Naturally Gutsy

Surviving SIBO, IBS-C, Celiac Disease, Motility Disorder, & Pelvic Floor Dysfunction …. with a smile.

GI And SCD Update

It has been a long time since I’ve written on Naturally Gutsy, yet I get a lot of visitors daily asking the same questions I’ve asked over the years while trying to manage my gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. So I know you’re out there. The two main search queries I get are from folks curious about whether SCD (the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) really works and is worth the effort and those who want to know more about biofeedback to treat pelvic floor dysfunction and constipation. I can only offer you my personal experience; don’t take it as medical advice.

Specific Carbohydrate Diet

I’m still STRICTLY adhering to SCD. Depending on my gut’s stability, I’m able to eat between 30 and (at best) 40 SCD-legal foods. There are lots of people in other countries who survive on 10 or less foods because they don’t have the luxury we do of getting food from all over the world. I’m ALWAYS grateful that I can now eat solid foods and I’m happy with my 30 foods because I’ve learned to make all kinds of things with some culinary creativity! My food is flavorful and others often enjoy it too. Using herbs and spices has kept me from cheating because I can taste wonderful varieties. Our tastebuds become more joyfully sensitive after we’ve followed SCD for a while. I can now taste preservatives and all those things that don’t belong in my food – and they taste icky! Don’t know how I ate that stuff before.

I’ve been on the diet since November 20, 2011 – almost three years. I never thought I’d be able to say that! I’m not often tempted to cheat because when I have cheated (about once every 6 months), I pay for it severely and all my previous gut symptoms return, even with one cheat meal or snack. It an take weeks to recover. I know by the third year many on SCD seem to have few symptoms and some can even slowly resume a more “typical” diet. I’m not one of those people. I can now accept that this may be a lifelong lifestyle for me and I’m not usually sad or frustrated by that.

http://www.SCDLifestyle.com has been instrumental in my progress. Without Steve and Jordan I just don’t think I could have done this diet! If you need support or ideas, check them out! You won’t regret it. Their plan helped me walk, step-by-step, through starting and growing on SCD. They added to what Elaine Gottschall began and made it practical to daily, contemporary life.

I’ve learned in the last year that I have Dysautonomia, or Autonomic Dysfunction of my autonomic nervous system which controls all those things you usually don’t think about – breathing, temperature regulation, sweating, blood pressure and even the movements of our GI tracts. Mine’s seriously screwed up. I believe this has lead, in large part, to my constant SIBO (Small Infection / Bowel Bacterial Overgrowth) infection because slowed motility will do that. I can’t change that my brain mixes signals, even with the strictest diet. I believe that as my motility has slowed as my other conditions have worsened, and this makes knocking out methane-predominant SIBO nearly impossible.

I do still take laxatives. I’ve tried every one on the market including prescription laxatives. While I’ve felt magnesium citrate has been the most effective and gentlest on my particular GI tract, I’ve learned that it also irritates my bladder, so I’ve recently stopped taking it and I’m searching again for a laxative solution. I’m on a high salt diet to treat my Dysautonomia, and lots of salt can pull water into the intestines so I’m experimenting with salt capsules I compound myself (to make them SCD legal) to see if I can not only increase my BP with salt and water loading, but also get a laxative effect. So far it has helped, but I still need more assistance, so I’m considering going back to Miralax and/or trying Linzess. When I keep my laxative regimen in check daily, the bloating is much more manageable and I can fit my size 6 pants again (instead of wearing maternity pants because my poor belly was so distended).

How does my gut feel? Pretty good when I’m strict on SCD AND I’m taking a laxative that works for me. It’s not perfect, but it’s lightyears better than it was several years ago and I’m satisfied with my progress, especially considering the challenges presented by Dysautonomia. I don’t use antibiotics. I still prefer to do a colonoscopy prep in order to clean out the bacteria in my gut if the SIBO flares badly, though those flares are much less common now unless I let the constipation get a hold of me because of decreasing my laxative use. Some days I get nausea still and I don’t know what triggers that. Most days my Bristol scores are between 3 and 5. My gut is no longer the center of my world and I’ve moved on with that part of my life because the diet has been as effective as it can be for me (hence my silence on this blog).

Of late (the last three weeks) I’ve had trouble because I tried a stimulant laxative due to the necessary discontinuation of the magnesium citrate (which had been working wonderfully). All stimulants, from Dulcolax to senna tea and castor oil give me level 9+ pain intestine cramps. So all stimulants are OUT for me. I’m going to try Linzess soon, and I’ll let you know how that goes. I’m also increasing my fat and water intake.

