It’s been exactly one year since I discovered I had SIBO with high levels of hydrogen overgrowth. I was also 20 pounds heavier at the time with a constant low grade heaviness and bloat in my lower belly.
While I had “IBS” before in my life, this was my first experience with SIBO.
It could’ve been years or months in the making, but obvious symptoms developed after I had the flu, then went on an indulgent Xmas vacation (gluten, lattes, and sugar galore).
I tested myself for SIBO to rule it out and was shocked to see I had it pretty badly
I started treating it late March and retested 2 months later in May. It was gone! I stayed strict Paleo low FODMAP for the next 3 months to prevent a relapse.
These days I eat plenty of FODMAPs, like garlic, onions, cabbage, persimmons and cauliflower, with no symptoms or reactions.
But I have made some permanent dietary changes. No more gluten, ever. And it’s rare for me to eat sugar. I eat plenty of healthy fat and never over do it on the carbs.
The result is that I’ve been feeling good.
And my biggest win is that a recent hormone test revealed that I healed stage 2 adrenal fatigue and balanced my female hormones! This is particularly amazing since my life has been in transition for the last 6 months and that’s been stressful. I managed to heal my adrenals anyway.
Now, I’m going to share how I did it.
How I did it
The following self care strategies help keep me sane and balanced, which contributes greatly to my state of health.
When we get stressed we let self care go. This is when we need it the most to take the edge off life.
My intention is not to overwhelm you with more things to do or fill you with guilt.
I want to inspire you to do something to make yourself feel good. You can pick something below, or come up with your own calming, uplifting activity. What matters is that you’re consistent.
Aside from walking, diet and supplementation, I do each activity listed below once a week. All the activities total of 4 days a week. That’s all it takes. An hour or two to yourself per day. Or whatever you can swing.
Stress is a big trigger for SIBO and digestive issue. You can’t control the stress in your life but you can learn to release and balance its effects on your body, which helps manage it and can keep you from crashing.
Food is emotional.
Many people with IBS have a fear of eating. This anxiety leads to poor digestion, which leads to reactions which turns into more anxiety. It becomes a loop. This needs to be addressed to make progress toward healing.
For others, relapse occurs when returning to a diet high in sugar, carbs or processed/inflammatory foods.
I completely took sweeteners out, even honey and maple syrup. No dark chocolate. I experimented with sugar-free desserts which I shared on Instagram.
I also tried the ketogenic diet, which is high in fat, very low in carbs and moderate in protein. I found it too dramatic for my body and after experimentation settled for a lower carb approach, but with some fruit and an occasional potato.
This helped balance my blood sugar, crucial for adrenal health and mood. And helped me lose 20 pounds.
Guarding my energy
After a 2 months break during my SIBO treatment, I began to work with clients again.
I am very empathic and tend to pick up symptoms from my clients after I talk to them about those issues. These symptoms go away fast so they’re nothing to worry about but I it’s still odd how much of a sponge I am.
I have been working on better energetic boundaries. Noticing when I’m not in my body or when my breathing starts to match my client’s.
The more sensitive among you may notice that you pick up emotions from others. Learning how to separate my energy from that of others is something that I am learning to do through my chi gong practice, which I discuss below.
Adaptogens are herbs that help the body adapt to stress. They can be consumed as supplements or tea.
My favorite tummy friendly adaptogenic tea is Tulsi tumeric ginger tea and my favorite adaptogenic supplement is this one. I suggest buying supplements through an official supplement dispensary to avoid buying counterfeits.
One of the most powerful practices I’ve found is giving my body a break from food to repair itself.
Healing happens when your body is not digesting. It mostly happens during sleep, when you’re not eating for at least 8 hours. Not eating a few hours before bed will increase your body’s self cleansing, healing and detoxing.
Intermittent fasting lets you eat and fast. You pick a window for eating and a window for fasting.
The most common window is 8 hour of eating and 16 hours of fasting. If you eat breakfast at 9 am you must stop eating at 5 pm to give your body a 16 break from food.
Beginner may want to start with a 12 hour eating window and a 12 hour fast.
Chi gong has been one of the most powerful practices for my life and health. It resembles Tai Chi, but is more free form. It helps digestion by breaking up stagnation in the body, which promotes motility and releases tension and tightness from body and mind.
Chi gong helps reduce physical and emotional pain, from aching joints to intense anxiety. It also cuts through brain fog and increases clarity and connection to intuition. This lessens neurosis, indecision and confusion.
