I will tell you my symptoms and what I am planning to do about them. Could you please give me an idea of whether I am thinking along the right lines?
I am 37, and for the past 15 years or more, I have been having progressively worse digestive problems - mainly a feeling of bloating and heaviness after eating that now seems to be triggered by almost any food, even in small amounts, and is with me almost constantly.
There was a little heaviness even before this - for example, I remember not being able to drink much beer at the age of 18-19 when everyone around me was drinking a lot, because of fullness in the stomach. In 1993, I studied in France for a year, during which I'm afraid I engaged in a frightening amount of over-eating. Following that year, I travelled in Europe for a few months, and looking back, I did so in a state of prolonged and quite serious exhaustion. I am wondering whether these experiences spurred the deterioration in my digestive health.
Since then, the symptoms have been getting steadily worse. I became vegetarian in 1995, gave up gluten around 1998 (gluten still gives me by far the most severe symptoms when I experiment with it) and stopped drinking alcohol in 2001. My diet is mostly home-cooked with little sugar or junkfood. Foods that seem to be consistently a problem are nuts and seeds (even soaked), oil, dried fruit and dairy; but almost any food can trigger a long-lasting feeling of heaviness.
Year on year I notice deterioration. I really have to be careful about accepting any food from anybody now. I am no longer able to go for a run, as the heaviness in the gut doesn't seem to let up long enough to allow me to. I feel a general heaviness in the body, and it does feel related to the digestion. It has been worsening gradually for a long time, which makes it less easy to appreciate how bad it is. Only recently have I noticed how serious this condition is, as we have had our first baby and the demands on me are much higher and I feel very sadly unable to meet them as I would like to.
Is this leaky gut, or something else? I have done some research on the internet and it does seem to fit, though I realise that these things are hard to self-diagnose unless you really know your stuff. Equally hard to devise your own recovery programme, but I have tried to do so based on what I have found out. This is what I am about to start doing. Does it sound like it is along the right lines? Any comments are very welcome:
1 - Glutamine powder (to heal the gut wall) - 18g per day (3x6g) for a month, and then 12g per day (2x6g). I am starting this today. Do these amounts seem reasonable? How long should I go on taking it for? When should I reduce further?
2 - Digestive Enzymes (to alleviate pressure on the gut from food) - Having read a book called "Enzymes for Health and Healing", I have chosen "Enzymend" from Rainbow Light, as it seems to contain the right active amounts of all the various enzymes, as well as some gastric soothing herbs. Along with the probiotics and the systemic enzymes, this forms the basic programme of supplementation that the book recommends.
3 - Systemic Enzymes (to supplement the enzymes the rest of the body needs that are probably currently being diverted to support digestion rather than for circulation, joints, etc) - I have had difficulty choosing a systemic enzyme. In the end, I have ordered Doctor's Best Proteolytic Enzymes, as the reviews from other customers seem to suggest that they work, and they seem to contain a cross-section of systemic enzymes. However, each is measured in different active units, so it is difficult to understand the potency.
4 - Probiotics (to address the balance of bacteria in the gut) - I have chosen Culturelle, as it seems to be potent (10CFU per capsule) and to have been studied and shown to survive into the bowels. I am planning to take 2 capsules per day for 10 days, then 1 per day for a month, then 2 per week on an ongoing basis. Does that seem reasonable?
5 - Prebiotics (to provide food for the new bacteria) - I am not so up on all the different ones available, but a dietician friend of mine recommended Bimuno (http://www.bimuno.com), which seems to be based on new discoveries and proven to work (!) Let's see how that works out.
6 - A multivitamin (to make up for whatever my body has not been getting, and to provide any nutrients that may assist the other supplements). I have ordered Source of Life, which was highly recommended by someone in a health shop recently who takes it herself and says it has transformed her life and given her much needed energy and a feeling of well-being.
I have done a fair amount of research on each of these, and each of the steps alone seem to have transformed people's lives. So doing them all together, at best, I will feel like a new person soon. At worst, I will have spent a load of money that I don't really have without any results. I don't seem to respond well to such miracle solutions, but this is the most extensive and well-researched programme I have ever tried.
Please let me know if you think I am on the right lines with this, or whether I am overlooking something important.
Look forward to your comments.