I consider myself a very happy person. There aren’t many things I wish I had, except for my dream of owning a hobby farm with cats and goats galore, a big open kitchen and bountiful garden. But I’ll be honest, I’ve been wishing my health was better since last June ….. it’s taken a toll on me.
I eluded to it in my last post, but now that I have all the answers I wanted to talk about it a little more. Not because I want your sympathy, because believe me, I thanked my lucky stars that I have the ability to heal my autoimmune condition through real food & other components (AIP protocol). It may be a long road with a lot of commitment and a few kitchen cries, but I am willing to do anything to feel better. The reason I’m sharing this is because you are like my family, and this space is like an open journal. My mind is at ease even as I type this, with a steaming cup of Soothing Turmeric Milk and Grace snuggled at my feet.
The answers to my crushing headaches, inflammation & pressure throughout my face, heartburn and fatigue were quite clear as my doctor and I talked through the test results. I walked out with a diagnosis of leaky gut (yes, that is the unsexy medical term) resulting in digestion/absorbption dsyfunction and metabolic imbalance – all related to autoimmunity. Dr. Noonan did some explaining, along with his plan/prescription to turn my health around, but dang, I was overwhelmed.
First I’ll explain a little about the what & why of leaky gut, then I’ll talk about the big plan. Now would be a good time to simmer some cinnamon, ginger & turmeric in coconut milk to sip on because it’s a bit lengthy, (sorry!) but hopefully helpful.
Leaky Gut Explained
In the simplest terms, which I’ve come to understand with the help of my lovely, inspiring friend Stephanie who has beat this condition herself, and the amazing team at Prescribe Nutrition, leaky gut is this:
Our intestines (which should be filled with over 100 trillion good bacteria) form a tight junction and act as a proactive barrier to our system, keeping what should stay in the stomach stay there and making sure harmful substances such as yeast, food particles, toxins and bacteria are not absorbed directly into our blood stream. When leaky gut begins, the junctions in our intestines start to open up, forming various holes. The things we should be absorbing from our food like nutrients, fats and protein slip through and go into our bloodstream, along with the harmful substances like yeast, toxins and chemicals. Even the natural ones found in real food need to be digested in order to not cause problems.
The immune system then creates a hate response to these foreign molecules, and because a gluten molecule may look similar to the thyroid tissue or a dairy molecule may look similar to the pancreas, other tissues start to get destroyed by mistaken identity.
The gut goes into high alert, eventually attacking itself, even the healthy tissue. It causes stress on your system and unexplained symptoms like I’m having.
How does that relate to food reactions?
The body will begin to produce antibody soldiers designed to fight against these foreign objects, which can be things you’ve normally been just fine eating like the caseins in milk or other proteins in nuts, grains, or eggs. Even natural chemicals found in foods such as Phenols and Glycerin can now trigger immune responses when they enter the body. This is what I have sadly been experiencing with lots of things – dairy, eggs, soy, nightshade vegetables and beans for example.
Bottom Line: The foods that you’re eating are not necessarily (although you may have developed an intolerance to them because of the damage) the root of the problem; it’s the leaky gut letting the food molecules into your bloodstream.
How does this happen?
Leaky gut stems from a combination of factors. For me it is past autoimmune issues + lack of stress management + the big one –> being on Nexium for 3 years, a proton pump inhibitor which is used to treat heartburn, which can lead to low stomach acid and in essence, the ability to digest food. They are supposed to balance the acid in your stomach, but if taken for too long they will start to mess with the bacteria and flora in your gut. One of the things I was tested for was diversity of bacteria in my gut biodome, which a healthy person should have many different strains of. I have like 3. Not good, resulting in metabollic imbalance and inability to work correctly.
The Healing Plan:
The good news is this can be healed and put into remission through real food, with the doctor’s prescription to follow Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) for 60-90 days, (longer if needed) AND other components (listed below) that are paramount in this process.
Before I explain I want you to know this. I started writing this blog four years ago to share my kitchen and stories behind the food on our table, whether that be the farmer who works tirelessly to grow all the varieties of squash you could ever want, or those who kindly and compassionately raise goats for us to get wholesome milk and meat from. Those things will not change, nor will there be bland, boring food depicted here. What it all gets down to is real, unprocessed food – colorful, bursting with flavor and a joy to eat. That’s not any different than what I always share here, they just won’t include some of the things I love that are nourishing & nutrient dense, but my body isn’t accepting right now. The good news is this isn’t forever, and I don’t even like to consider it an “elimination phase”. I like to think of it as replenishing, rebuilding and restoring my health – both body and mind.
This protocol is a proven medical approach of eating and living to heal the intestinal mucosa and gut lining, supporting low inflammation in the body. It adds extremely nutrient dense foods + removes those that are difficult to digest/are gut irritants to those dealing with autoimmune disease. What’s important to remember is foods I won’t be eating are NOT BAD, and the goal is to introduce them back, but right now my body is considering them “foreign invaders” which causes it to self-attack.
I’m focusing on what will nourish me which is: grassfed or pastured meat, wild caught fish, vegetables (except nightshades), fresh herbs, things derived from coconut, fruit (except bananas & pineapple which my IGg tests showed reactions to) and unrefined sugar like maple syrup or honey.
Where it tends to get tricky is what I have to remove…… no legumes (beans), nightshades (think tomatoes, peppers), nuts, seeds, spices from seeds like cumin & black pepper, dairy, eggs, grains, alcohol (which I haven’t had since November anyways), chocolate, and preservatives of any kind (holy moly is it hard to find coconut milk without guar gum).
The Other Paramount Healing Components:
So here we go, onward. I feel like that nervous friend, hoping you’ll stick with me on this one. And I still have these Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Gnocchi to share with you, which aren’t AIP, but are so so amazing that to keep them from you until I’m healed would be a crime. So stay tuned for those next week.
Cheers to health and happiness, with a mug of my new favorite “hot toddy”.
Warm and comforting, this beverage has been my cup of calming “chai” during this first week of change. It’s so creamy and fragrant. Turmeric has been used for its anti-inflammatory benefits for years, but it’s also a great antioxidant and antimicrobial. (AIP, paleo, and vegan)
1 cup coconut milk (this brand is free of guar gum & preservatives)
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons raw honey
pinch of salt
Add coconut milk to a small saucepan, whisk in turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in honey and salt until dissolved. Enjoy. (If you want to use fresh turmeric and ginger you can certainly do that too, just mash some of each root into a paste and simmer for 10 minutes.)
Whenever I have a question about AIP, Paleo Mom has extensive information and scientific explanations: http://www.thepaleomom.com/
tag @heartbeetkitchen on instagram and hashtag it #heartbeetkitchen
How many times a day can you drink this? I need something for a morning drink to replace my instant coffee drink.
Hi Kristy! I would stick to 2-3x a day so your body can adjust.
Thank you for this recipe! It is delicious! xo
Thank you for sharing such a soothing drink recipe. Its really tasty & healthy turmeric drink. I liked it so much!
glad you enjoyed it!
I’m so glad that I stumbled upon this, Amanda. I am currently struggling with stomach issues after being on Prilosec for 2 years. My GI and naturopath are running multiple tests (SIBO, acid test, gall bladder, etc.). I will also be asking my doctor’s for the test that you had done to check for diversity of gut bacteria. I have put myself on the GAPS diet which is a form of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
Thank you for your detailed post, it’s bringing me encouragement during this trying time. Now back to my bone broth and sauerkraut (blech!) Ha!
I was just searching the internet for something to do with my leftover coconut milk and found your sweet and thoughtful reflection. It meant so much to me to read your thoughts about a struggle that I relate to as I navigate my own gut healing. Thank you for sharing.
