Posts Tagged ‘vulvodynia’

I tried the SIBO diet with Paleo Dietitian Aglaee Jacobs and while it did work I found the longer I was on it the worse I looked, I mean I didn’t look healthy so I think I was missing some key nutrients.. probably because of the lack of mix in veggies and probably not enough iron, two things I find hard to get enough of. I have found another book that I’m reading right now and once I’m done I will try out. It’s called the Paleo approach written by Sarah Ballantyne. Reverse autoimmnue disease and heal your body.

I have long suspected that a variety of my health problems are all related to autoimmune disease for example gluten intolerance – though I suspect celiac disease, vulvodynia/vestibulodynia, low blood platelets (thrombocytopenia) and a few deficiencies such as low iron. Irritable bowel (IBS) I was diagnosed with which I think is actually a few intolerances all wrapped into one. I have managed my IBS by staying away from most grains and dairy.

When I eat gluten I get pimples and welts under my skin, on my head(head gets itchy) and I get head aches(usually the following day). My gums start to swell and get red and bleed, sugar also causes me a few of these problems as well as bladder/urinary tract/yeast infections. Both sugar and gluten cause my vulvodynia to worsen. I also have a variety of other foods that I eat and cause me to feel bloated including dairy(lactose and casein flares my IBS) bananas and potatoes(both white and sweet) cause bloating.

This to me sounds like my immune system is fighting off things it shouldn’t be fighting off, it’s thinking that these foods are intruders, bad things that my immune system attacks when it enters my body. I have suspected SIBO and though it seems much better since my SIBO diet I tried a year ago. I did hemocode intolerance test through rexall pharmacy after doing the SIBO diet (should have done it before). The SIBO diet really limited the foods I could eat and also the nutrience I was getting. I found it hard to figure out what I should introduce back into my diet. I had no clue where to start and got frustrated and just went back to the way I was eating before rather than trying to continue.  I am actually still reading Aglaee’s book – Digestive Health with real food but I wanted to go a bit further than this and try to learn more about the effect of nutrition and auto immune disease. I think all my problems are linked to this. Since through my research it all seems to link to this conclusion.

I believe it all started with an infection in 2004 – tuberculosis. Following 9 months of very strong medication. While taking the medication I started having problems – urinary tract infection/yeast infection. I was taking medication to help with the infections every couple months while I was also taking the medication for tuberculosis. Now I wish I hadn’t.

Since then I had to stop taking birth control pills which seemed to worsen my vulvodynia almost immediately when I start taking them. (it took 2 years and numerous doctors to get the vulvodynia diagnosis) I believe not only did i screw up my hormones from years of using the pill I also screwed up my immune system while fighting tuberculosis and taking round after round of medication to get rid of what I thought was infections but likely was SIBO and intolerances to food I had developed.

I’m still figuring all this stuff out almost 10 years later, I went gluten free, then paleo. When I was pregnant I found it incredibly difficult to stick to the paleo diet. My stomach turned at the thought of meat and veggies, I couldn’t stomach most paleo foods, coconut oil/milk, nuts and seeds and since then I have been struggling to get back into eating more paleo, getting away from sugar and gluten that seems to creep back into my diet now and then.

I’m one of those people who when stressed eats and this past year has been the most stressful year ever, things are now getting back on track and I’m looking to get my health back on track as well. It’s a struggle and anyone who is going through the same thing or something similar would agree, it’s not even the least bit easy. I’m taking it day by day, learning and trying to find the energy to make a plan to get my health back to what it was before my pregnancy. A few notes I’d like to mention:

– While getting the IBS diagnonis, my doctors told me my symptoms were all in my head – until the IBS diagnosis

– While getting the vulvodynia diagnosis, my doctors told me it was all in my head. It also took 5 years to get this diagnonsis – which up until the diagnosis I was getting regular prescriptions for yeast/UTI/bladder infections

All my symptoms – so far – for all my health problems aside from low blood platelet levels I have managed to improve from changing to the paleo and sibo diet. I am heading back in this direction and am hoping that the autoimmune protocol will help me as well with the low blood platelet/easy bruising and shins that look like I have been kicked a million times. My gums bleed easily and my shins just never seem to heal. I get a bruise and it still looks like my bruise is there years later. Oddly enough if I get a cut, needle or anything that draws blood I don’t bleed for very long, barely at all. When I had my appendix taken out – which I think is related to my gluten intolerance/celiac – I was told they had a hard time diagnosing my appendicitis because of my low white blood cell count, typically if you have appendicitis you have high white blood cell count because your body is fighting off the infection, you also usually have a fever, which I didn’t. Though I rarely get sick and when I do it doesn’t last very long…so the low white blood cell count seems weird as well as low blood platelets. (something I need to research further)

Wish me luck, I’ll keep you all posted.

 

It has now been about 2 1/2 weeks following the SIBO diet, my gosh this is hard! I’ve had a few days where I ate foods I shouldn’t have eaten, most of those days it was because I was out and about and got really hungry and no healthy food was available. I didn’t actually think I would be out so long(in most cases) so I didn’t bring any snacks with me, though I’m finding it hard to find convenient snacks to bring with me other than a cup of soup(bone broth with chicken and a few veggies) or kale chips.

I actually have noticed that days that I end up eating something I shouldn’t, especially if there’s quite a bit of carbs in it (usually I end up eating some form of potato, chips or fries)that usually sets off a stomach upset, almost immediately.. I even had Swiss Chalet the other day and opted for the fries instead of salad.. shouldn’t have done that, I know.. but as soon as I ate it my stomach immediately was mad at me.

It’s funny how when your stomach reacts to foods like that, those foods no longer seem so appetizing.

Seriously, like my tummy had never had a few fries and rotisserie chicken before?! I caught my stomach off guard, it didn’t expect something like that and I had stomach and gas pains the rest of the night.

I think that’s a clear sign that I’m on the right path, I’ve never reacted that way to fries and chicken.. The bad bacteria takes advantage of any little bit of carbs you have and uses it to stay alive.. it also produces gasses as it digests the food.

So there ya have it.. I have evil mean bacteria in my tummy.

I know I’m healing and I know it’s going to take time but I have NO IDEA how long it will take and when I’ll be able to introduce foods back in again. maybe a few weeks, maybe a few months.. I really don’t know. All I know is I miss food.. there’s a certain comfort in food even when you are eating paleo, you get use to having a little piece of dark chocolate or a paleo muffin as a snack, an apple or banana on the go. I always had a feeling that I should avoid the sugars, even in fruit but I really didn’t know it was going to be so difficult. I never thought in a million years I’d miss eating a banana.

I remember not that long ago, 2007 I was 215 lbs and I was eating out at restaurants everyday, a deep fryer on my kitchen counter at home. I wouldn’t bat an eye drinking pop for lunch and supper, everyday. I would go to the store on weekends get a bag full of candy and pick up a movie, order a pizza and have a night in. I really didn’t know the damage I was doing.. and honestly thinking about it now I wonder what took me so long to figure this all out. It makes so much sense to eat real food, getting nutrients to fuel your stomach.. how could I have possibly thought that eating candy and a pizza was giving me any sort of nutrition.. and in my head I would think, well I’m eating pizza, it’s good for you. It has grains, vegetables and meat.. how is that not good for you? WOW!!

I really can’t believe that was me, that was how I thought and that really wasn’t all that long ago..

The food I eat, it’s the exact opposite of that person in 2007. I am still struggling to heal all the damage I have done from the past 30 years of eating crap everyday, I hope it doesn’t take 30 years to fix it..

Today I was actually feeling pretty good, so I thought it would be a good day to start back at the gym.. I did 45 minutes on the treadmill.. not too fast but not slow either.. a nice brisk walk. I figure if I can get a few walks in during the week, it’s a start. Up till now I haven’t had the energy, so it’s nice to see that it’s coming back, even if it’s just a little.

I kind of look at this phase of the SIBO diet the same way I looked at pregnancy. My body is working very hard to CREATE – not a baby but new cells, heal and replenish nutrients in my body. It drains you to make a new human-being inside, just as much as it drains you to heal. Feeling tired, exhausted is your body’s way of telling you to take it easy, it’s busy doing it’s job, my job is to listen.

I will continue taking it easy with the exercise and I know when my body is ready it will tell me by giving me the energy I need to do more… I know the feeling, I had it before and I know it will come back eventually. I just have to give myself time and be patient… even though it really really sucks!

** update on vulvodynia, well it’s not flaring up, so that’s a good thing but still not gone so I’m sure it will take much more time. I think the last time it took a few months after changing my diet for it to get better. It’s funny because the last time, all I did was cut out gluten then sugar. I still ate fruit but not lots and it got better.. this time it’s a little more difficult to get rid of. We will see but I haven’t had any gluten at all since early February.. that I’m sure is helping me heal!

For more information on SIBO, what it is, what causes it and how to get rid of it you can check out this site

Transitioning to a SIBO diet

So it’s been a week on the SIBO diet, working with Paleo Dietitian Aglaee Jacob who is so very helpful, understanding and has great suggestions for me along the way. NOTE****If you have IBS, Crohns, Colitis or any digestive issues, I really recommend checking out Aglaee’s website. Following PALEO, maybe not SIBO, is the best way to cure your stomach and digestive problems. I haven’t had ANY IBS symptoms since going off gluten and grains and that was before even starting PALEO..SIBO diet.jpg

The first few days on SIBO DIET, I have to say were pure torture! I have gone through the withdrawal from sugar and carbs before but it has never been this difficult, at least I don’t remember it being this difficult.. though I have never lasted this long going so low carb before..

TYPICAL DETOX SYMPTOMS

You pretty much have the same symptoms doing SIBO diet as you would if you were transitioning from a Low fat High carb diet to a paleo diet. These include the following

  • Cravings- INTENSE CRAVINGS – Oh boy, look out. Hide EVERYTHING! SUGAR, BREAD, CARBS.. better yet, get them out of the house or you will be sorry. If you don’t want to throw them out, just hide them at a friends for a few days or week. The cravings diminish after the first week but the first few days are the WORST!!
  • Fatigue/Lack of energy – feeling like you want to sleep all the time! Can’t do anything.. this is a good time to take it easy and rest.. let your body heal.. then you’ll be amazed all of a sudden you’ll want to go run around.
  • Headaches – on and off headaches or even headaches that go from migraine to dull ache
  • Dizziness/Light Headed – Especially when you get up or when you move quickly
  • Nausea – often your stomach will feel sick, especially with all those extra fats you are consuming
  • Irritability/Mood Swings – Warn your friends and family you may be a grouch for a few weeks.. especially right at the beginning
  • Diarrhea/Constipation – you might go back and forth from one to the other.. not fun but it gets better as your stomach heals and will happen FAR less often, then suddenly you’ll be normal again.. YAY NORMAL!!
  • SINUS DRAINAGE – With me it wasn’t so much drainage as much as stuffed up. I felt like I had allergies(which I don’t usually have a problem with)
  • RETURN of old symptoms or worsening of your usual symptoms – ACNE, skin problems, stomach problems, aches and pains might make a slight return or worsen to annoy you and taunt you.. Wanting you to give up but you are STRONG. They’ll go away pretty quick as long as you don’t give in. ;)
  • COLD Sweats and even Flu-Like Symptoms – you might feel like you have the flu, you don’t, your body is just mad at you.. don’t worry it’ll get over it.
  • Brain fog/Lack of concentration – It reminds me of how I felt after just having my baby, mommy brain. You have to read the same sentence a hundred times, you forgot stuff(more than usual),
  • Increased urination – yeah the first few days you are pretty much getting rid of excess water.. so it’ll make you run to the washroom, A LOT!! Be prepared…
  • Increased THIRST- you would think if your body was getting rid of so much water, why would it want more. Well it does and it needs it to help flush out toxins so drink up.. DRINK LOTS, you’ll be very thirsty for a few days, maybe longer.
  • HUNGER – Your body is confused, it doesn’t know what it wants. It thinks it needs food it tells you over and over and over again to feed it. It wants the stuff you shouldn’t be eating but every time you feed it the stuff you should be eating, eventually it gets the message. You’ll go from wanting to eat every couple of hours, maybe even an hour after your last meal.. to only wanting to eat a meal 2 or 3 times a day.. I eat 2 bigger meals and a small snack and it seems to keep me satisfied all day, i’m not hungry at all. Everyone is different though so listen to your body, once it figures things out. If you aren’t sure if you are really hungry, drink some more water.. that usually helped me.

WHICH SYMPTOMS HAVE I HAD?

So far, pretty much all of them.. more on the first 2 days.. then gradually one would pop up, then another the next day. Kind of like your body is saying, well that didn’t work. Maybe THIS will get her attention.. Your body will do whatever it can to get things back to the way it use to be.. nobody likes change, especially your body! The first few days I had migraine, light-headed, racing heart, NO ENERGY(literally was winded walking up 8 steps) it was super hard to concentrate, thankfully I started this when I was already off work(HOLIDAYS) and had already cleaned 3/4 of my house. If I had done this at the beginning of my holidays, there’s NO WAY I would have gotten anything done all week.

Thursday I started and it wasn’t that bad but by Friday the symptoms started, they continued on into Saturday but faded after a bit, still present but not as bad. By Sunday I was feeling much better, mild headaches but I didn’t feel like I had to go eat sugar every 2 min.. progress, cravings were much better! Oddly I had a huge craving for lemons on the weekend… I think it was to help digest the fat since I wasn’t taking any ox bile(helps digest fat) Eating the fat was making me nauseous.. The lemons and ACV I found out actually helped with digestion and got rid of the nausea…(glad my body knows what to do) ACV and lemons are 2 things I normally can’t eat without diluting but apparently when starting SIBO I can eat lemons straight!

Monday I woke up with a headache and I went to work, I had all my meals ready for the day. The headache on Monday surprisingly never got worse(almost always do). My skin also broke out in psoriasis or eczema (not sure which one it is) but I hadn’t had it in years, since 2008 when I went gluten-free. I knew that old health problems, such as skin problems and what not might return for a bit, I guess I forgot about a few problems I had. Neck pain, headaches, acne, psoriasis along with all the rest of the stuff I mentioned. Can’t say it was a fun few days but now it’s a full week since I started and I’m feeling much better.

My body is getting use to the foods. This is the first time that I have been able to get past the sugar addiction/carb flu going this low carb(almost 0 carbs) and get through the onslaught of feeling like crap. But HEY I made it and I’m feeling better, my energy is coming back, the skin is clearing up(slowly).

What is the SIBO DIET?

The SIBO diet is basically a very HIGH FAT, MODERATE PROTEIN and VERY LOW CARB version of the Paleo diet. What it is meant to do is to starve all the bad bacteria in your small intestine, (SIBO= SMALL INTESTINAL BACTERIA OVERGROWTH) give your body time to heal and help you restore the healthy bacteria.. this process could take a while depending on how damaged your gut is.. This isn’t something I will continue doing forever, it is temporary but what it is giving me the opportunity to do is HEAL.

Once I feel that my body has healed and my symptoms have been gone for a long enough time(a week or so) I will start introducing CAUTION foods back into my diet.. each one I will give 3 or 4 days to adjust to before deciding if it’s a problem food or something I can put back into my diet.

After years of using birth control being treated for yeast infections, bacterial infections and Tuberculosis which was 9 months of treatment that destroyed virtually all bacteria in my system. It’s no wonder my stomach is in such bad shape. It’s incredibly hard for your body to heal after all that stuff, if you don’t give it the opportunity. Even just one of those things can throw your system out of whack!ANatomy of human digestive system

Literally when I started birth control at 18 is when I started having problems, infection after infection. So that’s over 15 years of damage from medications to treat everything since then. I actually had to completely go off birth control in 2009 because it was giving me so many health problems.

I was tested and was told I had not only developed an intolerance to gluten(already knew that) but all grains, sugar, chocolate, lactose, alcohol, MSG! My gosh.. the test is limited in the foods it checks, so I may have other intolerance’s, which is one of the reasons why it’s important to introduce foods back in slowly. Obviously I won’t be introducing any of the above foods back in any time soon but other foods like cheese, eggs, peppers, tomatoes foods that can cause problems, in some people, are foods I will slowly introduce back into my diet.

