My Horrible Gut Pain -- Part 2
In Monday’s Living Well Daily, I described the wracking gut pain that hit me a few weeks ago and my struggle to figure out what was wrong.
It hurt after I ate, every time. And yet I never felt nauseous or lost my appetite. It was driving me crazy…
Until I got an idea one day and bought a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. The next day, I ate the whole thing and felt fine.
Can you guess what was going wrong?
I’ll give you a couple more hints:
- Previous to all this, I had been eating a low-carb, mostly paleo diet… although not as natural as I would have liked.
- The whole “cinnamon raisin” was a bit of a red herring… the extra flavor didn’t matter. The point was the loaf’s essentially a 100% carb meal.
- The day after I ate it, I bought another item at the grocery store… began taking it before every meal… and have felt great ever since.
OK, ready for the answer?
I lacked digestive enzymes, specifically for processing fat and protein. Eating the bread felt fine because I had the enzymes for it. But a healthier fat- and protein-laden meal? Not so much.
This was confirmed when I later began taking an enzyme supplement before every meal: The pain went away. And a painful reconfirmation happened every time I missed a dose — the pain would come back.
Why is this?
Digestive enzymes break down our food into nutrients so that our bodies can absorb them.
They’re produced in the pancreas, small intestine, salivary glands, and stomach. Normally, enough are made to help properly digest food.
But sometimes your enzyme production drops. This can be due to stress, low stomach acid, or inflammation. In my case, I suspect stress contributed.
If you’re lacking enzymes, food doesn’t get properly digested and is eliminated without the nutrients being properly absorbed by your body. You can see this for yourself when you look in the toilet. In my case, it also lead to outright pain, which finally got my attention.
As nice as it was to have discovered the issue, I had zero interest in using a crutch for the rest of my life. So when our senior health editor, Brad Lemley, visited Baltimore, I told him my story. Here’s roughly what he had to say:
“Fermented foods are what you need. We weren’t meant to eat 100% clean, sanitized products our entire lives.”
Made complete sense. Fermenting a food means adding yeasts and/or bacteria to break down some of the carbs. This results in the production of healthy bacteria.
You’re probably familiar with sauerkraut, which is a fermented food. Unfortunately, commercial sauerkraut has been pasteurized, so all of the beneficial bacteria are killed.
Which is why visiting the farmer’s market was such a nice coincidence for me. Especially when I happened upon the booth showcasing kombucha.
Kombucha is a fermented drink of sweetened tea produced by fermenting the tea using bacteria and yeast. As a result, it’s rich in active enzymes.
I bought a bottle.
“Make sure to put it in the fridge as soon as you get home,” the woman running the booth warned me. “And don’t shake it before you open it.”
That gave me a chuckle, but Laissez Faire Today’s Chris Campbell, who was with me at the time, confirmed this was a bad idea: “It’s not too funny when you’re cleaning up lavender that’s sprayed all over your apartment.”
Duly noted. As soon as I got home, I released the cap with a *thunk* and poured a couple fingers’ worth. Then took a swig.
It was sweet with some serious zip to it and warm in my gut. And an excellent omen for how things would go.
For the next couple weeks, I’d take a swig of kombucha in the morning and then take my enzyme pills as usual… but then carefully reduced the number.
Long story short, I haven’t had any pills in a week and I’m feeling fantastic.
And it got me to thinkin’: How long had this truly been progressing? Sure, I finally felt enough pain a few weeks ago to do something, but how long had I been lacking in digestive enzymes before that? Months? Years? Since I was born?
The sad part is many doctors will scoff at the idea of “lacking in digestive enzymes,” but wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I began taking them, I felt better.
A nice bottle of kombucha, as well as other fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, and yogurt which hasn’t been zapped of its active cultures, will always have a place in my kitchen.
Humans were meant to eat a certain amount of rotting stuff, like it or not. Kombucha, however, is a downright delicious way to get your healthy share. Find some at your local health food store or farmer’s market and try it out.
And please do so even if you aren’t suffering from poor digestion right now… because perhaps you only think you’re not. You might be shocked by how much better you feel, how much more energy you have, and how other seemingly “unrelated conditions” disappear when you improve your digestion.
Underground Health Researcher
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