Month: May 2015

My Fourth Blog “A Positive ANA -> Autoimmune deficiency -> My Battle with Inflammation”

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Inflammation

My Fourth Blog “A Positive ANA -> Autoimmune deficiency -> My Battle with Inflammation” – this blog will explain more details about my battle with inflammation caused by my autoimmune deficiency.  A description of the symptoms I suffered from, which foods made the inflammation worse and which vitamin supplements helped me reduce the inflammation while I was on my quest for the ‘Cure’.

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One good thing that came out of my positive ANA diagnoses is that I now take my personal healthcare much more seriously, and I have learned a ton about nutrition and how to listen to my body after each meal.  I knew nothing about auto immune deficiencies previously.  I also learned doctors will run the tests and tell you the results but rarely advise you what to do next.  That one is up to you!  If you do nothing, it will get worse and possibly develop into one of the common autoimmune diseases (Lupus, Scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, Fibromyalgia, polymyositis/dermatormyostis, mixed connective tissue disease, or drug induced lupus to name a few).  If you get lucky, you might end up with a doctor that actually cares about “curing” your problem, but that is highly unlikely!  Why?  It stops the flow of their revenue.  If you are no longer “sick” you don’t need a doctor.  Why would they provide you with a ‘cure’ when they can just attempt to treat your symptoms, that way you will keep coming back!   You will likely be prescribed a few drugs that in order to get a refill you will need to go back to the doctor, the vicious cycle will continue until you die!

If you are passionate about feeling better you need to take charge of your own healthcare, if you throw passion into your own health you will feel better than you have ever felt and it will cost you little to nothing – as all the resources are out on the web!  You have a good chance of recovering from all the symptoms in which you suffer, but only if you put yourself first and start practicing what you read, and listen to the way your body reacts to the changes you implement, that way you can make adjustments along the way.  I personally don’t feel popping chemical-based pills are the solution!  Sure it might make you feel better at first; but it’s just covering up the symptoms that will always be there.

Personally I think Mixed Connective Tissue Disease and Fibromyalgia are what I call “bullshit diseases”.  I believe these two diseases were made up because so many people suffer from similar issues and there wasn’t a bucket to drop them into so they created a new disease bucket. I firmly believe they are not diseases!  Why, because I was diagnosed with both of these by two separate doctors, but oddly enough after I ‘cured’ myself through diet, (refer to blog #2) I no longer have either one of these diseases.  So what the hell are the doctors doing?  Well first, they are creating revenue for their practice. Second, they are trying to put a name to your symptoms so you can go out and shout to the word what problems you have so others will come in and be diagnosed with the same disease as they are suffering from similar symptoms. Remember doctors don’t make any money off of finding solutions to your problems.  So I wouldn’t rely on them to provide you one.

A positive ANA means auto-nuclear antibodies are present in your body.  By itself, a positive ANA test does not indicate the presence of an autoimmune disease or the need for medical treatment.  If you are like me and have been battling with a random number of symptoms that are now affecting your life and you have found out you have a positive ANA, but the doctors haven’t been able to really pinpoint an actual “disease,” there is still HOPE!

Antibodies are developed in our immune system and help our body fight off infectious organisms.  When antibodies recognize something foreign, they send out a massive Twitter message (ha-ha) to recruit other proteins and cells to help fight.  This cascade of attack is called “INFLAMMATION.” (www.rheumatology.org)  As long as your body has this positive ANA you will battle with inflammation.  I fought this same battle for many years before getting it under control.  While you are on your mission to figure out what is causing your positive ANA, there are other things you can do to reduce this inflammation, therefore, reducing the number in your own self destructive army.  Foods I found that made inflammation worse are Dairy (and Dairy products) and Gluten!  Try eliminating these from your diet and see if you symptoms improve. This may not cure you positive ANA, but it will help you manage your symptoms until you pinpoint what is actually causing the problem.  Mine ended up being Gluten and Diet Soda (refer to blog #3).2013-03-18 17.28.48 (ex of fingers falling asleep midday)

This chronic INFLAMMATION caused consistent hip, knee and back pain.  I also believe it affected my circulation and nervous system as I suffered from muscle spasms, leg and foot pain, leg cramps & my hands and feet falling asleep, which I later found out is called: Raynaud’s symptom, the picture to the right is an example of this symptom (a picture I took on my way to work one morning).

