Figuring out how to restore my gut health after 2 years of antibiotics was a journey, to say the least. In my twenties, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and multiple tick-borne infections. This led to taking multiple rounds of intensive antibiotics for 2 whole years. You could imagine what my gut felt like after that. The last round was a PIC line where I administered 6 weeks of IV antibiotics to myself with the help of my then boyfriend (now husband). Then I called it quits with the pharmaceuticals.
I could no longer digest any food (including smoothies) without feeling terrible. I dropped down to 94 lbs at 5’7′. My mental and physical health were at an all-time low. I remember being in a really dark place. There had to be another way. My gut health was in shambles and I knew that’s where I needed to start on my road to recovery. I went all in on a holistic doctor-supervised regimen.
Fast forward 3 years and my gut was restored to its pre-Lyme condition with the exception of food sensitivities. Even those have also come a LONG way. I can eat things in small amounts without too much trouble.
It was a lot of trial and error, and everyone’s scenario is different but here is what I did to turn my gut health around and ultimately restore my health:
Gut Repair Protocol:
1. Food sensitivities
Earlier in the process, I had blood work done to confirm what foods I developed sensitivites to which included gluten, dairy, and egg whites. Huge bummer since eggs were a staple in my life. I did remove these from my diet to heal my gut.
2. Parasite treatment
Secondly, my gut problems were so severe that I was referred to a parasite doctor to ensure there were no major issues there. Thankfully, I only had one bug and it went away with treatment. When you take an insane amount of antibiotics as I did, it can wipe out your natural defense and make you susceptible to everything.
3. Slow-cooked foods
My new holistic doctor/nutritionist had me slow-cook all of my food for a few months. Everything had to be cooked very well in order for my body to digest it. We started off with small portions and slowly increased. I went from not being able to digest anything to eating meals again. I started to feel a difference after 1 week of his plan. Food was no longer uncomfortable. Over time, we started to reintroduce normal food without a problem
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4. Gut healing supplements
The only gut supplement I took long-term was glutamine. I always chose pharmaceutical grade supplements recommended by my doctor.
Also, once my health was stabilized, I did Dr. Susan Blum’s Gut Repair Protocol which included supplements and herbs to rebalance the gut. I’m not sure if this same supplement program is still available but you can explore her services at The Blum Center For Health.
5. Fermented foods
During my healing process, I noticed that Kombucha helped me feel better whenever I drank it. WAAAY better than any probiotic I’ve ever taken. This led me down a fermented foods rabbit hole where I learned about kefir (another fermented beverage) and the benefits of making your own. This began my home brew experiments. I largely made coconut milk kefir and stored the grains in whole milk to keep them thriving.
Eventually, my husband began drinking and benefiting from it as well. We both love drinking kefir so much that we recently launched our own plant-based coconut water kefir called, GutLuv. It’s free of artificial ingredients and a huge part of our daily life.
6. Managing stress
Lastly, I was stressed out and burned out during this period of my life. Every moment I wasn’t working, was spent in a doctor’s office either getting treatment or a check-up. Also, feeling chronically unwell took a toll. I balanced it out the best I could. This included listening to calming music, going for walks in nature on the weekends, and doing infrared saunas regularly.
Thankfully, I was able to regain my health. Today, I continue to take a proactive approach which includes a healthy diet, taking a few key supplements, and consuming fermented foods regularly. I also left stressful jobs for those with more balance and continue to do infrared saunas. It was a process but worth it to have my life back.
If you’re struggling to restore your gut health, I would suggest finding a doctor you trust to help you troubleshoot. I’ve had the most luck with functional medicine and holistic doctors who are willing to do more thorough testing.
As for antibiotics, I haven’t taken one in 8 years. Knowing what I know now, I will be reserving them for extreme circumstances.
Do you have any favorite ways to support your gut health? Share in the comments.