Monday, August 16, 2010

Help me solve my health mystery!

I've been feeling frustrated lately with my gut. I don't know what to do. I feel like I'm fighting two wars:

1 - The battle of Stephanie-feeling-like-crap-all-the-time, and
2 - The battle of "what's for dinner"/"there's nothing good to eat"/"WTF can I eat in the next 30 minutes because I just got home from working a 10-hour day and DON'T feel like cooking!?!"

When I pay attention to the first, I am more careful about eating foods that are considered "safe" (mostly, considered to be IBS-safe). But often, that is more boring, less exciting, and let's be honest, I love to cook/bake/explore the world of food! Eating chicken and rice all the time sucks.

When I devote more energy to the second, I make things that I enjoy eating. I may cheat a bit on my "IBS diet" and have a bit of dairy, more fatty foods, etc. But I feel satisfied in that I'm not eating the same ol' boring food, and my palate is pleased. Problem is, my gut sometimes isn't.

My main symptoms tend to be serious gas, bloating, cramping, and constipation/diarrhea (and associated pain).
Other, possibly, maybe related symptoms are frequent headaches, joint pain-including severe TMD (hello, I'm 26!!! Some days I can't even get out of bed and function without ibuprofen and heat), very intense PMS, irritability (so says my husband lol)...and I'm sure there are more, I just can't think of anything else at the moment.
That may be another possible symptom - memory/brain issues. I've noticed recently that my memory isn't what it used to be (and, like I said, I'm not that old), and I'm really having problems with mixing my words/letters up when writing/typing. I never had problems with dyslexia before, but it's kind of worrying me...

Anyway, I'm not sure what to pinpoint as far as the cause of my symptoms goes, b/c it varies so much, and feels so random.

So what's the problem/problems?

Stress? Yes, I do have a lot of stress in my life, and I cause the majority of it. But is it the source?
Specific intolerances that I am missing?
Lectin intolerance?
IBS (and not following the diet more directly)?
It's all in my head (lol!!)?

I DON'T KNOW!!

I don't eat a lot of sugar, processed foods, or fat. I only eat out 2-3 times a month. I eat mostly lean meats, GF grains, fruits/veggies, nuts, etc. I drink a lot of water. I take an IBS-friendly fiber supplement before each meal, I drink herbal teas, and not a lot of caffeine or alcohol. I take a probiotic daily. I try and take vitamins a few times a week.

Anyone have any advice/suggestions/good resources on where to look/how to figure this out?

I'm thinking about changing up my diet, either by doing an elimination diet or trying the paleo diet. Any opinions on either of those?

Thanks!

18 comments:

Nikki said...

Rice, onions and garlic do that to me. I don't know if it is because I cut out it and tried to introduce it back? Have you tried to go full paleo? I thought I read somewhere that it helped with IBS symptoms.

Nikki said...

Yep, just read further and saw you were going to do paleo. Nevermind! ;)

Alisa said...

I am a bit biased with my two mentions, because they are the things I know most about right now, but still, you never know and worth mentioning!

Your joint pain and memory issues make me wonder about Lyme Disease. My husband has it (getting treated now) and those were his primary symptoms along with a lot of stomach / gas issues. Those first two actually tend to be tell-tale symptoms of Lyme (joint pain and memory loss way too early in life). With treatment, his stomach cleared up and so did the joint pain and his memory already seems to be improving.

The other thing is dairy - but this wouldn't explain memory issues at all. But I do often get emails from people who saw joint pain and brain fog resolve after cutting out dairy (a surprising amount of people). Obviously it can cause stomach issues.

Like I said, I am biased, but I have to admit, your symptoms sound ALOT like my husband's.

Amy said...

Hi Stephanie... I know you are in pain, but I get "serious gas, bloating, cramping, and constipation/diarrhea" every time I take Ibprofen. As soon as I realized it, I stopped, and the cramping went away! I must have ulcers, I have in the past, but getting off the IBprofen was the best thing I've done.
I've been reading and listening to loads of paleo podcasts! Loving what I'm hearing.

Naina said...

Hi,

I am new here.

Reading your post today reminds me of my life.

I have just yesterday, stumbled across the acronym FODMAPS.

Have you heard of this before?

Google it, you will find lots of info. There is a book about this diet too. Free of IBS or something like that. Anyway, I am currently learning about this diet. The information I have found so far rings true for me.

Hope it helps us both! I will be buying the book too.

I am gluten free, dairy free, low fat. I don't eat most meats. I do eat some fish. I had went 100% vegan for four months. Eating 50% raw. I only got worse! Now reading about FODMAPS I can understand why I got worse. So I am up for the challenge of yet another diet change! Maybe one day, life will feel normal again.

