Tag Archives: Digestion

Jess’ Theory: Digestion is King

2 Sep
Digestion is King. Photo credit Morgue Filer User naama

Digestion is King. Photo credit Morgue Filer User naama

So I have a theory. A theory about the connection between the food I eat, my digestion and subsequent fatigue and migraine headaches.

It is only a theory, not backed up by any precise science or medical research.

It is a theory based on the solid evidence that my body has presented to me time and time again. My body the great scientific experiment 🙂

My theory goes something like this:

(I warn you it is not a particularly pretty theory..)

  1. I eat a food that is technically ‘Jess Friendly’ (a technical term meaning gluten and dairy free)
  2. Sometimes immediately, though often up to day or two later, I have a severely bloated and distended abdomen, I suffer with spasms of cramping pains and most significantly to this little theory of mine, my digestion grinds to a halt. No pooping. My body has firmly dropped anchor at constipation-city.
  3. I can’t stop yawning. I have a never ending need to rest and when I do I fall asleep. My energy is drained, reaching new lows.
  4. My head is filled with haziness for a day. And then a dull ache builds up on the left side of my forehead. It creeps up gradually, often so slowly I don’t always recognise what’s happening. But the pain always starts on the left side. It spreads down behind my left eye and inches across my face and down my nose. I feel nauseous, dizzy and generally spaced out. Bright lights and loud noises are horrible. On the worst occasions I end up in bed horizontal and not moving with a cold compress over my eyes.
  5. I take co-codomol, the pain reducing drug, which, if I’m lucky hits the spot and gives respite for a few hours. The side effect of this glorious drug…constipation. A classic catch-22. Either, a) I try and relieve the pain by taking the drug and thus exacerbate the constipation, which caused the headache in the first place or b) I just suffer in agony, waiting for the pain to pass.
  6. Once the acute pain is passed, usually after a long sleep, I’m left with a head that feels physically battered and bruised. I feel fragile and very sore, as if someone has been pummeling my head with their fists. This gradually subsides over a day or two.
  7. Slowly after 3-4 days the cogs of my digestive system slowly begin to grind into life once more and things begin to return to normal.
  8. Oh and to top it all off, around stage 2, a giant spot (or three) forms on my chin, huge, red and very painful. The toxins literally popping out to say hello any way they can.

This was the story of last week for me.

I ate a, supposedly, gluten free and dairy free pizza whilst at a friend’s house. I suspect the base was gluten free (it was too hard and tasteless to have been wheat filled) but the toppings (despite pertaining to be Jess friendly) most likely were not, or at least had been contaminated in some way. I reacted immediately with bloating and stomach pains and then as the week progressed, the full theory played out.

This is not the first time this pattern has happened for me. A few months ago, Mr B and I ate dinner at a (new to us) local pub. I was ecstatic that this place served gluten free dairy free fish and chips! And the main course was, and has been on numerous occasions since, fine. When I’ve only had the fish and chips I’ve been fine. No reaction. But that first time in my over eager state I ordered the gluten free crumble for dessert. So overjoyed that there was a gluten free dessert, that I forgot the key ingredient to a good crumble topping is of course butter. Dairy. It wasn’t until several spoonfuls down that I made the connection. Oops. And the next day I paid the price with the above theory cycling into action.

There was another time involving sausages at a friend’s BBQ. And another involving crème brûlée (yes I know it’s dairy laden, I was so brain fogged at the time I stupidly thought it was just made from eggs) and another after eating pâté. These are just the incidents that I have recognised and remembered as preceding a severe headache.

The fact it is not usually an immediate reaction is my excuse for why I have not joined the dots before. It was a real light bulb moment when the penny finally dropped last week. ‘I’m so tired, I have a huge spot, I haven’t been to the toilet properly all week, my head is so sore, yesterday I had a migraine’ I complained to my Mum and Sister over Skype. My Mum (always the wise one 🙂 ) asked, ‘what have you eaten?’ And then after a few moments of back peddling through my memory in search of a ‘bad’ meal, I realized. The pizza on Sunday. I bet that will have been it.

I’m not a doctor. And medically what I’m saying may make no sense. But I think from the research and reading I have done on the topic, our digestion is at the heart of our health and when it fails to function optimally, negative consequences show up across our bodies. It may not be headaches and migraines for everyone. But for me I clearly have a vulnerability in that area and too many times now my body has followed this pattern. So for me and my body my theory makes sense. Digestion is clearly the king for me and when he decides to have a day off, it has as huge knock on effect, with the rest of the kingdom going down with him.