Biofeedback for Constipation / Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

I still don’t have the sensation that I need to have a bowel movement like most people do because I have rectal dyssynergia. Instead, I get pain and then I know I need to use the bathroom. It’s not as bad as it used to be, however, and I don’t feel anxious about going to the bathroom. I also don’t throw up when I have a bowel movement. Biofeedback doesn’t promise that our sensation will change. It teaches us how to go more effectively and retrain our muscles.

If you want the nitty-gritty details on my experience with biofeedback and what you can anticipate if you are going to do it, check out this post.

My ability to have a successful and less painful BM is better now than it ever has been despite the fact that I haven’t had more than a few checkups since sometime early- or mid 2012. I do have pelvic floor problems if I let my Bristol scores get out of hand by not drinking enough water, not taking laxatives, not moving around, eating lots of fiber and not enough fats, etc. These problems are resolved once the triggers are addressed.

I’m not afraid to use public restrooms and I do so successfully without enemas. Every once in a blue moon I have trouble fully evacuating. I carry a baggie with two nitrile gloves, some lube and wipes in case of emergencies. Manual evacuation is NO FUN! But it’s a whole lot better than suffering for hours. Stress can trigger pelvic floor issues; doctor appointments in particular. I have learned not to leave home without my little survival kit. It’s even more unpleasant to try to manually evacuate without gloves, lube and wipes. Better safe than sorry!
To Sum It Up…

My gut isn’t perfect and I’m still symptomatic. But I’m happy and satisfied with my progress because I never thought it could even be managed this well when I was in the thick of it a few years ago. Following SCD is a lifestyle for me now. I’m content. I still continue to work out the kinks when they come, and they will come, and I often remember where I was which makes me grateful for where I now am. I still flare and need anti-nausea drugs or Levsin to control spasms, but that’s typically because I’ve had to change a part of my routine due to other health complications. I am still tweaking my diet.

Considering SCD? I say GO FOR IT! Has biofeedback been recommended? Try it! Really, if you’re already suffering, what do you have to lose?

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Low Carb SCD with Fructose Intolerance

Ok, whew!  This month has been a whirlwind and it’s been “long time no write”!  So rather than apologize (I just remembered it’s my blog and I have no reason to apologize), let me catch up in summary.

Low-Carb SCD with Fructose Intolerance

One of my biggest fears since starting SCD was that I’d end up having to cut out honey and fruit and the carbs I so love.  I said so many times in my head, “I’ll lose my sanity if I have to give up _______ (list foods here).”  Well, I felt this way about dairy too and I gave up all dairy less than 1 month into SCD (December 2011).  Do I still miss dairy?  Oh you bet – especially my goat cheese!  But I feel so much better for it, so I’ve been a “good girl” and remain dairy free until my body has healed enough to digest casein.

I also felt this way about giving up tree nuts when I learned that my allergies to tree nuts included much more than just almonds.  No nut flour to bake SCD breads or treats which means, for the most part, no breads or treats.  I actually cried for two days about that…then again, I was also having PMS…………  *Shrug.*

There were several other foods and food categories I had to give up after I started SCD, but the fact is that I DID IT and I’m alive to tell you about it today!  :D  And so it is with fructose which is a sugar found in honey, fruits, some vegetables, and in processed “foods”.

Blessings and Curses of the Food Journal

I had fallen off the food journaling band wagon for a while despite its inclusion in my Healing Plan.  I was just tired of thinking about “food food food” and wanted to get on with “life life life”…but had to find out the hard way (again) that getting on with “life life life,” in my case, typically requires being 100% focused on “food food food” so that I’m healthy enough to then focus on “life life life”.  When I don’t stick to my daily food journaling, I lose track of trends and I’m not able to figure out what food or what food category is hurting my poor gut.  I also tend to eat more carbs (fruit and honey especially) because they tend to be faster to prepare or grab on-the-go than my fats and meats.  This, I’ve since learned, can lead me into a flare-up quickly.

Frustrated at being stuck on this current plateau, I went back to food journaling without excuses and saw that honey and fructose were potentially causing me problems (severe bloating still, pain, less-than-friendly Bristol scores).  I guess I just got frustrated enough that I was willing to do whatever it took to move up to the next level of health, even if it meant waving goodbye to honey and my favorite fruits.

