I have been trying to heal my digestive system since I was a teenager and want to share what I’ve learned through my many years of trial and error and research. I’m sharing all of this for two reasons: one, documenting it for my family and two, hoping it helps you to discover your healing foods too. Also, a dislaimer: I’m not a nutritionist. Although at this point, I might as well be. But my mother IS a nurse! (retired) And someone I’ve consulted with many times about all of this. Thanks Mom! 😘
I’m sensitive to a lot of fruits and vegetables (nightshades, brassicas, sweet potatoes, all melons, corn and most squash), nuts and seeds, poultry (although I can eat eggs) and the most recent, grain. I’m more reactive to some than others from a migraine, vomiting, dizziness, the shakes to a mild stomach ache, bloating and a headache. And grain is not an anaphylactic reaction but more of a I’m-going-to-throw-up-and-die reaction. 🥴
So as I wrote about in my previous post, the Intro GAPS food didn’t work for me. It was one of the many different ways I’ve tried eating to heal my digestive system. But I’m so glad I tried it and I especially appreciate all the extra information beyond the diet that was included in Dr. Campbell-McBride’s book. Had I not attempted the diet, I wouldn’t finally be on the journey to actually healing.
I was raised on mostly healthy food (meaning unprocessed) and raw milk. I steered away from those foods in my teenage years, like so many of us do and ended up having appendicitis at 18yo and then had it removed. Some believe the appendix stores good bacteria, while others believe it acts as a filter, similar to the gallbladder. Either way, mine is gone and so I have no possible extra filter or good bacteria storage.
I didn’t come back to eating the way I was raised until I had a child who ended up being allergic to MSG and most preservatives. This was almost 20 years ago now. At the time, I did a thorough clean-out of all our processed foods, including breads and condiments. We started making our own salad dressing, mayonnaise, etc. I even tried my hand at making pasta. 😄
It was around this same time that I found, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration,” by Dr. Weston A. Price. Shortly after, my mother gave me Dr. Norman Walker’s book, “Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Juices.” I was researching the types of foods that heal from other resources as well. So after throwing away all of the processed foods in our house and reading these books, I thought I had found the tools that I needed to help heal not only my daughter but myself too.
If you’ve gotten this far and you’re familiar with both of those books, you may be wondering, “The books promote/share two different concepts.” True. But I believe these two books compliment each other well. At the time Dr. Price discovered these isolated cultures, they didn’t need any cleansing. They were already healthy. Our modern society today overall, is not. Which is why Dr. Walker’s book is so important too.
So we started making our own kefir, yogurt, whey, butter, sourdough starter, searching for grass-fed meat, poultry, wild-caught fish, soaking our grains, soaking our nuts and seeds, all while juicing vegetables with a little fruit to make it palatable. The juice didn’t take the place of our meals but was consumed in addition to our meals. We also supplemented with cod liver oil, bee pollen and vitamin C when we remembered to take them.
But, it didn’t work out how I thought it would. My daughter was soooo much better but she was still sensitive to oats. As for me, the healthy food still caused me to have bloating, discomfort and pain on occasion. And also on occasion, I would eat processed foods or take-out. (date nights) So they were never brought into our house but they were still part of what I would eat.
Over the next almost two decades, I had three ulcers, welts, hives, cysts and severe migraines. And every time a severe food reaction would happen, I would be limited to drinking fresh vegetable juice and a very small variety of foods. This included foods like eggs, bananas and yogurt. I avoided milk, even my raw milk which I loved, because of a misdiagnosed allergy. (I was tested with homogenized/pasteurized milk rather than raw milk.)
I’ve tried a number of healing diets and the only one that worked was when I healed my tooth. But that only worked for healing my tooth. I still had digestive issues even at that time.
So last year, after a night of eating out at a restaurant with my family, I woke up with severe chest pain. I was diagnosed with pericarditis. This is when the sacs around your heart become inflamed. I saw four doctors and currently am still seeing a specialist yet none of them could explain why. I was prescribed an anti-inflammatory which didn’t work and went through about six months before I started to heal.
