It Might Just Work for You Too!
Yoga’s mindfulness lessons on the mat practiced daily have really served me well off the mat. Case in point. How I am using mindfulness to help me navigate my latest health challenges. These tools would be useful for anyone who is facing daily health challenges. See if you can relate to my story.
I recently did two very comprehensive functional medicine lab tests—one on my hormones and one on my microbiome and the news was not encouraging.
The bad news first. My hormone test showed I was basically running on empty as far as my master hormone, Pregnenolone, and levels of Dhea which are precursor hormones to testosterone and beneficial estrogens. In addition, I had low levels of Progesterone. I had not taken bio-identical hormones for more than a year in hopes that I could regulate through nutrition and lifestyle.
The good news was my cortisol levels were perfect. Cortisol is the stress hormone that wreaks havoc on your body as far as inflammation and can also lead to lower levels of the other helpful hormones. What surprised my doctor the most was how well I felt despite this glimpse into my hormonal system. As she put it, “You should be dead tired all day.”
Stool Tests are The First Test done for our pets, but the last one for us. Why?
The other test that I had done was one that most people do not like to talk about. I, in fact, had avoided doing this test for a dozen years even though I instinctively knew there would be some answers to my chronic gut issues. It is the dreaded stool test.
I often wonder why this is the first line of diagnostics with our pets, but the last line with humans. That is until I took one. It is not a pleasant test and it is more difficult to do correctly than it seems. I will spare you the gory details.
The test I took was quite advanced. Genova Diagnostics tests focused on four areas– gut inflammation, parasites, metabolic issues, and dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is an imbalance of gut microbes or too many gut microbes in the wrong places, namely, in the small intestines. I added an additional test– one that looks for symptoms of Leaky Gut. The news was great on most counts except for the dysbiosis picture and the leaky gut. I had too many of potentially pathogenic bacteria and too few of the good guys like Lactobacillus in my gut flora. I also had signs that my body was extremely sensitive to lots of foods. When you develop food sensitivities (not allergies) that is a clear indication that you have Leaky Gut.
My doctor thought I was probably facing a methane-based SIBO diagnosis (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth). This is a scary diagnosis for many people and could lead to getting on a strict and long regimen of specialized antibiotics and a very restricted diet. As many of you know, I am already on a restricted diet due to earlier issues with my gut.
I was diagnosed in the early 90s with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). It is only recently that the research has linked SIBO to IBS, so I suspected that I had SIBO for years based on symptoms such as a “food baby belly” every evening and slow motility in my system. In other words, I get gas easily and am prone to constipation.
My Health Issues have been a Source of Strength and Empowerment
Here is where the mindfulness I have learned on the yoga mat comes in. Yoga teaches us to observe with compassion and curiosity what is going on in your body, mind, and heart. It teaches you to ask the following question, “What is the diagnosis telling me?” “What am I doing that is not supporting my body’s own healing?”
So rather than be discouraged with this diagnosis, I feel gratitude for all of my health issues which have led me down this path of healing. I also feel proud of myself for having the courage to do these tests and face what I need to do rather than just ignore it and feel less and less empowered as my health declined. Knowing should not be scary, it should allow you to improve things because you have a self-healing body once you learn to remove the obstacles to its natural state.
Here are some of the new strategies I am embracing to further improve my health.
- Spend more time in the “tend and mend” nervous system state commonly known as “rest and digest”.
- Rotate my food every 4 days. In other words, do not eat the same food two days in a row. Eat it on day 1 and then not again till Day 4. This is going to require some planning.
- Add in a variety of probiotics that focus on the lactobacillus strains. I have started taking three different probiotics all with different strains of beneficial bacteria.
- Add in prebiotics (which are the food for your gut bacteria) that support the beneficial bugs (bacteria) such as green bananas, cold cooked potatoes, and other sources.
- Add in a butyrate supplement.
- Reduce the use of honey. (the only sugar I use in my tea etc.)
- Eat meals (4 hours apart) instead of snacking. This allows my body to fully digest the food before I add in the next batch of food. I am struggling with this one.
- Make sure I have a good poop every day. I use magnesium oxide to help me poop. Other people with SIBO use prokinetics.
This is the kind of detail and support that I provide clients. If you need help in navigating your chronic conditions and illness, please reach out. As you can see, I do more than talk the talk, I walk the walk and I know it is not an easy path.