I have "leaky gut." At least that is what I have been told. It seems to make sense. I have been a vegan for several years now and suddenly I am having inflammation issues again. I am told by my mom, who is a nurse, that leaky gut is not a medical term however. So it is not recognized by traditional medicine. That is okay by me; I don't like traditional medicine sometimes. She requested more information and my doctor sent me a link to share with her (below). Basically, it is saying that there is a link between our gut and inflammation in our bodies. There can be several different causes of gut issues, and therefore inflammation, so we have to work out what is causing mine. (I have included a link below to an article explaining leaky gut.)
The first stop was a blood test. Actually two expensive blood tests! Since this is not traditional medicine it is not really covered under insurance, but I don't have insurance anyway. These two blood tests were to determine my food sensitivities. One test was for wheat and the other was for a ton of other common foods. Of course individual results will vary, so you will need to get your own work done. But my results were interesting so I will share.
I am sensitive to wheat, but apparently not the gluten part. So when I went GF and vegan a few years ago that was a good thing. My problem is that because my symptoms from cheating where not severe I would cheat more and more often! Ooops!
I am also sensitive to dairy, but not lactose. It is the casein, more specifically the by product of my body processing casein, that is the issue for me. So, again, no embarrassing consequences for me if I cheated though I did find that my back inflammation was particularly bad if I didn't stay on track. I am also sensitive to all types of meat products, some more than others but all of them. So for me going plant-based and gluten free was the right choice.
There were a few other sensitivity results that were odd to me: apples, pineapples, blackberries, apricots, navy beans, sesame seeds. These are the foods that were causing the highest inflammatory response. I am totally bummed about apples and pineapples for sure! I mean "an apple a day..." right? I love these fruits! It did, however, explain how my own attempts at 'reboot' cleanse diets didn't work for me. I am also super bummed about sesame seeds because that means no tahini and not tahini means not hummus! Well, I guess I could make it myself without tahini, but it wouldn't taste the same.
Next stop, a modified diet. My doctor started me on a 30 day cleanse that included eliminating the foods indicated on my blood test as well as some other foods that commonly lead to inflammation responses. So no tomatoes, corn, white potatoes or refined sugars, etc. I was also given supplementation for my GI track and inflammation. I am not going to lie--it was pricey! So I am paying out of pocket for the doctor visits, blood tests, and now expensive supplements. And the diet is hard! I am already limited by my vegan and GF status and now I have to look out for things like added sugar as well as tomatoes! Do you know how many products have some version of corn, potato, tomato, or apples?? Plus I have to lay off soy and almonds. So I don't have to cut them out completely, but I need to cut back dramatically. I am so thankful for coconut products right now!
So I spent the last 30 days struggling to find products that I could eat so that I am not spending all my time in the kitchen. I own a restaurant, so I spend enough time there! Sometimes you just want a snack cracker people! I have to watch others eat all the foods that I used to enjoy. My wonderful and supportive husband ate a pint of ice cream and a bag of chips right in front of me! Oh! and then my loving family wants to "try" all my special and expensive food. Yeah, try means 'I will end up eating it all.' Then I find that I don't have anything I can eat without major efforts in the kitchen, meanwhile there are loads of snacks and things in the kitchen for the next time they are hungry. So I have turned into the food police. I have my own space in the pantry and no one is allowed to eat my food--not even a taste! It is harsh, but now I have what I need and that makes it easier to avoid cheating when I am hungry.
Now that I am 30 days in it is a little easier. I know what I can eat. I know where I can eat if we are out. There have been times that I have been THAT lady at the restaurant and still walked away feeling ill. So cross-contamination is an issue. I ate at one Moe's and felt terrible, double checked their ingredients online, tried another Moe's later and was fine. So it is best to eat at home, but sometimes that is just not an option.
I have started on my 2nd 30 days in the program. I am still on the same diet for the most part. I am allowed corn twice a week as long as I am tolerating it. So far, so good. I have different supplements now. They are quite a bit cheaper, but still about $100. I did have some issues with the last supplements hurting my stomach. I had to change from taking them before bed to taking them in the morning with food. I am experiencing some discomfort again with the new pills. Looking at the ingredients, I shouldn't be having any issues so I am not sure what is going on. We shall see what the doctor says.
Results? Yes. I have noticed significantly less swelling in my hands for example. It isn't 100% gone. I still have some days when it is back and I wonder if I have had something I shouldn't and didn't realize it, or if stress is playing a bigger role in my issues. It is very stressful to start your own business. I can't just walk away from the stress right now, but I would say that it has been "chronic" levels for some time.
Next steps? I will continue on my diet, per doctors orders. I will take my supplements as best I can. I will hopefully be able to take them with ease soon. Now that I feel I have a handle on my new diet situation I am hoping to get more serious about an exercise program.
This article breaks down leaky gut in an easy to read format: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-leaky-gut-real#section6
The article the doctor sent for my mom: https://cellsciencesystems.com/education/research/inflammatory-symptoms-immune-system-and-food-intolerance-one-cause-many-symptoms/