Flashback to about a year ago, I started at my first internship kickstarting the summer of my senior year as a college student. I got a one bed one bath apartment right outside of Portland, OR, as my first apartment away from home – where I was starting to learn how to grow up. It was my first place by myself, figuring out little things like how to set up wifi, understand the demand of my full-time internship and, unfortunately, trying to research different diets, putting what I thought was a binge eating disorder in its grave.
One day after getting bored listening to the same music playlist on Apple Music, I started to discover the value of Podcasts. I came across Bulletproof by Dave Asprey, a biohacker and the creator of the Bulletproof diet, famously known by its Bulletproof coffee. I binge listened to multiple episodes trying to figure out this way of eating that was so popular back then.
That weekend I went and got Kerry Gold butter, MCT oil, K-cups and a Blender Bottle for my Keurig to master this famous recipe. While combining the Bulletproof coffee with intermittent fasting I found insane results. My muscles were popping out in areas I’d never seen before. I had abs, arm definition, and my pants were fitting looser.
This was better than I was expecting – confirming my hope in this way of living, Bulletproof.
A couple of weeks later I found my appetite rawring to the point I was thinking about food 24/7. This kept up for a while leaving me about 10lbs heavier ringing in the new fall semester of 2018. I tried to tell myself to keep up with the diet to lose the extra weight. Even after working out one to two times a day I still found myself eating a whole large pizza and still feeling hungry.
There were times I would binge eat without any self-control and head straight to an urgent care nearby to get blood panels done in hopes I would have some sort of answers.
The second the phone rang after each visit I thought they were going to tell me my hormones were off or something was wrong with my thyroid – but this wasn’t the case. After taking an abundance of blood, I found out I had mono after what I thought was just a horrible cold. In fact, it made things worse, it covered up my vitamin deficiencies that played a key role in figuring out what I did have; SIBO.
For those that don’t know, SIBO stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth which is defined as an increase in the number of bacteria, and/or changes in the types of bacteria in the small bowel. The small bowel aids in digestion and absorbing key nutrients to optimize performance. Damage done to the small bowel can lead to leaky gut, which is when the intestinal barrier becomes permeable allowing protein molecules to escape into the bloodstream.
Countless nights went by as I would sit in bed crying, hating being hungry all the time, not achieving my health and fitness goals, and consistently feeling like trash every day. I later found myself researching every doctor in a 20-mile radius of me. I came across a naturopathic who conducted in-depth exams and would spend countless hours looking through her patients past health history – but it cost almost a thousand dollars just to get in the door.
After numerous breakdowns and lost money going to urgent care all the time, my sweet Mother gifted me the opportunity to visit this doctor as a Christmas gift of 2018.
We did the whole 9 yards; blood panels, urine samples, and just about everything else. Right away due to my vitamin levels being low in B12, C, magnesium, and the imbalance of my hormones – it was written right in front of us.
I had SIBO.
And, at the time, I had it for almost two years.
Flashback to my sophomore year, when I was attending a community college in my hometown back in the spring of 2016, I had come down with a cough that nobody could figure out for months. Initially, I went to urgent care and was told I just had a normal cough, so they gave me a pack of antibiotics.
Then I went back again after weeks of my cough just getting worse – still was just a cough, so I got prescribed another pack of antibiotics.
Shortly after that, I started getting sick from feeling chocked to death from coughing so brutally. But it was just the “flu” – so doctors gave me another pack of antibiotics.
I was getting ready for school one day when I was still living at home and my room was in the basement. I had a cough attack sending me to the ground, leaving my face as red as a tomato, and aggressive enough causing my Mom to come running downstairs to see if I was okay. I had tears running from my eyes and my body ached trying to recover from the “flu” and “cough” I was told should go away shortly after, but was still getting worse.
The fourth time was the charm – my Mom came to the doctor with me in hopes they would actually believe there was something else going on. It was then they told me I had whooping cough and there was nothing they could do to help but to try and push through it slowly but surely. But one thing they didn’t think of – my gut.
My body is already pretty weak, so after this little episode, I got four more infections that were treated by more antibiotics. Due to my stomach bacteria being torn down every few weeks, my intestine overgrew with bacteria prepping for the 7th or 8th round of antibiotics I never had to take. This overgrowth was known as SIBO.
Unfortunately, SIBO feeds off high-fat diets, just like the Bulletproof one I was forcing my body to stick to for almost 8 months straight. And this is when shiz hit the fan….
I was always hungry – hating myself for not being able to understand food portion sizes.
I increased my gym sessions to two per day – hating myself for not working hard enough to stay “healthy.”
I still knew I was growing – making putting on jeans the worst part of my day.
I thought it was all a mindset – so I hated myself more looking in the mirror every night telling myself to do better tomorrow.
All from having SIBO – something doctors refused to look into when I came in countless times trying to understand why the way I was feeling seemed so wrong.
My naturopathic explained it all – the effects of SIBO and all the negative actions caused by this:
- The bacteria in my small intestine stole all the nutrients out of my food causing two things; indigestion and stripping my body of most vitamins that were crucial for my performance.
- Since the bacteria wouldn’t let me digest my food, I was getting sick constantly, pushing my body into overdrive thinking I was starving myself.
- The deficiency of vitamin B12 left me with little to no energy – finding myself drinking up to four large cups of coffee a day, still trying not to fall asleep at my desk.
- And, since I was working out twice a day when my body was sick, overworked, and thought to be starving – this added the cherry on top, and by cherry, I really mean 20lbs.
So thank you, Mom, for gifting me the gift of a lifetime, and thank you to my doctor for listening to me and, for once, helping. If it wasn’t for them, I would still be suffering from the everyday side effects of SIBO.
It has been over two years now and I am still on the journey to getting my health back on track. These things take time, but never, ever take for granted your overall health. The human body is an extremely complex organ, listen to it, and treat it with the utmost respect.
And if you are in the same place I was, here is a website to help you find a naturopathic doctor in your city. Don’t ever hit snooze when you get a gut feeling something just isn’t right.
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