2016 Health | Increasing Digestive Health

Some of my longer-term readers know that I suffer from ulcerative colitis. If you're a newer reader *waves* it's basically an inflammatory bowel condition (IBD) that's similar to Crohn's. Sometimes it's even called Crohn's colitis but I prefer UC or just 'colitis' as it makes it sound less nasty. No-one needs negativity going into the new year so from here on I'll just call it ''UC''. This post although is relating to UC it can improve the digestive health of everyone. 

There's not much of a difference between the two conditions, Crohn's affects any of the digestive track literally from the mouth to the bottom. With UC mainly the large intestine is affected but in some people, the ileum which is the last section of the small intestine closest to the bottom is also affected. I, unfortunately, fall into the last category. 

The symptoms are pretty much the same for both conditions well, at least, the major and problematic symptoms. There are of course some subtle differences. People with this condition will experience pain like no other pain (and I mean it. Unless you experience an IBD level of pain it's hard to relate it to other pains), you'll find you bleed to a point of not knowing if you've started a menstrual cycle from the wrong end, your intestine will bloat so that you can feel and track it by gently touching your stomach, there's mucus, anaemia, weight loss and did I mention pain? Smaller issues include increased problems with other autoimmune conditions, skin and hair issues, memory issues, sleep problems, palpitations as well as shivers, and fevers.  You'll go through a battering of tests, gastroenterology appointments and eventually a colonoscopy before diagnosis. It's not fun that's for sure. 

I remember feeling like I was going to die on Christmas Eve in my first year of diagnosis. I also remember I couldn't have cared because the pain was so bad. I couldn't eat anything or drink anything without the pain inflaming and when I was in the bathroom I would black out from the pain or throw up from it. It wasn't fun especially because it was a 24/7 issue and there was no let up from the condition. After some rigorous and strong medications (that did nothing for the first year) and a huge turn around in my eating habits and overall health, I finally got on top of my condition. It was at that point I also found out I had celiacs disease and a number of allergies. Cutting these foods out of my life kept the condition from flaring back up. 

I got to the point where I thought I was sorted. I never thought I'd experience a flare again because I was so careful - but - unfortunately, I did in December 2015. Again my meds were increased and I had my UBiome results to hand, I just hadn't really taken the time to research them fully. When the flare started I realised I had to because I wasn't going to let it take hold. 

So what did I do? 

To have a balanced gut microbiome typically, you'd expect to see 50% bacteroidetes and 50% firmicutes. These biome's help us to digest and breakdown foods, take the goodness to the necessary pathways to be used and warding off the bad guys. That being said too much of these are also a problem and vice-versa. My sample showed that I had 72.78% Firmicutes and only 25.57% bacteroidetes. Completely off balance and having too many Firmicutes can cause obesity as the body absorbs more fat and calories than normal. I was also completely missing fusinobacteria and cyanobacteria microbiomes which can cause a multitude of issues too. 

Basically, my gut health was never going to work in the way it should have. I'll cover these in separate post guys. Instead of pulling out the pre and probiotics I wanted to tackle it with foods and fermented and bacteria based foods are the ideal way to increase what was missing and to help with absorption and bile flow. 

So, rather than spending on supplements, I now supplement my daily diet with at least one bowl (two when the flare's bad) of these fermented bowls of yumminess. 

 Fermented red cabbage. 
 Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage).
 Pickled Eggs (check the ingredients first).
 Pickled gherkins (check the ingredients). 
 Camembert or mouldy cheeses (in small amounts) they contain lots of lovely lactococci.
 Live yoghurts. 
 Butter (real butter).
 Veggies such as garlic, tomato, onion, green veggies.
 Kombucha (drink). 

You can really mix and match and if you feel you have to you can make a sauce for dipping by mixing some melted butter with herbs or some yoghurt with a small amount of curry. I prefer to brave it alone. Try to reduce the number of sugars and complex carbohydrates that you're eating during a flare as they're counter-productive to this whole food medication process guys. 

What I've found...

I found that while eating my bowls, there is an increase in gas (if you have an IBD you'll get what I mean as you can feel the gas travelling throughout your digestive system). An increase in stomach grumbling and growling as it sets to work digesting the foods in your stomach, this is all a fantastic sign that your body is eventually doing what it should be doing. For twenty minutes or so I'll be bloated, again this disappears eventually. Toileting... let's just say it's become normalised and the stomach pain has started to fade. As you continue to add these bowls into your diet you'll find your stomach acid settles and you don't feel a burn as you eat, again this is a good sign that your stomach acid levels are normalising as typically we suffer from low levels of stomach acid. 

Outside of the gut issues I've found my bloating during the day is decreasing. I've found my skin is brighter and I'm losing less hair. I don't suffer from hunger pangs or nausea either which is amazing as I'm due to go back to work on Wednesday. 

I've sent off another test to uBiome to see if my microbes have balanced. I'm expecting good results here but on the other hand, I don't know if it's been long enough. What I will say is that regardless of the results I can't recommend this enough, put the supplements away and pull out the real foods. Get some pickled and fermented products down you and you'll see the benefits pretty quickly. 

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