Teresa Pfa , 56, was plagued by stomach issues, until she discovered the sneaky culprit — and the inexpensive cure — that gave her back her life.
“My son’s eyes filled with concern as he took me aside at our family picnic. ‘Mom, are you okay?’ he asked. ‘You’ve been heading to the bathroom every 20 minutes — is there something wrong?’
“I tried to force a smile, assuring him that I was fine, but in reality, I was anything but. In the midst of my favorite activity, spending time with my kids and grandchildren, I was struggling with major stomach issues. And it wasn’t the first time. For three years, GI problems had been a way of life for me. Week after week, my symptoms alternated between chronic constipation and diarrhea, and suddenly, all the time I loved to spend being a wife, mom and grandma was consumed by trying to deal with my ‘new normal.’
A Worsening Problem
“At the time it had all started, my primary care provider had prescribed hormone replacement therapy [HRT] to ease my menopause symptoms, which she said were disrupting my sleep and causing fatigue. Although the prescription helped with my hot flashes and mood swings, it wasn’t helping with the fatigue, and I was concerned about the long-term risks of the medications, so I stopped taking it.
“But then I began to feel worse, with new symptoms appearing like the stomach problems, bloating, sluggishness, brain fog, and pain. And it wasn’t just my relationship with my family that suffered. I was a very busy person, with a cleaning service I owned alongside my husband, Kerry. But as my GI issues worsened, so too did my work performance. I began to feel a persistent anxiety about what could be going on, and more important, how I could fix it — and if I could fix it.
“Eventually, it got to the point where I would have to take time out of my busy day to try to make my body eliminate, even going so far as having to schedule my day around bathroom visits. I began to worry there was something severely wrong. One thing I knew for sure: I needed answers.
“I decided to see my primary care provider again, who said stress and depression were likely to blame and prescribed an antidepressant. While it initially improved my mood, it did nothing for my other chronic digestive symptoms.
“From my time working as a colon hydrotherapist in a previous job, I knew I didn’t want to take over-the-counter laxatives, so instead, I decided to work on my diet. After reading The Fat Flush Plan, by nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D. (Buy on Amazon, $8.73), I decided to give her program a try. I lost 20 pounds right away, but I was still exhausted — and none of my stomach symptoms went away. When my weight loss stalled after six weeks, I made an appointment with Ann Louise.
A Life-Changing Decision
“That turned out to be the best decision. Ann Louise asked about my symptoms, my diet, and my bathroom habits, then told me I had a condition known as bile deficiency. A major clue that lead her to suspect it: my prior use of HRT. She explained that when there’s too much estrogen in the body, bile — a substance produced by the liver that breaks down fat and absorbs nutrients — gets congested. So even though I had added nutrients and healthy fats to my diet, my body couldn’t process them. And without proper bile flow, my body couldn’t process fat or flush out toxins. The mix of nutrient shortfalls and toxin overload was making my liver sluggish and causing my GI issues.
“To help with this, she suggested that I take a probiotic on an empty stomach each morning and before bed. I chose Nutrition Now PB8 (Buy on iHerb, $16 for 120 capsules). Ann Louise also advised drinking a cup of hot water and lemon each morning, and told me to down a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before meals to improve bile flow. I also ate beets, which contain betaine, a compound that builds bile.
“Another tip from Ann Louise: She told me to chew my food thoroughly and eat slowly to make it easier for my body to break down and absorb the nutrients. And as I learned more about how stress could be affecting my digestive system, I began to incorporate a relaxing daily walk into my routine. Within three weeks, I began to see a big difference in my digestion and energy levels. By six weeks, I realized that I felt like me again! Plus, I’d lost another nine pounds.
“Today, instead of running back and forth to the bathroom, I’m back to spending quality time with my family. Gone are the days when activities like going out to dinner were a source of anxiety — in fact, I look forward to it! I have my life back!” — As told to Julie Revelant
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Save on Healthcare (Buy on Amazon, $12.99).