NOTEBOOK: Digestive Enzymes

15 Jul

This is the first installment of what I’m going to coin “Notebook Posts”. Remember keeping lab notebooks in science classes of your experiments and detailing your method and results? This will be just like that except no one is grading me (phew!). I think this will be a helpful way to keep track of all the different things I’ve been trying to restore my health and wellness. I notice that when I read blogs from other patients they will chronicle their progress, but things tend to skip around without a thorough explanation of what’s going on. I hope this will help others as much as it will help me. I am having such a difficult time acknowledging and appreciating my own progress, so here is the first entry!

Title: Digestive Enzymes – Enzymedica Brand CarbGest/Digest Gold

After weeks of research, I settled on Enzymedica’s brand of digestive enzymes and I have been quite pleased with the results.

Introduction: Digestive enzymes are recommended for those with multiple food allergies and sensitives who likely have a diagnosis of leaky gut syndrome. The purpose is to help take the load off an already burdened system and give your gut less to do so it can focus on assimilating the nutrients instead of breaking them down. Enzymes that leak into the bloodstream via the leaky gut further help with “clean up”.

Method: I have been taking 1-2 CarbGest enzymes with fruit in the morning or with vegetables at lunch and dinner. I take 1-2 Digest Gold enzymes each time I have protein or fat at lunch, dinner, or snacks. The enzymes are taken prior to the meal and if I feel I need extra, I take an additional shortly after the meal.

Initiated: May 20, 2012

Duration: Ongoing

Conclusion: The enzymes are definitely helpful and I find I have difficulty tolerating food without them, however, I am suspecting that low HCl is part of the problem as well since I am still experiencing some symptoms of GERD on occasion. I like the Enzymedica brand because they were the only ones I could find that verified that the maltase was NOT derived from barley (gluten) and they have been readily available on the phone for questions and support. The capsules are vegetarian and don’t contain any “junk” in them. They are costly, but I have been able to snag bottles of 240 Digest Golds from Amazon at a good price regularly. For those with mold sensitivities be aware that the enzymes are cultured on aspergillus. This shouldn’t be a problem because the finished product contains no mold, but it is something to be mindful of.

The CarbGest is specifically targeted to people with phenol or salicylate sensitivities as it contains high amounts of xylanase. The Digest Spectrum is a good broad spectrum product that would be ideal for someone just starting out, but I have found my issues are just too severe and I need the heavy doses provided by Digest Gold and CarbGest.


Supplementing Healing

11 Jul

Healing from chronic illness can be expensive when you’re trying to do it properly. It may be cheaper to rely on allopathic medicine and Big Pharma, but the ultimate cost will be your life. These jars hold a key component to natural healing and the contents can be whipped up for next to nothing.


I have been having an increasingly difficult time maintaining my good progress lately. Foods are starting to bother me again and I’m feeling run-down and exhausted. I tried to back track in my food journal to see what the possible culprit could be and I definitely noticed the change happened after I eliminated the folic acid from my cocktail and added in the Mg Malate. Adding the folic acid back in is not an option since I have the MTHFR mutation, but I could try eliminating the Mg Malate for awhile and see if I improve.

Getting my intestinal permeability under control is top priority and I feel like I should be making way more progress than I am. I have been on 1 tsp of L-Glutamine for nearly 4 months now and attempts to up the dose were unsuccessful. I have a list of supplements that Dr. Guru and Dr. Lynch have recommended I incorporate into my routine and I had to finally stop and ask myself, “Why can’t I get these nutrients from whole foods?” My gut is damaged and digestion is compromised, but is it realistic to assume my body is able to metabolize synthetic supplements? To me, it makes more sense to focus ONLY on the gut right now, and add in the other stuff later. I recalled reading about the healing properties of bone broths and I set out to do some heavy research on making stocks. This led to the discovery of the GAPS diet and further reading on traditional cooking, whole foods, and specialized diets. So much to learn!

I decided that the GAPS diet probably wasn’t going to work for me due to the low carb requirement. My weight has dropped dramatically in the past 6 months and has yet to stabilize, so cutting out fruit and the handful of starchy vegetables I do eat didn’t sound like the best plan. Not to mention, I read this account of a young woman who ended up frighteningly ill and that was enough to scare me away from GAPS!

