At times I like to pretend that I’m the superhuman glowing epitome of health and wellness.
But like you, I’m on my own humbling health journey and it’s been a bumpy road.
Let me explain, because it’s a little confusing. I’m a very health-conscious person and do my best to uphold a healthy lifestyle and make healthful choices. I practice what I preach and I probably put more energy and money into my health than most care to (but if you don’t have your health, what do you have?!)
I look pretty healthy on the outside and according to my family medical doctor (and all the extra blood marker testing I’ve had her do for me), I would be considered to be “in excellent health”*.
(*minus my LDL cholesterol levels).
But the present medical system is an archaic, outdated model set up to treat acute symptoms and your medical doctor has limited tools to really find out what’s going on in a chronic illness situation. We have all grown up to have such trust in our doctors and to listen to their advice, as if they know everything there has to do with our own health, over our feelings or own intuition.
But a medical doctor can’t tell you the true state of your health based on a few blood test markers. Sure, they can tell you whether or not you might probably drop dead in the next little while if a general marker is REALLY OFF, but when your body is slowly showing subtle signs of disease, they just aren’t equipped.
YOU are the only one who knows your own body, what you are feeling like, and that something isn’t right.
Where it All Started
Illness typically results from the accumulation of many, many micro assaults over years and years of unconscious or conscious body abuse. It’s a multi-factoral process. Dysfunction builds and ‘brews’ over the years from physical and emotional stress, poor dietary choices, chronic exposure to toxins in bodycare and household products, poor quality sleep, and more… sometimes resulting in no symptoms, but often and more commonly beginning as those little annoying symptoms like skin issues, fatigue, digestive issues and mild brain fog.
So it’s tough to say exactly when my issues started, but I know when I started to really notice the annoying little symptoms that my body was using to signal distress.
I began to notice my proverbial health ‘cup’ overflow around 2014, after I ended a very dysfunctional 7.5 year relationship due to (his) infidelity. My world turned upside down, everything changed in an instant, and it was among the most stressful and emotionally taxing events of my life (stress 1). A few months following that I became very ill for many months with a virus that took over my body (stress 2). At the time, I was back in school and in the process of getting my diploma in Holistic Nutrition, and working at the same time (stress 3). This went on for a while, and then the next year my mom’s breast cancer came back (stress 4), and my only grandma died (stress 5, I was VERY close to her). Then just over a year later, my mom died (stress 6 + she battled for about 7 years, more stress).
And there was more that I won’t even mention, but you get the picture; STRESS, STRESS, and more STRESS.
So, when my body could no longer deal with the chronic and overlapping stress I was experiencing, I began to experience the first symptoms of dysfunctioning health. This included the inability to digest anything (bloating, IBS-like symptoms) anxiety, nasty itchy skin rashes/eczema, insanely high bad cholesterol, yeast overgrowth, mega fatigue, lack of motivation, muscle soreness, lack of stamina… the list goes on.
As someone well educated in holistic health, I knew that these symptoms weren’t normal and were my body’s little signals indicating that something was not right on the inside. I also knew that these little symptoms could, and usually do, turn into more serious problems if ignored and that it was best to seek health assistance.
So I did, and knowing that these were problems my family medical doctor or other medical doctors weren’t equipped to help me with (I didn’t want to ‘fix the symptoms’, I wanted to find the root cause of them) I went the natural route.
I saw naturopaths, a homeopath, a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor, acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, more experienced holistic nutritionists, and even had a sleep study done. I followed all their protocols very diligently.
I also did biofeedback, took a million supplements, herbs, did parasite cleanses, enemas, colonics and more. I spent hours and hours and hours on appointments and thousands of dollars.
I experienced some relief and improvement here and there over the years, but no real substantial healing. Much of my treatment was based on ‘educated guessing’, where the practitioners would recommend diets and supplementation based on my reported and obvious symptoms.
And yeah, sometimes that works, but
despite my best effort, my issues were always still just there. I was functioning, but not optimally.
I still hadn’t found the true root cause and just knew something wasn’t right with me.
Fast forward to September, 2017. I still needed answers and a more efficient treatment path. Guessing wasn’t working for me, and it was costing me a lot of money and frustration.
I decided I needed to bring some real science in, and have some functional medical testing done.
Turns out, this isn’t an easy thing to have done in Canada. Functional medicine is hard to come by, and on the costly side. But I was desperate, so I bit the bullet and decided to commit to The Living Proof Institute’s Essentials Program where I would receive both the functional medical testing, interpretation of the results, guidance and support along my healing journey. Yesssssssssss!
After the first appointment with my Functional Medicine practitioner, I immediately had two key tests done: The GI MAP test and the Organic Acids Test (Yup, I sent my poop and pee to Georgia).
