HEALING MY GUT ... YEARS OF SUFFERING

Updated: May 29

Extreme bloating that you think you're pregnant? Tired at the wrong time of day? Foggy Brain? Diarrhea for months on end or constipated, or both? Cramping. Skin Dry? Brittle hair? Bladder infections? Lost your mojo?


This was me about 5, nearly 6 years ago. I've told this story to people who want to know or who are in the same predicament. I was dubious about sharing this with you. Well, it's personal you know, really personal. However, the more people I meet, the more I realise how widespread this gut issue is. Perhaps my story will be helpful to you or at least give you some practicals on where or how to get yourself on track.


WHAT I'M NOT.

So, to get the biggies out of the way, remember that I am not a doctor, naturopath or homeopath. I am not en employee of any of the companies mentioned and do not sell any of the products listed in this blog. This is just my story and based on my findings as I've walked this journey.


MY PROBLEMS.

I was suffering when I was living in Cape Town about 5 or 6 years ago. As you have already read, I was bloated. Every time I ate, I would have to run to the bathroom with diarrhea. My food was passing through my gut without being absorbed and whatever was expelled came out almost in whole form. I was so tired that I battled to keep my eyes open behind the wheel. I was always hungry (because of malabsorption) and had major cravings for sugar. I remember waking up on holiday, in Mauritius, and some of the joints in my hands were aching. I would have trouble sleeping after drinking a single glass of red wine. My heart would race and I would overheat in bed, so much so that I battled to sleep with blankets. I would find myself struggling to find the right words in conversation or as they call it "foggy brain". This continued for some time. I would feel fine for about 6-8 days and then by day 9 or 10, I would be so bloated and my stomach so distended, you could not squash a finger under my rib cage (which you should be able to do). Kev had to come get me, I was lying on the bathroom floor, wanting to pass out and sweating terribly. That was the turning point. I needed help.


THE START: MY FAMILY DOCTOR


My wonderful house doctor, Dr Louise Serfontein, helped me by process of elimination. Dr Serfontein discussed with me that treating the candida and other symptoms I had was not fixing the source of the problem, and requested a gastroscopy and colonoscopy. It is via this process that we could pick up any abnormalities that were contributing to my issues. Turns out, I had a very small hernia about 2cm and the surgeon/presiding doc in hospital said it was nothing to worry about. He did ask me whether I suffered from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and if I was a "worrier" or if there were issues that were bothering me to cause the IBS. I denied it completely and went back to my GP! I was in total denial and oblivious to my shadows.

Dr Serfontein said that since the report came back pretty clean, the next step would be to see Professor Patrick Bouic whom she had met at a conference and he was doing enhanced testing for people who had issues like mine.


SYNEXA LABS CAPE TOWN


It was April 2016 that I got to meet Prof Patrick Bouic, the Chief Scientific Officer at Synexa Labs in Montague Gardens, Cape Town. After meeting with him and discussing my symptoms, I was optimistic that things were going to improve. The requirement from the labs was a stool sample. Yes, you heard, a stool sample! Sigh. I know....! I managed to deliver the goods within a few days (there is a process: for a couple of days I had to drink Apple Cider vinegar each day before sending in the stool sample. I have no idea why.). I was pleasantly surprised by how easy and efficient the whole thing was: they have instruction leaflets, containers and everything you need, so you don't have to worry about this. Professional and organised. By the way, these labs are pretty cool inside, it's like you are in some kind of sci-fi movie, in a large, clinical, sterile, white, warehouse. Lab coats bustling about everywhere, test tubes and glass doors - it's quite something!


I got a call from Prof Bouic around 7:30pm, 10 days after the sample had cultured. I was worried, why did he call me so late? He said he wanted to see me the next day. He had never seen a patient who had a zero count of Lactobacillus and very low levels of physiological E.Coli (the good one). My calprotectin count was high (basically my gut was very inflamed) and I have leaky gut. The good news was, I did not have a parasite! Oh lovely, that's a relief...!


