I am presently undertaking a bespoke and personally tailored diet designed to heal my gut. I will be doing it in four stages over the course of 3 months. I would like to invite you to join me on my journey and in doing so you will gather some useful information on gut healing, as well as meal plan ideas and recipes. My goal is to repair my gut function, so I can enjoy foods to which I am at present intolerant.
One of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine, the Greek physician Hippocrates stated over 2000 years ago “All disease begins in the gut”. I do believe it is of the utmost importance to possess a healthy gut.
Although I’ve always been a pretty healthy individual and I’ve never suffered from anything serious, I’ve always had some small ongoing symptoms I’ve never been able to fully relieve. From the age of 27-31 I had some pretty annoying skin issues that really lowered my self-esteem, and after doing some intensive research I realised it possibly had something to do with the fact that I was suffering from severe bloating after eating certain foods. I came to the conclusion that my intolerance towards these foods is caused by my gut not functioning properly.
I started to do more extensive research into nutritional therapy and tried many different ways to clear my skin and establish a better functioning digestive system. I have experimented with various detox diets to try and eliminate toxins from my body, and I have to say my symptoms have improved somewhat. However I still can’t eat certain foods without my body reacting to them. For some people it can be difficult to pinpoint the foods that are having a negative effect. Foods that instantly spring to mind are: gluten, refined wheat, milk, eggs, nuts etc, but I found that the foods I react to the most are beans, lentils, onions, garlic, peas and avocado to name a few. So this time, instead of trying to heal myself without knowing what is going wrong in my gut, I decided to get a comprehensive stool test done to find out what I am actually tackling here! If you find you are suffering from a food intolerance, keeping a food diary is a great way to figure out what foods are causing problems. I do believe if our guts are functioning well, we should not experience these intolerances.
My Test Results
I got my stool test done with BTS Ireland and I was neither surprised nor pleased with my results. As it turns out, I am suffering from everything I thought I could be suffering from.
Medium High Candida (a yeast that lives in the gut, which can be dangerous if it overgrows)
Dysbiosis (an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut)
Leaky gut (gut permeability)
What could have contributed to this?
Taking long term antibiotics for my skin (and not taking probiotics after the course)
Taking antimalarial medication for 4 months while travelling (which is pretty much exactly the same antibiotic I was prescribed for my skin)
Taking the contraceptive pill for 9 years
Eating too much sugar and refined foods in the past
What could it mean for my future if I don’t treat this?
Ongoing digestive issues
More food intolerances
More skin problems
The risk of developing an auto-immune disease
When the gut is permeable, particles of undigested foods are free to pass into the blood stream, and when this happens the immune system sees them as invaders and starts to attack. The immune system can react accordingly in many different harmful ways. Part of my protocol will be to prevent this happening.
- The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (Designed to starve pathogens. IBS patients have been using this diet since the 1950’s with success)
Paleo Diet (A diet from the Palaeolithic era which eliminates “gut irritating” foods)
GAPS (Gut and psychology syndrome. Removes toxins & fungi and repopulates the gut with good bacteria)
The Anti-Candida Diet (starving the candida of sugars)
Low FODMAPs (a low fermentable carbohydrate diet)
Fast Track Digestion (eating foods that move quickly through the digestive tract so they don’t have time to ferment)
Researching was very difficult as I kept coming across contradictory information. All of these diets have scientific backing to suggest that they could help heal my gut but many of them have conflicting foods on the list. For instance, on the anti-candida diet it suggests eating wholegrains to help brush out the fungus, while in the SCD, GAPS and Paleo, it suggests that whole grains are not helping to heal the gut as they contain anti-nutrients and can be difficult for us to digest. Also, garlic in the anti-candida diet is one of the best things you can eat but in FODMAPs it’s not allowed as it contains fructans, which are short chain carbohydrates that are easily fermented in the gut. Another contradiction is mucilaginous foods. They are known to soothe the digestive tract and help the healing process, but according to SCD they contain starch which provides food for the pathogens that SCD is designed to starve out. The anti-candida diet suggests completely starving the yeast of sugar, although newer research suggests that this can cause the yeast to move around the body in search for sugar which could cause more complications.
