Healing Holistically - Lets Get Ketogenic

in Natural Medicinelast year (edited)

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This is my response to the First Natural Wisdom Challenge of 2020 from the @naturalmedicine community. This awesome competition challenges us to set health goals for the year and put them in writing.

For me this year is a big one! I've been suffering from a chronic condition called SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) for the last 6 years, and the progression of this dysbiosis of the little bug-ers that inhabit my guts has now effected my life so severely that I can't predict what my energy levels will be from day to day. It can range from being able to get up and go out to do the shopping on my bike (I don't own a car), to struggling to be able to complete simple tasks like washing the dishes.

What is SIBO.png

What is SIBO?

A large majority of the bacteria that make up the population of your gut microbiome live in the large intestine (colon). There are millions of bacteria throughout the length of the guts but the type and proportion vary based on the environment. In the case of SIBO, everything has become unbalanced and a large amount of bacteria, both good and bad have migrated into the small intestine.

Source: My SIBO Story

Throughout this battle with SIBO other imbalances have been diagnosed by the gastroenterologist. A few years ago I was diagnosed with NAFLD (none alcohol related fatty liver disease) which is a condition that has caused scaring on my liver. Symptoms manifests in me as an inability to process toxins properly. For example, hangovers come a day late as I am basically still drunk all of the following day. The hangover is extreme and will last for 3-4 days, leaving me unable to function for the best part of a week.

I am a freelance writer and the profound fatigue I suffer sometimes manifests in severe brain fog. This leaves me unable to write effectively and hit my deadlines, which has lost me clients. I'm becoming very worried that this condition will result in me becoming homeless with the increasingly Dickensian political powers in the UK persecuting those with illness who need help with social security.

With the greatest respect to anyone reading, before suggesting treatments - fermented foods etc - for my SIBO, kindly read the article I wrote over a year ago My SIBO Story. That article details the vast array of treatments, drugs and healing modalities I have followed. It can become exhausting explaining this condition, and all the treatments I've undergone, over and over again.


How I hope to Heal Holistically

I've spent a lot of time thinking about all of this over the holiday period. Partly inspired by the 21 day abundance meditation challenge that @riverflows ran in the natural medicine discord, I have set the intention to heal... and now is the time to manifest these intentions!

When I really looked at my habits and behaviors I realized that I was self sabotaging. Driven by the failure of so many treatments, fundamentally depressed at the frustration of it all, I had given up. My food choices and level of alcohol consumption were actively working against my body in its struggle to find balance again.

Everything I have tried in the past has revolved around the (traditional medical) idea of addressing what is going on in my gut by killing the bacteria. After completing the elemental diet (an extreme liquid diet designed to starve the bacteria in your small intestine) in 2019, I received a negative breath test for SIBO. However none of the symptoms have changed or gone away in the 9 months since that test, if anything they have got worse. It's for all of these reasons that I've decided to look at the problem from a different angle.

What if my liver is the main problem?

If I can heal the liver might this help bring things into balance?

It's worth a try at this point... I've nothing to lose and everything to gain!


The Keto Diet + No Sugar, Alcohol or Caffeine

This may sound extreme, but there is method to this madness of food exclusion. Excluding both alcohol and caffine are a no brainer to be honest. In a digestive system that has become so compromised as mine it is counter-intuitive to add unnecessary toxins. Add to this that cutting both of these substances out gives my liver a massive break, and it was always going to be on the cards.

How the keto diet could help.

Firstly, it could return some equilibrium to my gut microbiome. The main food group that is known to feed a (SIBO) bacterial overgrowth are carbohydrates. More specifically, starchy carbs such as grains, rice, potatoes etc. Things like bread and pasta are massive culprits - funnily enough some of my favorite foods. As I remove these problem carbs from my diet, the change in the food that is going into my system and feeding my gut bacteria, may actually promote some of the good bacteria to proliferate while starving the bad bacteria.

The variability among people and the adaptability of gut microbiota to substantial changes have permitted the manipulation of various external factors, restoring both the biological functions and richness of microbiota.

Source: Ketogenic Diet and Microbiota: Friends or Enemies?

It has been shown in medical studies that the ketogenic diet does alter microbiome, however the long term effect and interaction on specific strains of bacteria is less conclusive. I'm at the point now where experimentation is my only option. Both the head dietitian and consultant gastroenterologist in the Liverpool royal hospital have told me they have no further treatments to suggest.

Secondly, the physiological process of ketosis causes weight loss and puts the body into a similar state as a fast. This is where the medical research goes out of the window... because it is inconclusive or nonexistent. My reasoning for trialing the Keto diet is based partly on instinct and logical progression. I am sure that my gut issues are causing some nutrient deficiency, the intense fatigue I experience attests to this fact. Therefor my logical progression is that if ketosis does place the body into an anti-inflammatory healing state, the damage (and inflammation) that has occurred on the wall of my small intestine due to SIBO might be improved/healed. The other main reason to trial the keto diet, is that one of the major ways to reverse NAFLD is by losing weight, while increasing exercise.

“Medical interventions incorporating ketogenic diets appear effective for improving NAFLD and therefore may be an effective approach for reversing the natural history of NAFLD progression, although further studies are needed to confirm potential beneficial effect in patients with biopsy-confirmed NASH.” – by Talitha Bennett

Source: healio.com

This whole process is going to be an ongoing assessment for me, and I'm easing myself into it with a gradual reduction in carbohydrates rather than jumping straight in at the deep end. Every human being reacts different when such an extreme dietary regime is undertaken. I will be listening to my body and being honest with myself on how the diet is effecting major symptoms, beyond the expected initial Keto-flu.

My Plan for Ketosis

I haven't done a tone of research into the different types of ketogenic diets, so I'm not 100% sure what you would call the type I have chosen. I have gone for one that is low carb (keeps my carb intake to 5% or less of total calories) and relatively balanced between protein/fat.

I used the calculator at perfectketo.com to work out my daily macronutrient goals with a weight loss target of 2.01kg/month. As I am currently 12 Kg over my perfect healthy weight I've a long way to go 😉

Screenshot (169).pngSource: The Easy Ketogenic Macro Calculator

Milk Thistle - An Added Bonus

To supplement, and hopefully boost, the healing of my liver I will also be taking milk thistle daily with a diet rich in vitamin E.

Milk thistle has a long history in herbal lore to help with digestive issues as well as liver function. Recently there have been many medical studies that confirm some of these long known facts about this amazing herb's power to heal.

Some studies have found that milk thistle, alone or in combination with vitamin E, may help reduce insulin resistance, inflammation and liver damage in people with NAFLD.
Source: Silymarin in non alcoholic fatty liver disease

As I have been eating lots of fresh spinach, lettuce and other leafy greens, I will be getting plenty of vitamin E from my diet. In fact, the vast bulk of what I am eating is low carb fresh veg including broccoli, bell peppers, avocado, cauliflower and various salads like radish. Even though I wont be going full keto for a few more days, I'm already feeling the effect of this reduced carb, zero processed food dietary change.

Finally, as I see improvements in energy and other symptoms I plan on increasing my exercise to at least 3 times per week. This will include both swimming and cycling.

Many moons ago, in the summer of 2010, I completed my first and only Olympic length triathlon. I would love to be able to complete a second again some day.

Wish me luck!


The images used in this post are my own, or creative commons licence, linked under pic. If you have enjoyed this post, please check out my homepage @raj808 for similar content. Thank you.




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Greetings friend, a Christian from Venezuela, I read all your publication.

Jesus Christ Heals and frees.

In a second order of idea what are you going to try to alkalize your body?

You should stop consuming refined sugar and milk and sweeten with natural stevia.

On one occasion I read that drinking water at a temperate temperature 30 ° C with lemon and sodium bircabonate helps to alkalize the body and therefore control the colony of bacteria in the body. (take it on an empty stomach and then brush to protect the tooth enamel)

If you want you can research more on the subject.

As you know, my native language is Spanish and I speak very little English.

If I find more information in Spanish I will write to you.

But remember Jesus Christ the son of the almighty God Heals and liberates.

