Part of my story has been about having tummy troubles for the last eight years. It started when I started eating “healthy”, ironically enough. I was using a ton of Splenda, whole grains and bars (Fiber One bars, Kind Bars, Odwalla Bars, Cliff Bars). I think it more had to do with my rising sense of body awareness, but that’s when it began. I would eat and immediately feel bloated, tired and gassy which in turn made me no fun to live with. I struggled tremendously with constipation, loose stools, fatigue, muscle soreness, joint pain, acne, smelly gas, irregular cycles and mood swings. It was a rough period in my life and I cannot tell you how thankful I was to find Paleo back in 2011.
Going Paleo was amazing!! It started with a 30 challenge at my CrossFit box and it was so natural and so easy that I simply kept going. My symptoms all but died away. I lost body fat, developed more muscle, had less joint pain, my skin cleared up and I felt invincible! I was so excited to find the cure to my ailments. Until about ten months ago. It started with days of unending bloating and digestive struggle. Then the constipation set in and my hair started thinning. My stomach hurt and I battled depression as my body slowly lost muscle tone and started packing on pounds. 15 pounds later, I ended up working a naturopath to treat what he suspected was Leaky Gut Syndrome. We did a hefty, hefty course of supplements and I felt a little bit better. But everything felt mostly the same.
Again, I sat in front of my naturopath describing my headaches, tummy aches, thinning hair and facial breakouts. He suspected that SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) was the culprit behind my sudden hormonal crash (thus the hair, nails and skin) and had me tested for SIBO. Sure enough, the test came back positive. I have a massive amount of little critters in my stomach that give off a ton of gas whenever I eat starch. Finally, a definitive answer for my symptoms!!
He put me on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and added a FODMAPS diet to it.
I can only eat from the left column….
This combination has severely limited my food choices which has not been fun at all. I have to be on this diet for another three months (yup, straight through the holidays)- yikes!! But, so far it has been working. I have lost inches in my waist and my stomach is not as bloated or puffy as it has been. My skin looks a little better (still not where I want it) and my nails are stronger.
Then there are the supplements. I take 17 pills a day like oil of oregano, extract of garlic (allicin), neem, berberine and magnesium. These are a natural form of antibiotics designed to kill off a big chunk of the extra bacteria that I have. It’s a pain, but I know it will be worth it. Once the SIBO is treated, the idea is that there will be less inflammation, thus promoting hormonal regulation in my adrenals, thyroid and ovaries and hopefully fixing all of the underlying symptoms. That is the hope anyways.
So, I just thought I would share this journey because there is not a lot of information out there from people who have gone through treatment. It’s always nice to know you’re not alone when you struggle with something like this.
If you have digestive issues and think you might have SIBO, check out this little symptom list to see if your ailments match. Then find a naturopath STAT to form a treatment plan. I highly recommend using one from Primal Docs as they are well versed in Paleo and Primal lifestyles.
Have you ever had SIBO or Leaky Gut? What did you do to treat it?