Monday, June 2, 2014

Healing My Gut {Supplements and... Cellulose say what?}

Almost as soon as I started my paleo journey, I started supplementing with Omega 3 fatty acids. Many experts say we should aim for a 1:1 ratio of Omega 3's and Omega 6's for optimal health {others say a 1:4 ratio}. Currently, the average American ingests 1 gram of O3 for every 30 grams of O6! This sets us up for many problems, but that's a whole other blog post... To help balance out my omega count, I take the recommended does of whatever brand I happen to have bought each day.

About a year into my journey, I had rather extensive blood work done and found that all was ship-shape - except my Vitamin D levels {which were quasi nil}. I then started popping a D3 pill every morning.

And now I have reason to believe I suffer from SIBO {small intestinal bacterial overgrowth}. You can read why here. I've decided to take a real food approach to healing it, as well as a supplemental one. You can read about my dietary choices here. The supplements I will be adding to the aforementioned ones are garlic {5+ weeks} and probiotics {30 days}. 

After lots of hesitation and discussion in the pharmacy, I decided to buy these two brands. Let me be clear though: these are not the ideal supplements. The biggest pharmacy in my area didn't offer ideal supplements. What do I mean by this? I mean that there were no garlic supplements and no probiotics without sugar.

I explained my situation to the woman at the counter and she set off looking for my supplements. I explained to her that I wanted to avoid sugars as I was pretty sure sugars were causing my problem. She came back to me, shaking her head in amazement. Even she was surprised to see so much sugar in her supposedly healthy supplements!

I asked her how we could get rid of bacteria if we continue to feed them sugar... and she said she didn't know. 

In the end, she suggested I buy these two products as their form of sugar is "cellulose". According to her, cellulose affects the body less than other sugar forms usually do. I quickly ran a Google search and found that cellulose in supplements is SCD legal, so I agreed to buy them, hoping I wasn't wasting my money on bacteria food.

Now, you may have heard of cellulose before, or maybe not. I'm not going to try and explain it better than Kristen, the Food Renegade, did though, I'm just going to be lazy and send you her way.

I will tell you a couple things though. First, it's wood. The US Department of Health and Human Services has this PDF about it - and I find it slightly disturbing that there are guidelines for its use as a food additive AS WELL AS guidelines for protective eye wear for wood cutters... Second, it's an indigestible fiber - meaning, humans can't digest it. Therefore, it's going to sit in my intestines until toilet time and allow little buggers to feed on it. But don't worry, it's GRAS {Generally Regarded As Safe}, so feel free to eat your little hearts out.

But moving on...

I take four garlic supplements per day, two in the morning and two in the evening. I take one probiotic per day, in the morning. The bottle of probiotics has 30 capsules, so I'll be taking it for 30 days. The garlic bottle has 75 capsules. I will therefore buy a second bottle and take these for 37.5 days :p 

I have noticed a few adverse side-effects to taking these supplements.

  • I have gas. Thankfully, not smelly gas, but I do get pretty gassy in the mornings and again in the evenings. 
  • I am bloated in the morning and in the evening.
  • My IBS is acting up double time.
  • I have garlic breath.

Now wait a minute - aren't these the symptoms I'm trying to get rid of? I did a bit of reading, and found that many others had these same side-effects. Garlic is not allowed on a SCD or Low FODMAPs diet - yet I'm taking a garlic supplement. Apparently, a bit of garlic accentuates problems in sensitive people - but a lot of garlic could actually reverse the problem, thanks to it's antimicrobial properties.

Testimonial after testimonial, I read about suffering like this for about a week, and then to have things miraculously get better and better. So I'm going to try and stick it out... Here's to hoping my body works the same way as the others!

EDIT: A few days later, I can now say the gas is getting better! I'm no longer bloated systematically every morning and evening, just every so often in the evening. My IBS has calmed itself, though I'm still not "regular"... and the garlic breath remains :p

To sum things up: I take Omega 3, Vitamin D3, garlic and probiotic supplements daily. Once my SIBO healing month is up, I will stop the probiotics, though I may continue the garlic, just not daily and not at its maximal dose. I will also try incorporating more raw garlic into my diet.


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