Don’t Make a Resolution…. Start a Revolution…From the Inside Out!
You’ve heard the adage that success doesn’t happen overnight. Well, neither does health.
I hear fewer people talking about New Year’s resolutions because we all know they don’t work.
The holiday season is loaded with stress for most people, especially women. Making effective changes usually requires some accountability and awareness. Blindly trying to resolve health concerns without guidance can be an impossible endeavor. Being empowered with knowledge of the causes of symptoms and conditions arms us with actionable steps.
When Mary came to see me, she had tried everything to lift her ongoing fatigue she experienced since having her son 2 years before. Since all her blood work was normal, her doctors concluded that her fatigue was simply due to being a mom and lack of sleep. Mary knew something more was going on because even when she was able to get a good night’s sleep, she felt terrible when she got up in the morning. She was finding it increasingly harder to keep up with her toddler!
A short evaluation at the office revealed that Mary had a condition called small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a gastrointestinal condition in which various bacteria infect the lining of the small intestine which is a critical area of the gut for absorption of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Mary had significant malabsorption, which meant that she was not able to absorb food through the small intestine. Consequently, she also had 11 different vitamin and mineral deficits. Her Chinese diagnosis revealed that she had “cold” in the intestines, which meant she needed warm and spicier foods and beverages in her diet and needed to avoid raw or cold beverages. She set out to change her diet and felt much better within 3 weeks. A repeat test for SIBO showed resolution of her condition.
What’s interesting about Mary is that she had no gastrointestinal symptoms at all. Some patients with SIBO experience heartburn and are mistakenly prescribed antacids, which stop symptoms but worsen the condition overall. Others may have bloating, nausea, loose stools or constipation.
Mary found relief of her ongoing fatigue and started her own internal revolution in health. Not only did she change her diet for good, she also adopted a healthier lifestyle and put herself first with self-care! Mary was so busy with her newborn that she would eat salads and drink smoothies almost daily due to time constraints. This led to the accumulation of “cold” in her intestines. In other words, it caused low stomach acidity which increased her risk of infection in the small intestine. The shortcuts that we tend to take to better care for our loved ones can backfire and actually make us less available to them due to the fatigue and illness that result.
While smoothies and salads are certainly not known to be bad for our health, it wasn’t suitable for Mary because she was already constitutionally colder with a lower than normal body temperature. Eating cold foods did not agree with Mary.
Now Mary is armed with the knowledge that she needs to keep her nutrition very balanced with warmer and spicier foods on the whole. She now takes the time to cook her meals and eats and exercises regularly. She’s been able to stick with her plan because she knows what to do! Although some may think that Mary is taking time away from her son to take care of herself, it’s quite the opposite. Mary feels so much better that she spends much more time playing and caring for him than she did before, and this gives her great satisfaction and keeps her little guy happy, too!
If you’ve been diagnosed with SIBO, here are four tips to help heal your gut:
- Eat fermented foods such as kimchee, kefir, sauerkraut, fermented beets and similar foods.
- Eat “resistive carbohydrates.” Resistive carbs are carbs that are not digested by the human gut. Instead, the “good” bacteria that live in our guts thrive on these foods. They help defend the gut from infection.
- If you have low stomach acidity (some clues are a pale tongue with a white coat and the feeling of cold or low body temperature), use digestive enzymes that contain hydrochloric acid. These enzymes should be taken just before your meals to provide the proper acidity for good digestion.
- A potent probiotic of 100 billion colonies per capsule helps boost immunity
The treatment of SIBO is not always as easy as it was in Mary. This condition is diagnosed with a simple breath test. Treatment can often take several months using either natural methods such as herbs or, for more serious conditions, antibiotics.
Low stomach acidity is one known cause of SIBO. Another less obvious, but common cause is stress! Medical studies are confirming that stress suppresses the immune system. Everything we touch is teeming with bacteria and we rely on our immune system to kill these bacteria that we find on our food and skin. If our defenses are down due to stress, all bets are off.
It’s critical to seek help from a board certified integrative medicine doctor to assure that this condition is properly diagnosed and treated. The longer the condition exists, the more difficult it is to treat.
If you’re under significant stress from the holidays, you might want to ask Santa to put some probiotics and digestive enzymes in your stocking this year!
My team and I wish you a safe and wonderful holiday season full of blessings and great health!
Dr. Riobe helps patients prevent disease and combat fatigue, stress, and other issues through the use of Functional and Traditional Chinese Medicine – an Integrative approach – The Riobe Method. Contact the Riobe Institute of Integrative Medicine for your appointment today – 772.266.4258.