Personal experience is often a driver of passion. If you’ve read my personal story (early on in my blog), you’ll already know that it included a very early diagnosis of endometriosis. I was diagnosed when I was a teen… way back in the ’80’s. Back then…. literally a generation ago, endometriosis wasn’t yet a common women’s health concern. It was still considered more of an anomaly…. enough so that it took some digging and even some traveling to doctors who knew how to both identify and treat it to the best of their ability at the time.
Wow! Things have certainly changed over the last 35+ years…. It is now estimated that approximately 11% of women have this chronic inflammatory disorder. It is also being held accountable for up to 1/3 of fertility disorders. There is much debate over “how” endometriosis comes to happen in a woman’s body, but there is no debate on the fact that its destructiveness is magnified by something called ‘estrogen dominance’.
While estrogen is a valuable and necessary hormone within our female bodies…. “back in the day”, our fore’mothers’ only had to concern themselves with the estrogen their own body produced and perhaps, to a much lesser extent, something called phytoestrogens (a small select group of plants that could add estrogen to what the body already had on board).
Roughly 70 years ago, a subset of synthetic chemicals began popping up in foods, personal care products, packaging (lining of cans and plastics), medications, household cleaners (and dryer sheets!), and…… heavens!!… even disposable menstrual products (Talk about feeding the beast!). For many years, there appeared to be little cause for alarm…. until unusual goings on began showing up in the wild world of amphibians…. and male frogs began turning into female frogs inexplicably in the wild. The first people to sit up and take notice were wildlife biologists. It was the canary in the coal mine revisited (Spoiler Alert: It didn’t end well for the canary in that scenario either).
Scientists slowly began sitting up and taking notice as endocrine disruption expanded from wildlife to humans. 170+ of these chemicals are now known as “Xenoestrogens”, and they are the harbingers of hormone imbalance in both men and women. They mimic the function of natural estrogen, thus creating biological hormonal mayhem the likes of which include PMS, heavy periods, PCOS, breast cancer, fibroids, ‘man boobs’, etc….. and endometriosis. Estrogen dominance is of epidemic proportions in developed, ‘advanced’, industrialized countries: Too much of a good thing, can be…well, too much.
All that factory farm raised meat and dairy tainted with growth hormones? yep
(go local, and find your hormone free, grass fed, humanely raised animals… ie: support your local farmer and rancher)
Pesticide containing food products? yep
(eat organic whenever possible)
Tap water? yep
(drink filtered water!)
Shampoos, lotions, soaps, toothpaste, cosmetics… other personal care products containing ingredients like parabens and phenoxyethanol chemical compounds widely used with abandon by the cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies? yep
(please… for the love of your children and yourself… use natural products!)
Heating plastics or plastic wrap in the microwave, or simply storing food in soft plastic or plastic wrap? Or use bottled water or canned food that incorporates BPA into the packaging process? yep yep yep!
(use glass or stainless whenever possible. aside from the obvious landfill issues, plastic contains phthalates, a pretty nasty one on the ‘no no’ list)
See the verbiage ‘artificial color or flavor’ on a favorite packaged food ingredient list? Back away from the item. Seriously.
(Approximately 31 substances may be added to processed foods for the purpose of artificially sweetening, preserving, coloring, or enhancing texture and/or flavor and are guilty offenders)
Dryer Sheets? Totally loaded. Obscenely so.
(wool dryer balls…. message me, I’ll score you some, teach you how to make them simply, or use 1/2 cup of baking soda in your rinse cycle!)
Endometriosis is very estrogen dependent… it doesn’t grow and thrive in an estrogen poor environment. Conversely, it can spread like bunnies on fertility drugs when exposed to bountiful amounts of estrogen regardless of the source. Common western medicine more often than not will use chemical means to suppress naturally occurring estrogen in our bodies to slow the dragon’s path. Rarely do they sit down and talk to the woman (or girl child) about the ramifications of xenoestrogen’s effects on their body and how to minimize exposure to them.
While endometriosis (or something like it) was identified in the late 1800’s, it was a rare creature…. not unlike dragons. In fact, the incidence of endometriosis in less developed countries today is significantly less than in those countries where plastic water bottle toting, microwaved plastic wrapped food noshing, dryer sheet using people live. People like myself… whom, as a kiddo and young adult did the same thing… before I knew better.
Endometriosis is technically not an autoimmune disease, but having it creates a hospitable environment for autoimmune disorders to set up housekeeping alongside it. Chronic inflammation within the body will do that. Misery loves company.
