New Website & Staying Connected (IMPORTANT)

In an effort to make my website (and especially my recipe page!) more user-friendly, I have switched over to a new site with fresh content and a different format.  Check it out at bridgetownnutrition.com.

While you are there, check out my latest recipes:

You may have also noticed that my domain name has changed (it will no longer be sibowithhope.com).  I am still highly focused on helping individuals with SIBO.  I also want to be able to support a variety of digestive conditions and help those who have been labeled with SIBO but have other issues going on that deserve attention.

My name change also reflects my education over the past year that has provided me with a balanced and holistic outlook on health and nutrition.  In just a few quick months, I will graduate with a master’s degree and be ready to provide nutritional counseling services for those dealing with chronic digestive issues (and other conditions as well!).

For those of you who are currently subscribed to my email list, I will be migrating your email addresses to my new email list to make the process as easy on you as possible.  If you wish to continue receiving updates, please confirm your subscription when you receive an initial email.  If you would rather not continue, simply ignore the email and you will no longer be subscribed.

We can also stay connected on Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you for your support along this journey!

Health Update- My SIBO Success Story

The past

After two years of determination, I finally feel like a healthy person (again)…or maybe for the first time ever!  It has been two years since my SIBO diagnosis and five years since I was originally diagnosed with “IBS”.  But the truth is, I was dealing with poor health much earlier- I just never knew that my symptoms weren’t normal.  Or that they were all related to my gut health.

I used to think that migraines were my destiny because they ran in my family.  That acne was just part of being a teenager…and then adult.  That menstrual cramps and Midol were the way of life for a menstruating female.  And that seasonal allergies just happened to some people.

Eventually my symptoms kept piling up until I couldn’t ignore them anymore.  I was miserable- my legs itched so badly that they would bleed.  But I couldn’t stop itching them.  The only way to suppress the pain and fall back asleep after the itching woke me up on a nightly basis was to take Benadryl, numb my legs with ice packs, and hope that I fell asleep before the numbness went away.

I had to give up many things that I enjoyed because my symptoms made them miserable and embarrassing.  I discontinued my membership at a yoga studio I loved.  I stopped playing racquetball.  I abandoned social activities because my symptoms were unpredictable.  I even declined a lucrative career opportunity.  And the list goes on.

The change

When western medicine failed to provide me with anything more than a “you’ll just have to learn to deal with this for the rest of your life,” I started searching for alternatives.  I was fortunate to find a caring, bright naturopathic doctor who pointed me in the right direction when she diagnosed me with SIBO.

Receiving a diagnosis of “SIBO” was a turning point in my health.   I finally had some sort of understanding of what was happening inside my body and some hope that it could be changed.  I began seeing improvement in my health immediately- a stark contrast to the seemingly never-ending addition of symptoms I had been experiencing for several years.

The initial stages of healing involved treatment with antibiotics followed by herbal antimicrobials.  For a long period of time during my treatment, I was reliant on their use along with an extremely strict and unsustainable dietary regimen.  Eventually, I was able to transition off the antimicrobials and have remained off of them since.  I am now to a point where I can maintain my health with just two supplements: probiotics and fish oil.

I believe that the keys to my successful healing have been the following:

  1. The right supplements (and pharmaceutical drugs when necessary) at the right times.
  2. Eating a well-balanced diet that is dynamic and catered to my gut health.
  3. Listening to my body by learning to interpret and biohack its cues.
  4. Allowing myself to go at a pace of life where I can maintain good health.
  5. Time- and learning that patience truly is a virtue.
  6. Reducing toxic exposure- clean household products, kitchenware, beauty products, etc.
  7. Drinking adequate fluids.

Basically, the past two years I have been taking exceptionally good care of myself.

Clarification

When I tell you that “I finally feel like a healthy person,” I have to put things into perspective and make some clarifications.  What I mean by “healthy” is that my symptoms are well-controlled.  It is similar to the saying “putting an autoimmune disease in remission.”  If I went out and abandoned all of my healthy behaviors for an extended period of time, I would surely wind up back where I started.  The susceptibility is still there.