My consultation with the Prof the following day was to start the process in healing my gut and restore the imbalance of natural flora . He did suggest a keto diet or Banting (referred to as Banting in South Africa. Interesting: the word "Banting" got its name from William Banting, who went on a low carb diet in late 1800's as per his doctor orders to assist with his obesity). My immediate detox was as follows and for at least 6 months:

No dairy products, no refined carbohydrates, no sugar, no fruit except for berries or those on the keto plan. Specifically not pineapple, mangos and grapes - each of these if they stay in your gut long enough, can begin to ferment, causing the worst effects! So for those of you who suffer from constipation, it means that at any time, you could have between 5 and 8 meals in the stomach/colon. The toxins and gases that can form from that are not great.


SYNEXA LABS TREATMENT:

  • 5 minutes before breakfast - I ingested 5ml cultured physiological E.Coli (cultured at Synexa Labs)

  • I drank a tall glass daily of Metagenics UltraInflamX Plus 360 (it is yellow/orange from the turmeric (anti-inflammatory) after dinner or with my food.

  • Before bed: Metagenics Ultraflora probiotic capsules (the one that is stored in the fridge)

  • Oregano oil tablets (purest and highest quality)

  • Eating plan with no sugar, no dairy and no refined carbohydrates.


MASSIVE IMPROVEMENT

Within 3-4 days I was already feeling like a different person. My energy levels had increased and things were beginning to change. I continued for 6 months like this and there was a drastic improvement. All the symptoms were gone, even the joint pain.


About that joint pain - let me share some very interesting information. The toxin levels were so high in my body from a leaky gut that it can trigger a whole lot of things for people, mine was joint pain. Some people have the "auto-brewery effect" where the patient feels almost drunk because of the toxins in their body. Yeast overgrowth or for me, specifically Candida Albicans, thrives in an environment that has sugar fed to it and the more I would feed the bacteria with sugars, carbs (which convert to sugars) the more the bacteria would grow. Overgrowth of one bacteria over another, causes an imbalance known as dysbiosis in the gut. When there is no balance in the gut, the body cannot function optimally. Note: this 'opportunistic" little pathogenic yeast (Candida Albicans) is a happy member of our gut flora, and functions beautifully when this ecosystem works together and is in balance.


ONE YEAR AFTER TREATMENT

A year went by with no bladder infections, and no sign of vaginal yeast infections, leaky gut was a thing of the past. I continued religiously with the keto diet as a way of eating and continued to take oregano oil and probiotics. I found that I could start introducing pizza every now and then or a glass of wine and had no ill effect.


THREE YEARS AFTER TREATMENT: RELAPSE. IT'S BACK.

After moving to Canada, a year or so later, I started to have symptoms again, all of them. Not as bad, but they were there. The warning signs. Was it because I had started introducing sugar into my diet again and bread? I was still popping Oregano and downing Metagenics Ultraflora probiotics... It had been over 2 years of taking these things.


THE ROAD THAT LED TO MY NATUROPATH

I was listening to a Podcast hosted by Dr Evan Brand. It was called the Candida Summit 2018. This platform was held over a few days where specialists in their field spoke about gut health, functional medicine and their different approaches to it (example here of one doctors podcast at the Summit). They're solving the patient's challenges through a proven lab based approach and they spoke about diets/eating plans and approaches, parasites, mould, hormones, types of testing, biofilm etc.


A doctor who had done studies in outlying countries asked why is it that in these remote areas, people have never heard of gut issues or intolerances to foods (big wow here). Search the Podcast and go see for yourself. Get information and learn. As I listened and formulated some sort of opinion for myself, things started to make sense that I needed to find someone like Dr Evan Brand or one of these doctors who could help me in Canada. I immediately made contact with the forum on Facebook. I needed answers and someone who could help me. I was told that to find a good naturopathic doctor, I needed to find someone who was up to date with the latest information and was constantly researching and learning. Basically someone who kept up with the rest of the world of medicine and someone I could relate to. I started my search in Ontario (I was willing to drive miles to find the right person).


Dr Molly Scotchmer stood out for me, and she was in Oakville where I live. I was hopeful. I was looking for someone that would do the "lab approach" and give me scientific proof of where I was at. I did not want iridology, crystals or chlorophyll water (don't get me wrong, these practices and remedies certainly have their place). For me, I wanted tangible evidence. A lab report I could look at. I was at the end of this road and going to get to the bottom of it. I met with Dr Molly and knew it was going to be a great relationship.


