Mystery Digestive Problems? Try Eliminating This One Ingredient

How my husband healed his severe digestive problems (and associated anxiety) by eliminating canola oil from his diet


As I'm writing this, I've been with my husband, Stu, for eight years. For the first five and a half of those eight years, he had random, frequent GI episodes that left him debilitated in pain, unable to pinpoint a cause. Stu describes the abdominal pain as a distinct, severe, burning pain different than any abdominal pain he's had before. In turn, he had anxiety about going out and being away from home not knowing when an episode would strike.

For a while he attributed it to dairy but deep down we both knew that wasn't the cause because sometimes when he had dairy, he was fine. We tried eliminating other things like lectins & nightshades but nothing was giving him consistent results. It was obviously frustrating (and painful, and depressing and anxiety-inducing) for Stu but it was difficult for everyone close to him. It was difficult to see him in pain and frustrated but it was also frustrating having to cancel plans we all wanted to to be a part of, to leave places early, and it was really frustrating for me (who loves food, clearly...) to have to argue with Stu just to make a dinner reservation to then have to cancel. Literally, you should see my Open Table account from those years, it is just a list of cancelled reservations.

People, myself included, would tell him it was just anxiety taking on a physical form. Or that it was just in his head. Or that he was being dramatic. Just a quick interruption for this very important PSA:

Never downplay someone else's physical or emotional struggles. Chances are you have no idea what they're going through.

It turns out we were thinking too broad. We thought about all the commonly known intolerances like dairy, gluten, etc. and not thinking on a more granular level of individual ingredients. One day, I was particularly determined to figure out what was causing all his digestive problems and really did some research. We knew that nothing at Taco Bell (lol) made him sick, which pretty much confirmed dairy was out of the question. We also knew that every time he had a particular brand of chicken salad, he got sick. He ate it a couple of times within a week and each time he ended up sick after. So, I decided to check out the ingredients label. The very first listed ingredient was canola oil. I don't think I knew much about it at the time but something struck me so I Googled "canola oil allergy". Sure enough, it's a thing. It is "not a common" thing, but it's a thing. Immediately we were both thinking of which foods we had deemed safe and unsafe. First up was Taco Bell: all the items Stu ordered were free of canola oil. Next up was a Starbucks breakfast sandwich that seemed to make him sick: canola oil was a listed ingredient. In short, canola oil was the culprit.

Canola oil is made from rapeseed. It is also a refined, bleached and deodorized oil, commonly referred to as RBD. According to Dr. Guy Crosby of Harvard University's T.H Chan School of Public Health, "RBD oils are produced by crushing the plant material, usually seeds, to express the oil, followed by extraction of the crushed material with a low-boiling solvent, most commonly hexane, to obtain the remainder of the oil." In case you were wondering, hexane is an organic chemical compound that makes up gasoline. Wonderful! It's also a neurotoxin, I thought I should mention that. Oh, and it can also be used as a cleaning agent. Health officials have touted canola oil to be healthy because it has a relatively low saturated fat content but they fail to mention anything else. Lastly, 90% of rapeseed oil is GMO. And wouldn't you know it? GMOs have been linked to allergic reactions! Not only that but also liver & kidney dysfunction among other things.

Canola oil is in everything. I bet if you went in your refrigerator or pantry, you'd find canola oil on more nutrition labels than you'd expect. It's most commonly in salad dressings, sauces & marinades but you can also find it in things like chips and bread. While its hidden in food products, it's also sold by the bottle so consumers can cook with it in their own homes. It has a light flavor and has a high smoke point which really makes it ideal for cooking, but at the expense of your health.

IBS affects 25 to 45 million people in the United States. That's a lot of people. Canola oil is found in everything & marketed as being healthy, so why would anyone think their mystery IBS is caused by it? I'm not saying that canola oil is at the root of all that diarrhea, but it's most likely at the root of some of it.

If you or someone you know suffers from something like Stu, take a look at your food labels and give eliminating canola oil a try. Not only has Stu's digestion improved, but Stu's life is totally changed. No more social anxiety, no more cancelling plans, no more sudden and incurable pain. Even if you don't have any mystery IBS symptoms, it might be good for your insides to consume less canola oil.

I will leave you with an excerpt from Anthony William's book "Medical Medium: Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal"

Canola oil is mostly GMO at this point in time. And regardless, canola oil creates a great deal of inflammation. It’s especially damaging to your digestive system, potentially scarring the linings of both your small and large intestines, and is a major cause of irritable bowel syndrome. Canola oil can feed viruses, bacteria, fungus, and mold. Beyond that, canola oil has an effect similar to battery acid on the inside of your arteries, creating significant vascular damage.

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