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Journey to Gut Health – Part 1

On life’s journey to wellness we all face our own little battles. It might be anything from a bad stomach that you just can’t settle down to a racing mind that keeps you awake at night. We all find our ways of dealing with these little niggles and it’s my philosophy that the more we can avoid synthetic drugs to deal with these issues the better off we will be.

As a part of a holistic fitness experience and path to better health I am always looking for ways to look after myself better, so I thought what better than to share a few of my finds through a blog. I certainly don’t have all the answers but I have found a few good products along the way which will hopefully work for you too!

Over the next few weeks I will write a few blogs on my journey and some of the products I have found to be helpful. Some of them I have used for many years and some of them I have only just started recently in the hope that if they worked for me they might be able to work for you too.

 

My Journey to Gut Health – Part 1 “What’s wrong with me?”

About 10 years ago I was booked in for a work trip to Manila, my stomach hadn’t been good for a few days prior and I thought that a few pre-trip nerves were getting the better of me and thought nothing of it. While away my health declined to the point where I was so ill I couldn’t eat for days, I managed to get myself on a plane and back to Australia. Once home I went to see a GP (not my regular) and he decided I had picked up a travel bug, gave me some antibiotics and sent me on my way. Fast forward to 10 days later, still quite unwell, off my food and about 5kg lighter Kate took me to the local emergency room where the paramedic decided I had an appendix that was about to burst and needed to go straight to the next major hospital and into surgery.

End result I was on the table within 3 hours and my appendix didn’t burst. However I had had appendicitis for around 3 weeks which had completely poisoned my digestive system and sent it into state of chaos. For the next year I was in and out of doctors and specialists to determine why I wasn’t getting better. I was down to about 72kg (I’m currently 83kg) with no energy and a constantly upset stomach. Finally after eliminating everything else I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), I was recommended a daily antacid and another tablet 3 times a day to settle my gut down. It fixed the problem in the short term but was no long term solution, there was no way I was taking tablets every day for the rest of my life.

So I started to research and quickly found that I was not alone, >10% of the population suffers from IBS. Some mild to some so extreme that it ruins their social lives and ability to function throughout the day. Nothing seemed to be the silver bullet to fix this problem but I sure as hell was going to try.

As those who suffer with IBS know all too well know, a range of things can set it off and once it’s started it can take weeks to get back under control. Stress, foods, exercise and sleep all play factors in IBS which can be incredibly frustrating and why it can be so hard to control.

IBS websites recommended a range of dietary eliminations and FODMAP diets so over the next few weeks I slowly eliminated foods to see what would work. Alcohol, caffeine, gluten, onion, cruciferous vegetables all to no avail then the game changer DAIRY! Within 2 weeks of completely removing dairy from my diet about 80% of my symptoms were gone, my energy was back up and I was feeling so much better. I had the energy to exercise again which in turn helped with the symptoms and I had finally turned a corner. I tried adding a small amount of dairy back in and found that a bit of cheese here and there was ok but more than 1 day or any milk based products and I was back to square one, so I cut it out nearly completely and never looked back.

This wasn’t the end of the journey though, just when you think you have IBS sorted out it’s back giving you a sometimes very painful reminder that it is in control and not you! So more solutions were needed, in my next blog I will discuss some of the products that I used over the past 6-7 years that helped me out and the period where I began CrossFit – the most effective product of them all!

Written By Steve Bitter