"I am a board-certified naturopathic doctor with a focus on digestive issues, autoimmune disease, thyroid & hormone balancing, and stress, anxiety & fatigue.  I focus on these areas because they have the biggest impact on your overall health, and are the most under-served by the existing medical system. " - Dr Molly Scotchmer



NATUROPATHIC & FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE - DR MOLLY SCOTCHMER

Yes, I cried at my first 90 minute consultation. I'm such a blabber. Gosh, that woman's sincere, caring and concerned smile just made me want to cry a river. I'm not surprised... it was time to let go and be vulnerable and sort my stuff out, once and for all.


Before seeing Dr Molly, I had completed a questionnaire of my whole life basically. I understood she needed this thesis from me to make sound assessments of where I was and where I was at then, September 2018.


TRAUMA THAT BROUGHT ME HERE


My ex-husband and I were held up at gunpoint in my home in Craighall Park, Johannesburg. Eight men jumped over the security gate that sealed off the driveway, off a long panhandle. They entered the house (the sliding doors were open since we ate dinner on the patio outside). I was 8 months pregnant with my first baby. When you look down the barrel of a gun, it somehow seems so surreal. The immediate response is to hold your hands up in surrender. I screamed. I had never heard that sound before. Is this really happening to me? Flight or fright? I became completely calm and everything seemed to slow down around me. I felt comfort as if there were angels around me. My husband was shoved around by a few of the men from room to room at gunpoint while I was told to lie face down on the couch in the lounge with two of the men. Eventually, after what felt like hours and hours, we were locked up in our bedroom after much shouting and interrogation for my handbag and wallets and location of the safe. Being so heavily pregnant (I know some cultures are superstitious about pregnant woman) and that we were compliant, I somehow feel we got off lightly.


I went for a session of trauma therapy provided by my ex-husbands company at the time, but it was a complete fail. The therapist looked like my gunman. I lost it and walked out. Not his fault, just not the right therapist.


I suffered from PTS (post traumatic stress) when my first born was 6 months old. Life as a new mother began to normalise a little after several months. That is when PTS kicked in. Around 6/6:30pm each day, the same time when the gunmen entered that day, I would have heart palpitations. I would always see someone in the corner of my eye in the house. It was my mind playing tricks. I had not dealt with my trauma. I had IBS too.


A year later, we moved to Cape Town. So glad I was near my family again. I was divorced by the age of 28. My daughters were young. Georgia was two and half and Madi was 2 months old. I know. It was tough. It was hell. My husband left me for my friend that I had met in Cape Town. Our daughters were the same age and played together. I lost 2 people in my life. People rallied around me and my church was just so incredible. I had meals on wheels for 2 weeks, babysitters, love and messages and visits. I was a mess. I was so alone. I wanted to curl up and die. But, I had these two beautiful children to take care of and one that needed breastfeeding! My gynaecologist was so shocked to hear the news. He prescribed Eglonyl (drug used to increase milk supply but also used for the treatment for depression and anxiety) from his holiday home, while consoling me on the phone. Can you see my eyes rolling into the back of my head? What next?



  • Quick happy note here..... FAIRYTALE ENDING!!!! Within a year of my divorce, juggling two gorgeous children, and their management of the separation and weekly visits to their dad was tough but we got through it. We moved into a fabulous little townhouse and we loved our new space. I told the girls it was our adventure together and they loved that. I met my Kevin around this time. A love story for another day...! We were married within a year. He is my rock and my best friend. I am so grateful everyday for who he is. So much mutual respect and love - and lots and lots of laughter!


CHEMICALS: THAT HAD A HAND IN MY STATE OF BEING


I have suffered with mild acne since high school. In my teens, I went on Diane 35 to help with my skin, which it did to some extent. Later on in life, fourteen months after having my first born, I developed adult acne (back, chest and face). I was put on Roaccutane (Isoretinoin - schedule 4 drug) for 6 months, highest dosage. The side effects where terrible, however my skin improved radically. The same thing happened after Madi was born, 14 months later, my acne flared up and I was on another dose of the same drug for 4 months, a pilfered course (so every second day or so). It was crazy to take such strong medication over long periods of time that would play a huge impact on my body. The desperation of having clear skin outweighed the drugs and their side effects I suppose.


