Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Gallbladder Saga (and how I ended up on GAPS)

Back in September of last year, I had a gall bladder attack. The next day, my chiropractor referred me to a naturopath, I did the cleanse she recommended, started taking some digestive enzymes, and went along my merry way assuming all would be well. Until I had another attack...and another...and another...and so on. Though I did have some improvement in that my attacks were less frequent, less severe, and shorter, after experimenting with diet and supplements (and repeating the cleanse 5 times) and continuing to have attacks, my naturopath recommended that I visit a licensed doctor.

I knew a conventionally-minded MD would probably just want to remove my gallbladder and that wasn't the route I wanted to go unless a life-threatening emergency presented itself. Yes, attacks are very painful, in some ways more-so than unmedicated childbirth. But, I'm convinced that in most cases the gallbladder is not the underlying issue and removing it may (or may not!) help with symptoms, but you'll be left still with a very compromised digestive system, which it was gets you to the place of gallbladder attacks in the first place. After a lot of research and phone calls, I found a DO [what is an osteopathic doctor?] about an hour and a half from me who was able to fit me in the following week. That was in November.

Now it's March and I'm still not completely better, though I am doing much better than I was. I am eating some fat with every meal (olive oil and avocados) and after taking a close look at my diet while I kept my fat intake very consistent for a month, we finally figured out that it was the type of carbohydrates I was eating rather than the type of fats that trigger my symptoms. This was not something I had expected!

With that piece of information, we were able to conclude what I stated before: my gallbladder is not the problem, but rather a compromised and dysfunctional digestive system that can't digest more complex starches. Those starches, in turn, sit in my stomach so that when I eat fat, my body needs extra bile to digest it because all the enzymes are being used to digest the starches, and then my biliary system goes into panic mode and I have an attack.

So, what next?

Enter: The GAPS Diet.

At my doctor's encouragement, I officially started the GAPS Diet today. Because I'm still nursing, I'm skipping the introduction and going straight to full GAPS, which is basically a diet consisting of lots of meat stock, meat (in my case lean chicken and turkey for now), vegetables, fermented foods, and after the first few weeks, fruit and honey, and then eventually fermented dairy products. No grains, no sweet potatoes or potatoes, no sugar/sucanat/maple syrup/etc, no beans except for lentils and navy beans. For 1.5 to 2 years. Challenging? Yes. But worth it if it works.

I have a whole host of autoimmune diseases in my family, and the more research I do, the more firmly I believe that autoimmune issues begin in the gut. Hopefully in addition to taking care of the problem I've been dealing with over the past six months, this GAPS diet journey will help me to avoid those.

For the curious, I'm not planning to put my family on this diet for now. My husband absolutely does not want to do it, and my children aren't showing any real signs of needing it right now. Hopefully it says that way. Thankfully, while I enjoy really good food, I don't mind terribly much eating the same thing several days in a row, so I plan to stay sane while cooking two sets of meals by making myself large batches of things and eating them over and over again. 

I think I'll keep a journal of sorts on here about the process, largely for my own records, but also because I know I enjoy reading that sort of thing on other people's blogs. So, if you care to stick along for the ride, you're more than welcome!

1 comment:

  1. I was stopping by your site to get ideas for my childs birthday letters (like how to format them) and saw this post. I would like to suggest someone who has helped others with many things, she is a local christian women named Karen Hurd. You can finder her website off google and maybe even read a few of her books from your library if they have them. Her cost and success rate is much better then a doctor :) Best of luck!