If you followed my blog last year, you know I had high hopes for FMT and that I responded very well during my two-week treatment in England. The ensuing year simply flew by and I also just needed a break from blogging. I wanted to focus on myself, my projects, and my adventures. It was a great year and--if it's up to me--just the beginning of the next exciting chapter.
The blog gets better traffic than I'd expect, considering my gross neglect--but FMT is a hot topic. I suppose a treatment so taboo (and sometimes also miraculous) is bound to attract attention. A few people suffering with Crohn's and colitis have reached out over the past year and I hope my replies were helpful. If you are on the fence about FMT for yourself or a loved one, I hope you find my health update an honest (and perhaps even empowering) datum in a vast quagmire of differing opinions.
FMT stands for fecal microbiota transplant and it's a hot topic in the health world right now. While different clinics have different methods, the idea remains the same: take fecal microorganisms from a healthy person and implant them into a sick person. For those suffering from chronic Clostridium Difficile (C. diff.) infection, FMT is life-saver, in many cases offering almost immediate recovery from a potentially deadly overgrowth.
It turns out that gut health is critically important to a whole bunch of the diseases of civilization and many--if not all--of these diseases involve some dysfunction of the immune system. (I'm looking at you, colitis, Crohn's, celiac, heart disease, thyroid conditions, cancer, MS...) Because most of our immune system resides in our guts, FMT has shown promise for treating many of these conditions and is being actively studied in the US and abroad.
As someone who has lived with ulcerative colitis for many years, I realize the importance of food on my health. Why is The Specific Carbohydrate Diet so effective for those with active inflammatory bowel disease? Because it modifies the microbes that live in the gut. Why do antibiotics often trigger C. diff. infections? Because they dramatically skew the microbial balance in a patient's gut.
If you suffer from gastrointestinal issues, you are not alone. When I was desperately sick and ready to take back control of my life, I was inspired by others who triumphed over similar adversity and unabashedly shared their stories. My doctors were great at telling me what would not work, but they offered little beyond prescription medication and a sense of helplessness. Despite their sympathy, they could not truly understand my symptoms because they did not feel them. My doctors weren't the ones living in this body, feeling the inflammation, constantly planning an emergency route to the nearest toilet, just in case. That was me.
Human health is a vastly complex subject and anyone claiming to have all of the answers is either full of it or trying to sell you something. In the end, it is the question you ask yourself--and answer honestly--that lets you become the master of your own health.
I have lots of ideas; few of them are truly unique. When dealing with chronic health issues, it's easy to get fixated on finding the single missing piece of the health puzzle. In hindsight, the books and resources that helped me the most were those that considered the big picture. To me that means not just discussing which foods are good and which foods are bad, but also considering the human as a whole being--one who requires more than just a meal plan to achieve a vital state of health.
Of course, the resource that might help you depends on what you know (or think you know) about nutrition. I sure thought I had a solid foundation back when I was sprouting wheat seeds in my kitchen. My gut hurts even thinking about it now. If you're struggling with inflammatory bowel disease (Chrohn's, colitis) and don't know where to begin, start with Gottschall, then keep reading.
The Clarified Self is my blog. Welcome! I chose the name because it best captures the set of ideas I'm accumulating and developing as I accept the limits of human knowledge, and advocate for my own health. There may be a pun in there, and I also think it sounds cool.
I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis during my late 20s. It was a strange time, full of emotional stress, environmental stress, financial stress, bad eating habits, sedentarism, a concussion, two major sports injuries, denial, frustration, and lots of self-compromise. Which of these factors caused my sickness? Certainly all of them. Here are some things I learned along the way:
I'm Ethan, a guy whose life used to be controlled by ulcerative colitis. As I systematically tested diets, treatments, and all types of health advice to heal my colon, I learned a lot about my own biology and also how to cook without compromise. I'm here to share the best (and sometimes worst) of that journey with you.