Improving overall health by improving digestion – my story
Many people assume that I have been healthy all my life, and whilst I have always been aware of health, read about health and studied health, I have by no means always been healthy.
My own experiences with ill health have always been the strongest catalysts to me understanding more about how the body functions and how all of the systems of the body interact with one another, something that has been lost in the modern ‘pill for an ill’ approach to healthcare.
Back in 2005 I was coming to the end of my degree. My burn the candle at both ends lifestyle at university was certainly not one that would promote good health, and I would suggest left my body more prone to picking up infections and colds. I was a good 10kg overweight and had been suffering with some digestive issues that I just presumed as normal. In the April of 2005 I was involved in a pretty serious car accident that saw my now wife in hospital for a few days, fortunately she recovered well and we carried on to finish our degrees about 8 weeks later. We both decided to go away to Egypt in the October of that year, and unfortunately I was struck down for most of that week with a pretty bad gut bug. Unbeknown to me this would be the start of a journey that has helped me get to this point.
Following my degree I was studying my Nutrition Diploma, making good healthy changes along the way, partying much less than whilst at uni and working down in London as a Personal Trainer, yet my health seemed to be deteriorating around me. Over the next couple of years and following finishing my Diploma I just could not put my finger on why I felt the way I did, given the lifestyle I was leading and my age. I was suffering with health issues that I thought to be more common in a 50 year old let alone a 25 year old.
Working started to become a struggle and energy levels were so low, I’d have to pull myself out of bed in the morning, drag myself into the gym to train my clients, if I had the energy I’d do a little training but more often than not I had a cold or felt under the weather, so would go home in the afternoon to sleep for a couple of hours before heading back in to train more clients. I felt like my health was slipping away from me and I felt powerless to do something about it, even with my knowledge as a nutritionist. I’d try different foods, but I just seemed to be reacting to all sorts of foods, I’d experience extreme mood swings and became a real pain in the back side to live with. I felt my libido was dropping down was noticing blood on occasions in my stool. Upon discovering that I decided to see my doctor. We ran some blood tests and I got the finger treatment up my bottom, but all came back clear. In some respects it was a relief but at the same time more questions were going on in my head. I continued to pester my doctor as I knew something was not right, and the best I could ever get out of him was, ‘don’t worry it’s just a bit of IBS, or I think a lot of these symptoms are in your head’!
I hear this kind of story all the time from my clients, and it frustrates me so much. It is very easy just to label someone with IBS, but at the end of the day it does not mean anything, it is basically a label from the doctor admitting there is something wrong but they don’t know what is causing it so be on your merry little way and deal with it. As for the ‘it’s in your head comment’, I could have punched him round the head for that one!
Life pans out in funny ways and as part of my desire to continue learning and to try and discover the issues to my own ill health, I found myself at the Royal Society of Medicine to see Dave Hompes, a Functional Medicine Practitioner talk on the effects of our gut on our health. Little did I know that one lecture would change how I approached my health and those around me. I watch this guy talk, and he told his own personal story about how he used to be a personal trainer, caught a bug in Egypt and saw a deterioration in his health, sound familiar?!
After the lecture I pulled Dave to the side and introduced myself, turns out we had a huge amount in common, from our lifestyle at uni, employment choices, our thirst for continued development, so much so that we actually had a number of similar qualifications.
I decided straight away that I needed to work with this guy. We ran a consultation, reviewed my health history, symptoms and so forth and then began to make some minor adaptations to my nutrition and lifestyle and ran two laboratory tests. One being a GI Effects Stool test and the other a hormone profile test to assess adrenal function.
After a couple of weeks of waiting I received the results and finally we picked up on something. Two digestive infections, Clostridium Difficile, normally associated to hospital infections and H-Pylori, the same bug Dave had so many symptoms from after his trip to Egypt. My adrenals were producing very little cortisol, which explained my extremely poor energy levels and inadequate immune function.
Having been on a health roller coaster for around 2-3 years, within 3 months of working we Dave we restored my gut function, no more blood in the stools, energy levels returned, I was back training in the gym, immune system was working well, libido was improving and fortunately for my wife my mood returned back to normal. It sounds corny, but I felt like a new man.
I went on to be mentored by Dave Hompes for a number of years and we now work together and are in the process of co-writing a book on Clostridium Difficile. Dave has already written a book on H-Pylori called the H-Pylori Diet and I would consider him the leading expert on that bug and a one of the best Health Practitioners I know of.
Below is proof of my before and after stool test, but I guess the main point I am making here is the major effect your gut health can have on all other systems of the body and why I spend some much of my time ensuring someone’s gut is functioning optimally. There is a famous quote stating that ‘Death begins in the colon’. Whilst it is quite a strong, forceful statement it certainly has a high element of truth to it.
Try not to get sucked into the symptomatic approach that is all too apparent these days, dive a little deeper and if in doubt, I’d say the gut is always a great place to start. If you need help reviewing your health history and establishing a plan of action, without being labelled or told it is in your head then please contact me to schedule an appointment.