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But the present medical system is an archaic, outdated model set up to treat acute symptoms and your medical doctor has limited tools to really find out what’s going on in a chronic illness situation.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: There is literally nothing like garden-to-table, organic vegetables 🙌🏼At this time in the season we’ve got a constant supply of sweet tomatoes, bell & hot peppers, zucchini, beans, onions, baby potatoes, kale, beets, Swiss chard, carrots and cucamelons (plus all the herbs) and are patiently awaiting the maturing of our Brussel’s sprouts, honeynut squash, celery, round 2 of Napa cabbage and more— celery is almost ready to harvest and I’ll be planting another round of broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce & pak choy seedlings in its place to head into Fall.I’ll also toss some spinach and arugula seeds in there somewhere, cuzzzz just like early spring, its about to be time for cold weather veggies to thrive!I must say, it’s amazing how much produce I’m able to harvest from seven 4×8’ raised beds and one 4×10’ community bed plot.❤️To be able to grow my food without the Toronto backyard wildlife (raccoons and squirrels mostly) constantly destroying everything, too, is SUCH a blessing!What’s your favorite vegetable to grow and eat? - August 24, 2019
- IG: 💩So I sent my poop off to Georgia last week…Via this— the GI-MAP.💩The GI-MAP is a diagnostic test that uses a sample of your poop to provide SO MUCH information about what’s going on in your gut.And that’s important, because—YOUR GUT HEALTH IS A HUGE FACTOR IN YOUR OVERALL HEALTH and is rooted in all sorts of ailments from anxiety & depression (mental health), to skin issues, to immune system function to obesity to diabetes to fatigue to thyroid disorders to chronic pain to… you name it, and your gut probably has something to do with it!💩Many of us actually have what we call “stealth infections” that often make us “mysteriously” unwell or seriously lower our quality of life or ability to perform at a high level. Most of the time, these are not detected by conventional medical tests from your doctor or a specialist 👎🏼.💩Back in 2017, after searching for answers as to why I was perpetually covered in painfully itchy eczema, couldn’t digest anything no matter how clean I ate, was chronically exhausted and depressed (plus more), I came across functional medicine and sent in my GI-MAP.💩The GI-MAP finally gave me the answers I searched years for. I, too, had stealth infections (bacterial and parasitic), imbalances in gut bacteria, high levels of inflammation in my gut, was highly reactive to gluten, and had a barely functioning immune system (there was more, but these are the big guys I remember).💩With this new information, @drnavazhabib devised a functional medicine plan to eradicate the nasties and address my imbalances and deficiencies.💩And within about 6 months, I was a completely new person in a body that was actually working 🙌🏼💩So now, as I send off my third GI-MAP test (now as an annual preventative healthcare regime), I reflect upon just how powerful functional medicine and this simple little test is, and why I went back to school to become involved in such a life-changing field🙌🏼💩If you, or anyone you know could use some help finding answers as to what’s holding back your health or preventing you from being the high performer you want to be, shoot me a message.Your poop tells it all😘• - August 20, 2019
- IG: I LOVE SUMMER! Had so much fun making this summer harvest salad for a friends’ bbq yesterday 🤩At its simplest, it’s a roasted rainbow beet salad with fresh sweet peaches, cherry tomatoes, burata cheese and a simple pesto drizzle….but I decided to take it up a notch and add a base of local beefsteak tomato slices, a handful of arugula, baby purple and green basil leaves and then nasturtium flowers, which are of course, edible and add a delightful peppery zing 🙌🏼I topped this off right before we ate with herb candied walnuts (walnuts candied in organic maple syrup with a pinch of holy basil/tulsi from the garden) and a simple pesto drizzle (fresh basil leaves, olive oil, fresh lemon juice and Him salt puréed in my Vitamix).I grew the beets, the basil, the cherry tomatoes, the tulsi and the flowers.It was a hit, as delicious as it was pretty, and something I’d definitely make again!How are you enjoying the locally harvested delights right now? - August 12, 2019