Better Living Through Chemistry

 It took me seven posts & almost a month to tell you the story of my autoimmunity.  I feel like it was sorta' long-winded, but there was a point to all the rambling & (for those of you that have been along for the ride for quite some time now) all the rehashing.  I wanted you to understand how bad it was, so that when I tell you what I'm doing in an attempt to fight it, you'll get it.  You'll nod your head in approval as you read & say to yourself, "I get why she's doing this."  Maybe if you are battling some health issues of your own, you'll say, "I wanna' give this try & see if this method heals what ails me." OR if you want to do all you can to optimize your current good health, you'll say, "I'm gonna' give this a shot & see if I feel even more awesome."

So, I have three autoimmune disorders; a skin condition, Endometriosis, & Celiac Disease.  At this time last year (Fall 2011) I was very ill.  I could list all my symptoms again, but to keep it simple let me just say that I was so ill that I had decided if the medical community could not find an answer for me soon, I was going to admit myself to a psychiatric hospital.  That's right.  I was so sick I thought I might be losing my mind.

There's good reason that I thought that . . . Celiac Disease is in many ways a disease of malnutrition.  The antibodies I had formed against gluten were destroying the villi in my small intestine.  The villi are these little finger-like projections lining our intestines that absorb the nutrients from our foods.  They help us get the vitamin C out of oranges and the amino acids out of big ol' T-bone steaks.  My villi were very damaged & I was barely absorbing any of those important nutrients.  By the time I was diagnosed I was critically low on many vitamins & minerals.

For instance, many of the B vitamins are incredibly important to the function of our nervous systems.  Remember the numbness I had in my legs & eventually even my hands & face . . . that was a serious B-12 deficiency.  All the B vitamins are water-soluable & need to be replaced each day, but uniquely B-12 is stored by our bodies.  When it is deficient it means you have been sick for a looong time.

Remember the terrible bone pain I mentioned . . . that was at least in part due to a major vitamin D deficiency.  The "normal lab range" for vitamin D should be at least 35.  The optimal level is somewhere around 80.  In April my level was 12.  We actually have a virtual epedemic of D deficiency in the U.S., because so many of us work in offices all day long & do not spend enough time in the sun.  Vitamin D is produced by an interaction of cholestorol in our skin & UVB rays from sunlight.  If you don't get enough sun (office worker) or if you have fat malabsorption (Celiac) or both (me), you have a D definicency.  The Bs & D are also both super important for regulating anxiety & depression.  Hence, my distinct feeling that I was losing my mind in a quagmire of anxiety & depression.

This was just the start though.  Lots more stuff was out of balance.  Our bodies are beautiful, complex chemistry experiements.  If you ever took a chemistry class in high school you know that if one thing is off in your experiement, the whole reaction will fail.  The body operates in the same way.  I got sicker as the necessary ingredients for my body chemistry were depeleted.  I needed to heal that & unfortunately our mainstream health care system is not that great at aiding healing once a problem is identified.   They wanted to A) convince me I did not really feel that ill, B) get me to accept my ill health, or C)  get me to take a pill to numb my response to my ill health.  I was given prescriptions for everything from Xanax to Paxil to Ativan.

It took alot of time, alot of research, & a few happy accident connections, but I finally sorted it out.  I needed to heal using food as my medicine.  I had to identify the problem.  Celiac Disease.  Check.  I had to assess the damage.  This involved multiple doctors & doctor visits over many months (years really).  And numerous blood draws (I have had well over 50 blood draws in the past year.  To be honest, I lost count somewhere around 46.)  Check.  Then I had to educate myself about the nutrition/disease connection & be willing to go off the beaten path.  Check.  That is when I finally figured out how to at least start the repair process . . . Paleolithic Nutrition.  Turns out, our ancestors were better chemists.  More on that next time.

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