Many of the Paleo and GAPS-related blogs I have been frequenting talk about the healing power of making stock from the bones of different protein sources. The possibilities are endless: lamb, goat, turkey, chicken, beef, fish; and the benefits are astounding. Bone broths are rich in gelatin, minerals and amino acids that the body needs to heal from the inside out. I tried my hand at my first batch of lamb stock last week and it turned out great! I was nervous that it wouldn’t gel (this is the evidence a perfectionist cook needs to verify that the stock was prepared properly and is chock-full of the gut-healing nutrients), but the next day, I picked up a jar and it was wiggle-city! YAY!

Making bone broth is an easy and cheap way to supplement your healing from chronic illness. Sure, the cost of pastured or grass-fed meat is higher, but you can get more bang for your buck by using every last bit of the leftovers! Not to mention, it’s a LOT cheaper than multiple bottles of supplements with questionable contents! Here is my step-by-step guide to awesome broth:

1)  Reserve bones from pastured or grass-fed animals. Store them in the freezer after you’re done eating. You can also reserve the heads and bones from whole, wild-caught fish.

2)  When you’re ready to make the broth, put the bones in your slow cooker (I use a Hamilton Beach brand because there is no lead in the ceramic. Many slow cookers have lead in them!) and add enough FILTERED water to cover.

3)  Add 3-4TBS of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (DO NOT OMIT THIS!) and let the bones sit for an hour.

4)  Turn the slow cooker on high and cover it. When it starts to simmer you’ll notice foam and “scummy” bits floating to the surface. Skim this off. This step generally takes me about 5 hours total in my 6 Qt cooker. I check on it every hour or so.

5)  Turn the slow cooker to low and leave it to gently bubble. Chicken stock takes 12-36 hours. Lamb, goat, or beef 36-72 hours. Fish takes 6-12 hours. The longer the slow simmer, the more nutrients you extract from the bones.

6)  Strain the stock through a coffee filter, mesh strainer, or cheesecloth and store in glass mason jars. It should gel in about 24 hours with a layer of fat on the top. You can render this for cooking or eat it with the stock.

7)  Consume 2-3 cups daily for optimal healing and use the rest for cooking in place of water or make homemade soups!

8)  For larger bones, you can repeat steps 2-7 for a second (and sometimes third, fourth, or fifth!) batch. The first batch is going to be the most nutrient-laden, but the subsequent batches will still be great for cooking and soups.


– At step 3 you may also add a TBSP of sea salt (NOT table salt), peppercorns, and fresh veggies (carrots, celery, onion, garlic, etc) to increase the mineral content. Don’t add parsley until the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

– With stock, the old saying, “Garbage in = garbage out” holds true. Use the highest quality meats and veggies you can. Locally grown or organic are best. If you use commercially raised and processed meats, you will need to skim a LOT of scum during step 4 and you’ll probably never want to eat commercially raised meat or poultry ever again.

– You can just as easily make the stock on the stove. You can even start the process on the stove, skim, and then transfer the stock to the slow cooker to finish.

– The stock can be boiled down and frozen (use ice cube trays) and then reconstituted for use in order to save space.

– Be sure to boil the stock you store in the fridge every 5 days or so. If you aren’t going to use it in a week, freeze it.

– Keep the layer of fat on the stock! This helps protect it!

–  If you’re following a rotation diet, cook up a few different stocks to fit into your rotation. Snapper heads work great for fish stock. Omit the veggies and herbs so as not to develop an intolerance.

–  You’ll know when the bones are no longer good when they start to break down and are soft. Some people reserve the marrow and some like to eat the softened bones for an excellent source of calcium.

–  For extra gelling-power and even MORE nutrition when making chicken stock, add a few chicken feet or a head to the pot. If you live in Western New York, Freeman Homestead sells a bag of feet and heads for $3 each.

– Be aware that adjusting to consumption of bone broth may take time. It is very nutrient-dense and some people have trouble with large quantities at first. Try skimming the fat if you have trouble digesting it, dilute the broth with a bit of filtered water, or start with small amounts and work your way up. I overdid it the first day I made my lamb broth and my body went into a mini state of broth-shock!



