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Gut problems got worse - UPDATED 8/21/13

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This post is on behalf of my husband.  I'm doing Whole30 too, and loving it, everything going well for me.


My husband is 35.  He has suffered from food intolerances since middle school age or so, but has never done anything about it.  He thought it was just "the way it is."  He has some known triggers (onion - the worst, heavy cream - also the worst, some apples, sometimes garlic, and sometimes watermelon.  Sometimes there are no apparent triggers.  Desperate for some corrective action to take, I ask him what caused it, and he'll joke, "I think it was the food."

His symptoms when exposed to these triggers are bloating episodes ranging from uncomfortable to extremely painful.  He burps (huge, loud belches) and farts for an hour or three until he is able to have some diarrhea, at which point it usually clears.  Sometimes it happens immediately after eating, but sometimes it waits for the middle of the night to strike. 

I had been encouraging him to do some kind of elimination diet for years, and he finally agreed to Whole30 with me (I am going for weight loss and energy), since he wouldn't be doing it alone.  We began on July 9.  The first couple days were the detox with headache, fatigue, and crankiness.  But then he felt better.  And he had a solid poop for the first time in his adult life.

On Day 4, we had some watermelon.  He had a horrible night, and so we made the determination that we should go low-FODMAP, since all of his triggers are FODMAPS.  Though... not all FODMAPS are triggers - actually some of them (brussels sprouts, asparagus) are his favorites.  By day 8 he had had apparent issues with sugar snap peas (FODMAP) and canteloupe (not a FODMAP). 


After these setbacks, I was convinced that he had leaky gut, so I started him on some supplements to promote healing: aloe vera juice, glutamine, marshmallow root, slippery elm, DGL, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.  This was the evening of Day 8.


On Day 9, he experienced what I believe to be a die-off - nauseous, sickly, very out of it.


On Day 10, he reported low-grade heartburn all day.  I had given him digestive enzymes with HCl, so I stopped those long enough to pick up some without HCl.  The night of day 10 and day 11 were great! So I started him back on digestive enzymes (no HCl) on Day 11 evening - he had another horrible night.


At that point, a fellow Whole9 poster suggested we try the SCD intro diet (chicken soup, carrot puree, grape juice gelatin), to keep things really gentle.  I took him off ALL supplements.  We started that diet on the evening on Day 12, and day 13 was a good one. 


He seemed to improve for the most part, but still with some fairly significant gas and bloating before bedtime and runny stools.  Until Day 19 - I gave him a very small dose of digestive enzymes.  I broke open the capsule and gave him about 1/3 of it.  It wrecked him overnight.  It was then that we realized the digestive enzymes were causing this distress, so we stopped them immediately.


It's now day 24.  He is still dealing with significant bloating and gas before bed, even though we stopped the enzymes.  It didn't make a difference whether he was eating pureed food or whole food, so he went back on the Whole30.  He took a probiotic last night, and that seemed to agree with him, so I think I'm going to have him continue that.


So... I'm not sure what to do.


1 ) have you ever heard of someone to reacting to digestive enzymes like that?  everything I've read says they are SO INCREDIBLE For people with leaky gut.  It's very discouraging.


2 ) I'm thinking we might not go back to low-FODMAP... we just might avoid his known triggers.  Restricting him seemed to make him worse, not better.

3 ) I've wondered if we should try the AIP, but he's never had issues with eggs or avocado.  He does have issues sometimes with nuts.


4 ) If it really was the digestive enzymes (and the correlation in the beginning seemed pretty good), why is he still having issues when we stopped the enzymes 4+ days ago?  And that was only a teeny tiny dose!

So, long story short... help?  suggestions?

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  • 3 weeks later...
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Do not eat foods that you know have caused problems in the past. You need to wait until you have enjoyed several months of good living/stability before you test reintroducing one thing at a time.

Stop making changes every other day. By constantly adjusting what you are doing, you make it impossible to know what really helps and what hurts.

Stop using supplements/digestive enzymes without guidance from a medical practitioner. Eat fermented foods for probiotics.

Complete a basic Whole30 before trying a more restrictive protocol. However, do not eat foods you know cause problems. This will make your Whole30 more restrictive.

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Hi Askins, I'm sorry to hear hubby is still not feeling well. He could have IBS or even Crohn's. Has he ever seen a doctor about it? He also may have a parasite or other infections. It might be worth seeing a functional practitioner that specializes in digestive disorders.


Unfortunately anything can trigger it, everyone is different. He may need to be on a very bland diet for months before being able to tolerate other foods. And taking or eating something can have an effect days later. It's very frustrating, I know.

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This sounds very familiar!  I am working with a naturopath on healing my adrenals and hormones and I also have gut issues.  The die off I experiences was HORRIBLE!  Very painful and uncomfortable!!  It comes and goes and if we stop all supplements I feel fine....BUT you want the die off....you want the bad bugs to leave so it is a good thing even though it hurts!!  What we do is continue to work with eating the right foods while prompting  correct die off.  It sometimes can be a cycle back and forth of removing them all and adding back in.  I know this isn't anything Whole30 deals with.

As far as enzymes, I've only found them to help, not hurt....so I'm not sure if that is his case or not?  Have you stopped all supplements for a good week?

Also, gas and bloating in the evening can be a sign of overeating during the day.....not sure what his portions are but I get very gassy when I overeat....its too much for your body to digest and it just ferments in there!

I hope you can get it figured out soon...do you have a holistic health care person near you?

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I am so shocked by this development.  Hubby had never had a particular problem with eggs, but he really never ate many of them.  Before paleo/whole30, he ate cereal for breakfast.  When we started to Whole30, he was eating 4 eggs for breakfast, an egg or two hard boiled as a snack, and then eggs in sauces/condiments at other times in the day. 


When he went to SCD, he was only eating 4 things: eggs, carrots, hamburgers, and chicken broth.  Not only did his symptoms not subside, they got WORSE.  Logic would say that it had to be one of those things, but it took me this long (*weeks*) to realize it.


In desperation this week, after weeks of sleepless nights and a lot of GI distress, I suggested that we try the AI protocol instead of the low FODMAP protocol.  It wasn't a sure thing, it was just a guess.  He was already avoiding nuts (he thought they were suspicious), so I took him off eggs and nightshades.  And BOOM 24 hours later, he has solid poop and a sound night of sleep. 


THIS IS INCREDIBLE.  I can't tell you how relieved I am.  I think after he's better for a week or two, we might try to introduce nightshades, because I really don't think those are the problem.  I think it was egg overload. 


I'm so happy.  So relieved.

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hi askins, that is great that you found the problem. I too found that eggs were negatively effecting me. After I went grain free, I was having 2 eggs each morning for breakfast. They didn't bother my stomach, but I was having a lot of joint pain. That was one of the reasons I did W30 AIP. Sure enough after 5 days the pain in my elbow subsided significantly. I think I can have eggs occasionally, but not every day.

So happy for hubby. I remember when I found out about FODMAPS and eliminated them and got rid of a lot of my digestive symptoms. I can be so simple sometimes, we over look it.

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