The question of how I knew when my gut was healed has been coming up often for me lately, and it's something that I hadn't thought much about until my readers brought it up. I also realized that I have a lot of experience with this, as I did heal my gut, and while obviously this is my journey, which will most likely be very different from yours, it's my hope that this gives you a way to think outside the box.
There are so many things that I never connected to the health of my gut, until I experienced it all first-hand.
I definitely wasn't a stranger to gut pain, after being diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at the age of 12 – but that's where I'd always believed that gut health stopped – in my gut.
It wasn't until my late 20's, after having my entire large intestine removed, and the Crohn's medications and antibiotics that I was on were causing so much more harm than good, that my life really came down to two options:
- Continue to listen to my doctors, who were telling me that changing my diet wouldn't make a difference, and just continue to get sicker and sicker.
- I could make the decision to try as many different diets and lifestyle changes that I could think of, in hopes of finding something that worked, so that I could heal and get to living the life that I'd always dreamt of.
If you know me at all, then you know that I'll always praise conventional medicine for doing what it does best – it saves lives, every single day. My doctors and the medications that they gave me are what kept me alive, and for that, I'm forever grateful.
On the flip side, I'm equally tired of the doctors that tell their patients not to bother with changing their diet, because it won't make a difference. I hear from my readers all the time that their doctors are still telling this lame, sad story, in one way or another.
Honestly, it's mind-blowing to know that the same "diet doesn't matter" message that I was given since the age of 12 is still being handed out today.
In my opinion, the problem is when anyone's beliefs are completely one-sided: that goes for believing that medications are the only answer and that changing your diet won't matter, along with those that believe that diet is theonly answer, and there's no place for medications.
As I've witnessed for myself, it's often a combination of many things that leads to someone's healing. It's not a one-size-fits-all approach. Just as my story is very unique, I'm sure yours is as well. This is also why I LOVE functional medicine, as to me, it's the perfect and sustainable approach to medicine.
Imagine if I had listened to any of the advice that I was given – that changing my diet didn't matter, and I hadn't tried different diets for myself? I straight up wouldn't be anywhere close to as healthy as I am today. I'd bet that I'd be even sicker than I was before.
The reality is: I completely changed my diet, mindset and lifestyle and issues that I'd had for YEARS completely cleared up.
That's when I finally started to connect the dots between the importance of my gut health with my overall health, because I could not deny what I had witnessed for myself.
While paleo was far from the first diet changes that I had made, it's what happened to work magic for me back then. It's all about finding what works for YOU, which can take lots of trial and error – but it's worth it, and as I always say, the time will pass either way.
How I Knew When My Gut Was Healed:
Besides the obvious digestive issues completely going away, below are some other symptoms that vanished as my gut healed:
- Severe sinus infections
- Impetigo (a chronic, painful infection that I'd had in my nose for the previous 8+ years)
- Ear infections
- Skin issues
- Red, painfully itchy eyes (I was told that this was Crohn's in my eyes – fun!)
I'd also lost well over half of the hair on my head after my last surgery in 2011,and once I changed my diet, it started to grow back in like CRAZY. Even my hairdresser couldn't believe it, but we both knew that it was completely connected to my diet and my drastically improved gut-health.
This was my thinning hair back in 2013…
If that weren't enough to show me that gut health is about SO MUCH MORE than just my gut – my severely damaged immune system began to completely repair itself as well. I was told that this wouldn't happen and yet I stopped getting sick, and I stopped needing the constant rounds of antibiotics that I'd been on for 6+ years.
Experiencing this shifted everything in me, as it went against everything that I had ever been taught to be true.
While I noticed a significant difference in my health within a few weeks of changing my diet, it took about 2 full years for my gut to fully heal.
It was a process, and definitely not something that happened overnight. Obviously this is going to be very different for everyone, as this is only my story. While some might think that 2 years seems like forever, here's how I look at it: the time will pass either way. I could have spent that time just getting sicker, or I could have spent it working towards gaining my health back, which is exactly what I did.
It's when all of the above symptoms went away, my hair grew back in, and my energy skyrocketed, this was how I knew that my gut was healed.
Another thing that I noticed when my gut healed is that I was able to tolerate foods that I wasn't able to before. Gluten is still the one thing that I never eat, as it makes me very sick, but I now do GREAT with some gluten-free grains, especially white rice and oatmeal.
Often, changing our own lives means no longer taking what others say as the truth, even when that person really seems to know what they're talking about. Even what I say – it's what's true for me, but it doesn't mean that it's true for you.
What I do know is this: changing your own life starts with believing in what's POSSIBLE.