Breaking Free From SIBO: My IBS Story And “Cure”

This post is gonna be long. And personal. And TMI. And #allthethings. If you don’t like discussions of abdominal swelling and bowel movements (“BMs”), you might find this all a bit much. On the other hand, if you’re the type who is like omg #rifaximin #elemental #allicin, and/or are one of the other 12,000+ members of the SIBO Discussion/Support Group on Facebook, you just might relate! (What did people do before Facebook groups, seriously?) In any case, I know you’re all out there, especially given the overwhelming response to my last post, Is Your IBS Caused By SIBO? Get ALL The Info!

Now the time has come to tell my personal tale of the fecal matter. (Did I lose you yet?) Here’s my story about how I got SIBO, everything I’ve struggled through to fight it, and how I'm finally beating it. It’s sort of like a brief Fellowship of the Ring, a lonnnggggg Two Towers, and a hopeful Return of the King. I told myself I’d write this post after I had completely-100%-no-questions-asked “cured” myself, but as everyone who deals with this knows, maybe that shouldn’t be the goal. Maybe we’ll always be susceptible, and need to be careful. But unlike a year ago, I’m ok with that. Because I’ve learned SO much in the process, especially about gut health, and I think I can maybe say I’m actually grateful I got it... or at least not resentful. Plus, I think I truly am finally finding my "cure" (for lack of a better word), which lies in addressing the whole body and healing. (For me, it involves genetics, hormones, and a foundational shift in perspective!)

They say memories are not what happened, but the stories we tell ourselves about what happened. 

While writing my documentable narrative brings me a sense of clarity, there is the danger of bestowing meaning upon irrelevant actions, erroneously linking cause and effect (oh hey causation/correlation!), and drawing unsubstantiated conclusions. Who knows what really did what. For reals. In fact, I highly doubt any one piece “caused” my gut problem (though some things likely exacerbated the issue, or caused very definite shifts). I also doubt any one thing cured it. Though something has come pretty close!

With that said, I bring you my story, and I hope my fellow IBS and SIBO sufferers may benefit from it. I’ve learned so much through the struggle, and that, in itself, is valuable.

THE WAY THINGS WERE

Back in the day, I had pretty resilient digestion. Even growing up on the Standard American Diet {shudder} consuming a slew of gut attacking, inflammation-yielding grains and processed foods, and suffering a myriad of skin problems, headaches, and allergies due to such, I could still pretty much eat anything without immediate distress. (Emphasis on immediate.) Instead, the nastiness of whatever I ingested simply yielded the general malaise of systemic inflammation. When I did experience acute problems, they’d manifest as instant runs to the toilet (oh hey Japanese cook-in-front-of-you places!), or perhaps a gut-wrenching stomachache. I could also stuff myself to the point of nausea, caress my temporary food baby, and sleep off my transgressions without a second thought.

In 2010, adopting a low carb diet instigated a paradigm shift in my view of health. Cutting out the sugar made me realize there was actually something to the whole “food for health” thing. I also began shedding weight like my fat cat Misty sheds hair on a summer day. It was a EUREKA! moment. As such, I became obsessed with the science of diet.  I even went SUPER low carb for a year or so, eating basically just meat and coconut oil. I gotta tell you, those were the days! I simply waited till they marked down the rotisserie chicken to $3 at around 10pm after class, and then chowed down. I had the flattest stomach ever, with no bloating. I continued to lose weight, my cravings diminished, and my stomach became a God. I prided myself on my epic digestion. I honestly don’t remember how many times I had a BM per week, but I don’t think it was every day. When you eat mostly meat, your body uses most of it, with very little waste. {Insert tangent about how veggies are what ferment and rot in your intestines, not meat.} That said, I never felt “backed up.” As I often hear in very low carb and even zero carb communities (yes they exist!), “You’re only constipated if you feel you’re constipated.” How wonderful! And how I miss those days of not thinking twice about the toilet.

In 2011, I began intermittent fasting, which was a wondrous non-stop ticket to non-bloated weight loss land, epic energy, and resilience. Intermittent fasting is still the conceptual love of my life (My upcoming second book is all about it!), so I shall stop myself before I wander off on an IF tangent. {Tangents are my thing, in case you haven't noticed.}

In 2012 I adopted Paleo, forsaking processed foods and reintroducing more veggies. Going Paleo was fantastic, and cleared up some lingering health issues: the occasional headache, some pimples, my Reynaud’s syndrome, etc.