Athena! This comment means so much. I know the health road can be difficult, but my best advice is to nourish your body, and rest. The mental side of things will be calmer that way too. xo
Hi Amanda! Are you healed from SIBO? Are you still doing aip/low histamine or have you added foods back? Did the cod liver oil effect you since you were having histamine issues? I’ve been thinking of implementing it but too afraid I’ll have a bad reaction..
Hi Priscilla! I am healed from SIBO and would recommend staying away from AIP, and instead trying Low Histamine for a month or so, after you take antibiotics. I know it’s a hard decision, but truthfully it was the only way I could get it rid of it. Since you will be ingesting such a tiny amount of cod liver oil (about 2 teaspoons a day) I doubt you would have a reaction. Hope you feel better soon, xo.
Thanks so much for your response! I’m so glad you are healed!! I’m still not sure if I have SIBO yet but have been [trying] to stay low-histamine. I’ll check out the cod liver oil as well :)
Saying you have AIP is very confusing to me. I have AIP but it is Acute Intermittent Porphyria.
Hi Barbara! I was actually not saying I have AIP, rather that I was following the AIP, the acronym for the AutoImmune Protocol (a healing diet).
Hi – this recipe sounds delish! Thanks! I’m vegan – and honey isn’t actually vegan. Do you think I could use stevia? Is that leaky-gut-safe? Thank you!
Hi Lisa! Use maple syrup instead of honey, which is AIP compatible.
I am pinning your site so I can find it again easily. I have been taking Nexium or Zegerid for years now and try to go off them but have so much heartburn that I grab them again. With this new diet you are on do you still have to take something for heartburn or is the modified diet taking care of it? I am going to try this drink and am looking forward to seeing other “healthy and good” stuff you come up with! Thanks for sharing your story and also your remedies.
Hi Lenoria! I no longer have to take Nexium. I do try to stay away from highly acidic foods like tomatoes and peppers. Good luck on your healing journey!
Thank you for sharing this recipe. I love this soothing drink but the last few sips are gagging as the powdered spices do not dissolve, rather they settle at the bottom and come flooding into my mouth at the end lol. If I strain them out will I loose the health benefits they provide or am I safe because they steeped their benefits into the milk during the 5 minutes during the simmer?
Hi Kellie! I wish I knew the answer, but another option you have so that powdered spices don’t settle to the bottom is to make this as is, then blend with a little bit of ice to make it almost like a smoothie. I’d add a little more honey if you do that. Then you’ll be drinking them and ingesting all the benefits!
Just stumbled on your blog and am very happy I did! Digestive problems are rampant these days. Looking forward to your recipes as I too am starting a digestive healing journey. Although you had me at cats, farm and goats. ❤️
I have been going to doctor after doctor to no avail. They just want to give me medication to treat the symptoms. I want to get to the bottom of my issues and I know it’s my gut among other things. Can you recommend your doctor who ran the SIBO test, complete GI profile, etc? Was it Timothy Noonan in Woodbury MN?If so I will make a trip out to MN for him. I need answers andI’m exhausted.
LOVE YOUR BLOG, thanks for putting the word out
Hi Anita! Yes, Dr. Timothy Noonan at Allina, Woodbury was the doctor who did my full GI profile, SIBO test and IGg + IGe tests. I will however tell you that he orders the tests from Genova diagnostics and then you send them back to Genova (https://www.gdx.net/), so if you have a doctor close to you that will order the tests, that might be an option too. In the end I did end up needing antibiotics to treat the SIBO, and used these recommendations for that: http://www.siboinfo.com/antibiotics.html — and I’m so glad I did. I’m feeling better than ever. Hope this information helps!
Thank you so much Amanda!!!!
hello! Have you written elsewhere on your blog about which tests you have had done/companies you suggest? Such an alphabet soup of tests out there…ALCAT, ELISA, LEAP, etc. I also follow AIP and have had much improvement but am still having some struggles that I’m having a hard time nailing down what is setting them off! Thanks so much!