Saccharin (Sweet-N-Low) on SCD

So two plus weeks ago I ditched the honey and decided to try saccharin (which is allowed by Elaine Gottschall on SCD) and to re-write the recipes I use most frequently.  I’m finding that there are a few things Sweet-N-Low is useful for, and many more it’s NOT useful for, as the omission of honey from recipes changes their texture.

Now, before someone spends 10 minutes lecturing me on the cancer and health risks of saccharin, please consider:

*  I have literally little to no appetite most days, so getting calories in is extremely difficult – and if it doesn’t taste at least edible, it’s going to be a fight to get it down the hatch.
*  Without enough calories, I feel awful and I get very weak within 3 days.
*  My diet is cleaner than 99.5% of Americans (REAL, non-processed foods!) and I also take very few medications (Rx or otherwise) and typically use all-natural (i.e. baking soda and vinegar) cleaning products in my home, thus reducing my cancer risks.
*  There is a time when benefits outweigh risks, and I believe that time for me is now.
*  Besides, the Sweet N Low ad above gives me hopes that by using Sweet N Low I will get a hunky husband!  ;D

Was THAT “Low Carb Flu”?

As my gut was starting to thank me for knocking out the honey and drastically lowering my fructose intake, I thought I’d feel better.  But I started feeling worse!  It wasn’t my gut that was killing me, however; it was EVERYTHING ELSE!

Exhaustion made me feel like there were 15 pound weights attached to each appendage, it required effort just to breathe, I couldn’t open my eyes more than half-way even though I was awake, and even speaking became more slurred and difficult.    I began sleeping 15 hours per day out of pure necessity.  Crazy carb cravings and three days of migraines were also par for the course.  On the worst days, I felt absolutely DRUNK even though not a drop of liquor was involved.  I took myself off the road on those days, not that I had any desire to go anywhere given how exhausted I was.  I could barely put a sentence together and I would do stupid stuff like stare at lettuce in my hand for 5 minutes, not sure what I was supposed to do with it!  It would have been funny if it wasn’t so pathetic and scary.

I don’t get scared easily about things going “wrong” in my body.  I mean, after all, I’ve lived with this body all my life and I know its ups and downs.  But I do get scared when feeling THIS EXHAUSTED and “DRUNK” goes on for more than a few days in a row.  It’s scary for two reasons – 1) I don’t think any of my doctors would understand how awful I feel just by looking at me and that they would press further to find answers and 2) I have no control of the situation and no idea of the cause.

So more than a week ago I began asking myself, “Is this perhaps an unbelievable case of die-off/herxheimer reaction?”  I went to my favorite SCD website – SCDLifestyle.com – and searched for “die-off”.  This is what I learned:

*  Die-off usually lasts 3-7 days.  Low Carb Flu (Low Carb Adaptation) can last 2-3 weeks.
*  Die-off-like symptoms that last longer than 7 days are more likely either Low Carb Flu or a reaction to a food/supplement.

The Low Carb Flu is basically your body adjusting to utilizing fat as your primary source of energy rather than glucose/carbohydrates.  The body needs time to build up the enzymes it needs to break down and use fat as energy in your body but this process doesn’t happen over-night; hence the flu-like exhaustion and other symptoms which persist and then wane as the body becomes adjusted.

What’s Next?

Well, I started feeling a *little* better yesterday and significantly better today, so I am hoping that this process is nearly finished and I can go on with my new lower low-carb lifestyle without frequent recurrence of this Flu-like beast.

Before going low-carb (especially on days I wasn’t being careful about my ratios of carbs to fat to protein) I could easily average 175 grams of Carbohydrates, 50 grams of Fat, and 60 grams of Protein each day.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t work well with a gut that likes to ferment carbs and a gut that needs lots of fats to keep Bristol scores nice and soft!

My new ratio goal per day is: 75 grams Carbs, 100 grams Fats, 75 grams Protein.  So far I’ve been able to keep my carbs down to 75 grams per day (some hard-core low carb folks go even lower!) with the use of Sweet-N-Low and still feel satisfied.  Increasing my fats is helpful for my gut and, as my body will be using fats for energy, it also will hopefully give me a boost of energy in the next few weeks.

I believe I’m doing the right thing for my body.  I’m always striving to improve my health and super-excited to see what kind of progress will come in the next year or two!  There will be bumps in the road, and adapting to a low-carb diet is definitely one of those bumps.  Knowing when to listen to my body and when to ignore its screaming and just keep pushing through is key.

GutsyGirl

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Is Welch’s 100% Grape Juice From Concentrate Still SCD Legal?

