This is the final step we took to get Adam from having IBD controlling his entire life to having enough energy and good health to outstrip me!
You don’t hear much about it, but there’s an absurdly high chance chance that, if you have IBD, that you have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).
At this time, my mom began reading Dr. Norman Robillard’s book on fermentable fiber and IBD and I found Dr. Michael Ruscio’s work on SIBO. Adam had textbook symptoms. SIBO occurs when you have so much bacteria in your lower intestines, where it’s supposed to be, that it backs up into your small intestines, where it shouldn’t be, and lodges itself there. Once in place, a biofilm is created that protects the bacteria. This biofilm really roots the bacteria into the small intestines and makes it very difficult to remove. The fiber we eat, particularly resistant starches, then feeds these bacteria which reproduce, intensifying the problem. As the bacteria feed, they create gas which produced the discomfort, bloating, and overly full feeling Adam experienced.
Fiber is part of a healthy, paleo diet. But that applies to people who do not have the type of damaged system Adam did.
Dr. Michael Ruscio gave me this analogy: it’s like lunges, normally lunges are part of a healthy exercise routine. But if you have an injured knee, then you need to heal the knee first before you can continue with lunges. If you have a healthy digestive system then fiber can contribute to the health of that system. But in Adam’s case, if the system is damaged, overrun with bacteria that are living where they shouldn’t be, then eating fiber feeds the problem. The damage needs to be addressed before returning to a normal paleo diet.
Adam and I identified foods high in fiber and removed them from his diet. This unfortunately included Adam’s beloved chocolate shakes. We found a substitute at the Paleo f(x) conference. It was very good, but it it just wasn’t the same. It’s was a sacrifice for Adam to restrict his diet even further, but we were aiming to heal his system and then return to a normal paleo diet longer term.
Even with this restricted diet, however, Adam wasn’t healing. I finally added some anti-biofilm and anti-bacterial supplements along with a probiotic to help dislodge and cut down the bacteria in Adam’s small intestines
Was I confident I was doing the right thing? Not at all. I was terrified it would be another failed experiment like those Adam had suffered through in the past. So I agonized over it, started out slowly with small doses, and held my breath.
And then Adam began to feel better. His bloating reduced, his pain didn’t come back, his outward symptoms are slowly vanishing, and he has regained an incredible amount of energy. I can’t keep up with him any more! In combination with the diet, the supplements are helping to reset his system back to normal.
Is he completely healed? No. It took years to do the damage and I suspect it will take a long time and further experiments until we find the exact combination of diet and lifestyle alterations to eliminate some of the bloating he still experiences. We’ve gone from a terrible, life-long diagnosis to a bit of bloating and I’m fine with that. It was worth every moment and every struggle.
Questions? Things that have worked for you. Let me know in the comments!
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