Appreciating the Beauty of Simplicity

Today marks the first day back to “solid” food after my first round of the Elemental Diet. I completed 14 days, and while I considered doing it for longer, I realized that A) this was a lot harder on my body than I thought it would be and B) I didn’t have enough Amino Acids (oh darn!) to keep going. I use the term “solid food” loosely, as all I’ve had today is homemade chicken meat broth and a few small pieces of chicken thighs. I was expecting the worst with the return to food (and maybe fearing it too) since many accounts that I read stated an instant return to bloating (which isn’t really one of my main symptoms) and the all too common intestinal gurgling. I actually feel quite good. The biggest change is that I went from a Keto Fast Tract Diet 3 weeks prior to the Elemental, then the “low carb” Homemade Elemental Diet (which actually contained about 50 grams more of carbs per day than I was eating), and now back to very low carb (as in, I haven’t had a single carb today). On the Elemental, I definitely noticed the sugar spikes and crashes between meals, though it didn’t affect my hunger or my energy levels too badly. Overall, as of right now I feel like it was a success. No return of symptoms yet, knock on wood, but we will see my official hydrogen and methane levels when I get to retesting.

The Elemental Diet is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. To be someone with an eating disordered past, I have tried very hard to not restrict my food desires and cravings. But when you have an illness like this, it forces you to put things in a new perspective. It’s about health, sure–it’s about learning that what’s healthy for you or my boyfriend, Drew, or any random stranger isn’t what’s necessarily healthy for me. It isn’t about deprivation because I don’t deserve to eat or enjoy certain things, but rather using food primarily as nourishment to fuel my body and propel me through life instead of keeping me feeling ill and preventing me from doing the other things I enjoy. Drew also celebrated the last shake with me yesterday evening so he could experience and understand what I’ve been going through the last 2 weeks. Although I felt the amino acids were the worst part, he thought drinking the olive oil was too bitter and didn’t enjoy that at all. Though the amino acids were unpleasant, the dextrose/water solution makes a pretty decent chaser, so the amino acids are quickly forgotten. The oil, on the other hand, has to be sipped slowly and after a taste or two, it becomes somewhat unpleasant. Though the Elemental Diet doesn’t work for some people (barely affects their breath test results), I still think it’s worth a shot and shouldn’t be the last thing people try. It’s a lot cheaper to do a round of the Elemental and knock down the levels than do 5 rounds of Xifaxan.

My stomach just gurgled really loudly a moment ago, which made me really happy. Only people with SIBO would understand. It means my Migrating Motor Complex (MMC) is at work with its cleansing waves before I enjoy my next meal. And as simple as a meat broth and chicken thighs are, they have never tasted better. I don’t think I ever realized the beauty of simple food until not being able to eat anything for two weeks. Simple food is my friend. Tomorrow’s meals will be more of the same, and then Monday, I plan on incorporating eggs and well cooked, peeled, and pureed carrots to add some veggies back into my diet (but starting very slowly). Hopefully the symptoms remain at bay. Feeling pretty cautiously optimistic at the moment.

SIBO Sucks Worse.

SIBO sucks worse. It’s the main thought that’s been repeating in my brain for the past week. I’m really terrified you guys. In a lot of ways, this Elemental Diet is the worst I’ve ever felt while having SIBO (and not having another sickness simultaneously). While all my usual symptoms of SIBO are gone, I have a plethora of new ones, and I don’t know if it’s too soon to consider it die-off (though I am doing herbals with the Elemental Diet). I’m having D everyday (so whoever said the Elemental makes them constipated, I envy you. I would gladly go 14 days without a BM. I will take my SIBO-C over SIBO-D any day, even knowing it’s harder to get rid of). I have had excruciating stomach pains all over my abdomen, going all the way to my lower back. It’s not exactly a cake-walk, but I’ve managed to work through it so I’m pretty proud of that. But of course, I keep thinking about what Dr. Pimentel said about how the bacteria can generally hold on until days 10 through 14, and doing additional days can bring the success rate even higher. And I’ve also found a bunch of people’s personal accounts saying that they did the Elemental for 2 or even 3 weeks and it did nothing for their SIBO, or only brought their numbers down a bit. I keep trying to make excuses for them, like maybe they didn’t follow the diet perfectly and added in additional things. Maybe the formula they used isn’t as effective. I guess the truth is that all our bodies are different, and while the Elemental can be super effective for some, it isn’t the solution for everyone. Maybe Hydrogen Sulfide bacteria can’t be starved by the Elemental (or require a much longer course) since there’s a lot we don’t know about that type of SIBO yet. I also worry that if I eradicate the methane, what if the hydrogen increases? Will I have SIBO-D then?

