It’s never good news to find out someone you care about has a chronic disease and needs medication.
A while ago a good friend of mine was diagnosed with an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), which usually encompasses Crohn’s Disease, which my husband has, and Ulcerative Colitis. Because of our experience with IBD and our diet helping to keep my husband’s symptoms nearly 100% at bay, my consolation when I hear of others’ bad news is that at least I have something helpful to share with them.
In my friend’s case, I knew she already had a ton on her plate, wasn’t feeling well, and wouldn’t be able to completely overhaul her diet to try something like GAPS. She needed some baby steps…so clearly she came to the right person.
I’ve long been meaning to get my response to her up as a post so I could share the same answer with others looking for some relief from the pain of IBD (and I’d say it should apply equally to IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, since the issues are all in the gut but in varying degrees and causes). When the Heal Your Gut Summit that runs this week piqued my interest, it reminded me that I still had it sitting on my computer. Time to share with the world!
I gave her 3 baby steps to take in order:
IBD Baby Step No. 1: Get a Really Good Probiotic
We use the Miessence brand powdered probiotics and also the liquid when we’re shorter on time. Both made such an impact on my candida symptoms, and the ingredients are very high quality. I played the probiotic fairy and sent some to her along with these instructions:
- Storage – in the refrigerator (although being out for a while won’t hurt it, best day-to-day long term in the fridge.) Can put extras in the freezer if you want but don’t have to.
- How much to take – you’ll want to start with 1/4 tsp. one day, then 1/2 tsp., then 3/4 tsp., then a full teaspoon. You might want to move to a generous “heaping” teaspoon if that’s going well. You might want to do 1/2 tsp. before breakfast (giving it 30 minutes before food is a great idea but good things will still happen if you take it right with breakfast) and then another 1/2 tsp. at the end of the day before bed or when you get home from work. Children can take less than an adult, probably starting with 1/8 tsp. and working up to 1/4 tsp. in a few days. Over age 5 or so would be fine with more than that, up to 1/2 tsp., especially if you see good things.
- How to take – Here are some ideas, but basically my husband just puts his in a glass with a splash of water, drinks up, then puts a little more water in the glass to get the rest out that is sticking to the sides. You’ll have to be more creative with a child. I’d do one spoonful of applesauce with the powder hidden in the middle, otherwise smoothies are the best, or even guacamole. You can put it in anything, just remember that whatever it’s in, you’ll want someone to eat it all so it doesn’t end up tossed. Also nothing really hot like hot soup, because temps over 116F will kill the healthy bacteria. Warm soup would be fine.
- Since all that sounds a little medical-ish, now would be an important time to note that I am NOT a doctor, nurse, naturopath or trained person of any kind (except for doing dishes and typing fast). 😉 This surely isn’t medical advice, just a bit of our story.
Other good probiotics:
- many recommend Plexus ProBio 5
- Bio-Kult is highly touted by the GAPS Diet folks
- Prescript Assist is also getting very good reviews lately – it’s a soil-based probiotic, which I wrote negative things about here, but new research has come out in the meantime. I’m overdue for an update to that post!!
- WellBelly is specially formulated for infants and children (it’s what we use for Gabe)
- The next 4 were recommended to me a few years ago:
- Consume them in food
- Take a class to make your own fermented foods
IBD Baby Step No. 2: Make Chicken Stock
Chicken stock is incredibly healing to the gut and something everyone should make homemade, because it’s nearly impossible to purchase proper bone broth commercially. (Wise Choice Market sells it online, but it’s pricey.)
Here’s how to make it, including alllllll my best tips from 7 years of a traditional foods diet, and some other tips from Tiffany in a great guest post.
Homemade stock of all kinds (you can also do it with beef bones and fish bones) is the foundation for the GAPS Diet, which is a very popular gut-healing protocol. I’d recommend it, or one of the other gut-healing options listed here (or that have come into being since that post), for anyone with serious gut imbalances. And actually, health information is moving so fast in our world, it’s hard to keep up, isn’t it? That’s one reason these online health talks are an incredible opportunity, because you get to hear up-to-date info from people in the field (who are way smarter than me!)