With my low carb, Paleo, intermittent faster self, I still had resilient digestion. However, on the rare occasion I did consume something inappropriate for my personal constitution, I’d now immediately suffer the consequences. This usually meant a visit to the porcelain god and instant clearing of the system. But no biggie – all would then be fine and dandy! So perhaps in a way I had “IBS,” in that certain things would “freak my system out,” but I believe this was because, in consuming only clean foods, my body more definitely reacted to the bad stuff. It’s like the difference between having an old bent car and a shiny new car. A dent added to an old car may go unnoticed, but a dent on a shiny car – bad things my friends. Bad things.

THE AB PULL

July 2014

So there I was, a Paleo, intermittent faster super in tune with health, and a bit OCD at restaurants, in a “no seasonings-sauce-on-the-side-gluten-allergy-are-you-sure-there’s-no-gluten-can-we-just-cook-our-own-food?" type way.

One lovely day in Summer 2014, I did some ab exercises to the tune of Lana Del Rey. My efforts resulted in an unpleasant bump feeling in my lower right abdomen. Initially convinced it was a hernia, I walked around the set of Jane The Virgin for hours in a luscious robe (it was a fire alarm hotel scene) massaging my lower ab and wandering if my intestines were going to fall out. I even asked the set medic about it, who assured me it was likely just a sprained muscle. Two follow-up doctors told me the same thing, though one offered to inject it with lidocaine. (No thank you?) Since this incident, I have successfully convinced myself at points the weird feeling is everything from that hernia to a malfunctioning ileocecal valve, to the resident location of my nefarious SIBO or parasite, to perhaps just a sprained muscle after all. Who knows…. While it waxes and wanes like the moon, I have felt it almost every single day since then, and it seems to “flare” when my SIBO acts up. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

KOREAN BBQ WOES

August 2014

One fine summer evening a month or so later, I ventured on a Korean BBQ adventure with a dear friend in downtown Los Angeles. I remember contemplating all day if I should go, as I was massively tired from working. Such irony.

I ate the good ol’ Korean BBQ, attempting to maintain my own sauce-free, non-gluten area on the grill, (yeah right!) and was seemingly fine. We walked around Little Tokyo afterwards and I bought a Spock necklace, and all was grand! Until it wasn’t.

I don’t know if I got some bad bacteria, or a parasite, or gluten, or too much sesame for my senses, or what, but that night I basically died. Just died. It was one of those let me lie on the cold hard floor and actually moan in a melodramatic way type things. The next day as a bartender on the set of Parenthood proved to be one of the most miserable days of my life. (Funny how entertainment industry background “acting” so often yields misery. For that, I refer you to Confessions of A Hollywood Extra: Yes You CAN Cry From Misery.) I was so miserable, I willingly wore my hair in a ponytail – the ultimate sign of I don’t even care if I’m on TV with a ponytail. (I admit - my hair is my safety net.)

For the next 5 days or so, everything I ate yielded instant nausea and went straight through me. Vitality drained from. Things got so bad, I willingly took Imodium to stop it all up. (You’d probably have to tranquilize me now to get Imodium in me.) When a week had passed with no improvement, I decided a visit to the doc was in store.

THE COLONOSCOPY

Fall 2014

I somehow crawled my way to a fancy GI doctor in Beverly Hills. Upon stating I hadn’t had a solid BM in days, he immediately proclaimed the need for a colonoscopy and endoscopy – pronto. More trusting of the medical establishment than I am now, I simply nodded my head in agreement, wondering if everyone who had 5 days of diarrhea went to such extreme measures. The next day, I nervously began the MoviPrep laxative protocol, internet horror stories of the gag-inducing yellow drink filling my head. However, since I hadn’t had sugar in eons, the drink tasted likely a liquefied version of Pez candy from youth. How lovely! It also effectively cleared whatever was possibly ever inside of me, right out.

The next morning, the doctor performed the colonoscopy and endoscopy, which you can hear more about in my post, Once Upon A Colonoscopy.

For all the commitment of having cameras mercilessly shoved up and down me, with some insurance fraud to boot and a panicky moment when I thought I owed $10,000, I walked away with a simple diagnosis of “everything’s normal!” Having performed his duty of scoping my insides, the GI doctor nonchalantly looked at me and said, “It looks like you probably just have SIBO – try following this low Fodmap diet,” and essentially walked out the door. Thanks doc.

My research indicated SIBO was an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, which should be relatively sterile in comparison to the large intestine (colon). In any case, the intense laxative effect of the colon prep seemed to have done the job, as my digestion returned, temporarily, to normal.