Hi Sabrina! For my IGg (food sensitivity) and IGe (environmental sensitivity) tests, my doctor uses Genova Diagnostics. https://www.gdx.net/
We also did a complete GI profile through them, and the SIBO test. I hope that helps and that you feel better soon.
Hello. I’m thankful and hopeful for finding your website today. I appreciate you sharing your journey and the information (with great links) you have provided. After years of a sensitive stomach, I developed a painful chronic condition in my abdomen that seems to be a mystery to my doctors so far. Since January I have gone through numerous tests which as far as the results say I should be the picture of health. We have a very modest income; how has the change in your diet affected your grocery budget?
Hi Wendy! Thanks so much for stopping by, and I really hope you get some answers soon. I’m so sorry that you aren’t feeling well. I know how frustrating it can be :( Implementing AIP is definitely more expensive, but worth it in the end. I’m buying higher quality meat, according to what is on sale each week at my coop so that I know the sourcing, as well as always buying organic of the dirty dozen. Then I supplement with the “Clean 15”. Luckily some expenses that I did have, like coffee and alcohol are now gone. I also try to batch cook and freeze portions so nothing goes to waste.
Trader Joe’s brand coconut milk has only two ingredients: coconut milk and water. For only $1.99, I think it’s a terrific bargain!
yes kaecee, you’re right, the Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk is just water and coconut milk. I like to use full fat for it’s nutrients and the way it acts in cooking. But this is great for smoothies and such! Thanks for stopping by :)
I just came across your blog after lots of research (I feel like that I all I do these days!). I am currently working with a functional medicine doctor, but have not yet reached the “root” of my chronic joint pain/inflammation/menstrual cycle irregularities/acid reflux/etc. Something that stuck out to me in this post was your mention of using Nexium. I have been on a PPI (a few different ones because they eventually stop working for me) for about 6 years now. I have tried several times to go off of them, but was just miserable. I am curious to know what you are doing for your acid reflux at this point. Thanks!
Hi there! I’ve been doing the Wahls Protocol (mostly) for about a year and am getting ready to transition to AIP (I have multiple sclerosis). I found this article while doing some AIP research.
Just wanted to let you know that Golden Star coconut milk contains only coconut milk and water, and is in a BPA-free can. I get it at Walmart for about $1.50/can, though they don’t keep a huge stock and sometimes are out of it. I’ve ordered a case of 12 from walmart.com a couple times; it’s $2/can that way, but I like to keep it in stock in case the store is out.
Wow, thank you so much for this tip! I hate to say it, but I never thought Walmart would have a preservative, gum-free, BPA free coconut milk. Will have to check our stores here in MN, otherwise I think I will order it. Have you compared it to the others, like Natural Value & Aroy-D? I sometimes wish Natural Value was smoother than it is…..
I haven’t tried the others, but I should at least try the Natural Value, since that’s what everybody seems to use, just to compare. I did try Thai Kitchen once when it was the only thing available, and wasn’t impressed. FYI, Golden Star isn’t organic, and while I try to get as much organic as I can, I refer to the dirty dozen type lists when necessary, and it seems that coconut is not a major concern in that regard. Also, the “BPA free” notice is a very small circle at the bottom edge of the can that you might completely miss if you weren’t looking for it.
When I open a can, I use fork to stir it all up really well, then pour it into a jar to keep in the fridge. It’s seems nice and smooth to me, but again, I don’t have much to compare it to. Once in a great while, I will get a can that has slightly different properties than usual; either it stays a little runny when refrigerated (makes me think that the fat content is lower in that particular can for some reason), or it seems slightly lumpy (but maybe I just didn’t stir it as well as usual). But normally, it’s smooth and nearly solid when refrigerated.
I hope you like it! The price is unbeatable!