During those six months my doctor ordered many many tests. One in particular blood test showed that I am a carrier of the ApoE4 Gene. My numbers are specifically E3/E4, which makes up a little less than 20% of the population. The main concerns the medical world has for those of us with ApoE4, is inflammation, saturated fat and Alzheimer’s.
“People who carry the ApoE4 are predisposed to inflammation and have decreased protection against neural inflammation. Inheriting this gene is like inheriting a very slow cholesterol taxi system which can lead to dangerous buildup of dietary fats, resulting in higher inflammation and oxidative stress.”
You may be surprised to learn that I’m not really worried about having a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. I’m more interested in healing my digestive system because even though I eat one-ingredient foods, many of those foods cause me inflammation. Finding out I’m a carrier of the ApoE4 gene helped to understand why. The ApoE4 websites that I’ve been reading, recommend a Mediterranean diet among other foods. Some people it helped, some it didn’t, some gave mixed reviews and most are still trying to find their footing when it comes to knowing what to eat. I understand their frustration!
As some of you with digestive issues can relate, some days you get so frustrated that you just want to eat without having to think about the possible reactions. I did this about three weeks ago when I decided to eat some baked corn. It caused the typical reaction of a lot of stomach and digestive pain and why I decided to start the GAPS diet. Sadly, the GAPS diet caused me even more severe pain. More specifically, the same chest pain I had when I was diagnosed with pericarditis. You’re welcome to read my posts here: Beginning GAPS, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4.
I was doing the Intro GAPS diet which is mainly chicken meat broth. I ate it three times a day with a few other things but still mainly chicken meat broth. This wasn’t bone broth which is usually simmered up to 24 hours. This was only simmered about 3 hours and I chose chicken because red meat is harder on your digestive system. So after only 2 days on this gentle broth, I’m in severe pain. At the time, it didn’t make sense. But then I remembered Dr. Campbell-McBride’s words which she repeats in her book quite frequently, “We’re all different.” What will work for one, may not work for another.
This brought me back to Dr. Weston Price’s research. He studied over a dozen different groups of isolated people who were all thriving in health but on different diets. For example, the Gaels on the Isle of Lewis, their diet was filled with different types of fish, oats and a little barley. The first thing that stood out for me was that their diets didn’t consist of a wide range of foods yet they were still very healthy. They weren’t baking sourdough wheat/white bread, they weren’t eating red meat, they weren’t even eating any fruit!
If you look online, many proponents of Dr. Price encourage us to eat a variety of foods. But that’s not how these isolated groups of healthy people ate. Each group ate a small variety and they thrived on these diets, as we witness in his book. So maybe, and quite possibly, we’re not meant to eat such a variety of foods. Maybe we’re meant to eat an unvaried and well prepared meal the way our ancestors ate before us.
I’ll call it “minimal eating.” 😂 Sorry, I had to.
Which brings me to my ancestors. My parents have always been very proud of their heritage and so my siblings and I were always very aware of where we descended from. A few years back I took one of those DNA tests and my parents history matched impeccably to what they told us and the family history I researched.
Maternal side – Irish Grandfather, Irish/Scottish/English Grandmother
Paternal side – Lithuanian/Russian Grandfather and Polish Grandmother.
a few centuries ago
sour milk, fresh curds, old curds, buttermilk, butter, whey, duck eggs, sea-bird eggs, shellfish, white fish, salmon, meat (only eaten in the winter), oats, barley (cooked until mush), cabbage, onion, garlic, parsnip, herbs, greens, kale, carrots, blackthorn, wild cherries, wild berries (fruit only in summer)
soured milk, butter, cheese, fish liver oils, shellfish, seaweed, oats, turnips, potatoes, leeks, cabbage, kale, nettles, sorrel, garlic, organ meat and game, wild berries in summer
Polish / Lithuanian Diet
dairy, eggs, fish, meat from cows, geese, pork and game, millet, barley, wheat, oats, rye (grain were boiled into mush), carrots, turnips, parsnips, beets, dill, garlic, mustard, coriander, wild mushrooms, apples, pears, peaches, plums cherries, berries (fruit in season), honey and salt on occasion
raw milk, sour milk, curd cheese, sour cream, butter, eggs, boiled meat in cabbage, cabbage, turnip, radish, peas, cucumbers, honey, berries, grain
After researching my ancestor’s diets, I found the differences, but especially the similarities, fascinating! One of the things that stood out for me is that they ALL ate some form of dairy as well as eggs and berries. They all boiled and/or fermented their grains only when they were in season and none of the diets were eating the modern wheat that is consumed so heavily today.