THE WORSENING (featuring: MOLD)

Fall 2014

And yet, things didn’t get quite better, but started growing a bit worse. While I didn’t really have much constipation or diarrhea, I was growing increasingly fatigued, with bloating and inflammation. Something was wonky in the digestive tract. I still felt the constant weird feeling in my lower right ab. It was at this point that I began researching SIBO more, and became more and more convinced I was plagued by intestinal dysbiosis. Two doctors now had nonchalantly flipped the word SIBO at me, coupled with dismissive paper handouts about FODMAP foods to avoid: foods high in easily fermentable carbohydrates which encouraged bacterial overgrowth. Oddly enough, I was basically already on a low FODMAP diet, so that didn’t seem much help. (I now LOVE the low FODMAP diet by the way, and refer you to my SIBO FOOD CHART above!)

I now have no doubt a silent phantom was hindering my ability to heal, catalyzing my demise: I was living in a mold-infested apartment, with a carbon monoxide leak to boot. On the one hand - I adored my 1950s pink-trimmed abode - the kitchen of which serves as the backdrop for my first book, The What When Wine Diet.  On the other hand… it sorely needed updates. I knew mold was a problem, but I didn’t realize the extent of which until I moved out the following year. I found black mold EVERYwhere: infiltrating cracks and crevices, and underneath my bed. I was literally living in a toxic environment. And that adorable oven on my book cover? Yep - it was releasing carbon monoxide every time I used the oven. Looking back, it’s almost a wonder I didn’t get even sicker.

Mold can truly wreak havoc on our health and immune system, draining vitality from one’s life. So many people move into new homes, only to find their health “mysteriously" worsens. This is often due to mold, the spores of which serve as mycotoxins, raping our immune systems and even affecting our DNA. Easily absorbed by the body, mold toxins can be carcinogenic, and affect every aspect of our constitution. I truly believe living in a moldy apartment was pivotal in my inability to heal. When I finally moved out, an exhausted shell of myself, I remember thinking that even if the complex burned to the ground, the evil of the mold would some how live on - horror movie style. (Too dramatic?) In any case, I encourage everyone to check their environments for mold, and clean it up or get out if necessary.

While living in my toxic environment, I continued to investigate other root causes for my worsening condition. My research indicated the go-to diagnosis for SIBO was a breath test, and the go-to treatment was the antibiotic Rifaximin. Yes, antibiotic. A word which made me want to run and cower in fear. Yet Rifaximin supposedly targeted the small intestine and was not absorbed systemically, thus reducing potential harm. Even many of my respected Paleo idols seemed to endorse the drug. And so I began to want a very thing I feared.

As it turned out, the go-to celebrity doctor for SIBO was Dr. Mark Pimentel, who was on my insurance and just around the corner at Cedars Sinai. On the other hand, he wasn’t accepting new patients. While I contemplated barraging him with twitter messages of Take Me Now!, I instead made an appointment with another doc at Cedars, who I saw had worked on some of Pimentel’s studies. Close enough!

THE BREATH TEST

Summer 2015
ibs sibo gut cure fix heal

The new GI I saw agreed my symptoms seemed Sibo-y, and ordered a lactulose breath test. This consisted of a lovely activity where half a dozen strangers ingest an obnoxiously sweet lactulose drink, then sit in a room for 2 hours breathing into a bag every 15 minutes, to measure the amounts of hydrogen and/or methane released by the bacteria. Hours of fun. While in the waiting room, I heard a nurse receptionist next door answer the phone with, "Dr. Pimentel's Office," and I about died. So close! I contemplated running into Dr. Pimentel's office, again with a Take Me Now! plea, but restrained myself. 

My results from the breath test “indicated” I had methane-dominant SIBO. (Hydrogen-dominant SIBO indicates an overgrowth of hydrogen producing bacteria, and tends to encourage loose stools. Methane-dominant SIBO indicates an overgrowth of the Archaea type: non-bacterial organisms, which tend to encourage constipation. Fun times.)

I was sort of excited about my positive SIBO results. Yey! Vindication! I did have an intestinal issue! But now looking back, I had VERY low levels. Like NO hydrogen, and only a little methane. I sort of wish I had stopped to think about that before obliterating the potential entirety of the gut microbiome in my small intestine. Which brings us to….

RIFAXIMIN

June 2015

Oh Rifaximin! Ye SIBO Drug Golden Idol! Like a coveted celebrity, Rxfaximin (brand name Xifaxan®) is typically insanely expensive, (we’re talking $1,000- $2,000) unless your insurance is #down, in which case you can get it for cheap. As in, I got it for like $8.