Hi. I don’t know how old these comments are but I would like to suggest that you talk with the grocery manager at Walmart and ask if they would add a case of the coconut milk to their order for you. Since they already stick the item they may be willing to just add the case onto their order for you.
Thank you for sharing your journey towards health! I’m a midwest girl living in Australia and I’ve been struggling with leaky gut / adrenal fatigue / severe eczema for more than 2 years. I know that feeling of finally being diagnosed – information is so powerful.
My partner and I made your turmeric drink last night and we’re both hooked! Such a rich and delicious ‘medicine’ for the gut. A great example of how food nourishes us.
A few things I’ve found incredibly healing on this journey include coconut kefir, kim chi and bone marrow broth. They all provide healing tonics for our gut lining.
Please keep sharing and I’m sending you heaps of healing energy from the shores of Sydney!
Julie, I can’t tell you how much this meant to me. Another reason why I love the internet so much, bringing people together with similar stories no matter where they are in the world. Fun to here that you are a midwest girl too :) I’m sorry to hear about your autoimmune issues too, they sure make things tough, but the knowledge we now have about healing our own bodies makes me so grateful.
I am so so glad you both like the turmeric milk! I’ve never tried coconut kefir before so I’m going to look into that. Bone broth is a staple for me too. Stay in touch, and thanks for the notes. xo
The coconut milk you link to Contains guar gum, according to the Amazon product description. Is there another product you were thinking of?
Thank you for catching that – it’s so easy to get Natural Value and Native Forest mixed up because there names are so familiar! I updated the link, appreciate it!
Thank you for sharing. It was extremely informative. I have stomach issues and will be looking into this. Do you have a good cookbook to suggest? Thank you in advance.
Hi Beth! I’m so glad this helped. I know autoimmune conditions can be confusing, and there is a lot of information out there about the AIP as a healing mechanism. I’ve found Paleo Mom’s blog, written by Sarah who is a PH.D and the guru on this topic to be the most informative. She also has a cookbook, but I haven’t bought it yet. I know there is another written by Mickey Prescott, called the Autoimmune Protocol cookbook that is supposed to be really good.
I was diagnosed with similar health issues before, and was on a special diet for over a year. I have now modified the diet to include a few things, but it is still restricted compared to so many people, so going to a friend’s house for dinner is challenging. I found that I am a much more creative cook as a result of my dietary restrictions though. That is the other good thing that came out of it (other than improved health).
It is possible to heal, and you will make it through. We all believe in you!
Plus, this turmeric milk looks incredible!
Beyond being completely in love with this turmeric milk (soothing is the perfect descriptor), I want to wish you well on your healing journey. It’s empowering to be able to share your story, hopes and fears and have a comfortable corner in the universe where you feel safe doing so (with sweet Grace by your side ❤️). Love the idea of the open journal and the peace it delivers ~ it’s beautiful that you view your blog this way ~ and when you feel at ease, your readers do too. Hugs, xx.
It’s wonderful that you finally have some answers so you can begin the process of healing. Food does wonders for the body and I hope that you will be back to feeling 110% soon! Sending healing vibes your way xo
Thank you so much Genevieve! The last few days have been really good, and I’m so grateful that part of my passion can also heal me. xo
What an informative post! You know, I think we could all benefit from eating a bit more AIP whether we have issues or not. You’re going to nail this and I look forward to reading about your journey.