Pause. Deep breath. There’s power to positive thinking. And as disgusting as each shake is, I’m grateful for them because they have prevented me from going hungry. I imagine that with each one, I’m killing more of the little bastards. I also feel super appreciative of the food that I am able to eat (obviously when I’m not doing this Elemental fast). I’m really excited to resume my Fast Tract Diet and see what the consistency can do for my symptoms. I only cleaned up my diet for 3 weeks prior to the Elemental, and I don’t think there’s any way that doing this Elemental Diet would make things worse off than they were before. I’m also¬†holding onto hope because I’ve set up an appointment with a Doctor who actually knows SIBO, takes my insurance and should be able to help me so I won’t be doing this completely alone anymore, so I’ll see him in about 3 weeks. Day 8 of 14. Only 6 more to go. 19 of 42 shakes are left. I know I can do this; I’m worth it, and SIBO sucks worse.

An Elemental Update

I’m halfway into day 2 of the homemade Elemental Diet I talked about in my last post. I would say I’m different from most people in that I wasn’t deterred by the Elemental Diet due to not being able to eat anything for at least 2 weeks. I can give up food, as long as I’m not going hungry. But I really underestimated the truly vile taste of the amino acids that others wrote about. I figured, chug some nasty shakes, get it over with, 2 weeks later and then be SIBO-free (or at least, lower my numbers a good amount for the next round of killing). You guys. This stuff. Tastes like ass. Words I used to describe it to Drew: it’s like pureed cooked broccoli flavor, but more bitter. But it has a chicken broth quality, except without tasting good. I calculated that I have 37 more “shakes” (if I don’t skip any meals) until my 14 days are up. I don’t like that number.

My advice for anyone considering this is: don’t. No, just kidding. But do make sure you’re really determined; it’s a lot of money to sink into the amino acids and other ingredients to not follow through. You have to be desperate to kill the SIBO Monster. Make it your damn job. Other tips I found helpful: keep the ingredients separate! I can’t imagine how much more nasty this would be if I had mixed it all together. I can’t deal with the thought of that, so believe me, don’t even try. Also, use a cup with a straw and a lid when drinking the amino acids. You don’t want to smell them, and you don’t want to taste them. Make sure you aren’t using one of those cutesy re-usable plastic type straws that aren’t flexible. I felt like they worked a lot worse because I have less control over my drinking when using one. Just get the cheap bendy straws courtesy of your local grocery store. Also, for my first shake, I mixed the dextrose sugar with the coconut oil to make like a sweet coconut oily pudding type thing. This seemed like a great idea at breakfast time. By lunch, eating that mixture again was extremely hard. I’m not used to eating a lot of sugar anymore since starting the Fast Tract Diet, and I actually find it pretty gross now. So for the last few meals, I’ve drank a sugar water solution, amino acids + salt solution, plain water to wash things down, and ate/drank the oil straight (I’ve tried both coconut and olive oil). I keep the vitamins in their capsules because there’s no need to add anything else gross to that stuff.

I’m also taking an herbal antimicrobial protocol at the same time. It’s a mixture of Allicin, Neem, and Berberine. So far, I’m not feeling any die-off and I’m tolerating these herbs really well, just as I tolerated the Candibactin AR+ BR really well. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad thing though. As for how I’ve been feeling since starting all this yesterday–my stomach is pretty symptom free, maybe a bit more sensitive (to the touch) than usual. Epsom salt baths are life right now. My biggest symptom has been headaches. I got a really bad one yesterday, and maybe a little nausea from having to eat the coconut sugar oil mixture again. I’ve been taking it pretty easy, still going on walks and running errands but also honoring my body and its signals. I feel a slight headache coming on now, but I’m not hungry so it may be a little die-off or just a coincidence. I plan to start working with a local doctor knowledgeable about SIBO once this is all over so I can see where my SIBO levels are at and come up with another approach to my treatment if needed. I really hope this kills it all though. I’m so down to just be back on the Fast Tract Diet again eating all the butter and cheese and meat and leafy greens.Until next time!