More cooks in the kitchen

29 Jun

The past few weeks have been quite interesting in terms of “What’s next?” Fortunately, I have taken some much needed advice to relax and stop pushing so hard for the epitome of “recovery”. I am doing yoga every day using various YouTube videos I pull up. If I don’t get to it in the morning, then I make sure to do a gentle relaxation sequence in the evening before bed. I have been a frequent visitor at the local library pouring over various books on Alternative Medicine, GI health, and different healing diets. I also added two more cooks to my wellness kitchen.

The is no cure for the medical struggles that I face on a daily basis, but rather, I am learning to work synergistically with my body to promote wellness. Forcing my body into my ideal of “recovery” was an epic fail.

I had been working with a local functional medicine doctor who had a brilliant reputation. He definitely helped me get to where I am right now with some supplement recommendations, but unfortunately my time under his care was short lived because I quickly outpaced him in the research department. He referred me to a local woman who is known as the functional medicine guru, seeing nearly 40 hours of patients per week in her office. My consultation with her went wonderfully and I felt completely at ease explaining to her the various frustrations and roadblocks I have found myself up against lately. She knew what I was talking about when I told her that I suspected I had an issue with sulfation and methylation and was shocked that I hadn’t yet been tested for a gene mutation known as MTHFR. Dr. Guru (not her real name!) told me that she loves a challenge and was going to stick by me to see me through this.

So about that mutation. Several of my friends have lovingly coined it the “mother f*cker” gene. And really, that’s kinda what it is. A royal pain in my ass. The mutation is actually fairly common, but there are degrees of severity and naturally I get stuck with the sucky version. This flow chart explains it at a glance.

I emailed my mitochondrial disease specialist recently and asked to be worked up for this mutation. Several weeks ago a fellow mitochondrial disease patient called to chat me up about various issues and she mentions this mutation. I had read about it in the past, but hadn’t given it much thought. She told me that she had been following my blog and that some of my issues resonated with her due to her mutation status. MTHFR is a fancy string of letters that basically means the body has trouble metabolizing folic acid and other B vitamins. This type of metabolic process is known as “methylation” and it is incredibly important for healing, detoxing, and clearing heavy metals. I felt it was important to get worked up for this mutation because one of the standard treatments for mito is high doses of folic acid. If my body isn’t metabolizing it properly, I’ve been essentially poisoning myself for the past 18 months! I found it strangely suspect that I developed an intolrance to my B2 a few months back and my B12 has been off (too high or too low) for years now.

The results came back positive for a mutation on not one but *two* parts of the MTHFR gene – 677 and 1298 (these numbers are just used to identify where on the gene the problem is). I dove into the research, stopped the folic acid and came across Dr. Ben Lynch at I was concerned because my mito doctor had told me I needed monthly B12 and insanely high doses of methyl folate daily. Something didn’t seem right with these recommendations and since Dr. Lynch is considered an authority on MTHFR and I have been so sick the past number of years, I decided he should be on my team. I’m not messing around anymore! I had the opportunity to consult with him earlier this week and he was incredibly helpful in providing insight into my situation. He knows what he’s talking about and he was able to give me real suggestions to help progress things in light of this new information. Oh, and he also agreed I could have had serious issues if I had followed the mito doctor’s recommendations. Just sayin’.

So what am I doing now?

  • Moved turkey to Day 2 on the rotation so poultry is on the same day
  • Cut out lemons since they were clearly causing a reaction
  • Moved probiotic to after dinner to help keep it intact on the way to the gut
  • Began increasing my l-glutamine by 1/4 tsp
  • Stopped the folic acid
  • Replaced my Mg Oxide with Mg Malate (Mg Oxide is very poorly absorbed by the body, pretty much any other Mg is a million times better!)

My short term plan is to:

  • Begin castor oil packs as per Dr. Lynch
  • Add slippery elm to help heal the gut further as per Dr. Guru
  • Begin making bone broth

I have been doing lots of reading on the healing powers of bone broth and have decided to give it a whirl. I have been hoarding turkey bones and have even found a local farmer to get chicken feet from (I know, gross, but they produce the best broth I’m told!). My tummy has been a bit unhappy with all of the supplement changes lately and my “anti-probiotic” rash appeared once I moved it to after dinner, but all in all, things are moving forward. Slowly. Very slowly. But I am remembering to smile, breathe, and go slowly intentionally because there is no cure. Only wellness. And as Dr. Guru pointed out, my medical issues are only 1/3 of who I truly am.

