Lima Beans for Fiber & Gut Health

I like lima beans! And according to my afternoon reading feed, they’re good for the gut!

🌱 “Eating a high fiber diet can help keep your gut in tip-top shape.”

🌱 “Eating beans (like lima beans) can help support your healthy gut bacteria. That may reduce your risk of health conditions like colon cancer and type 2 diabetes.”

🌱 “Bacteria in your gut ferment the fiber found in beans. This increases the production of compounds called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs serve as important fuel for your gut bacteria, so they benefit your gut and intestinal lining health.”

🌱 “The bad news? Most peeps don’t consume nearly enough fiber. The good news? You can. Eating a balanced diet that includes fiber-rich lima beans will help you reach the daily recommended value of 28 grams of dietary fiber.”

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Filed under C-Diff, Gut health, Healing 2021, Just For The Health of It

Fiber for Healing & Rebuilding

This morning I came across this article, detailing further research to support the importance of fiber to a strong microbiome and overall health and wellness. I really think fiber played a huge role in my healing and recovery. Obviously, after infection, you need to build up slowly. Women should aim for about 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should target about 38 grams. And that may be hard to get early in healing the gut since many foods are hard to tolerate by an inflamed gut. I strongly believe in getting nutrients from real, whole foods. It’s the best way. But I did use a fiber supplement as I began my recovery. Today I can get the daily recommended amount or more by lunch thanks to overnight oats bran with chia seeds & strawberries at breakfast and lentils with veggies or modified guaca-tuna salad at lunch. 🙂

Key points:

➡️ “Researchers used a mouse model to determine the key dietary factors affecting gut microbiome and how they contribute to obesity and other metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes. Mice were fed varying levels of low-fiber, high-fat diets which changed their gut microbiome.”

➡️ “What we have shown is that by increasing the amount of fiber in your diet and lowering the amount of fat, you work on two very important components that will improve your health.” –André Marette, PhD, Laval University, Canada

Examples of high fiber foods (per Dr. Mark Hyman):

■ Avocados
■ Beans
■ Berries
■ Broccoli
■ Brussels sprouts
■ Cabbage
■ Celery
■ Figs
■ Kale
■ Lentils
■ Nuts and seeds, especially sprouted
■ Olives and olive oil
■ Pumpkin
■ Spinach
■ Strawberries

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Mood and C-diff

As far as mood & temperament, there’s a strong connection between the gut and brain. So when your gut is messed up, your moods can definitely be affected. I just read another article about it the other day that you might be interested in:

“Psychologists used to believe that our feelings were the result of chemical reactions in our brain. Fast forward to today and what we know is that our gut plays a profound impact on our mood.” The article goes on to talk about how good bacteria improves mood but bad bacteria contributes to anxiety and depression. It talks about specific strains of probiotics that can improve mood.–gut-feeling—gut-health-and-your-mood

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Combatting Fatigue in Recovery

I make sure to get a good night’s sleep. This takes effort for me. I have to meditate or listen to sleep stories on the Calm app. I use white noise and a sleep mask. I make sure to turn off all screens at least one hour before going to bed and avoid checking them. Then, I drink a big glass of water first thing in the AM. It’s amazing how much hydration matters! Fatigue is a symptom of dehydration, so I work hard to stay hydrated throughout the day, with a goal of 87 oz a day. I try to get in a little morning yoga stretching. Research shows just 25 minutes can boost energy levels and brain function. I try to make sure I have a good, energy-generating breakfast. I try to avoid sugar and go for lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, and lower-sugar fruits. I usually go with oat bran, chia seeds, and berries.  I make sure to take short but brisk walks throughout the morning–outside if possible. All of these things help combat fatigue and also can help with overall mental health and well-being.