The majority of my meals are still prepared at home using foods that I am more likely to tolerate, but I can also frequently enjoy meals out with friends.  I can even get away with an occasional late night here and there (and by that I mean home by midnight).  And I can do these things with zero or minimal symptomatic repercussions.

I think it would help paint the picture by sharing the symptoms that I have seen improve over the past two years. It is not to say that I no longer get any of them, but some are completely gone while others appear infrequently and I have simple remedies for making them go away.

Here’s the list of symptoms/conditions that have improved as my gut has healed:

  1. Itching
  2. Flatulence
  3. Constipation
  4. Food sensitivities
  5. Psoriasis
  6. Menstrual cramps
  7. Migraines
  8. Acne
  9. Fatigue
  10. Abdominal pain
  11. Seasonal allergies
  12. Chronic muscle pain

When I was first diagnosed with SIBO over two years ago, I was told that I would have to remain on a severely restricted diet for several years (maybe even 5-10) in order to fully heal my gut.  At the time it seemed like an eternity.  It seemed overwhelming.  And it certainly hasn’t been easy.  But it has been worth it.  My symptoms have improved dramatically and I no longer feel crippled by my health conditions.  Instead, I feel powerful, strong, and HEALTHY!

Ready to make big changes for your health?  Feel free to ask me about how to get started or for troubleshooting tips!  Beginning summer 2016, I will begin offering nutritional counseling services so that I can help others find the healthiest versions of themselves.

Supplement Spotlight: Bovine Colostrum

Bovine colostrum seems to be quite the rage in the SIBO community these days.  In this post (and the accompanying video), I detail my personal experience using this supplement as well as some research I have examined.  I discuss both anecdotal and formal evidence in addition to precautions to consider.

I point out that it is not a good idea to purchase supplements (especially colostrum) from just anywhere- minimal industry regulation means that they can contain harmful ingredients that may actually make you feel worse!  Additionally, supplements are typically viewed as harmless by the general public, but some formulations may actually be more harmful than pharmaceutical drugs- so just be cautious!

Here’s the COLOSTRUM VIDEO – it’s a little dry, but has lots of great info for nerdy folks like myself.  Since it was made for class, I do not include my personal experience or the information on IBS/SIBO (keep reading for that!).  What I do cover in this video is the biochemistry, functions, conditions/uses, precautions, interactions, and fun facts about colostrum.

Continue reading

Struggling with Sulfur Sensitivity? My Interview w/ The Paleo PI

I was recently interviewed by Rory from the Paleo PI to discuss sulfur sensitivity and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).  In this interview, we covered potential causes of sulfur sensitivity, treatment ideas, and our personal experiences with these conditions.  You’ll learn about why you may be reacting to foods such as kale, eggs, broccoli, and cabbage and also what you can do about it.  To listen to the interview, click here.

I also shared with Rory my SIBO Symptom Tracker which I have refined over the course of my healing journey.  I use this tracker as a way to check in with my body daily, but also to look for patterns in my symptoms to identify trigger foods, supplements, medications, and behaviors.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Social Situations & Food Intolerances (Plus A Tea Handout)

Social situations in many different cultures frequently revolve around food (some of you may even find yourself in this situation this weekend- chips, pizza, wings..anyone have a guess?).  These situations can leave individuals with food intolerances feeling isolated, frustrated, teased, or misunderstood.

When living with food sensitivities, it can often feel like there are only two choices: starve or be in pain.  Sometimes you may decide to engage in eating foods that you know will aggravate your symptoms just to fit in or because the temptation is too extreme.  Or perhaps you will have impeccable self control and avoid the delicious foods staring at you, but then feel starving and sad afterward.

I know what it’s like and I want to make it a little easier for you.  I would like to share with you some of the strategies that I have found helpful for managing these uncomfortable social situations.