Thanks for the recommendations :)

You should stop consuming refined sugar

I already have... I wrote about it in this article.

you really have been on quiet the healing journey my friend, I have the upmost respect for all the research and time you have put into your health. Our diet is everything and what you are describing sounds really good. milk thistle is amazing as well, great to use herbs that grow were you live, also dandelion root too. But I don't want to push my opinions on you I know you have done your research. Wishing you a hugely healing 202 and here's to seeing you get more active, and doing small treks in the future. Much love xxxx

you really have been on quiet the healing journey my friend, I have the upmost respect for all the research and time you have put into your health.

Thank you, I really appreciate that, it can feel so lonely and like you're up against an impossible puzzle dealing with a chronic illness. I suppose it has been something of a journey... but I wouldn't wish this on anyone. It's been the most frustrating, demoralising and negative thing that's happened to me throughout my whole life. There was a period four years ago when my health was disintegrating rapidly, while I was attempting (and failing) to cope with a salary job, where I was having suicidal thoughts daily.

But you live and learn, and I suppose that this experience is teaching me how to move beyond suffering, to some extent.


Wishing you a hugely healing 202 and here's to seeing you get more active, and doing small treks in the future.

Right back at ya Aishlinn, all the best for the new year. I'll be trekking out into the wilds as soon possible. Much love x

So much admiration for your continuing efforts to take your health into your own hands. it's such a shame that the 'experts' can't help you but I guess they aren't trained to help you holistically. It'll be amazing to see how the keto diet works - will you do it with or without meat? Milk thistle is amazing, and perfect for the liver - I often use it when I'm suffering adrenal fatigue as the two are so interconnected, as are most body systems! Glad you shared this on twitter, we'll retweet it late rin the day xx @riverflows

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Hi @riverflows 👋

It'll be amazing to see how the keto diet works - will you do it with or without meat?

No meat, but I'm a pescetarian, or as my friend puts it - a half arsed vegi 🤣

It will sure make it easier to get me protein. The title image in this post shows one of my recent breakfasts with smoked salmon and poached egg salad, one of my fav keto breakfasts so far 🙂

Milk thistle is amazing, and perfect for the liver - I often use it when I'm suffering adrenal fatigue as the two are so interconnected, as are most body systems!

Funny you should mention adrenal fatigue, as some people believe that malfunctioning adrenaline production can be a contributing cause with SIBO. One thing is for sure, I'm never gonna get over this without treating the underlying cause... which the so called experts are clueless to discover.

Thanks for your support and insights 🙂👍

hi @raj808, iv been doing a 'dirty keto' for a while now and it the only thing that works for me. as i was doing it for no other reason than to lose weight while still being active in the gym a 3/4 times a week i kept my protein intake high.
Coffee is OK for me / Keto in general but yeah Alcohol .... ill have to work on that.... best of luck with your endeavours!... i wont bore you with recommendations as it seems you've done a lot of work in this area but as a quick note there are salt water and/or Coffee enemas you may want to research if you haven't already, beneficial for stimulating the liver and Gallbladders own healing... again best wishes and good luck !

Hi @goblinknackers

I'm already feeling an odd kinda benefit from this massive reduction in carbs. The first half of the day I had like some strange head cold (keto flu maybe) but the second half of the day I've been like a powerhouse... getting a load of research done into a money making scheme I've come up with.

Fingers crossed that the energy continues to rise and the keto flu diminishes... and I'll be on my way to a coffee enema in no time 🤣

In all seriousness, I miss the taste of coffee so much. The effect not so much as it was making me feel really loopy but the taste is sooooo good. Alcohol, not missing it too much tbh.

Keep up the good work and don't forget to keep listening to your gut feeling ;>)

P.S. Have you ever tried chai? Since I discovered this drink, I really don't miss the taste of coffee any longer.

Hi dude. I'm staying strong so far :)

Have you ever tried chai? Since I discovered this drink, I really don't miss the taste of coffee any longer.

Hmnnnn... thanks for the recommendation. I shall have to try that :)

Yeah man, give it a chai ;>)