During the summer of 2013 I experienced my very first health scare. I was thirty-eight years old at the time, and aside from catching the flu or suffering from an occasional sinus infection as a result of seasonal allergies, I had been very fortunate to not have any major health issues.
Well my perception of good health changed drastically after I began having some very unpleasant digestive problems. There was a very abrupt change in the pattern of my bowel movements, and for the very first time in my life I experienced excruciating abdominal pain. The stomach cramps became so unbearable that I would be left confined to a sofa for several hours. After mentioning my symptoms to my mom, who has worked as a registered nurse for over four decades, I was told that it sounded like I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
I had no idea what IBS was, but I immediately went to my laptop and conducted a Google search. Needless to say, the information I stumbled across left me startled. As I recollect, screening for colon cancer was suggested in the Wikipedia on Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and just seeing the dreaded “C-Word” mentioned with the symptoms my body was displaying was enough to shift my amygdala into overdrive.
The Diagnosis and Natural Healing
Prior to visiting my primary care physician and being officially diagnosed with IBS-D, IBS-C, and chronic anxiety, I attempted to heal my digestive issues on my own. The very first thing I did was visit a few local drugstores to see whether or not there was an easy, over-the-counter solution. Two different pharmacists recommended Imodium A-D, and one suggested I take a Probiotic.
As someone who has been an active participant in the wellness industry, I had heard about the popularity of Probiotic supplements. But admittedly, I was very clueless about their health benefits, and the role they play for gut health. So, I contacted a former business partner who I thought would be knowledgeable, and he confirmed that taking Probiotic supplements was definitely the way to go. He also suggested that I consume it with a high caliber fiber mixture to achieve a more potent, synergistic effect.
To make a long story short: I didn’t listen to either the pharmacist or my former business partner. I decided to try taking the fiber mixture along with a digestive enzyme supplement.
Well the combination didn’t work, and the abdominal pain I was experiencing became so horrendous I decided to schedule an appointment to see my physician. It was at that appointment I was told that stress and anxiety had triggered my irritable bowel syndrome. After rejecting the idea of taking Zoloft, a prescription for supposedly “safe” anti-anxiety drug Buspar (Buspirone) was written, and it was also recommended that I take Metamucil.
It was at that turning point my intuition really kicked in. Instinctively, taking a drug for anxiety didn’t feel right. I never took the prescription to the pharmacy to be filled. And while I initially purchased a small container of Metamucil, I never even opened it because after I discovered it contained the highly questionable ingredients Aspartame and FD&C Yellow No. 6 I ended up returning it.
Instead, I decided to trust my intuition (which had initially told me to contact my former business partner) and buy the probiotic supplement. I combined the Probiotic with a premium Fiber blend as he suggested, and approximately five days later “Abracadabra!” The excruciating abdominal pain was completely gone, and all of my IBS symptoms had vanished as well. I was belated and beyond astonishment.
A Wake-Up Call for Better Health
My bout with IBS and the fact that I was able to remedy the ailment naturally (without the use of prescription medication) proved to be something of a watershed moment for me. For the very first time in my life I began to seriously contemplate my mortality, as well as the probability of being taken out by a deadly disease.
The overwhelming majority of Americans live a high stress lifestyle bombarded by toxins, sodium, sugar, unhealthy fat, free radicals and cholesterol. As a by-product, we’re dying of man-made, degenerative diseases.
I chose to focus my wellness plan aimed at protecting myself from The Big 3 Killer Diseases: 1) Heart Disease 2) Cancer and 3) Stroke.
The Biggest Culprit and Nature’s Remedy
One of the major causes of degenerative diseases is free radicals and their damaging effects within the human body. Free radicals are scientifically defined as “uncharged molecules having an unpaired valence electron.” But the greatest explanation of what they are that I’ve come across was written in a Special Report entitled Your Health is in Danger! By Robert G. Allen.
In this Special Report Allen wrote,
“Compare it to the engine in your car. It burns gasoline for fuel and emits exhaust or pollution into the air. Every cell in your body is like a tiny engine of energy. One of its fuel is oxygen. To power your body, about a trillion molecules of oxygen pass through each of your 60 trillion cells each day. As this oxygen is burned for fuel, it creates a sort of cellular “exhaust” called free radicals. Huge numbers of these free radical oxidants ricochet around your cells, punching tiny holes in cell walls and damaging the internal machinery.”
Nature’s solution to this highly damaging process is for our body’s immune system to naturally create antioxidants—and certain foods contain them as well. Glutathione and Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) are two of the best antioxidants created in the body. Some of the best antioxidants found in food include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Resveratrol and Vitamin A, in the form of safe Beta Carotene. A diet high in these key antioxidants has the ability to assist the body in neutralizing free radical damage in the body.
Unfortunately, our fast-paced, modern world is full of pollution. In addition to being in the environment, free radical molecules are created by radiation, chemicals, pesticides and preservatives, and even by exercise. As a result, the human body is being overwhelmed by their damaging effects.
My Battle Plan for Optimal Health
Ultimately, my IBS health scare proved to be a blessing in disguise. First and foremost, it really opened my eyes to the relationship between the mind and the body. Then it caused me to refocus on the importance of nutrition.
