Do you know the limits of your body?

Knowing when you’ve overstepped the mark, is key to keeping your symptoms in check.

Nobody likes sharing ugly pictures of themselves (who does?), but 1) ugly pictures get attention and 2) I want your attention because there is a lesson in this.

Firstly, many people think health coaches like myself have things all figured out. Of course you do – most of us only post the good days, the great looking meals and the other perfect insta shots that people like to feel inspired by. But this is reality. We are on this journey too. Many of us are in this industry because of our own personal health challenges.

This lesson is about learning what takes you out of your healing environment and how you can get back as fast as you can.

The pic above is my body giving me a sign.

A sign that says: STOP you’ve overdone it. I haven’t experienced a symptom like that in several years, so this was a notable event for me. And as many of my chronic urticaria followers who experience angiodema like this know, these things seem to come out of the blue. What was I doing in the minutes or hour before this happened?  Nothing – nothing unusual for a Saturday afternoon. I was out playing with the dog in the garden, the sun was shining and there was a lull of lawnmowers in the background. Had I just eaten something in the hour or two before? No.

BUT, what I’ve learnt about the body since studying functional medicine is this: Our bodies are striving for balance all the time. Our immune systems are surveying and tolerating all the time …until it no longer can tolerate whatever we’re throwing at it.

What really had been happening in the 24-36 hours before: (I had been strictly gluten and dairy free for at least a month or 2 as I could sense that the grass pollen levels which I’m allergic to were really heavy. I have been able to be symptom free for a few years since changing my diet, but this year, a lot of sneezing and a stuffy nose told me that I needed to be stricter with my occasional gluten/dairy transgressions.)

Friday afternoon: a lovely walk with my daughter and her friends to enjoy a dairy & gluten ice-cream together. (no bodily response)

Friday evening: as co-organizer of a local club gathering for a cocktail mixing evening, I allowed myself to taste some of the creations, even though I know I respond to alcohol. (body response: slight feeling of asthma – so I stopped after tasting 2 delicious cocktails) 

Saturday midday: brunch – this was likely the action that pushed my bucket to its limit. (Often a single transgression is followed by several further acts of transgression and this was no different.) I was pushed for time, getting back from a store that didn’t have gluten-free bread options, so I bought several gluten containing breadrolls and croissants and declared a family “cheat” day! That was around midday, and I had no response for over 4 hours, until perhaps a little too much grass pollen in the air from all the grass mowing tipped my bucket into overflow and that was my body’s response: rapid sneezing and a sudden onset of angiodema, intertwined with some allergic asthma.

This was the culmination of adding several factors that my body doesn’t tolerate well: gluten, dairy, alcohol, more gluten and pollen.

Even though I did not feel great, the good news is, I knew exactly why my body reacted the way it did – I could trace back all the contributors to why my body flared. The bad news is that I sense my bucket filled up way too quickly, which means there is something is still off with my gut. I describe the mechanism of a having a full “bucket” or “bathtub” leading to histamine issues in this Q&A session here.

My gut needs work.

I know this. I’m like the shoemaker with bad shoes. I’ve been helping my clients repair their guts, but I haven’t done my own work. Why not you ask? Well, I’ve known that I have a pretty shoddy gut status, simply because of my timeline: born caesarean, suffered from regular bronchitis infections as a kid, had eczema, seasonal allergies, chronic urticaria and a horrible history of major dental work, including amalgam fillings, a root canal, paradontitis and implants. I had begun my gut work where I do with most of my clients: with digestion and started testing my stomach acid levels. I got up to 7 HCl caps without feeling any burning/warming sensation! (My clients know that this means very low stomach acid!) I did a local stool test to check if I had H. Pylori, but it came back negative and only showed low endemic (belongs in our gut) bacteria like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. So I continued with the HCl for a while, took some probiotics and kept up fermented foods where possible, but because I felt fine with no symptoms, I really didn’t make much effort to keep up with further gut work. Only more recently where I feel fuller quicker and perhaps a slight feeling like I’m not digesting well, do I really suspect H Pylori and have been thinking of getting a second, “proper” stool test done. This need to do gut work is likely at the root of my bucket becoming too full.

For a deeper explanation on Helicobacter Pylori and why it is important to find out if you have this bacteria, watch this video here. (taken from my Great Gut Glorious Gut course)

I often get the question about what stool tests I recommend and I must say that my trust in local (or regular doctor) stool tests took a dramatic dive after a client of mine tested negative on a local stool test for H. Pylori. All of her blood markers were pointing to poor nutrient status despite a good diet, so for me that means that she was unable to bring on these nutrients and that digestion and absorption were likely the problem. I urged her to do a highly regarded functional stool test, the GI Map, as it is well known to pick up H Pylori infections and gives more insight on intestinal health as well as what else might be lurking in the microbiome. Lo and behold, H Pylori was not only positive, but HIGH on the GI Map test. 

I’ve already placed my order for my own GI Map test and sent it off to the labs and eagerly awaiting the results. More to report when I get those in a little less than a month!

In closing, learning about my food sensitivities was the real game-changer for me. Just removing gluten, dairy, and later, eggs helped me resolve most of my symptoms. For many, diet alone can get rid of so many symptoms, but often the work does not stop there and long-standing issues with histamine or other chronic symptoms usually mean we have to work on the gut. We need to be vigilant about toxins in our home and our environment as well as be aware of stress as these too impact our gut health.

If you’ve been struggling with long-standing symptoms and haven’t yet removed gluten and dairy, I highly recommend you start there. You can download my free 7 Day Clean Eating Challenge which comes with instructions, recipes, a meal plan, and guiding emails. If you’ve already eliminated foods and suspect that you need to work on your gut, feel free to reach out and ask me any questions you may have.

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