I'm really excited to start a new series called "Well-Being Wednesday" this week! As the title might imply, I am going to be discussing health issues in each post that may touch on a variety of different health concerns, new information, or a subject that I find interesting or relevant. The idea came to be after I had a flare-up of a pre-existing condition that I have been dealing with, and I think it will help me maintain my own well-being.
I'll start by sharing a bit of my own story. Growing up, I had always been a healthy kid. I rarely missed school, never went to the hospital, or needed any kind of special treatment regarding health issues. When I started high school in 2004, I suddenly became very sick in the Fall of my freshman year. I missed almost two weeks of school and was stuck at home, really sick and having severe bodily pain. After undergoing a myriad of tests, x-rays, and consultations, my doctor informed me that I had IBS (Irritable Bowel syndrome). I know... classy, right? The name is even embarrassing. At that age, I was unprepared to deal with what that meant. I had to cut out certain foods from my diet, my appetite changed, sometimes disappearing, and strenuous activities were difficult for me. Fortunately after a few weeks, the symptoms disappeared and I was able to return to life as we know it. Over the next 8 years, the symptoms have come and gone, but were never as severe as the first time I got sick. That all changed about two weeks ago. Again, I got very sick, had to miss work, and went back to the hospital. This time, they told me that I have colitis; essentially it's an inflammation of the intestines and a little bit more severe than IBS. Health professionals don't know exactly what causes it to manifest in some people, and as of right now, there is no known cure, only maintenance.
The problem with something like this is that your body is unable to properly receive all of the nutrients it needs from the foods you eat. People with colitis or other forms of digestive disorders often have to eat a high-calorie, high-protein diet and take supplements to overcompensate for the body's inabilities. On my second hospital visit, they recommended that I stay away from foods high in fiber and raw fruits and vegetables while I was experience the severe symptoms. What? That's the exact opposite of what I thought would help my body bounce back. In the mean time, I turned to foods that were high in good bacterias. I knew that if I continued to put the good bacteria, such as acidophiles, back into my system, my body would be better prepared to fight off the bad bacteria that was disrupting my system. I ate greek yogurt, which has a higher bacteria count than regular yogurts; I added apple cider vinegar to my tea and honey, which is essentially what helped me alleviate the symptoms so I could get back to work. Since my body is back to "normal," now is the time to fill my body with proper foods such as vegetables and fruits.
Even if you're reading this and don't have any issue with your intestines or digestive system, I believe it's so important to know the role that your "gut" plays in the overall well-being of your entire body. Growing up, we are taught to believe that our brains are primarily responsible for being the centerpiece of our mental capacity and nervous system. While this is true, we often forget the fact that our intestines alone have nearly one hundred million nerve cells. Basically, one-half of our nerve cells are located in our gut (Rubin, 2004, p. 51). Our "second brain" is our intestinal nervous system and should never be underestimated. Our gut manufactures opiates and mood-controllers that help us regulate the way we feel and maintain good moods or deal with bad moods. The importance of stress relief is key in maintaining a healthy digestive tract. Jordan Rubin (2004), author of The Maker's Diet states that "virtually every state of health is affected by the GI tract [digestive system]. Even if you break a bone, or undergo a surgical procedure, the time required to heal is directly affected by how well your gut is able to process nutrients and detoxify toxins . . . if you fail to refuel your body properly, your intellect may be dimmed. . . through poor nutrition and poor lifestyle decisions" (p. 57)
Based on information and research that I've gathered over the past few weeks, I have found that there are two ways to maintain good health.
- Hone in on the nutrients that are entering your body.
- Reduce the amount of toxins in your body.
Read this article by one of my favorite bloggers about taking care of yourself!
Rubin, J. (2004). The Maker's Diet: The 40-day health experience that will change your life forever. Lake Mary, FL: Siloam: A Strang Company.