Assuring myself with Paleo blog posts about the necessity of killing the bad bacteria in the small intestine, I began the Rifaximin regimen, coupled with Neomycin, an antibiotic which was supposed to make the protocol more effective for the more resilient methane-dominant overgrowth. I told myself I would take plenty of probiotics and fermented food afterwards, to repopulate my gut flora. All would be ok!

The next few days were no party.

I began experiencing intense gas and bloating. My face swelled up. Food became difficult to digest. I was NOT a happy camper.

But surely it was a sign of die-off, right? In other words: the gas and toxins released by the dying SIBO.

I penned this email to my doc:

” I got both the prescriptions (couldn’t believe the amazing prices!), and decided to take both like you recommended, despite my nerves about wiping out the good gut flora. I guess there’s no going back now, and I’ll just be running to VSL3 and fermented foods when it’s over! I am a little worried because now my stomach seems to be constantly bloated/full of gas, even when I haven’t eaten (which wasn’t a problem before), but hopefully it’s just a part of the die off.”

Such foreshadowing.

Despite the Rifaximin-induced bloating (I clearly was not one of those people who faced EPIC digestion while on the drug), I told myself I’d eventually recover, and come out on the flipside, post-Rifaximin, all the merrier.

Which didn’t really happen.

Instead, things got worse. Much worse.

While my fatigue seemed somewhat lifted (maybe?), I now had difficulty eating. Which was NEVER a thing before. Food seemed to just sit in my stomach and small intestine. And sit. And sit. I began to grow super anxious about my bowel movements. Like really. Every time I put food in my mouth, I wondered how long it would take till what was left of it came out again. I began going days without BMs, and panicking. Everything seemed to sit in me like a rock. A ROCK I tell you.

THE PROKINETIC

September 2015
ibs sibo gut cure fix heal

I began searching feverishly for answers. Mediation. Acupuncture. Weird food combinations. Nothing worked. I kept reading about the necessity of getting a prokinetic after Rifaximin, to keep things moving. Hmm…. that had somehow fallen through the cracks. A crowd favorite was Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN): a pharmaceutical agent which actually seemed pretty awesome in how it worked, for once. Unlike a drug addressing symptoms, LDN works on a “holistic” foundational level. It temporarily blocks opiate receptors in the body, casing the body to rebound and churn out healing endorphins. It also works as a prokinetic, stimulating peristalsis in the small intestines. Double win.

I went back to my GI and asked for a prescription. He wasn’t so down with the idea, as he was unfamiliar with LDN. Determined, I went home and shot all the studies on LDN I could find at him. Finally, he agreed.

I picked up my specially compounded, non-insurance-covered LDN. The first few days were miraculous. My bloating disappeared. BMs returned. My inflammation vanished. I felt SO happy. Life was grand.

Until it wasn’t. (Sensing a trend here?)

ANTIMICROBIAL WANDERINGS

Fall 2015- Spring 2016

On the one hand, LDN was doing a killer job of eradicating inflammation, and encouraging me to expand my eating palate. I was eating fun stuff like fruit now (Frozen fruit = heaven.) On the other hand, perhaps I was eating too many carbs for my little gut buggers, and encouraging fermentation, because things began to grow worse. The IBS-C returned.

Obsession took over.

I began a detailed journal tracking EVERYTHING. Just EVERYTHING. What I ate. How much I ate. What I almost ate. What I was thinking about when I ate. What I was thinking about thinking about when I ate. When I went to another GI, he asked about my bowel habits, to which I responded, “I oscillate between a 2 and 4 on the Bristol Chart.” (Blank stare.)

Looking back, it was sort of silly all the conclusions I was drawing, since I was initially shifting my food intake so much – who knows what was doing what. Plus, I was automatically associating how I felt on any given day, with what I had eaten immediately prior. In reality, the immediate effects of food can linger for days. Again, who knows what was doing what.

It was at this time that I fell down the natural antimicrobial rabbit hole. I began slamming my system with every “natural” anti-bacteria thing I could find. Grapefruit seed extract and garlic and allicin from garlic and oregano and peppermint and cats claw and ginger. SIBO-Specific Atrantil. Toxin binders like activated charcoal and diatomaceous earth and bentonite clay. Natural digestive tract toners like triphala and cascara. Biofilm chelators like Interphase plus. You name it, I ingested it. Whenever I'd happen upon a new supplement I hadn't tried, I'd read all the glowing reviews and convince myself clearly this newfound treasure would be my cure. And all those 2am Amazon Prime clicks quickly added up to hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

True, some things would work almost miraculously for a bit, filling me with brief moments of glistening hope... before quickly evanescing into darkness. Many of the supplements also made me immediately feel moody and miserable, but I attributed such feelings as signs of bacteria dying (which, granted, they likely were.)

