Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Book Recommendation: The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden, Ph.d., C.N.S.

If you are looking to increase your intake of healthy foods, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth is an excellent resource. Bowden discusses the healthiest food that you should eat when trying to adopt a whole foods diet. The recommended foods in this book are full of nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. Foods such as blueberries, salmon, walnuts, and Dark Chocolate made the list. Not only are these foods listed, but Bowden offers a detailed description as to which vitamins and nutrients are offered by these sources of food. The pictures of the foods are lovely as well. This book will encourage you to add a variety of nutritious, tasty foods to your diet!
Below is a link to Jonny Bowden's website. It offers great advice on nutrition. It also shares titles of his other books.

My Story (Part Five): I Want Off of the Drugs (Prescription Drugs-LOL)

So, I began taking Calcium for my bone density issues. While working, I didn't exercise like I was supposed to. I had killer fatigue. Every day, after teaching all day, I would come home and nap. My version of a nap would usually be at least two hours. My Mom would always say, "Won't taking long naps keep you up when it's time to go to bed?" Usually it was not a problem, because I was walking through life very tired and fatigued. I've had insomnia a few times. But, that was usually due to medication or something I had eaten particular day. Good thing I learned to avoid caffeine (i.e. Pepsi, Coffee, and Coke) a long time ago; because, these substances trigger a response in my body.

Throughout the years, I have lived with symptoms that have been very disturbing. Imagine what it would be like to feel like you are being shot up with hits of adrenaline on a daily basis-while at the same time, suffering from gripping fatigue. Definitely, a conflict within the body.

Over the years, I have been in counseling (I did suffer a trauma during childhood which I will not go into). I have issues. Who doesn't? But, I know that 'my issues' are not solely responsible for all of my ongoing 'issues'. Throughout my life, I have suffered with anxiety and depression. As mentioned before, I was placed on antidepressants years before being diagnosed with Graves' disease and hyperthyroidism.

Based on my research, I now know that many Graves' disease patients are diagnosed with disorders such as depression and anxiety when in actuality, the Graves' disease is helping to trigger the anxiety and/or depression. Autoimmune disorders are often initially misdiagnosed.

While on Synthroid (the medicine I took for seven years as a Thyroid Hormone Replacement), I always needed an antidepressant because I continued to get depressed. Whenever I tried to get off of the antidepressant, I ended back on one again. There have been quite a few.

I continued to have extreme anxiety, shakiness, etc. So, my doctors gave me anti-anxiety medications. None of those worked. Xanax looked at me and laughed. In fact, in retrospect, these drugs may have made matters worse for me.

I continued to complain about symptoms to my counselors, to my physicians, and to anyone who would listen. "Oh, let's increase the medicine," "You need to try this anti-anxiety medication instead," and I heard so many other reasons/responses as to why there were still problems.

Finally, in August 2007, I had enough. I stopped taking my antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicines. I asked my Endocrinologist at the time if I could try another medicine that I had read about. I requested this, because taking the Synthroid always made me feel worse. I wasn't quite sure what was helping to exacerbate my symptoms. So, my goal was to remove all of the possible culprits-the Synthroid and the antidepressants and the anti-anxiety medicines.

Next My Story Post: I will discuss what happened next.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Book Recommendation: The Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

Do you or does someone you care about have an Autoimmune Disease? If you or someone you care about has an Autoimmune Disease, I suggest that you read The Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Jackson Nakazawa (2008). In fact, this book is a good book to read if you are simply interested in how environment (i.e. toxins in food and pesticides in the air) might play a role in illness.

This book is not necessarily an easy read, because it is packed with so much information. I read it, put it down, and then pick it up to read again. However, it is full of information about how we can attempt to reduce the impact of the increasing Autoimmune Epidemic. So, in my opinion, that makes it worth reading.

This book gives insight to people suffering with an Autoimmune Disease. For example, the book offers suggestions on how diet and digestive health might play a role in helping to calm or slow some of the effects of having Autoimmune Disease.