  • Eat before you go, then nibble on the veggie plate, some fruit, perhaps a handful of nuts, or maybe even some tortilla chips if you can tolerate them.  For your drink, just ask for water.  If you want to make it a little fancy, see if there are any lemon or lime wedges.  Nibbling can help you feel like you fit in and it can make your host not feel judged.
  • If you are going out to eat, look at the menu ahead of time.  There may not be something that completely fits with your dietary habits, but at most places you can find a dish that won’t completely throw you into a symptom attack.  If you are in a location where you don’t know very many restaurants, a quick Google search for gluten-free, dairy-free, or organic might get you close to something you can tolerate.
  • Be more strict about what you eat for a few days before the event.  Eating foods that bother you can have a cumulative effect.  Say you react to avocado (high FODMAP) and you eat it for a few days and then attend a social event.  If you stray from your “safe foods” at the event, you are more likely to react.  But if you have been more strict lately, your gut is more likely to be able to withstand something a little bit irritating to it.
  • If friends and family show interest in preparing something you can eat, do it with them.  It is so thoughtful when people try to include items that you can eat into their menu.  But if they try to ask you what you CAN’T eat, you are more than likely to forget something, especially if you have a laundry list of sensitivities.  And then your host may feel discouraged if you decide not to eat what they have prepared for you.  Cut through the issues and instead, suggest something you can make together.
  • Look for social settings that cater to food intolerances.  If you are lucky enough to live in Portland, OR, there are a few Meetup groups for individuals with digestive issues and food sensitivities.  I am one of the organizers for a group called “Digestive Health”.  This weekend we have a Recipe Exchange/Potluck where we will be exchanging gluten-free, dairy-free, low sugar recipes.  Some of them (or perhaps many!) will even be SCD-friendly, low FODMAP, Paleo, GAPS, etc.

Tea can make for a safe social event involving food/drink.  For one of the Digestive Health Meetup group events, I created a handout about navigating teas for those with digestive issues.  Click Here to View the Healing Properties of Tea Handout.   The guide that I created was specific to ordering options at Townshend Teahouse, but it also has some great info that is useful for those living in all parts of the world!

How do you go about navigating social situations with food intolerances?  I would love to hear your great ideas!

Psoriasis & SIBO

Did you know that skin issues are typically a result of some sort of digestive dysfunction?  That’s right…your acne, psoriasis, itchy skin, rashes, eczema, and/or rosacea could indicate that there is something going awry in your gut.

I remember going to a dermatologist when I was younger for issues like acne, severely itchy skin, and psoriasis only to be offered harmful treatments like antibiotics and invasive topical creams.  Never was it mentioned that changing my diet and treating my digestive issues would have an impact.  Much less the HUGE, lasting impact that it has had.

In this post, I will share with you all about psoriasis as well as discuss its connection to diet and digestive health.

Psoriasis 101

Psoriasis is a common inflammatory autoimmune skin condition impacting between 2 and 4% of individuals in Western society.  The condition appears to impact both men and women equally and the average age of onset is 33 years old.

The condition is characterized by red, thickened patches on the skin covered with white or silvery scales.  These typically occur on the scalp, elbows, knees and/or back.  Rashes, itching, and nail abnormalities are other symptoms seen in those with psoriasis.  Additionally, about one-third of individuals with psoriasis will eventually develop psoriatic arthritis.

A common pharmaceutical remedy for psoriasis is the administration of immunosuppressants.  However, this is not always necessary, especially if symptoms are minor.  As many as 30% of individuals with psoriasis experience spontaneous remission.

Psoriasis Risk Factors

A variety of risk factors have been identified that may increase your likelihood of developing this condition:

  • Family history (30% have a 1st or 2nd degree relative with psoriasis)
  • Diet (see below)
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Infections (such as HIV and beta-hemolytic streptococcal)
  • Drugs (such as beta blockers, lithium, antimalarial drugs)
  • Vitamin D deficiency (lower rates of psoriasis in warm, sunny climates)
  • Celiac disease
  • Caucasian descent

Psoriasis has also been associated with a variety of conditions such as metabolic syndrome, cancer, Crohn’s disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, vitamin B12 deficiency, and increased risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease.  In fact, the National Psoriasis Foundation recommends screening individuals as young as age 20 years old for risk factors of cardiovascular disease if they have psoriasis.  Along these same lines, lab values that are often abnormal in psoriasis patients include increased CRP (a marker of overall inflammation in the body), decreased blood folate, elevated homocysteine, and dyslipidemia.