While I think these supplements are all GREAT for attacking an actual overgrowth, I’m beginning to wonder, at this point, what the actual status of my overgrowth was/is. I never retested with the breath test. A comprehensive stool test came up completely negative for pathogens (though I'm still suspicious of that one.) Maybe my problem wasn’t so much a single overgrowth, as it was the fact that I had obliterated some of my good bacteria with the bad, putting me a state of progressingly worse small intestinal dysbiosis. I fought war with no end in sight. 

I remember even thinking at one point, What if it all just went away? Then what would I do? as though attacking SIBO had become part of my identity.

THE UPHILL WANDERINGS

Spring 2016

Growing increasingly convinced I was living in a toxic, moldy environment, I resolved to get out for good. My anxiety re: my living situation grew so intense, that I'd immediately experience heart palpitations upon entering my once treasured apartment. I finally packed up my stuff, and hit the proverbial (and literal) road, fueled by hopes of one day breathing again. 

I moved to a new apartment, and consequently new world. I focused evermore on #healing, finding a few practices which helped. Acupuncture was nice. Visits to the chiropractor were lovely (I was still struggling with that weird feeling in my ab). Massages. And perhaps most significantly, I became BFFs with colonics. Nothing like some colon hydrotherapy to make you feel all shiny and clean!

What kept me going most through all the madness, was my daily intermittent fasting. Because regardless of how I felt waking up, if I could just make it a few hours, I’d inevitable be completely glorious. Yes, glorious. In the fasted, ketogenic state, things are always dandy for me. Always. I do believe this further inspired my obsessive madness - since I experienced daily how great I could feel all the time... if I could just figure it out. I'd look at a plant with envious eyes and sigh. Why couldn't I just eat sunlight? 

But through it all, I was making progress.

I finally became fed up with all the supplements, and decided to take a chill pill. I cut out most of them, and started feeling a bit better. I even went on a tangent of trying to eat meat only, like in the days of old. While it made my bloating go away COMPLETELY, I now simply freaked out about the lack of BMs (unlike the old days), picturing waste just sitting in me, toxins reabsorbing into my system. The mind is a dangerous things, my friends! I also still felt like something was just… off. Plus I was missing my veggies and fruits. Mostly fruit. Curse you frozen blueberries. 

I also tried, and failed, many times to try the elemental diet. This is where you ingest only a liquid concoction which provides all the necessary amino acids and glucose/fats needed, in forms easily assimilated by the body. I ordered all the ingredients to make my own formula re: this recipe by SIBO-expert Dr. Allison Siebecker. Despite the motivation of having shelled out $200 on amino acids, I failed miserably. Even though I’ve been intermittent fasting for years, the idea of just not eating tangible food entirely for more than a day is a smidge unbearable for me. I need my physical sustenance.

MTHFR AND THYROID EPIPHANIES

Summer 2016
thyroid t3 and t4 levels

In the end, it wasn’t a GI doc who provided the most clarity, but rather a wonderful Nurse Practioner with a focus on women’s health and hormones (referred to me by my acupuncturist, in fact.) She ordered a blood panel far more comprehensive than anything I had experienced to date, which revealed a myriad of goodies. While my health and nutrition biomarkers were pretty stellar across the board, (oh hey Paleo!), the genes and hormones were another matter. I tested positive for the MTHFR mutation, which affects the body’s ability to properly methylate B vitamins. This was huge. A number of people have MTHFR mutations, which affects the body’s ability to deal with toxins, generate energy, and do a ton of other important stuff.

You can read my post on MTHFR (MTHFR MUTATIONS: Do You Have This Hidden Kryptonite), but some key takeaways are the importance of taking methylated B vitamins to support methylation, while avoiding non-methylated B vitamins and folate at all costs.

For the subject matter at hand, an MTHFR mutation made me not so awesome at detoxing, which was not so awesome when I was in a constant state of attacking the toxins and, consequently, doing a lot of detoxing. (Plus I had lived in that toxic mold environment for 3 years!) I begin supplementing with low doses of methylated B12 (I like the Live Wise Naturals sublingual version) and methylated folate (I love Thorne’s 1 mg capsules.) Supplementing with these Bs seemed to really help my body detox and get its act together, so I could effectively wave goodbye to fatigue.

