Before I left for Africa, I was in the best shape of my life.
I had just finished a Yoga Teacher Training, was teaching three times a week—on top of my regular home practice—and was taking weekly running, walking and spin classes.
I ate a little of everything and wasn’t on any particular diet; on weekends I would have a slice of pizza and a frozen yogurt for dessert.
For the first time in years, I was feeling at peace with my body, and the scale reflected this inner peace.
My three month stay in East Africa was amazing. I enjoyed every second my time there. I lived with a Rwandan and tried to fit into the culture as much as possible. I didn’t even realize the transformation my body was going through until I got onto the plane to come home.
I couldn’t button my jeans.
I looked like I was six months pregnant—the bloating was excessive. I was severely constipated. I felt sluggish, ugly and my brain was foggy.
I had gained 10 pounds. During my 36 hour flight home, my feet and ankles swelled up so much that my shoes were tight. I had never experienced any type of swelling in my life before.
When I got home, I went straight to the doctor.
A fecal exam was done. The FDA notified the clinic I had foreign intestinal parasites. I just figured that they would give me an antibiotic and the nightmare would end. But, after 10 days of antibiotics, I still felt and looked the same.
I started feeling helpless. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Most days I found the strength to battle through my negative feelings about myself, other days I would cry on my closet floor while I staring at all the clothes I no longer fit into.
It got to a point that I had enough, I decided to do something about how I felt.
To the doctors, I was fine, I didn’t have any more parasites. But something else had happened to my body. So I started to research. I started writing down what I ate and listening to my body.
This is what I learned:
1. When I researched symptoms of parasites, many sites listed weight loss, diarrhea and vomiting. This was not my case. I gained 10 pounds, was constipated and bloated. Don’t go by what you read completely.
2. See a specialist who has experience with parasites to be sure to find all of them. For a fecal exam, you need to bring three samples, best from the morning. Ask the doctor to have a manual exam done to be sure a machine doesn’t overlook any hidden bugs.
3. After I took the antibiotics, the parasites might not have been there anymore, but the damage they did to my intestines for three months had already been done. It made my ability to digest certain foods difficult and made me extremely bloated during digestion.
4. After listening to my body, I realized that gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol were the culprits for my bloating. When I eliminated these foods, I started to see the weight come off and the bloat go down.
5. Certain foods like potatoes, corn, soy and rice in large quantities would give me the same symptoms as gluten or dairy. I learned to eat these foods in moderation and in the most natural form. No corn cakes, only fresh corn. No rice cakes or crackers, only long grain rice. The bulk of my diet came from fruits, vegetables and meats.
6. I did a three month natural cleanse to clean out my system accompanied with weekly coffee enemas to regulate my bowel movements again.
7. I added a daily high potency probiotic that I would take at night with a glass of water. At the end of the day, it was the last thing I would put into my system so it had time to be absorbed.
8. I walked about four or five times a week. This moved the food through my intestine and helped aid digestion. Walking gets blood pumping and helps me feel rejuvenated.
9. I ingested anti-parasitic essential oils to help keep my gut clean and fend off potential parasitic stragglers. In the first three months of my recovery process, I took a digestive enzyme before every meal to help my system absorb nutrients and break down food properly which lead to less bloat.
10. I drank lots of green tea! To break up the bore of plain water, I would sip on non-sweetened green tea and mix it up with lemon and ginger, or mint teas throughout the day. Sipping warm or hot water helps digestion and hydration at the same time.
The body takes a long time to heal. I have been doing everything mentioned above for 14 months now and have been feeling more like my old self…only recently!
Don’t give up or feel alone in the battle, healing from any gut problem or disorder is a long road, but your body will thank you for listening!
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Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Travis May