My digestive health issues were one of the main reasons as to why I became a Naturopath
My Digestive Health Journey
I have had digestive dysfunction for most of my life. As a baby I suffered dreadfully from colic which kept my Mum and Dad awake most of the night. As a child I can remember bloating after most meals, I can remember after a Christmas party (I was around five or six years old) where I came home and went straight to bed as I was so bloated and so uncomfortable. The following day I was still bloated, so uncomfortable in my tummy and constipated these symptoms lasted a few days before I finally felt better again.
During my teenage years I can remember that I 'just didn’t feel quiet right' and there were no obvious signs as to why I felt this way and there were no specific tests to check either. I ended up seeing a Naturopath when I was seventeen and they started treating my digestive system, doing lots of liver and detox work and changed my diet.
I felt quiet unwell for a month or so and testing showed that I had a Candida albican overgrowth. I had never suffered from thrush but had most of the other signs, such as:-
- Feeling tired and having no/low energy
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Brain fog
- Sugar cravings
- White coating on the back of my tongue
I did suffer from die off from the Candida as they thrive on sugar and processed food (I had a pretty good diet) but loved my morning teas (especially at work as we were always having cake and biscuits). I felt so much better after a few months, although treatment was pretty full on back then. Treatment is so different now, which is great it was certainly worth the effort to feel well again. I will admit I was able to overcome these symptoms for many years.
In my early twenties, I travelled overseas to Bali where like most people, I had a good dose of ‘Bali Belly’ or food poisoning. I recovered and thought nothing else about this as I felt fine once I returned home. Little did I know that this would be my main cause of having small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO in my thirties and forties.
In my twenties I also married and had three children which were all delivered via a C-section (another contributing factor for SIBO) so this was basically major surgery three times in three and a half years. At the time there was no real reason as to why I had the C-sections other than I didn’t go into labor even with medical assistance. I healed well after each birth and there were no obvious signs of any digestive issues until after my third child.
During my third pregnancy, my thyroid became hyperactive (Graves disease was a concern) and I was constantly visiting my endocrinologist and my Naturopath so that I would have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. This was achieved and my daughter was born healthy with no thyroid issues. A couple of months later I noticed that I felt depressed and I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression, I saw my Naturopath for treatment.
Several years later, when I was in my early thirties my thyroid was still all over the place and I ended up having two doses of liquid iodine. This caused my thyroid to become hypo or sluggish. I was happy that I didn’t have to take any medication after this procedure as my thyroid would slowly get back to a normal level.
I noticed that my energy levels were low – of course they would be as a mother with three girls under four – right?? My bloating had returned along with weight gain and not being able to lose weight afterwards. This continued for quiet a few years, where I tried a lot of different diets and lost weight, felt amazing again then the weight would come back a few months later. My stress levels where quiet high in my mid-thirties due to some family issues. As I now know stress and chronic stress affect our digestive system along with our thyroid and adrenals and chronic stress can lead to SIBO.
In my late thirties we moved to Brisbane and I began studying to become a Naturopath. During my years of studying, my weight fluctuated, my bloating had returned, I had no energy and fell asleep during lectures so I had to pick and choose when my energy was better so I could function.
I was also stressed and anxious as I was not only studying but working part time and was busy looking after my family. I was on so many different diets over that period of time which relieved my digestive problems and I took herbal formulas that were made by other students but nothing really got to my root cause. I can remember one of my lecturers saying that she thought I might have SIBO. What was that??? This wasn’t even taught to us back when I was studying.
I studied for six years and graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy) in 2013.
I decided that I really wanted to know more about SIBO as there were so many other health issues that are linked with this condition. I began studying and training with Dr Nirala Jacobi (the SIBO Doctor) prior to being tested for SIBO. My test results came back as positive. I still keep up to date with my training and follow her treatment protocols with my clients. I am also a SIBO Doctor approved Naturopath.
Over the past few years my SIBO symptoms were slowly returning. Last year I decided that enough was enough with being in denial about my digestive health issues. During my consults with my clients I was thinking "this is what's happening to me as well". There was no more denying that I had SIBO again and I needed to know just how bad my SIBO was (I need to see the hard copy to prove that I actually had SIBO again.)
I ordered my test kit from SIBO test Australia and did the preparation diet before submitting my breath samples and sending them back to SIBO test. I had my results about a week later. I tested positive to both methane (constipation) and hydrogen (diarrhoea) gases along with a combined gases reading as well. They were all very high which shocked me a bit but I did have symptoms that matched my results, so it really wasn't a surprise at all.
Digestive health issues such as SIBO or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) can flare back up again during our perimenopausal years. Chrionic stress was another main contributing factor this time as I was so busy with my clinic, my clients and working part time in aged care. All of this and having my daughters finish high school, university and move out of home (the other two move out in a couple of months.)
It took me around twelve weeks to complete my SIBO treatment and I really enjoyed following my treatment protocol that I prescribe for my clients. I felt so good as I lost more than 8 kilograms and my digestive health was back working properly again.
The other signs and symptoms of poor gut health are:-
- skin - acne, eczema, rashes
- parasites and viral infections
- lots of colds and flu's each year
- anxiety and depression
- low energy - feeling exhausted all the time
- thyroid conditions
- brain fog and poor memory retention
- hot flashes and night sweats (yep perimenopausal symptoms) these have improved and reduced so much that I’m not having any issues with these symptoms any more
- Sugar cravings, blood sugar imbalances which can lead to metabolic syndrome and Diabetes type 2
- Low iron and low levels of B vitamins
- Autoimmune conditions
- Rest Leg Syndrome and so much more.
After treating my SIBO I had so much more energy - I felt like exercising again, not just walking my little dog around the block but exploring other areas of Brisbane and the Gold Coast to walk. I have started doing yoga again from home and meditating most mornings. A lot of my clients tell me that they feel like exercising again too which is great as it shows how far they have come on the SIBO treatment journey as well.
My next stage was to incorporate the Hair 600 Food and Product Compatibility Testing into my treatment plan. I recommend this to my clients as part of their digestive health treatment. If you have tested positive to SIBO, like myself, I do like to do this as Stage two as I really love the Bi-Phasic Diet as Stage one of the treatment plan.
I was so happy with my results from the Hair 600 test as I could eat such a variety of fruits and vegetables, I was able to have all of the meats tested and have some dairy products (just not milk or cream) but I don't like milk anyway. I can have organic eggs, brown rice (none of the other types at the moment), alcohol - all types but I really only have a gin and tonic at the weekend and wine with family or friends as I find being perimenopausal it affects my sleep. Coffee and tea including herbal tea came back as being allowed along with most nuts, seeds and legumes.
This has really given me back a long list of foods that I can enjoy (these are in black) and some that I need to avoid (in red). This is for a period of six months and them I can re-test again if I would like to. I have been able to really enjoy such a wide variety of foods that I'm able to eat out without having that food anxiety as to 'is this going to upset my stomach' or 'where's the bathroom?'
I love to show my clients my test results as it shows what they can achieve as well. I also support you to have a positive mindset and commitment throughout treatment and I like to think back to how crappy I felt prior to my treatments - I never want to feel like that again and neither do my clients.
I do understand that life gets in the way (we fall off the wagon) as this happens to all of us (me included) during treatment but it's so worth getting back onto the wagon again.
I also have a dietary package that I can tailor around your results so that you can have healthy, easy to prepare and cook meals. If it's a bit overwhelming we can start slowly with healthier choices for breakfast and then continue on from there with lunch and dinner ideas along with snacks etc.
My dietary package caters for the meat lover, pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans. I find the meals are so delicious and I've had so much positive feedback from clients.
I think it's important to work with a Naturopath that knows what its like to feel 'not just right' and has tried many treatment options and diets over the years. I know what works and what doesn't, although a lot of diets and treatments relieve your symptoms they don't treat the root cause which is so necessary for successful treatment and healing.
If you would like to know more, please contact me or book your consultation via my website booking link.
Yours in health