Psoriasis and Diet

The connection between psoriasis and diet has been addressed in the scientific literature since at least the 1970s.  It has been proposed that a variety of antioxidants and nutrients may be helpful for individuals with psoriasis.  Some examples include omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, and selenium.  Eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, low-mercury fatty fish, nuts, and seeds can help supply adequate amounts of these nutrients.

A study also found that individuals who consumed a more Mediterranean-style diet had lower rates of psoriasis.  Specifically, the study found that individuals without psoriasis typically consumed less red meat and more fruit, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, and fish than individuals with psoriasis.  I predict that the benefit of the Mediterranean diet for individuals with psoriasis is likely due to its anti-inflammatory effects.

A commonality between the remedies addressed above is the inclusion of fish in the diet.  Logically, that makes fish oil a key possibility for relieving psoriasis.  A review article on psoriasis revealed that 12 out of 15 studies into the benefits of fish oil for psoriasis showed a reduction in symptoms.

Interestingly, another dietary remedy that has been shown to reduce psoriasis symptoms is fasting.  Perhaps this has something to do with calming the immune system.

Psoriasis and Celiac

A variety of studies have found that individuals with psoriasis have an increased risk (greater than 2 times) of developing Celiac disease.  Conversely, those with Celiac disease also have an increased risk of developing psoriasis.  Even for individuals without Celiac disease, removing gluten from the diet may provide dramatic improvement.

Psoriasis and SIBO

A small research study was conducted that looked at malabsorption in individuals with psoriasis.  First, the 55 participants were tested for malabsorption using a d-xylose breath test.  Those who tested positive were then examined for SIBO, Celiac, and a few other digestive conditions.  For SIBO testing, the researchers utilized a lactulose hydrogen breath test (meaning they tested for hydrogen only, not methane).  A test was considered positive for bacterial overgrowth if the hydrogen level reached at least 20 ppm over the baseline reading.  21% of the those with psoriasis and malabsorption tested positive for SIBO.  If they had also tested for methane gas, it is possible that the percentage would have been even higher.

Although there is only limited research available regarding a connection between psoriasis and SIBO, my personal experience with these conditions makes it very clear to me that there is one.  Improvement in my digestive symptoms is associated with reduced psoriasis patches on my elbows.  Specifically, it seems that when my symptoms of intestinal permeability (leaky gut) are reduced, so is my psoriasis.  Since psoriasis is an autoimmune condition and leaky gut is believed to be a necessity for an autoimmune condition to develop, this phenomenon makes sense.

Do you have anything to share about SIBO & Psoriasis?  I would love to hear your experience with these conditions in the comment section below!

References:

Barrea L, Balato N, Di Somma C, et al. Nutrition and psoriasis: is there any association between the severity of the disease and adherence to the Mediterranean diet? Journal of Translational Medicine. 2015;13:18. doi:10.1186/s12967-014-0372-1.

Millsop JW, Bhatia BK, Debbaneh M, Koo J, Liao W. Diet and Psoriasis: Part 3. Role of Nutritional Supplements. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2014;71(3):561-569. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2014.03.016.

Katta R, Desai SP. Diet and Dermatology: The Role of Dietary Intervention in Skin Disease. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2014;7(7):46-51.

Bhatia BK, Millsop JW, Debbaneh M, Koo J, Linos E, Liao W. Diet and Psoriasis: Part 2. Celiac Disease and Role of a Gluten-Free Diet. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2014;71(2):350-358. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2014.03.017.

ARAUJO, Maria Lúcia Diniz; BURGOS, Maria Goretti P. de A.  and  MOURA, Isis Suruagy Correia. Nutritional influences in psoriasis. An. Bras. Dermatol. [online]. 2009, vol.84, n.1, pp. 90-92.

Traub M, Marshall K. Psoriasis–pathophysiology, conventional, and alternative approaches to treatment. Altern Med Rev. 2007;12(4):319-30.

Abenavoli L, Leggio L, Gasbarrini G, Addolorato G. Celiac disease and skin: Psoriasis association. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG. 2007;13(14):2138-2139. doi:10.3748/wjg.v13.i14.2138.

Ojetti V, De Simone C, Aguilar Sanchez J, et. al. Malabsorption in psoriatic patients: Cause or consequence? Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. 2006; 41: 1267-1271.

