I grew up being told that occasional processed junk food was ‘okay’ and part of a normal, healthy diet. The modern western diet was never questioned or looked at in my family until I got sick…
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at age ten, but I didn’t really get a complete grasp of what was happening to me until I was 16. This was the age at which I really started to question the world I had been brought up in.
I began reading and researching my condition, and everything surrounding it. A part of me could not (or would not) accept the doctor’s words – that I would have to be on strong drugs for the rest of my life. This just did not sit well with me. I knew I wanted to give myself the best start in life, and to set myself up for the best opportunities for the future.
I was on a whole host of medications to control my condition, daily tablets of cortisone to bring down inflammation, and immunosuppressants to ‘lower’ my immune system. Every 8 weeks I would go into hospital for an 8-hour infusion. I was extremely grateful that the drugs were keeping me well (with no adverse reactions) while they were literally ‘buying’ me time to look for other, more natural and long-term, solutions.
Don’t get me wrong. I strongly believe there is a place for modern western medicine. It gave me my life back, when I most needed it. But I do believe that consumers and patients should more closely watch ethics and the motives surrounding prescription medications.
As I was a young child with Ulcerative Colitis, my parents were calling the shots; they were fearful of what my future may hold and they would dare not go against the doctor’s orders – even though it worried them as to what the long-term consequences might be, and the possible side effects of the medication I was on.
At 16 years old, my health hit rock bottom – this was the lowest and darkest point in my entire life. This was the time when my friends were doing normal teenage things – parties, antics, drinking, social lives, boyfriends and the like.
The universe, it seemed, had other plans for me.
I was living between my bed and the bathroom for a solid 10 months (going to the toilet 20 times a day and vomiting up most food), and I was beyond exhaustion suffering from malnutrition.
My body was failing, and there were scary talks of surgery – but my strong sense of intuition would not budge – it said to me there was no way that was happening. I knew that when something is over- complicated, it usually is not true. Looking back, I now really believe that mainstream media and medicine often over-complicate many conditions to create the ‘fear’ in patients; once fear is present, doctors gain more in control you and your decisions.
I was beginning to question and realise that I was not always like this; I was not born like this, this sickness developed 10 years into my life. So there must be a way out. That year, I was also diagnosed with salmonella food poisoning. This resulted in me being given antibiotics, which then lead to ‘Clostridium difficile’, a superbug that can result from being on too many antibiotics and drug-resistant bugs. I was in hospital and was put into isolation so I would not infect cancer patients who had low immune systems. I lost more than 70% of my hair from malnutrition, and my skeleton was becoming scarily visible.
At my lowest adult body weight, I was 37kg. Although only a ‘petite’ 166cm, I unfortunately, don’t have any photos from that time – I was so depressed and self-conscious. Maintaining a healthy weight was a constant challenge, especially with the diet of predominately starch and sugar being fed to me in hospital.
It was only when I was in ‘isolation’ that I came to realise this was not the path I wanted for my life. I wanted out of this vicious cycle and was willing to do whatever it takes. Also the fact that I was 16 and my own body was turning against me – that, I was sure, was not right.
In an effort to recover, heal and stay well, I knew I had to live my life differently in so many areas. Somehow, I kept being directed through people, events, to the same idea of gut flora/bacteria and how important it was for my long term health.
From this, I radically altered my life. After miraculously completing my year 12 and passing, I went and studied at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York, then moved interstate to work in a 5-star health retreat as an assistant whole foods chef, where I spent 2 years learning new life skills and working on my own well-being.
During this time, I also met a wonderful nutritionist called Dorota Trupp, from Trupp Cooking School in Melbourne, who taught me about the GAPS healing protocol, and how, if you can focus on healing your gut with food – you can transform and re-program your immune system.
Gut and Psychology Syndrome
Dorota is an advocate for the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet and a grain-free lifestyle for people wanting out of autoimmune disorders. She educated me about how I could take a proactive approach to my health through diet. What she taught me was completely different to anything I had been told by my team of traditional healthcare professionals. The more I learnt about the removal of grains and processed sugars, carbohydrates from one’s diet and the importance of this for gut health, the more it all made sense to me.
Ulcerative colitis affects the body in many ways, predominantly creating serious inflammation in the large bowel – this results in no control over one’s bowels, with blood loss and mucus in one’s stools. As a result, sufferers experience severe malnutrition, weight loss and anaemia.
As this is an autoimmune response of the body (70% of our immune system is in the gut lining) – this inflammation thrives off grains, refined sugars and starches, which feed the pathogenic gut bacteria, ultimately leading to an unhealthy confused immune system. UC patients also have a very hard time absorbing nutrients due to the inflammation, so are usually prescribed many ‘shakes’ and ‘nutritional supplements’, some of which are actually full of refined sugar, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, poor quality oils, harsh flavorings, numbers and preservatives which continue to strip the bowel of its microbiome.
On this note, not everyone responds to grains or carbs in this manner. Everyone and every body is different. We are all susceptible to something, but it is important to remember…
“That One Person’s Food May Be Another Person’s Poison”
So I want to make clear that grains are not the enemy for everyone – and to keep in touch with the fact that you need to listen to your own body and understand that one person’s food may be another person’s poison.
However, I must also mention this. A huge part of this disease as well as any disease is the emotional aspect. I know it was for me. I was a very overwhelmed child and teenager, who frequently had feelings of not coping with ‘life’, and would often not tell anyone about the stress or anxiety I was feeling. I now know that this was a major factor in contributing to the vicious cycle.
I have since gone through major emotional and energetic healing, as well as completely changing my diet, my thoughts, my friends, my location, my job – EVERYTHING! I can honestly say that this is what has kept me stable.
I started to drastically overhaul and transform my life. I learned to look at food in a new way. Instead of choosing the feeling of deprivation and the ‘I can’t have’, I decided to focus on all the amazing foods I could have, and the magic I could create – and this was when ‘SuperFoodSam’ was born. I learned to listen to my body on a deep level and started to respond to its whispers.
Now let’s get personal. Since starting the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) protocol in June 2014, my daily motions have been completely transformed. I have managed to get off those drugs that required me to go into hospital every 8 weeks – and my inflammatory markers in my blood and stool tests are better than the average ‘healthy’ person!
Also, for the first time in my life, my weight is no longer a concern. This journey has served me so well, and I am so grateful that I have had this wake up call so early in life, as I now have a solid understanding that the foundation of health is built from what we eat; our exercise regime; how we think; the environment we are in; the people we surround our self with; the joys of our career; and the love we cultivate for our self. I firmly believe the best relationship you will ever have in your life is the one with yourself.
I am so honored to be a part of this revolution and have the opportunity to contribute my story to help transform society, our food industry and the way people think about true health.
Peace, Love, Health
Read Part I of My Ulcerative Colitis Journey
Read More about My Healing Journey
More about Ulcerative Colitis
Read more about the GAPS Gut and Psychology Syndrome and having a Super Gut on SuperFoodSam.com
DISCLAIMER: The information included on this page is for educational purposes only, and is based on the author’s own personal journey and experiences. It is not intended, or implied, to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease or illness. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information in this blog or website does not create a physician-patient relationship.
GAPS™ AND GUT AND PSYCHOLOGY SYNDROME™ ARE THE TRADEMARK AND COPYRIGHT OF DR. NATASHA CAMPBELL-MCBRIDE. THE RIGHT OF DR. NATASHA CAMPBELL-MCBRIDE TO BE IDENTIFIED AS THE AUTHOR OF THIS WORK HAS BEEN ASSERTED BY HER IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE COPYRIGHT, PATENT AND DESIGNS ACT 1988 OR ANY OTHER LAW.