I suffered from repetitive UTIs (Urinary Tract Infection) and was put on antibiotics almost every second or third month for approximately 7 months. I shudder to think of how that was messing up my body. I eventually saw a urologist and had a cystoscopy. Clean report. Sigh. I kept thinking, why is this happening to me?


NEXT STEPS WITH MY NATUROPATH

So I've given you the rundown on my emotional wellbeing and physical well being. At this point, I am willing to eat soap for a year to feel better! Dr Molly listened patiently to my story

as you've read it. After the 90 minute consultation, the following tests would be done as per Dr Molly's instruction. Note that not all patients have the same tests. After the next few days wait for analysis and then a treatment plan would be put in place.


1. GI MAP DNA Stool Test. The stool sample is sent to Diagnostic Solutions, a lab in Georgia, Atlanta. This test can also be done by LifeLabs or your pathology unit and it is covered by OHIP (Canadian Health Care) BUT they only test for: Parasite Test (6 species vs GI MAP - 15 species), Bacteria Test (5 strains vs GI MAP 40 strains) and H.Pylori (Urease Breath Test vs 7 virulence factors). In addition the GI MAP test includes yeast, virus, digestive health and antibiotic susceptibility testing - really worth the effort to rather have the GI MAP DNA Stool test.

2. Thyroid Panel - blood work required.

3. Wellness Panel - blood work required. I did all the blood work at once at LifeLab (also cheaper). The wellness panel is a detailed report given by Dr Molly which covers many functional areas of my wellbeing, if that is how you describe it in simple non medical terms. Bear with me! Basically the report shows markers for which my blood was analysed (below optimal, above or normal): blood glucose, renal, electrolytes, metabolic, proteins, liver & gallbladder, iron markers, lipids, thyroid, inflammation, vitamins, hematology, white blood cells etc. This is what I was looking for! This made so much sense and soon I would know where I stood. I went away with a few more forms to complete - adrenal fatigue was one of them. No kidding!


THE BIG DAY: ANALYSIS OF ANDREA VAN NIEKERK

Dr Molly was so gracious with me and so kind but also professional and she had a plan. Finally. What a relief. I will give you a summary of what we chatted about and then a simple outline of what the lab tests came back with.


With chronic stress, especially in my situation, which is not 3-6 months, but several years, my body has taken massive strain. I remember her saying that my body (yours too) is amazing. It wants to heal itself, and it is determined to function, amidst all the trauma and chemicals that were thrown at it over time. Such a great way to look at it. My body was trying its level best and at this point there were warning signs, just like a motor car gives warning signs, like when the gas tank is low or if the engine is faulty. This is where I was at. The joint pain, the possible candida overgrowth (or some lurgy), bloating, foggy brain, tiredness, Athletes Foot, night sweats, diarrhea, feeling low - my warning signs.

Over and above all of this I was doing yoga sometimes three times a week and not just yoga. It was power yoga in a heated class - I could wring my clothes out afterwards, I would sweat so much. I was losing electrolytes and going home on an empty tank.


Note: not everyone that does hot, intense yoga, will have a negative effect from it. Remember my body was not coping at all, it was teetering on the edge. Because of where I was at, not only was hot, high intensity yoga a bad idea, any extreme exercise would not be beneficial at that point.


Dr Molly urged that the process and commitment would have to come from me and that I needed to start taking care of myself. I needed to hear that. I was committed. I was so darn committed let me tell you. At this point, I was so eager to get going. I could have run around that desk of hers and hugged her. It was such a game changer to have someone tell you your life story back to you in a compassionate, unbiased, validating way. I was made to understand that no matter how bad or tough life has been for others, this is still my story and it has impacted me in one way or another. My default was to look at other people and think; wow, they lost a family member or those people died in the robbery or hijacking. Then I would say to myself that since I got off lightly through my traumatic experiences and lived to tell it, that I should suck it up and be grateful and move on. There is another side to this thinking of mine. It is not easy to talk about these things when you are living in a country where it happens quite often. So you never really escape the thought of it happening again. The chances are pretty high. I did not want my kids to know about it because I did not want them to live with my fear. I also did not ever bad mouth my ex-husband to the children because I wanted them to have a relationship with their dad. With that in mind, I should have spoken to a therapist, but I never did. So this is it! This is my story and I was going to own it and reflect on the impact it had on me so I could heal.