Happy New Year (Plus A Poll- How Can I Help You in 2016?)

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone’s health and wellness has prospered in 2015 and will continue to do so in 2016.  In an effort to continue providing targeted support for individuals suffering from SIBO and related chronic illnesses, I would like to hear from you about what resources you would like me to provide in 2016.  I have included the following poll to help gather this information:

Thank you for providing feedback!

Blueberry Quinoa Breakfast Porridge

Want a protein-packed REAL food breakfast that’s super easy to prepare?  I’ve got you covered!

In fact, there is more protein (9 grams) in this porridge recipe than you will find in a single egg.  One of the difficulties with obtaining protein from non-animal sources is that it often lacks one or more of the nine essential amino acids.  But quinoa is an exception- it contains all nine!

My inspiration for creating this recipe was that I do not tolerate eggs very well and therefore find it challenging to get enough protein for breakfast unless I want to cook up some meat- and that just doesn’t always sound appetizing!

Although eggs are listed as safe on many SIBO diets, they are a common food sensitivity and I have met several individuals with SIBO who react poorly when eating them.  With that being said, I should also note that quinoa is NOT considered to be paleo or SCD-friendly.  But when you have to follow a restricted diet due to food sensitivities, I think it is important to not avoid a particular food because it is “allowed” or “not allowed”, but to try it and listen to the response from your body.

Continue reading

Red meat and cancer? – what to think and what to do

Aglaee provides an excellent research-based analysis of the red meat & cancer “news” from this year in her most recent blog post. If you haven’t already read her post, I highly recommend checking it out!

Radicata Nutrition with Aglaée

butternut4

A recent report from the WHO (World Health Organisation) declared that processed meat is carcinogenic and that red meat is a ”probable” carcinogen.

It is not the first time and probably not the last time that we hear of a study with similar results… but when such a credible organisation as the WHO makes such a declaration, it is important to stop and listen carefully before simply dismissing the results and going back to your steak.

What to think?

WHO’s 3 categories of carcinogens

First, let’s try to understand the 3 categories of carcinogens established by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), a subdivision of the WHO.

  • Group 1: This group includes proven carcinogens, such as tobacco, asbestos and now processed meat since the most recent WHO report.
  • Group 2A: This group includes probable carcinogens, such as glyphosate (the pesticide RoundUp), ultraviolet radiations, and now your burger.
  • Group 2B

View original post 1,530 more words

5 Low FODMAP Paleo Spaghetti Squash Recipes

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See those spaghetti squash in the picture up there??  I grew them!  Okay, excitement and bragging session over.  But with the many spaghetti squash that my garden produced this year, I needed to find some recipes that could spice it up in different ways so this nutrient-rich veggie didn’t get old.

Is spaghetti squash low FODMAP?

Spaghetti squash was just tested this year by Monash University where it was determined to be low FODMAP in 1 cup servings.  Even in up to 2.5 cup servings, it was only moderate FODMAP rather than high FODMAP.

 


1. Easy Herbed Spaghetti Squash

Adaptations:

  • None needed

(Recipe & photo from thefitchen.com)

Easy Spaghetti Squash Pasta


2. Spaghetti Squash Chicken Pad Thai

Adaptations:

  • Omit garlic (or replace with a little garlic-infused olive oil) for low FODMAP
  • Swap peanuts out for almonds to make it Paleo
  • Replace tamari with coconut aminos for Paleo
  • Swap out rice vinegar with coconut vinegar for strict Paleo

(Recipe & photo from the wheatlesskitchen.com)

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai


3. Spaghetti Squash with Cilantro Macadamia Pesto

Adaptations:

  • Omit garlic (or replace with a little garlic-infused olive oil) for low FODMAP

(Recipe & photo from rubiesandradishes.com)

IMG_1883-3


 

4. Simple Spiced Spaghetti Squash

Adaptations:

  • None needed

(Recipe & photo from grokgrub.com)


 

5. Spaghetti Squash & Bison Meatballs

Adaptations:

  • None needed

(Recipe & photo from foodrenegade.com)

spaghetti squash & bison meatballs