Welcome to Themindfulgut where I will share what I have learned on my lifelong journey from chronic pain and illness to good digestive health and overall wellbeing. The science is clear: better digestive health will help with metabolism, nutrient absorption (which is the root cause of so many ailments) and a better mental state. It is possible to feel better and live a healthier and happier life, simply by understanding the importance of what we eat, learning what our body needs and then eating and living mindfully.
At the age of 14, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (an inflammatory bowel disease or IBD). Ulcerative colitis is an auto-immune disease that affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) causing severe abdominal pain and gastrointestinal bleeding, among other things. There is no known cause of Ulcerative Colitis and there is no cure, other than to remove the colon. I resigned to live a life where I casually took nine capsules of medicine daily, always felt mildly uncomfortable and often was in pain. I lived with the disease by managing it, which worked for many years. Until it didn’t.
When I was in my late twenties, I saw top specialists for a variety of physical ailments, but no one was connecting the dots. I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), psoriasis, spondylitis - all autoimmune disorders - but no doctor saw that these issues were related. The doctors treated symptoms individually, but there was always something going on - and as time marched on, more symptoms arose. When I spoke to my doctors about ways I could change things for myself by way of diet and nutrition, I was told there was nothing I could do to help myself other than take my drugs and try to reduce stress.
So I did what I could to reduce stress. Yoga and psychotherapy helped. I ate a diet of mostly organic foods. Although I was ill into my thirties and was sick during both of my pregnancies, none of my doctors seemed alarmed. Indeed, I was told that I was high risk for getting colon cancer and lymphoma, but it was understood that since I was being monitored by the top doctors in New York City, whatever disease I might get would be caught early enough to treat. This was unsettling, but I felt there was nothing I could do except trust these highly regarded experts.
It was not until my infant son began to have health problems, that I learned I could heal myself. In order to understand and resolve his health and developmental issues, we went to a very progressive developmental pediatrician. We completely changed my son’s diet, eliminating dairy, gluten and soy. In solidarity with him, I took dairy out of my diet.
Amazingly, within five days, some of my son’s physical and neurological symptoms diminished. And within weeks, my colitis and many of my other ailments began to disappear. Six weeks after taking dairy out of my diet, and putting myself on omega 3 and probiotic dietary supplements, my gastroenterologist of ten years performed a colonoscopy and said, “I don’t recognize you. Keep doing whatever you’re doing”. One year and another colonoscopy later, my doctor said, “If I didn’t know you, I’d never know you have ulcerative colitis.” After that visit, I took myself off of the drugs entirely. One year later, my doctor said there is no sign of the disease and that he saw no evidence that I ever had ulcerative colitis.
This was diet. I now live disease-free and drug-free. I have educated myself through reading, research and learning from various alternative and open-minded medical practitioners. I am now a Nutritional Therapy Consultant, where I help people understand that they, too, can take control of their health and see dramatic shifts in their physical, neurological and mental health. It is not too late to reverse the effects that your diet or your genetics or your microbiome has inflicted on you. You don’t need to accept poor function or chalk things up to the effects of aging. Our bodies have an innate intelligence that can guide us to healing. The key is to find, in your specific case, how best to get on that healing track. Hopefully these articles, recipes, mindfulness exercises and alternative therapy recommendations will help you find a way to help yourself.