Stephanie said...

Thanks Nikki - yes, I think I'm going to try going full paleo for awhile. Just keeps popping up in my mind and online.

Alisa - I know I was tested for Lyme's a couple years ago, when they were looking for what was wrong with me (before celiac dx), but it might not hurt to look into it again. My husband had Lyme's for a couple years when we were dating and first married, and he was miserable.
Dairy - I'm like 99% dairy free. Occasionally I'll sneak a little cheese or something, but that's very rarely (once a month or so). I don't think it's causing my problems, which occur almost daily. Thanks for sharing what's helped for your husband though!

Amy - good call on the ibuprofen. I do take it often...a couple weeks a month (week before, and week during my period usually). I might try kicking it for awhile, see if that makes a difference. Do you take anything else instead? Where have you found your information on paleo? Do share!!

Naina - I have never heard of FODMAPs before. Interesting. This post came up when I googled it, and it has a lot of good info: http://www.healingwell.com/community/default.aspx?f=38&m=998680
I also found (at the bottom is a list of safe/unsafe foods on the diet): http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/072710p30.shtml
I may need to look into this some more. Especially if I'm thinking of trying the paleo diet and eating more fruit...Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Thanks everyone for your insight :)

Amy said...

Acetaminophen is less harsh on the digestive tract.
My favorie paleo stuff:
Robb Wolff http://robbwolf.com/category/podcasts/
Primal body - primal mind. http://www.primalbody-primalmind.com/
and of course Mark Sisson, from Mark's Daily Apple

LindaL said...

Hi,
You have all my symptoms!!! My problem is Crohn's, ulcerative colitis and the accompanying arthritis. The only thing that helps is to go completely starch-free. I was put on the celiac diet and it nearly killed me. The joint pain and the brain fog and the stomach and bowel disease increased exponentially. My daughter found the IBD diet by Carol Sinclair. It has saved my life. The book is available on Amazon. I discovered that the starch in the gf flours was literally killing me. I reversed all my words and couldn't even remember the names of old friends and the joint pain was unbelievable. It would take me 30 minutes to get out of bed because of the pain. Most of that is gone and I am healing more and more every day. It is difficult to do without the breads, pastas and desserts, but the lack of pain and the clear thinking is well worth it. Good luck, hope it helps.

Stephanie said...

Amy - Thanks for sharing! I have been reading through Mark's blog over the last couple days, and feeling a lot more confident in this diet. I'm definitely going to look into the other stuff you mentioned.

Linda - Wow, never would have thought of the starches. I might have to do a test to see how I respond to them. I'll have to check out Carol's book. Thanks for sharing what has worked for you!

Angy said...

I am in bliss because all my gastro symptoms have disappeared and I am off all meds since I went on the low-FODMAP diet a few weeks ago. I stick to it STRICTLY and have no more pain, no more agonising stomach cramps at night, no more bloating, no more chronic constipation, no more heartburn, just *feeling good*. Even the flatulence is disappearing. (yay!)
Everyone has different symptoms of Fructose Malabsorption but I would recommend giving the Low-FODMAP diet a go. It worked for me within 2 days.
Here is the BASIC diet but after you've been on it for a while you can add many more FM-friendly foods.
Do not take *any* probiotics, and check the ingredients of any vitamins and meds you are taking.
Drinks: Water (unflavoured, uncarbonated), Lactose free COW’S milk
(supermarket Long Life Milk section), Rice milk, Coffee -
Instant/Plunger are okay, but no coffee substitutes (Caro, etc), Tea -
Normal tea with sugar (not herbal tea). No Soy Milk / Soy products
Breakfast Cereals: Corn Flakes, Rice Bubbles, Rice or Corn Cakes.
Flavourings & Seasonings: Normal sugar (sucrose), Salt, Pepper.
Spreads: Margarine/Nuttelex, Vegemite.
Meals: Egg - (Poached/boiled), Corn thins, Rice Cakes
Meats (no artificial colouring/flavouring) - Beef, Lamb, Pork, Ham,
Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Seafood - you can cook in small amount of olive oil
Bread: “Country Life” High Fibre, Low GI Gluten Free Bread.
Vegetables: Bean sprouts, carrot, capsicum, cucumber, zucchini,
iceberglettuce, sweet potato, tomato, baby spinach, turnip, squash,
potato, pumpkin, rice, bok choy, celery, eggplant, corn.
Fruit: Banana, blueberry, star fruit, canteloupe, custardapple, dragon
fruit, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, lemon, mandarine, honeydew, orange,
pawpaw, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry (max. 1 handful of any
combination of these fruits in 2 hour period).
Please be aware that many canned and packaged foods/meals
and meals at restaurants have sauces, spices, onion flavouring,
artificial sweeteners, soy products, etc. which you cannot have.
Alcohol: maximum day’s intake:
DRY Wine - 120ml; Spirits - 60ml

Visit this group for info and support!
http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/fructose_malabsorption_australia/

Angy said...