Friends, please don’t wait until something goes wrong to clean up your life. Truly. Life is too short, and it’s so much easier to minimize risk factors than it is to mediate and do damage control.
Life is short! Keep it clean ;)!
Love and hugs, Liz
If you want to ask something nearly impossible of an introvert, ask them to write a blog about themselves. Sheesh! This is going to be a rough one for me to write.
Yes, I’m an introvert and don’t normally air my health laundry…… but my passion to promote great health is bigger than my privacy issues…. and YOUR health is just as important as mine…. so I’m here to spill the beans on how I came to be “a healthy me” at the age of 50. Perhaps you can glean some inspiration, knowledge, and hope from MY story….and then maybe you too can turn your health around. I going to dissect my life into two halves, and will post the first half today… the second will come by the end of the week.
Life is full of lessons. I have been fortunate in that my profession of choice (pharmacy) has given me the gift of continuous learning. I LOVE learning, researching, digging up and exhuming hidden facts. It took me many years to piece together my health story, but once I did, everything made perfect sense. If I had not made some conscious choices to change my life habits in my early 30’s, I likely would be one of the statistics (one of the “one in two” people in the USA with an active chronic health condition).
I was not a chronically hospitalized kid growing up, but I had my share of chronic issues. I was the kid in the family that the pediatrician saw frequently for fairly severe allergies, bad asthma, and for some odd reason, strep throat regularly. I had a steady diet of (prescription strength) Dimetapp, steroids, and antibiotics in the early ’70’s. When I hit puberty, my cycles… tho regular… were excruciating. It took a few years, but I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis. This was in the early ’80’s, and not many doctors were well studied on this female disorder. I will abbreviate the story here…. 2 surgeries later, and after being told to ‘have children quickly or good luck with that‘….. we found a way to manage the ongoing problem with a prescription. Meanwhile, I still had allergies to many things. Sadly, the things I loved the most were the things I was most allergic to!….. animals and the great outdoors (pollen, grasses, trees, etc)! My allergies were severe enough that they prevented me from entering Vet School (my life long dream). I was crushed, and after some deep thought, switched directions to pursue a pharmacy degree. Many years of college (and working while in college), poor diet, too much coffee and Diet Coke and not enough sleep eventually gave me some fairly significant stomach issues. I graduated in ’91 with my degree and a diagnosis of (ICD-10 code K59.9) ‘functional intestinal disorder, unspecified’ as an added bonus.
Fast forward…. Charlie and I got married in ’92…….. and in 2001, after 4 doctors and many months of seeking answers for my new issue (the incessant need to pee both night and day) … I got diagnosed with interstitial cystitis (a bladder condition that has no cure). Thru trial and error over the next several years ( that’s another post/another day) we found a definitive pattern regarding food triggers. Using diet modifications, I was able to ‘somewhat‘ manage my IC without the VERY EXPENSIVE drugs or the daily self- catheterizations that are common among people with this condition. Thank God! Let me tell you…. there is no incentive like the prospect of daily self-cathing to change your diet!
About the same time my IC was diagnosed, I had a fairly minor fall (tripping over a wheelbarrow) and broke my wrist. I was 33. My orthopedist suggested a bone density scan, and I was subsequently diagnosed with osteopenia. He told me to take more calcium and warned me that I would probably need to be on a medication to prevent further bone loss before I turned 40. It was the same year that Charlie and I both were told that we both had high cholesterol (over 200), and that if we didn’t attempt to lower our cholesterol levels soon we would both need to be on a cholesterol med.
So you see….. I was right on track with the “not so American Dream”…. to be good and unhealthy by the ripe old age of 40. I was set to join the ranks of the 50% who drew the genetic short straw and got to be on the losing team of the “one in two” who have a chronic health condition. Yay me! Not.
And this is where the baby steps of change truly began occurring.
Fast forward to 2017….so how did a sickly, allergic, asthmatic …..who became a young adult with endometriosis and a messed up gut…. who then became an adult with interstitial cystitis, osteopenia, and hypercholesterolemia on top of all the previous ailments (at 33) become a healthy 50 year old? That, my friends, is what comes next….. how I slowly worked my way backwards out of this health hot mess train wreck I was going to be the older I got.
Stay tuned…. You truly ARE what you eat….. and drink…. and expose your body to (or deprive your body of)! In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about some of my lifestyle choices my family and I have made, join me here!
Hugs and Love,