Years Living With Processed Foods
How long have you been living with processed foods?
“Please help me go, please help me go” —a breath prayer I often said aloud for years while sitting in the Loo (i.e. on the toilet)—in the pit of discomfort!
I often just WANTED (and needed) to “go,” but, many times, I not able to “go” for days.
Constipation is Real
Stuck—often times how I felt in my own skin. Stuck in my gut. Constipated. And like my body was at war, in my own skin.
At age 26, even though I ate “healthy” (on paper), something was not right.
Sweet potatoes? Check.
Coconut Butter and Coconut Oil? Check.
I was doing ALL the “right things,” so why did it have to hurt so much?
Answer: Healthy “being” goes far beyond diet alone.
At least once you’ve been enlightened…
Exhibit A: Day 1 Nutrition School (You & I Are NOT Alone)
“Stand up and introduce yourself. What got you interested in studying nutrition?” the teacher said.
One by one, my class of about 40 other aspiring nutrition therapy practitioners had to stand up and give their “elevator speech” as to why we were all sitting upright in the classroom, pen and paper in hand, eager, anxious and beaming with BIG vision, to learn how to save the world one food myth at a time.
As we went around the room sharing our stories, one by one, we also began to realize that…we were not alone.
Many of my fellow classmates were survivors of the processed-food, antibiotic, vaccine, sedentary lifestyle and chronic disease generation, and somehow, had all lived to tell about it.
“My son was diagnosed with Autism, and the doctors told me there was nothing we could do about it except lots of therapies and behavior plans. So I did some research myself, and began to find stories about the brain-gut connection—how food can influence how we think and help kids with Autism. As a family, we started the GAPS diet, and my son, who was non-verbal, said his first words,” Charlotte said.
“I was a vegetarian and vegan for over 15 years, and on the cusp of my 30th birthday, I got sick—really sick,” Lynan said. “My skin was pale, my hair started falling out, my nails were brittle, I was tired all the time, lost my period, and began experiencing bloating around meals all the time. Something wasn’t right. I thought it was something to do with my hormones, or maybe mono, or anemia, so I went to a doctor a friend recommended and he said nothing was wrong with me.
I just needed to eat meat again, telling me, “You know you are doing the same thing to your body that inhumane chicken and beef farms do to their animals—feeding them lots of grains and processed foods, restricting them from all the nutrients their bodies need to thrive. Your body needs balance,” …I was so desperate for anything to feel better, so I gave it a try, and within a matter of months, all my health problems went away. I got my period and energy back, the bloating subsided and I felt better than I had in those 15 years,” Lynan said.
“I got terminal brain cancer. The doctors gave me 2, maybe 3 months, to live, and told me it had spread through every bone in my body and that there was nothing I could do,” Bob said, adding, “But then I looked on the nutrition label of the tube-feeding formula the healthcare company sent me, only to see the worlds ‘Nestle’ and ‘high fructose corn syrup’ on the ‘medicine’ meant to help me get the extra nutrients I needed, and I thought, ‘There’s got to be another way.’ So I decided to start juicing my own food and smoothies for my feeding tube, and just ate real food. Months later, I was completely cancer free and years later, I have a son they never told me I could have and I lived to tell about it. I want to help people,” Bob said.
Nope. None of us were alone.
What 26 Years of Processed Foods Does to Your Body
We all have a story. Often times, multiple stories. That shape us for the better or the worse. Your stories are written via your life experiences, and chances are, when it comes to your health, you’ve had multiple experiences that have set the stage for where your body (and health markers) are today.
Even if you “eat healthy” and “do all the right things” today, your past experiences paved way for the way you feel (or don’t feel) now.
I’m a Survivor
Hi, I am Lauryn and I am a survivor of the processed food, “take a Tylenol or Tums” (for everything), antibiotic, “drink juice as your water,” frozen broccoli (with cheese sauce), Lean-Cuisines-and-Quest-Bars are convenient (and healthy) generation.
For the first 26 years of my life, my body didn’t see a real food—really.
Sure, I ate Fiber One cereal, not Cookie Crisp, for breakfast. Packed 99% lean turkey on whole wheat bread with pretzels (not chips) for lunch (with the special occasion Pizza Lunchable). Noshed on apple slices (with Peter Pan peanut butter), or string cheese and whole grain Wheat Thins between meals, and I ate a low-fat dinner, including a protein, starch and veggie with a glass of milk most nights for dinner…but even though I was eating “healthy,” (according to Standard American Diet criteria), my body did not see a real food.
