Laban Michael Heartburn

When I was 19 I developed my first case of indigestion. 

If you’ve never experienced it before, it’s like having a penknife inserted into your chest cavity. 

Again, I’m only assuming this pain as I’m yet to be stabbed in the chest cavity. 

To ease the pain of chronic heartburn, I consumed one to two antacids (*quick eze) a day and the problem soon went. 

*made up of similar ingredients to chalk 

Next week the same symptoms came back, but the dose needed to be doubled. 

Several more weeks went by, and I was mortified to note that I was consuming a high school teachers chalk allowance for one year, smashing two packs of quick-eze a day. Many times the recommended dose, but a necessary evil as the pain developing in my chest increased. 

I went to see the doctor and he immediately diagnosed me as having GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disorder). 

GERD is a digestive disease in which stomach acid or bile irritates the food pipelining.  It’s incredibly painful and left unattended is linked to oesophageal cancers and other unpleasantries. 

He assured me it was a purely genetic disorder and that there was nothing I could do about it, just bad genes, unfortunately. I shrugged in agreement and the doctor prescribed me PPI’s (Proton pump inhibitors) which reduces the amount of stomach acid that is produced, lessening the damage on the oesophagus. 

I took the medicine as ordered and hey presto, all healed, all gone! 

 And for the next 17 years I took this “harmless” drug, safe in the knowledge that I was healed from this genetic affliction. 

Plus the medication boasted a clean record for 30 years and no long term issues had come about, apart from the occasional benign polyp in the stomach. 

Each and every time I would ask a new doctor about alternative options, advances in technology or dietary changes that might allow me to come off the medication. 

Each time I was told the same party line “Genetic” “Nothing can be done” “Surgery is only 50/50” “keep taking the drugs” etc etc. 

20 different GP’s, 2 surgeon’s and 2 endoscopies all revealed that same indoctrinated response. 

One Doctor suggested a colonoscopy to see what was going on in there. 

“Well whatever a colonoscopy is Doc, you can stick that up your arse”, I sarcastically replied. 

I was getting frustrated at this point as I had started to read research papers that suggested my wonderful heartburn drugs were not as harmless as first thought. 

Probably the same papers that un-did thalidomide back in the 1950’s. 

I had started a laser-focused effort to start healing my life, and that included the physical as well as the emotional, spiritual and mental components. 

I started to get a sense that for my healing to really ramp up that I needed to start paying attention to my life in a holistic way. 

A friend suggested I get into a podcast series called “the Joe Rogan experience”. A weekly 2-3-hour long interview with literally thousands of fascinating guests. 

One episode especially caught my attention. It was a functional medicine doctor called Chris Kresser. 

Chris spoke about the link between gluten intolerance and reflux disorders and I found myself glued to the interview.  

He explained that gluten is a group of proteins called prolamins and glutelins. 

It’s found mainly in Wheat, rye, barley and bulgur plus a few others and gives bread its stretchy consistency. 

But there is another part involved, which contains another protein called Zonulin (which sounds like a Greek god, only it’s not, but it causes an equal amount of destruction). 

Zonulin is a protein that modulates the permeability of tight junctions between cells of the wall of the digestive tract. 

To explain in Layman, it basically creates microscopic gaps in areas that are supposed to remain closed. The unprocessed food material enters the bloodstream having not gone through a proper digestion process and triggers an auto-immune response from the body. 

In my case, it was heartburn, in many others, its skin issues, joint pain, Asthma, arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, Irritable bowel and they even Anxiety and depression illnesses can be autoimmune responses at times. 

I listened intently and asked myself “Hmm, I wonder if that me”? 

I went off to the local GP and took a battery of blood work and even got myself “DEXA” scanned to ascertain just how fat I really was. 

A DEXA scan is an imaging test that measures bone density (the amount of bone mineral contained in a certain volume of bone) by passing x-rays with two different energy levels through the bone. It is used to diagnose osteoporosis (decrease in bone mass and density) and it also reveals body fat and for someone like me who always assumed I was “Big Boned” I have some shocking news for you. 

You’re fat and your bones are just normal-sized. Sorry, but it’s time someone told you the truth for once. 

Your bones may be denser than most, but they are almost certainly the standard size for a human. 

The good thing about knowing this is that you can change it. 

In three months of cutting gluten out of my diet, I lost 3kgs of visceral fat stuffed in and around my organs.  

That fat is the one that will kill you dead.   

My exercise routine was no different and I was eating around the same amounts of food, but I had excluded all wheat including bread, pasta’s, baked good and anything that contained this stretchy, salubrious sonofabitch. 

My bloodwork also dramatically improved, and the combination of weight loss and bloodwork was enough for me to know I was onto a winner. 

Over the next 4 years, I lost and kept off more than 60 pounds of weight, reversed my prediabetic state, added 20 pounds of muscle mass and 1kg of skeletal bone mass. Quite remarkable by any doctors standards and all of this was achieved without supplementation, steroids or anything exogenous. 

Just Steak, eggs and bacon baby! 


Helpful reading

“A Fat Load of Good” By Dr Peter Brukner 

Published by Laban Ditchburn

New Zealand born, Australian citizen with a fresh perspective on life after conquering addiction in all its forms. Ultra-marathons, self-experimentation and extreme mental challenges are my new jam. Seeing other human-beings push their own mental, physical and spiritual boundaries is one of life's great gifts. Whilst continuing my own quest for self-improvement, I thrive in working with those that are willing to make their own changes for the better. Also, I eat steak like it's going out of fashion.

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