Nutritional Therapy: My Journey Back to Radiant Health (part 1)
Nutritional Therapy: My Journey Back to Radiant Health (part 1)
2012 was a wakeup call, I was living in the USA, in Lebanon, Pennsylvania after emigrating there from the UK to marry my ex husband. This year was a roller coaster ride of epic proportion, I experienced some amazing times and some real lows. I met some amazing people, I had my heart broken, went through divorce, got a job at the Hershey Medical Centre, and lived and partied with red necks!
My diet was the worst it had ever been, I ate McDonald’s for breakfast, pizza for lunch, fried chicken for dinner and copious amounts of Starbucks coffee just to make it through the day. I felt like I needed these substances to fill a void in my life and I used them to numb the pain of my dry eyes. Meanwhile this lifestyle was depleting my energy levels over time and placing more stress on my already toxic body.
You might think I’m crazy for saying this but I’m actually grateful for everything that happened because through these darkest hours I grew as a person and learnt some valuable lessons.
It took hitting rock bottom before I was willing to face myself brutally, painfully and honestly and re-evaluate my life from a different perspective. This is when I experienced what I can only describe as a ”spiritual awakening”. I think illness is the pathway to spiritual awareness if you pay attention to what it’s trying to tell you.
I suddenly knew exactly what I needed to do to heal my body and mind and I began to realise that the cure for which Id searched would not be found in western medicine.
For the first time ever I learnt to trust my intuition and listen to what my body was telling me. My symptoms were just warning signs and my body was screaming at me that something was off. Rather than ignoring and masking them with drugs which would eventually lead to a worse problem I decided to get the bottom of the problem and find the deeper cause. My natural healing journey had begun.
The GAPS Diet: my first natural healing experience
When I moved back to the UK I searched the internet for a natural cure and stumbled across Dr Natasha McBride, author of the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome), a gut healing protocol, the premise of the diet is that all disease starts in the gut so repairing the gut lining and rebalancing intestinal flora will heal disease outside of the gut. She had managed to cure her son of autism and I remember thinking if autism can be cured then there’s hope for me yet!
So I embarked on a gluten, dairy, sugar and grain free diet which saw me learning how to cook bone broths, healing soups and fermented yoghurt and sauerkraut. This diet was pretty difficult, but since I had only just started on my healing journey and didn’t know much about nutritional therapy I ploughed on and lasted two months!
I stopped doing the GAPS diet when I realised that I wasn’t digesting all the animal protein that I was eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and with my blood type A I am actually more suited to a high fibre diet which includes gluten free grains such as qiouna and brown rice. I tolerate these grains well and they greatly assist my digestion so why would I exclude them? It didn’t make any sense, plus qiouna, gluten free oats, buckwheat and brown rice contain so many healthful properties including B- vitamins and beta-glucans which increase energy and immune function essential for healing.
Although I feel that following the strict GAPS protocol is unnecessary and there are easier ways to heal, high quality grass fed meat and bone broths are a fantastic addition to any healing protocol because they provide many vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids which boost glutathione levels and repair a leaky gut. I still eat grass fed meat when I can afford too and have just started making bone broths again.
Nutritional Therapy and Detoxification
I had noticed an some improvements in my energy levels on GAPS but I was still experiencing dry eyes, Candida and other issues which led me to research other natural healing modalities. After watching a Ted Talk Video by Dr Mark Hymen explaining functional medicine and its ability to cure disease by removing the underlying causes, I knew I’d found the answer.
I felt so inspired by Dr Hymen who had cured himself of chronic fatigue syndrome with natural medicine and went from emergency room medical doctor to one of the key proponents of functional medicine.
I found a nutritional therapist who specialised in functional medicine testing and consulted with her. She took my whole case history and went into great depth- asking about antibiotics Id taken, childhood illnesses and my current diet. The tests she advised I get were a full panel, testing vitamin D levels, liver enzyme profile, full blood count, vitamin B12. The GP gave me the “all normal”, but my nutritionist disagreed, she uses a broader reference range which takes in to account subclinical conditions which fall just out of the GP “abnormal range”.
Despite taking a high quality fish oil for 2 years prior to this programme, functional testing revealed that my omega 3 and 6 levels were on the floor. This was hardly a shock given my dry eyes. After a year of supplementing with Body BioBalance Oil and detoxifying heavy metals naturally I retested and my levels are now NORMAL!
This confirmed to me that it’s not enough to just take a fish oil and expect dramatic results- you have to do a whole systems approach which addresses malabsorption issues and the reason that the omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are not being utilised by the cell where they are used as components of cellular membranes and inhibit inflammation.
Having low B12 levels indicated that I wasn’t digesting animal protein well due to low stomach acid, so I started supplementing with betaine HCL which is basically stomach acid. B12 is needed for the functioning of the methylation cycle and low levels can cause a build up of toxins such as mercury in the body.
The Dreaded Sugar Cravings
I’m not going to try to pretend that this journey has been easy. To be honest at times it has been pretty rough going. I adjusted well to the new diet and lifestyle (I will do another blog post on the diet I followed), and I held strong against temptation.
Birthday parties and nights out were the biggest challenge, watching people eat cake was pure torture at first. Today I stare in the face of cake and it holds no power over me. My sugar cravings are gone and I have no desire to eat bad food.
I feel completely satisfied with a gluten, sugar free cake made with raw cocoa and stevia or argave nector for natural sweetness. It’s just as tasty and guilt free! My father was tasked with the challenge of making one for my birthday, he loves baking cakes for the family cafe. It went down a treat and my sisters husband who is diabetic reported that it didn’t even spike his blood sugar!
My First Healing Crisis
About 3 months in to the programme I went through my first major healing crisis. This is when things really started to improve. I had just done an Epsom salt bath and afterwards I felt the most incredible energy and vitality. It was the best I had felt in years! I went for a walk in the woods and I felt a deep sense of appreciation for nature. The colours of the trees seemed so much brighter and I felt all my fears crumble away. It was a glimpse of what was to come.
They say a healing crisis comes when you feel your very best, this is because the body needs energy to go through it, so for a short period you feel on top of the world- a natural high. Unfortunately in the beginning this is often short lived because the body now has the energy and vitality to get to work and start healing. It will heal old injuries, infections, and any current or long forgotten disease or symptom.
It is an intense period of detoxification where the body ramps up it’s healing activity and dumps toxins into the blood stream to be eliminated. Toxins float around in the blood stream and cause detox symptoms because the liver is unable to deal with them all at once- you will feel better once the backlog of toxins have been processed.
Feeling worse before you feel better is common with all natural therapies that encourage healing at deep levels. You have to go through some discomfort to reach a higher level of health- this is how true healing works. At times I wondered if I was getting better or worse but I persevered and after the healing crisis had finished I felt much stronger. My dry eyes, memory and energy levels significantly improved, the brain fog lifted and I developed a much more positive outlook on life.
The list of detox symptoms that I experienced were annoying and scary at times but usually very manageable, much more manageable than severe eye pain. Here is a few of them:
- Extreme chills
- Flu/cold symptoms
- Stomach pain
- Intestinal gurgling
- Itchy skin
This experience has really inspired my purpose in life which is to help others on their natural healing journey using nutritional therapy and healthy living. I cant wait to qualify from the College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2016!
Parts 2 and 3 will be coming soon so check back for these, or sign up for my newsletter to never miss a blog post!
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