Crohns Disease A Personal Journey
It was December 26, 2008 when I was first diagnosed with Crohns Disease after an episode that nearly took my life.
Shortly after supper that night I started to feel what felt like gas pains and cramps. As the night progressed, so did the intensity of the pain. Around 8pm I decided to take a bath in an attempt to ease the pain. The water was so hot it was literally boiling my skin, yet, I was cold and shaking.
I got out of the bathtub and climbed into bed. Thank God my partner at the time was most stubborn than I was and rushed me to the hospital. At first glance attending doctors thought I had ruptured my appendix. After being rushed into surgery it was later discovered that I had a cyst on my intestines that had burst and it was poisoning my body at a rapid rate.
When I awoke after surgery the surgeon came in to explain that I had Crohns Disease, they had removed 5 inches of my lower intestine and bowel, and if I had gone to bed that night at home, I would never have woken up in the morning.
That night was like a wake up call from above. From that moment on my health became my main priority. I refuse to live with the label of being ‘disabled’ when at the time I was only 38 years old.
While having Crohn’s Disease has altered the way I live my life, especially after losing parts of my bowel caused incontinence, it has also opened my eyes to the entire medical and health industry and how far doctors will go in order to keep you sick and dependent on pharmaceuticals.
But before we get into that, let’s take a look at what Crohns Disease is exactly.
What Is Crohns Disease? (Medical Description)
Crohn’s Disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. Inflammation caused by Crohn’s Disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people.
The inflammation caused by Crohn’s Disease often spreads deep into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Crohn’s Disease can be both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications.
While there’s no known cure for Crohn’s Disease, therapies can greatly reduce its signs and symptoms and even bring about long-term remission. With treatment, many people with Crohn’s Disease are able to function well.
What Is Crohn’s Disease? (My Definition)
Quite simply, when we eat or drink anything, our bodies immediately see it as a “virus” trying to attack the body and it immediately goes to work to grab the food and flush it out of the body as quickly as possible.
And quite honestly, how could the body not think everything is bad for us? With the amount of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), hormones, and chemicals being pumped into our meats, fruits, vegetables,and beverages, the body is quickly destroyed and breaks down, unable to fight back like it should.
Not even water is healthy anymore- regardless of company claims. Unless you’re drinking distilled or reverse osmosis water on a daily basis, you’re just adding insult to injury.
I used to test water in people’s homes and what i learned bordered on ‘nightmarish’. The water that comes out of your taps is only required to be “potable” according to government regulations. In fact, there are over 700 different chemicals and carcinogens coming through your taps and into your body. Even if you don’t drink it, it’s still absorbed 20% faster into the body through your skin while you bathe or shower.
And for those who believe that your Britta, or bottled water, or anything else on the market truly is better for you… there is absolutely NO difference between your tap water and what’s in your water bottles and other water sources!
In fact, the closest thing to ‘pure’ when it comes to bottled water is Dasani which is a reverse osmosis water. However, once it’s bottled into plastic bottles, all of the chemicals in the plastic then contaminate the water.
On top of nearly everything you put in your mouth trying to kill you, stress also becomes a factor.
When the body is under stress (above average) the gastric juices start bubbling and this flares up the intestines and GI tract which can cause an intense amount of pain. At times it can feel like burning glass ripping through your stomach and actually drop you to your knees!
As if that all wasn’t bad enough, doctors prescribe pharmaceuticals in an attempt to ‘fix’ the problems associated with Crohn’s Disease. As we all know, when using pharmaceuticals, it may alleviate certain symptoms, or calm them at best, but they start to destroy other areas of the body and you end up with even more medical issues.
Crohn’s Disease, The Medical Professional, And Pharmaceuticals
One of the ‘side effects’ to that initial surgery back in 2008 was that when they put my intestines back together, I was left with a smaller tube for food to pass through. This led to my stomach looking incredibly bloated after eating until the food was able to break down and pass through.
On top of that, I ended up with an umbilical hernia and the end result was that after eating, the intestines swelled, pushed out the hernia, and I constantly looked like I was 8 months pregnant. I was constantly being asked by people everywhere I went, when my baby was due.
Because of that, I went to see a top notch surgeon to ‘fix’ my insides and deal with the hernia so I could function better and wear normal clothing again.
I remember at one of the last visits with my surgeon, we were discussing the crohn’s disease and intestines. He was asking me how food in general affected my body.
I was explaining to him that I had discovered that ‘diet’ had everything to do with my overall health or lack of it. I had told him that on my last trip to India I had noticed almost immediately that I could eat without pain, I could travel for 12 hours without having to worry about where the nearest bathroom was, I was sleeping for only 6 hours a night but waking up feeling completely energized and alive, and for the first time in many years- I had actually been constipated!
