In my last post about my gut health issues I mentioned I’m taking IBgard and FDgard which were both recommended by my gastroenterologist, and that my IBS & gut health symptoms dramatically improved taking those before every meal.
I love that the IB/FDgard are all natural, they’re simply peppermint oil supplements – but they WORK.
I spoke too soon though…
I had my first normal bowel movement in over FOUR months the morning after I wrote that post, and for 3 days straight now… and haven’t taken the laxative at all for over a week.
I also ate cauliflower twice over the weekend… with NO adverse effects.
ANY vegetable usually put me back in gut-wrenching pain for DAYS. Eating vegetables usually results in immediate hiccups, indigestion & acid reflux followed by abdominal pain and intestinal spasms.
But this time: no symptoms, no suffering – at all. 🙂
My guts are back on track!!
I got samples of both the IBgard and FDgard from my doctor, and when they worked so well the FIRST time I took them, I ordered more on Amazon. He told me that was the cheapest place to get them:
FDgard – for upper digestive/stomach issues (indigestion, acid, etc)
IBgard – for lower digestive/intestinal issues (IBS, constipation, diarrhea, etc)
That stuff is like magic!!!
It took almost a week to fully kick in, although the symptoms were immediately better with first use, but wow… my guts actually feel normal today!
I’m ecstatic!! lol. What a RELIEF.
I’m taking them both. I highly recommend them if you have ANY kind of digestive issues or IBS – because IBS is absolutely miserable and totally takes over your life…
I love that it’s all natural too, it’s just a peppermint oil supplement, but it works SO well.
I felt SO good yesterday that I got outside and played with my new water toy (a pressure washer, lol) and worked for FIVE FULL HOURS washing decks and different areas of the house.
That was an amazing full-body workout!
Up until now, since I got sick four months ago, it’s been hard to do any exercise or anything physical at all really, because my entire CORE was so sensitive and sometimes in terrible pain.
In the beginning, the inflammation and spasms in my guts were so bad it hurt just to TOUCH my abdomen – and you could literally see it moving (the spasms) from the outside, like a freaky X-files episode lol. Ugh
I was able to alleviate that excruciating pain using MCT Oil, which is a natural anti-inflammatory for the digestive system – among many other great health benefits! But I wasn’t able to totally get past the IBS and abdominal bloating & discomfort – until I started taking the IBgard regularly.
I cannot tell you how GREAT it feels… to FEEL great!
My hope is that my story proves a shortcut for others suffering, at least where to start and what to try.
A total elimination diet is ideal to start collecting real data about what’s going on in YOUR body. Start with plain meats, and add in one new food at a time every 4-6 days. It takes ~72 hours to fully digest any foods you eat, so you want to fully monitor the results of one single food at a time so you KNOW what affects you – and how.
Logging details about your symptoms and timelines, what causes digestive flare-ups, what you’ve tried and the results, etc is VERY helpful if you ever find yourself needing to seek the help of a specialist.
Oh – and my lab results came back!
Everything looks great, all tests for possible infections/conditions came back negative, my organs are in good shape (whew!), and I have my next appointment on Friday morning with the gastroenterologist on Friday morning as a follow-up.
I’ll let you know what he says, but I have a feeling he’ll simply say to continue taking the IBgard and FDgard and continue adding foods back in one at a time to test what I can (or can’t) eat now that the worst of it is over.
Which is all GOOD news! 🙂
Thank you again for your support, well wishes, all your notes, positive thoughts & prayers – and just being here with & for me through it all.
p.s. I’m off to get my nails done, AGAIN. The collagen has been a great gut health supplement, but it’s really going to keep my hairdresser and nail guy BUSY.
It’s amazing how fast my hair & nails are growing again, which makes me smile about what the collagen must be doing for my insides. 🙂
It’s great for hair, skin & nails (skin elasticity, even) but also for joints, gut health, your brain, etc. Our bodies are made up of SO much collagen and we start losing it rapidly as we age – which is why we get joint aches, wrinkles, etc.
