The Blog

Gut Health: Time To Get My Shit In Order


There I said it and I am going to be saying it quite a bit in this blog post. So if poop talk is not your jam or it is offensive, I get it. There is a point to talking about it though which is that our poop is indicative of our health. And personally, I love poop jokes, poop humor and poop stories. There ain’t no shame in your poop game.

Ok, so enough with that shit. Here we go.

I Got Issues

I have always had a sensitive stomach for as long as I can remember. Lots of food upsets my tummy, especially when I deviate from my norm. I have stayed away from dairy since I was about 18 years old as I discovered I am lactose intolerant. I have adjusted to my restrictive diet as it is just my norm, and even as it is, I am fully aware I got some bad poop happening.

My sister, Stacy, and I talk about poop ‘cause if you can’t talk about poop with family, who can you talk about it with? She knows my BM habits and has been telling me for years that mine is not normal. It also has been confirmed it’s not normal just from a poop diagram she sent me as mine falls into the non- healthy range.

I should also mention my sister is a Registered Dietitian and Gastrointestinal (GI) Health is one of her specialties. She often recommends what is called a GI Map test (aka a poop test) through a company called Diagnostics Solutions . She has been telling me to get lab work done to find out what is going on in my digestion and gut.

Finally, about a month or so ago, I hit my breaking point. After a few days of having to go to the bathroom like 4-5 times each day, I had it.  It almost caused me to miss a few workouts and I almost had to cancel a client Personal Training session.  (“Sorry for the late notice! I have to cancel today as I cannot get off the toilet,” said No Trainer Ever).

I called Stacy finally and said, “Ok fine, sign me up for the damn poop test! I can’t take this anymore.”

I had been hesitant initially to do the test because well, the idea of having to get a sample just grossed me out. For the record, after having actually done it, it really is not that big of a deal.

My lab results came in a few weeks later, which were sent to Stacy as well as analyzed by a doctor.

“Diagnostic Solutions (the company that runs the DNA Based Test called GI Map), has a whole team of doctors that interpret results for practitioners. The practitioner will help guide the patient to implement the changes.   Changes could mean diet changes, including more of something or less of something, nutrients and supplements needed for treatment such as killing bacteria and parasites and other pathogens. “- Stacy O’Brien, Registered Dietitian of SO Nutritious.

What I appreciate about this partnership between Dietitian and Doctor is that they are piecing together a puzzle. The test checks for many different things and they are looking for the links that tie them all together.

“An Integrative or Functional Doctor or Dietitian will look at you as a whole person and aim to find and treat the root cause of your medical issues. They work together to help a person improve their health and quality of life. In the integrative world, diet changes, supplements, medications, and lifestyle changes are more than a band-aid fix. These recommendations will aim to alleviate symptoms while finding and treating the underlying problem often with the result of reducing medications needed. A conventional doctor is more likely to prescribe a medicine to treat the symptoms, often without finding the cause or suggesting alternate therapies.”  O’Brien added.

I will spare you the exact results of my own test (just ‘cause quite frankly, a lot of it is over my own head) What is important to note is that I tested positive for a number of things like H. Pylori and candida and even a little wee parasite.

Let’s Get This Shit Treated

For my own treatment, the first step is to get rid of the H.pylori which will mean taking a few supplements for the next few months as well as follow what is called the Candida Diet.  This is an effort to not make my stomach a breathing ground for candida (while treating H.pylori with supplements).

The diet itself to be honest looks boring, which for me personally, boring is not typically a huge deal. I am a pretty uninteresting eater anyways. However, many of the foods on the list of what not to eat are exactly what my current diet consists of. It will for sure be a challenge but I am lucky I have a great sister and RD who can guide me through this.

I will also admit that as much as I am sad to give up things for a few months, like burritos and the occasional mimosa, this diet as a whole is something that I should be doing regardless of my current bad gut health. I have gotten super lazy with cooking (i.e. I do not cook). I have never really enjoyed cooking and tend to be more of like a functional eater in terms of finding things that are fast to make. I have not food prepped in years and as a result, I have become way too dependent on store bought pre-made food. It is so far form eating whole foods, which we all know is just a basic rule to stick to as much as possible.

I have gotten into the habit of eating things like Amy’s Gluten Free Dairy Free Lasagna. Sure, sounds ok right? No gluten, no dairy. Cool. But it has so much added stuff to it that is likely contributing to my stomach woes.  Not to mention, it never even satiates me, and I end up eating premade salads with dressing that has added sugars (which is something I should not be eating as part of my treatment).

So, from that perspective, I am kind of looking forward to revamping my diet. Also, having to follow the Candida Diet is temporary and if it is successful, I can reintroduce foods afterwards, like fruits and gluten. And when that happens, my hope is, for my lifestyle, I will have gotten back on track and will be more deliberate with what I put into my body.

Cause to digress another second, I do feel fluffy quite often from bloat, and a lot of it is from eating the wrong foods FOR ME.  I am excited to reduce or get rid of that. (I also would be lying if I said I am not using this as an opportunity to lose a few pounds. Cause I am).

But Can I Stomach Meat?

One of the recommendations by the Integrative Doctor was to reintroduce meat into my diet as a way to eat things that will help my gut health. By eating meat, it may be a way of introducing more non-starchy food in light of my candida diagnosis.

In regards to whether I actually can stomach (literally) meat, that remains to be seen. I am not opposed to it entirely but I have not had any meat in about 8 years. I gave up all meat aside from poultry in high school and then also gave up poultry as I was eating so much of it, I became tired of it.

One time, probably less than a month after I stopped eating poultry, I was out to lunch. I ordered a dish I always order there that comes with chicken and I forgot to ask to have tofu subbed for it. So when my food came, forgetting that, I bit into what I thought was tofu and nearly gagged on the chicken.

Sooo given that happened with just a few weeks of not eating meat, I am not sure how I will do 8 years later.

Know Who You Are Getting Advice and Guidance From

Which also brings me to another reason why I wanted to share this topic with you. I stand by my fundamental mindset that we have to know the credentials of whoever is giving us any nutrition advice. I see it too often on social media or conversations about someone just saying, “Hey, you should follow keto (or insert diet of choice here) to lose weight. I had great results!” Having something work well for one person does not automatically make them an expert for others.

Each of us is an individual.  As my poop results show, I have very specific issues I need to fix. Had I not investigated and for the sake of discussion, suppose I had decided to do a ketogenic diet to lose weight, that would not have been the best thing FOR ME PERSONALLY. Part of my lab results show that I do not digest fat, which is not a good thing.  By going untreated, it could be a sign of an issue with my gallbladder that could lead to needing surgery to remove it. So if I did a ketogenic diet, where it is based on high fat consumption, it would be totally detrimental to my body and health.

Similarly, when  H.pylori goes untreated, it can lead to ulcers, inflammation of the stomach lining and even stomach cancer.

Just think about all the people who are pushing diets or supplements (guilty of that, I can admit), they are not always qualified. They are not going to know or always advise to first seek medical advice. Why would I want someone who is unaware of my own situation to tell me what to put in my body knowing it could be really REALLY bad for me?

Normal Is Relative But Not Always a Good Thing

Ok, I will wrap this up (as I think I have maxed out on how many times I can write poop in one blog).

I mentioned in the beginning of this post that I got used to my “normal” poop. There are so many of us who live with our (unhealthy) version of normal from chronic illnesses or even injury. We get used to it but getting used to it does not always mean it’s what is best for us. I urge everyone to be an advocate for their OWN health and body.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.