What’s exciting is that for the first time ever, I can share my chi gong teacher with the world.
In March, he’s starting a monthly online workshop for a year. These classes will teach the basics of chi gong, are affordable and convenient since you do them at home.
You can get more details here. Or send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Yoga nidra is another practice that works brilliantly at releasing tension and trauma from the body.
It’s done laying down while listening to a guided meditation. It’s more powerful than it sounds as it engages the sympathetic nervous system, which is “rest and digest” mode. I do this once or twice a week and it has massive stress relieving benefits. My face looks like I’ve aged backwards when I’m done. The usual tensions are erased.
This is an inexpensive form of self hypnosis, and works in the same way hypnosis does. You come up with the intention/suggestion and your subconscious does the rest.
If you’ve heard about the benefits of hypnosis for IBS, this is another way to put yourself in a hypnotic state, somwhere between wake and sleep.
For types who can’t lay still, this is particularly beneficial for you. Start with 5 minute increments and slowly work up to half an hour.
The proper posture for yoga nidra is laying down with a pillow under your knees. And you can listen to this recording.
This is another way to support my nervous system and move stuck energy through the body. Acupuncture is like a mix of yoga nidra and chi gong.
I do acupuncture weekly. It’s best for balancing the nervous system, releasing tension, easing body pain and managing the stress response.
Acupuncture supports the digestive system by boosting the immune system and calming the involuntary nervous system that is in charge of digestion.
While acupuncture alone won’t help IBS, used in conjunction with dietary change, gut testing and supplements, it can increase results and speed healing.
For SIBO, acupuncture can promote motility. I did acupuncture through my SIBO treatment. I still do it because I love how it chills me out and makes me feel lighter. My adrenals love it also. It keeps their tank from overflowing.
Movement stimulates the flow of body fluids. Lymph fluid in particular, which helps detox the body.
With exercise it’s important to not over or under do it.
Walking is one of my favorite ways to exercise for digestive health.The motions of walking promote digestion, so it’s ideal to do after a meal.
I walk my dog about 4 miles a day and listen to podcasts while I walk. I get exercise, fresh air and sunlight, which helps me breath and sleep better.
Walking is accessible to most people and requires minimum energy. You can increase the meditative quality of you walk by focusing on the trees, sky, grass, birds, or flowers around you. This brings down cortisol and helps balance blood sugar.
Cleansing and detoxing with sauna
Cleansing and detoxing helps the body lighten its load. The body detoxes through breath, sweat, urination and defecation. One of my favorite ways to detox is sweating in the sauna.
Not only does it relax muscle tension but it raises body temperature, which helps kills internal pathogens (much like a fever does). And the sweat escorts toxins out of the body.
I finish my half hour dry sauna session by taking a cold shower. It’s called hydrotherapy and helps increase circulation and boosts detox even more.
I feel amazing after sauna. Lighter, cleaner and much more relaxed. If you’re going through a killing protocol for SIBO, candida, parasites or h.pylori, a sauna or a hot epsom salt bath helps relieve die off symptoms by ridding the body of those extra toxins.
In a world that is not designed for healing, it’s never easy to make time for yourself. But investing in mental, emotional and physical support is invaluable.
The right self care is often the missing piece. Knowing when and how to rest and let go is the lesson a troubled gut needs to heal.
If I go for 2 weeks or longer without my self care routine I start getting agitated. And my digestion doesn’t work as well.
Like weeds in an untended garden, SIBO can return, but only if you neglect your body’s need to the right nutrition, movement and rest.
The lesson is not to return to old habits of self neglect.
The healing journey we’re on teaches us what’s important in life. Giving yourself what you need.
Healing from SIBO/ IBS is about more than a flat and untroubled tummy, it’s about re-prioritizing life. It’s about prioritizing yourself. At least a few times a week.
Need support upping your self care and fixing your guy?
Book a consultation with me here.
Angela Privin is proof that IBS is NOT an incurable disease or a disease at all. IBS is a body out of balance. It’s an invitation for change. After solving her own IBS mystery more than a decade ago Angela trained as a health coach to help others.
Angela uses both science and intuition to help people figure out what’s out of balance in their body. She works with lab tests, dietary changes, supplementation and nervous system rebalancing. Get help rebalancing your digestive system and solving your IBS mystery here.