2 May 2022
How I Healed My Gut After Being Diagnosed with Celiac Disease
2 May 2022
There are several reasons why I made the career choice to become a dietitian; my love of science and passion for teaching being among them. But the deciding factor for me was my experience being diagnosed with celiac disease and dealing with the aftermath. In this blog I will share some of my celiac disease journey along with how I healed my gut after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
For me, getting my diagnosis was a massive relief. Up until that point, I was very unwell and didn’t know what was wrong with me. I would sleep 8 hours and wake up feeling exhausted. I loved being active, but doing even a simple workout would zap me of my energy for the entire day. My doctor ran some blood work and saw that I had an iron deficiency, so they told me to take an iron supplement. I took my supplement religiously, yet my iron levels wouldn’t budge. Unfortunately, when I returned to my doctor, they told me, “Maybe this is just the way you are. There are other girls your age who have iron levels even lower than you.” And then they sent me packing.
I was devastated and I knew I couldn’t live my life like this. Luckily, at that time I was doing my graduate studies in a research group that worked on a bunch of different gut disorders, including celiac disease. I signed up to participate as a test subject in a pilot study that involved getting my blood tested for antibodies and giving a biopsy of my small intestine.
And then I got my answer: I had advanced celiac disease. The reason I felt terrible and had such a bad iron deficiency was because my gut was torn to shreds and it couldn’t absorb the nutrients I ate. Even though it was tough to find out I have a serious medical condition, I was ultimately glad to finally understand what was going on in my body. I didn’t even mind going gluten free. I love to cook and I’m a pro at following rules, so that part wasn’t hard for me.
After the Diagnosis
Where the real struggle came in for me was that going gluten free didn’t actually make me feel that much better! I had issues with heartburn, fatigue, and my bowel movements were questionable to say the least. I visited the gastroenterologist who had diagnosed me and asked them what the heck was going on. Sadly, I was disappointed yet again, “A lot of young people struggle with following the gluten free diet. You really have to cut all the gluten out if you want to get better.”
I was flabbergasted. This guy thought that I was still eating gluten! Even though I insisted that I was eating gluten free, he told me that if I would just be more careful with my diet, I’d get better. At that point I realized I had to figure out my gut health on my own. Over the years, by connecting with other celiacs online and reading up on holistic approaches for gut healing, I gradually got better.
Fast forward to today and I’m feeling great! My lab values are way better now and I have all the energy I need for work, physical activity, and my social life. And for those of you who were wondering, my bowel movements are no longer questionable. While I view healing my gut as one of my greatest achievements, I also see it as tragic that I had to stumble through this stuff on my own. That’s why I decided to make it my purpose to help other people with their gut issues. So that you don’t have to struggle all alone! I’m here to pass on all my knowledge and experience.
Healing Gut Damage
Though there are many things to consider when you’re addressing your gut health, I want to share three things I did to heal the damage celiac disease did to my gut.
1) I started taking a collagen supplement.
Celiac disease seriously damages your intestines. Until that damage heals, you’re still going to have problems with absorbing the nutrients from your food. And if you’re not absorbing the nutrients from your diet, you’re still going to feel like crap! Because your body is not getting what it needs to function properly. Collagen provides your body with the protein it needs to heal your beaten up gut. And, collagen also helps to mend a leaky gut, which is a very common issue in people with celiac disease.
2) I found an effective probiotic.
By now most of you have heard about the microbiota and its important impact on gut health. When you have a healthy microbiota, you’ll have a healthy gut. However, there are a lot of things that can cause you to have an unhealthy microbiota, causing you to have gut symptoms. Having a ton of inflammation in your intestines because of celiac disease definitely affects the microbiota in a bad way! My symptoms improved immensely when I worked on cultivating a microbiota with lots of good, diverse species of microbes. One of the ways I did this was by taking an effective, high-dose, liquid probiotic.
3) I went off the birth control pill.
This tip may not be for everyone, but going off of the pill was a game changer for me. After being on the pill for 11 years, I could see that it was affecting my body in a lot of ways. I noticed that my bloating, cramping in my gut, and loose stools were only getting worse and worse as each year passed. For many women, taking the synthetic hormones in the pill messes with our gut motility, causing symptoms. I went back to the drawing board with my contraception method and found an option that was a good fit for me, that didn’t cause gut problems.
Hopefully you found these tips helpful. However, it’s incredibly important to keep in mind that everyone’s gut issues are highly individualized. Don’t be like me and try to figure this stuff out on your own! Book a complementary virtual meet and greet with me at Natural Choice Medical Clinic in Guelph and we’ll talk about how we can get you on your way towards better gut health.
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