Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Struggling With Health Issues

I have been struggling to find answers to my girls' health issues. Perhaps their health issues aren't such a big deal, but they are my girls, and I was a little girl I told myself that I would not allow my children to go through health problems and not get them fixed.

I have asthma. And, as a child, it was out of control. We had pets. We had lots of dust. I didn't have the good medicine - I didn't get an inhaler until I was about 10 I think and I had gone to a camp with a girl who had asthma and had an inhaler. At that point I was taking some pill for my asthma - that made my heart race and tasted awful (I couldn't swallow pills so I broke them up in my food). So I got a rescue inhaler. But that didn't take care of it all the time. Sometimes I was just miserable - struggling to breathe.

Between that and the influence of my Grandmother, who struggled to feed me right when I spent summers with her, and to influence my family to feed me right. Yet, I don't think she came close to figuring things out. Being from the south, she continued to fry our food. Yet, she believed the doctors and cut out animal fat from her and my Granddad's diet. She took lots of supplements. She fed me homemade yogurt popsicles and homemade bread (probably not whole grain, but wonderful memories anyhow). My granddad had congested heart disease, but still lived to a pretty good age. I came to find out later in life that my Dad (like his Dad) had serious sleep apnea and that this causes congested heart disease. I would think that issues like anxiety control and weight would contribute to the sleep apnea, but at this point my Dad has to use a machine which makes sure he breathes right during the night.

Anyhow, I'm just not black and white on any of these issues. If you need to take medicine, please keep doing so. I "need" to take three or four prescription medicines - and really I would desire to not have to take them, but this is where I'm at - and without them I would be putting my health at serious risk. Yet, as I do more and more reading trying to figure out my girls, I am starting to think that maybe our issues all have a common cause.

When I was a child, I thought a lot about what it would be like to have been born in another century. I felt like I would fit in better with a more innocent age, yet I was so thankful to have the medicines I have, that I was thankful to have been born now. (Of course, I now have the faith to know that God knew exactly what he was doing by having me be born exactly when he had me be born.) But...I wonder...I mean I think there are genes at play here, but I also think that we've been changing things so much with vaccines, additives, refined and processed food, and lack of physical activity and fresh air - that our genes have been exacerbated.

I've found out that my middle daughter does not have Celiac disease. But, I am learning so much more beyond that. And, I'm just starting to crack the surface - nutrition and God's plan for our nutrition they are so complicated, yet so simple.

So, when my middle daughter is off gluten, even though she doesn't have Celiac, she does a lot better. On gluten, she doesn't look me in the eye, has tons of potty accidents, sings repetitively, and touches everything. The doctors don't seem to think much of this. To fine tune her symptoms more I've taken her off of milk - MOSTLY. I'm having a hard time telling her she can't have cheese. Nonetheless - you can see a dramatic difference with how she eats. Now, recently I've thought about it - because of her kidney that was unfunctional and a balloon - she was on a low dose of Amoxicillin every day until she was about one (when the kidney was removed). This had to have just ruined the good bacteria in her gut - creating leaky gut syndrome.

Also, I think leaky gut syndrome is something that affects me. It's associated with a whole host of auto-immune diseases. Yet, it's not something that the mainstream medical community by in large even considers.

On to my oldest daughter. Well, she gets CVS - or stomach migraines. Also, she has GERD (heartburn) and some mild asthma from the GERD and also from dust allergies. Plus, she just gets colds for longer - I think maybe it has to do with post nasal drip from allergies or GERD. So, the GERD is mostly a physical weakness in her stomach valve. But, the asthma and the stomach migraines are also in the auto-immune classifications.

And, it turns out, they tested Abigail at birth (because they were looking for participants in a study) and she had the Diabetes marker. My husband's dad died of liver cancer. His uncle has been battling with cancer for eight years. One of the girl's cousins has classic autism (not mild). My husband's brothers and sister have all dealt with thyroid issues (also auto-immune related).

So, I don't think I'm over-zealous at all to be looking for a common thread and to be looking out for the future (as well as current) health of my family. There is a great quote from Charlotte Mason in what I'm reading this week. She is speaking of the child being outdoors. She argues that one hour doesn't do it - but during the mild weather season - four or six hours a day is more appropriate. Then she says, "Let me repeat, that I venture to suggest, not what is practicable in any household, but what seems to be absolutely best for the children; and that, in the faith that mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them." Well, with God's leading, I can go against habit and culture and do what wonder He has requested of me.

Here are a few things I am discovering. First off, the big four problems when it comes to leaky gut syndrome (associated with auto-immune diseases including allergies and also associated with depression) - are gluten, casein, soy, and corn.

According to Nourishing Traditions - all dairy should be in raw or fermented form - the enzymes and healthy bacteria offer protection even against intolerance to casein. Also according to Nourishing Traditions (but I could list a lot of other sources) - all grains should be soaked in an acidic medium or should be prepared in a sourdough fashion. You should note that the Glycemic Index lists store bought whole wheat bread as causing a rise in your blood sugar just as fast as white bread! Nourishing Traditions says all grains should be soaked, not just ones that have gluten in them. But, that there is better tolerance by Celiacs or Celiac types when grains are properly prepared. Nourishing Traditions also teaches us that we get way too much Omega 6 in the typical American diet and we need more Omega 3 (what we get from pasture fed beef, pasture fed chicken, pasture fed chicken eggs, and salmon). NT teaches us that the polyunsaturated fats that we've all been taught are the "acceptable" fats - are actually cancer causing and artery plugging - especially given the ways we prepare them (high temperature). NT teaches you should consume first pressing olive oil, other first pressing nut oils, coconut oil, and animal fat (butter & lard from a pasture fed animal). NT also teaches that soy is bad (and is in everything processed), as it increases unwanted hormones and also blocks absorption of minerals.

Did you follow all that?

Now, others believe that due to the harm in the gut, even with proper soaking of the grains, some would do better to go off grain (or to go off gluten, casein, soy, and corn - GFCFSFCF) altogether. Or, at least, until the gut healed enough that grains, properly prepared, were not an issue anymore.

Added to that, I've long known that MSG is in a LOT of food, especially when you go out to eat. MSG is highly associated with migraines, but also with a lot of other auto-immune issues.

Now, I've recently discovered that glutamates are bound in many, many foods that we eat. When they are highly processed - the glutamates are released and they act just like MSG does. These free glutamates are in things like processed flour, processed milk product, parmesan cheese, sausages, yeast, fish sauce, soy sauce, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, soy protein, corn protein, dough conditioners, whey (not the homemade kind), medicines, chewing gums. Overwhelming list, huh?  

No wonder we have so much ADHD? IBS? Migraines? Asthma? Cancer? Obesity? Diabetes? We eat refined products galore. We eat refined, unproperly prepared grains. We eat MSG (or free glutamate) in so many foods. I've even read that the EPA has allowed, even in organic products, a glutamic acid product to be sprayed on foods - so we are probably getting some glutamic acid on our store bought foods, even if we select organic.

What to do? I want to go all the way. I don't think, at least at this point, that I am willing to go gluten, casein, soy, corn free. But, I can work to have my middle daughter follow that diet as she clearly seems to have the most issues. And I can learn to make my grains with a soaked or sourdough process. And, I'm seriously thinking about figuring out how to do some raw milk - either goats or milk. Or, at least go pick up the non-homogenized organic milk. I can tell you from the experience I've had with it so far, that food is DELICIOUS prepared this way. I can also just not buy anything processed. What we will save on going out to eat will make up for any additional cost.

No comments: