high-quality, balanced, real-food diet?
Well, what I’ve come to realize is that sometimes these things just happen. Sometimes preventing them is under our control, and sometimes it’s not. But either way, when something like this does occur it’s best not to ignore it, even if the doctors tell you to. I went to the doctor’s office last week & got a stool sample test done & the results came in the other day which ruled out 8-10 of the most common bacterial pathogens, such as Giardia, and E.coli. The best advice they could give me was to eat a plain diet, avoid eating any dairy, & maybe take a probiotic and/or fiber supplement. And other than that just give it a little more time. A little more time, riiight. I’ve given it a month, isn’t that long enough to conclude that something is definitely wrong?!
Since this visit I’ve done my research & I know there could be a number of possibilities or explanations for what could be going on – I could have IBS, or leaky gut, I could have extracted some type of bad (or parasitic) bacteria from the airplane on my way back to Denver or from the dog I walk daily, I could be experiencing some internal inflammation caused by occasional lack of sleep, diet stressors such as poor quality/ conventional meats, alcohol, dark chocolate and/or caffeine, or I could simply be dealing with a bacterial flora imbalance.
So not quite sure how, but somehow my gut has become damaged. And no matter how much kale, liver, or coconut oil I consume, without a properly working gut I cannot be healthy. It’s physically impossible since the gut is the center of nutrient absorption. So you know what that means. It’s time to heal the gut, again.
And how do I plan on doing this? Paleo style. Duh. Because I believe (with every fiber of my being) that a paleo, REAL food – based diet along with positive lifestyle changes, such as plenty of good quality sleep & stress management, can truly heal all digestive issues. I’ve done it once. I’ve done it twice. Third time’s the charm, right?
A follow-up post detailing my exact strategies for tackling this digestive issue once & for all is in the works. So stay tuned!