LAB REPORTS


GI MAP DNA TEST

This test was done by Diagnostic Solutions Laboratory in Georgia, USA. It quantifies the amount that is present in the stool. They test for parasites, worms, bacteria, H. Pylori, yeasts, viruses, antibiotic susceptibility (resistance) and digestive health which includes; enzyme levels, presence of microscopic blood, amount of inflammation in GI tract, immune status of GI tract, ability to manage gluten and toxicity levels.


MY GUT

My gut flora was out of balance, known as dysbiosis. One of the strains of defensive gut bacteria (Prevotella Copri) was high and three of them were too low, which means I was susceptible to overgrowth and possible autoimmune triggering. My last test in Cape Town, all those years ago showed an overgrowth of Candida Albicans. It came as a surprise to see it was a different bacteria this time. The report I was given is very detailed, this is a summarized version in my language and borrowing some words from Dr Molly's personal typed analysis to me.


MY GUT DYSBIOSIS: MY CAUSES

High levels of stress, frequent antibiotic use, decreased gut immunity. Nice. This was all me.


MY GUT DYSBIOSIS: MY SYMPTOMS

  • Constipation & diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating. The reports (I refer to all the findings from all the tests done) show that I had low elastase levels (I did not digest food well). This means that food would be more likely to ferment in my gut. Yikes! This also leads to further bacterial overgrowth.

  • Inflammation of the GI Tract. The report showed that my tract was in fact inflamed (calprotectin). This is where it becomes interesting. This is why I was taking Metagenics InflamX 360 all those years ago, for elevated levels of inflammation in my gut! Because of this inflammation, it can lead to gut bacteria and yeast leaking from the gut! It sticks or attaches to the joints and then it's attacked by the immune system. The proof of that was in the blood work report - I had a high white blood count and low lymphocytes. This is also why I also had joint pain. BOOM! There it is.

Dr Molly gave me this link to look at. Read this article if you are interested in the correlation between the overgrowth of this specific bacteria, prevotella copri and the development of arthritis.


  • Low vitamin/mineral levels. I had very low B6 and B12 counts, zinc and selenium. These all contributed to my anxiety and energy levels.

  • Lowered functionality of my liver. This showed up as my body having low liver enzymes.

  • Food sensitivities (some even develop allergies). There were definitely certain foods that would trigger immediate issues with my body!


THE PLAN.

I really appreciated the plan and approach to my healing process. It was discussed in depth with me (often with little drawings and notes and many laughs and/or tears) to help me understand what was happening every step of the way.


In summary (otherwise I could be here for months telling you about each meaningful conversation, each solution and the reasons why), the course of action was to first make sure that my system was supported and strong enough to handle any kind of detox that would need to happen at some point. It made complete sense. Dr Evan Brand and the numerous doctors that spoke on that podcast I had listened to months before, spoke so much about supporting the system before detox to avoid putting the body through terrible strain, so I was really happy to hear these words again. Then it was to increase my body's resilience. (My tank was empty and immune low and I needed all the help I could get). Thereafter, the focus was to support my adrenals and thyroid gland, reduce my chronic gut inflammation and then only sort out my digestion and bowels. There were a further 7 steps in the process for me. Each process took approximately one to two months with tweaks here and there, until I could move onto the next step. It depended solely on how my body reacted and where I was at. The whole process took approximately one full year. October 2018 to October 2019. As I write this blog, I still take Stress B Plus by Douglas Laboratories and Magnesium Glycinate Chelate by Designs for Health and a truly great probiotic by Xymogen, ProbioMax Daily DF, and then support for my adrenals and thyroid, which I will mostly likely stop taking if my adrenal re-test looks good.


LAST TEST

Right at the end of my treatment, I was feeling incredible. I had qualified as a Hatha Yoga teacher and things were coming together in all aspects of my life. I had lots of energy and was feeling on top of the world. Happy in my own skin and in my country. As for my symptoms, my joint pain had left me in the first month of treatment. I had no bloatedness, no night sweats, all my symptoms were gone, except for one - diarrhea. My final step was to go for a food intolerance test. This test can be done on your own (where you eliminate foods and watch your diet), but I was not up for the process, but it is totally possible and at no cost to you. The IgG Food Sensitivity test is quite expensive but well worth taking the guesswork out of what is making you sick. I was blown away by my intolerances, I would never ever have guessed them and I am so glad I took the test. I knew my body did not handle milk in any form. I would put milk in my coffee and it would have an immediate effect, but I kept drinking the stuff (no judging!). I knew that if I took a test, it would confirm it and so I could take steps to avoid it. The human is silly at times, we want proof - or at least I do!