These are the six steps I began to religiously implement following my 90-day bout with IBS:
Step 1: Strengthen the Immune System at All-Costs
I incorporated immune boosting nutrients and herbs into my diet. Potent herbs and nutrients for immune system strength include Echinacea, Garlic, Ginger Root, Vitamin C, Zinc and Elderberry.
Adding a diverse blend of Probiotic “good bacteria” became my focus as well. Drinking Kombucha and taking a superb Probiotic supplement with Lactobacilllus rhamnosus LGG and Bifidobacterium BB-12 became a priority.
Step 2: Supplement with High-Quality Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to eating only real (unprocessed), natural foods from natural retailers like Whole Foods and Earth Fare, I started back supplementing my diet with vitamins and minerals and antioxidants.
The supplement manufacturer I chose follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for pharmaceuticals; and has NSF certification.
A key goal of supplementation is to get the broadest spectrum of antioxidants in my body. This includes: Vitamin A, in the form of Beta Carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Glutathione, Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Zinc. Other potent nutrients I look for in a nutritional supplement are Vitamin D3, Meriva Bioavailable Curcumin, Lycopene and Resveratrol.
Step 3: Learn Effective Relaxation and Stress Management Techniques
Getting rid of anxiety and learning to manage stress became paramount. I try to get at least 30 solid minutes of exercise a minimum of 3 days a week.
Also, I drink Chamomile with Lavender herbal tea, wash with high-quality organic lavender soap, and occasionally supplement with Melatonin.
Supplementing with Adaptogen herbs like Ashwaganda, Ginseng (Siberian), Astragalus Root, Rhodiola and Valerian Root are on my wish list.
Step 4: Eat Heart-Healthy Foods
In addition to getting plenty of exercise, I studied and implemented some of the Mediterranean diet and its effect on cardiovascular health. A heart healthy diet includes Red Grapes and Concord Grape Juice (Resveratrol), Dark Chocolate (80% plus Cacao recommended), Raspberries, Avocados, Wild-Caught Salmon, Walnuts and Pumpkin seeds. Potent herbs beneficial to the heart include Hawthorn Berry, Red Clover, Ginger Root and Garlic.
Step 5: Consume Anti-Cancer Foods and Nutrients
The very first anti-cancer food I focused on was Fiber (Soluble and Insoluble). Eating a high-fiber diet is associated with a decreased risk for developing colon cancer, and the prevention of intestinal disorders.
I aim to get between 21 to 38 grams of fiber daily.
Ginger was very next remedy I added to my arsenal. I did so by preparing homemade ginger tea.
Because of natural substances called gingerols, ginger is anti-inflammatory and can work as an antioxidant to fight free radicals.
Drinking Turmeric Golden milk (with organic turmeric, organic cinnamon, organic ginger, organic cardamom, organic nutmeg, organic licorice root, and organic black pepper) added another weapon.
Curcumin, an active part of turmeric, is what gives it the healing power. I highly recommend reading “Top 12 Cancer-Fighting Foods.”
Step 6: Focus on Good Liver Health
As I was in the process of cleaning up my diet by making the transition to organic foods, I befriended the owner of a small health food store in my area. She and her team helped educate me on the role of the liver and its ability to detoxify the body.
Milk thistle is one of the most significant natural herbs for detoxifying the liver, and the entire body. According to Dr. Josh Axe: “Silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle, is an antioxidant that can protect against depletion of Glutathione, which is a ‘master antioxidant”’that’s extremely useful at helping prevent disease formation.”
My detoxification goals are centered on invigorating the natural creation of Glutathione, and maintaining great digestive health by supplementing my diet with high-quality Psyllium, Inulin, Citrus Pectin, and Flaxseed.
Special Note: Turmeric, and Dandelion Root are also potent herbs for detoxification.
Things That I’ve Stopped Ingesting
Last but not least, here is a list of highly controversial ingredients I chose to no longer put inside my body or on my skin: Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), BHA and BHT [Preservatives], Aspartame [Artificial Sweetener], Yellow #5 and Yellow #6 [Food Coloring], Red #3 and Red # 40 [Food Coloring], Blue #1 and Blue #2 [Food Coloring], Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Sodium Nitrate, Fluoride and Sodium Fluoride, Olestra, Potassium Bromate, TBHQ [Preservative], Parabens [Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Benzylparaben], Vegetable Oils [Canola, Soybean], Bisphenol A (BPA), Aluminum [Aluminum Chloride, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate], Polysorbate 80, Propylene Glycol
Allen, Robert G. “Your Health is in Danger!” Churchill Trust.1998.
Axe, Josh. “Milk Thistle Benefits: Detox the Liver and Boost Glutathione.” Dr. Axe. Last modified October 2, 2018. https://draxe.com/milk-thistle-benefits/.
“Ginger.” In The Kitchen Table Book: 1,427 Kitchen Cures and Pantry Potions for Just about Every Health and Household Problem, edited by FC&A Medical Publishing, 153. FC&A Publishing, 2009.
Levy, Jillian. “Fighting Free Radicals & Free Radical Damage.” Dr. Axe. Last modified December 12, 2017. https://draxe.com/fighting-free-radical-damage/.