To summarize, these two tests showed the following:
- I am reacting severely to gluten
- I have an overgrowth of the opportunistic bacteria Streptococcus spp.
- I have a parasite called Blastocystis Hominis
- I have a massive H. Pylori infection in my stomach
- I have an overgrowth of Geotrichum spp. Yeast in my gut
- I am insulin resistant (basically pre, pre-diabetic)
- I am not digesting carbs or protein
- I am severely amino acid deficient
- I am severely b-vitamin deficient
- I have problems with some neurotransmitters
- I have big issues handling stress
- I am detoxifying poorly
- I have intestinal bacterial overgrowth
- I have a lot of inflammation
- I don’t have sufficient enzymes to break down my food
- My immune system is very compromised
I was a bit shocked to say the least, but at the same time, not that surprised. It was such a relief to know that I wasn’t crazy and that there were actually scientific reasons why I was feeling so shitty.
Simply put, my body was over-run. In overload.
Stealth infections, deficiencies, toxins, inhibited metabolism of nutrients, inability to handle stress, inflammation, barely functioning immune system… a bit of a long list, but caught early enough that my body hadn’t given up the fight and succumb to ailments that are harder to reverse like autoimmunity or serious organ/gland dysfunction.
Where I Went from There
So I made some key changes and started a targeted supplementation program. I cut out gluten fully. I didn’t eat a ton of gluten before, but I definitely didn’t avoid it diligently.
I’m taking steps to boost my body’s digestion, reduce stress and eradicate the pathogens, starting with the H. Pylori (which was a shock by the way, because one of the biggest telltale symptoms of H. Pylori overgrowth is heartburn, which I NEVER had!).
And I’m IN PROGRESS, working towards healing. Progress is a process. Some days I feel great, some days I don’t, but that’s all part of the healing process.
I’m not ashamed to admit that this journey can be very challenging at times. Probably why I’m calling it my ‘journey’ and not my ‘skip in the park’.
Truth bomb: cutting gluten is tough.
It’s basically in everything you don’t make yourself, and you can’t just replace everything with gluten-free alternatives and expect it all to be fine and dandy. Most gluten-free alternatives are actually worse for you than their original counterparts. So you really have to make a conscious shift.
And on particularly weak days, I sometimes feel like an outcast when I can’t take part in the things that everyone else is eating. I also feel that people just don’t really understand why I’m doing what I’m doing– some people still think gluten-free is a fad I’m just following because I’m that weird “health girl”.
But I push on, and continue to do ME, what I need to do for me, and try not to care what other people think of me. I know what I need to do and that it will all be worth it.
If you’re struggling with chronic health issues, even those little nagging annoying ones, I URGE you first listen to your body talking to you via the symptoms, and then to seek out the functional medicine approach to healing. Whether your body is whispering to you with little ‘feeling off’ hints, or SCREAMING at you with big health problems, don’t just ignore them. You cannot truly address the root cause of any issue without the right testing.
And in case you were wondering, I’m not affiliated or selling anything here. This is my honest, personal advice based on my experience, in hopes that my struggle and journey will help YOU find answers quicker than I did.
01/31/18 – I’m about 3 months into the program now and will continue to update on my progress 🙂
04/06/18 – After about 8 months, I have completed all my appointments and am feeling like a new human!!
If you’re following along in my journey, I have written a detailed update post that you can check out HERE.
Wishing you the best health!
p.s. if you want to get to know ME better, check out 30 Random Facts About Me
She is here to preach what she practices and help you to prepare amazing whole food meals from scratch, grow your own organic food and optimize your lifestyle and environment to promote the most vibrant, glowing and energetic you.
Laura is currently based in Dundas, Ontario, Canada but works remotely with people from all over the world!
