Friday, 3 July 2015

Healing My Tummy. Food Intolerance Testing

I have been having problems with my tummy for months, if not more than a year. Constant stomach ache, constant switching from diarrhoea to constipation, feeling under the weather, severe bloating like you feel your stomachs about explode and stomach cramps, literally every day. I wouldn't mind if  I ate badly and didn't look after myself, but im otherwise healthy, eat healthy, mostly unprocessed food and exercise most days. Its so frustrating!
I went to my doctors, they ran a series of tests and everything came back normal, so they fobbed me off with 'ISB' and told me to get over the counter medication for the symptoms and take as required. I went to the pharmacy and they started to question me a lot about why I was buying constipation and diarrhoea relief, even they didn't like it!
Treating symptoms and not the Cause just isn't right. Just hiding a symptom or relieving it isn't actually tackling the cause of the problem and im not happy with that, so I started to look at what else I could do. I looked at maybe food intolerances, but I couldn't really see any pattern. I tried cutting out wheat and dairy as they are common irritants, but it made no difference. I made a conscious effort to increase my fruit and veg, to eat as healthy as possible, but if anything its got worse.
Intolerance Tests
So I decided to stop guessing and do something about it. Im pretty certain its food related so I was recommended a food intolerance testing company where they use a hair sample to look at your dna to see what you are most likely to be intolerant to.
So I paid online, downloaded the form, pulled a couple of hairs out at the root (ouch) and posted it off. Within a week I got an email back with my report. Now the day I received it, I had just got to the end of my tether. I had a salad of tofu, tomatoes, spinach, peppers, cucumber, beetroot, and balsamic and olive oil and my stomach blew up.... from a salad.... HOW?????? But then when I opened the report I was actually quite shocked by what I saw....
Not the things I expected- wheat dairy etc...
no,  among other things...
oats, egg protein, casein, tomatoes, bell pepper, spinach, broccoli, blackcurrants lots of foods I eat every day and are really healthy, I couldn't believe it, but it explained a lot. Basically the more healthy I was trying to be, the more of the things that im intolerant to I have inadvertently eaten!
So what now?
What are you supposed to do with the results? are intolerances permanent? Can it be fixed? What if it doesn't help? This is where things get interesting! Im going to write several blogs over the next few weeks going through all aspects of this process so if you have tests done, you can get the best from your results too.

The Elimination
When you get the results, you are advised to eliminate the problem foods for between 2 and 4 weeks, then one by one reintroduce and see whether they cause any reaction, so you can narrow down what foods are the issue as just because they are on your list, doesn't mean they are actually an intolerance and you don't want to restrict foods long term if they aren't actually a problem!.

To get your tests done, click the paypal payment button and i'll send you the forms to get going!
click here for more info on the company im using.

DAY 2 Im now day 2 into the elimination and ive had no stomach ache today, for the first time since I can remember really, im so happy! I wanted to share with you a picture of me after 1 day of elimination (right) and a pic after 1 meal containing one ingredient on my list which I accidently had this afternoon :( ... a bit of cabbage. This is a mild version of what ive been suffering for such a long time. You know its bad when someone gives up their seat on a train because they thought you were pregnant, this happened to me a couple of weeks ago and was what triggered me to start looking into the causes.
Day 9 Update: Well im over a week in and its been tough! Despite getting organised, I still made a couple of mistakes. Day 3 I ate a few dark chocolate rice cakes, which I thought was ok.... oh noooo, the dark chocolate had butter in.. OMG I had such severe cramp in my tummy the rest of the day, so I already know that the casein is a problem (a milk protein)!!
Im still a little bloated but a  radical change in diet will probably take a while to settle. Ive been taking probiotics and digestive enzymes and also supplementing with glutamine which is said to help the digestive system as well as the immune system and being the most prevalent amino acid in muscle.

One additional positive outcome, ive wanted to go Vegan for a while but always found the switch too hard, but this has accidentally made me switch as the only animal proteins I was eating were egg and a little dairy and ive cut both as they are possible irritants. It has been tough adjusting but it will get easier as I get more recipes and ideas together.

The effect on my competition diet. Well my treat meal used to be chocolate based! So that's out, I can still have one brand of biscuit that I could find, luckily after checking all of them I found an oat, milk and egg free biscuit!! Time will tell if clean refeeds have an affect on my physique. Im almost half way in now and looking forward to the reintroduction stage, hoping I can have some of my favourite veg back! No broccoli or spinach and most salad veg has been really frustrating!

The reintroduction!
Wow, when you have had non of the potential intolerant foods in you for a few weeks, I wasn't expecting how strongly I would feel the symptoms when reintroducing the foods. Im trying one food per day so I thought id start with a whey protein shake, its natural with no artificial sweeteners or flavours so about as clean as you can get, but within an hour my tummy went burning hot... really uncomfortably hot... no bloating or cramps, it was strange, and accompanied by complete lack of attention span and I felt really irritable and snappy! How food affects you is really strange. My hubby also tried a whey shake and his skin was itching all day, so we are both now going to need to find a non dairy protein shake!
Tomorrow... oats
Im really hoping some of the foods on my list can go back in, it included
oats, barley, casein, egg white protein, broccoli, spinach, dates and a number of other veg and other foods that I don't eat much or at all, but its been really tough as a vegetarian cutting all these out!

More reintroductions
Well oats gave me cramps and bloating, then I tried eggs, at first I thought I was ok, but several hours later I got severe stomach ache and bloating that lasted almost 2 days. This showed me how confusing intolerances can be as the reaction was so delayed, it could easily have been confused for another food eaten later. So i tried it again a week later and the same thing happened, it hit me worse the following day.

So with this in mind, now ive switched to only trying to reintroduce a food every 3-4 days to make sure any irritation is gone before trying the next food. So far I definitely react to
dates, cabbage, oats, casein, eggs, cinnamon and quinoa
ive only been able to reintroduce peppers and blackcurrants with no reaction
As I'm 4 weeks out from a comp, ive decided not to try introducing any other foods until after the comp, when I will carry on trying 1 or 2 items a week.

One thing I hadn't anticipated. I was so looking forward to finding out what I was reacting to and what I could put back in my diet, I didn't think about how horrible it would feel to feel all the symptoms again when I introduced a food back in and it clearly was an issue for me, its only when you have been pain, bloating and discomfort free for a while that you realise what you put up with before. At first I missed the foods and was tempted to just have something, but the pain just isn't worth it, so I find myself missing those foods less and less. 

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