So here are my results:


ELEVATED FOODS (absolute no's):

  • Barley, Cashew Nuts and Plums

BORDERLINE FOODS - rotate every four days and really need to be careful with:

  • Egg white, Yeast (Brewer's), Milk (sheep) Cranberry, Milk (cow), Corn, Bean (red Kidney), Casein (protein in milk) Cola Nut


Egg white? Are you kidding me? I eat eggs like it's going out of fashion. Especially when I was doing the keto diet. Imagine!!!? I could never have known this.


In my opinion, it took years and years of chemicals and trauma "ingested" by my body for me to recognise the warning signs, which by then, my body was doing it's best to cope but starting to fail. I think it takes some time to treat, replenish and heal your body within a framework that works for your body alone. Most importantly, a methodology that has been tried and tested by professionals, who are on the forefront of what is happening in the world of science, testing and information, using natural resources.


THINGS TO THINK ABOUT


KETO/BANTING

I did keto for over 2 years seriously and it worked really well for me. It was the best option for me to take on this eating plan while I was dealing with Synexa Labs and trying to fix my gut when I first started this journey. I think that having an extremely low intake of sugar kept my inflammation levels low and the bacteria overgrowth at bay. I will add that I felt even better when I removed all dairy from my diet (keto promotes dairy which is a great source of fat intake but it has been suggested that women consider reducing or eliminating dairy in cases where there is weight gain). I did not know at the time that I was completely intolerant of diary. I believe that keto is a therapeutic way of eating. It is great if you have auto-immune or cancer or gut issues to really clean the house and kickstart your body. There is a perception that keto is a way to eat lots of protein. It is not that way at all. This way of eating is LCHF (low carb high fat). Think lots of green leafy veg, good amounts of fat (bone broths, avocados, nuts, cream, cheeses, etc) and then protein of any kind. Check out my favourite Banting/Keto/LCHF book, The Real Meal Revolution, by Dr Tim Noakes, Sally Ann Creed & Jonno Proudfoot. Here is their website: Real Meal Revolution. I have tried almost all of the recipes (created by a great chef!) and love the intro - excellent read and well researched. After 2 years of eating this way I began to wonder about eating more grains and why they were put on the earth! I started introducing wheat and rice and fabulous beans of every kind. I needed to have a healthy relationship with food and variety is what I needed. I now include a variety of all kinds of fresh lovely foods (including fruit), perhaps a more "paleo way" of eating if you like. It works for me. Every now and then I feel satisfied when I eat pizza or a slice of health bread or a banana, but I don't do that every day! I can look at my plate of food with enjoyment and relish it all.


OREGANO OIL OR OTHER ANTIMICROBIALS

Antimicrobials is a broad term used for drugs, chemicals or other substances that kill or slow down the growth of microbes. Please move away from the drugs and chemicals! I was taking Oregano oil daily because my initial stool test done in Cape Town, showed that I had become resistant to other drugs I had been prescribed in the past such as: Fluconazole (also known as Diflucan) and Bactrim. I was so fearful of having overgrowth of Candida Albicans again, that I kept taking Oregano Oil. This was probably not a great idea to do this for over 2 years! This is how you become resistant to it. A month or two would have been good. After seeing Dr Molly I realised that my body could become resistant to it because of overuse. Check what you are putting into your body and re-visit with your doctor to assess what you're taking and where you are heading. In hindsight I should have followed up with Prof Bouic back then, and had re-testing done to see how I had progressed.


INTOLERANCE OR FOOD SENSITIVITY ?

After I did my IgG food sensitivity test, I received an informative guide, Patient Guidebook (you can download it) which was such a useful tool. There is so much information out there and it can be overwhelming as to what to read or what to believe. Getting a grip on exactly what your body is doing is vital and in so doing research and information are key. This booklet is great, I still refer to it and still learn something new or things become clearer for me the more I read through it. Please go through this slowly!


There is a distinct difference between food sensitivity and food intolerance (Patient Guidebook, page 2 & 3).


