Why I won’t take my digestive health for granted again…

Do you take your body for granted?

I certainly did over the Christmas period…(arghhhhh!)

The photo was taken literally two days before I went down with a bout of food poisoning.

Not a great way to start 2017!

Now, as I sit here with stomach cramps, I’m reflecting on my observation over the years that we humans tend to take our wellness for granted.

While everything is fine and dandy, the temptation is to get a bit cocky and think we’re immune to health problems.

It’s only when the problems strike us down that we realize just how fortunate we are to have good health.

My festive period is a case in point: I got a little cocky over Christmas and am now paying the price.

Is my gut bulletproof?

…No!

Over the last week or so, I’ve had stomach cramps, bloating and loose stools galore.

Oh how I wish I hadn’t been so cocky!

It wasn’t alcohol that knocked me off track…I didn’t drink a drop of alcohol over the festive period.

Tainted food

About 10 days ago I ate some food that tasted slightly off – it wasn’t disgusting but it just didn’t quite taste right.

I figured it would be ok because my digestive and immune systems have been in pretty tip-top condition for several years now.

Uh oh – how wrong I was.

I felt ok initially, but after 3-4 days I developed cramps in my lower abdominal region and my bowel movements changed.

Let’s just say they “loosened and accelerated” somewhat.

Apart from the slightly off-tasting food, I hadn’t eaten badly at all. As well as abstaining from alcohol, I’d been following my usual gluten, soy-free diet with minimal dairy and sugar.

There is no doubt that the tainted food caused these unpleasant symptoms.

Why is this important?

The symptoms themselves are slightly uncomfortable – I’d say they knock my overall wellbeing down by about 10% and don’t really disrupt my daily activities.

However, it’s not the current, acute symptoms I’m worried about.

Research suggests that food poisoning or GI infection incidents can trigger irritable bowel syndrome.

Some of these acute incidents may be memorable because of the discomfort they bring but many are quite innocuous.

People may not even remember having a few days of stomach cramps and mild diarrhea several years ago, yet these are precisely the events that can trigger long term problems.

Lack of medical recognition

Up to one in five people (U.S. statistics) has irritable bowel syndrome. (1)

This is about the same as the U.K., where they say about 2 in 10 people has it (2)  – I have no idea why they don’t just say 1 in 5.

IBS is characterized by abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea, along with bloating and gas.

Nearly everyone I have tested who complained of IBS had bad bugs in their intestine and many people have reported that their symptoms began after a food poisoning incident.

Food poisoning isn’t the only reason for IBS, but it’s a big one.

Why we tend to ignore these symptoms

I see three major problems with IBS-type symptoms:

First, people think it’s normal to have bloating, constipation, heartburn, abdominal pain, etc. because so many other people have the same symptoms.

However this doesn’t mean that the symptoms are normal.

In fact, it means the problem is epidemic.

Second, doctors see so many people with digestive problems that they too think it’s normal. About 12 to 14% of all primary care visits in the U.S. are related to digestive problems.

Because these symptoms are not life threatening, docs generally don’t bother running tests to look for the cause, which is often a food sensitivity or microbial imbalance in the gut (parasite, Candida, H. pylori, SIBO, etc.)

Third, because the testing methods employed in most medical clinics are archaic, test results come back normal.

This reinforces to the doctor that nothing is wrong, even though the test has probably missed lots of things.

Because docs don’t find a cause for the symptoms, they tell you to go home and live with them.

I’m here to tell you categorically that you don’t have to live with digestive discomfort.

It really frustrates me that the quality of testing is so low and that it takes so long for the medical system to update its methods.

Digestion is the tip of the iceberg

If you look at the literature on IBS you’ll see it is rife with information explaining how problems in the GI tract can turn into problems elsewhere in your body.

Just a few examples:

  • More than 50% people suffering IBS also have fibromyalgia, which is pain in the muscles around the body. (3)
  • There is an association between IBS and migraines/tension headaches; 23-53% IBS sufferers have frequent headaches. (4, 5)
  • Many people with IBS are chronically tired – in fact, IBS is strongly associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. (6)

Is it any wonder that a paper published in 2003 stated, “Patients suffering from the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) tend to have extraintestinal symptoms.” (7)

Taking charge of the situation

I spent Christmas and New Year with my girlfriend in Cape Town, South Africa otherwise I’d have run a stool test by now in the U.K.

The moment I developed symptoms I’d have been on it like a flash and as soon as I get back to England, I’ll be doing three tests:

  • A comprehensive stool test to check what I’ve picked up (parasites, bacteria, fungal overgrowth)
  • A glucose breath test for bacterial overgrowth in my upper small intestine*
  • A lactulose breath test for bacterial overgrowth in my lower small intestine*

* These tests identify conditions known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO.

Why I want to run these tests

Even if my symptoms disappear before I fly back to the U.K. I will still run these tests.

Why?

Because I want to make sure I don’t end up with chronic, long-term problems as a result of my food poisoning incident.

I’ve been there once, back in 2004 when I contracted H. pylori from some tainted fish.

By 2007, having ignored the initial problem long enough for it to seemingly go away, I had a period of stress in my life and ended up fatigued and anxious with skin, sleep and sexual problems.

There’s no way I will allow myself to make the same mistake twice.

Remember that an acute food poisoning such as the one I have can lead to IBS, which itself can subsequently lead to many other problems.

It’s in the literature for all to see.

I want to know precisely what is causing my symptoms and I will do whatever it takes.

Confusion over stool testing

The reason I won’t go to the doctor to get myself tested is that I simply don’t trust the testing offered by the medical system.

Sure, it doesn’t cost me anything out of pocket to get tested, but as I mentioned above, the testing methods just aren’t up to scratch.

I would much rather spend money on getting the right tests to ensure I restore my gut health as quickly as possible.

I can’t place a financial value on my gut health, energy, mood, productivity and general quality of life so it’s no big deal to pay for the testing myself.

The quality and depth of testing and faster results, combined with not needing to beg and plead with my doctor to get the tests in the first place, far outweighs the cost.

When the test results come back, I’ll share them with you so you can see what critters I picked up.

Is this you as well?

  • Have you a similar situation where you had a food poisoning incident – either major or minor – and then developed ongoing problems?
  • Or do you have symptoms that just came along mysteriously over the years?
  • Perhaps you took antibiotics for a cold or flu only to develop symptoms?
  • Maybe you even have fibromyalgia, migraines, fatigue, etc. and are looking for some answers?

If any of these situations are familiar, it’s highly likely that there is some kind of microbial involvement (and probably some dietary involvement, too).

I’m biased, but my advice would be to take charge of the situation and get a stool test done (as a minimum).

Perhaps you can accompany me on my quest to rejuvenate my digestive health once again and put paid to the symptoms you’ve been experiencing for so long.

If not, it’s ok.  Your symptoms may well go away on their own over time. It’s hard to know and perhaps they could worsen, too.

If you’d like to learn more about how the stool testing process works, there’s a link below.

Learn more about a stool test by clicking here.

Before you go, there is also currently a $100 (about £80) discount on the test and consult package.

If you’re looking to get a test, now is the time and all you have to do is enter the discount code 2017NY when you check out.

Best,

Dave.

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References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3338169/pdf/GH-06-S15-1.pdf
  2. http://www.bupa.co.uk/Health-Information/Directory/I/irritable-bowel-syndrome
  3. http://www.webmd.com/ibs/features/fibromyalgia-and-irritable-bowel-syndrome#1
  4. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/859763
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16419571
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2964729/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12741465