She tapped on my belly and quickly declared, “Leaky gut.” When she looked at my tongue, she said, “Candida. I could smell it when you walked into my office.” This new doctor was known to be an expert at solving the most difficult health problems. When I came in with a hormonal imbalance, anxiety, insomnia and stomach pain, we started with addressing the gut.
“Sugar is the devil!” My doctor announced.
“Only lean meat and vegetables.” At this point I had eliminated nearly everything that brought me an ounce of pleasure, so this was just the icing on the cupcake that I was told I would never eat again. She explained that I needed to over-cook vegetables so that I could digest them, letting them simmer for hours. I called her a few days later in so much pain, I was told to eliminate the vegetables and stick to eggs, chicken and bone broth. So I did.
For a couple of weeks, I ate eggs, chicken, avocados and bone broth. Eventually, I introduced over-cooked cruciferous vegetables. I indulged in a stew consisting of chicken, bone broth, kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts with garlic and onion. I added MCT oil for extra fat. “Fat is your friend.” My doctor explained. To heal my gut lining, I eliminated all of the inflammatory foods and I ate soup for months.
By the third month, my digestion had significantly improved. I wanted to start introducing foods that I enjoyed, but my doctor warned me, “Every time you indulge in sugar, fruit, gluten or grains, you set yourself back three months.” After so much discipline and deprivation, the last thing I wanted to do was start over. But it was nearly Thanksgiving and all I could think about was pumpkin pie. Mmmm. Just typing the words makes my mouth water.
During a dinner with some friends, they asked if I wanted some banana bread. My eyes grew bigger and my heart pounded. I wanted to say yes so badly, but instead I bowed my head in disappointment. For a brief moment I considered all the possibilities. Could I really destroy my gut in just a few bites? If I was going to attempt to eat pumpkin pie, I would need to be able to digest banana bread. So I gave it a try. I smothered it with butter and savored every morsel melting into my tastebuds teeming with excitement.
“I’m healed!” I announced as I glimpsed at my beautiful bowel movement the next morning. So for about a month I enjoyed the flavors of Thanksgiving. And of course, I overdid it. December rolled around and I could feel my stomach beginning to bloat and my tongue’s heavy white coating reflected the inflammation in my gut. “Well, shit,” I thought to myself.
For the months of December and January I scrambled to move, start an insanely stressful job, take supplements, exercise, and eat a nearly impossible diet. I continued on high-fat diet with lots of veggies and avoided fruit and sugar to squash the so-called candida in my gut. I consumed bone broth every day and felt worse and worse. Eventually, my digestion decided to quit on me.
In the midst of all of this, my doctor had prescribed pills to help me sleep and blood pressure medication for my anxiety. After a couple weeks of this my gut screamed, “Hell no!” and wouldn’t let me poop for a solid week! Hormones going crazy, stuck in fight or flight attempting to juggle it all, eventually I listened to my gut and my acupuncturist.
“You have fatty liver.” Sheng, my acupuncturist is very blunt, and she doesn’t diagnose illnesses. She helps heal the symptoms. Even better, she helps the body heal itself. That’s what Chinese Medicine is all about. She looked at my face to tell my hormones were out of balance and she looked at my tongue to point out inflammation. I told her what I had been eating and her eyes widened. “Bone broth is so high in fat! You’ve been drinking it every day?!” Everything started to set in. Sure, I may have needed bone broth and lean meat to heal my gut lining, but now that it’s healed, I need something different. I walked away feeling relaxed with a container full of herbs specially blended for my issues that week.
One size fits all diets mislead us into thinking that we need to eat the same way every day for the rest of our lives. If it works for other people it should work for us. As a culture, we have also become conditioned to listen to doctors over our own instincts. I can’t tell you how many times this has gotten me into trouble!
When your doctor diagnoses you with something, they may be right on, but the body can heal itself. If you give it the right tools, lifestyle, and environment, it can heal itself of anything. Of course, there are some illnesses that require specific diets for long-term. I’ve heard of friends who have gone vegan to inhibit the growth of cancer in their body and they’ve been successful. Do they need to stay vegan once the cancer is gone? I don’t know. But typically when people feel better on a diet they stay on it, right?
Leaky gut and candida are the trending diagnoses these days. I think we can all confirm that most of our guts are messed up due to the way our food is grown and manufactured. Add to it all the contributing factors that wipe out our gut biomes and you’ve got a whole slew of gut illnesses. When our guts are screwed, all kinds of problems can ensue! But there is not simply one diet that will fix it. I’ve heard of people curing candida with raw vegan diets in the same way paleo has been proven successful for others.
There is a time and a place for different diets and everyone is different. We all have different genetic makeup, personalities, and guts. We need different things at different times. If I hadn’t listened to my gut when it said, “STOP the madness!” I could be in the hospital for liver failure. I could eventually have to remove my gallbladder.
When my doctor resigned, my intuition spoke a subtle, “I told you so.” I wrestled with whether or not I should work with this doctor since I was hospitalized last year. She had put me on Ketamine to help reset my hormones and help with symptoms of PTSD. Although that was a valuable and traumatic learning experience, I don’t recommend that approach. After lots of therapy, prayer, gut healing, and forgiveness my symptoms began to subside. However, it was so stressful to follow my doctor’s recommendations, from supplements and favorite food deprivation (it’s a thing) to recommending radical and expensive treatments, I got pretty stuck in fight or flight. In Western medicine, once you’re diagnosed with something, you live with it forever.
My opinion? LIES. The body can heal itself. People heal.
So what am I doing now? I’m following my gut. I respect my doctor’s opinion and have integrated some of what she has shared with me, and I’m respecting my body by following my intuition. I eat a little fruit, mostly vegetables and I cut out animal fat and animal protein, but still eating eggs. Nutritional yeast is great, and consuming small amounts of healthy fats makes those veggies even tastier. I’m focusing on writing, movement, breathing, friends, music and being outside. I’m cleansing my liver using bitters and taking a glutothione supplements with lots of B vitamins, but mostly using herbs and food. I love my acupuncturist, Sheng Shen.
How long will I follow this regime? Until my body needs something different. Everyone needs something different. The body is constantly changing, aging, shedding old cells and regenerating new ones. Respect yourself by following your gut. If we did everything our doctors told us, we could be worse off. I wonder which industry is endorsing the latest diet trends?
What’s been healing for your health issues? Comment and share.