Deep Within – Truth Time

2 Jun

My friend sent me this the other day when I was having a particularly rough time. This is my current mantra.

I have frequently stopped to consider the profound impact chronic illness and disability have on my character and growth as a person. I have spent countless hours in and out of therapy wrestling to come to terms with a way of life that is so vastly different from the one I envisioned for myself. The past few months have brought significant changes and have given me a glimpse of what life could be like “if only” I manage to pull my body around to a state of complete health. I have been over-zealously researching, tweaking, charting, scheduling, reading, researching, researching, researching. My efforts have not been in vain, however, and I have noticed that I have more endurance, more stamina, and my GI symptoms have steadily decreased. Unfortunately, the more I research, the more I read about others out there who have spent 10+ years running circles around their symptoms and trying to solve the mystery of their failing health. It leads me to more questions, more “what ifs”, more second-guessing, more doubt, and more of the one thing that has always sent my body in a downward spiral: stress.

The past few weeks I have noticed less improvement and more of a plateau, and some days, I have noticed what feels like a decline. It has left me frustrated, scared, angry, and I am frequently beginning to feel as if there is little point to endlessly pursuing an answer that might not even exist. The intricacies of the metabolic pathways are numerous and even the best researchers barely scratch the surface with their understanding of how things really work.

Last week I had a “lightbulb” moment that was so profound; it sent a surge of adrenaline through my body. My thoughts burst into a stream of consciousness that included a picture-perfect future – health, medical school, a career. I had noticed that I had been having difficulty digesting certain fruits and vegetables and decided to do more research into why, which led me to discover phenol and salicylate sensitivities. I picked up a new enzyme to try, which seemed to be helping until I started noticing some side effects. It’s a balancing act this business of “eating” and it leaves me more and more frustrated as time goes on. Further research left me wondering about a depletion of sulfate in my GI tract, which would help explain the issues with intestinal permeability and sensitivities to so many high-phenol foods.

I was thrilled to have found something that might indicate I was on the road to a definitive answer with steps I could take to improve my situation. Except the more I researched, the more anxious I became. How will I ever figure out what is really going on in my body? How will I ever correct the mitochondrial dysfunction? Which treatment plan should I really be focusing on? And is it sound to pump my body full of artificially produced supplements and enzymes even if it supposedly cannot function without them?

I started to feel myself back-peddling to the “me” I was before all of this started. The me who is perfectionistic, high-energy, with high expectations, whose stubbornness surpasses all tolerable levels. Nothing was or is ever good enough for this version of me, and I felt myself quickly losing all of the lessons in acceptance, patience, and meditation I had worked so hard throughout the past couple of years to grasp. I was feeling unusually restless with all of this uncertainty the other day and thought about what one of my friends would tell me. This friend has known me for several years and has an uncanny ability to help me re-focus and re-center. I thought about what she would tell me if I sent a panicked “I am never going to beat this” text and realized she would tell me to do the one thing I was resisting doing the most: sit with it.

Sitting with feelings of doubt and uncertainty is incredibly uncomfortable. My brain and body want to be “doing”: researching, curing, cleaning, organizing, planning. Sitting with the feelings equates to defeat in my mind, as if I am admitting to myself that there is a possibility that I will not come out the other end of this tunnel fully healed. But that IS a very real possibility, and the more I sat, the more I came to realize that I am not running a marathon to a distant finish line labeled “RECOVERY”. Wellness is a journey and the journey is the experience. I have been so focused on my setbacks and aiming for this epitome of wellness that is unobtainable for even a healthy person, that I haven’t been able to enjoy my progress. MY progress. The progress I made by researching, reading, and implementing a plan that *I* designed on my own! That is a remarkable accomplishment and one that I am intending to take more time to appreciate in the next few weeks.