Through having ME/CFS I have had it drummed into me to ‘listen to my body’. One of the causes of the severity of my illness was me ignoring all the warning signs that my body gave me. Now ‘listen to my body’ is my mantra. It helps keep ME/CFS at bay. It is not full-proof but it helps most of the time. And now it has helped me identify another symptom inducing pattern at work.

I’m not sure what the solution is to my theory, other than to be uber cautious (even more than I already am) of everything I put in my mouth and perhaps to never eat out again (which is just too restrictive and dull to be a viable option), but now I can clearly see the problem, I’ve got a better chance at finding a solution.

What about you? Do you suffer from headaches and migraines when you eat something wrong?

Do you listen to your body? What does it tell you?

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Lovely Linseed

28 Jan
Photo by Jess B.

Lovely little linseeds.

Linseed, also known as flaxseed, may seem a strange choice for a blog post. But I literally could not survive without these tiny little seeds so just had to share it with you!

I’ve suffered from IBS symptoms for nearly 10 years. Gastro symptoms were a precursor to, or the first sign of – I just didn’t know it at the time, my ME/CFS . I used to suffer from a swollen, very bloated abdomen on an almost daily basis. I tried elimination diets, and cutting out gluten improved things a bit, but on the whole it seemed it didn’t matter what I ate, my abdomen would always be bloated. Some days my stomach looked like I was 6 months pregnant, or smuggling a watermelon under my top! Sometimes I could barely see my toes (and no I’m not obese, this was definitely bloating and not just tummy fat!) and one particularly bad day at university I remember my jumper no longer meeting my jeans my bloated tummy protruded so far. This wasn’t  just a vanity thing, the bloating was accompanied by severe cramping and spasmodic pains that would leave me clutching a hot water bottle to my tummy doubled over in agony on the floor.

After several very unhelpful trips to my then GP (it’s just exam stress….) a friend of my Mum’s suggested I try a daily dose of linseed. This was 7 years ago and I haven’t looked back since.

You see (and I apologise in advance for too much info, I’ll try to spare you the really icky details) the reason my abdomen was so bloated so much of the time was that my ‘waste elimination’  system had essentially gone on strike. For whatever reason (stress in fact the most likely culprit) my system was not and does not eliminate waste in the smooth regular way that it should. In a word I was blocked, constipated, far too full! This fullness was only compounded whenever I ate by adding to the back log of food matter in my system, which produced the bloating, pain and frustration!

Then I started taking a daily dose of linseed at breakfast time and things dramatically improved!!

My daily dose is 3 dessert spoons of GOLDEN linseed. Feel free to try the standard brown stuff but to me it tastes of soil, a flavour I’m not inclined to eat. I’m not saying the golden stuff is delicious in taste (it is not) but it is much nicer and much more tolerable than it’s brown relative.

It’s important to note that to get the ‘unblocking’ effect, it has to be the seeds themselves. Ground or milled linseed do not work in the same way. Trust me I’ve tried. The seeds bind all the waste in you together thus pushing it through and out of you!! (too much info?!)

Over the years I’ve tried taking my linseed in a variety of ways: in yoghurt, in smoothies, just in water, in porridge and in a glass of milk to name just a few. Now although any of these methods do work and produce the desired effect, the best way I have found to take my daily linseed is to mix it into the vitamin C solution that I also take daily.

Emergen-C Vitamin C

Emergen-C Vitamin C

I dissolve my sachet of 1000mg Emergen-C in cold water and then immediately add my 3 spoons of linseed and drink. Why does this work so well? Why is it different to taking the linseed in plain old water? Well the Emergen-C solution makes the linseed float so you a get a little linseed in every mouthful rather than being left with a heap of it at the bottom of the glass. (It is key to drink the solution immediately because the longer you leave the Emergen-C in the water the more it dissolves and the more the linseed sinks to the bottom). I’m no scientist (I HATED science at school!) but I guess it is something to do with the Emergen-C making the water heavier than the linseed.

Floating linseeds

Floating linseeds

So linseed is an effective, natural and cheap remedy for…ahem…. relieving that blocked up bloated feeling and making your body run smoothly again!

Spread the linseed love around, I’ve introduced several of my friends  to it over the years and now they also swear by it.

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