Updated: Jun 15, 2020
Had I known years ago what I know today, perhaps I would have never been diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)/Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune condition that once made my life a living hell.
My back story...
Growing up, I was literally OBSESSED by food. My parents tried their best to feed me well but I would love to "snack" on grilled cheese sandwiches and could eat limitless amounts of junk food.
As a teenager, I became more conscious of my appearance and began consuming diet drinks, using artificial sweeteners in my tea and coffee and chewing sugar-free gum (almost constantly) to control my appetite and consume less calories. This continued for many years. Like every teenager alive I thought I knew what I was doing, of course I didn't.
I think I can safely say that I was the poster child for what not to eat!
Fast forward to several years later when my body violently revolted from the years of abuse. I became so sick that eating food terrified me and even a spoonful of bland food had me running to the bathroom for another round of pain and bleeding.
If you don't already know, I was diagnosed almost 20 years ago with the autoimmune disease Ulcerative Colitis, (aka Inflammatory Bowel Disease), a condition that attacks the colon, destroying the lower intestines and bringing with it complete misery and a feeling of utter helplessness.
Things continued in a downward spiral until I was referred to a surgeon who thought my best option was to "simply" remove my colon! It was in this moment of shock that I FINALLY realised a crucial life lesson - I needed to stop feeling like the victim, claim my life back and believe I could heal.
While my transformation has been a combination of a complete mental, physical and spiritual overhaul, today I want to focus on the aspect of certain foods and gut health, because good gut health is arguably the golden ticket to complete wellness.
I truly believe, if I knew then what I know now, I could have avoided years of needless suffering, the regular and painful relapses, the stronger and stronger medications, the courses of horrible steroids, invasive colonoscopies, the endless iron infusions and the hospitalisation from uncontrollable flares.
Regardless of your current state, I know that simple changes can reap great rewards. So if you're suffer from poor health, gut issues and/or autoimmune disease, the following steps can help you heal and improve your quality of life.
DITCH THE ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
IT DESTROYS YOUR DELICATE GUT MICROBIOME
I cringe everytime I think back to how I religiously consumed diet drinks, sugar-free gums and low-cal sweeteners for over a decade thinking I was so clever not consuming sugar or extra calories. I unwittingly created the perfect storm to trigger my IBD because little did I know that with every passing day I was slowly decimating my delicate gut microbiome (the delicate balance of trillions of good and bad (but harmless) bacteria in the colon that protect us from disease causing bacteria).
Aspartame, sucralose, saccharine and acesulfame potassium-k are just some of the popular artificial sweeteners on the market that have been linked to:
Negatively impacting the balance of bacteria in the gut (the home of our immune system)
Triggering IBD (Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis) in susceptible people
Increasing digestive disturbances (bloating, diarrhea, pain etc.)