Well, here I am 4 days into Week 4 of my Elimination Diet. If you’ve been reading the earlier posts, you know I am suffering from Post-Infectious IBS-D, and have been the entire year. There hasn’t been a day I haven’t suffered diarrhea and usually multiple times, unless I’ve used immodium. Until now.
Today, I did not make my normal morning visit(s) to the bathroom. Nor did I at noon, or after work. And here I sit at 10pm, and still no bowel movement. I’m stunned. I’m almost afraid to write it down for fear I will jinx myself.
I am not on immodium and I haven’t done anything new or different. Just the same old Elimination Diet with supplements.
Week 3 was quite a ride. I was very sick with bad diarrhea and didn’t know why because it was worse than Weeks 1 and 2. But I did have hormonal changes that week due to my period (sorry guys but this does matter for the ladies). I also thought that introducing lamb as a protein may have triggered the onslaught, so I cut out lamb, pork and beef altogether, knowing they can be a little harder to digest. So the last week or so I have only been eating chicken and white fish as my protein. I was quite discouraged at the end of Week 3 because it felt like I was going backwards, and now I was eating even fewer foods than before.
BUT…now I am feeling very optimistic that I am on to something here!
I want to share what I have been doing on the Elimination Diet in terms of supplements. I went over the actual food limitations in my last post.
At the start of the ED, I was already taking a probiotic (VSL#3), pancreatic enzymes, and Oregano Oil 15 minutes before each meal or large snack, as directed by my functional medicine doctor. I was also taking a powder she prescribed called Metagenics Glutagenics for digestive support – it’s supposed to help the lining of your gut heal.
When the ED began, I started taking a new supplement recommended by Aglaee Jacob, who authored the book I am using to guide me through the diet. It’s called Betaine HCL with Pepsin. I am using the Solaray brand from Whole Foods. She tells you in the book to start with one pill mid-meal, and increase every 2 days until you reach a max of 5. If you start getting burning after eating, it’s a sign that you need to drop down a pill. It took a while to get up to 5 pills but I did just recently.
Betaine HCL is intended to help acidify the stomach to promote improved digestion. Reports in the media to the contrary, apparently low stomach acid is much more prevalent that high stomach acid. And when your stomach acid isn’t high enough, you don’t produce pepsin and then the small intestine isn’t triggered to produce certain enzymes there. So it’s a bit of a cascading effect. One of my favorite Paleo authorities, The Paleo Mom, has a great article on stomach acid imbalance:
As strange as it sounds, the symptoms of low stomach acid are virtually the same as the symptoms of an overproduction of stomach acid. Increased levels of bacteria in your small intestine cause increased gas production. Coupled with a slower digestion, the increased volume in your small intestine puts pressure on your stomach and on the lower esophageal sphincter (whose job it is to let food down into your stomach but keep the stomach acid from going up). Stomach acid and other stomach contents creep up your esophagus causing heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux. Other symptoms of too little stomach acid include: diarrhea, constipation, bloating, belching, gas, bad breath, nausea, vomiting, rectal itching and hemorrhoids.
Did the Betaine HCL do the trick? Or was it a combination of things? Who knows… and frankly I don’t care. I’m just thrilled to see some progress. I do think the Betaine HCL really has some powerful effects in the gut though. I had bought a bottle without reading the label only to find it had some ingredients I couldn’t take (dairy). So I gave it to the Boyfriend, who suffers from constipation. Low and behold only 5 days later, he’s doing much better. Going every day.