Struggling to Find Answers
For as far back as I can remember into my teenage years, I struggled with chronic digestive distress. Everything from unexplained bloating (no matter what I ate) to abdominal pain and cramping and oh yes, horribly uncomfortable painful bowel movements.
I know. Not exactly the kind of subject matter that most people want to talk about, but hey, it’s the unfortunate and uncomfortable reality for millions of North Americans suffering from digestive discomfort on a regular daily basis.
As a teenager, I approached my doctor about this issue and complained of the severity of pain and inconvenience it was causing me on a daily basis, only to leave the office with a classic diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), that most people are given when the doctor can’t find any other reasonable explanation for these kinds of health complaints. It’s estimated that an average of at least 15% of North Americans suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and it is one of the number one reasons why people visit their doctor.
The Role of Stress, Diet & Life on Our Health
Over the years, I sought out multiple doctors in hopes to find a diagnosis that would cure my on-going digestive discomfort. Not one of my doctors discussed the possibility of my diet, stress and what was going on in my personal life at the time of my “diagnosis” and how that might be contributing to my digestive distress.
My given options were pharmaceuticals, antibiotics and Pepto-Bismol, you know that thick pink sludgy paste-like over the counter liquid where the people on the commercial do a song a dance to “nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea!”
With my “options” in hand, I was disappointed and frustrated with my future outlook and the fact that there seemed to be no near solution in sight to my physical ailment.
It was then that I realized that we often only address or manage our health when we get sick or when it’s too late.
Rarely do we consider the use of preventative health, which would save our bodies a whole lot of inconvenience, pain and discomfort, not to mention billions of healthcare dollars. Why is it that we only begin to pay attention to our health when our body starts to deteriorate, we fall apart and we’re sitting in our doctor’s office in shock after the bad news hits us?
WE are the Only Ones Responsible for Our Health
It was from here on I realized that if I did not take my health matters into my own hands, no one was going to do it for me. If I continued to walk into my doctor’s office each and every time I had a health problem and expect him to fix me, I would continue to be disappointed with the outcome. Now, I’m not saying doctors don’t play an important role in our health, but the reality of the matter is that WE must be our own health advocate. And if we treat our doctor like some kind of God or the be-all, end-all and know-all authority figure, it just might leave us feeling frustrated and helpless.
So I researched, read and gathered as much information as possible to find a solution to my chronic GI distress. This was in part responsible for the why and how I ended up in nutrition school. I needed to know more about why I was in constant pain and discomfort and how my body had been enduring this kind of ill health for so long. What had got me there in the first place?
After my nutrition schooling, personal experimentation, several tests and working with certain natural health practitioners, I discovered the most critical element that helped me get back on track and avoiding feeling like something was attacking my body every time I ate.
My Battle with Wheat
What I had discovered was that I had food allergies. Peanuts, potatoes and wheat were not welcome in my body. Wheat in particular seemed to have the most harmful effect. After consuming wheat I would experience all kinds of bloating, abdominal pain and distress from my neck down to the end of my intestinal track, not to mentions awful acne skin breakouts within the following days.
The “wheat pains” as I’ve often referred to them as, can leave you keeled over on the ground in so much pain that you wonder if it will ever end.
Dr. William Davis, an American physician and author of Wheat Belly explains how the consumption of wheat can be linked to almost any health condition from obesity to diabetes to even schizophrenia. The reality of our modern over consumption of wheat today is that it has the ability to seriously damage not only how we feel but also how we think and function on a day to day basis.
Over Consumption of Wheat, Yet Malnourished
Here in North America we consume an over abundance of whole grains, with an emphasis on wheat, in which we are told are an essential part of a balanced diet. In fact, wheat is the most widely consumed grain in North America.
Unfortunately, what many of us fail to understand is that human digestive tract today is not fit to process much of our now modified and highly processed wheat. And though wheat health claims have been sweeping the nation since well over the early nineties, it can actually be more damaging than beneficial to your health and in particular your gut.
According to Dr. Loren Cordain, a professor at Colorado State University and an expert on Paleolithic lifestyles, “There’s no human requirement for grains… and grains are absolutely poor sources of vitamins and minerals compared to fruits and vegetables and meat and fish.”
Not the Wheat Your Grandmother Ate
The human body does not recognize our highly processed and modified wheat that many of us consume today and the gluten found within wheat is not a tolerable protein available for digestion and absorption.
We have bred our wheat to contain more gluten (the stuff that binds the dough and keeps bread nice and fluffy) and considering that wheat is in excess in well, almost everything these days, our immune systems simply can’t handle it. And so the body reacts with symptoms like the gas, bloating and intestinal pains.
Cutting wheat out of my life was one of the best things I ever did for myself health-wise. Gone are the days (or at least few and far in between – unless I fall off my wheat/gluten-free wagon) that I experience uncomfortable gas and bloating.
Simple Yet We Like to Make it Complicated
Perhaps you may be asking yourself by now, how did I go so long without figuring out this seemingly simple solution of eliminating wheat? When it comes to our health, we don’t always go with the obvious. We analyze, overshoot, and we like to make things more complicated than they really are.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Think about it. Every day we eat food. From the time we wake up to the time we go to bed we put food into our body- breakfast, lunch, dinner and let’s not forget all the snacking in between. There’s bound to be something there that affects how we feel both physically and mentally. One man’s food can very well be another man’s poison.
You Have Power to Heal Yourself
We are all biochemically unique and require different nutrition accordingly. Just because something is touted a “health food” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. You are the only one who can know how a particular food makes you feel. This is why I encourage my clients to use journaling to track how they feel and make connections between their food and their mood.
At the end of the day, you have options. You can take your health into your own hands or you can choose to let someone else carry and control it for you, continuing to make trips to your doctor’s office demanding answers and solutions. I suggest the former. Taking control of your health and being your own health advocate will empower you more than you may think. And who knows, you just might inspire someone else to take back their power and start living in abundant health.