Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oh, How I Love to Poop!

Let me count the ways!

No, like, really.

#1: For as long as I can remember, I have not been regular. But, what did I know, because, since I was never regular, I thought I *was* regular, and never knew any different, and never felt constipated, and, well, yeah.

#2: (hardy-har-har): When I met my husband, and started spending more and more time with him, I thought something was seriously wrong with him for all the time he spent in the bathroom. (He would go, like, once every day!! Like, oh my gosh, sooooooo gross!!)

#3: At the ripe young age of 24, while consulting with an Ayurvedic Dr about my skin, I needed to check a couple of references, namely my sister and my husband-to-be, because I thought the Dr was mistaken that "people should make bowel movement at least once every day." References confirmed. Reality sets in... ummmm, so once per week is... bad?

#4: Since that time (2006), I have gotten much better at eliminating just from implementing dietary changes. Of course, the process was has been a slow and constantly evolving one, but one gauge of EVERY dietary change would always be, for me, am I pooping daily. Some diets showed no change whatsoever. Dairy-free showed the most improvement, to the point where I actually started charting my BMs because it was so much more regular (I never skipped 3 days anymore!) - but there has always, always been room for improvement.

#5: There is nothing like a perfectly-formed, healthy elimination. Nothing. I'm sorry, your baby is great, and good for you pushing that out of your body. But for those of us who need to rejoice in the little things, or not so little things, this is epic. I have often wanted to send out family newsletters regarding my bowel movements. (P.S. That link above might seem scary... it is not a picture of my poop. I have not gone that far off the deep end. It is a chart of what normal poop should look like, versus not so healthy poop. And, if you went right ahead and clicked on the link before reading this disclaimer... you're kinda gross. I like that.)

#6: Once you have a semblance of normalcy, like I did (once every couple of days at least), it really does stand out to you when you miss a day. And, it really isn't normal. And, you really *don't* feel good. (Knowing what good feels like always makes the bad feel worse by contrast.) So, for the past 6 months or so, I've been on a mission to find the missing link to my daily poops... and I think I've found it.

#7: I introduce to you: Betaine HCl.

Back in early October, I visited a D.O. the next State over, who has a keen interest in nutrition and holistic ways of healing. He ran a set of labs on me called Spetracell. From my limited understanding, the Spectracell tests were not just drawing a serum level of nutrient and vitamin levels, but rather, tested the cumulative effect (over three months) of how much these nutrients and vitamins were being absorbed and utilized by my body.

The results blew me away. Before sharing, let me first tell you what a typical day's meals look like for me:

2 pastured eggs
a cup of homemade chicken or veal/beef broth
About 15 pill-size pieces of frozen grass-fed beef liver

Lamb riblets (or any other meat leftover from dinner - all grass-fed/pastured)
Waldorff salad

Salmon with coconut creamed spinach
Butternut squash

There's a lot of variety in there, but this gives you an idea of what macronutrients I am getting the MOST of each day.

The testing showed that I was deficient (or, not utilizing) many of the B vitamins, namely B12 (which, interestingly, I have always tested as High-out-of-range on standard serum levels), choline, and some other stuff I can't remember at the moment ;)

The Dr knew all about Paleo and said in his opinion, this is an excellent diet and I was clearly not digesting the food well, because, helloooooo, B12 and CHOLINE???? And I eat liver and egg yolks every day?!?!?!

He first started me on his recommended brand of isotonix supplements - a digestive enzyme, along with a B-Complex and personalized supplement to add-in what I was deficient in, for just about a month until I was able to get it from the diet again. The problem, however, was that ALL of these supplements had very questionable ingredients listed... first off, the #1 digestive enzyme was amylase, followed by protease, and so my initial thought was that these supplements were meant to be used by people on the Standard American Diet, needing help to digest their abundance of carbs, not protein. Second, there was sucralose, dextrose, stevia, and all kinds of hard to pronounce junk in the formulation. WHY do I need my supplements to be SWEET???? I took them for a month, and noticed only minimal improvement in the poopage area.

Then, I decided to do my own research. I knew the Dr was on to something, and now I knew that something was getting in the way of my ability to digest these awesome, fully nutritious and healthful foods. But what was it??

I decided to try the Paleologix supplements. And, almost like magic, I noticed a difference... which LASTED. It was so eery, that when I ran out for a few days before the next package arrived, I was bloated and constipated, with NO OTHER changes in my diet!

Paleologix was basically the same idea the Dr had in regards to helping me digest the food on my own, but also, while healing the gut, adding back in those nutrients and vitamins that it needed. Except, these are CLEAN supplements. No crap included! (But pun certainly intended.) And the magic bullet of the bunch? Betaine HCl.

I had tried Betaine HCl once before, after viewing a 9-day Real Food Summit and hearing about low stomach acid. Except, the Betaine HCl I originally purchased and tried for a day had some questionable ingredients, and I didn't end up taking it regularly because I was leery of these ingredients.

