Thursday night four weeks ago, I flew home to scenic Boulder, Colorado from Newark after having been in San Francisco, nursing a stomach ache and the fatigue that comes with over scheduling oneself. By the middle of the next day I was curled up in our bedroom with a fever, chilled to the bone regardless of how many covers Danielle piled on top, swearing up and down that I’d caught the flu. It wasn’t. By the next day, whatever malady that decided to take up residence left as mysteriously as it had appeared and I was able to carry on with the weekend. After ruling out the flu, I decided to change up my diet, eliminate grains since that is the modern evil in the world and see if I felt better.
Eliminating grains was wonderful for a few days. I had a surge of energy, all of the GI issues I was experiencing dissipated and I was sleeping like a log. Then while I was in LA, it started to feel like one of those critters from the movie Alien had taken root in my gut. At this point, I was still on the road to DC but muddled through the last day of meetings and flew home with a fever of 101. I was sick enough that getting stopped at security by TSA was a real worry while going through the checkpoint. Fortunately I wasn’t coughing and had chills versus sweating. Once home, I tried every home cure I could think of to eliminate the Gastrointestinal pain. Hot bath, epsom salts, Pepto, seltzer, none of it was working. And so it continued for a few days. I’d try to eat a little toast or a banana and play through the increase in pain.
Then I started reviewing the medicines I was taking to see if they’re known for causing gastric distress. That’s not the case for my hypothyroid meds. Vitamin D and fish oil are considered good for GI health. What the heck??? It turns out that an antiviral medicine I had been taking for years can cause nausea. That was a red herring so I dug deeper. Here’s the kicker, when the FDA approves prescription medications for use they only study the side effects over a 45 day period. Therefore if you are prescribed something to use consistently like I was with the antiviral, you are a bit of a test subject.
Which brings us back to my gut and the self inflicted GI genocide. Cutting out grains created famine like conditions for my micro biome. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal and the bacterial composition of your biome adapts to the new food sources. Except that in my case, the population was damaged by the antiviral medication meaning that eliminating grains killed off what was left and by extension my ability to digest food.
So here I sit with my good belly probiotic shot in hand, toasting the bacterial friends that live in our guts and reminding each of you to go gentle on them the next time you take a medication.