FOOD SENSITIVITY

In very simplistic terms, this happens when the body overreacts to foods. These are reactions that trigger an immune response. We often talk about these as "allergies". In the Patient Guidebook, they talk about 2 types of Hypersensitivities:

1. IgE - Mediated allergy/food allergy/immediate hypersensitivity - reactions of IgE antibodies when exposed to the allergen, e.g. peanuts, shellfish.

2. IgG - mediated allergy/food sensitivity/delayed hypersensitivity - reactions of IgG antibodies which lead to acute inflammation which can occur several hours or days after you have ingested the food. Symptoms may include: IBS, headaches/migraines, fatigue, high blood pressure, eczema, asthma, joint pain, runny nose, arthritis, weight problems and fibromyalgia.


FOOD INTOLERANCE

In this instance, the body does not produce an immune response to food and these are called food intolerances. The guidebook refers to food intolerances as usually caused by reactions to chemicals or additives in food, or due to enzyme deficiencies (most common cause).

The guidebook, has 2 categories for enzyme deficiency:

Lactose intolerance - Cause: a deficiency in lactase (enzyme that breaks down lactose) lactose is found in foods such as milk, cheese, yogurts, etc. Symptoms: bloating, diarrhea and flatulence (100% me.)

Histamine intolerance - Cause: raised levels of histamine. Aggravated by: food high in histamine such as red wine (yes, this is me), cheese and tuna fish. Symptoms: migraines, dizziness, bowel problems, runny nose, reddening of the skin. These are some foods that are low in histamine but can trigger the release of histamine: citrus foods, bananas, tomatoes and chocolate.


MAKING TIME FOR YOU

Part of my journey was that I had not dealt with the trauma and stuff in my life. I had not found a way to release it. I had dealt with it psychologically but it was still there, hanging around. It was so important to tackle this head on so that I was no longer "attached" to it and so that I could internalise this and my body could heal. There is so much evidence of how our emotional being is so intricately linked to our gut, and ultimately disease and illness. Please see Dr Molly's recommended viewing at the end of this article.


Moving to Canada gave me a lot of alone time to think and reflect, in a safe place. I moved through so many emotions and am I very grateful to have found yoga as a source of release. I often found myself on my mat in Savasana (final resting pose, often at the end of a yoga practice) having a good cry or sob rather, with absolutely no judgement from my fellow yogis. We call this "holding space" for someone. Allowing the person to "let go" and not run over to them and hug them, possibly halting a process that should not be interrupted. There is massive benefit to allowing yourself to let go fully. I never gave myself the time to do this ever. I am a blabber, so I cry at the drop of a hat. I even cry when I see a majestic, beautiful elephant in all its awesomeness on a game drive. I had never travelled into my "basement of stuff" to release it. I think that as children we are conditioned to "stop crying" or we get hugs and consolation to make things better. I do this with my kids! I have to consciously allow them to cry and let go and have their full moment, hold space for them, and only thereafter hugs and all that lovely bonding can happen.


You need to take care of you. It is that simple. Find ways to do this - go for a walk on your own (forests and trails give me such renewed energy), meditate (use a phone app if you like) to relax if you are highly strung. Take fabulous baths, use candles. Listen to your favourite music. Plan ahead so that if you book a massage then make sure dinner is taken care of (either you cook before or your husband cooks or the kids!) so that you come home to a relaxed vibe which extends till bedtime. Some of the great tips I got from Dr Molly for detoxing my body (but turned out to be part of my "me time" was : dry skin brushing, infra-red saunas, alternating hot and cold showers (this is not for the faint hearted, but it is so exhilarating! Love this so much.) Lastly, read books or watch videos, movies or TED talks that will help you along the way. I highly recommend Brene Brown. Her TED talks are incredible. Watch this one on Vulnerability!


Go look at Dr Molly's website for her recommended reading and viewing. One that stands out for me is the youtube video of Dr Gabor Mate: The Connection between Stress & Disease - why we get sick. Mind blowing!!


I trust my vulnerability in disclosing all my heart here has helped you in some way.

xoxo


References:

Patient Guidebook, 2015, Cambridge Nutritional Sciences, produced with permission by Rocky Mountain Analytical. RMA FST IgG Food Sensitivity Test.


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