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No Miracles for this Tummy (But Probiotics Are Definitely Helping)

Recently, I’ve been noticing more and more blog posts and Pins and advertisements and Tweets and whatever-elses about how yet another person with GI issues found a magic cure for their digestive issues.

“All I had to do was cut out dairy, and all my bloating went away!”

“Go paleo and you’ll feel 100% better!”

“Just stop eating all processed food. That’s the real culprit.”

“I started yoga and it worked miracles!”

I don’t think these miracle stories are actually any more common than they ever were–just that I’ve been noticing them more.

Nor do I doubt that these stories, in many cases, are true. I’m glad these folks were able to find a cure that worked for them.

But here’s the thing that I’ve had to learn and accept about my own IBS: nothing (so far) works like that for me.

Take the low-FODMAP diet. The low-FODMAP diet is a highly studied, clinically tested approach to managing IBS symptoms. It involves an elimination phase and then a slow, meticulous re-introduction process to help identify trigger foods. It’s not a fad diet or a miracle cure by any means, and it doesn’t work miracles.DSCN0100It has certainly helped some. It’s reduced my symptoms by maybe 50%. And that’s not bad.

Still, on the days when my tummy feels bloated or queasy or crampy and my whole body feels sluggish and overloaded, it’s easy to feel discouraged. Sometimes I think I should just quit the low-FODMAP diet and go back to eating whatever. But then I eat a trigger food and remember how much more that sucks.

Speaking of which: some of you may remember how a few weeks ago I posted about re-introducing wheat to my diet, and how that seemed to go okay?DSCN1763In the week after I posted that, I had two big IBS attacks–the worst I’d had all summer. Both on days when I ate a wheat-based meal. That put me back to mostly gluten-free, although I’m fortunate that my body still does okay with small amounts of wheat in, for instance, oatmeal that’s been processed in the same facility as wheat, or soy sauce.

Many other things help. Some. Exercise definitely helps some. Yoga helps some. Minimizing junk food helps some.Yoga pix 009And, I’ve been pleased to find in the past few months, taking a high daily dose probiotics is helping a lot, too. It’s no miracle cure, but I’ve been noticing a measurable difference in how I feel.

I considered probiotics after seeing the way-too-long-and-drawn-out infomercial thingy from Probiotic America that’s been circulating around on the web. Has anyone else seen it? (It’s way. too. long.) The main thing the video tries to communicate is that our gut bacteria are extremely important to our digestive health, and it’s really easy to let that gut bacteria get out of whack given our processed and sugar-heavy modern diets. Of course, it encourages you to buy their product, which happens to be a very heavy-duty probiotic supplement. It will work miracles, the video says.

Now, I couldn’t be a teacher of rhetoric and not take this video with a grain of salt. Obviously, it’s a highly biased source. But that doesn’t mean it’s one giant lie, either.

With my history of eating disorder, I wasn’t about to go on a no-sugar diet. But I was willing to try a heavier-duty brand of probiotics. I didn’t buy their brand, though. I went to Whole Foods and bought the RAW Probiotics for Women, which is decent in price compared to most probiotics. The dose is three capsules a day, usually with each of my meals, although it’s also okay to take them all at once if I forget.DSCN1840All this long and tedious story is to say that it’s actually made quite a difference. I’ve noticed more often feeling “normal” hunger and fullness, as opposed to feeling uncomfortably bloated after eating followed by hunger within just a couple hours. I’ve also been having much more regular and “normal” #2’s. Like, significantly much more so. Coming from someone who’s gone two weeks with no #2’s, staying regular is a big deal.

Sorry if that’s TMI. It’s hard to write a blog about IBS and not mention #2’s at least once in a while. ?

Do I still feel like crap sometimes? Totally. I there’s a fair chance I always will. There’s no miracle cure for IBS. Just a few little things that can help.

On an interesting final note, I did once meet a lady who said all of her GI issues went completely away when she got pregnant. While this may be true, I’m planning to avoid that one for now, as pregnancy tends to come with some long-term side effects. Like, you know, offspring.

Do you have any GI issues, and if so, what has helped the most?

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  1. Kate says:

    My first GI doctor ever told me that his wife’s GI issues went away when she had a child. I said “that’s nice, but I am 16.”
    I haven’t had a ton of success with probiotics, but I yogurt goes over easy on my stomach, unlike a lot of other “healthy” things. I’m so skeptical of most supplements… it’s so hard to trust they’d be worth my money. I’m so glad you’ve found one that works well for you.

    1. Joyce says:

      I hear you–there just isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to GI issues. Probiotics didn’t help much at all until I really upped the dose to a really potent brand. And even then, yes, it is expensive.
      Not very useful advice. My first GI doctor told me that my GI symptoms were all just my eating disorder brain playing tricks on me. 🙁

  2. Diane Wahto says:

    I got a kick out of what you said about pregnancy. My first pregnancy took care of a lot of issues for me. I threw up everything I ate, except for saltine crackers, so my stomach problems were pretty well solved. I also lost weight, which doesn’t happen during pregnancy. The baby came through my ordeal fat and healthy, though. Your friend is correct–there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. All you can do is keep experimenting, something I had to do for a long time.

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