What do you do when you think the ‘perfect’ diet for you has stopped working? Or worse yet, it works for a bit then symptoms change and you have to pick a different ‘perfect’ diet and start all over?
Are you tired of chasing symptoms and changing diets, only to have things change every few months to a year? You’re tired of being told that changing diets is good because it means you’re healing, but you don’t really see evidence of that healing. You only see it shifting without progress which means you’re getting frustrated.
Stop Guessing and Find the Root- It Isn’t What You Think
I have been working with a wonderful practitioner, Elizabeth Eckert at Wellness Images (website, Instagram and Facebook), on healing my gut so that I can return to amazing health. Based on my latest test results, we have seen that the diversity in my gut isn’t the way we want it for vibrant health.
This lack of diversity and the ratios of bacteria present mirror the symptoms I am experiencing. But more importantly, they are a root problem that comes from not eating the way that is best for my individual body, which has allowed gut damage to remain despite me working twelve years to heal and seal my gut.
The truth is that I was doing a lot of work, but I wasn’t really making much progress. DIYing gut health just really doesn’t work for many reasons.
DIY Doesn’t Always Work
Testing is showing the root of my issues, and it is time to stop using diet as a band-aid, thinking that is the cure. Diet alone will not cure you if you’re on the wrong diet and not getting what you need to heal, you need more of a certain nutrient to heal than you can possibly eat each day, or you aren’t being exposed to the right mix of bacteria so they can take root in your gut and grow.
That is why working with a knowledgeable practitioner is so critical. They can figure out the root of your individual issues so that you can fix that root. Once the root is healed, vibrant health can return. Chasing symptoms never really fixes the problem, and most diets just chase symptoms. Because health is so much more than just what you put in your mouth.
By removing foods and food groups in the lack of a true allergy or intolerance, you are actually changing your biome by limiting its diversity and making to harder for your body to heal. Your body needs a wide diversity of foods for the nutrients necessary to heal. So wholesale cutting out categories such as grains, beans, nuts and others will negatively impact your gut in the long-run. It certainly has impacted mine negatively, even though it gave short-term symptom relief.
If I could tell you anything, it would be to please stop trying to band-aid symptoms and figure out the root yourself, quit wasting time, and hire someone knowledgeable to help you get to the root of it quickly, target your specific issues, and heal quickly so you can move on with vibrant health.
The ugly truth is that had you asked me, I would tell you I suspected my gut was healed because I have optimal bowel movements as described by many practitioners and I had already been through a six-month gut healing protocol meant to remove parasites and heal the gut.
I neither have constipation or diarrhea, I go at least once a day, I have minimal gas, and I’m consistently in the right target on the Bristol Stool scale. So if we went on symptoms alone, I wouldn’t assume my problem is my gut because my poop is good and it’s always easy to go.
However, a lot of my issues are still in my gut. Changing my gut has resulted in changing hormones and energy levels and alleviating other symptoms not related to digestion. It really is true that all disease begins in the gut. So if you are having any health symptoms at all, even if it’s easy to poop and your poop looks right, you should still suspect that the root of your problem is in your gut.
My biggest regret is that I didn’t do this sooner. I have tried to fix it myself for so long, and I thought I was making progress because we’d see symptoms change. But in six months, I’d have to change diets again.
Symptoms decreasing or changing alone is not evidence that a diet is fixing the root of your problem, especially if you have to change diets again in six months or a year because the symptom comes back or you develop new symptoms. You never actually move to another level, you’re just spinning wheels.
Quit chasing diets. They won’t heal you if the root cause isn’t something that can’t solved by diet alone, and most gut issues are too complex to be fixed by diet alone. Or you need more of certain nutrients that you can practically eat in a day, or you need exposure to a certain gut bacteria you aren’t getting in your diet.
Based on my test results, she has challenged me to move from a fat heavy, moderate protein diet to a diet dominated by plants, with only enough fat and meat to keep me feeling full and healthy.
This is quite the change in both diet and mindset, as for years, I’ve been thinking that animal products and fats would be what would heal me. But my test results show otherwise. These diets aren’t working for me.
My gut reflects that, at least for my individual body chemistry, animal-heavy diets won’t take me where we want to go. I have repeatedly changed diets for the last many years, but it has only worked to help alleviate some symptoms temporarily and not truly address the root of my issues.
Keto, low-carb, paleo and animal-heavy Nourishing Traditions have left with me with a gut that doesn’t have enough inflammation-fighting bacteria and too much sulfur-producing bacteria, among other issues. So the goal is to eat in such a way that feeds and encourages the bacteria I need to flourish while discouraging the good bacteria I have too much of to reduce, and the bacteria we don’t want to leave.
Yes, it is possible to have too much of a certain good bacteria. It’s not just enough to have good bacteria, but have the good bacteria in the right balance. Once they are balanced, then your symptoms have the opportunity to reduce or go away for good.
So I need plants. Lots of colorful plants. Both for the beneficial chemicals that plants contain, such as polyphenols, and for their fiber which will encourage the right balance of bacteria to grow.
Shifting your biome with the right foods and some targeted supplements isn’t a quick process. You should expect, after you go through the testing and start your individualized program in order to get where you want to go, that it will take a few months or even a year to get to optimal. And that’s ok.
My practitioner, Elizabeth, is starting a small group coaching program in January. This will arm you with the ideas you need after your testing, to make menus and meal plans to help you with specifically what you need. (PLEASE NOTE: I do not get any money or kickbacks for referring people to Elizabeth, I’m just a happy client who wants to see others get well, too.)
Elizabeth has challenged me to try to eat at least 1 serving of 40 different colored plant foods each week to help diversify my diet and get the nutrients I need. This diet isn’t about eliminating things, but more about adding what will help heal me, and I can still have the other things as I have room.
So I will continue eating some meat and fat, I can still have some treats as I have room. At this point, the only food I remain off of strictly is gluten because I haven’t seen any well-designed, long-term studies showing it’s safe to go back onto once you quit reacting, and dairy other than butter, as we have not yet trialed it.
I can trial dairy anytime I’d like. I’ve been back on butter for about a year, but my test results showed that dairy fat (butter) is not an optimal fat for me as it encourages the growth of sulfur-producing bacteria, so I will hold off on that until after the holidays.
I can still have some butter, but I will make an effort to include more coconut oil, olive oil and other healthy fats while reducing the butter. Again, this is about including more of what is best for me over completely eliminating what is not optimal for me. Progress, not perfection is always the goal.
Join the Journey
I’ve been posting about this challenge on my personal facebook page, and some of you have asked me to publish menus and post about what I’m eating, so I decided to go for it.
I will publish one or more posts weekly writing up what I have eaten for that week, with links to recipes or giving the recipe for the item if it is my own recipe.
I hope you will join me on this journey. The first weekly post will be out Monday, chronicling what I’m eating every day, even through the holidays and seasonal sniffles. I will focus on plant diversity while not feeling deprived of some treats and enjoyment.
Photo credits- wsilver, Robert Couse-Baker, Damian Gadal, and John Morgan on Flicker.
I’m curious… What sorts of tests help identify what nutrient / bacteria issues you have?
Alexandra recently posted..Charles Hodge and Parenting
Alexandra, most of what is discussed in this post is the uBiome test and my practitioner’s interpretation of it. The raw data from uBiome alone isn’t particularly helpful nor is their info on how you tested as it is rather vague. You need someone trained in how to interpret it.
We have run several tests including a GI Map, a HTMA and a uBiome test. I’ve also done several others not directly related to gut health including hormone testing. Elizabeth can give you more info on which tests would be best for your particular problem to begin targeting what you need to heal your gut.