Perhaps more importantly, my comprehensive blood panel also indicated I was hypothyroid. In conventional medical testing, TSH and T3/T4 levels determine the thyroid’s status. I’m going to save my thyroid discussion and analysis for a future post, as I have many thoughts on the matter and am just beginning to realize how important thyroid function is, but basically, the T3 and T4 levels indicate the actual thyroid hormone, while the TSH is the thyroid stimulating hormone, akin to the body’s thermostat. When the body perceives low thyroid, it jerks up the TSH (thermostat), while if it perceives higher or adequate thyroid, it lowers the TSH (lowers the thermostat). So High TSH typically indicates low thyroid (hypo), while low TSH can indicate high thyroid (hyper). Confusing, I know. (Thus my upcoming post!)

As for me, my TSH was actually normal, insinuating my body didn’t quite “get” that I was hypothyroid, and wasn’t actively trying to make more thyroid hormones. But boy were those free T3s and T4s (the actual thyroid hormones in the blood) low!

Since the thyroid is highly influential in the body’s metabolism and energy generation, a sluggish thyroid equates a sluggish life. And sluggish digestion. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, feeling cold, and – appropriately enough – constipation. I decided to try taking Nature-throid, natural thyroid hormone from desiccated pig hormones. I justified this to myself somewhat, in reading that Paleolithic man likely ingested more natural thyroid hormone from animals, but in any case, I shall also save all of that for a future post.

I began supplementing for my thyroid…

And something clicked.

Really clicked.

It was as though my body remembered how to digest things again. Things just began moving like they were supposed to, rather than sitting in my intestines like it was #theplacetobe. With the system churning and my immune system likely ramped up as well, my bloating subsided. Potential returned.

TODAY

ibs sibo gut cure fix heal

So here we are today. Addressing my MTHFR and Thyroid has been wondrous. I feel as though I’m progressing more and more every day – almost back to “normal,” if there were such a thing. I’ve also been focusing much less on “attacking” and much more on healing – eating a plethora of gut supporting meats (like collagen filled shanks and nutritious bone marrow -yum!) as well as a soil based probiotics (Prescript assist) and small amounts of fermented foods. I’m trying to become as aware and in tune with my eating as I can – forgoing fear and focusing on the wholesome, present moment. It’s still hard, and I still get worried about eating something problematic, but I feel wonderfully confident about the direction I’m headed. Oh, and my stomach is pretty much always flat now, with SIBO babies a mere memory. So. Exciting. 

THE TAKEAWAY

My point in all of this, is not to come off as a crazy gastrointestinally-obsessed girl who has lost all sense of reality. (Though it may be too late for that.) Rather, it’s to encourage those who suffer from gut dysbiosis and/or GI distress, to try and see beyond any miserable moments, and ultimately to not fight an uphill battle. As I’ve known for a while, but am increasingly beginning to truly understand, the foundation of our health is just that: foundational. A single supplement is unlikely to eradicate SIBO. A bigger picture is necessary.

It’s like a messy room. You can spray it with air freshener, or turn off the lights, or push things under your bed, but it won’t be clean again until you get in there and really throw things away and straighten it all up. And figure out why it got messy in the first place. It will just get messy again if you don’t actively work to keep it clean.

With my hypothyroidism and MTHFR methylation problems, my metabolism, digestive system, and detox pathways were struggling. Slamming my system with all of my attack methods, while likely doing a fine job of killing millions of things in my intestines, was leaving me weak, fatigued, and unable to recuperate. We cannot always attack. We must heal.

I was also living in fear. Though my low-FODMAP, Paleo meal choices were delicious, healthy, and satiating, food nevertheless became wrought with worry. Mindset is so very important for health. Stress encourages damage and hinders healing. Peace, calm, and awareness encourage growth and renewal. After all, if “normal” people can get upset stomachs from nerves, think about what can happen in those of us already struggling in that area. As Elsa says, just let it go. In fact, I’d go so far as to say your mindset about eating, may in fact be just as important as the constitution of what you’re eating.

And so I encourage you to find peace with yourself. Look for clues for the foundational problems in your gut health, and strive to heal yourself in body, mind, and spirit. Focus on the good, and don’t live in fear. Change and progress can come. Remove any self-shackeled chains of misery and regret.

Maybe someday I’ll even look back at SIBO and smile, because of all the knowledge and appreciation for health it provided. Maybe you will too.

 

 

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