I’m using the Unflavored Collagen Powder, MCT C8/C10 Oil & collagen keto bars – plus the portable collagen packets when I travel shown below, but I use the tubs at home – all from Perfect Keto. My coupon is LOWCARBTRAVELER for our discount there.
I tried another collagen powder but it was funky/salty and RUINED my coffee. Perfect Keto has great prices and high quality products, so that’s the one I ended up sticking with for collagen & mct oil.
This is my personal ongoing story with major (scary) gut health issues. It is not meant to be used to self-diagnose or self-treat.
I am not a doctor or health professional, I am simply someone suffering from a gut health problem, and working strategically through solutions.
However, I’ve read countless stories of similar problems & potential solutions, which I found incredibly helpful in taking the right steps and asking the right questions along the way… so my hope is that my story proves helpful to someone else who may be suffering, and hopefully before it gets as bad as mine has.
I have NEVER been THIS sick for THIS long.
This whole gut health ordeal has been nothing short of completely miserable – and incredibly stressful.
What I’ve been doing to manage the symptoms and continue thriving (most days) with high energy and solid sleep… has been working. But it’s been simply that: managing the symptoms and getting by, not fixing the actual problem.
That said, it’s been working VERY well – so there’s that at least. 😉
I’ll share with you what I’ve been doing, and why, and how that’s helping – all the nitty gritty details. But first, A WARNING: this post contains graphic detail in some places that you may want to skip over if descriptive digestion talk disturbs you, and I highly recommend you don’t read this while you’re eating. /warning
!!! I’VE BEEN STRESSED TO THE MAX OVER THIS !!!
Sorry for shouting. *sigh*
This has been such a stressful experience for a number of reasons. Being sick has affected my work and productivity obviously, and of course my overall quality of life.
I can’t exactly get out hiking in my condition, or be that far away from a bathroom for that long 😛 which has really ruined my usual spring & summer hiking adventures.
I also feel bad for not publishing my usual daily food diaries, but it’s because I’m “eating funny” and I don’t want to set a bad example or mislead anyone who might be newer to eating low carb – and not familiar with my current gut health issues.
I haven’t been able to share as much as I’d like lately period, and I have SO much to share with you!! But I’ve been sleeping A LOT as I’m testing a new supplement and reintroducing foods (like vegetables) one at a time again as part of that test.
I’m finding I have to lie down after most meals (unless it’s just plain meat). Yesterday alone I slept 11 hours which means I’m not getting much done otherwise.
There’s also the fact that I’m nauseous off and on, which kills my focus – and my ability to write, or look at a screen for too long.
Then there are all the questions & comments…
Throughout this entire gut health ordeal I’ve continued sharing updates and my meals & food choices in an ongoing story on both Instagram and Facebook, which has sparked A LOT of interesting discussions & questions – but also some criticism.
There have been long periods where I’ve had to stay OFFLINE and just take a break, because stress makes my gut issues 10x worse, so I simply step away when I have to – because: self care.
Most people have been curious more than anything and very kind, understanding and compassionate which is really nice. Plus sharing their own stories & experiences which made for great discussions and new things for me to research & test.
But I’ve also been taking a little heat, or at least some questions FEEL accusatory.
Such as: “are you anorexic?” (anorexia: “an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat.”)
Um, no. I’m just SICK and can hardly eat anything.
I lost almost 10 pounds during our Q1 winter keto challenge, and have been hovering around 140.8 or so for the last few months.
So to clarify: I have NOT lost 10+ pounds from being sick lately.
My weight was up before the year started, and I had to “mind my macros” to get it off again – and I did. THEN I got sick. My weight has only fluctuated a couple pounds the whole time I’ve been sick, which is common for me when I’m not well.
The anorexia comment was in regards to me sharing my excitement over losing .08 pounds and dipping back into the 130’s finally one day last week. 🙂
My size hasn’t really changed in quite awhile… You see pictures of me often!
June 22nd vs April 21st vs May 18th – not much of a difference lately since I dropped the winter weight in the first quarter, or since I got sick in early March.
I probably said something misleading, unintentionally, to give people the impression that my weight loss this year had anything to do with being sick. It didn’t though – so now that’s all cleared up!;)
When I do share my meals, it causes A LOT of confusion & questions.
