When I started down this path of traditional and evolutionary health, I didn’t have a GI problem. As my general practitioner told me when I casually discussed my symptoms last year: “if there’s no pain, then you don’t have a problem”. So when I write about my potato starch experimentation and stool test results, I generally think of these as optimization hacks rather than a serious medical problem.
About two hours into my first Weston A Price Foundation conference, I realized that I might actually have a chronic GI problem. Frequent cycling between constipation and diarrhea. “Shutting down a bathroom” at least a few times a month. A year and a half later, I finally gathered up the courage to see a stomach doctor. My new $0 deductible ACA healthcare insurance plan surely helped build that courage. The meeting went quite well. The gastroenterologist was a riot. Through a moderate Arabic accent he called me “baby” as if having watched Swingers one too many times. “What can I do for you, baby”. “Let’s do this thing, baby.” “DEATH TO TECHNOLOGY” he shouted as I was leaving, unable to figure out his newfangled computer system.
His line of questioning was very simple: What are your symptoms? How many BMs and what type? Alcohol use? Intravenous drug use?
Based on my answers, he thinks I may have some kind of “functional” communication problem between my gut and my brain. The testing he recommends seems primarily to rule out other acute root causes. He figures that I’m not going to die anytime soon from my symptoms but was supportive of my desire to alleviate them.
He thinks “there is a lot we don’t know” and likes some “alternative” ideas.
He wasn’t upset that I am on a gluten free diet, but acknowledged that this could skew some of the tests designed to screen for Celiac. He thinks the Genova testing is “very alternative” but does his own version of the same tests. He thinks the idea of yeast overgrowth is “very alternative” but has used anti-fungals in the past on a patient or two.
He wrote out some “alternative” ideas to tide me over until further testing could be done:
- Try Caffeine and Dairy elimination – One week at a time.
- Use a Probiotic – Ultimate Flora or VSL#3
- Ginger or Fennel tea . Cinnamon. Or Circumin? Hard to read his writing.
- Peppermint capsules.
When he said that his strategy is one of aggressive testing, I was very reassured. This is the approach I would love to take and the main reason that I went to see a stomach doctor in the first place. He’s looking for colitis, celiac, bacterial overgrowth, malabsorption, and inflammation.
He sent me away with many test orders:
- Blood tests for: CBC, Amylase, C.Diff, metabolic panel, Creatinine, Giardia, H. Pylori (IgG), Hepatitis, Lipase, and Sedimentation Rate
- Hydrogen/Methane breath tests for lactose intolerance, fructose intolerance, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Stool Culture
- Upper GI endoscopy
I haven’t decided yet if I even want to do the scoping. When I pressed him on whether or not the scoping was worth the risk, he said “You take risks every day – you drove here, right?” He is right about that. Not only did I drive, but I was uncharacteristically on my phone almost the entire time checking my email as I rushed between two appointments.
Overall the appointment went pretty well. Having paid quite a bit of money out of pocket to this point for a mix of western and alternative testing, I’m hopeful that insurance will assist with these tests. It will be useful to have a baseline now in case an acute problem is found now or in the future. I set up procedures and appointments a ways into the future as is mandated anyways by his incredibly busy calendar.
I received my results today from the Genova 2200 GI Effects Results panel and am sharing some of them here. You can check out a sample report from Genova here: http://www.gdx.net/core/sample-reports/GI-Effects-Compehensive-SR.pdf
This test was taken before starting any potato starch supplementation.
I have much research to do on my own still before even commenting on this. The main target for my functional medicine practitioner side seems to be the yeast issue. While the potato starch has helped, I do not think it has totally stopped the yeast issue.
One interesting side note, the functional med practitioner also identified signs of some periodontal distress.
Proposed action plan:
- Digestive Support (digestive enzymes), L-Glutamine
- Oral Health Items (floss, oil pulling, hydrogen peroxide rinsing)
- Elimination diet: 3 weeks of no sugar/no dairy/no nuts seeds to starve off the yeast. Basically GAPS intro.
