The Gut Stuff Reader:
I’ve had gut issues since the age of around 19 (approx 10 years) and have tried everything I can think of – or that I’ve been recommended. I’m at the end of my tether and literally don’t know what to do next! Is there anything you can suggest?
Things I’ve tried:
- Low FODMAP
- SCD Diet
- Gluten free
- Low histamine diet
- Blood tests
- Stool tests
- Breath test (tested positive for SIBO)
- Consulted a Nutritionist
- Consulted Dieticians
- Exercise incl. yoga
- Drink 2lts of water
It sounds as you have been on a long journey and it has been frustrating. I wonder if looking at some internal questions may help? How do you eat and where do you eat? Eating in relaxing surroundings, and chewing food mindfully can have a big impact on digestion. We need our parasympathetic nervous system (that’s the “rest and digest” one) switched on to digest food properly. Otherwise, food can end up undigested in the colon causing many gut issues. The WAY that we eat may sound like a simple solution but I’ve seen significant improvement in gut symptoms of patients who start to focus on this and master the manner and pace in which they eat. Many of us are eating on the run and looking for tests and pills for solutions when the answers are often much closer to home. In countries like Spain, you would never eat lunch at your desk while tapping away on your phone or computer. People go to the canteen, sit at a table with colleagues for an hour, and relax, and chew food well. In my opinion, it isn’t just the Mediterranean diet itself which is so beneficial to gut health, it is the conditions and people eating together that are also contributing to good health. I’m not saying this is the only potential cause of ill gut health, but can often be a contributor.
I also wonder what changed in your life or what significant events happened when you were 19? Sometimes when I ask this question, devastating answers can come out: the death of a loved family member, divorce, moved country, ran away/taken away from home, sent to boarding school, started an education somewhere they didn’t like. The brain-gut connection is powerful – and processing trauma can be part of gut recovery for some people. Going into therapy, or joining a group of other survivors can help as well as focusing on a diet eating a rainbow to develop a healthy microbiome which in turn can influence our mood and mental health.
Thirdly, if the dairy free, gluten free, low histamine, low Fodmap SCD diets aren’t working for you, consider eating more freely and wide-ranging. Look at the cost v benefit to your life of using them and which if any of these are right for you the individual you are. Are they bringing enough benefit for the amount of work involved? Maybe time to try widening the diet and looking to meal times with pleasure. Some people tell me that following restrictive diets for too long a period of time can lead to lots of stress in itself which can mean they aren’t relaxing at meal times which is essential to good digestion.
No advice in this column is designed to override any by your medical doctor and should not be relied on as a substitute for specialist dietary advice. If you have any concerns about your health, visit your general practitioner, or medical consultant.
Do you want to ask a nutritionist a question about your gut issues? You can do that HERE!