I explained to him that the other side of the world doesn’t see the plethora of diseases and illness that we see here in North America because their diets are cleaner and more natural. They don’t use pesticides or GMO’s or anything that is common in our ‘Western’ culture. I told him that I was much healthier outside of North America.
“Do you want me to write you a prescription to move to India?”
Not only was I pissed off at that response, I couldn’t understand why a ‘doctor’ who had taken an oath to ‘do no harm’- who was supposed to care about the health and well-being of patients, was being so crass about learning that nearly everything could be ‘cured’ by a complete change in the way we eat!
I later discovered that it wasn’t that the surgeon didn’t care. It’s quite literally that he CAN’T recommend anything other than pharmaceuticals. Medical associations quite literally walk hand in hand with big pharma and make trillions of dollars per year keeping people sick. For a doctor to speak up and recommend anything else to their patients, can result in having their medical license revoked!
So since my doctors couldn’t legally tell me how to deal with my Crohn’s Disease I decided to do my own research, and find out what I could from ‘Eastern’ doctors.
Crohn’s Disease and the Western Diet
As I’ve stated before, our food here in North America is riddled with GMO’s, chemicals, hormones, and a whole host of garbage that’s designed to cause cancers and many other illnesses so we gladly run to the doctor’s office and help support pharmaceuticals.
The very definition of disease is simply a body that is in ‘dis-ease’. It’s not functioning as it should. The body becomes bogged down and cannot function optimally. And quite ironically, it’s not just the ‘body’ that’s affected. It also increases many neurological disorders as well- thus the increase in children being diagnosed with ADHD, ADD, ODD, CDD, PD, Autism, and so much more.
One way to start cleansing out the body from all of the chemicals and toxins that have built up over the years is to start eating more ‘natural’ foods. But the problem becomes that even foods that claim to be ‘organic’ truly aren’t. Unless you get your fruits and vegetables direct from farmers and you KNOW they’re pesticide free, hormone free, and Non-GMO….. you’re spinning your wheels for nothing. You are much better off growing your own food.
The other issue with our diets is that they are highly acidic. Excess acid in the gut causes a whole host of issues, including crohn’s disease. Learning to eat food that are more alkaline helps to combat this problem.
Probiotics: One of the Most Important Things Your Gut Needs!
The conditions include:
- IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Atopic Dermatitis
- Allergic Rhinitis
- And even the common cold!
Sugars actually nourish the bad or pathogenic bacteria yeast and fungi in your gut, which can actually harm you more than its impact on insulin resistance. One of the major benefits of eating a healthy diet is that you cause your beneficial gut bacteria to flourish, and they secondarily perform the real ‘magic’ of restoring your health. Probiotics are now becoming more and more recognized for helping all sorts of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, depression, and heart disease.
Russian neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride says that a woman’s gut flora can actually influence the health of her child, and if your child’s gut flora is compromised from birth, they may be at an increased risk of vaccine damage.
She states that this imbalanced gut flora may be the primary factor that contributes to children experiencing an adverse reaction to a vaccine! You can easily screen for this imbalance and if it’s found, all immunizations should be avoided until the problem is corrected.
Research into probiotics shows that supplementing with probiotics is probably more important than taking a multi-vitamin and the true importance of it for your health is right up there with vitamin D.
The Countless Aspects of Your Health As Determined By Your Inner Ecosystem
Your body contains about 100 trillion bacteria- more than 10x the number of cells you have in your entire body. The type and quality of micro-organisms in your gut interact with your body in ways that can either prevent or encourage the development of many diseases. The ideal ratio between the bacteria in your gut is 85% ‘good’ and 15% ‘bad’. Maintaining this optimal ratio is essential for good health, and probiotics (healthy bacteria) has over 30 beneficial pharmacological actions that are known, including:
- Apoptopic (cellular self-destruction)
- Radio and chemo protective
Upregulates glutathione and certain glycoproteins that help regulate immune responses, including interleukin-4, interleukin-10, and interleukin-12
Downregulates interleukin-6 (a cytokine involved in chronic inflammation and age-related diseases)
Inhibits tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha inhibitor, NF-kappaB, epidermal growth factor receptor, and more
Probiotics are also essential for optimal digestion of food and absorption of nutrients, and they help your body produce vitamins, absorb minerals and aid in the elimination of toxins. Here’s a sample of the ailments that your gut flora can affect:
Celiac disease, leaky gut and irritable bowel syndrome
Mood, psychological health, and behavior
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes
Common cold, influenza, and pneumonia
High cholesterol and hypertension
Eczema and atopic dermatitis
Liver diseases, such as cirrhosis and cancer
Food- and wheat allergies
How Do You Know Your Gut Is Imbalanced?