As I was doing more research I read that 80% of people suffering from IBS also suffer from SIBO Small intestine bacterial overgrowth. This is when the bacteria from the large intestine seeps into the small intestine which can cause more digestive problems. Although I haven’t had a test done, I am going to treat for SIBO also as the protocol is similar anyway.
Before I started my protocol I had to get myself in the right head space. I knew it was going to be a challenge so I had to be prepared mentally and I also had to choose a time which allowed me to continue for 3 months without a break. For me January 2016 was the perfect time. I am putting full concentration on myself and my health for these three months. If I am going to do this I am going to do it right!
I decided to listen to my body and select what I thought would be best for me. I’m going with the specific carbohydrate diet, along with low FODMAPs as these are the foods that make me bloated. I’ll be using a technique called the 4 Rs approach.
Remove – certain trigger foods, meanwhile using supplements to remove fungus, bacteria, yeasts and any parasites. I’m also going to remove probiotics here because if I’m suffering from SIBO I will have a better chance of eradicating the unwanted bacteria in my small intestine. 1 month
Replace – things that might be missing in the body and diet, eg stomach acid, digestive enzymes and bile.
Reinoculate – with beneficial bacteria using supplements and fermented foods.
Repair – the damage to the gut wall by replenishing the mucosal lining of the gut and the digestive tract with supplements and specific foods.
Month 1 Supplements
I have decided to use the power of doTerra essential oils to remove bacteria, yeasts, parasites and fungus from my body as follows:
Put a few drops of Lemon in my drinking water throughout the day.
On awakening - A capsule of 3 drops oregano, 3 drops on guard (wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary) and 3 dropspeppermint.
Just before breakfast - 1 tsp apple cider vinegar in water. (helps kill candida and aids digestion)
Capsule of 3 drops oregano, 3 drops on guard and 3 drops peppermint
Bedtime – a capsule of 3 drops oregano and 3 drops on guard. Wash mouth out with on guard and keep my toothbrush in a glass of water with a few drops of on guard.
I bought these acid resistence capsules on Ebay
Allowed Food List
I am going to focus on what I can eat, not what I can’t eat!
All, including lots of bone broth (Organic when possible)
All, including shellfish, (wild caught)
Cheese that has been matured for more than 1 month (in moderation)
Courgette, carrot, cucumber, pumpkin, butternut squash, spinach and other leafy greens, bell peppers, chilli pepper, celeriac, aubergine, kale, chives, scallions (green part only) beetroot (in small amounts)
Lemon, lime, orange, berries, olives, bananas (in moderation)
Herbs and Spices
Butter, lard, olive oil, coconut oil, onion and garlic infused oil
Almond, brazil, pecan, macadamia, pine, hazelnut, pistachio, walnut, water chestnut, coconut
Poppy, pumpkin, mustard
Vinegar (not balsamic), gherkins
Eating and lifestyle – preparation is key
I’m not sure how I will find the diet as a whole, but I know as long as I am prepared with great tasting fresh produce I will be fine. If I am not prepared this is where I will run into problems. I’m guessing it will be very difficult for me to eat out and I know I will be the worst customer when I do. As a chef, I will have the most difficulty in work when I have to try the food I make. I will be keeping tastings to a minimum and spitting when I have to, but I will always have my colleagues to help.
Another difficulty will be social situations and alcohol. I have chosen only to go out if there’s something on I really wish to go to. I will then have more time to work on keeping fit, meditation and my hobbies.
I used to have a flat white every day in work, but because I can’t have milk now I have swapped it for a bulletproof coffee. The Hopsack make it with Bulletproof XCT oil (from coconut), a teaspoon of cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla extract. I don’t enjoy it as much as my flat white, but it’s satisfying.
Lucky for me I never get sick of 2 boiled eggs! I might have an omelette at the weekend.