No, this book does not tell us how to cure Autoimmune Disease. Unfortunately, no one has the answer to this question yet; as, The Autoimmune System is not yet fully understood by researchers.

While genetics can play a role in Autoimmune Disease, The Autoimmune Epidemic informs us as to why the environment is a likely trigger in these often debilitating diseases. Also, Jackson discusses current research being done and offers advice on how you can attempt to protect your immune system and reduce your chance of acquiring an Autoimmune Disease.
Below is a link to Jackson's website. It is very interesting (includes info about the book, her blog, etc.).

What is Autoimmune Disease?

I have mentioned that I have an Autoimmune Disease (Graves' Disease). I would like to give a brief explanation about Autoimmune Disease. Graves' Disease is one of many Autoimmune Diseases that affect millions of people. Other Autoimmune diseases include Diabetes, Type 1; Lupus; Crohn's disease; Sarcoidosis, MS, and Rheumatoid arthritis. In addition to the Autoimmune Diseases that I listed, there are so many others. . . As mentioned in a book called The Autoimmune Epidemic, by Donna Jackson Nakazawa, Autoimmune Disease is on the rise although it is not being properly funded in medical research.
What is Autoimmune Disease?
"Our bodies have an immune system that protects us from disease and infection. But if you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks itself by mistake, and you can get sick. Autoimmune diseases can affect connective tissue in your body (the tissue which binds together body tissues and organs). Autoimmune disease can affect many parts of your body, like your nerves, muscles, endocrine system (system that directs your body’s hormones and other chemicals), and digestive system." The above information comes from the following website: http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/autoimmune-diseases.cfm#1.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Announcement: May is Lupus Awareness Month

Lupus is an Autoimmune Disorder. As a person who has been affected with an Autoimmune Disease, I would like to to support others suffering with Autoimmune Disorders. Below are a few sites that tell about this debilitating disorder...
websites for more information on Lupus

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Health Chats/Groups

I am on twitter.com, but I am having trouble messaging people. So, I may not be on for long.

Another site I'm on is http://community.wegohealth.com/groups. It is a site that allows you to discuss personal health issues. I am in the Dystonia and Thyroid group, thus far.

****I encourage anyone to browse the above site. You can find some valuable opinions/information about health issues that you may be interested in... You just need an email address and password. Then, just type your topic of interest in the search bar area.

MY STORY (PART FOUR): "You Need to Take Medication for Osteopenia"

Needless to say, once diagnosed with Osteopenia, I was upset that no doctor ever mentioned the mere possibility that I could develop bone issues. Yes, I was young and Osteopenia is not prevalent in younger people. However, I had other issues or risk factors.

I wish that more medical professionals would think outside of the box. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. So, I have slowly but surely learned that I must be my own health/medical advocate in terms of reading and research as much as I can before accepting a certain type of treatment.

I do thank God that He had my friend invite me to the health screening that revealed that I had Osteopenia. Without that initial screening, who knows how much longer it would have been before I realized that I had been affected by Osteopenia.

Anyway, once diagnosed with Osteopenia, my internist at the time suggested that I start taking one of those medicines for Osteoporosis (i.e. Fosamax). I asked my doctor several questions regarding the medicine. Through that inquisition, I realized that testing for this medicine had not been done on women in my age group (premenopausal). So, I elected not to take the medicine. At this point, I am glad I have not taken any prescribed medicine for this issue. I say this, because I have heard some very negative side effects that have occurred due to these types of medications.

So, I was prescribed 1200mg daily of a Calcium Supplement. In addition, weight bearing exercise is supposed to help with bone issues. Currently, I try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day using a treadmill , exercise videos, and small hand weights. My mom keeps getting after me about getting a personal trainer. Well, she is on the right track. I just haven't done it (they are not cheap). But, perhaps, eventually I can look into it.

