Healing my Body: Fibroids, Endometriosis, and Leaky Gut
This part two of my post on how I healed my body from fibroids, endometriosis, and leaky gut. Part one focused on my experience before and after surgery. I continued to experience symptoms of mood changes, vaginal infections, stomach pain and discomfort despite having completed surgery and regularly taking birth control. I remember asking my gynecologist (who is great but focuses on traditional medicine for healing) if she had any suggestions for diet changes that might alleviate my symptoms and was pretty much met with a blank stare. I was tired of seeing her every other month and was hypervigilant about getting another infection. Then I heard a podcast episode on Black Girl in Om in which they featured a doctor who combined traditional medical care with holistic healthcare. In the episode, she discussed the healing qualities of many foods, leaky gut, and how what we eat can either add toxicity to the body or heal. I began my search for a holistic doctor. I knew I wanted a female and I knew she had to be a woman of color.
I did a simple google search and decided to reach out to Dr. Jessica Wei. She is a board certified gynecologist who no longer practices traditional medicine but seeks to help women heal their reproductive area holistically. I knew from the initial conversation that I wanted to work with her. Only thing was she was out-of-network (most holistic doctors are so if you have insurance, be prepared to pay out of pocket for the cost) and I debated about paying her fee. I shared my concerns, at which point she reminded me this was an investment into my health. I needed to know my "Why" and to let her know if I wanted to move forward. So I prayed on it and followed through with the appointment. After the initial appointment, she put me on a 21-day elimination diet to see what foods were causing inflammation and other issues in my gut. I also completed a stool test and had an extensive blood work panel. My nutritionist, Holly, guided me on what foods I could eat and recipes to help with the transition. They kept reminding me to remember my "why" so any time I had doubt or wanted to eat something off plan, I remembered this was my decision and I was determined to find out if there were any underlying issues contributing to my reproductive distress.
For those 21 days, my diet consisted of gut-healing foods. I removed all food that could potentially cause discomfort and inflammation: no dairy, coffee, alcohol, chocolate, sugar, processed foods, corn, yeast, soy, citrus fruits, or gluten. That left me with vegetables, fruits, water (my favorite drink), fermented foods, brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, and nuts. My meals were very simple and I relied on food preparation to keep me on track.
Here are pictures of some meals I had at the time:
One month later at my follow-up appointment, I learned my gut was filled with inflammation, parasites, and harmful bacteria. I wasn't absorbing fat properly and I had an overflow of candida (which can cause infection in the digestive area or in the vagina). Dr. Wei suspected my "leaky gut" issue was directly correlated to my reproductive issues. In essence, instead of manifesting into digestive issues, I was experiencing reproductive pain. I had an aha moment. I felt validated. I felt release and free. I cried at that appointment, too. lol. By finally knowing what was wrong, I felt empowered to begin my physical healing. I was advised to eliminate all gluten from my diet as I the stool test showed anti-gliadin was present which indicated a non-celiac allergy to gluten. As far as diet change, I continued to eliminate gluten and consume soft cheeses like feta or goat. I was prescribed about ten different supplements to aggressively target the parasites, candida, and inflammation in my gut which promoting balance. The rest of the healing plan was around stress management, relaxation, and improving my spiritual alignment. All of these things are connected, in order to heal the body, I had to work on my mind and spiritual well-being.
I won't say these last six months have been easy. There were times I wanted to cry because I couldn't indulge in my Aunt's pound cake or my Mom's mac and cheese. I had to remind myself that the dietary changes were to nourish me and I found other ways to make adjustments to indulge in my favorite foods. While my diet is not as restrictive these days, I continue to maintain a gluten-free and mostly dairy-free lifestyle. At my follow-up appointment last month, I learned my gut was mostly healed: there no trace of candida, fat was being absorbed, and the inflammatory stress my gut was experiencing from gluten was very minimal.
This journey has taught me something, food is healing. I truly don't believe there was any other way I could have healed my gut without making dietary changes and taking the appropriate supplements. I hope I have inspired you to be more mindful of how you fuel your body and the impact certain foods has on how you feel physically and mentally.