A Healthy Balanced Gut is the Key to Great Health! (or) My 5 Day Health Fast

From my business site BeeWell.com

One of the biggest health issues affecting American’s is having and unhealthy and unbalanced gut. This issue, and my journey to solve it, it partially what led me into health coaching. So, in this blog post, I invite you into a bit of my story.

In early 2016, right before I turned 50, I began to experience crazy health issues. I woke one morning to rash covering my face, neck and arms, and had no idea what caused it. The months that followed became increasingly worse with giant hives appearing over most of my body, joints aching for no reason, and waves of deep fatigue. I did elimination diets over and over, finding that many foods made it worse-gluten, artificial sweeteners, and added colors and flavors. I began to cut foods from my diet, while visiting doctors to help me find a solution.

Doctors were puzzled. They Googled my symptoms, and wrote me dozens of prescriptions for steroids, antibiotics, and creams. All of my symptoms got worse. I demanded allergy tests, and was denied for months. Finally, after almost a year, I took the tests, and my only allergies were fragrance and shellac-not a single food allergy! My symptoms continued to get worse, and absolutely no doctor could find a reason or a solution. I switched doctors several times, and even joined a very pricey integrative health program to get more focused and personal attention. I was extremely upset, unable to be in the sun, unable to workout or be outside because sweat made it worse, and because I was completely covered in rash and huge red welts, I stopped seeing friends or going out into public situations.  At one point, I was given a prescription to stop the itching, and it only gave me hallucinations and made me hysterical for 3 hours. I gave up on medical doctors at that point, and started my intense research into finding the answer.

I spent a total of 4 years dealing with this. It affected every single aspect of my life, and consumed most of my free time. I Googled, read medical journals, took supplements, eliminated most foods from my diet, read every single food label, wrote down every bite of food-it was exhausting. Some days, I thought things were getting better, and that I had finally found the answer, but within a few days, my symptoms were back with a vengeance. Finally, in 2018, I did a diet reset program with a few friends to drop a few pounds, and for 3 weeks, my issues subsided. Once again, I looked to food intolerances to see what exactly the trigger was, and cut out more foods. The symptoms returned however, even worse. I was now experiencing severe brain fog, so bad that it made me feel dizzy, weak, and unbalanced. I walked into walls, tripped over my own feet, and could not focus on anything that I did.

In the fall of 2019, a lot of “crazy” entered my life-my new beach house flooded after a plumber forgot to hook up my washer correctly…the restoration process had my walls and ceilings ripped out, and on Thanksgiving, I had a squirrel enter my house thru a broken dryer hose and drop in to antagonize me and my dog (I cannot make this stuff up, I promise you!!) I dealt with all of this by spending time on my sunny deck, drinking the wine given to me by contractors and friends, as my house was slowly put back into order. My health took a huge dive, and my life became absolutely unbearable. I was completely covered in huge red, itching welts, ran fevers, had chills, ached all over, and could not sleep due to the pain and itching. I spent hours searching the internet for answers, in tears, feeling as though I just could not take another minute of this issue. I saw an acupuncturist 3 times a week, took handfuls of supplements and allergy meds, and was down to only 7 foods that I felt were safe to eat. Nothing helped.

Finally, as I reached the end of hope, I stumbled across an article about fasting to heal “leaky gut”. I spoke to my doctor, and was told that “leaky gut” was not real. She suggested more steroids. I declined, and returned to my research from a “wellness” perspective, not a “medical” perspective. After several days of taking many notes, and placing many orders on Amazon, I had a plan in place. I journeyed back into total seclusion at our beach house in early February 2020, and spent three very long, very cold and rainy days, on a VERY strict fast that consisted of only homemade bone broth, water, and mega-doses of gut healing supplements. My issues got worst as I fasted, but I continued on, desperate for relief.

I completed my fast after 78 hours, and woke up the next morning with almost no hives. I noticed that my joint aches had subsided, and I felt healthier and clearer headed than I had in years.  I ended my fast with steamed veggies and chicken, cut back on my supplements, and continued with lots of water. 2 days later, I had no symptoms at all. Not a single hive, no rashes, no eczema, no fatigue, no flu-like symptoms, no brain fog…I felt like a new person!

I continued my diet of veggies, clean protein, and water for 2 weeks, while tapering off my high doses of gut healing supplements. I experienced NO symptoms. I had hope again! I was feeling fabulous, but also very worried that it was gong to come back as I began to add new foods. As days and weeks passed, I added fruits, dairy, and even some gluten free grains to my daily diet with success. As pandemic began to cross the country, and lockdowns started to send everyone into their homes, I ate my first gluten in 4 years, and even enjoyed a glass of wine with NO reactions.