The following is an article that discusses the importance of Calcium, Vitamin D, and Magenesium in terms of bone health:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

MY STORY (PART THREE): Graves' Disease and Hyperthyroidism continued

At this point, I had been on Synthroid, a medicine taken to replace Thyroid Hormone, since 2001. I had been to quite a few endocrinologists at this point. None of them ever mentioned that I was in jeopardy of developing bone density issues. . .

In 2005, I was diagnosed with Osteopenia. Osteopenia is a precursor to Osteoperosis. You might think that a doctor diagnosed me with this disorder. Nope. A former co-worker and friend of mine asked if I wanted to go to a free health screening at a nearby grocery store. The store was giving free blood pressure screenings, cholesterol checks, and bone density tests. I said, "Why not?" So, I went to the screening with my friend. I really went, because I have a history of high cholesterol (probably related to the thyroid issue and genetics, because I don't eat that poorly).

Boy, was I in for a surprise! Not about my cholesterol. It was on the high side (At least, the "good cholesterol" was good). But, I was given a very basic bone density that involved measuring my foot. I was told that I have the bones of an 80 year old. I was only 32 at the time. At first, I laughed at the technician. I surely thought that he was joking. But, he assured me that he was very serious. He informed me that I needed to have a more complete bone density scan done through the doctor's office.

So, I scheduled the appointment. To make a long story short, it was found that I have Osteopenia, the precursor to Osteoporosis. I never liked milk. However, I frequently ate cheese and yogurt. So, I was kind of baffled. My primary care physician was baffled, too. "Typically, a young woman does not get Osteopenia/Osteoporosis."

I had read a few books/articles on thyroid disease. But, nothing ever stood out that made me think that I needed to be really vigilant about making sure my bones were okay. By 2005, I had been to at least 5 or 6 endocrinologists and none of them informed me of the need to be concerned about the health of my bones.

So, I started to research more. Now, I know that thyroid medication can possibly help to deplete calcium in the bones. Also, I may have been hyperthyroid longer than I realized. This, too, can cause bone problems. Trust me when I tell you, not many Endocrinologists will inform you of this possibility. It does make me angry that I was not informed of this possiblity. But, this is just one example of how I feel that I have been dismissed and/or uninformed by my doctors.

Next Post: I will discuss what happened next...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

MY STORY(PART TWO): Graves' Disease and Hyperthyroidism

(I feel the need to back track and discuss my journey through illness in my quest to regain health. I have already discussed my diagnosis of Leaky Gut Syndrome. This post will discuss
my diagnosis of Graves' Disease and how it affected my thyroid. My next posts will continue where this one leaves off.)

Graves' Disease is an autoimmune disease. I was diagnosed with Graves' Disease in 2001. Graves' Disease triggered my body to produce too much thyroid hormone. Thus, I developed hyperthyroidism. Symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, shakiness, and rapid heart beat. Prior to being diagnosed with Graves' Disease, I had all of these symptoms and then some. Prior to being diagnosed with Graves' Disease, I was put on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medicines. Now, I know, a large part of my problems are/were not mental in nature but are/were due to the tiny thyroid gland functioning improperly.

My endrocrinologist (the doctor who deals with endocrine disorders) suggested that I have my thyroid basically detroyed with radioactive iodine. In retrospect, I wish I would have tried holistic approaches before taking such drastic measures.

Once the thyroid is destroyed by radioactive iodine therapy, the patient usually becomes hypothyroid (or develops an underactive thyroid). After a few short months, I became hypothyoid and was put on a medicine called Synthroid. This medicine has to be taken for life since the thyroid is a gland that affects almost every part of the body. Without this tiny gland functioning properly, you could die eventually.

I never did well on this medicine. I always experienced extreme anxiety and nervousness while on this medicine. I always felt better for a few days when I refused to take it. But, then I would have to take the medicine because I would start feeling extremely tired and have other disturbing symptoms. While on this medicine, I also always needed an antidepressant. The antidepressants worked. But, no anxiety medicine (and I was given many) ever worked.