The instructions on the bottle say to take 1 pill before each meal, and titrate up by one pill every 2-3 days, until a mild burning sensation is felt. Once the sensation is felt, drop down by one pill and that is the maintenance dose.

Can I just say... I was on 5 pills before every meal, and still felt NO BURNING. I never did go to 6 pills because, I felt pretty well maintained. And, the pooping speaks for itself.

This may be a gross post, and while I realize that (and tried to add in some humor to that end) - I also think it's waaaaaay underestimated how much our regularity and bowel health affects the rest of our health/body. You can be avoiding all types of foods due to various food sensitivity testing (or have several which contradict each other, like I had!) - or eating the most "real" traditional foods you can find, every day... but still be missing something.

It takes a little legwork, but worth looking into - low stomach acid was definitely an issue for me. Is it an issue for you?


M said...

oh my gosh! I'm so glad you posted this TCIE! Thank you! I have been working with a nutritional therapist and trying to implement some changes. I have been paleo/dairy/gluten free about 80%. I have been cheating some lately. She has me on a lot of magnesium, which has helped. She wants me taking the Betaine HCI. What brand are you taking? I keep getting scared to try it. I know I have low stomach acid and have always had low b12. Did you titrate up slowly? Do you take them before every meal? Do you take it right before you eat or do you have to take it so many minutes before eating? Also, I bought some beef liver and I am trying to get up the courage to start taking it in pill form. I need my husband to cut the pills for me! Thanks again for posting this info!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DM + AM said...

You are brave to post about this!

I have read many books about a clean gut. One I found interesting is: The Makers Diet.

Thankful said...

This is absolutely fascinating - truly. Wow. The "crap" (tee hee hee) I learn by reading your blog blows my mind.

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

@M, I also take Magnesium, but it only goes so far...
I follow the instructions on the bottle for the Betaine - the brand I use is Twin Labs (I had to buy another bottle because the bottle that came with Paleologix I ran out of!!) which is also clean. I take it right before meals.
Check out the Paleologix link, they are great supplements! Share with your nutritional therapist!
@ DM + AM, I have been meaning to read that book... one of these days!
@ Thankful, I am just FULL of crap... keep checking back for more!

Sew said...

I swear you and your grass fed smash fed. Who cares?!!

But I'm glad we can rejoice together on BM's. Who else really gets it. Even on my 1/2 farm 1/2 conventional food, I'm still dropping it like it's hot! :)

Shannon said...

ok... this post completely intrigues me! so many questions! thanks for this post :)

prayerfuljourney said...

I had to get on a daily probiotic and that does the trick for me! Glad you finally found something that works.

And IF girls need to rejoice in the little bms.

Julie said...

My "regular" means 2-4 times a day. I can't imagine only once or twice a week. I love to poop. If I only go once a day I feel yucky!

Kat said...

Yes BMs are really important! I read this to my DH and he loved it especially the comic relief. For me a probiotic is key as well as my food of course.

St. Rita's Roses said...

By far the grossest post ever and the most interesting!! Cant ya just drink for me!??

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dymphna said...

I don't know what to say. It was informative but really, I don't know what to say.

Anonymous said...

HA! I love that you wrote this. POOP! There I said it! What an under appreciated sign of health. POOPS!

JellyBelly said...

So it was quite the compliment that I helped you feel more "regular" when I stayed with you?

Did you think I was a freak the week I was with you? ;)

Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

JellyBelly... just thinking of you makes me want to poop.

JellyBelly said...

Wow, that's true friendship :)

Being Refined said...

I Love this post! So brave and so important. I remember learning a few years ago, that we should be having a BM at least once a day. (Ideally after each meal because the new food you are eating should help push the old food out.)

Regular BMs are an important under appreciated sign of good health. :)

Anonymous said...

I remember taking Betaine HCL years and years ago when I was having regular stomach pains, but the nutritionist I was working with never mentioned the fact that gluten or dairy could be bothering me. In fact, we talked a lot about supplements, minerals, etc. but not a whole lot about nutrition. Duh. Obviously in my case pain was from having an undiagnosed case of celiac. Years and years of not digesting my food properly and not absorbing the nutrients have wreaked havoc on my body. Sigh. I don't remember having chronic constipation, but I used to have loose bowels all the time (especially around AF time - thanks endo!). After eating a clean diet, I can definitely tell when I go "off the reservation" haha, because I get a knot in my stomach and things don't go quite like clockwork like I'm used to! It's not a fun feeling, and I don't know how people put up with only pooping rarely!
Now that I eat "clean food" - probably 80-90% farm meats (depending on how often we go out), etc. - I rarely, rarely have any stomach distress. It's amazing how bad I felt before and I just didn't realize it! Just like when the endo pain was gone - you don't know how good life can be.