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March 20, 2009 11:05 AM   Subscribe

How do I heal my gut?

I have a history of IBS, and years ago I had an H. Pylori infection. After the infection was taken care of my gut was good for several years, no real issues to speak of. Since I had my kids a few years ago, my tummy's been on a bit of a rollercoaster, especially in the last year. Recurrent gas, terrible sharp pains an hour or two after eating, alternating diarrhea and constipation. Thought it was gluten (nope), dairy (nope), coffee (nope).

Coincidentally (or not?) I've been on antibiotics several times in the last 4 or 5 years, and I've had about 7 or 8 courses in just the last two years. I have severe allergies and have taken the antibiotics for recurrent sinus infections.

I now suspect that perhaps the antibiotics have obliterated the good bacteria in my gut. I eat yogurt (Stonyfield) most days, and I'm trying to increase my exercise (to get my intestines moving regularly and normally) but I'm looking for guidance as to what other things I can do to heal my gut from the antibiotic assault.

(I know you're not my dr, I've got an appt with a gastro coming up. Just looking to get a jump on things.)
posted by missuswayne to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think eating yogurt "most days" is nearly enough probiotic action to get your gut in shape after all the antibiotics you've taken. I had a terrible problem with persistent nausea and many of the other symptoms you described and started taking 2 or 3 Probiotic sticks every day in addition to eating yogurt almost every day. The turn around in my digestive system and general well-being has been astonishing.
posted by kate blank at 11:15 AM on March 20, 2009

I have far better success with probiotic tablets than yogurt when my system is really messed up. I think it's the frequency and standardized quality that makes the difference, though I wonder if during the really bad times the dairy effect isn't also making things worse.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:31 AM on March 20, 2009

Have you tried kefir?

My dog has her own GI issues, and making the switch from yogurt helped her enormously.
posted by alynnk at 11:38 AM on March 20, 2009

Thought it was gluten (nope), dairy (nope), coffee (nope).

Consider fructose intolerance. My symptoms were almost identical to yours. When I found out that I couldn't digest fructose (which is in EVERYTHING, thank you HFCS), I cut all sugar and processed foods from by diet and guess what? No more symptoms.
posted by chez shoes at 11:54 AM on March 20, 2009

The only thing that I've found that actually works in the probiotic line is Bio-K Plus, which tastes like extra-strong yogurt (i.e. gross), but has had great clinical success in trials, and it certainly has worked for me in many gut situations.

I'm not sure where you live, but it seems to be available around North America.
posted by MissSquare at 12:00 PM on March 20, 2009

Definitely go get some pro-biotic capsules - you can get them at the drug store or GNC - they should fix you right up.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:01 PM on March 20, 2009

No idea whether this helps, but I'm presently experiencing a gut renaissance through drinking more. Water, I mean. Someone told friends that one needs to drink one liter per 30 kg body weight a day (my little trans-calculator-mac-thingy makes this into roughly a quarter gallon per 65 pounds). No idea whether this is true or not - I am aware that these things aren't written in stone.
Anyhow I used to drink less than half of this amount, and most of it in the form of tea, coffee, beer or wine (which all is dehydrating in the long run). So I changed my habit for a test, and away went my digestive irritations, within days.
On top of that, of course, home-baked wholemeal bread, brown rice, lots of veggies and fruit and all that.
posted by Namlit at 12:34 PM on March 20, 2009

Heaven forbid you need this, but in some cases a fecal transplant can apparently help.
posted by procrastination at 12:36 PM on March 20, 2009

Response by poster: @procrastination - Sweet Jesus, no! I'm fairly sure I am not a candidate for that. And even if I was, WHOA.

Thanks for all the responses. Is this assumed "intestinal flora imbalance" similar to a candida overgrowth type of thing? A friend had suggested to me that that might be the problem, but I have no idea.
posted by missuswayne at 1:13 PM on March 20, 2009

I've been in this same exact boat. A lot of my past postings address it. I went to several doctors before I found one who thought outside the box. His prescription was the opposite of the others. He said I obviously had a lot of bad bacteria in my gut and that I should starve it. So no fiber for awhile only eating protein and fats, then added in fermented products, fruits and veggies. No sugar, refined junk, or unfermented grains. I'd read up on the paleo diet and the fiber menace. Once I stopped eating fiber, most of the problems went away, including the horrible horrible gas.

Of course other people heal themselves with whole grains, so I guess it depends on what bacteria are hanging around your gut. Only experimentation will tell.

In terms of yogurt, most of it is crap, even Organic Stonyfield, which did absolutely nothing for me. I would look into making your own if you can't find a high quality p-roduct. It's another thing to experiment with. Personally, I found some local dairies that made tasty and well cultured kefirs and yogurts.
posted by melissam at 1:31 PM on March 20, 2009

Also consider that the 'gas pains', and even the alternating constipation/diarrhea, could be a symptom of gallstones. A quick ultrasound can diagnose it. (I had similar symptoms, and had a lap-choly in 2002. Been much happier ever since.)
posted by pointless_incessant_barking at 2:18 PM on March 20, 2009

procrastination, that's the grossest thing i've read all year—and yet i can still call it educational. thanks!
posted by lia at 2:30 PM on March 20, 2009

My wife's elderly aunt had all your symptoms and eventually found relief by eating sauerkraut daily. She swears by it. I think it might have to be the unpasteurized variety.

I clipped this from a healthfood site:

The friendly lactobacilli created in the fermenting process by which cabbage is transformed into sauerkraut aid digestion, increase vitamin levels, produce a variety of beneficial enzymes and promote the growth of healthy flora throughout the digestive tract.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:01 PM on March 20, 2009

I thought i was gluten intolerant or something-intolerant for several years. Then, one day, while doing a marathon study session and with no food around me but a pound of Jelly Bellies, I ended up finishing the bag off. That night, I had painful gas; I'm guessing all that sugar helped the right kind of intestinal flora to multiply rapidly. From the next day onward, my "gut issues" have been gone (about 99% of the time). YMMV, of course.
posted by kimota at 4:11 PM on March 22, 2009

I have IBS. My gastro doc put me on two meds (dycyclomine and nortriptyline) which have helped significantly; what helped even more was going on a low-carb diet. My gas, in particular, seems to be directly proportional to the amount of carbs I eat; my intestines have actually been halfway normal lately (after dealing with IBS for around 10 years).

An aside: while they don't really have much in the way of carbs, coffee and hot sauce will fuck me up real good. They're IBS irritants; considering that I love the taste of both, it took me awhile to finally give them up. (Tea has replaced coffee for me, at least.)
posted by korpios at 9:07 AM on March 24, 2009

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