WHAT I EAT!

So what the heck can/do I eat? Well if you really want to know EVERYTHING you can CLICK HERE and download Aglaee’s Gut healing and Symptom Management Protocol for SIBO PDF but for the shorter version..

I stick to LOW FODMAP(you can click this list in the SIBO PDF) veggies such as zucchini, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, cucumbers, chives, ginger, kale, spring onion(green part) – there’s other ones but these are the ones that I like the most and can stomach – I am not a HUGE veggie person, which sucks! I don’t eat any fruit right now.. BOOO I love fruit!

HIGH FAT – so coconut oil, GHEE, Extra Virgin Olive Oil mostly (since this is what I have on hand at home) I eat this with every meal.

PROTEIN – Meats, organ meats, egg yolks(I’m avoiding for now but will try in a few weeks once my system is better) Fish/Seafood and poultry – my meat is almost all grass-fed that I eat.

I’m also making sure I’m having absolutely no dairy, seeing as lactose was an intolerance, I figured it would be a good idea.. I’m drinking Home Made broth every day, from grass-fed animal bones..

I have made chicken liver but haven’t had any yet. I’m going to try to stomach it(blah, hate the taste) as I should be eating it 1 or 2 times a week..(fun) it helps restore vitamin B12 and iron..

The only treat I am having is carrots (mashed) with cinnamon and coconut oil on them. Which is actually pretty tasty. I’ve also cooked the carrots in the oven, I cut them in slices and mix it in coconut oil and cinnamon, put it in the oven for 20-30 min at 375, same thing really just different way of cooking them. But this is harder on your body to digest, mashed is easier to digest so I won’t do this very often, for now.

The only seasonings I’m using are Salt, chives, basil, oregano, dill, cinnamon, lemon/lime juice and apple cider vinegar.

I’m drinking lots of water and I have cut out(temporarily) all fermented foods – I was trying out Kombucha and Kefir but for now I will leave them out for a few weeks and slowly introduce those back in along with probiotics.

I’m taking magnesium in the morning and one at night to help with muscle cramping(this usually goes away after a little while)Mine is already getting better but if you have cramping try Magnesium Glycinate. I’m also taking digestive enzymes with each meal to help me digest my food AND COD liver oil( I use Carlson Cod Liver Oil) everyday.

I am not a huge fan of fish but I’m trying to have it at least once a week. I have no idea where to get good quality fish, so I’m a little hesitant on eating it but I cooked COD the other day and it wasn’t that bad.

The bone broth is very simple to make but with SIBO diet I can’t add many vegetables while it’s cooking. I basically put the Grass Fed beef bones(though I’m going to try pig feet and chicken bones next time) in my crock pot.. I added water to just cover them, then cut up carrots, added salt, pepper and a few herbs/spices like basil or oregano and a couple of Bay Leaves. I set it to cook on low for 24-48 hours, the longer it cooks the better.

Next time I’m going to start it on high on the stove and once it starts to simmer apparently foam will start forming on top, you skim the foam off(since it’s got yucky stuff in it) and then I can put it in the crock pot or cook it slowly on the over(don’t like doing that).. I actually put a couple of jar lids in between the base of the crock pot and the actual pot the food is in, just so the broth wouldn’t boil as much. It should only bubble a tiny bit while it cooks. Super easy, super healthy, super cheap to make. You can use the broth to make soups, stews.. obviously the options now are limited for my soups and stews but it will get better in time. The pig feet are full of gelatin which helps with joint pain and is super good for you ;)

I almost forgot to mention my weight loss – really it isn’t my goal to lose weight, it’s more of a side benefit but so far this week I’m down almost 7 lbs! Another 5 or 6 lbs and I’ll be where I was when I first got pregnant.. once I start working out again and feeling fantastic, I’ll post an updated picture.

My vulvodynia seems to be improving as well, though I’m sure it will take a few months to get better.. honestly it’s better than my other option of treatment.. I’m still on a 6 month to 1 year waiting list to see a specialist… yeah, that sucks!