Conducting an Orchestra

14 May

One of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with chronic illness is finding a primary care physician (PCP) who is not only willing, but ABLE to orchestrate your care. I was very fortunate in that I

That feeling you get when your treatment team is clueless about what’s really going on..

had been under the care of a fantastic doctor when I first started becoming ill. Due to insurance changes, I had to find another PCP which led to years of mismanaged care and me having to learn how to orchestrate everything on my own. I swear it was like showing up at a daycare and trying to conduct a bunch of 3-year olds with Fisher Price instruments. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Fisher Price, but the quality of the sound is only as good as the skill of the person playing the instrument…food for thought. Sometimes I think baboons would have communicated and worked better together! Of course, one might accuse me of being a sucky conductor, but in my defense, I had no formal training! You work with what you’ve got, and fake it ’till you make it.

Fortunately, I am now back with the original PCP (yay!), but one of the things I learned along the way was how to keep my treatment team on the same page. This is particularly important, especially if you have to apply for disability because your observations and notes about your progress become an official part of your chart.

I began making this update sheet because I was quickly noticing that no one knew what was going on. The clincher was when my last PCP called and questioned why I needed a home visit for Social Services to apply for assistance. “Do you have trouble walking?” he asked. This was less than 10 days after he personally wrote a prescription for a WALKER for me!

The walker my PCP promptly forgot I needed. This same walker serves as an excellent conversation starter with the elderly and gets stuck in boutique aisles while I’m trying to shop on Elmwood Ave.

I decided enough was enough after that conversation and I put together a sheet that I began to fill in prior to each appointment that would become part of my official record. It definitely helped and it definitely counted in my favor when it came time to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance. It is *very* important that each member of your treatment team is kept up-to-date with medications, tests, symptoms, and quality of life. I am including a link to a Google Doc of the form I made. Feel free to use it! My suggestion is to make a folder on your computer for each doctor so that you have a copy of each form you complete. I type in the info, print one copy for the doctor and save the original in that doctor’s designated folder on my desktop. Easy peasy and there’s no longer as much confusion about what’s REALLY going on.

“Do or do not” – Starting the journey

4 May

I feel as if my list of permissible foods is shrinking, but at the same time my energy levels are improving so maybe that is the reassurance I need that I’m doing something right?

When I first implemented my own allergy rotation diet in early March, I included grains and some sugar, but couldn’t get it out of my (obsessive-compulsive-prone) head that candida overgrowth may have been contributing to my symptoms. For two weeks I eliminated all sugar (including fruit!). Let’s just say it did NOT go well…A constant reading of “50” on the glucometer isn’t exactly a good thing! So I did some more reading and reintroduced fruit only to be eaten first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. The rationale behind doing it this way is so you’re breaking your fast with something that is going to be quickly converted and used instead of sitting around in the gut, fermenting, and feeding all the yeasties. For the most part, this has worked well.

The grain elimination shortly followed when I noticed that I was feeling very sluggish and out of sorts

A fitting quote for a May 4th post. Commit to a gluten free diet for 30 days. No cheating, and no half-assed attempts. Feel the difference. Your body will thank you.

following skillet breads or piles of quinoa. Our culture is grain-dependent and while our food pyramid (designed by the government that pays the grain farmers’ subsidies…just sayin’) was built to reflect this, our BODIES were not built to digest all of these grains. In fact, grains cause a significant problem for a lot of people, they just don’t know it.

I recently finished reading the chapter on leaky gut in Robb Wolf’s book The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet. The book is a real page-turner, honest! Wolf is a funny guy, and while some of the parts are a bit scientific, he explains them very well. Anyway, he talks about the various proteins found in grains, particularly lectins, which are not broken down in the normal digestive process. We all remember what happens to proteins that don’t get broken down properly, right? Unfortunately, the issue is compounded by the fact that grains contain protease inhibitors as well, which further stunts the digestive process. But grains are cunning little guys (I mean, they did manage to convince the government they were strong enough to hold up the whole food pyramid!) and they can actually fool receptors in the intestinal wall into thinking they are broken down and ready for transport through the lining and into the body! Legumes and dairy have very similar effects on our gastrointestinal tract as well. And what happens when large, undigested proteins end up in the bloodstream, class? Inflammation.