As 2020 reared it’s incredibly ugly head, sending almost everyone into a state of isolation, panic, and confusion, I found myself sitting on a sunny deck, smelling the salt water from the ocean 2 blocks away, feeling as though I had conquered my world. I enjoyed ALL the foods, was able to take long sweaty beach walks without reactions, and felt better than I had in years. It was then that I decided to take my nutrition and wellness degree to the next level and become a certified health coach.

I did not have another reaction. I spent 2020 feeling fabulous, completeting my certification classes and exams, listening to other’s complain about being isolated, and thinking about how I’d already spent 4 years completely isolated from life. I had cured my 4 year health crisis.

Fast forward to the last few weeks of 2020, and early 2021…I had been thinking I should do a “reset” fast as a gut “tune up”, but had not made plans to do so. A recent weeklong trip to my main house with my husband and youngest son led to me eating things I don’t normally eat when I’m alone at the beach house-mainly sugar. My son made it his job to bring home poundcake (4 times!!!), candy, cookies, and pizza, which we snacked on while watching football playoffs and waiting for the rain to subside. After 8 days, I returned to the beach, and almost couldn’t make it up the 2 flights of stairs. My joints ached, my head was clouded, and I was exhausted. I spent 3 days monitoring my health, feeling as though I had aged 30 years overnight. My face was puffy, I was dozing off several times a day, my sleep was terrible, my skin was pale and dry, and my eyes were sunken in and surrounded by black circles. My stomach was bloated, and my digestion was very off, and finally, I realized my brain fog was coming back hard. I decided it was time for a new fast!

I kept track of my thoughts during what is now 113 hours of fasting, and if you are interested, it is at the end of this blog. In the end, I am feeling like a completely different person. I feel fabulous, ageless, full of energy and good health.

But first, a few facts about fasting for gut health.

Our gut contains over 100 million nerve endings, and is considered to be another “brain” within the body, referred to as enteric nervous system (ENS). Bacteria in our gut works to keep the gut balanced and healthy, but this is easily affected by stress, foods, coffee, alcohol, medicines, and lifestyle. When the gut becomes unbalanced and unhealthy, the nerve endings send signals to our hormones and organs, and they become greatly affected. An unbalanced gut can lead to many, many issues including mood disorders and changes, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune disorders, learning issues, brain fog, food intolerances and allergies, and skin issues like hives, eczema, and rashes.

Fasting gives the gut a chance to reset and heal itself. My fast included bone broth, which has many nutrients and healing properties for the gut, and coconut oil with MCT, which added healthy fats to my diet for healing and a feeling of satiety to keep me from feeling hungry. I also included several gut healing supplements like l-glutamine and turmeric. If you choose to fast, please speak to a health professional before doing so if you have any medical issues, and monitor your health closely while doing so. If you feel dizzy, ill, or have other odd reactions, please stop your fast and seek out information. If you’d like to discuss fasting, gut health, hormonal imbalances, or other health goals, please feel free to reach out to me to discuss your goals.

And now, my 5 day journey of fasting and getting my gut health and energy reset!

Day 1,  10am, feeling quite foggy headed and very tired, I decide that it’s time to do another bone broth fast. I ponder it for 2 hours, while fighting with my cloudy head to post a few graphics on IG. At noon, my dog and I jump into the jeep to go to the grocery store. I’ve decided on store bought bone broth for this fast, because I don’t like the smell when I make my own.

1pm  My exhausted and foggy head tries to put together my new phone tripod, while my stomach grumbles to be filled. I’m already 15 hours into this fast, and I want to go live on my Facebook group to hold myself accountable. I give up on the tripod, and open my laptop only to find that Facebook has changed everything about going live….I grab my phone, prop it up with a yoga block on my kitchen counter, and hit record. As soon as I finish my video, I grab a mug and drink down a cup of broth, not much liking the taste, but it’s in my belly, and I can move on with my day. I watch my live video and realize I look tired, pale, and aloof. I really hope this works.

3pm I’m feeling a bit more awake, I’ve hit my step goal, and done the laundry. It’s time to take in some more bone broth, but first, I take my l-glutamine supplement in a glass of warm water. This really fixes my gut, as proven several times before. I wait a bit, drink down another cup of broth, and take my dog for a quick walk to the beach, wishing the sun was out.