In conclusion, this way of eating sucks, it’s bland, it’s boring and you can only be so imaginative with so few ingredients.. hopefully you like more veggies than I actually do but I’m getting by, I know it is to help me heal and right now that is the most important part. Maybe it will take me a month to get back to adding new foods back in, maybe it will be a few months. All I know, there’s no turning back now. I see the progress, I feel the difference and I know it’s the right thing to do. ONE DAY AT A TIME!!!!

I’m going to post another update soon on what else is happening in my life.. I have a plan, really I do ;)

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ANatomy of human digestive system This past week I have worked towards going 100% paleo, which will happen fully next week. With some meal planning and cooking ahead of time to actually get to the point of doing it fully. It’ll be a very strict and restricted meal plan for a few weeks.

I don’t like the idea of going cold turkey paleo and very low carb.. I’ve done it before and it’s not nice. So I figured if I transition into it, it’d be easier on my system. I cut out a few things this week that I was eating way too much of. In the mornings for breakfast I would make a Mocha, I cut that out all week.. I was also munching on chocolate covered almonds, which I didn’t even buy another bag just to make sure. I also was munching on plain chips, which I haven’t touched even though they’re in the cupboard.

I also cut out rice, though I wasn’t eating much of it I’d have a snack here and there like gluten-free snack that are made with rice flour. I stopped these snacks as well.

This week has mostly been fruits/veggies, meats and fats and a bit of nuts and seeds..

This isn’t bad but I’ll have to cut out the fruits for a while as well as some starchy veggies and veggies that may cause problems(night shades). Once I have done this for a few weeks I’ll slowly re-introduce the foods.Aglaee Jacobs, Digestive Health with Real Food

It kind of reminds me of when my baby was very little and I started adding foods into her diet. I would introduce one food at a time for 3-4 days and if she had no reaction to it, I’d move on to the next food. I’ll be doing the same thing.. I have a set list of foods that I can and can not eat and I have a food list of stuff I can start re-introducing back into my diet and see how I feel.

Yesterday I started making bone broth so I’ll have that ready for next week and hopefully tonight after work I’ll be visiting the Natural Food Pantry and getting a few things to help me with digestion (Ox Bile to help with digesting fat) and muscle cramps(magnesium glycinate) I’ll also check to see if they have L-Glutamine, they didn’t the last time I was there. It’s suppose to help with joint pain and since I have bad hips, I figured it couldn’t hurt!

**update, I wrote this and forgot to post it but to add to it, I fell back into some sugar over the weekend so I decided to eat up what’s left in my house or throw it away. I am cleaning the house this week and preparing foods and once I have enough time I’ll make a meal plan for the week and start with eating this way. I don’t want to just start trying to eat this way because honestly I would starve. I need a plan. That’s where I’m at right now. I have bone broth made and ghee made. I’m dehydrating some zucchini, cucumber and kale and fresh herbs.. then I’ll do a meal plan and see what other ideas I can come up with. I’d love to start this diet soon, in the next day or two but I’m not sure when I’ll get there to be honest with you. I will post recipes as I find some and I’ll also let you know how I’m doing. This isn’t going to be fun at all!!

** Another update that I wanted to mention, part of the reason why I started to do this SIBO diet is to help clear up a problem that I had on and off for the past few years. It started back in 2008 and I managed to clear it up through changing my diet and doing physio for pelvic floor dysfunction – it’s called Vulvodynia and it kind of feels like a bacterial infection all the time and was actually treated as one over and over and over, as well as a yeast infection. Those treatments helped temporarily but didn’t get rid of it. Which is why I still think it’s bacterial..Now the problem with this is that all these rounds of medication, made things worse. It made the gut flora situation, completely messed up. Along with the TB medication I had prior to that and contraception I was on for years, my poor gut is a mess.. so this is why I put the connection of IBS and vulvodynia together.. it all seems to lead back to digestive issues that started around the same time.. when my stomach is better the vulvodynia is better. When I was pregnant I started eating non-paleo foods again, rice, lots of fruits, oatmeal.. and that coupled with being pregnant brought back the vulvodynia flare ups again. I believe that SIBO is the cause and combining Paleo with a SIBO diet I think will help me heal, not only my digestive problems but the vulvodynia as well. I’ll post more updates and let you know.