When I was in Puerto Rico, my intestinal distress hit an all-time high! I could not even consume salad greens (which had always been a staple in my diet) without major gas and bloating, followed by a trip to the bathroom. I never knew when it was going to hit! It was completely unpredictable. The thought of leaving the house for the day brought on enormous stress for me. I had always heard people speaking about this and was never able to relate to it. Now was different and I had much more empathy for these folks. The last day of vacation, my girls and I took a morning run on the beach. Good thing our condo was right near the beach! 20 minutes into our run, I had to literally run back to the condo and use the bathroom. It was awful. The cramping, bloating and complete discomfort of it all. I could not wait to get home to take care of myself.
So there I was, back from Paradise and ready to begin healing my intestines. At this point, I had no idea what was causing my intestinal distress. I contacted my doctor so that we could run tests. Giving a stool sample was certainly an interesting experience! I don’t think I’d ever done that before. To add insult to injury, I had to give a sample twice! For some reason, the first time around it couldn’t be read. It was definitely very humbling. We got back very late from our trip, around 1a.m. My friend had come over earlier the day before and put a couple of chicken carcasses in my Crock-pot for me (lifesaver!). My house had absolutely nothing else in it for food, yet I had to be at work at 7am in the morning for an 8 hour shift! Back to reality with a bang! I was completely done eating foods that I knew irritated my stomach. I knew that the only thing it needed right now was the anti-inflammatory benefits of bone broth. So I took about a quart of broth to work with me the next morning. I really didn’t eat anything else. After work I went grocery shopping and bought some GAPS Intro friendly food so that I could be nourished and begin my healing.
After two days on the GAPS Intro Diet, the diarrhea calmed down. It was a miracle! I was no longer running to the bathroom. About a week after I began this regimen, I got a call from my doctor’s office telling me that I tested positive for C diff. I guess my three bouts of antibiotics in the spring took it’s toll on me. Looking back, I really believe that I developed this back in June. But because of the fermented foods I eat and drink, as well as the probiotics I take, I was able to keep it under control. I had actually convinced myself that this diarrhea was a symptom of Lyme disease and that my body was fighting it off. I thought that by eating healthfully and staying on probiotics, I could fight off the Lyme disease and minimize the symptoms. There were times this fall that I would stop taking my probiotics, thinking that I didn’t need to keep taking them since I eat a lot of fermented food. However, every time I stopped, I would begin to experience diarrhea. So back I went onto the probiotics. It was around Christmas time that the probiotics no longer seemed to work. It didn’t matter if I was taking them or not, the diarrhea took over with a vengeance.
There is a plethora of reasons why bone broth is the backbone of the GAPS Diet. First and foremost are its anti-inflammatory effects on the intestines. Amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine all have anti-inflammatory properties and bone broth is LOADED with them! Bone broth also contains chondroitin sulfate (a very expensive nutritional supplement), a structural component of cartilage that has been found to improve inflammatory conditions as well. Bone broth also has easily absorbable minerals that help heal and seal the intestinal lining. If you remember in my last post, I talked about how the over-growth of pathogenic bacteria can lead to “leaky-gut syndrome” because of all the toxins they secrete. These toxins cause the intestinal wall to become permeable, allowing “leaking” of undigested food particles and toxins into the bloodstream. The minerals as well as the gelatin in the bone broth help “heal and seal” the gut lining, decreasing intestinal permeability, and therefore “leaky-gut” syndrome. There are oh so many more benefits to bone broth, but these are the ones pertinent to intestinal health.
Being an ex-vegetarian certainly has made it difficult to embark on such a meat and meat stock based diet! If I hadn’t already studied this diet and understood the science behind WHY it works; it would have been very difficult for me to accept that this was my fate! I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to work with folks before embarking on this path myself. I have watched many clients heal their illnesses by using the GAPS diet, so the evidence was already there for me. But I have also secretly thought, “This diet is WAY too difficult to follow…Thank goodness I am healthy and won’t ever have to follow it!” Careful what you say….you just never know!
Why is this diet so difficult? Well for starters, there are 2 parts to the diet. The first part is the Introduction and the second is the Full GAPS Diet. The Introduction is recommended if your illness includes intestinal distress. Well, there was no argument. I was certainly experiencing intestinal distress! The Introduction is divided up into 6 stages. I won’t go into detail about each stage for time sake, but Stage 1 includes bone broth, well cooked vegetables, meat cooked in the broth, sea salt, coconut oil, animal fats, liquid from fermented vegetables and that’s about it! So for the first week, that’s all I ate! This was going to be interesting….