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About illness, Mental health

Pills and thrills

I thought I’d write a bit more about food, medication and supplements. Since I got ill, I’ve met many others who have food allergies and digestive issues, or struggle to get enough nutrition. What I’ve learned might be of use.

Irritants

These are obviously specific to individual digestive systems, but these are the things that cause me some level of pain and/or nausea. I try to avoid:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Quorn
  • Caffeine
  • Tomatoes, potatoes, cranberry (deadly nightshade family)
  • Cucumbers and melons
  • Onion and garlic
  • Saturated fats

Medication and supplements 

I’ve experimented with a lot of different medication and supplements in the past 12 months. Here’s the ones I feel I have had some success with, and therefore recommend to others to try.

For digestive issues

  • Probiotics – I use Bowel Biotics probiotic capsules, which are working to restore the damage done to my intestines by antibiotics.
    A peek in the pill draw

    A peek in the pill draw

    Antibiotics are a shotgun solution – they kill everything in your stomach, including the good bacteria. It’s incredibly important to replace it.

  • L-Glutamine – This is an amino acid. Its main function is to support the nervous system, but it also serves as a source of fuel for cells lining the intestines – mine are damaged so this helps rebuild. I buy Vitafit pills, which are NZ made.

For immune system

  • My immune system took a massive battering from the antibiotics and steroids I was on. I use Clinicians Del-Immune capsules, which are probiotics specifically designed to support immunity and response to allergens.
  • Coconut oil – I add this to smoothies or milo. Melt it first! It’s an immunity booster. (Also really good for your skin).

For pain/nausea

  • Magnesium – This is important to prevent muscle cramps and spasms. I use Blackmores capsules, and Clinicians Magnesium Sulphate liquid. When you’re suffering muscle cramps, you should have about 600mg of magnesium a day.
  • Activated Charcoal – This is absolutely amazing for nausea and intestinal pain. I use Thompsons Activated Charcoal with Peppermint Oil.
  • Mintec is also a peppermint oil product which helps intestinal pain after eating.
  • My Doctor prescribes me codeine for pain, which I take reluctantly because it’s not good for your digestive system. But it works.
  • For nausea I take Ondansetron, which is prescription medication that sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t.

Other

  • I take Clinicians Minerals and Vitamins, just as a general nutritional supplement to help get what I need when I can’t eat.
  • As an additional note, I get all my pills (apart from prescriptions) through healthpost.co.nz. They’re local, deliver the next day, and are usually round 20% cheaper than retail.

Smoothies

I try to have a smoothie every second day. Technically, I’m supposed to have them twice a day… but I’m so sick of them after 6 months, and it’s difficult to drink milky things when you’re nauseous. I use:

  • Almond milk – non-dairy and good for protein. I think it tastes better than soy or rice milk.
  • Raspberries – they’re the most easily digestible berry
  • Magnesium liquid
  • Complan – you can get this from the supplement of your supermarket. It’s a flavoured mineral powder.
  • Protein power
  • Chia seeds
  • Grapeseed oil – this tastes utterly disgusting but it is amazing for fighting bacteria.
  • Bowel Biotics probiotic powder.

A couple helpful recipes 

I found this recipe (below) on Facebook, and made it yesterday. It’s utterly delicious, kind of like a sweet fruit breakfast biscuit. (I used dates instead of raisins because I hate them. I think it would work with any dried fruit).

Healthy and delicious.

I also have a new favourite dinner to make, my own version of Thai noodles.

For two people, you need:

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • Packet Pad Thai noodles (the see-through rice ones)
  • Whichever vegetables you like/can eat. I use beans, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, and spinach.
  • Optional: Oxo vege stock cube.
  1. Mix the soy sauce with the honey and grated ginger. I usually do this 5-6 hours before I’m planning to eat, to let it marinate. If I’m feeling ok that day, I also add an Oxo vege stock cube to the sauce. (This has onion and garlic in it. Sometimes my stomach will cope, so I’ll take the risk).
  2. Add pine nuts to soy mixture. I usually do this 1-2 hours before eating, so the nuts absorb the flavour.
  3. When you’re ready to eat: Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan, and stir fry whichever veges you’re using.
  4. Add boiling water to soy mixture and let stand.
  5. Pop noodles in boiling water – they only take 3 minutes.
  6. Add sauce to veges and mix together.
  7. You can either pop the noodles on a plate and pour the veges overtop, or you can do what I do and add the noodles to the veges. Mixing them together in the pain spreads the sauce through evenly.

Ginger is great for sore stomachs, so the kick of this dish is an added bonus 🙂

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About writehandedgirl

Sarah is a writer who is passionate about social justice, feminism, politics, and cats. She is a columnist and poet and currently lives in Nelson. You can follow Sarah on Twitter (@_writehanded_) or read more of her writing at writehanded.org

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