I was with a group of women the other day, just chatting about life. I seemed to be the only person in the room with no health concerns. Some had autoimmune disorders, some had intestinal difficulties, some had anxiety or depression. Most were struggling with weight and were ‘on a diet”. Everyone seemed to be comparing notes about their various diagnoses and the medications and side effects they were struggling with.
To say the least, it was difficult for me to NOT scream “PLEASE LET ME HELP YOU! THERE IS A BETTER WAY!”
Because there is. And it’s not another procedure or magic pill. It’s food.
I relayed a little bit of my story, hoping to inspire these ladies to ask me more questions or decide to try changing their nutrition so they would begin to feel healthier. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. It usually doesn’t. Most people I meet who are struggling with health issues have given up hope and have no idea what an enormous impact changing their eating and lifestyle habits could have on their health.
One woman, a mom at least 10 years younger than me has been diagnosed with a host of disorders and is on multiple medications. When I shared how I had battled Celiac disease, anxiety, seasonal allergies and joint inflammation, and how I discovered that I could reverse all of those things through gut healing and dietary changes, her response was “well, I would rather be happy and enjoy the foods I like and deal with the illness and medications. I don’t want to be so restricted with my food.”
Her response made me sad. It also made me feel a bit defensive, to be honest. I felt like she was saying that they way I eat is unenjoyable, and that she seems to believe I choke down foods I hate every day and am making myself miserable in the name of health. Which is SO far from the truth! I mildly said, “I honestly don’t feel restricted at all. I eat a huge variety of foods. But I do focus on foods that promote good health as much as I can.
The subject changed after that, and we all continued chatting about other things. But I kept thinking about that conversation on the drive home. I thought about the millions of people who are convinced that eating healthy foods is “too restrictive” and that it’s just easier to remain sick and take medications and just suffer with the side effects.
And I realized: they don’t know. No one has ever told them. They don’t realize the consequences of that thought pattern.
So, I decided to write about that conversation, so I could tell you the truth.
And what is the truth? It’s that the health issues 80% of us are dealing with are 100% PREVENTABLE, largely reversible, and are all stemming from one root cause, which, when left unchecked, leads to more and more health problems, worsening in severity and causing more diseases as they steamroll through our bodies.
How do I know this? Well, it starts with my own story.
I was constantly sick as a child. If there was anything going around, I caught it. I had strep throat at least twice a year, usually on my birthday and then during the summer. I had mono. I had constant sinus infections. I developed a skin rash that no one could explain. I had every cold and virus that went through my school. By the time I was a teenager, I thought it was “normal” to have constipation or diarrhea at all times. My periods were brutal. Extremely heavy, lasting a minimum of 10 days, with cramps and headaches so severe I would be in bed for 2 days. By age 20, I was noticing that I would get sick whenever I ate in certain restaurants. I assumed it was some ingredient in the food, but didn’t know how to find out specifically what that might be.
I finally brought some of this up to my doctor and was told I had “nervous stomach.” I have no idea what the heck that means, but I am pretty sure it is what they now call irritable Bowl Syndrome. My mom supposedly had that too, so I just thought it was hereditary, and resigned myself to living with it.
My pregnancies REALLY ramped up my health issues. I developed severe seasonal allergies (after never having them before) my stomach and intestinal health took a nosedive. I began to have bouts of joint inflammation. And I developed anxiety and started having panic attacks.
During this time, when my kids were very small, my mom was dying of cancer. She had no known risk factor. She was a healthy weight, didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, and ate a relatively healthy diet (with occasional cheese doodles and frozen apple turnovers. Those were her favorite treats). She was 48 years old at diagnosis. Way too young for ovarian cancer. Which is probably why she wasn’t diagnosed sooner. She had been complaining of cramping, bloating and pain for over a year, and being brushed off by her doctors as having “female troubles”.
3 years after my mom’s diagnosis, when I was pregnant with my twin sons, my mother in law was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She too had been complaining of similar discomforts for well over a year. She passed away just 10 months after her diagnosis. 18 months later, at age 52, my mom died, after a nearly 5 year battle.
I continued to have worsening health issues and began seeking help. Having lost both my mom and my mother in law to the same disease, after both of them had complained about their symptoms to doctors who ignored their concerns and brushed them off, I was DETERMINED to find someone to listen and give me answers.
Finally, after 5 years of feeling like crap and being tested for everything under the sun, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I also discovered I was lactose intolerant.
I began to change my diet and stopped eating gluten and lactose. But I was still in a place where I didn’t want to “miss out” on treats like the woman I was chatting with the other day. So I got only marginally better. I now only had stomach pain and discomfort, bloating & diarrhea maybe every 3 or 4 nights instead of every single night. But I still had skin rashes, allergies, anxiety, joint pain, fatigue and an extra 20 pounds I couldn’t seem to get rid of.
The loss of two of the most important women in my life led me to begin researching cancer prevention. Which led to researching disease prevention in general. Which led to the discovery that nutrition is a key factor in health and longevity. Which led to my fitness & health journey.
