Joan reminds us of an extremely important aspect of our wheat- and grain-free lifestyle: the need to correct common distortions of bowel flora.
Wheat and grains are known to disrupt gastrointestinal health causing, for instance, impaired gallbladder release of bile, impaired pancreatic release of digestive enzymes, damage to stomach parietal cells that produce acid, exert direct toxic effects via gliadin-derived peptides, wheat germ agglutinin, and others. Combine grain consumption with exposure to such things as intermittent antibiotic use, antibiotic residues in meats, sweeteners such as aspartame, perhaps chlorinated drinking water, and many others, candida and other undesirable species multiply and create an entire collection of health problems of their own, called dysbiosis or, if ascending up the small intestine, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Joan clearly starts her Wheat Belly transformation with such a bowel health disruption underway:
“These are my comparison photos after six months grain-free.
“The first two months in January-February were the hardest. When eliminating grains and sugar, I did not instantly feel fantastic like many others report. Instead, I felt miserable. Luckily for me, I realized I was experiencing candida die-off (nausea, fatigue, brain fog, aches, and insomnia). Once I got through it, I slowly lost some weight (15 pounds to date), and slowly my energy increased.
“People should understand that weight loss and improvements are not always instantaneous. If they feel worse in the beginning, it could be a good thing. I just kept plugging away, day by day, because I knew going back to my old way of eating wasn’t an option. The bonus: when seasonal allergy time rolled around in April, I breezed through with very minor, if any, symptoms!”
Joan’s reference to candida simply means that this fungus is one of the undesirable microorganisms that we all have in our bodies and gastrointestinal tract that is allowed to proliferate to high levels. As healthy microorganisms are suppressed by wheat/grain consumption and all the other factors listed above, undesirable pathogenic (disease-causing) species are allowed to take over.
When you begin the Wheat Belly lifestyle in which we remove the bowel flora disruptive effects of wheat and grains, while raising awareness of the other factors that disrupt this community, it provides a terrific opportunity to re-establish a better population of bowel flora. This is why I compare your bowel flora with having a spring garden in which you must plant “seeds”–probiotics and fermented foods–and “water and fertilize” your seeds–nourish the preferred species with prebiotic fibers/resistant starches. Joan was unaware of this aspect of the Wheat Belly formula and did it the old fashioned way: grin and bear it and hope for a gradual return to healthier bowel flora.
Joan now understands that our efforts to cultivate healthy bowel flora would have abbreviated her period of post-wheat/grain misery. It is not too late: As she may not have staged a full natural recovery of healthy bowel flora, there is still great value in introducing the “garden”-cultivating strategies even after she has enjoyed many health benefits. But she still looks terrific, doesn’t she?