Do you know that moment at a restaurant, when you are so incredibly hungry, and you spot the waiter coming your way, tray stacked high with the food you know is yours? The whole scenario almost feels like it is in slow motion—the waiter takes one cautious step in front of the other—and your mouth waters in anticipation as you catch the scent of your dinner wafting in the air.
I get that same hungry anticipation after I’ve finished an incredible meal at a restaurant. I can’t get back to my computer fast enough, where I can download my photos—with notes—and share the experience with my foodie friends. As my fingers run feverishly across the keyboard, I revisit every single detail and edit the photos accompanying the story—stomach growling again!—to document the passion of the chef/bartender/restauranteur creator.
Unfortunately, this is not one of those posts.
In fact, this is a difficult post to even write. (I’m on my fourth revision…) While I weave my wordy way through the culinary world, this is a much more personal venture; I find the words come much easier when the subject isn’t myself. But digestive health is a topic that’s become incredibly important to me, and with the research I’ve done, it’s become incredibly evident it should be important to everyone. It takes a bit of guts (pun intended) to break the radio silence, so here we go….
Last January I started having digestive issues. Instead of going to the doctor, I convinced myself “it wasn’t serious” and “everyone has a stomach ache once in a while.” I gained weight. I dieted. I gained more weight. By the end of the day, I joked I could be used as a “bloatation” device, as I rubbed my severely distended belly.
It wasn’t until I was at a pool party over the summer—months after symptoms first appeared—with family friends when I overheard a conversation about constipation—yes, at a party!—between two women, one of whom was a holistic nutritionist. It was the ah-ha moment I needed to set things in motion. I began to talk about my symptoms—constipation, extreme bloating, and curling up with a heating pad over my stomach every night—when I heard the words, “Kate, that’s not normal.”
I, like 72% of women, was suffering from digestive issues. And, like 64% of us, I was not willing to talk about it with my friends*… Until now.
After several visits to the Kellman Center in New York City—a medical facility that takes both an integrative and functional approach to patient care including conventional and holistic approaches—and rounds of tests, I was diagnosed with SIBO. SIBO, or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, caused my bloating and pain, but also caused a host of issues I wasn’t aware of, including poor nutrient absorption. While I maintained one of the healthiest diets out there (I heart fruits and vegetables), my body was not receiving any of the nutrients it needed to provide proper digestion. This deficiency caused the Epstein-Barr virus (commonly known as Mono, which I had over eight years ago) to reactivate itself in my body, adding fatigue and abnormal liver function to my lineup of symptoms. I let it go too long.
Did you know?
70% of the immune system is located in the intestinal tract. Therefore, maintaining a healthy gut in a key part of maintaining your overall health.
On a strict meal plan—a hard task for this foodie—I began to research the causes and effects of proper gut health. I traveled down to Washington, D.C. to attend the Take Back Your Health Conference, where specialists and nutritionists alike pointed out my gut issues with minimal lip service from yours truly. I began to wonder why I didn’t see, or chose to ignore, the signs and realized how connected digestive issues were to other processes in the body—immunity, mood, memory, and more.
Things came full circle weeks later, when I was invited to have lunch with Ellie Krieger (culinary nutritionist and host of Ellie’s Real Good Food), fellow bloggers, and representatives from Renew Life Probiotics. It just seemed like I attracted everything gut-related. The conversation was open and honest, and for the first time, I shared my story with strangers. That, combined with the alarming statistics revealing how many women suffer from gut issues and are unwilling to talk about it, motivated me to start the conversation.
Get to Know Your Gut
Lunch with Ellie was enlightening to say the least. We chatted about all of the causes of digestive problems—diet, stress, aging and living environment—that can change the delicate balance of the bacteria in your gut. And we chatted about probiotics, which Ellie noted can have “a profound impact throughout the whole body.” I was prescribed a special probiotic by my doctor to help reduce the bacteria in my small intestine and restore my gut health, but was looking for a daily probiotic to take once my SIBO has subsided. Experts agree that taking a probiotic supplement—like Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics—is a good way to help support balance in the digestive tract and replenish the good bacteria found in a naturally diverse and healthy gut.*
Probiotics help maintain a proper functioning gut, which contains a delicate balance of both good and bad bacteria, helping with digestive and immune health.*
Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics are specially formulated for everyone in the family—from grandpa to the kiddos—and help support the digestive balance and immune health everyday. But, they are also launching an education campaign to increase awareness about gut health, encouraging the conversation we all avoid (Okay, I’m out in the open now, so follow my lead!). The “Get to Know Your Gut” campaign helps you take a look at your digestive issues, explore digestion, and discover what’s best for you. I’ll feel better about it, and you will too.
Thinking about a probiotic? Everyone has their own unique micro-biome. Make sure to consult a doctor to find out what’s right for you.
I am still working with my holistic guru at the Kellman Center. I am currently on a modified elimination diet. I cannot indulge on any grains (I miss pasta) or dairy products (and cheese). I have to avoid sugar. All of my vegetables have to be cooked. Shopping and preparing my all-organic meals takes time, and is expensive. I currently carry around vials in my purse—and if I’m traveling long distances—have a box full of supplements in drop and pill form, protein powder, a probiotic, and B12 shots (ouch!). I also carve out 40 minutes per day to partake in an organic castor oil pack to help cleanse my liver.
I am feeling better and I am on the mend, but I can’t help but think this could have all been avoided if I took the time to talk about my symptoms with a medical professional earlier. And if you’re reading this right now, and feel like you may suffer from similar symptoms, you should too.
This post was sponsored by the Role Mommy Writer’s Network.
*Statistics and information provided by Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics.