Operation Heal Leaky Gut
After reading Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo and the SCD Lifestyle: Surviving to Thriving by Jordan & Steve, it became clear that my approach to healing my gut needed a little tweaking. As the kids will be back in school soon and I will have a little more time to myself, I plan to spend the next few months undergoing a very strict diet to determine exactly what I can eat to stop the chronic heartburn and inflammation. I'm calling this Operation Heal Leaky Gut. I am lucky that my husband will be joining me on this journey of discovery as I'm pretty sure I'll need some moral support.
I've been eating a mostly paleo diet since November of 2010 and am sleeping better than I ever have and have more energy. My digestion has improved and my IBS symptoms are mostly gone. But, my missing gall bladder makes it difficult to eat fatty foods. I am still dealing with symptoms of a leaky gut and candida and feel like I have a ways to go.
Starting symptoms in August 2012:
- Chronic heartburn and extreme gas pains after eating on occasion.
- Poor digestion of food and not absorbing minerals/nutrients.
- Allergies - including year-round hay fever and reaction to dust, mold, pets, and trees.
- Sugar addiction and candida overgrowth.
- Brain fog and memory problems
There are lots of pieces to this plan, but right now it involves the following:
- Sleep 8-10 hours every night. No exceptions. Sleep is really important to healing and not something I've prioritized in the past.
- Finish tapering of Prilosec. I am currently at half a pill every day of prilosec. This is a huge improvement and I decided to stop tapering this spring when I was having trouble with gas and heartburn going down to 1/4 of a pill. My plan is to take 1/2 pill on day 1 & 2 then 1/4 pill on day 3 and repeat for 2 weeks. Then take 1/2 pill on day 1 and 1/4 pill on day 2 for 2 weeks. Then 1/4 pill for 2 weeks. Then 1/4 pill on day 1 & 2 and no pill on day 3. Then 1/4 pill on day 1 and no pill on day 2 for 2 weeks. Then no pill. Ever. Again. (hopefully!) During this time I plan to avoid triggers to my heartburn, including chocolate & tea (eek!), spicy or fatty foods, and citrus. My main symptoms when I taper are intense gas pains that can last for several hours and interfere with my sleep.
- Specific Carbohydrate Diet as outlined in SCD Lifestyle. This involves an extensive elimination diet and the reintroduction of one food at a time every 4 days to evaluate my ability to tolerate. The foods are well cooked and are supposed to be easiest to digest to encourage the fastest healing. This book came with a money-back guarantee so it better work! I will be tweaking the 90 day plan in this book to avoid FODMAP foods and watching the sugar/carb intake that could feed candida or cause heart burn.
- Smart Supplements. I need to be taking HCL and a digestive enzyme (Dipan) with meals. Because I'm been on Prilosec so long I should be taking Vitamin B (though it has caused digestive upset int he past). I know I am vitamin D deficient. And I plan to take probiotics and introduce fermented foods as soon as I can on the diet. I will take DGL if I get heartburn, but I have a hard time taking this strong tasting licorice pill. Other supplements I'd like to try include magnesium.
- Stress management. I have a lot of things going on in my personal life right now that are pretty stressful (financial pressure, working and volunteering, moving and downsizing, remodeling and finding a renter, to name a few). I plan to practice meditation & prayer regularly, say no more often to reduce my responsibilities, and even find a Qi Gong class to try.
My top fears are that it will be a lot more work and I still won't get off this #&*% Prilosec! After spending almost 2 years on this project it is easy to get down or frustrated. I'm afraid the diet will be so boring and long I'll want to gouge my eyes out. I'm afraid the sugar cravings and die-off from the bad bacteria will be so intense I can't handle it. I'm afraid I won't be strong enough to see it through.
However, I am motivated my a healthy future and feel like I have absolutely nothing to lose. I can imagine a future where:
- I don't need to take medication daily. My allergies and heartburn cease to exist.
- I have 100% energy during the day and sleep great every night, waking up feeling rested and ready to go again.
- I don't have to think about my digestion. I am anxiety free and have the ability to go anywhere anytime, even if there isn't a bathroom nearby.
- I eat to live and have a healthy relationship with food. I am in control of my cravings.
- I am able to live a long life and the drop dead, as opposed to chronic illness and deterioration as I age.
- I am leaner and stronger. I feel good about myself regardless of my dress size.
Could you even imagine? I am assured that all of this is within reach and am excited to have some clarity on the next steps toward this bright future. I'll keep you posted.