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How To Spot Gut Health Problems. Before It’s Too Late.

Strong Mamas | True Stories

Inspiring stories of gut health & motherhood from all over the world. Shared with the intention that others may use their hard-learned wisdom to thrive, grow & nurture their unique mamabiome. For generations to come.

September 28, 2020

Story By Victoria Samios

Story By Victoria Samios

Mama of 2. Microbiologist. Brisbane.

A very brief history of my journey back to health – inspired by the small humans that chose me.

Three months before I turned 11, I “became” a woman.

Our neighbour gifted me 12 red roses. I got to stay home from school.

My period had started.

I remember wondering how I’d ever again know if I had a tummy ache or period ache.

Obviously I had a lot of tummy aches. I was assured the pain was normal.

Because that’s what my mother experienced, just like her mother.

So I soldiered on – as 10 year olds do.

Looking back – and knowing better – it’s clear I already had brewing gut health issues.

I’ve Got Endo What…?

Over the next 5 years, those niggling mild cramps slowly became the rigour inducing pain, vomiting and extended heavy bleeding signals endometriosis.

To cope, at the first sign of pain I would dose myself up on ibuprofen.

Paracetamol no longer worked.

I spent a week every month 8 hourly dosing myself to the eyeballs.

I lived in fear of missing ‘the pain relief window’. Or else uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhoea would mean yet another ambulance ride to hospital.

Utterly exhausted and severely dehydrated.

Eventually a knowing ER doctor suggested endometriosis. Dispelling my theory I always managed to contract a nasty stomach bug at period time.

I had surgery to remove the misplaced endometrial cells.

And then found a holistic GP hoping for preventative wisdom.

She taught me about xeno-estrogens, leaky gut and the yeast link to hormonal issues.

She recommended I stop eating fruit and sugar, that I use artificial sweeteners and I’d be fine.

I wasn’t.

When Your Normal Isn’t Normal

The pain reduced but the bleeding became so persistent I bled through the contraceptive pill – which my gynaecologist had prescribed to control it.

My only option he said, was the Mirena.

A nasty device that sits in your uterus tricking your body into thinking it’s pregnant. Pregnancy being the only real cure – according to conventional medicine.

If you are ever offered a Mirena – research research research!

Better yet allow your body to heal itself

  • Reduce inflammation with food
  • Find a qualified herbal practitioner
  • Explore true (traditional) healing modalities – like Ayurveda

It stopped the bleeding but the side effects were awful.

My digestive health went from bad to worse.

And still I puzzled over my health. I tried eating vegetarian then vegan – with definite improvements.

But eventually I decided I was broken. It was all too hard.

Cooking two dinners every night to appease all tastebuds is tough.

So I settled to just live with my increasingly limited food list and bizarre toilet habits.

10 Years Later…

It wasn’t until I began researching morning sickness cures (after my first pregnancy – determined to never relive it) that I happened upon the importance of gut health.

I am still amazed that despite completing a science degree in microbiology and molecular biology – microbiome health was never mentioned.

And appallingly it’s still not openly discussed at work – in a hospital microbiology lab.

Because pathogens and antibiotics still rein supreme. But I digress.

Questionably, Helicobacter pylori got blamed for my horrendous all-day-all-night, blood vessel bursting vomits.

I recalled having stomach ulcers at university. Treated by my GP with antacids. That must be it!

Then The Best/Worst Thing Happened

Just when I thought I’d sorted my gut issues with wholesome, nourishing and probiotic foods – I spent a week on IV antibiotics.

My cat repeatedly bit me to the bone – it was horrific. I was still breastfeeding my 10 month old daughter.

Starting from square one again, but with a “clean” microbial slate, I started digging deeper.

But we were now fighting on two fronts.

My digestive and hormonal issues and our baby daughter’s behavioural problems.

Can You Spot The Red Flags?

After stumbling upon literature describing the maternal microbiome link. The penny dropped.

It all made perfect sense.

Now I’m on a mission to correct generations of microbial ecology demise.

To break the awful cycle and regain health for myself and my family.

With retrospect I see the red flags.

There are too many!

  • Childhood antibiotic overuse, processed and sugary foods, household and environmental toxins – a typical upbringing.
  • Allergies and intolerances – coincidently arriving together.
  • Lots of pain relief – paracetamol and ibuprofen.
  • Predominant gluten and dairy diet – if only I knew!
  • Synthetic hormones, spray tans, toxic personal care products – it all adds up.
  • Urinary tract infections, yeast infestations, skin problems – a system critically unbalanced.
  • Anxiety, depression and mild OCD – emerging after working with laboratory chemicals.

The list is long.

How To Catch Gut Issues Early

If any of this is sounding familiar, you’re not alone.

I’ve met so many mamas with an eerily similar story. And we sit and look back, red flag spotting together.

Wow, if only we knew better then.

So grab a pen and jot down anything you can think of in the following categories…

  • Chemical exposure – have you been around herbicides or pesticides, used stinky personal care products
  • Antibiotic use
  • Predominant foods – what where the 3 foods that made up 80% of your diet
  • Common illnesses – did you have a pattern of illness or common complaints
  • Medicine cabinet – which drugs can’t you live without e.g., Panadol, antihistamines etc.
  • Hormonal trouble – time of month monsters and the like…

If you have a long list of these and don’t yet have gut symptoms, well done to you!

Otherwise, an even bigger congratulations to those who have digestive, hormonal or inflammatory troubles.

You may have caught it before it really gets out of hand. It’s never too soon to start a new chapter with gut health.

The earlier the better.

The Journey Continues

With Mamabiome I hope to reach out and educate women, like you.

About all I’ve learned, and am yet to learn.

Of the absolute importance of nurturing a healthy microbiome.

And to break the generational cycle of dysbiosis passed from mother to child.

To create positive healthy and lasting change.

One mama microbiome at a time.

Victoria x

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