Latest posts by Laura Franklin, CNP, CFMHC (see all)
- IG: Yepppp, it’s 🍲 season (that’s a soup if you were wondering).Soups are a great way to pack super nutritious plant goodies into a delicious masterpiece of scrumptiousness and to also make you feel cozy.They can also be VERY filling and satisfying.This is why I appreciate soups. I love using bone broth as a base to add steamed veg in a chunky concoction or for a creamy smooth texture, blending in veggies like, my all time favs, CAULIFLOWER which produces a surprisingly creamy treat for the palette.BONUS: add an anti-inflammatory punch to your soups by popping in turmeric (freshly grated or powdered), garlic, ginger or all 3 — these are warming spices that boost the immune system so are also great for this time of year 🙌🏼.If you’re like me and appreciate bacon, do yourself a favor and just go ahead and add some crumblies to the top of your blended veggie soup (bonus if you can get it from a pastured source). And maybe even some fresh green onions too, like I’ve done ⤴️The sky is the limit for soup, folks!Just make sure you’re adding enough GOOD SALT (Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt are great) and some GOOD FAT (extra virgin olive oil, ghee, avocado oil) to really pull out all those flavors.And that’s that for soup for today.𝗔𝗿𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗮 𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗽𝗲𝗿? 𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁’𝘀 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗳𝗮𝘃𝗼𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗲 𝘀𝗼𝘂𝗽? [𝙻𝙸𝙽𝙺 𝙸𝙽 𝙿𝚁𝙾𝙵𝙸𝙻𝙴 𝚃𝙾 𝙼𝚈 𝚂𝙸𝙼𝙿𝙻𝙴, 𝙲𝙷𝙸𝙲𝙺𝙴𝙽 𝙱𝙾𝙽𝙴 𝙱𝚁𝙾𝚃𝙷 𝚁𝙴𝙲𝙸𝙿𝙴!] - November 27, 2019
- IG: 𝗗𝗢 𝗪𝗛𝗔𝗧 𝗬𝗢𝗨 𝗟𝗢𝗩𝗘 ⠀(𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘨𝘶𝘪𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘪𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘴 𝘨𝘰𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘮𝘦)⠀⠀Guys–I’m so excited to share a recent interview I did on 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙇𝙞𝙛𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙮𝙡𝙚 𝙀𝙣𝙩𝙧𝙚𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙪𝙧 𝙋𝙤𝙙𝙘𝙖𝙨𝙩 with Michelle Risi (which can be found on all podcast platforms and is also linked in my profile!) ⠀⠀In this interview, 𝙄 𝙨𝙝𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙢𝙮 𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙧𝙚𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙪𝙧𝙞𝙖𝙡 𝙟𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙣𝙚𝙮 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙝𝙤𝙬 𝙄’𝙫𝙚 𝙪𝙨𝙚𝙙 𝙢𝙮 𝙜𝙪𝙞𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙥𝙧𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙞𝙥𝙡𝙚 𝙤𝙛 “𝘿𝙤 𝙒𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙔𝙤𝙪 𝙇𝙤𝙫𝙚” 𝙩𝙤 𝙜𝙚𝙩 𝙢𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙬𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙄 𝙖𝙢 𝙩𝙤𝙙𝙖𝙮 (spoiler alert: I am currently doing what I LOVE).⠀⠀As a multi-passionate serial entrepreneur, I have faced some challenges (like imposter syndrome) and also some really great wins (like my recent completion of FMCA’s Functional Medicine Health Coaching program and the new company that I co-founded, @HealthUpgraded)! ⠀⠀I share my honest journey, what I’ve learned along the way, and more on the interview – and I can’t wait for you to check it out! ⠀⠀Have a listen and let me know what you think🙏🏼.⠀⠀PODCAST EPISODE LINK IN MY PROFILE - November 26, 2019
- IG: When you think back to what you ate today, yesterday, three weeks ago or even last year, how different is the food on your plate?Some people naturally include a wide range of diverse food when choosing their meals, but for many of us, it’s easy to fall into a trap of eating the same foods daily.By eating a varied diet, you’re more likely to ensure that you consume adequate amounts of all essential nutrients. This not only reduces the risk of nutritional deficiencies, but it also provides numerous health benefits, like:𝟭. 𝗔 𝗛𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗲𝗿 𝗚𝘂𝘁The gut microbiome is incredibly important to your overall health, and it’s best to have a varied population. The best way to achieve this variety in the gut? Eat a diet filled with assorted foods.𝟮. 𝗟𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗿 𝗥𝗶𝘀𝗸 𝗼𝗳 𝗙𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗔𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗿𝗴𝘆 & 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗼𝗹𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲When you eat the same food again and again, you increase your risk of developing a food intolerance or allergy to that food. Researchers determined that a decrease in food diversity at 6 and 12 months of age had an association with hay fever & asthma. Another study found that infants who ate a diverse diet rich in veg & fruit, as well as meals prepared at home, had fewer incidences of food allergies compared to children who consumed a less diverse diet.𝟯. 𝗡𝘂𝘁𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗦𝘆𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗴𝘆Numerous studies reviewing high intake of fruits & vegetables find correlated health benefits, including preventing heart disease & cancer. When you consume a variety of food, you gain from thousands of phytonutrients acting together to provide you with many advantages to your health, some of which have yet to be identified.𝟰. 𝗥𝗲𝗱𝘂𝗰𝗲𝗱 𝗜𝗻𝗳𝗹𝗮𝗺𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻Inflammation is associated with several chronic illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease. One study found that a variety of fruit & vegetable intake was inversely associated with lower amounts of the inflammatory biomarker, C-reactive protein. In this study, 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘶𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘥𝘶𝘤𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘲𝘶𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘵𝘺.Wondering what’s in my hand? They’re West Indian Raspberries I foraged in Hawaii! - November 25, 2019