They ate meat seasonably, like vegetables and fruit, rather than all of the time. The Irish only ate beef in the winter time as a means of culling the non-breeding and older animals. They called this “winter meat.” And none of them ate chicken. In fact, the Polish/Lithuanian people believed that eating chicken caused loss of strength and rashes.
And on these diets, these groups of people were healthy, both mentally and physically. In one group of people in Dr. Price’s book, he wrote how they didn’t need doctors because nobody was sick and they didn’t need jails because nobody committed crimes. *gasp!* Am I saying that I believe diet effects behavior too? Absolutely!
Dr. Campbell-McBride also has a chapter that includes the following: “the desire for a particular food,” and “the sense of taste” and “the sense of satisfaction.”
“If you have eaten a meal appropriate for your body’s nutritional needs at the time, you will feel fully satisfied. There will be no cravings for something else, only a nice comfortable feeling of satisfaction, which will allow you to focus on other things… Listen to your body’s needs, communicated to you through the senses of desire, smell, taste and satisfaction.”Dr. Campbell-McBride
THE IRISH DIET – Although there are strong similarities in all of them, I believe I lean toward the Irish diet. Not only because the foods in that diet are some of my favorite to eat but because of the way they ate their food and when they ate their food.
Dairy, eggs and fish were staples in the Irish diet and they ate these food groups all year. Raw milk/cream is what helped me to heal last year and I really enjoy drinking it. Eggs are very soothing to my digestive system and I enjoy eating them. Salmon is my favorite fish, although I prefer it thoroughly cooked.
Meat, as I mentioned above, from a cow was only eaten in the winter. Interesting because, even though I’ve eaten plenty of meat in the past, I really only have a taste for meat from a cow on rare occasion and I never have a taste for chicken or pork (other than bacon, of course! 😉) and chicken broth causes me abdominal bloating. And because I’m an ApoE4 carrier, lots of meat is not healthy for me anyway.
They didn’t eat a variety of fruits and vegetables like so many eat today and they only ate them when available from their gardens or out in the wild. Their staple fruits were berries, one of my favorite fruits! I too am unable to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and I can only eat fruit I enjoy in small portions to avoid pain.
Grain consisted of only oats and barley and was always very well prepared. They would long boil it for porridge or long ferment it for bread. I have always eaten mainly wheat, not fermented, not soaked, fluffed up by yeast made in a lab and purchased off the shelf in rancid flour form. I’m certain my recent grain allergy is from eating that way for so many years without being properly prepared.
It turns out the same foods that helped me to heal from the pericarditis are the same foods helping me to heal now… RAW MILK, EGGS and SALMON.
It fascinates me that my healing foods are the same as my ancestor’s staple foods!
If you too are struggling with digestive issues, consider getting tested for genetic markers, then find out what your ancestor’s ate. Pay special attention to their specific staple foods, try to eat a less varied diet and eat these foods in their most organic form. For example: raw A2 protein milk, raw butter, free-range chicken or duck eggs, wild-caught fish, grass-fed beef and source local fruit and vegetables. Prepare your ancestor’s grains to digest easily. This requires long boiling and long fermenting regardless of where your ancestors are from. Work toward growing your own vegetables and planting your own fruit trees.
I hope you find this post helpful and I hope and pray you find your healing foods as well. ❤️