The Pains In My Gut Were Not In
feels strange to be discussing my constipation, gas and other previous
digestive disorders with thousands of people! Nevertheless, I am
so thrilled and delighted with The McDougall Program, that I am
happy to share my story in the hope that others might benefit from
Ten years ago, at the age of 48, I developed a hiatal hernia. My
gastroenterologist told me that there was nothing to be done about
it, but to take acid-suppressors and hope for the best. As I don't
like taking any medications, I decided not to take them in the hopes
that my constant heartburn would just go away.
For the following 5 years, I suffered with chronic heartburn, indigestion,
acid reflux, gas and accompanying belching and burping. Whatever
I ate seemed to just sit on my chest and give me discomfort. I had
been a vegetarian for many years, but was still eating a lot of
dairy and fish, and using salad dressing. The more heartburn I experienced,
the more ice cream I ate to attempt to put out the fire in my chest.
Finally, about 2 years ago, I went back to my gastroenterologist
and he put me on a strong acid inhibitor. My acid reflux had gotten
so bad, it actually came up and burnt my throat, and I lost my voice
three times! After six months on the medication, I returned to his
office...miserable. The medication had not helped at all, so he
doubled the dosage. Of course, I then got even more unpleasant side-effects
from this stronger dose, and it didn't relieve my symptoms. So the
doctor ordered another endoscopy, as well as a colonoscopy. (The
previous endoscopy many years before had diagnosed the hiatal hernia.)
This time he found nothing serious, except for the hernia.
After another six months I was back in his office again! This time
I had to endure a most unpleasant procedure involving a tube being
put thru my nose and down my throat. I had to eat and sleep with
this contraption in for 24 hours -- he found nothing. I told him
I was sure that something I was eating was causing all this distress.
He said: "No! It's all in your head, and I am going to
put you on some Valium". I said there was no way I was going
to start taking a tranquilizer, and that there was nothing wrong
with me other than the indigestion. I told him I was normally a
very happy and well-adjusted person, and didn't need Valium!
He told me that he gives most of his female patients tranquilizers
"because you women get so stressed about everything!"
That was the last straw! I left his office in disgust, never to
I then turned to my last resort, and went to see a doctor practicing
in "alternative medicine". The first thing I said to him
was: "Although I never eat anything spicy, there must be something
I am eating that doesn't agree with me!" He answered:
"Nonsense! Digestive problems are caused by stress and not
by food!" He encouraged me to persevere with the acid suppressor,
and gave me Kava Kava, "a natural tranquilizer to calm your
nervous stomach." I took one Kava that night, and experienced
such severe stomach cramps and spasms from it, that I almost went
to the ER! Since then, I read online that Kava has been found to
be a very dangerous herb, and can be extremely toxic to the liver!!!
So much for calming my "nervous" stomach!
The following day I was at the health food store and happened to
start a conversation with a woman who looked so well, I asked her
if she was a vegan. She said she was. I then told her about my digestive
problems, and that I was thinking about becoming a vegan. She said:
"I follow one diet, and one diet, only The McDougall
Program. It just makes so much sense!"
I immediately went to the bookstore and got not one, but three
of Dr. McDougall's books, including "The McDougall Program:
12 Days to Dynamic Health", and "The McDougall Program
for Women". That was one year ago, and I have never looked
back! After about a week of strictly following the Program, I was
sitting on my couch relaxing and enjoying a TV program, when I thought:
"Something is different...something is missing..." and
then I realized what it was... I FELT COMPLETELY AND BLISSFULLY
WELL!!! What was missing was the indigestion, the gas & belching
and that uncomfortable bloated feeling I had always had. The heartburn
was gone, along with my lifelong struggle with constipation! It
is so wonderful now, to be able to enjoy such delicious and nutritious
food, and not be suffering with heartburn or the constant belching
I had experienced after every meal. I also don't miss being
woken up in the middle of the night with heartburn!
Before going on the diet, I had also suffered for many years with
sinus and migraine headaches and frequent head colds. These have
all disappeared, along with the dairy! Also, contrary to what I
had been led to believe, dairy does NOT prevent osteoporosis. I
had very low bone density, even though I consumed such huge quantities
of dairy products all my life.
Not only am I now full of renewed energy and high spirits, but
I can eat as much as I like and not gain any weight. I have lost
20 lb. and now weigh just under 100 lb., which Dr. McDougall tells
me, is the perfect weight for a 5' 2" small framed female.
After six months on the diet my internist was also impressed that
my previously "good" blood pressure dropped to an even
lower 90/70, and my "normal" cholesterol went down to
135 mg/dl. My triglycerides are now a low 53 mg/dl, and of course
my HDL, LDL, ratio, etc. are all excellent! My protein levels were
completely normal, even though I had not touched any animal protein.
This is my diet for my lifetime. I wish others could discover how
easy it can be to become healthy!
Although it seems obvious that
what you put into your intestinal tract will determine its health
and function, most people miss this relationship entirely
even almost every doctor fails to see this connection, because
of our education. Doctors and their patients are taught these
problems originate from the mind (they are psychological problems)
not the gut. In medical school, I was taught ulcers and
indigestion were due to "stress" and the treatment was
tranquilizers. Irritable bowel syndrome (spastic colon) is said
to be found in people with depression, hysteria, and obsessive
compulsive traits tranquilizers are the recommended solution.
In my 12th edition of Harrison's Textbook of Medicine I am
told that chronic constipation is due to: "
suppression of call to stool (failure to initiate defecation)
the period of toilet training in childhood, or later in life because
of a sense of social impropriety
" (I would like to
see someone on the high-fiber, dairy-free McDougall diet suppress
their urge to defecate.)
The obvious truth is the inner contents
of the bowel the foods and their digested remnants
determine the health of the intestine. Because most people believe
the American diet is normal, healthy nutrition they "can't
see the forest through the trees." Change to a starch based
diet quickly and permanently cures almost all of the illnesses
of the intestine from the mouth to the distant end. For more details
on the illnesses of the intestinal tract, read all of the issues
of the 2002 McDougall Newsletter. Subscription is free.