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Filed under C-Diff, Healing 2021

Always Learning: The Pegan Diet

I am reading The Pegan Diet by Mark Hyman, MD. The author also actually had c-diff. He notes, “I was down for the count for five months and couldn’t work, focus, or even answer an email. I lost 30 pounds.” Sounds familiar. It ultimately left him with ulcerative colitis long-term, so it was a long road back to health during which he learned a lot about the microbiome and healing the gut. Also sounds familiar.

From the chapter on gut health:

➡️ “Sadly, our gut microbiome ain’t what it used to be. We eat gut-busting foods, live a gut-busting lifestyle, and take gut-busting drugs.”

➡️ “Want to grow toxic weeds in your gut? Feed them a processed diet high in sugar and starch, food additives, and the microbiome-destroying weed killer glyphosate, used on 70 percent of all crops.”

➡️ “Our diet is also low in food for the good bugs: prebiotic fibers and polyphe nols (all the colorful medicinal compounds in plant foods).”

➡️ “We also take too many gut-damaging antibiotics, acid blockers, anti-inflammatories like Advil, hormones, and steroids. Add to that environmental toxins from our food, air, and water, and our inner garden is a sorry place with too many disease-causing bugs and not enough healing bugs.”

He offers three steps to resolving gut problems: weed, seed, and feed. Luckily, that’s exactly what I did and have been doing post-treatment, and after 7 months, I’m not totally healed, but I’m definitely significantly better. So today I am #grateful for all the health lessons I’ve learned since getting so sick; better health as a result; and the opportunity to continue to improve and grown in good health. #Healing2021 #operationrecovery

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Cliff the Giant C-diff and Support

I’m a little over 7 months post-treatment (Vancomycin). My family and friends know that healing and recovery is a long and frustratingly slow process (diagnosis and treatment were only the first step). This was waiting for me when I got home from work. 💜😂

It reminds me of something Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor wrote in her book A Stroke of Insight, which I read early in my recovery: “Recovery, however you define it, is not something you do alone, and my recovery was influenced by everyone around me.” Surround yourself with people who support your recovery and healing! It matters. I’m grateful for all of the people in my support network who have helped me on my journey. If you’re still early in the process, hang in there. 💜

And if you need me to punch Cliff here in the face for you, let me know. 😉

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Filed under C-Diff, Healing 2021

Exciting C-diff News!

From my afternoon reading feed: “Ferring and Rebiotix Present Landmark Phase 3 Data Demonstrating Superior Efficacy of Investigational RBX2660 Versus Placebo to Reduce Recurrence of C. difficile Infection.” They presented the research today at Digestive Disease Week 2021. This is very exciting!

Some key points:

➡️ “Findings build on previous RBX2660 clinical trials showing repeated efficacy and consistent safety, including two trials with two years of safety follow-up.”

➡️ “These Phase 3 RBX2660 results, as part of the overall clinical development program, show consistent efficacy as early as a first recurrence of C. difficile infection by delivering a broad consortium of live microbes to the area of active infection.”

➡️ “RBX2660 is a potential first-in-class microbiota-based live biotherapeutic being studied to deliver a broad consortium of diverse microbes to the gut to reduce recurrent C. difficile infection.”

➡️ “RBX2660 has been granted Fast Track, Orphan, and Breakthrough Therapy designations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The pivotal Phase 3 program builds on nearly a decade of research with robust clinical and microbiome data collected over six controlled clinical trials with more than 1,000 participants.”

➡️ “The findings from this pivotal Phase 3 trial of RBX2660 are very encouraging to both patients and healthcare providers, providing hope this potential new treatment could make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients with recurrent C. difficile infection.”

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The Guardian ad Litem

The other day I was on the radio (94.5) talking to Deb Sofield on The Morning Answer about foster care (Thanks, Deb!). One caller (or texter) commented about how sometimes DSS is wrong–they remove children from homes and put them into places where they’re worse off. In my time as a Guardian ad Litem, I never had a case where removal wasn’t warranted, where the standard for probable cause wasn’t met and upheld by a judge. However, I have had a case where the DSS social worker and the state’s attorney and I disagreed. In that case, they were fully prepared to argue to the judge that both parents should be denied visitation (even supervised visitation) while they worked towards termination of parental rights. I had spent a lot of time with the kids, their parents, school teachers, extended family, etc. Based on all that time and investigation, I felt that the mother should be offered a treatment plan that included separation from the father. He was the abusive one. If she were willing (unlike Ann’s mother, who I told you about the other day) to leave the abuser and take parenting classes, enter therapy, etc., I thought she could get to a place where reunification was possible. The DSS worker and attorney disagreed. They did not believe the mother would separate from the abuser (a position I totally understand; see: Ann). They thought mom would lie and let the abuser have access to the children despite the court order. They thought she wasn’t strong enough. I thought mom was willing to do whatever it took to bring her kids home. I thought that, with the right resources and support, she’d leave him behind and forge a better, brighter future for herself and her children. And as I mentioned on the radio, I come from an unstable background myself. I’m no idealist. I know first-hand parents will choose something (husbands, boyfriend’s, booze, drugs, whatever) over their own children. Been there. But I think that made me an even better advocate in this case. I digress…

If you’ve never been to family court, it’s much like any other court…or politics…in that much of the work and negotiations take place outside the courtroom (or voting chambers). And so we met together in a small huddle in a room outside family court to hash that out. Me, Dad, Mom, Social Worker, DSS attorney. There was yelling and finger pointing and all kinds of tears. Listen, I don’t care what the circumstances are, the tears and pleas of a mother faced with losing her children will break your heart. Every time.

The job of the Guardian ad Litem is important for this reason. The GAL, as I explained on the radio, is the voice of the child. Not another voice for DSS or the state. In training, that’s made clear again and again. The other thing that’s clear, not just from training, but from my interactions with family court judges: they give great weight to the report and testimony of the GAL. I will never forget this particular case because after that little meeting in the room, we were called into the courtroom, and the judge (with whom I’d had cases before) said, I read the reports and see that you disagreed as to the viability of a treatment plan. Did you have a chance to reconcile those differences? I honestly wasn’t sure. But the DSS attorney begrudgingly agreed to a treatment plan for mom that included no contact with dad. Dad was denied visitation of any kind. I accepted that. So did the judge. The attorney looked at me as we left, and said “This is on you. I hope you plan on checking up on them.” I did plan on it. And I did. In fact, I scheduled random, unplanned visits on a regular basis to see if I could catch mom letting dad visit despite the court order. I talked to neighbors to see if they saw any sign of him there. The kids and I regularly got together to talk about what was going on. I checked to see that a physician regularly checked them for any signs of abuse. I followed up to ensure mom and kids were in therapy and attended regularly. I made sure extended family were involved in the kids’ day-to-day lives. I was clear: if she lets him have contact with the kids, all bets are off. Why? Because those children and their health and well-being mattered. But part of what was best for them and their health and well-being was being with their mother…as long as she could provide the safe and stable home they needed.

So, yes, sometimes DSS gets it wrong. And that’s why the Guardian ad Litem is so important. The state gets DSS. Parents get themselves and sometimes an attorney if they choose and can afford it. Children get a Guardian ad Litem. Well, some do anyway. See, the thing is, GAL is a volunteer position. And there are almost never enough volunteers. Every child should have a GAL. Period. But that means more people need to step up. As I mentioned on the radio, the time commitment is up to you. Some people take one case at a time. Some cases are very short term. Some are long term. Some people take 2-3 cases at a time. Some more. The thing is that it’s volunteer work. It’s some of the most rewarding volunteer work there is. You can make a big difference in the lives of children who really need it. So think about it: maybe you can’t foster, but maybe you could be a Guardian ad Litem. And if not that, I know there’s something you could give. Foster children are OuR children. Ask yourself: how can you use your time, talent, and resources to support our most vulnerable children and make their lives and our community better and stronger?