Breaking The Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall

Breaking The Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall

Elaine Gottschall, in her book, “Breaking the Vicious Cycle” (BTVC for short) states that “We have requested and received written assurance that Welch’s 100% grape juice and Dole pineapple and pineapple-orange juices contain no added sugars” on Page 184 in the Appendix of the Thirteenth printing, May 2010.

Any product’s formulary and ingredients my change at any time, unannounced by the company producing the product. So it is wise to check and re-check the foods we eat to make sure they are still SCD legal. After some debate on an SCD website as to the Legal/Illegal status of Welch’s 100% Grape Juice which is from concentrate, I checked in with the company to see for myself. Here is what I found…

 

 

Q. I have diabetes and have noticed that Welch’s 100% Grape Juice contains more than 30 grams of sugar per 8-oz serving. Can I drink it?

A. The sugars in Welch’s 100% Grape Juice are natural fruit sugars, fructose and glucose. Like all 100% juices, Welch’s 100% Grape Juice contains no added sugar or sweeteners. If you have diabetes, always be sure to check with your doctor or dietitian for advice on food choices that are right for you and assistance with your individual meal planning.

Q. Do Welch’s 100% juices have added sugar?

A. No, there’s absolutely no sugar added to our 100% juice products. The grams of sugar you see on our labels actually refer to the naturally occurring fructose and glucose found in the fruit used to make our products. And, according to MyPlate (choosemyplate.gov), 100% fruit juice can help families achieve daily recommendations for fruit servings.

Q. What’s the difference among 100% Juice, Juice Cocktails, and Juice Drinks?

A. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines these terms, and the definitions can be lengthy. However, as a general rule: “100% Juice” is either squeezed directly from the fruit or made from concentrated juice that is reconstituted with water. Welch’s 100% Juices never contain any added sweeteners. “Juice Cocktails” and “Juice Drinks” are formulated with less than 100% juice and, in most cases, contain added sweeteners as well. Note: You can find the juice content of all Welch’s Juice Beverages above the Nutrition Facts panel of the product label, shown as a percentage.

 

While this information may not answer all of your questions about Welch’s 100% Juice products, you can read this and much more at Welch’s Nutrition Resources page.

Gutsy Girl

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Three Month Setback

I know that most people who are strict on SCD will often experience a setback or symptom flare right at their third month, but I guess I was naively hoping that I would be the exception to that statistic if only for the fact that I don’t have Crohns or ulcerative colitis but instead an epic combination of celiac disease, IBS, small intestine bacterial overgrowth, and a few others to compound my physical misery. I was hoping it was “just” the folks who had UC or Crohns who souls tend to get flares like this.

Evidently my hopes were in vain because my guts are sick and I feel ick. The dreaded three month SCD flare has arrived.

At least I was warned by Elaine’s book, Breaking The Vicious Cycle (BTVC), and I am confident as I can possibly be that I have not cheated by eating any illegals. I decided to prop myself up in bed this evening and revisit BTVC for some encouragement.

“Most cases begin to improve within 3 weeks after the dietary regimen has been started and improvement usually continues. At about the second or third month, there is sometimes a relapse even if the diet has been carefully followed. This can occur if the person develop a respitory infection or for no obvious reason. Do not allow this to discourage you! Once the individual get over this, improvement is usually steady with minor setbacks occurring occasionally during the first year.” BTVC, P.70

about 3 weeks ago, I had a bad cold which nearly became pneumonia. In his kindness, God healed me and the pneumonia was prevented. Being sick sapped away my appetite, and I had difficulty getting enough calories for a few weeks. I had actually just come back around and was getting some nice energy and strength back when my guts decided to become mean again. But, having experienced several days with increased strength and energy, I have more hope that such days will be in my future.

I have absolutely no intentions of giving up on the specific carbohydrate diet. I have worked too hard to get this far, and in the last 3 months I have seen incredible improvement! I realize this is just a bump in the road, and I am hoping that in a few weeks I will feel more like myself again.

I’ve gone back to a slightly modified introductory diet for a few days, including a little bit of avocado and oil for increased calories because I am becoming weak very quickly. Today I was trying to walk across the parking lot in the apartment complex where I live, and it took me 45 minutes to get back home because I had to stop twice along the way. I was rather surprised that I made it home it all. Until I get my strength back, I will have to make sure I don’t try to walk anywhere alone even with my walker or crutches. Thank God I have a wheelchair!

Please pray me through this flare when you think of me. I trust that God will take care of me – I am His daughter, a daughter of the Most High King.

Gutst Girl

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