Gut health is a HOT topic lately, as it should be! Keeping your gut healthy is incredibly important to not only how you feel everyday but also protecting you from developing major illness later in life. I love to write about things that matter most to me, and so this is the first in a series of blogposts on my personal journey to heal my gut! In this post I'm going to talk about how my gut got so out of balance and my first steps towards healing. I know many of you will be able to relate, and I'm really excited about this! So lets start from the beginning . . .
So when I look back, the destruction of my micro biome wasn't that hard to find. When I was in high school I struggled with acne, as many kids do. Looking back it wasn't that bad, but when you're in high school it's the worst thing that could ever happen to you! So my mom brought me to a dermatologist and she put me on Doxycycline, which if you don't know, is an antibiotic. Back then there was no such thing as probiotics and the knowledge around gut health was not as talked about as it is today. So I took these antibiotics daily for TWO years!!! TWO YEARS! If I knew then what I know now, I could have saved myself so much heartache or tummyache as it may be. (The sad thing is, this is still a common way to treat acne . . . Don't do it! Acupuncture can help!)
When I started my search to see how long it would take to recover the gut flora after a round of antibiotics the answer wasn't so clear, some say a month and others say upwards of 20 years. I'm hoping it's a little less than 20 years! However, I know that it's been 16 years since I started that initial dose and I'm not recovered yet. As you can imagine, after two years on antibiotics I started to develop health problems. Fatigue, bloating, IBS symptoms that were worse with some foods, cystic acne, anxiety, and weight gain. From a biomedical perspective the antibiotics created an imbalance in bacteria creating an environment that is susceptible to things like candida and other SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth), as well as Leaky Gut syndrome. Leaky gut is where your Small Intestine becomes increasingly permeable, when this happens undigested food particles enter the blood stream. This triggers your body to think that these foods are foreign invaders, so your body creates anti-bodies against these harmless foods. This is essentially how a food intolerance is created, an IgG response. IgG allergies or intolerances are delayed response allergies, this means that you can eat a food and have a reaction up to 72 hours later. This makes food intolerances hard to identify, and if you continue to eat these foods you will not only suffer with different "unexplainable" symptoms but you are also creating lots of inflammation in your gut and your body in general.
So here I am 16 years after I first started the antibiotic treatment, still struggling with many of the same issues. As all healing journeys are, it has been years of ups and downs. At this point I have pinpointed my gut problems as something that needs more time and energy in order to be where I want to be. I've helped others with this journey, but now it's my turn.
So what is the first step? The first step is decreasing inflammation by cutting out all my food intolerances. I have been tested three years ago for IgG intolerances and the list was long about 22 different foods. But since these can change overtime, I decided recently to re-test my food intolerances so that I know I'm working with a current list. I've been gluten, soy, corn free for about 8 years and will continue to avoid these foods along with my new list of 19 different foods. I tested my IgG intolerances by ordering a self test kit off of everlywell.com. It's a blood spot test that you do by pricking your finger and sending it into the lab. They give a great breakdown of the 96 foods that they test and rate them High, Moderate, Mild and Low.
So that's where my new journey to get my gut health back is beginning. I will do another blog in about a month. I'll be letting you know other herbs and supplements that I've decided to use as a part of Part 2. In the mean time I will also be getting weekly Acupuncture treatments! Stay tuned . . .
Jennifer Niemeyer L.Ac.
The Root Wellness