People have asked if I’m fasting (ie not eating intentionally), doing OMAD (one meal a day), if I’m eating carnivore (meat only), etc.
No to all, or at least not intentionally. I’m only eating what I can tolerate which is mostly plain meats, macadamia nut butter, yogurt, eggs, and a few other things.
I eat when I’m hungry, don’t eat when I’m not hungry, and only eat what appeals or what I can safely digest. That’s all.
The MCT Oil I’ve been using to alleviate digestive inflammation is very high fat and high calorie, and also works as an appetite suppressant, so that gets me by on days I’m too sick to eat much.
At least a dozen people have said “you should get back to the basics and quit eating so many keto products.” Um, refer back to my list above lol.
People are not always very subtle or sensitive to the situation… or paying much attention.
These are the only four meals I ate on my recent trip to Austin (yes, only 4 meals in 5 days) – just meat & avocado mostly. Otherwise I had mct oil & collagen powder in my coffee, and a couple of macadamia nut butter packets:
The only exception is a collagen/mct keto bar with clean ingredients that I’ve discovered I can tolerate, so one of those gets me by in a pinch.
Those don’t bother my stomach at all – where 4 little brussel sprouts or half a serving of plain green beans sends me into days of pure misery. Go figure!
Food did not cause this problem.
I am legitimately SICK.
I’ve been eating a ketogenic low carb diet for 8 1/2 years with no problems and no digestive issues. Prior to going keto I ate horrible amounts of CRAP and processed foods and junk – and NEVER got this sick.
So no, don’t blame keto.
And don’t blame me either, please.
It’s bad enough being this sick… without being blamed for being sick.
My doctor and gastroenterologist both agree that I am doing all the right things by continuing to eat gluten free and sugar free (keto), and doing a total elimination diet w/cautious testing – at least until we get some definitive answers.
Apologies if I seem defensive or crabby (I am). It’s been a really tough week. I’ll explain why in a second, because I’ve been doing exceptionally well otherwise, all things considered.
The Warning Signs That Something Was Wrong
In hindsight this all started 2.5 years ago after a nasty winter flu I couldn’t shake, followed by 3 rounds of antibiotics & 2 doses of steroids.
I didn’t think much of the symptoms at first: depression, anxiety, insomnia, bloating, nausea, lack of appetite, etc. Those sort of snuck up on me at a time when I already wasn’t feeling my best.
Over the course of the next year or so I mentioned mysterious weight gain several times too, and started blood glucose/ketone testing to identify & eliminate potential ingredient culprits or food intolerances.
I attributed most of those symptoms to the stress in my life at the time (A LOT).
I eventually recovered and got back in the swing of things, only to be hit by a cold/flu/virus the next winter – and again the winter after.
I had antibiotics both winters since that first bad bout 2 1/2 years ago, but it was this last round (or virus) in March of this year that really did me in… and made me aware something MUCH deeper was going on, literally.
The most obvious & most consistent symptom though, was my hair…
Or at least, that’s the thing that bothered me most.
During the entire 2 1/2 years I would have long periods of time where my hair was falling out and breaking off. Just shampooing or running my fingers through my hair resulted in a HANDFUL of hair strands.
My hair had a very “elastic” feel to it and kept breaking off. Even when I had it cut, it would split right where she cut it. My hairdresser was perplexed and called it “thyroid hair.”
I did see my doctor, do bloodwork, have my thyroid & Vitamin D checked, etc etc etc. All of that came out fine – great results, no problems. So I ruled out my thyroid as the issue.
My hair and nails weren’t growing much either. My hair just kept getting thinner and shorter, and one of my nails split all the way down the bed to the quick.
This photo was taken just 3 weeks after my last haircut:
I became embarrassed and self conscious about how bad my hair looked, to the point of wearing it up and avoiding photos.
Besides constantly breaking off, so much of it fell out that you could literally see through the back of my hair.
I saw my doctor as I mentioned, and I also increased my daily protein intake: higher grams, but still under 25% of my total daily calories. (see: keto macros)
I basically doubled my protein intake from around 45 grams a day (the recommended daily amount) to closer to 90’ish grams most days.