Amanda, thank you SO much for sharing your story. You are such a light. I’ll make a cup of this turmeric milk and send you all the good vibes I can muster while I sip it. Wishing you healing and self-care <3
You are are amazing, lady. I have my own medical issue that I haven’t really opened up about on my blog, but it’s also something that can be exacerbated or controlled by food. It’s incredible just how much power food really has, isn’t it? Anyway, I’m wishing every good thing for you and I’m looking forward to that post you write in the not too far off future about how you tackled this head-on and won. We’re here for you. xoxo
I remember the odd mixture of relief/shock/grief/happiness that I felt when I first was diagnosed with my health issues that ultimately led to removing gluten and a few other things from my diet. Reading through this, it reminds me of that time so much and here I am, feeling a lot of those feelings for you – even with the inevitable bumps in the road, I hope you are feeling well, supported and inspired. Wishing you healing happy vibes as you navigate these changes! xo
Your positive energy is so comforting Christine! No matter what kind of changes we have to make it can always seem a little overwhelming, yet we’re so grateful to finally have the answers. I’m so glad you found what works for you and are feeling great. Your note means so much. xo
I’m glad (although that’s not the right word at all) that you have a diagnosis and can hopefully see a path back to wellness. The way we can heal our bodies with food never ceases to amaze me. Best of luck on your new journey! xo
You are so sweet Kathryn. I appreciate your thoughts. It definitely will be challenging, but it’s been amazing how much I’ve improved in just a week. And so many new ideas for working with food I wish I could just be in the kitchen all day. xo
I’m so sorry you’ve been suffering Amanda! What a relief to get a diagnosis and be on the path to healing. Super big hugs to you, my dear. On another note, this milk looks epically soothing and delicious – I’m all over it. <3
Thanks so much Alanna. It truly is a blessing to have an answer after feeling so crummy for so long. I’ve felt better the last two days than I have in my months, so although it will be a challenging, it’s a testament that health is so precious! xo
Hi friend, my heart goes out to you – especially because you can’t have bananas and chocolate :) I love your positive energy, and I am confident you will nurse yourself back to good health! Go you!! I look forward to hearing updates!
I am so excited for you started your journey of healing. I’m totally rooting for you. As always, thank you for sharing.
I make a tea almost identical to yours, usually with almond milk or sometimes just hot water, but the coconut sounds rich and perfect; I’ll try that!
thank you jaime. trust me when i say i can feel the support. it’s amazing. i’m just looking forward to feeling better. one of the things i miss most are tomatoes & sriracha, lol. but onward! and yes, the coconut milk makes it sooooo creamy. comforts me every time. xo
I’m so glad you found some answers to your illness, Amanda, and that your doctor has this solution in mind for you. I’m wishing you the best in your recovery and look forward to seeing what creative recipes you come up with during this time! I love the look of this milk and am very curious to try it out.
Julia, I’m so thankful for my doctor too. It took awhile to find one who could figure things out, but so glad that we have a plan now. More delicious food ahead, just a little more creativity needed :) I wish I could share a cup of this with you and catch up!
thanks for sharing your story. that took a lot of guts (no pun intended). I hope this treatment/health plan does the trick. thinking positive thoughts and looking forward to your new food creations.
Mondo, thank you so much. I just wanted to share to hopefully help others struggling with the same thing. I’m looking forward to newly inspired creativity…. and then eating the delicious things you make when I heal :)
Very cool and I love that you found a doctor who takes these things seriously! Good bacteria is no small thing, I totally know, and I think you’re on the right road. Proud of you and looking forward to reading along!
Shanna, your thoughts mean so much. It’s been such a good reminder the last few months to not take health for granted. And that being said, how lucky I am that I can turn this around with real food and self care. So so fortunate. xo
Friend, I am so glad to hear you are finally able to begin this journey to healing. I know it hasn’t been easy, but I hope this protocol gives you the life back you’ve been missing for months now. Happy to sip this soothing turmeric milk with you anytime! :)
So sweet of you Stephanie, thank you. I will definitely take you up on turmeric hot toddy date. XO
This looks very soothing!! I’m so sorry about your gut problems — but always good to have a plan on how you’re going to make things better. Here’s to some quick healing!! xx
Thank you Rebecca, and as soon as I’m better you know I’ll be making those blondie brownie bars you just posted!
Thank you for this post! Although I don’t have leaky gut syndrome, I do suffer from some of the same problems you are describing and have also had to change my diet significantly (no legumes, nightshades, etc. etc.). So please – bring on those recipes. I’m excited!!