I’m behind two days already, but you can catch today’s speakers until tomorrow morning – three on the gut-cancer connection, one on autoimmune issue and inflammation, and one on the oral gut health connection. The freebies that you get when you sign up include one on candida, leaky gut and thyroid…I have no idea how I’ll find time to listen to any of them, especially with our baby fighting a fever, but I want to! (Oh my, I love that at least the bonuses have transcripts so I can skim! Yee hah!)
I can’t believe how many power-packed speakers there are. It’s totally free so sign up so you don’t forget to listen in!
IBD Baby Step No. 3: Cut Out Grains
I’d say get the first two going, and then slowly work on this one.
Cut down on grains first. Raise your awareness of when you rely on grains to find out where you’ll need to work harder to avoid them. For example, if you eat a grain-based cereal or oatmeal every morning for breakfast, you need more than one breakfast idea without grains.
Then make a goal to cut them out 100% for a few days. Keep it short, 3 days to a week, just so you can set yourself up for success. You can do anything for 3 days.
Track how you feel, watch your BMs, watch kids’ behavior, sleep cycles, etc. See if you notice anything. If you go back to grains, especially if you can cut them out for at least a week, then really watch to note changes in how you feel after the first meal or two with grains. You may learn a lot!
In general, many experts agree that grains are quite simply difficult to digest, and if there are any gut issues, omitting grains gives the gut a better chance to heal. In our family, we try to have at least one month a year where we don’t eat any grains, a sort of “system reset.” We probably should do more! But we definitely eat fewer grains than your average population, I’m sure.
Here are some of my best tips to simplify a grain-free experiment:
- Grain-free menu ideas to keep it simple
- FAQs on the grain-free lifestyle
- All my best grain-free recipes and resources in one place
If 3 steps doesn’t seem quite enough, I ran a post last fall that would be overwhelming unless you have a little head start: 100 Steps to Take Today to Heal Your Gut.
More Than Just Baby Steps
When you’ve found a probiotic you like, feel comfortable with making homemade stock and have figured out how to omit grains and if it does any immediate good, then you start doing some more research.
For a long time, the GAPS Diet was almost the only gut-healing diet out there. I compared it and a few others in this post, but since then you can find many more out there, often refined to hit certain symptoms/maladies. The SCD Diet is usually well-liked for IBD, and the guys over at SCD Lifestyle do a lot of good in getting the word out. So start with research (skim the topics at the Heal Your Gut Summit to see if anything matches what you’re dealing with exactly – the more specific the target, the better!).
But in general, it’s worth looking into the GAPS diet if you’re hoping to heal your gut.
Here are some resources:
I tried to write a few “introductory” posts to help people answer the basic gut healing questions:
- Health Home Happy: What Can You Eat on the GAPS Diet (surf around this site if you have child gut needs; her kids have been through it)
- a good series, starts with Demystifying the GAPS Diet
- an incredible kid story
- Neat GAPS healing stories
- Why does it help kids with developmental issues?
If you think you’d like to try GAPS, prepare with:
- GAPS Starter Package (aff. link), including 30 days on GAPS intro, 8 weeks of grain-free meal plans, and a freezer cooking guide
- How to prepare for the GAPS Diet
- Getting Started on GAPS
- These are the official GAPS sites, but they’re confusingly laid out – they really just send you to read the Gut and Psychology Syndrome book, which isn’t a bad thing to put on your Amazon wish list…
And if GAPS just doesn’t feel right for you for whatever reason, you should definitely read about the low FODMAP Diet. I did an amazing interview with a FODMAP coach last year called “Cutting Grains Didn’t Fix my IBS Symptoms!” – or go right to her coaching program to see what it’s about.
And of course if it’s still January 2016, you should definitely browse this summit (which might stay on sale afterward, check it out):