Below is a link to a site that discusses Graves' Disease and Autoimmunity (pretty interesting):

Next: I will discuss my diagnosis of osteopenia ( a precursor to osteoporosis)

MY STORY (PART ONE): Leaky Gut Syndrome

In addition to my other health issues which include Dystonia and Graves' Disease, I have been diagnosed with Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut Syndrome is intestinal permeability. In other words, I have developed holes in my intestines that cause bacteria, toxins, and food to leak into my bloodstream. This can cause a number of problems within the body including food allergies/food intolerances and inflammation.

I always suspected that something was not quite right with my stomach. Why? Well, I have always been underweight (currently 5'6'' and 111 pounds) although I love to eat and at one point or another I have been told that I have several deficiencies (i.e. Vitamin D, Zinc, Osteopenia (bone density issue). There are other reasons for my suspicions, but those are just a few. In my research, I have also found that Leaky Gut Syndrome is common in people with Autoimmune Disorders.

Based on research that I have been doing, I decided to consult an allergist. I explained to the allergist my symptoms, illnesses, etc. My allergist did do a skin test. The skin test showed that I was allergic to ragweed, dust mites, and feathers. The test did not show that I was allergic to any foods.

I had asked the allergy doctor to do a test that would show delayed food reactions. So, I was given a blood test. This test showed that I was allergic to 14 different foods. Amongst the foods that I am currently intolerant to are the following: chicken, milk, eggs, almonds, trout, almonds, lamb, corn, and corn. No more pizza for a while. Now, that hurts! The allergist says that I need to stay away from all of these foods for at least six months.

Based on my research on Leaky Gut Syndrome, I asked the allergist about the possibility of my issues being connected to Leaky Gut Syndrome. He said that intestinal permeability was a possibility. But, he did not have much information to give me in this area.

So, I consulted an integrative doctor. This particular doctor is also a family medicine doctor. I had read about this doctor in a health related magazine. She took an oral history for about an hour. She concluded that I did have Leaky Gut Syndrome. Since I suspected that this was an issue for me, I had been trying various remedies all along. Many of these same supplements were suggested by the integrative doctor. She added a few more to the regimen as well.

So, now I am taking various medicines and/or supplements for my thyroid condition and for the Leaky Gut Syndrome. I have chosen not to take medicines for the Dystonia due to the possible nasty side effects. Much of the time, I am in pain/discomfort. But, my goal is to stay off of meds for the Dystonia.

Anyway, I am on the following supplements on a regular basis: Probiotics, digestive enzymes, L-Glutamine, Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D. I also take Selenium, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C, and Aloe Vera Juice. In addition, I take Armour Thyroid for my thyroid condition. Needless to say, I am on a crazy schedule, because many of these meds and/or supplements require that I take them several hours apart.

What have I noticed since starting these supplements? I have been on this regimen for about two months. I have noticed that my bowel movements are much more frequent. This is a good thing. I continue to experience bloating after eating my food/meals. Hopefully this will subside.

The following is an excellent site if you would like to read more about Leaky Gut Syndrome:

Book Recommendation: The Probiotics Revolution by Dr. Gary Huffnagle

Book Review: The Probiotics Revolution

The Probiotics Revolution is a very informative book that discusses the importance of having a proper amount of probiotics in the diet. A large portion of the immune system is in the gut. When the gut is not functioning properly, the immune system will not function properly. Probiotics help to improve the functioning of the immune system.

There must be a balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria in the gut. Fermented foods such as yogurt, keifer, and sauerkraut help to balance the flora in the gut.

The Probiotics Revolution by Dr. Gary Huffnagle is an excellent book that discusses the importance of probiotics. It explains how antibiotics can disrupt the good bacteria in the gut. Dr. Huffnagle also explains how probiotics can possibly help to improve conditions such as asthma, IBS, Autoimmune Disorders, and other issues.

The following is a link to an excerpt for The Probiotics Revolution: