Author Archives for Just a Gut Feeling

Test results

Leading up to the urine test, Berrik’s attention and mood seemed to have taken a downturn.  It made for a long few weeks as we awaited the test and the results.  I was exhausted with the pace of life – I was competing in dance that month, and McKenna’s dance competition season was amping up with dress rehearsals and extra practices.  Berrik had been tiring of some of the recipes I was using, so I was attempting to find and/or create new ones.  Add all this to a full time job and a kid who is now emotional and unfocused again, and I was feeling very overwhelmed.  Thank goodness for Avi’s patience with Berrik…she has always been very nurturing with him and because of their strong relationship, she is really great at keeping him busy and happy when the rest of us are running around like chickens with heads cut off – and for anyone who has ever seen chickens butchered, you can really understand how our family was functioning at this time!

So, the results come in and they are really odd.  Many of the results that were issues in the first test had been resolved.  All markers for yeast except one were within normal levels – however the one that was not had increased significantly.  Another marker called oxylates was through the roof, and there were a couple other really strange results.  The naturopath wasn’t sure what was going on and planned to call the doc at the lab to see if she had any thoughts.  It appeared to be very random and nonsensical, particularly when compared to the first urine test.

Never satisfied with not knowing, I took to reviewing the literature about oxylates and yeast markers.  After a few hours of reading, I found out that almonds are a food with one of the highest levels of oxylates, and overeating almonds can cause oxylate levels to rise significantly.  High oxylates can result in one specific yeast marker to rise as well.  And the other odd results were also related.  While I was glad to find the reason for the strange test results, I felt a little sick.  I was essentially poisoning my kid with almonds….  Almond flour is the easiest non-grain flour to work with – so my poor kid was eating almonds concentrated in his morning toast and his daily muffin at school, not to mention eating nuts as an afterschool snack and other more occasional almond flour goodies.  Sigh.

Back to the drawing board.  I slowly weaned Berrik off the almond flour and started looking for ways to bake without it.  I also decided that sticking to more whole foods and using muffins and other baked goods less frequently would be better for him anyways.  I told the naturopath what I had discovered and when she spoke with the lab doc, she agreed with me.  After a few weeks Berrik was feeling better (and so was I….overwhelming mommy guilt on that one!  Good grief. <insert eye roll here>)

At this point we decided to do a stool test to determine with accuracy if there was any yeast left in Berrik’s tummy, and if so, what type so we could treat it more aggressively if necessary. Also wanted to see whether there was good bacteria growing in there, as that will be the key to sustained health for my boy.  It was a three sample test – I’m sure you can imagine – poo in tray, little stick to put sample in little plastic jar – x 3.  Conveniently I was at a dance competition with McKenna when this started <snicker>, so nurse Kevin was on the hook for the poo.  After 2 samples had been collected, Mac and I arrived home from dance and I had one day at home before having to head to Vancouver for work.  Within an hour of arriving home I hear Berrik yell from the washroom, “Dad, I’m going poo in the tray…. want a sample?!”  I offered to collect this final sample, but superdad and uber nurse Kevin declined and marched off to collect.  For any of you wondering how I survive this crazy life – it’s because of Kevin.  He truly picks up all the slack in every area, regardless of what needs to be done.  I often marvel at my good luck, considering we met in a nightclub after a few beverages – I credit my excellent taste and sparkling wit – and perhaps his beer goggles that evening.  <shrug>

Stool test results came back – NO YEAST!!!.  Very exciting results as yeast can be difficult to clear.  We were so very strict with the regimen for almost 5 months and Berrik was SO good with avoiding grains and sugar.  Even at birthday parties he was voluntarily decline the cake and happily eat the ‘cookies’ or other treat I sent with him.  There was no bad bacteria showing up either, but the good bacteria was low, so still more work to be done.

At this point we reintroduced grains, but still kept sugar and yeast off the menu.  Again a downturn in attention and mood.  But we had a celiac test to complete so we stayed with the wheat for about 4 weeks.  As soon as the test was complete, I took Berrik back off wheat (but left the other grains).  Within a week or two, he improved again.  Celiac test was negative, but because wheat seems to cause issues for him, we decided to just keep him off of it for now.  Luckily with all the other grains and no more fruit limitations, Berrik has many more food options and was quickly gaining back the weight he had lost on the stricter anti-candida diet.

