How NOT to Treat a Flare
In last week’s post, “10 Natural Ways to Treat a Flare,” you may have noticed that many of the common, natural ways to treat a flare were obviously not there. Here are a few of them and why they didn’t make the cut:
Grocery Store Yogurt
People often buy yogurt for the probiotics, but did you know that store-bought yogurt contains a lot of sugar? Granted, it’s a natural sugar in milk called ‘lactose,’ but any sugar, natural or not, can wreak havoc on a digestive system that isn’t working properly.
Yogurt is made by taking milk, adding a culture of probiotics (good bacteria) and sugar to it for the culture to eat. The product of this process is what gives yogurt its tangy-sour taste. It takes a full 24-hours for probiotics to consume all the lactose in the milk, but I read that the USDA only requires commercial yogurt companies to process the milk for six hours before going to market. That means that whatever you buy at the store still has 10-12 grams of lactose sugar in it (check the labels and you’ll see). Many argue that since it’s natural sugar it is good for you, but that doesn’t change the fact that sugar is sugar and it will always do what sugar does. It will always feed bacteria in your gut. If you’re in dysbiosis (where there is an imbalance between good and bad gut bacteria), all the bacteria, good and bad, are strengthened by the sugar. If you’re not in dysbiosis you’re good, but if you are, the happy, fed bad bacteria can make you feel even sicker, or even cause you to become sicker than you would have been without it. If you really want yogurt, make your own, try a non-dairy yogurt, or just take live acidophilus (kept refrigerated) and be done with it. Don’t feed your enemies.
If you battle with digestive disease, there’s a good chance you have an ongoing battle with dysbiosis as well. If you really want yogurt, make your own and let it ferment 24-hours, try a non-dairy yogurt, or just take live acidophilus (kept refrigerated) and be done with it. Don’t feed your enemies.
Ginger is famous for helping an upset stomach. It’s a natural peristaltic (it helps your stomach digest), but it’s also very strong and can burn a slow, inflamed or irritated gut. Since inflammation and irritation are trademarks of a flare, it can make matters worse. I took it for the peristaltic effect for about a week and it caused a flare all by itself! It burned me so badly that it took a week to recover.
Ditto the ginger scenario. Enzymes can work great for a week or two, but after that, the accumulation can burn and irritate the lining of the stomach. I keep them on-hand for times when something, usually a protein, isn’t digesting (when you feel like you have a bowling ball in your belly), but I never take them regularly anymore. I replaced enzymes with fennel. It’s not as powerful as an enzyme, but at least it doesn’t hurt. And if you’re on a diet primiarily of liquid-soft foods, you may not need to take something so strong.
Note: Many enzymes have ox-bile in them, which is incredibly strong. It also sent me to bed for a week. Please be careful if you choose to use an enzyme that contains it.
Soda is just water with air added, so it’s an absolute no-no. We need no more air in our bellies, thank you.
80% of your immune system is in your intestines, and if it’s working right, it regularly maintains a balance of the good and bad bacteria we talked about above. But fiber is a form of sugar. It’s a polysaccharide, an indigestible form of sugar, and it’s in all plant-based products (bread, cereal, rice, oatmeal, etc.) and is the primary ingredient in over-the-counter (OTC) laxative products. If you have compromised indigestion and you are battling constipation, it will feed the bad bacteria and make the situation worse, and could worsen constipation and create a blockage. Please, please, if you have any kind of stomach disease, proceed with caution when it comes to fiber. One medical professional told me that the only laxative he recommends to people with intestinal disease is Miralax, as it works by drawing water into the bowel to flush the contents naturally. It doesn’t bog it down with more indigestible material.
The white foods that we love when we don’t feel good, like soda crackers, rice, bananas, milkshakes, etc., are starches, so any time you eat them they feed gut bacteria. But if you have been on antibiotics in the past year, the good bacteria population is way down and you could (likely) be in dysbiosis. That means that the good guys haven’t recovered from being wiped out by the antibiotics. When bad bacteria feeds on starches it causes fermentation, which produces gas, which causes bloating, and who needs that? When you’re sick and you do need something to crunch on, try this 2 ingredient flatbread recipe thinned out with a little water. Pour ¼ c into an omelet pan, swirl it around so it covers the bottom of the pan, and let it dry out on low heat. It’ll crunch for sure, but since it’s made of protein instead of starch, it will make you stronger while soothing your tummy at the same time.
Bitters prompt the body to produce its own enzymes and have been used for thousands of years to help with digestion. They are made of botanicals like orange peel, berries, and roots, that are boiled down and combined with a small amount of alcohol. Unfortunately, though, every time I’ve used them I’ve gotten sicker than I was before taking them even though I took them in tiny doses. They’re very, very strong.
What have you used to treat a flare that has definitely not worked? Share your knowledge with others, because –
We’re better together!