If you’re considering embarking on a nutritional overhaul, my suggestion is to start small and slowly. I was chatting with a friend earlier about possibly embarking on restructuring her diet and I explained that there is no way I could have (sanely) managed all I’m managing now if it had all happened at once. Over the course of the past 2 years, I have slowly eliminated one food at a time as each became a known issue, but gluten was indeed the first to go. So if you are feeling overwhelmed and want to know “What do I do first??” Start there. Cut out the gluten for 30 days. Just 30 days. 1 month. 4 weeks. However you want to look at it. You’ll survive, I promise! The worst it can do is make you feel a bit crummy as you go through withdrawal for a couple of days (because the process of consuming gluten activates the same receptors crack does, and I’m not even joking), and the best it can do is give you some semblance of health back and reduce your dependence on processed foods. If you’re going to do it though, actually DO it. There is no “on again off again” gluten free eating. You need to fully abstain from the stuff for the full 30 days for it to make a difference because remember, it can take the GI tract several days to rejuvenate after a single exposure to an irritant.

“Do or do not. There is no try.” Here are some resources to help you get started: – A comprehensive site on celiac disease and gluten free eating
Gluten Free Goddess
– Check out Karina’s posts on what to buy, what to look out for, and gluten free 101

Tackling Chronic Illness and Autoimmune Disease with Nutrition in 4 Complicated and Heavily Involved Steps

30 Apr

…(I told you it wasn’t easy!)

Ok, now that we’ve covered the who, what, where, when, and why, it’s time to cover the “H” word … HOW! How do you go about working towards health and giving your body what it needs to heal? How do you work on repairing damage to the GI tract that may have accumulated over years and years? And more importantly, how much is this going to cost?! Let me preface the following list of steps by saying that I will explore each one more thoroughly as time goes on, but tackling this problem is a huge commitment and requires patience and dedication. You’re worth it. Your health is worth it. You can do it!

1)      Reduce the inflammation in the body by identifying and eliminating the foods or substances causing it

This means going on what has been coined an “Elimination Diet” for a period of time, and I hate to break it to you, but pretty much everything you’re eating right now…yeah. The 8 most common allergens need to be avoided, along with artificial colors, flavorings, additives, coffee (yes, kiss your cuppa goodbye – at least for now) and anything else you suspect might be giving you problems. The issue with delayed reactions, or IgG reactions, is that symptoms may not develop for up to 72 hours making it nearly impossible for you to figure out if the sandwich you just ate for lunch or the pork ribs you had last night for dinner are causing the problem. My suggestion is start with one of the largest offenders – gluten. Gluten is in everything. Literally. It will take some time for your body to detox and you might feel a bit crappy for a bit, but if gluten is contributing to your symptoms, you should notice them starting to subside in a couple of weeks. Some other foods to eliminate at first include, but are not limited to:

  • corn
  • soy
  • dairy
  • nuts
  • peanut
  • egg
  • shellfish
  • pork
  • ground meats
  • yeast

But…what will I EAT?! If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me, “But, what do you EAT?” I would be so rich right now…Vegetables! Fruits! Fish! Turkey! Chicken! Lamb! See, there are choices. Your best bet is to stick with whole, fresh foods. This link will help you find a local Farmers’ Market or CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) to help you stock up affordably. And because everyone is curious about whether or not it’s possible to avoid a lengthy list of foods, here is the list of foods that I must currently avoid:

  • beef
  • corn
  • dairy
  • egg
  • eggplant
  • gluten
  • grains (all)
  • ground meats (any)
  • nuts
  • peach
  • pear
  • peppers
  • pork
  • rice
  • soy
  • sugar (all forms of sweetener including: honey, agave, cane, and molasses)
  • sweet potato
  • tomato

2)      Rotate the foods that are left in the diet

Boy do I wish someone had shared this gem of wisdom with me when I went gluten free! The Rotary Diversified Diet, or Rotation Diet, was first described by a physician in 1946. The concept has been around for quite some time, but surprisingly, it’s not well known. When people eliminate one thing (*cough* gluten *cough*) from their diet, they tend to replace that gluten with corn, rice, and various other starches.

This is an example of the Rotation Diet I designed for myself in the earlier stages of my plan. As you can see, everything from oils, to seeds, to sweeteners is rotated. Within each day, the foods that are highlighted in the same color belong to the same family, meaning they are botanically related. Often, an intolerance to one food in the family will lead to an intolerance to others in the family due to the similarity of the proteins. Feel free to contact me if you would like help making your own Rotation Diet.