Fast forward to my teens and college years, when I began to make my own food choices for myself, I looked to magazines, social media, and Google for advice on what to eat (and not eat), following hundreds of food rule under the sun. If it was deemed “healthy,” or “clean” by Shape or Cosmo, it was “a-ok “with me including: protein bars and protein powders, frozen dinners, raw veggies, tons of nuts and almond butter, egg white omelets, and no carbs, no meats or no fats (depending on the popular trend at the time).
Eating disorder treatment is a whole other can of worms complicating the story. Over the accumulated three years of my life spent in inpatient treatment centers and hospitals, along with the 15 years of meal plans with prescriptions to eat McDonald’s Egg McMuffins and Dairy Queen Blizzard’s, I equally did not see (or eat) a real food—at least not much of it.
The universal theme? My body—namely my gut—didn’t know how to deal with the influx of foods that were difficult to digest. The result? A host of inflammation and imbalances.
Even though, at age 26 I found “real food,” was well beyond my eating disorder and discovered the art of “stressing less,” I had ALOT of “damage” to heal and make up for from the previous 26 years of my life.
In short: How you feel today (or how you will feel tomorrow, or 10-50 years from now) is a result of the choices you made years ago.
I spent the entire 26th year of life, studying nutrition and forming the foundations of my current functional medicine, nutrition and therapy business.
The next year, I found myself in two rigorous functional medicine trainings and sinking my teeth (and brain) into anything that explained more about WHY I felt the way I felt (i.e. constipated and bloated ALL the time), trying to understand WHY it seemed like no doctors could help me just feel good in my own skin. Instead of believing “bloating and constipation are just a part of life,” I dedicated my studies and used my body as my own experiment to find out if healing was truly possible.
The following images from a few of my lab tests are just a glimpse of what 26 years of processed foods, lifestyle and gut stress does to your body.
Cause: Malnutrition, lack of essential fatty acids, inability to absorb nutrients (“leaky gut”) and bacterial overgrowth
SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)
Cause: High grain consumption, low stomach acid, stress, overtraining, artificial sweeteners, low fat diets, FODMAP foods, antibiotics, processed and packaged foods
High Cortisol (i.e. stress hormone)
Cause: “Leaky gut,” overtraining (or sedentary lifestyle), lack of quality sleep, lack of water, burning a candle at both ends (trying to do it all), gut-inflammatory foods and food intolerances, high caffeine or sugar/artificial sweetener consumption, NOT going with your gut (and being true to yourself), LED light/screen exposure
The Bottom Line
Knowledge is power, and healing IS possible—(even with 26 years+ of processed foods and other health stressors under your belt).
It goes far beyond “clean eating”….
How to Heal Your Gut
It’s easier than you think. It involves 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Identify the Underlying Root Cause(s) of your Gut Issues
(note: even if you don’t have bloating or IBS or constipation, skin issues, allergies, thyroid/hormone imbalances and “slow metabolism” issues ALSO are often rooted in your gut) often made out to be more complicated than it is. Common “root causes” of gut issues include:
Environmental toxic burden
SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
Parasites, fungal or bacterial infection
Dysbiosis (imbalanced gut bacteria)
Chronic infections (Lyme, Ebstein Barr)
To figure out your root causes, the fastest route to seeing a clearer picture of everything going on is testing (not guessing) your health woes. Work with a functional medicine practitioner who can help you decide what (if any) testing may be helpful including:
Comprehensive blood chemistry testing (not just a CBC)
SIBO breath testing
Organic acids testing
DUTCH hormone/cortisol testing
IgG, IgA, IgE food intolerance/allergy testing
Heavy metals/essential nutrients testing
Step 2: Get Back to the Basics
You cannot supplement or eat your way out of a stressful lifestyle. The “unsexy” simple health basics are game-changers for calming stress AND gut healing including:
Eating a nutrient-dense, whole-foods ancestral diet (proteins, carbs and fats included)
Drinking half your bodyweight in ounces of water daily
Taking a quality probiotic, prebiotics and eating fermented and prebiotic foods daily
Sleeping 7-9 hours per night
Resetting your circadian rhythm (limiting screen exposure/artificial light at night; eating at normal times; getting fresh air)
Daily movement/exercise (but not TOO much)
Step 3: Heal (Don’t Manage) Your Symptoms
Healing your gut is not just about taking probiotics and drinking kombucha. Once you identify your ROOT causes of your gut imbalances, you must take action steps to HEAL your gut (not just manage gut health or suppress symptoms).
This step will be unique to you and is best first accomplished with the guidance of a skilled practitioner. Request a complimentary 10-minute consult with Dr. Lauryn’s clinic today to start your own healing journey.
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