Some weeks ago, Dr. William “Wheat Belly” Davis asked if I’d give a lunchtime speech at the Undoctored Mastermind seminar he’s conducting on August 24th. I of course agreed immediately because I’m huge fan of his work, not to mention the Undoctored book itself.
As if I needed any more convincing just how valuable Dr. Davis’ work is, he undoctored me with some advice that solved several long-running health annoyances.
Okay, yes, Davis is a doctor – a cardiologist, to be specific. But he’s the Undoctored doctor because he thinks way beyond the standard treatments of drugs and surgery. He looks for root causes and natural cures. He encourages people to do their own research, get their own tests done, and generally take control of their health themselves instead of relying on The Great White Coats.
Let me back up and talk about those long-running health annoyances. I haven’t written about them previously because I figured it would be more useful to wait until I had an explanation for what caused them. Now I do. We’ll get to that later.
As you may recall, I went in for surgery a year and half ago to shave down a bone spur in my left shoulder. When I woke from the anesthesia, I was told my bicep tendon had been severed by the spur and had to be reattached. That led to weeks of inactivity, sleeping sitting up with my arm pinned to my side, followed by months of physical therapy, slowly regaining the strength in my left arm.
I was (and still am) grateful to live in an age where these kinds of injuries can be fixed with arthroscopic surgery. But shortly after the surgery, I began experiencing a string of health annoyances. (I call them annoyances because they weren’t severe … just annoying as hell.)
The annoyances began with what felt like a bladder infection. I scheduled an appointment with our GP and saw a nurse practitioner, who had me leave a urine sample.
Good news! a nurse informed me later over the phone. The tests came back negative. You don’t have a bladder infection.
Ah, I see. The tests came back negative, so I’m fine and there’s no problem … except it still feels like I have a bladder infection.
The discomfort in that general area grew worse, so the GP referred me to a urologist. I explained that I sometimes felt like I had to pee when I didn’t. Sometimes there was pain that felt way down deep somewhere. Oh and by the way, I’ve started having occasional bouts of diarrhea for no apparent reason.
The urologist conducted some tests (one of which involved a glove … that’s all I’ll say about that) and told me my prostate was enlarged and likely inflamed. Probably an infection, he said, and prescribed CIPRO.
I felt better for a couple of weeks after the CIPRO. Then all the symptoms returned. Then they got worse. During a follow-up visit, the urologist told me the prostate tends to get larger over time, so it’s not at all unusual for men my age to have the symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
Uh, yeah, okay … but these symptoms didn’t creep on up me over the years. They came on all at once. I didn’t age 10 years in the past few weeks.
He sent me for some kind of scan that confirmed my prostate was enlarged. How is that useful? I wondered. We already knew that. After reviewing the results, the urologist prescribed Flowmax. I took it for one day and threw the rest in the trash because it made me feel hungover all day.
Meanwhile, I went to see a gastroenterologist. I was due for a colonoscopy anyway (my dad had colon cancer, so I get checked every few years) and told him about the occasional bouts of diarrhea. He said he’d run some tests on tissue samples he’d collect during the colonoscopy.
At the follow-up, he informed me I had no cancer and no polyps, but tests showed I had microscopic colitis.
What causes that? I asked.
We don’t know, he told me. Here’s a prescription for a ridiculously expensive drug to treat the colitis and the diarrhea. Or you could just take large doses of Pepto-Bismol.
I went with the cheaper option. The diarrhea eventually went away. In the meantime, I asked the urologist if the inflamed prostate could be the result of an inflamed colon. Yes, he said, that’s entirely possible.
What the @#$%? I wondered. What is going on down there?
Because I had skin cancer on my back in my 30s, I see a dermatologist for a check-up every 18 months or so. Shortly before I was due to see her, I developed an itchy patch on my back. During the appointment, she told me it was a fungal infection. She prescribed a cream to treat it. The cream sort of worked, but the itchy patch tended to flare up now and then.
Then I got what felt like the same itch in my right ear. Some days it was barely there, but on other days, I was constantly poking my pinkie in there and trying to scratch it.
Back to the dermatologist. She examined the ear and said it was the same kind of fungal infection. Use the same cream and it should go away.
But it didn’t go away. It came and went, like the patch on my back.
Around the same time, I decided to get an NMR Lipoprofile and a coronary calcium test to convince my GP I don’t have heart disease and don’t need a statin for my “high” cholesterol. As you may recall, the calcium score came back at zero. The lipoprofile also showed I produce large, fluffy LDL almost exclusively.
I expected all that. The GP was delighted with the zero on the calcium test and had his nurse call to tell me to keep doing whatever I’m doing.
But I was a bit surprised to see my total cholesterol was up to 280. It’s been in the 205-225 range for years. I was more surprised to see my triglycerides were at 125. That’s considered in the normal range by the medical establishment, but I haven’t had triglycerides over 75 in at least 10 years. I began to wonder if all this stuff was related somehow. Was my cholesterol going up as a reaction to the infected prostate-colon-whatever issue?
