If you are anything like me, you have always wondered why doctors say food has nothing to do with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). That doesn’t even make sense to someone with a digestive disease. Ask anyone with ulcerative colitis (UC) or crohn’s disease, and they will give you a list of what they can and can’t eat, what they avoid when they are in a flare or at all times, and what they generally struggle with. I am encouraged by the fact that I hear more and more from people who are wising up and eliminating the very worst gut offenders with good success and benefits to their bodies: grains, dairy, and sugar.
We are more powerful than we think we are. And we can effect change in our bodies and lives.
Even though I don’t have all of the answers, I can usually sense what is serving me and distinguish from that which is not serving me. So I choose to do all I can to support my body as best I can.
I choose to use diet and lifestyle to keep symptoms of crohn’s disease in check because I don’t like the alternatives of dangerous immune suppressing medications, steroid drugs, and bowel resection surgeries. I still take medicine currently (mesalamine). I would still like to get off of it entirely, if possible at some point.
The healing journey can be a long and twisty one. In health and in life, it’s not always a simple trek from point A to point B. During that journey for myself, I have tried A LOT of different things to help myself. Today, I want to highlight the best of the best actions that I take or products that I use regularly to keep well:
Food is energy, information, and medicine. A nutrient dense diet filled with energy from the sun in the form of plants feeds our bodies and souls, while avoiding some of the most common gut irritants, allergens and foods that make our body work harder to digest, assimilate and eliminate.
I have tried elimination diets, gluten free diets, Alejandro Junger’s Clean Gut diet, Natalia Rose’s Detox for Women, juicing detoxes, low carb, paleo, and the Wahl’s Protocol among others. I have dabbled with some of the famous IBD diets like Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet, and Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) for autoimmune conditions. In the end, I keep paleo as my home-base now. Whenever I stray too far from the template of mostly home-cooked food; including organic veggies and fruits, wild fish, grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, wild meat; I feel it. In general, I follow this base diet prescribed to me by a functional medicine doctor:
There is so much new science regarding the gut microbiota, leaky gut, autoimmunity, inflammation, vagal tone, food intolerances and sensitivities, etc. that it is exciting to see the ways in which diet can affect us and why. Even mainstream medicine is wising up to many of the scientific studies coming out regarding the effects of diet on disease. Two of my favorite diet studies and their positive effect on IBD are this AIP Medical Study and this SCD Diet Study .
We all know stress doesn’t help an upset, anxious or sick stomach, so turning to a deep relaxation method makes good sense. The simple power of touch coupled with an intention for your highest good can transform your health.
Healing touch is a gentle, relaxing touch therapy that involves a trained practitioner performing a sequence of hand movements on a person’s body in order to help balance that person’s energy. Healing touch works on a person’s energetic body, including the mental, emotional and spiritual levels. I have received healing touch from a practitioner I trust for years, and I sincerely credit her with helping me SO much. I can’t say enough good things about the benefits of receiving healing touch. But, I know that my physical and my mental health would be worse off after all of these years with crohn’s disease if it weren’t for her. I was so impressed with this modality that I completed the practitioner training up to Level 4 along with several nurses who took this as part of their required continuing education for their nurse licensing. The research supporting healing touch and it’s effect on depression, anxiety, pain, stress reduction, immune functioning, etc can be found here.
Taking a page out of the ancients’ medicinal tool box and turning to plants for healing is smart and simple.
This is a simple and easy one to use. I use the essential oil DiGize which is a blend of “Tarragon, Ginger, Peppermint, Juniper, Lemongrass, Anise, and Patchouli oils for a spicy, exotic aromatic blend. DiGize oil also includes Fennel essential oil, the use of which dates back to ancient Egypt.” Since I first discovered it, I have used this oil with good results. It won’t knock out a flare entirely, but it can help a lot, which is what all of these therapies are about. I mix several drops of Digize oil into an almond oil so it doesn’t burn the skin, and I slather it all over my belly where it hurts once or twice a day. This is a great oil to turn to if I ever start to feel “off,” or like I may need some additional support. A bottle lasts a long time, so I see it as a good value.
People have been using plant oils as medicine for centuries, so it makes sense to me that plants can help us, and this one definitely helps me.
Keeping a healthy balance of gut microbiota can go a long way to helping you heal your gut.
I have taken probiotics for as long as I can remember. But this past year, I have experimented with VSL#3 since it has been so well-researched, and it is used as a probiotic medical food for treating people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), UC, or people with an ileal pouch. I think this one is good for me personally, albeit expensive. I go back to it when I am not feeling well, and it helps. I usually buy it at CVS or Walgreens. You have to call ahead or go in to order it, and then they will have it ready within the next day or two. Costco carries it for about $3 cheaper, but it is a bit pricey at about $50 for 60 tablets wherever you go.
These are some of the basic remedies I go back to over and over to keep my gut health in check. Supporting my body in ways that hold it up instead of tearing it down has been key for through the ups and downs over the years.
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