BELINDA'S GUT HEALTH JOURNEY PART 1
DATE: Oct 19, 2021
Belinda, also known as @beachsidekitchen on Instagram, tracked her personal gut health journey from June to November of 2020, and we are here to share it with you over the next few months. FRISKA is so honored to have had Belinda as a partner and an ongoing fan of FRISKA! Make sure to follow along - she's got some great advice :)
MY GUT HEALTH JOURNEY PART ONE!
I’ve lived with gut issues for just about as long as I can remember. It has taken A LOT of trial and error to figure out what works for my body.
By no means do I even have it all figured out, after years of working at it! I still struggle with symptoms like pain, bloating, constipation to some degree. But, my quality of life has greatly improved from the nearly debilitating issues I had for over a decade.
I want to note that every single body is vastly different. What works for me may not be the best solution for you. I had to try a myriad of approaches to discover what I responds well to. And even those approaches are constantly evolving!
Reminder: I am not a medical expert. I always suggest individuals work with medical professionals to address any medical issues. So, without further adieu, here’s an overview of my gut health journey in the hopes it may help someone too.
SYMPTOMS I’VE DEALT WITH
- Pain – everything from general discomfort to sharp, shooting pains that leave me essentially bedridden
A note on “bloating” – a certain amount of bloating is normal as the human body digests foods. It is not something to stress out about. What I’ve experienced is extremely painful bloating that lasts for days on end. It leaves me looking 6 months pregnant and incredible uncomfortable. These are two very different symptoms.
WHEN MY SYMPTOMS STARTED
I first remember my symptoms getting bad when I was 13, with terrible stomach pains and nausea nearly every day. My symptoms have evolved over the years. From bouts of horrible bloating for days on end, cramping and nausea, to irregularity that causes debilitating migraines.
WORKING WITH DOCTORS
I first saw a Gastro-Intestinal (GI) specialist when I was 16. My symptoms were impacting my quality of life, and I wanted some answers. Doctors ordered an upper-endoscopy and colonoscopy. This led to a diagnosis of IBS with no clear causes or solutions.
After this initial diagnosis, I went to a number of GI doctors, internal medicine specialists, and holistic healers for help. I learned that diet and lifestyle were my best bet to resolving my symptoms.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome seems to be a rather vague diagnosis that encompasses a wide range of symptoms. It’s estimated that 10-15% of the population have IBS, with 2/3 of those being women. There are dozens of diets that could potentially help with IBS.
The following year, I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). AS causes a number of gut issues in addition to inflammation in the joints. I personally feel my AS is the root of most of my gut issues and IBS. I’ve worked to manage my AS symptoms first, which has greatly improved my IBS.
READY FOR CHANGE
As someone in their late teens, skipping social events, parties, drinking, and eating out with friends wasn’t a priority. And my body paid for those decisions. I believed I would always be in pain, fatigued and frustrated, that my gut would never feel even half-decent.
It took me YEARS to fully commit to taking care of my body, but it is so worth it. These days, I so value finally feeling GOOD that it’s an easy choice to prioritize my body’s needs.
WHAT WORKS FOR ME TODAY
- 100% gluten free – this is the only food group I completely eliminated from my diet. It makes an enormous difference! It took four full weeks of being completely gluten free to notice any improvements. So, be patient if you’re trying this!
- Avoiding processed and fried foods as much as possible
- Reduce/replace refined sugars with natural options
- Avoid artificial sweeteners – xylitol and allulose are VERY hard on my gut.
- Small amounts of stevia and monkfruit are less inflammatory for my body, but I consumer those sparingly
- Focus my diet on whole food ingredients and home cooked meals. I eat mainly veggies, fruits, gluten free whole grains (oats, brown rice, etc), lean protein like chicken and fish, beans/legumes sparingly, nuts and seeds, and of course some home baked treats
Drinking a LOT of water
I drink about 120 to 160 ounces of water per day. I also love a big glass of warm lemon water and GoodOnYa electrolytes in my daily routine.
- This has been a GAME CHANGER. Adding a quality probiotic has improved just about every gut symptom I’ve dealt with, especially regularity.
- These days, I’m loving FRISKA probiotics – they have unique blends of probiotics, digestive enzymes, and wellness-boosting botanicals
- FRISKA is unique because they have special formulas to accommodate each person’s focus. Some blends I’ve enjoyed: Immunity Boost, Nightly Reboot, Women’s Daily, Dairy Ease
- Probiotics and digestive enzymes can help with the breakdown of food, nutrient absorption, and reduce bloating and digestive fatigue
- You can buy them HERE.
I’ve switched to mainly low impact exercise – hiking, spin, Pilates, yoga, bodyweight strength. 45-60 minutes of activity every day has shown to really help my regularity and bloating/gas
Stress is a HUGE trigger for my symptoms. I reset my entire lifestyle to take care of my body. That meant changing careers at 25, moved from San Francisco to San Diego, and reshaping my life. My body was deteriorating rapidly and it was the best decision I’ve ever made
The keys to keeping my stress manageable: daily exercise, meditation, conscious breathing, and just taking a good old fashioned break.
This is what’s working for me right now. I know many of you have struggled with a large array of digestive issues. I hope maybe it helps some of you feel less alone.
There are amazing resources that can help you in your journey. Try learning from medical doctors, dietitians, holistic healers, and community testimonials.
Diets like the Auto-Immune Protocol Diet or the Low FODMAP diet are incredibly popular and effective. Both have helped many of my friends get inflammation under control and aided in restoring gut health. My doctors suggested both of these diets as options to try. While I experimented with modified versions of both, I didn’t love them for my body long-term.
Lastly, I suggest you find what works for YOUR BODY. Be patient in the journey, be kind to your body in the process, it’s working hard for you!