I read that was good for your hair. 😉
I tried biotin with no results, then switched to taking collagen daily – and have seen GREAT (fast!) results with that. I have new hair growing in, it’s getting thicker, and my roots are showing within weeks of getting my hair colored – so it’s growing again!
I usually (sadly) only have to get my hair touched up maybe twice a year – until now.
My hairdresser should start selling collagen to ALL of her clients! lol
I’m using Perfect Keto unflavored collagen powder and also their MCT C8/C10 oil (more on that in a second). Our coupon code is LOWCARBTRAVELER for a discount. I don’t like the flavored powders, they’re too sweet for me, and unflavored collagen powder mixes into anything.
There were many other on/off “symptoms” as I mentioned, but my hair was the most OBVIOUS and embarrassing.
Throughout that entire two years I was diligently testing for food culprits, monitoring symptoms, working with my doctor and working on feeling better: exercise, sunshine, feel-good activities, eliminating certain ingredients/foods, etc.
I still didn’t put it all together as pointing to gut health.
I was going through a really hard time in my personal life and honestly thought it was all the result of stress & depression (meaning: I was sad/down for legitimate reasons – things were CRAZY there for awhile).
It wasn’t until it was all AMPLIFIED this past March into UNBEARABLE symptoms that I realized something was seriously wrong, and had to take more drastic action…
I caught a nasty flu on my flight home from Long Beach, CA in February. I boarded a 5 hour non-stop flight, and was surrounded by 5 or 6 people coughing their heads off and blowing their noses through the entire trip.
I woke up the next morning the unhappy recipient of that lovely virus.
It was bad enough to see my doctor so I took the usual dose of antibiotics and steroids, then got well and back on my feet – only to be hit with another virus a month later, in early March, from a close friend that was sick.
I didn’t take antibiotics that second time, just over the counter cold medication, chicken broth & rested a lot.
I did take a Zicam tablet though, as soon as I realized my friend was sick, to try to ward it off. The minute I melted that tablet on my tongue I got severe indigestion and acid reflux…
Next I felt painful rumbling in my stomach, like a soda was shaken up in my tummy, which moved down to excruciating gas pains and spasms in my intestines.
I thought for sure I had a bad reaction to the ingredients of the Zicam, and maybe I did. My friend also had stomach upset with that virus so at first I thought it was more of a stomach flu type cold. Or maybe both.
But the fact that those symptoms continued, and have persisted for MONTHS, finally lead me to see a gastroenterologist (GI specialist).
I was bloated, nauseous and had no appetite. I was burping constantly and had acid reflux. I was in the bathroom something like 17 times a day, full of gas and mucous – sometimes a clear/white foamy mucous, other times a long stringy mucous.
I constantly felt compelled to use the bathroom, but rarely was there an actual bowel movement. It felt like my intestines were working overtime (they were).
Managing The Symptoms – Successfully
During the almost four months of extreme stomach and intestinal problems from the time the flu ended in March until early July, I tried and tested various things in an effort to determine what was actually going on.
I got nauseous at the sight or even the thought of food. My digestive system was inflamed, constantly rumbling, in spasms, and causing me constant pain & discomfort.
I saw my doctor as I mentioned, and I did try a prescription to help with (relax) the intestinal spasms as a first step. That prescription had ZERO effect, it didn’t work for me, but I did try it consistently for a full month – two different times.
The ONLY thing that sounded good was plain meat – like: plain chicken wings, a plain hamburger steak, grilled chicken, dry ribs, etc.
Everything else turned my stomach at the sight of it. I kept trying to eat “balanced meals” anyway, and plenty of fiber – which I (mistakenly) thought would help.
Anytime I tried to eat vegetables, salad or broccoli (my usuals) I would be in excruciating gut pain (upper first, then lower) for FOUR FULL DAYS.
Solution: MCT Oil + Elimination Diet
Through trial and error I started identifying foods that caused debilitating flare-ups. Knowing I felt best on the nights I only had plain meat for dinner (wing night, for example), that’s where I started.