5:30pm  Feeling pretty good, my stomach is rumbling, so, time for more broth. I down a full bottle of water-my 4th today, and heat up my broth. I decide to put a tablespoon of coconut oil/MCT into my broth just to bulk up my calories with healthy fats, and satiate my hunger a bit. The coconut oil gets on my fingers, than onto my glasses-so I spend the next hour trying to get my glasses clean and end up with a banging headache.

8:30 pm still have a headache, but my energy is high. I down one more cup of broth with coconut oil, put on my pjs, and turn my bed into a big nest of pillows.  I’m ready to rest.

After some Netflix, still having a headache, I think I fell asleep around 9:45, and slept deeper than I have in months. Vivid but calm dreams, little waking. Huge success for this chronic insomniac!

Day 2 I woke at 6:30am, with NO pain in my joints at ALL. For the last 2 weeks I woke up and thought I had aged quickly overnight. My head was clear, and I felt great. I got in my daily morning 3K steps, had coffee with coconut oil, showered and headed out for a massage in the pouring rain.

My massage was just what I needed. My shoulders and neck were super tight. Halfway through the massage, I felt a light switching on in my head-like I just “woke up”, everything became super vivid and super clear-EVERYTHING. I left the massage feeling even better, ran a few errands, and headed back to the house.

I had no hunger pains, so I didn’t even think about broth, but had a giant bottle of Smart water to flush my body from released toxins from the deep tissue massage.

2pm, more bone broth , followed by a scoop of collagen powder for added protein, still feeling awesome…So awesome in fact, I march out 10K steps while finishing a movie

4pm, more bone broth. Did I mention??  DO NOT like bone broth. It makes me think of my mother’s burnt roast beef. I guzzle it-no sipping for me. More water as well. On to a nice walk with my dog at the beach-the rain has stopped, and the sun and  moon are showing themselves this early evening. It’s spectacular! Halfway through my walk, I realize-I feel like a new person. I run with Sadie for a bit, stop and smell the fresh sea air, and remark to myself that this was a fantastic decision. I feel incredible!

Back at the house at 6pm, my energy is now so SO high, I feel almost ADHD-like I can’t control all of the thoughts and energy, like I can’t sit still. I have now hit 21K steps with little effort. I have more bone broth and coconut oil, and hope that my energy level is met with clarity soon. It’s now been 44 hours.

I finish my evening with more broth, and an early bedtime. I’m hoping day 3 is better.

Day 3  I wake to another cold and very windy day. I feel pretty good, but realize I have some after affects from my massage, which is expected and normal.  I decide to spend the day in a mostly restful state, getting work done. I drink my broth, add coconut oil during the day, and still have no hunger pains. At this point, I start thinking about how I will end my fast, and what I will do after it to keep my gut healthy and balanced, and my body free of toxins. The day flew by quickly with no issues to remark on.  I end this day with a somewhat self-induced hypnosis to relax, and sleep for a solid 8 uninterrupted hours. This was definitely a much better day!

Day 4 I woke intending to end my fast. I made my grocery list and did the shopping, ran errands, had 2 meetings, and cleaned my entire house while dancing to some very loud Taylor Swift. My energy is super high, my focus is clear, and I’m super chill. I feel no hunger, I have no aches, my skin is clearer and brighter. I post a new video to my Facebook group, and friends remark how much better I appear to be.

At 4 pm I realize I have not ended my fast, and decide to take it to the next morning. A walk to the beach makes me realize that my mind is super clear-I see the beach daily-but today, I am overwhelmed at the beauty and the colors that seem so very bright and intense. I have an incredible sense of well being and calm. I have broth and coconut oil for the rest of the day, but on this night, I am hungry! My stomach is rumbling, and I really just want to CHEW on something. I do a relaxation meditation, and fall asleep rather quickly.

Day 5 OK! I wake up to more sun, and feel really fabulous. I have coffee with coconut oil, and sit in the sun for an hour just feeling it on my face. I can’t wait for spring.

I’m very calm, very content. I down a bottle of water and my supplements, and look in the mirror. My skin is super clear, my eyes are bright, and I have no dark circles. The scale shows a drop of 4 pounds, but that was not the reason for this fast. I have no stomach or digestive issues, no gas, no bloating, no indigestion, no inflammation or pain in my joints. My mind is clear and calm, and I feel well rested. This fast was a success! After 113 hours, I am now preparing to end my fast with a non-dairy smoothie, followed by several days of lean meats, non-starchy veggies, and berries.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you think you are experience gut issues, hormonal imbalances, or have other goals for your health, diet, or well being. I’d love to discuss a plan for you to get back to optimal health and happiness. If you’d like to be a part of my health centered, fun, Facebook group, please drop me a note.