Original interview by Melanie Whitehouse for S Magazine and article excerpt from WellBeingWorld SS 2015
Until the age of 13, Lisa Rowat (pictured above) was a normal, healthy youngster who could eat almost anything. But around the time she began her periods, she started getting crippling abdominal pains and bloating after meals.
“The cramps were so bad I even landed up in A&E one night because my mum thought I’d got an appendicitis,” Lisa says. Foods that seemed to trigger a reaction included bread, onions, mushrooms and green peppers, and by the time she was 16, almost everything Lisa ate resulted in diarrhoea or vomiting.
Lisa’s doctor said her problem was Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and that flare-ups were linked to her menstrual cycle. Various treatments were recommended, from Fybogel to Imodium (which can cause constipation – a very bad thing for IBS sufferers).
Then, in 2007, Lisa was sent for an endoscopy and colonoscopy, followed by a biopsy on both her bowel and intestine. No problems were revealed, other than an intolerance to gluten. “So I started a gluten-free diet but that tends to be very high in fat, and I began putting on weight,” she said. “It also costs a fortune. I ended up at WeightWatchers weighing in at 13st 9lbs, and I was retaining so much fluid that some days I could only wear a tracksuit. Also my nails and hair were dry and brittle and I had no energy.” Lisa’s mother had experienced similar problems as a teenager but her condition improved with age.
Lisa’s, unfortunately, seemed to be getting worse. “I’d get so sick that I’d sweat from the pain of the cramps and the diarrhoea,” she recalls. Then, in 2010, Lisa’s mother saw a magazine article about a new ‘prebiotic’, a food supplement that stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. “I wasn’t that hopeful but I thought I might as well try it,” Lisa says of the chewable pastilles. “Within a week of taking them, I started to feel better and within three weeks I decided to try lasagne, which had always made me sick for a whole day. Incredibly, I was fine. “Gradually, I added in other ‘forbidden’ foods – things I hadn’t been able to look at in years, like bread, dairy products, pre-prepared sauces, mushrooms and peppers – and they are all back on the menu now.
The only thing I still avoid is stuffing, but that doesn’t bother me. I also began to notice that I felt much more energetic and my hair and nails were less dull and brittle. I’ve even lost two stones.
Read more on Lisa's incredible journey back to health HERE.