It wasn’t until this year, at the age of 46, that I found out that becoming bloated and uncomfortable after meals wasn’t normal. I’ve been living with digestive issues for so long that I simply thought that I was a gassy person! If this is the case with you as well, a healthy gut wouldn’t react to food like this. In my case, I’ve been working very closely with a nutritionist here in London, who suspected that I have dysbiosis or leaky gut based not only on symptoms, but the fact that I’m not properly absorbing most nutrients from the food I eat as was evidenced in a chronic fatigue syndrome urinalysis she had ordered I do.
It’s not worth boring you with all the details about my unhealthy digestive system, but suffice it to say that in the process of working with my nutritionist, I visited another doctor for different reasons who ordered a blood exam that showed that I produce a low amount of histamine enzymes, meaning that foods that are high in histamines (for example, fermented foods, yeast, nuts) elicit a reaction in me; I’m often quite itchy, have gotten rashes seemingly out of nowhere, and I all too frequently wake up with fingers so swollen I can’t budge my wedding band. Irritability is another symptom of a leaky gut, because your brain isn’t being fed properly, but don’t worry, there are ways to heal yourself.
There’s not much you can do about food allergies- and I’m not talking about allergies that can cause anaphylactic reactions, such as peanuts- but to avoid the foods themselves. In my case, I’ll have to pursue a low histamine diet, though I already know that soy, yeast, and nuts don’t agree with me. Does it mean I’ll never eat them again? I’m sure I will, but I won’t actively pursue the addition of these foods in my diet. Taking an antihistamine such as Claritin or its generic form Loratadine is something I now take daily, though I’m not sure how much it helps once I’ve consumed certain foods. Histamine reactions such as mine generally occur 24 hours later, which makes it hard to determine what triggered the symptoms. Keeping a food journal is your and my best option.
Here’s something else I can tell you: I now believe that when I eat certain high histamine foods, I get unnecessarily stressed out, i.e., am really irritable. Of course when you have four kids, stress is involved in dealing with life in general, but I find that it’s the little things that set me off. Yesterday morning, for example, I had a hissy fit when my husband began talking to me about something incredibly mundane while I inadvertently poked myself in the eye while putting on mascara, having first sprayed perfume in it! Not worth going into detail, but instead of simply complaining of the discomfort and chuckling at my butter fingers, I went nuts on him and ordered him to stop talking to me! I realized later that I had eaten pizza the night before, which contains yeast and dairy…
I’m really writing about all of this to introduce you to, if you don’t already know it, a very informative wellness blog called Mind Body Green. From this blog, I learned of Dr. Amy Myers, a physician who believes that a healthy gut can eliminate a multitude of health issues. I also learned of the book Clean, by Dr. Alejandro Junger, which I’ve just started to read. The book is about Dr. Junger’s philosophy about the importance of removing toxins from our gut as well as testimonials from patients who did his cleanse and continue to follow his dietary advice. I’m not sure that you have to buy his pre-packaged cleanse, but I haven’t yet reached the part in his book that discusses how to do it.
I’ve always been someone who’s aware of her body, when it’s functioning well, and when it’s not. But I never knew that my/your gut is at the center of so many health-related issues. Don’t ignore your inner-voice if it tells you that something isn’t right with your health, but whatever you do, don’t use the Internet in place of speaking with a healthcare practitioner in person. There may be a simple solution out there or your symptoms could be indicative of something more serious, but if you’re not a doctor, you really don’t have the ability to give yourself a proper diagnosis.
Good health in most cases is just around the corner so never give up on yourself, regardless of your age.
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