- Follow elimination diet up with alternating anti-fungals and biofilm treatments
I had a minor setback in my Resistant Starch self-experiment. Some intense life stress resurfaced in the afternoon and my GI failed less than an hour later.
I also made two very minor food mistakes:
- forgot to refrigerate my lunch
- ate some “paleo snack” candied pecans w/dried fruit.
I blame the stress for the failure though.
I kept going with my normal maintenance diet including the potato starch/probiotic/yogurt drink. The next morning the GI problems were still there.
Time to go back to a basic gut-healing diet. Bone broth and meat. No veggies and no dairy until I feel better. I think I’ll try to keep up with the RS in water.
Metametrix results coming this afternoon.
- butter and mct in coffee
- 2 ground beef sliders on gluten-free bread, cole slaw, few tater tots
- frozen yogurt with blackberries and a few m&ms-corn tortilla chips (3-4 servings), salsa, cheese
- 1 tbsp honey and a date
- goat kefir, goat yogurt, 4T potato starch blended into 1/2 frozen banana
One of my favorite panels at PaleoFX 2014 this year was “Building Not Burning Bridges in the Paleo Movement.”
- Support Farmers and Farm to School initiatives.
- Bring newcomers into the fold by going after specific life issues like helping with weight loss or PCOS. Offer a short term cure first to bring them to Paleo.
- Post more local and seasonal recipes. Talk and blog about where you get your food and who your farmers are. Focus on sustainability
- Support the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
- Say only things about Paleo that people can’t disagree with. Politicians do this!
- Support Paleo vendors who make Paleo friendly products
This morning, I mixed a teaspoon of Bob’s Red Mill potato starch into a half cup of full fat goat milk kefir and drank it up. I’m already getting more used to pungent taste of the Kefir. I’m still waiting for the gassy bulletproof explosion or crazy sex dreams that I’ve been warned about. So far neither has happened.
In the afternoon, my new probiotics arrived: Primal Defense Ultra and Prescript-Assist. I haven’t researched these probiotics much. I’m following the leaders at FreeTheAnimal on this one. They really look like soil when you break them open.
I was so excited about the new probiotics and lack of gas that I had to make another kefir drink for dinner. How does “kefir gut bomb” sound?
- 4oz kefir
- soil-based probiotics broken open and sprinkled in
- 1tsp potato starch
- 2oz leftover bulletproof tea (black tea, butter, mct oil)
Mix with immersion blender for frothy goodness.
Breakfast: 4oz goat milk kefir, 1tsp potato starch, 2oz butter, 1/2oz MCT oil
Lunch: 2oz sprouted almond/mulberry trail mix, 2oz butter, 1/2oz MCT oil
Dinner: 5oz lamb, homemade broth, 4oz goat milk kefir, 1tsp potato starch, 2oz sprouted trail mix
Snacks: 1/3 bar of dark chocolate, 2oz semi-sweet chocolate, bag of seaweed snacks, few tsp honey, some macadamias, more sprouted trail mix
Ketosis: Based on the ketostix, I was in a strong ketosis in the evening after dinner. In the late evening I snacked on some semi-sweet chocolate chips and was not in ketosis in the morning.
Weight: Down 0.8 lbs from 215 to 214.2 between day 2 and 3. (I’m a 5’8″ male for reference). Today is also weekly measurement day for me. 242 inches total for 8 sites.
GI: Amazing on both day 2 and day 3. Zero gas and great BMs with good volume after a month of IBS-D like GI distress. On day 2/3 at only 2 tsp PS, the credit here goes more to my restricted food choices rather than the potato starch.
FBG: 86mg/dL in the morning of day 3. This is a great number for me. After a night with some sweet chocolate I might see a swing in either direction but not today. Don’t worry I plan to test this with much bigger PS+carb intakes.
I dipped a toe into the potato starch craze yesterday.
1/2 tsp of Bob’s Red Mill mixed into half a cup of full fat goat milk kefir. I used an immersion blender to mix it. Helps give it a nice froth.
Results: No gas, no bloating, and healthier digestion this morning than I’ve had all week.
Much more to come. I moved up to 1 tsp this morning. Soil-based probiotics should be arriving in the mail tomorrow.