I did a “total elimination diet” starting with just plain meat, and cautiously tested one new food at a time back into my diet every 4-6 days to see how each one affected me.
Any vegetables literally KILLED my guts, like 4 full days of misery, starting with hiccups & indigestion and ending with excruciating abdominal pain – every single time.
I had to mark all green vegetables OFF the list, as those WRECKED my system consistently, and slowly built up a list of foods I could eat with no adverse effects.
The foods I could tolerate included: all meats, eggs, avocado, any nut butters (macadamia nut butter, sweetened almond butters, peanut butter, etc), dairy was fine (cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc).
I happily discovered I could eat Mammoth Creameries keto ice cream which is mostly eggs and heavy cream, and that was VERY soothing on my inflamed digestive system which was nice.
Those products are all more recent additions though after cautious testing, and me needing to find more low carb / sugar free foods I could tolerate to both maintain nutritional ketosis (for health reasons) and also maintain a healthy gut balance (ie no sugar or gluten).
Before that though, I discovered MCT Oil and learned it is a natural anti-inflammatory on your digestive system, among many other health benefits.
I would love to hear how it went for you! Not in terms of pounds & inches lost, our Final Weigh-In is here for that, but I want to know what you STRUGGLED with most during this last 90 day challenge, or in your own personal keto/weight loss journey, and any questions you have about the ketogenic low carb diet…
Do you struggle with mindset, consistency, food choices, learning about macros, meal tracking, or what specifically?
In other words: How can I help you?
What CHALLENGES you most in your weight loss journey, or about the keto diet?
I’m creating the outline for our next challenge and I want to include a lot more help & resources to make it even MORE successful for everyone involved.
Where are you in your low carb / weight loss journey?
What topics are you most interested in learning more about?
What do you need the MOST help with?
Even if you aren’t participating in the challenge and/or our private Facebook group, your answers will be a huge help – so thank you in advance!
2019 Keto Challenge: Education & Motivation Series
I’m really excited to kick off a new challenge & discussion series with you this summer, focused on “Education and Motivation” to both learn more about your body and a ketogenic low carb diet – and also to learn better ways to stay on track, stay motivated, and make it a healthy lifestyle change… more easily.
Whether you plan to participate in the private Facebook group, challenge activities & weigh-in’s or not, I would love your input on topics you would most like to see addressed & discussed.
For example, I’m currently interested in: fat loss & muscle gain (body composition vs weight loss), gut health, overall metabolic health, how to improve your ketone levels & metabolism, the science of calories – which are WAY more than just a number, just to name a few things!
Keto Challenge Links & Group Discussions
I’m kicking this challenge off a bit slower than usual, with a lot of discussion (input from you!) and ultimately a more structured series to help you stay on track and see RESULTS more easily.
Here are the challenge links & group discussions happening this week:
My current weight is 139.4 as of this morning. I still need to do my body measurements! I’m focused on maintenance and also working on body composition during this challenge: losing body fat & gaining lean muscle weight.
We’re also discussing MCT Oil (and my recommendations) here based on my experience with it, and GREAT results:
Now that I’m on the better side of things, and fingers crossed my consultation with the specialist goes well tomorrow (I doubt I’ll get any definitive answers anytime soon – it’ll be a process!)… anyway, I have lots of fun things lined up for you and look forward to getting back to our GREAT discussions. 🙂
Next up is a GREAT keto friendly loaf bread recipe that made an AMAZING low carb grilled cheese. You’ll love this one!
And of course we’re going to be kicking off a new Summer Keto Challenge – but this time I plan to do things a little different. So stay tuned for details and updates! 😉
As for my weigh-in…
I’ve lost 11.8 pounds since January 1st of this year – across both our New Year and Spring keto challenges.
p.s. Lolli’s Low Carb Granola is on sale today! Get the full 20% off by adding my discount code: LOWCARBTRAVELER at checkout. If you use this link: http://lollislowcarbgranola.com/lowcarbtraveler it will add the discount code for you automatically.
Enjoy!! I absolutely LOVE this keto granola – and it tests great on my blood sugar & ketone levels.