In my next post I’ll talk about my decision to take some time off work….


Time to just get started already!

I have been talking about starting this blog for quite a long time, and I truly (and naively) thought that being home with the kids would allow me the time to jump right in and blog frequently.  Ha.  Apparently in my years working full time, I lost sight of how busy stay at home moms (SAHMs) are!

Let me back up a tiny bit with a Coles Notes overview of how we got to this point.  As a baby, Berrik met his milestones on time for the most part.  As he reached the age of 2, he was clearly well behind in speech development.  Pediatrician, hearing tests (negative), speech assessment, PUF funding with speech, OT, and PT support, 2 years of kindergarten, ADHD and developmental coordination disorder diagnosis, and a very challenging grade 1 year, and here we are.

Last fall, after discussing with our family doc and deciding that medication for Berrik’s ADHD wasn’t something either of us was comfortable with at that point, I took Berrik to our naturopath to see if there was anything else I could do to support him naturally – to help him feel better, focus better, manage school more easily.  For us at home, Berrik was fine.  He is who he is and he managed just fine within the context of our family.  We didn’t find him disruptive or challenging.  However those words were being used to describe him at school.  His teacher was supportive, but with 27 kids in his class, there was only so much that could be done.  The way our education system is set up, is not an optimal learning environment for my busy just turned 7 year old.  Berrik’s speech is still delayed a bit, and he is slower than most kids to process information.  His writing is slow.  So you can imagine how challenging it was for him to find success in a typical classroom.  But I digress….

We had done a food sensitivity test a couple of years prior that showed nothing too significant, so the naturopath suggested a urine test called an Organic Acids Test .  The results came back and in simple terms suggested a massive yeast overgrowth in Berrik’s gut, and because of this, he was unable to absorb the amino acids necessary for neurotransmitter creation in his body. (Google ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’ for more information).  Neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin etc. are related to focus, attention, mood and more, ergo, no absorption of amino acids leads to inappropriate levels of neurotransmitters and therefore attention, focus and mood issues.  Please note that I am giving a pretty high level overview of the gist of what was happening for Berrik, however, I read pages and pages of literature on the topic and for us, it made a lot of sense.

So what does one do when their child has a massive yeast overgrowth in his gut?  We were advised to put Berrik on a very strict anti-candida diet, along with probiotics and a few other supplements to support his neurotransmitters while his gut was healing.  January 7, 2016 we began.  No grains, no sugar, no yeast, no honey, no maple syrup and limited fruit.  Essentially anything that was sugar or acted like sugar in the body was off limits, with the exception of 3 pieces of fruit per day because he is a growing boy and my naturopath felt it was important to ensure he was getting the nutrients that fruit provides.

Berrik was an absolute hero on this diet.  He ate what I gave him and almost never complained about it.  After about 10 days, it seemed as though Berrik was worse.  Emotional, wiggly, and really struggling.  Our naturopath was thrilled.  (Are you kidding me!?!?, we are losing our minds!).  Yeast die off apparently causes an exacerbation of symptoms initially, so the fact that he was a disaster on 2 legs was a good sign.  Naturopath was thrilled on a Saturday.  On Monday evening I was doing our nightly homework with Berrik (which incidentally could have been very effectively used by the Americans as a technique for torturing spies for information).  But this day was different.  He blew through his sight words and spelling list.  Without getting off his chair.  Without telling me a story about a ninja or a starwars character. Tuesday, same thing.  I had not told Berrik’s teacher what we were up to, because for me, the ultimate test would be whether she noticed a difference in him at school.  Wednesday evening an email from the teacher came through confirming what we were seeing at home.  She said Berrik was more focused and doing his work, and volunteering for classroom duties!  I cried.  I’m not a crier about much.  But this made me cry.

So with this as our motivation, we pushed on.  Most evenings, I experimented with almond flour baking and other recipes to make Berrik’s life easier but still be compliant to the diet.  Kevin picked up the slack with Berrik, helping him with homework and taking him to activities, and I spent hours in the kitchen.  It was an overwhelming and exhausting time, but so worth it.  In March I noticed the focus and mood taking a downturn again. I was beyond  exhausted and wondering what the heck was going on.  We did another OAT (as was planned after 3 months of the diet).  Stay tuned to find out the results…..

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