Meanwhile, as I was trying to figure it all out, I started gaining weight. Over the course of several weeks, I went from 200 or so to 212 on the gym scale – on basically the same lowish-carb diet I’ve had for years.
Well, no problem, I thought. I’ve shed the pounds before when I needed to. I know what to do.
I followed Dr. Ted Naiman’s program of high protein to non-protein grams. I also limited myself to around 2,000 calories per day. Yeah, that should do it …
Two weeks later, I stepped on the scale at the gym: 212 pounds.
What the @#$%!!
Okay, I’ll stick to the same diet, but eliminate all dairy products. I never needed to eliminate dairy before, but I know it works for some people. I’ll also limit myself to an eight-hour eating window.
Two weeks later, I stepped on the scale at the gym: 212 pounds.
What the @#$%ity-@#$%!!
Well, perhaps it’s time to try that meat-only diet everyone’s talking about. People have reported dramatic weight loss – even people who didn’t lose much weight just by restricting carbs. Yeah, I’ll try that, and also make sure I put in more sessions on the treadmill.
Two weeks later, I stepped on the scale at the gym: 214 pounds.
What the @#$% (reaches over shoulder to scratch back) is going on (uses pinkie to scratch inside right ear) inside my body?! (Shifts in chair because of discomfort in nether regions, then gets up to answer a false-alarm feeling of needing to urinate.)
When Dr. Davis got in touch to ask about giving a speech at the Undoctored Mastermind session, I asked if he had any idea what was going on with me. Oh yes, he had some ideas. He had me send him all my lab work. Then he called.
He explained that every one of my health annoyances was likely the result of small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or a fungal overgrowth in the gut, or both. The itchy spots on my back and in my ear? Fungus growing in the gut and likely being excreted onto my skin. The prostate-colon-whatever infection and the resulting discomfort? Probably fungus, certainly some form of gut dysbiosis – and the CIPRO likely made it worse. A fungal overgrowth can trigger weight gain and make the fat difficult to lose, he said. It can also drive up cholesterol and triglycerides.
None of the doctors I visited on this long and winding road suggested anything of the sort. Discomfort in the prostate area? Take these pills. Colon inflamed? Take these pills. Itchy patches on your back and in your ear? Apply this cream. They all treated symptoms. Only the Undoctored doctor suggested a root cause.
He also suggested a treatment plan. He told me to go to Amazon and order two types of CandiBactin (AR and BR) – natural antibiotics to treat the fungal overgrowth. He also reminded me that he posted a recipe on the Wheat Belly Blog for Lactobacillus reuteri yogurt – a yogurt that amplifies the pill form of Lactobacillus reuteri. There are apparently numerous benefits of this particular probiotic strain, which you can read about in the post, but of course my main interest was in getting my gut microbiome healed – probably for the first time since the shoulder/bicep surgery.
Okay, I admit it: I’d read his post about the yogurt before. I even thought it sounded like a good idea. I just didn’t bother making the stuff because I assumed the process was difficult, or time-consuming, or something.
Turns out making the yogurt is quite easy. Chareva and I are on our fourth batch, and we love it. It’s creamy and delicious. Rather than pour off all the liquid when a batch is finished to end up with thick yogurt, we pour off some and then stir in the rest so it’s more like a yogurt shake.
I mix mine up with a few blueberries, some collagen, and some Gut Garden prebiotic blend (potato starch, glucomannan, acacia senegal powder and inulin) to make sure I’m feeding those L. reuteri suckers once they’re in my system.
Here’s our latest batch of yogurt being incubated in a sous vide pot at 100 degrees.
The incubation time is 36 hours, so we start a new batch before finishing the previous batch. That’s longer and at a lower temperature than you’ll find in most yogurt recipes, but as Dr. Davis explains, higher temperatures can kill the L. reuteri bacteria, which would defeat the purpose of making the yogurt.
(When one of Sara’s friends found out we make our own yogurt, she said, “Your parents are kind of hipsters, aren’t they?” I’m pretty sure I’m not hipster. Neither is my wife Moon Baby … I mean, Chareva.)
I’ve been following this program for a few weeks now. The itchy spots on my back and in my ear are gone. The discomfort in my prostate/colon area is also gone. The urge to pee when I don’t actually have to pee is gone.
The weight is finally starting to budge too. After weeks of gaining or failing to lose, I’m down four pounds. Keep that in mind if you’re tempted to tell someone who can’t lose weight it’s because he’s not eating enough fat, or eating too many carbs, or eating too much protein, or not enough protein, or not sticking to a fasting window, etc., etc. I tried and failed to lose weight on diets that worked for me in the past and diets that have worked for other people. It appears in my case it came down to a fungal infection, not a failure to adopt the right macro ratios.
I was flattered when Dr. Davis asked me to speak at the Undoctored Mastermind event. Now that I’ve personally experienced how his approach can turn around a slew of what other doctors treated as separate health issues, I’m not so much flattered as honored to be included in the program.
Thank you, Dr. Davis. I’m lucky I had access to your extensive knowledge.