On my wedding day, as I sat there feeling blissful and blessed, drinking mimosas with my girlfriends while I prettied myself up, I was suddenly overcome with nausea. It was like a heat wave came over my face: I started to sweat; I was feeling lightheaded, dizzy, disoriented. "It’s just nerves," everybody told me. But here’s the thing—I wasn’t nervous. I was excited; I was happy.
And then it happened again—on a romantic vacation—and again—at my cookbook launch party—and again—when I hosted friends for a New Year’s Eve dinner.
There was a common denominator here—it seemed that every time I got excited about something, every time I anticipated something with enthusiasm, every time something really important and meaningful and positive was happening in my life, I was feeling sick.
I went to see my doctor, who diagnosed me with IBS-C, or as I later came to call it—"we don’t know what’s wrong with you, so let’s call it IBS." She prescribed me some extremely expensive medication that, in addition to setting my bank account back a few hundred dollars each month, gave me horrible diarrhea and nasty stomachaches that made me afraid to leave the house.
When I questioned her, she recommended I get an X-ray (another expensive procedure), but she couldn’t tell me why. So I asked her for a referral to a gastroenterologist instead. When I got to the gastroenterologist, she had me try a different medication—one that was equally pricey and with its own roll call of scary side effects.
It wasn’t working, so she recommended a colonoscopy. I was 27 years old, by far the youngest person in the hospital that day who was there for the procedure, but she thought there was a small chance it could be colon cancer. Fortunately, there was no cancer. But they hadn't come any closer to determining what was wrong with me.
I had had enough. I decided to go cold turkey on all this extreme medication that wasn’t even working and hormonal birth control and try to heal this the natural way. I found a holistic doctor, who started by asking me about my diet, my life, my hobbies, my exercise routine, my family, my job. Instead of masking my symptoms with a pill, she was getting to the root cause of my issues.
I’ll be honest, my diagnosis wasn’t pretty—PCOS, insulin resistance, hypothyroid. The underlying diagnosis at the root of those issues? leaky gut. Simply put, leaky dut is when your intestinal lining is damaged and/or inflamed and foreign particles can actually leak out of your gut and into your bloodstream.
This, as you might have guessed, causes digestive distress, from constipation and nausea to diarrhea, bloating, stomach pain, but also hormonal imbalances, autoimmune disorders, and inflammatory skin conditions, like acne, psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea.
According to Amy Myers, M.D., the gastrointestinal (GI) tract/digestive tract doesn’t just break down our food into nutrients, which the body uses for energy, growth, and cell repair, but it also affects our nervous, endocrine, and immune system. When our digestion is off, we feel bad (of course) but other systems start to fail, too. For me, when my digestion was at its worst, so was my PCOS and hypothyroidism.
Today, I've completely reversed my leaky gut and am feeling healthy, vibrant, and full of life. After trying tons of natural remedies and solutions, here's what's actually made a difference.