It’s important to realize that your gut flora is very vulnerable to lifestyle and environmental factors such as:
- Sugar / fructose
- Refined grains
- Processed foods
- Antibiotics (including antibiotics given to livestock for food production)
- Chlorinated and flouridated water
- Antibacterial soaps, etc
- Agricultural chemicals and pesticides
While many of these factors can be difficult to avoid, they do throw your gut flora out of balance. Simply altering your diet and avoiding processed foods while focusing on whole (ideally locally grown organic) foods will make a major impact on your body. That change alone will reduce the amount of sugar and fructose you consume drastically, as well as automatically limit your exposure to antibiotics and agricultural chemicals.
How can you tell if your health is starting to suffer from a lack of healthy bacteria in your digestive system? The following symptoms are all signs that unhealthy bacteria has taken over and that you need some healthy probiotics in your diet:
- Gas and bloating
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Sugar cravings and cravings for refined carbohydrate foods
Your Brain, Gut and Primary Immune Defense Are All Connected
Two further signs that your gut flora has been impacted are depression and lowered immunity. Both of these are actually common-sense side effects of a poor gut health, but they’re usually overlooked. Most people, including physicians, don’t realize that 80% of your immune system is located in your digestive system, which makes a healthy gut a major focal point if you want to maintain optimal health.
Your gut is quite literally your second brain. It originates from the same type of tissues as your brain! During fetal development, one part turns into your central nervous system, and the other becomes your enteric nervous system. These two systems are connected by the vagus nerve, the 10th cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen.
Your gut and brain work side by side, each influencing the other. And this is why your intestinal health can have such a profound influence on your mental health, and vice versa.
This also explains the link between neurological disordres (including ADHD and autism) and gastrointestinal dysfunction. Example: Gluten intolerance is frequently a feature of autism, and many autistic children will improve when following a strict gluten free diet.
What’s more important is establishing a normal gut flora within the first 20 days or so of life as it plays a crucial role in proper maturation of your body’s immune system.
Optimizing Your Gut Flora With Probiotics
The best way to ensure optimal gut flora is to regularly consume traditionally fermented foods. Healthy options include:
- Lassi (an Indian yogurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner)
- Various pickled fermentations of cabbage, sauerkraut, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots.
- Fermented raw milk such as kefir or yogurt, but NOT commercial versions which typically do not have live cultures and are loaded with sugars that feed pathogenic bacteria.
- Natto (fermented soy)
- Kim chee
Be sure to stay away from pasteurized versions as pasteurization destroys many of the naturally ocurring probiotics. Example: most of the “probiotic” yogurts found in your every day grocery stores are NOT good choices. Since they’re pasteurized, they will be associated with all of the problems of pasteurized milk products. They also typically contain extra sugars, high fructose corn syrup, dyes, or artificial sweetners, all of which only worsen your health.
An added benefit of traditionally fermented foods is that some are additionally excellent sources of vitamin K2, which is important for preventing arterial plaque buildup and heart disease.
Cheese curds is an excellent source of both probiotics and vitamin K2. You can also obtain all the K2 you’ll need (about 200 micrograms) by eating 15 grams, or half an ounce, of natto daily.
My Final Trip To The Gastroenterologist For Crohn’s Disease!
August 26, 2015 ended up being my last trip to the gastroenterologist to deal with my crohn’s disease. The purpose of the visit was to give me the results from my last colonoscopy, blood work, and CT Scan. The results were fantastic!
It had only been 6 months in between colonoscopies (October 2014 and May 2015) but the results were dramatically different. After the first scope I had been informed that my colon was enflamed and my intestines weren’t showing any real sign of improvement.
At this last visit, I was told that my white blood cell count was above average (I’ve always been anemic and couldn’t fight illness or infections), my liver functions and all other internal functions were ‘amazing’, my colon was no longer enflamed and showed improvement, my intestines were actually healing and the final diagnosis: I no longer had ‘active’ crohns! There was absolutely no need for medication or further treatment for the crohn’s disease.
The gastroenterologist had always told me that the only way to combat the symptoms of crohn’s was to try the various pharmaceutical drugs available. That day he looked at me and asked what I had been doing to make that change.
I told him straight that I was eating less meat (if any at all), was buying my vegetables at the local farmers market, had been eating a lot more probiotics, drank coconut oil daily, I meditated and removed negativity from my life, and had recently started drinking Kefer. He smiled at me and said, “Keep doing what you’re doing because it’s obviously working.”
Let that be a lesson to you. Just because you are diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease doesn’t mean you have to take it and let it run your life. YOU run your life and your overall health. Take charge of it. Just a few diet changes over a few months time can make all the difference in the world and can actually free you from the symptoms of crohn’s disease and allow you to live a more normal life, pain free, and happy.