Let’s Get Real: My Personal Health Journey (Part 1)

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But the present medical system is an archaic, outdated model set up to treat acute symptoms and your medical doctor has limited tools to really find out what’s going on in a chronic illness situation.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.

The Results
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.  

My Solution
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 the easiest 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 working with Dr. Navaz Habib 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 Dr. Habib, 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).

What We Discovered
The results were mind blowing (I have highlighted the biggest insights of my GI Map Test in yellow):

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

Um, whoa.
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.

It’s Tough
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.

My Advice
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!!
07/11/20 – 2+ years later, I continue to thrive, have sustained the healing and lifestyle changes and only continue to become healthier with each passing year. My skin looks amazing, I can digest food, I have energy to crush each day, and I now work ALONGSIDE Dr. Habib at Health Upgraded
 to help others find answers to their health roadblocks and obtain a new lease at life, as I did. How amazing is that?

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!

xx Laur
p.s. if you want to get to know ME better, check out 30 Random Facts About Me

Laura Franklin, CNP, FMCHC

Laura Franklin, CNP, FMCHC

Functional Medicine Health Coach & Holistic Nutritionist at Health Upgraded
Laura Franklin is the owner of Fresh & Frank Wellness and curator of freshandfrank.com.
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!
Laura Franklin, CNP, FMCHC

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13 Comments on “Let’s Get Real: My Personal Health Journey (Part 1)”

  1. I can totally relate to your experience Laura. You are so right about the health care system. You have to be your own advocate. Glad to hear you’re doing so well.

    1. Laura Franklin, CNP, FMCHC

      Hi Joyce, thanks for reading 🙂
      You’re absolutely right and it’s such a shame that so many of us get so lost and misinformed within it, desperately trying to find answers. And the system looks at segmented body parts and singular systems instead of looking at the WHOLE; the deep root causes.
      I try to tell people to respect their MD’s limitations (and as you said, be your own advocate); they are practicing based on a very outdated model and are great for emergency care or acute illness, but really not for the majority of the chronic issues (physical or mental health) that so many of us are experiencing these days.
      Love and best health to you!

  2. Laura!! Holy (gluten free) cannoli! This piece resonated with me immensely. You said just about everything I feel. Thank you for being so incredibly vulnerable and open to sharing your story!! I look forward to continuing to follow along on your journey – you’re such an inspiration! And we have to talk/nerd out on Functional Medicine when you have a chance –I am curious to get some further testing done but feel a bit in the dark around where to start! Wishing you a beautiful evening in sunny Hawaii <3 <3

  3. Thank you so much for sharing Laura! I’ve been on a similar path to recovery, after dealing with intense fatigue, depression, recurring UTIs and a never-ending (I’m talking over 6 months at this point) candida infection.
    It’s comforting to hear that I’m not alone… But still, you are forever and always the superhuman glowing epitome of health and wellness in my mind!
    Wishing you courage and success on your journey! We should get together for a gluten-free baking + meditation session soon 🙂

    1. Laura Franklin, CNP, FMCHC

      Hi Melissa! Wow, there are so many of us going through these journeys and it isn’t talked about too much. I’m so happy to have sparked a little conversation.
      Baking and meditation sounds amazing ?
      Wishing you courage and success as well. Thanks for the note!

  4. Hi Laura,

    I also went to IHN and my story sounds eerily familiar to yours (although I’m sure a lot of people actually feel the same)… I had a divorce (infidelity on his part too!) and then incredible amounts of stress with juggling IHN and work, disliking my previous job, etc. etc. that ransacked my health and the digestive issues and many of the other symptoms you mentioned I had too…similar timeline. I’ve also seen countless practitioners and spent countless dollars trying to remedy myself all the while trying to get my business going and promote my services as a nutritionist…feeling the pressure to have perfect health and have all the answers meanwhile struggling to figure out my own health. I also invested in a functional MD (not through living proof..I didn’t know about them at the time), and I am in the process of sorting things out (although haven’t done the testing you described above..that would probably be super helpful). It’s incredible how complex our bodies are, and how we are all SO incredible similar in terms of our REAL struggles. Thanks for writing this and being open and honest. I hope you get things figured out and heal once and for all!

    1. Laura Franklin, CNP, FMCHC

      Hi Sharyn,
      Thank you for reading and sharing your story, also! It does sound eerily similar.
      It’s crazy what compounded stressors, unmanaged, can do to us. I hope you find your answers and get things figured out too!! Love and health to you.

  5. I am looking into The Living Proof Institute right now for myself…this post was very interesting and helpful! I would love to hear more about how it’s been going 🙂

    1. Laura Franklin, CNP, FMCHC

      Hi Heather,
      Thanks for commenting! I am so overdue to write an update post and I’m sorry that I haven’t.
      I finished the initial program after about 8 months and I’ve been doing so well. I actually posted an update video through Living Proof on my Facebook a couple weeks ago– I am going to link it below and hope that it works. If not, message me on Facebook, I’ll link it and we can chat!


      1. It worked & I watched it! That’s great they could do so much for you. Thanks for sharing. I also live a fairly healthy and organic life and have been so frustrated that all of my health problems are not going away despite this, and despite seeing various NDs. They have helped me for sure, but I am nowhere near 100%, which is my ultimate goal. The testing they do is so intriguing!

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