I wrote in part 1 of this 2-part series about how I was diagnosed with Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) in March of 2015. And then despite working with a highly respected, functionally trained MD, I continued to face more health challenges and was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease and Epstein Barr Virus in the fall of 2015. And I felt like I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, although it was not formally diagnosed.
Part 2 – which you are reading now – is about my recovery protocol and I have to share a little background information. I graduated from Bastyr University with my Master of Science in Nutrition (1998), and I ate a whole foods, minimally processed, plant-based vegetarian diet. I felt good. I had plenty of energy. I used to run long distance. I had no complaints!
However, as I studied functional medicine after graduate school (2013 to 2015), a paleo diet (aka high fat, high protein) was heavily marketed and I changed what Johny and I were eating. We ate a lot of animal products. And fat. Olive and coconut oil but also animal fat. You know we raise our own grass fed beef. Each year, I’d buy an organic hog or two. We ate chicken. We had laying hens for farm fresh eggs that were truly free range. Yes, we ate fruits and vegetables too but they were not the foundation of our diet. I’ve heard more than my share of lectures that the paleo diet is a healthy way to go. How many times have I heard Dr. David Perlmutter talk about how our brains need fat? How many times have I heard Dr. Mark Hyman say “Eat Fat, Get Thin”?
But, now diagnosed with Lyme disease, I began to look for answers outside of my functional training, and through Divine Intervention, I stumbled upon Anthony William (aka Medical Medium) and his first book Secrets to Mystery Illness. It’s a God story, but that is for another day. I read his first book in November of 2015, and it resonated in my soul. It heavily emphasized a whole-foods, vegan diet, and I was familiar with most of the herbs and supplements he referenced from my training at Bastyr University.
So – drum roll please – I gave up the paleo lifestyle for a mostly raw vegan diet.
I began transitioning away from animal foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I ate – and eat – lots and lots of fresh produce. I ate 100% raw many days. I ate specific foods that have medicinal properties. I juiced, especially celery juice. And I continued to drink smoothies, which I had been doing, but I don’t put fat in them anymore. And I don’t eat fruit if I was having meat (it took me awhile to transition). All of this to make digestion easy, and free up some bandwidth or “capacity” for my body to heal…since raw foods have their own supply of digestive enzymes and are easily to assimilate. I found new recipes. And made lots and lots of trips to the market!
I began my day with 16-32 ounces of lemon or lime water, followed by 16 ounces of celery juice, followed by Anthony Williams Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie. I loved that i didn’t have to buy any expensive powders and it was 100% food-based.
It took me awhile to move away from meat completely but over time, I was able to find enough substitutes and food we were happy to eat. I learned to appreciate Anthony’s raw spinach soup for lunch.
And we ate bowls of raw spinach, with steamed potatoes and fresh tomatoes on top of it for dinner. No sauces. Just seasoned with salt and pepper in the beginning. We ate enough asparagus that if you are what you eat, I should be tall and thin!
Diet *is* critical. I couldn’t have healed without changing my diet. But it isn’t just diet. I worked on a million other things too.
Now that I knew I was dealing with both viruses and bacteria, I addressed pathogens. I ordered Cats claw, Lysine, and ionic zinc and I was faithful to take them every day! I drank thyme tea (yuck) but with honey it was a little more palpable.
I took B12 with adenosylcobalamin daily to support the repairing of my damaged nerves.
I also learned how to support my bodies ability to detoxify, because if you don’t, then you become a garbage truck as all those pathogens die off! I saw in the sauna, rebounded, hydrated including a variety of teas and lots of lemon/lime water, and ate (very) low-fat and a lot of raw meals.
Although I’ve mentioned it, I believe sitting in the sauna not only helped me detox, it helped me de-stress. I sat in it every morning for a year. I had taken a year off my nutrition practice to heal, and so I had the time.
What else? I leaned on God. I prayed. I journaled. I slept. I sat on the beach of a river or an ocean any chance I got. I planted my garden on sunny days. I watched sunsets. I hung out with our chickens until we re-homed them, and I took our dog Buddy for walks or we would just sit together. I cleaned closets which must be helpful too right?! It sure felt good.
It isn’t one thing that makes us sick…and it takes addressing all the root causes, triggers, and perpetuators to heal!
I addressed the root causes of chronic disease: diet, toxins, pathogens, and stress.
And just so you know, I still work on my health, and probably always will. I never ever ever want to go back to being sick and tired.
Being healthy is a life long process. No wonder I named my business “Healthy Lifestyles” over 20 years ago! There are many things that go into that “healthy lifestyle” not just diet!
Everyone’s treatment plan is different, and doses are different depending on liver function, sensitivities of the nervous system, and toxic burdens, but I pray this gives you hope that you too can heal and ideas about what else you can do to follow in my footsteps. I am happy to report that I have healed and I can do any of my usual activities again, whether that be traveling, eating out, skiing, camping, hiking, etc. I even eat “no” foods with little repercussion if I don’t get too crazy and do it every day.
Healing takes time, and conscious decisions, but I now understand that it’s a multi-factorial process and involves many layers.
If you tried to give up gluten and/or dairy, and didn’t find relief, know that those are just part of the solution. Review the list I made above. It’s not one thing that makes us dis-eased. And it’s not just one thing that will get us out of the hole. But you can heal! And if you need help, I’m here for you.