I began working out regularly and lost about 12 pounds. More research convinced me that nutrition was going to be key, so I started to clean up my diet. At first, I just stopped all forms of dairy, and incorporated more veggies (something I NEVER ate as a kid. I was a VERY picky eater).
For the past 8 years, I have made gradual changes to my lifestyle that have led me to where I am now.
100% healthy. I have not been sick in almost 4 years. Not a cold, not a virus, not a single bout of stomach discomfort, diarrhea, constipation or bloating. Seasonal allergies are gone. Anxiety is gone. Joint inflammation is gone. Skin rashes are gone. My blood work is “perfect” according to my doctor. I took off that 20 lbs and have kept it off with ease. My periods are short, light, regular, and I no longer have cramps, PMS, headaches, etc. No hot flashes (I’m 48, and most women my age are getting them constantly).
I realize that my story is just one case study. But it proves what I have learned through hundreds of hours of research, reading, studying, listening to lectures on nutrition, and questioning everything new that comes along (keto, avocado toast, coconut oil, paleo, “healthy fats” celery juice, every trend that comes along and claims it is the secret to weight loss) because I don’t CARE about weight loss. It’s meaningless to me if you are going to die of cancer at 50. Being a skinny corpse is not my goal. HEALTH is my goal. Weight loss is just a side-effect of doing the right things for my body.
The truth is this: All the symptoms, diagnoses, disorders and ailments I told you about in my story are RELATED. They all stem from gut damage.
Our immune system is mainly housed in our gut. When we develop inflammation in our gut, bad bacteria begin to infiltrate through the good bacteria that lines our gut, and diseases begin to get in. every disease that gets in weakens the immune system a little more, allowing more diseases to get in. Some diseases lead directly to others. For example, people with celiac Disease have a much higher risk of developing intestinal cancers. High cholesterol can lead to high blood sugar, which leads to Type 2 diabetes, which leads to heart disease. They are not separate issues. They are on a continuum.
Those women that I was chatting with the other day, who were talking about the disorders they have been battling, and the new ones they were just diagnosed with, have no idea that they are developing new issues because the first or second or fourth issue was never solved. They are just given medications to deal with the symptoms, but no one tells them they could be reversed, and disease progression could be stopped if they healed their gut.
This saddens me for even more reasons than I’ve already told you. The woman who said she would rather keep eating the “foods she loves and deal with the illness” was just diagnosed with Lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects every person differently. It attacks various systems of the persons body and can spread to other systems over time. How do I know this? My best friend has Lupus. About 10 years ago, it progressed to Lupus Nephritis. That means it began attacking her kidneys. 7 years ago, she was put on dialysis. Her 3 children were very young, and their mom had just a few years left to live unless she found a kidney donor.
Thankfully, I was a match, and I donated a kidney to save her life. It worked. She is doing well today. But When someone says they’d rather deal with illness then stop eating processed foods that are known to cause disease, I have a hard time holding my tongue. I don’t think they would feel that way if they understood exactly what that can mean.
Medications don’t work forever. Sometimes they don’t work at all. They MASK SYMPTOMS while the disease continues to progress. If she knew her disease could progress to the point where she needed an organ transplant to survive, would that change her mind? And if it would, wouldn’t she rather change some habits BEFORE it comes to that point?
This is the message I want to spread to everyone I can. 80% of the diseases we suffer from in the US are PREVENTABLE LIFESTYLE diseases. This means that it’s NOT genetics. It’s not random chance. It’s not inevitable. It’s CHOICE. 4 or 5 recent cohort studies from some of the most prestigious scientific organizations in the world have all come to the same conclusion: We could save 80% of the lives lost to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease and stroke if we changed our eating habits, ate more vegetables and less meat & processed foods, and quit smoking. 80 percent.
Every single one of us has lost someone we care about to these diseases.
Think about that. 80% of those loved ones would still be here if they ate a cleaner, more whole food, plant-based diet.
And, by the way, I have been a whole-food plant-based vegan for about 2 years. And I’ve never felt LESS restricted! I eat a bigger variety of foods now than I ever did before. I still eat treats, I just make them with cleaner ingredients. There are ways to still enjoy desserts and snacks, and even tacos! My palate has definitely changed since I no loner eat processed foods that are full of artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. But that doesn’t mean I go through life never enjoying food! I actually TASTE the sweetness is a strawberry or bell pepper. I enjoy carbs daily, I just get them from whole food sources.
And because I learned how simple it is to regain my health, I went back to school to become a nutrition coach so I can help others regain their health too! I teach them how to heal their gut, how to make healthy food that taste amazing, and help them get back to enjoying life without having to take time off to deal with illness!
If you would like to learn more about gut health and the connection between food and your health, please reach out and schedule a free consultation with me! I would love to talk to you and help you feel healthy, vibrant, and ready for all the adventures life has in store for you!