Remember, the reason for the intolerance had to do with over-exposure, so now we’ve just switched foods, but not limited exposure. See where I’m headed with this? On a Rotation Diet, you group the remaining foods into their botanical families. For example, lettuce, artichoke, and endive are all closely related, and then you eat from certain food families every day on a 4-day rotation. This prevents antibody complexes from re-accumulating in the body and wards off new intolerances. It will also help you to definitively pinpoint additional intolerances.

3)      Heal the gastrointestinal tract

Remember the little Pop Tart looking guy from last time? He needs some TLC! Healing the GI tract is a multi-faceted approach. You need to address all possible culprits: candida, parasites, bad bacteria, sensitivities, allergies, medications, and stress (to name a few). You need to start setting aside time for relaxation (yoga is my activity of choice, and there are some great FREE videos on YouTube), and do everything in your power to avoid exposing your GI tract to the things that tend to cause the most irritation: aspirin, NSAIDs, steroids, prescription medications, and antibiotics. The GI tract has an impressive cellular repair rate, but if you continue to expose it to stress and the things that wear it down, all of the energy is going to be spent trying to maintain instead of repair.

What are some things that help the GI tract heal?

  • Digestive enzymes. If the GI tract is already compromised, why give it more to do? Take the load off with a high quality broad spectrum enzyme. I prefer Similase GFCF, but this website is chock full of invaluable information about how enzymes work and how to choose one.
  • L-Glutamine. L-Glutamine is an amino acid that helps the cells in the GI tract to function properly and to repair themselves. It is a ‘must-have’ on your list of supplements for GI health.
  • Zinc. Many people with multiple dietary sensitivities and GI distress are actually deficient in zinc. In fact, new research has suggested that those with a history of disordered eating (anorexia, bulimia, etc) have low amounts of zinc in their red blood cells. A zinc supplement is recommended.
  • Magnesium. Magnesium is prescribed for all sorts of things these days, and its ability to help turn over and repair the GI tract is just the tip of the iceberg. Some doctors have pointed out that patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia have low levels of magnesium in their red blood cells and would benefit from magnesium supplementation. High doses can cause some GI upset, so be sure to start small.

4)      Repopulate beneficial bacteria

A high quality probiotic (preferably one that requires refrigeration) is essential. There are LOTS of things living in your gastrointestinal tract: bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms. Most of the time everything is kept in check and homeostasis is never far off, but we live in a world surrounding by artificial additives, toxins, prescription medications, and antibiotics. ONE round of antibiotics is enough to send your system into disharmony, and if your nutritional intake is poor (read: Standard American Diet), your body won’t fully bounce back. There are several different probiotics on the market that you can try. Be sure you call the companies and do your research to avoid inadvertently ingesting something that you should be avoiding. If you have never taken a probiotic before, you’ll want to start small and work your way up. A powder is helpful to allow for dose titration. Sometimes people experience side effects from the probiotic in the form of rashes or GI upset (occasionally other side effects too). Usually these are temporary and not a cause for alarm, but you should make sure that you double check the additives on the label. Once in a while, the flora balance in the GI tract is so off that adding in the good guys causes a “die-off” reaction of the bad guys. I recently started a 60 billion organism probiotic only to develop a rash about a week later. Too many little critters at once! Dropping the dose way down and working up slowly will help ward off discomfort.

Overwhelmed yet? I was too at first, so don’t worry. I’ll spend some time covering more of the things I am doing as I go along and share some of the brands of supplements and appliances I’ve found to make everything a bit easier.

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Farm Food Blog

Eat well, live well...

Against All Grain

Delectable paleo recipes to eat & feel great


Is it possible to reverse the effects of an incurable chronic illness? We shall see...

Tiny Buddha

Is it possible to reverse the effects of an incurable chronic illness? We shall see...

Primal Body Primal Mind

Is it possible to reverse the effects of an incurable chronic illness? We shall see...


Is it possible to reverse the effects of an incurable chronic illness? We shall see...

The Spunky Coconut

Is it possible to reverse the effects of an incurable chronic illness? We shall see...

a dietitian gone paleo

controlling IBS, SIBO, food intolerance and PCOS by eating real food