I am in bliss because all my gastro symptoms have disappeared and I am off all meds since I went on the low-FODMAP diet a few weeks ago. I stick to it STRICTLY and have no more pain, no more agonising stomach cramps at night, no more bloating, no more chronic constipation, no more heartburn, just *feeling good*. Even the flatulence is disappearing. (yay!)
Everyone has different symptoms of Fructose Malabsorption but I would recommend giving the Low-FODMAP diet a go. It worked for me within 2 days.
Here is the BASIC diet but after you've been on it for a while you can add many more FM-friendly foods.
Do not take *any* probiotics, and check the ingredients of any vitamins and meds you are taking.
Drinks: Water (unflavoured, uncarbonated), Lactose free COW’S milk
(supermarket Long Life Milk section), Rice milk, Coffee -
Instant/Plunger are okay, but no coffee substitutes (Caro, etc), Tea -
Normal tea with sugar (not herbal tea). No Soy Milk / Soy products
(More in next post)

Angy said...

(continued)
Breakfast Cereals: Corn Flakes, Rice Bubbles, Rice or Corn Cakes.
Flavourings & Seasonings: Normal sugar (sucrose), Salt, Pepper.
Spreads: Margarine/Nuttelex, Vegemite.
Meals: Egg - (Poached/boiled), Corn thins, Rice Cakes
Meats (no artificial colouring/flavouring) - Beef, Lamb, Pork, Ham,
Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Seafood - you can cook in small amount of olive oil
Bread: “Country Life” High Fibre, Low GI Gluten Free Bread.
Vegetables: Bean sprouts, carrot, capsicum, cucumber, zucchini,
iceberglettuce, sweet potato, tomato, baby spinach, turnip, squash,
potato, pumpkin, rice, bok choy, celery, eggplant, corn.
Fruit: Banana, blueberry, star fruit, canteloupe, custardapple, dragon
fruit, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, lemon, mandarine, honeydew, orange,
pawpaw, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry (max. 1 handful of any
combination of these fruits in 2 hour period).
Please be aware that many canned and packaged foods/meals
and meals at restaurants have sauces, spices, onion flavouring,
artificial sweeteners, soy products, etc. which you cannot have.
Alcohol: maximum day’s intake:
DRY Wine - 120ml; Spirits - 60ml

Visit this group for info and support!
http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/fructose_malabsorption_australia/

Angy said...

Oh whoops, sorry, I seem to have posted the whole thing twice and I don't know how to erase it. :(

Anyway I also wanted to say that some people on the FructMal Yahoo Groups website say they also have trouble digesting amines and salycilates and when they cut them out of their diet, their fuzzy-headedness disappeared.

I hope some of this information is of help!

Angy said...

PS In addition to avoiding the FODMAP foods, I also avoid all lactose and gluten.
I have no problem with the diet because the health benefits, to me, are so amazing.
One of our hospitals here in Australia is going to add the low-FODMAP diet to the list of special diets for patients - that's how seriously they are treating FructMal. And there's a LOT of research going on here.
http://shepherdworks.com.au/

angy said...

Sorry, I don't mean to hog the comments Stephanie, it's just that if you want I can give you a huge collection of FM-friendly recipes I've been collecting. That is, if you decide to try out the diet. Just let me know.

liz said...

stephanie-
i was reading this thinking to myself how familiar it sounded. i was going through such issues a year ago. colonoscopy, endoscopy, barium swallow.. my GI couldn't figure out what was going on. i was having malabsorbtion of fats. finally, after some urging from the friendly cavedudes and dudettes at marksdailyapple.com, i changed to a primal diet. after 11 years of a low-fat, vegetarian, bread-filled diet, i began increasing my fat intake, eating lots of meat, going easy on the sugar and fruits, and banished all grains and beans. within 2 days i felt a million times better. sounds like it could help you a lot, so i wanted to share my experience. hope you start feeling better very soon!

♥ Tina said...

Hi there, I am gluten and dairy free too and have IBS, and your symptoms are identical to mine. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia which includes bowel problems, muscle pain, brain fog, etc. Google fibromyalgia and see what you think.

Love your blog, wishing you well,
Tina xx

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