A Necessary Experiment

Many of us have some issue with our bodies, and many of us have come to no resolution which leaves us in a constant state of frustration or dissatisfaction, at the least. This chronic state then leads down a road of defeated acceptance that this is how it will always be. I’m hoping that today is where it starts to turn around for me. This will be yet another version of the experiment with my body to get my gut in order.

I came to accept that an upset stomach was the norm in middle school, and would often avoid eating a meal to avoid the discomfort. In college I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – just as so many other females are – and prescribed a placebo pill. I found a link to my discomfort when I cut out dairy, and then labeled myself as lactose-intolerant…which also translates to a general sugar intolerance. I eventually found Citrucel to aide my efforts while my live-in boyfriend chose to feed me dairy and would tell me to “suck it up” while I spent the next hour in the restroom. Living alone and making my own meals significantly helped, but I would still get bouts where I had no idea what my stomach was doing. I then found apple cider vinegar (ACV) which has been the most significant change to my body thus far: overall tone, increased sugar tolerance, decreased bloating, decreased stomach uneasiness. I also started incorporating Ayurveda inspired eating habits, partially because I enjoy eating with the seasons, and partly because I was still hoping for further assistance with my acute bouts of not knowing what was going on with my stomach. WTF?! How could I still not have any idea what was causing these sudden uncontrollable changes in my gut?? They would most often happen with season changes, so I figured that this was a good route to explore.

Meanwhile, I’d spoken to a Registered Dietitian and she mentioned how I’m likely self-medicating a magnesium deficiency with chocolate since I often don’t feel full or satisfied until I’ve had some with a meal. I came to think that because I was “self-medicating” that it must mean that I was making up for it and that nothing else was necessary to address it. Until Today. Until I started linking other symptoms that have been a chronic concern…and this is why WHOLISTIC HEALTH is so important. And this is also where you get to know some not-so-fun information about me.

As a very active child, I grew up on fast food where the most that I saw greens were the leaves of iceberg lettuce on a chicken sandwich from Wendy’s. I would get sudden bouts of dizziness and weakness. I had poor muscle tone despite my activity levels. In high school I started getting tingling into my fingertips and not remembering how I made it from one place in the house to another. I had an EEG and EKG test that displayed idiopathic (unknown origin) nerve conduction abnormalities and a seizure test where I blacked out and started hyperventilating – to which the conductor of the test claimed that I was faking it. No one knew what was going on, so I just navigated my own way. Luckily in college, I started learning how to cook from my boyfriend and have since continued trying to create a more balanced diet for myself. I still get minor bouts of dizziness or imbalance, as well as short instances of tingling in my fingers, but nothing that compares to my symptoms in high school.

It was also in college that I had my first instance of an acute sinus infection. It was so bad that the doctors thought that I had a mild version of Scarlet Fever. This led to bronchitis, exercise-induced asthma, and once or twice yearly expected sinus infections. I also had a return in a previous diagnosis of heart palpitations (from when I was first born) while I was grieving the death of a close colleague. They said it was most likely induced by dehydration.

OMG How many low-grade dismissable complaints can one person have??

So one complaint that I CANNOT dismiss is mucus. Gross – I know. Believe me – I know. My sinuses, my lungs, my gut – they all know. Mucus is the body’s way of creating a protective layer, and is a sign of systemic inflammation. In layman’s terms: My body is not happy with me, and is in a full-on state of fighting back. With only minor success.

Which brings me to Today. I had previously researched the “Anti-Mucus Diet” which was fairly strict in its original form, but the Lung Institute describes it in a much more approachable way. It recommends warm foods (similar to Ayurveda) as well as Omega-3’s, and certain fruits and vegetables. The mention of healthy fats then took me on a Google search for the effect of fat intake on gut health. With trying to eat healthier, I often feel like I’m not getting enough fat in my diet which leads me to binge for a meal every week or two. Not a bad thing – but I feel like I could have a more consistent, leveled intake.

Which led me to this article from U.S. News & World Report. My IBS is type M, with alternating constipation and diarrhea. Told ya – TMI with a vengeance. Anyways, their point #1 indicated that low levels of soluble fiber intake can be aided with magnesium supplements. Ding, ding, ding! Magnesium…I self-medicate that. Their point #2 recommended fish and nuts if your diet is low in fat. Great…aligning with the anti-mucus diet. Their point #3 addresses diets limiting natural sugar intake (hello lactose intolerance) and that additional magnesium is recommended. Wait…2 out of 3 points recommend magnesium?? Hello.

Then, based on my “self-medicating” experience, decided to look up symptoms of low magnesium levels and alternative foods that would help, bringing me to this article from Healthline. An estimated 75% of Americans are not reaching the daily recommended dose of magnesium – which is responsible for over 300 reactions in your body. Of the 7 symptoms that Healthline mentions, I identified with 5 of them in some form. This could be chalked up to self-diagnosis…I totally get that. But, you know what? No one else is diagnosing me – so what the heck. Let’s give it a go.

  1. Muscle Twitches and Cramps: Yup – twitching daily/nightly.
  2. Mental Disorders (subset nerve dysfunction): Yup, historically.
  3. Osteoporosis: …not yet.
  4. Fatigue and Muscle Weakness: Yup, historically.
  5. High Blood Pressure: eh? Borderline at my last check up, but the guidelines were recently changed.
  6. Asthma: Yup, exercise induced periodically + sinus infections
  7. Irregular Heartbeat: Yup, “brought on by dehydration”.

Whatever the outcome, try to regularly eat plenty of magnesium-rich whole foods, such as nuts, seeds, grains or beans.

Healthline

Of all 3 routes I took (Mucus, Fat, Magnesium), they are all recommending basically the same types of foods. I can deal with that, plus looking to add a magnesium supplement to my daily routine. So, here goes my next adventure in this bodily experiment! In the words of MaryKate and Ashley Olsen, “You got it, Dude!” I only have one go at this – I prefer to find out how to love it rather than fear it. Wish me luck!

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