Hi everyone! I’m Ash, an 18 year old Christian who graduated high school at 16. I live in Southern California where I plan on launching my career as an actress, singer, and dancer. While in treatment, I run a blog and host a podcast about autoimmune diseases called “Trust Your Gut.” One goal I have for the near future is to write my health journey into a book and possibly come out with an allergen friendly baked goods line in grocery stores.
My autoimmune story is very unorthodox. In 2014, when I was 12, I started throwing up everything. It was all of a sudden — anything that went into my body immediately came out. After years of testing with no diagnosis, the doctors said it was probably a psychosomatic illness attributed to major stress in my life. I lived with this diagnosis for about 5 years, blaming all my irregularities on this. I threw up 50+ times a day, could never go to the bathroom without a laxative, and was constantly bloated.
It wasn’t until 2019 that I noticed a new symptom – yellow coloring on my tongue, white oral thrush, and raised bumps on the back on my tongue and down my throat. It got so bad that I couldn’t talk in the morning, and more importantly, I couldn’t sing anymore. After visit the doctor, they told me it could be completely normal and put me on antibiotics.
My symptoms only got worse from there. I started sleeping up to 12 hours a day, I had fever, chills, constant fatigue, and of course, my constant throwing up, bloating, and constipation. After a few months of complete agony, my mom found an integrative doctor who agreed to take on my case.
In a matter of months, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, leaky gut that led to over 40 extreme food allergies and 18 extreme food intolerances (we haven’t done the Celiac test, but it is highly probable due to how extreme my gluten allergy is), a small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Small Intestine fungal overgrowth (SIFO), hyper/hypoglycemia, IBS, and extreme hormone imbalance. My doctor also believes it is possible that I have Chron’s, but we have not tested for this quite yet.
It’s been a crazy ride. We immediately cut out all my allergies (including gluten, eggs, wheat, coconut, and about 54 other things) and switched to a low FODMAP diet to combat IBS and SIBO. At one point, there were less than 7 things I could eat. I also started taking numerous supplements and powders to kill bacteria, regulate hormones, and build up some good stuff in my gut. Even with this, I still had setbacks, including a UTI/kidney infection which led to a liquid diet!
But, even with the setbacks, I’ve started to see my body regulate itself and I’ll take those victories! I’m still working on it, but I felt like I needed to share my story. Not everyone believes in holistic approach but I’ve already seen so much change in my health.
If you want to hear my full story, you can listen to it on my podcast (@trustyourgutpodcast)
’ve been affected by my autoimmune disease for years. When I started getting sick, I missed almost every day of school due to doctors appointments, therapy, or just generally being too sick to function. Then during my freshman year of high school, my visits to the hospital were so frequent that I had to drop out of public school and enroll in a homeschool program. I felt like my life was completely being taken away from me in ways that we didn’t know how to fix. I couldn’t do any of the extracurricular activities that I’d been actively involved in like cheer, dance, theatre, debate, and choir. I couldn’t go out with my friends because I was vomiting. If I did go out, I would literally walk around with a cup full of vomit. It was seriously an every day, all day – no matter what I ate, no matter how little I ate.
Thankfully, because I was homeschooled I was able to graduate at 16! I had big plans of taking a gap year and recording an album with a good friend in L.A. However, because of my developed throat/tongue bumps, I was unable to sing. As my fatigue continued to get worse, I stopped dancing. It felt like I was watching all the work that I put in my entire life go down the drain. However, instead of letting this take away who I am, I’m choosing to let it add to who I am. Since I can’t do what I originally planned to do this year, I’m taking this healing time to learn. I’ve already learned so much about my body and the way it works and how to live a healthy lifestyle. I’ve also taken interest in theology, philosophy, business, politics and crafting!
Healing truly didn’t begin until January of this year. For a few years I was on various antibiotics and nausea suppressers, but they didn’t help much. The first really big improvement that I saw was when we cut out everything on my allergy list. It sounds like a no brainer, but I had no idea I was allergic to anything! I was living basically living on chicken soup, but I wasn’t throwing up. We’ve now connected a direct correlation from my allergies to my throwing up. I also eat Low FODMAP to combat SIBO and IBS.
I’m taking a lot of supplements – some for healing my gut, some for balancing hormones and sleep, and others for killing the bad stuff. I also drink aloe vera juice with an SBI protect powder and DaVinci G.I. Benefits Powder. It tastes so good and helps my gut so much!
I think it’s also really important to partake in emotional and mental healing activities. I meditate, bible journal, bullet journal, read, and REST when I need to.
For me, the biggest struggle has been the mental one. It’s been difficult to rewire my brain when I was told for so long that it didn’t matter what I ate – I lived for so many years thinking there was nothing I could do to get better. I built such an unhealthy relationship with food and I used it as an emotional crutch throughout my teenage years. Then, in a matter of 2 weeks my life completely changed and all of a sudden every food that I liked eating was actually slowly killing me. I struggled a lot with questions of “why me? How did this happen? Why is my gut so different than everyone else’s?”
I’ve also wrestled with the healing process. Because of 7 years of build up in my gut, healing hasn’t happened overnight. I could go months adhering to my diet perfectly, taking my supplements, and still feel awful. In those times, I question if I’m even getting better. In those times I want to cheat on my diet.
It’s been so difficult to live without a variety of food – even now, I’m limited to 10 -15 food items. In the future we hope to incorporate more, but because my gut is so damaged, even many vegetables upset it. I struggle socially too – I’m a teenage girl who can’t go out to eat with her friends! There’s usually nothing I can order! Having such limited food options is not only difficult for me, but for those around me. It’s embarrassing at times and it’s so difficult to find good food.
I still don’t have a great relationship with food, but I’m working on it.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
“Do not worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6
“finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
My faith is truly the only thing that has gotten me this far. I often find myself at a lack of explanation, asking why all of this is happening to me, why we couldn’t have diagnosed it sooner, why I have to put my life on pause now, and I think of John 13:7. I remember that my journey is important, that there is purpose and my story needs to be told – I just need to trust in God, like proverbs 3:5 says to. And then when the anxiety of the future kicks in, Philippians 4:6 brings me back to peace. Then I think of Philippians 4:8 and I come up with at least one thing that is praise-worthy and good and I focus on that.
Find Ash | @theashalina + @trustyourgutpodcast
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