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Stopping that C-diff Anxiety

A lot of people battling c-diff experience a lot of anxiety. Here’s how I fought (and continue to fight) through it:

I think the first step is just acknowledging the anxiety and the fact that it’s perfectly normal. In fact, your brain is doing exactly what it’s hard wired to do. The problem is you don’t actually need it to. The upside is you can rewire your brain so you don’t have that anxiety. Notice-Shift-Rewire is a simple strategy to start that process.

What also helped me was Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor’s research and the 90 second rule. You’ve been through something traumatic, so it’s natural to feel worried or scared. Most of us experience that. Recovery is physical, mental, emotional. The best any of us can do physically is support our body’s recovery by following medical and nutritional advice. Be careful with our bodies, with what we put in them, with what we try to push them to do. The mental and emotional are very closely linked. How you think affects how you feel. Think positive thoughts. Read positive things (and not negative). Surround yourself with positive people, people who believe in your full recovery. For emotional, remember that emotions really only last 90 seconds. Seriously. It’s science. Everything after that, is basically you stuck in your own head about it. So when you find yourself feeling a negative emotion, that’s ok. It’s natural. Give yourself 90 seconds to feel it and then let it flow through and out of your body. Stop your brain from making it last longer, get out of the emotional loop.  I personally do that by practicing gratitude. Once for example, something happened that triggered a fear response in me: the c-diff is back, I’ll never be healthy again, etc etc. I had a complete breakdown right in the middle of the public street. I just sobbed and sobbed. For about ninety seconds. And then, I got up, looked around and forced myself to choose 3 things I’m grateful for, and I focused on those three things until I felt better. I had another emotional response later that same day. Sat down on the bathroom floor and cried it out. Then did it again: 3 things I’m grateful for. Break the feedback loop, get out of my own head, focus on those things. I know it sounds kinda lame. But it’s based in neuroscience, on how our brains work. I practice gratitude every morning and every evening: at least three things I’m grateful for. Force myself to do it. It has improved my mindset, my emotional and mental health. The longer I’m healthy, the better it gets. Less fear, anxiety.

Another thing that helped me is meditation. So if I just can’t break the feedback loop myself, I go to a meditation app. I have both the Calm app and the Buddhify app. Buddhify is free. Even a quick meditation (3-5 minutes) can help break that loop.

Other C-diff posts are here.

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Filed under C-Diff, Healing 2021, Just For The Health of It, Practicing Gratitude

Prebiotics: Gut & Mental Health

We know that prebiotics are good for gut health because they’re what our good bacteria eat. And they need to eat to be strong to fight off bad bacteria like c-diff. But…prebiotics help with anxiety too! At least according to this study: “A new study has found that 4-weeks of daily galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) prebiotic intake can reduce anxiety levels and result in an overall improvement in wellbeing in young women.” Of course, we know from experience that c-diff affects us mentally as well as physically.

As many of you know, I prefer to get my pro and prebiotics from food naturally, rather than from supplements. I don’t know of this research would translate to that. The supplement in this study is galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). GOS are made up of plant sugars linked in chains. They are found naturally in dairy products (no, thank you!), beans (yes!), and certain root vegetables (double yes!). I’ve eaten beans and root veggies throughout my recovery. Turns out maybe they’re good for gut and mental health!

Note: WebMD did offer a warning for those with autoimmune diseases, since GOS (as a supplemet) can kick up the immune system, it may have some negative effects. Also, if used medicinally, it can have side effects no c-diff survivor wants, like gas, bloating, and even diarrhea (also WebMD). It’s kind of why I like to stick to foods instead of supplements. We benefit from the other nutrients that surround them when we get them from food: it’s like “a spoonful of sugar,” it helps make the medicine go down. 😉

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Filed under C-Diff, Gut health, Healing 2021, Just For The Health of It