Raynaud’s phenomenon – is a vessel abnormality caused by smooth muscle in the wall of arteries, leading to blood vessel spasms of the small vessels that supply blood to the arms, legs, hands and feet.  (www.emedicinehalth.com

Leg cramps were so bad I had to pull over while driving and get out of the car.  Leg pain was so bad it woke me up from a dead sleep only to put me in a serve shock as my body couldn’t endure the pain. My blood pressure dropped so low the EMT’s could barely get a blood pressure or pulse reading.

As I continued on my quest for a cure, I came across several vitamin supplements that helped reduce inflammation.  I knew taking these vitamin supplements had to be better than the chemical based drugs I was receiving from the doctor and I knew it wasn’t a fix to my problem(s) however; it helped me control the symptoms until I figured out what was the “cause”.  Below are the vitamin supplements I discovered along my journey that helped reduce inflammation and pain. Oddly enough, I got more great advice from my Chiropractor then any MD I had seen as he seemed to be much more knowledgeable about overall health and nutrition.

L-Glutamine

Mound of fine white drug or poison like powder substance scattered over black (it's confection sugar!)

– in free form, I took 5000mg 1-2x per day.  I mixed it in with cranberry juice and added a little apple cider vinegar, which doubled as a natural detoxifier. Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in the body.  Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.  Glutamine is produced in the muscles and is distributed by the blood to the organs that need it.  Glutamine helps gut function as well as the immune system and other essential processes of the body.  Glutamine is needed to make other chemicals in the body such as other amino acids and glucose (sugar).  (www.webmd.com

Turmeric Root and Curcumin – I take in pill form, 500mg per day, however, Turmeric_03the bottle says you can take up to 3x this per day.  Turmeric is also the main ingredient in curry, an ingredient widely found in Indian food.  Curcumin is a substance found in turmeric.  Turmeric/Curcumin is used to treat many things, but it is known to help reduce inflammation and pain caused by inflammation in the body and I have found it to be extremely helpful.

I have tried many other vitamin supplements but the two above I have found the most beneficial in reducing inflammation in the body and helping control pain level before I found the ‘Cure’.  If I had it to do over again, I would have introduced vitamin supplements one at a time.  Sometimes I would go gung-ho on research and implement many new vitamin supplements at once. I would start to feel better, but then couldn’t figure out which one was providing the results I was feeling.

If you are suffering from various symptoms like I had and have a positive ANA, I would encourage you to start your QUEST for a CURE!  I did it, you can too. You could just sit around complaining of how much pain you’re in or how much you can’t do as a result of the label the doctor put on you.  Or you could EDUCATE yourself and take the steps towards a better life!    Listen to what your body is telling you, write a food journal and see if you can pinpoint what your body has red flagged as your “invader.” Unfortunately, you can’t send an email to your immune system and ask.  Although that would be nice and ultimately a lot less work for both of us.  It could be the same as mine or it could be something totally different.  Do you want to show your family and the rest of the world you are just another statistic or do you want them to see you as a fighter that can solve their own problems?

Recap:

  1. First cut out the foods you know cause inflammation.  Start with Dairy and Gluten.
  2. Vitamin supplements can help temporarily manage your symptoms until you pinpoint what is causing your positive ANA.  Introduce these one at a time but not at the same time you start eliminating foods, so you don’t confuse the vitamin, which might make you feel better from the food that you eliminated, which might also be making you feel better.
  3. Start keeping a food/environmental journal and figure out what you are eating on a regular basis, then start eliminating them one at a time until you see your symptoms improve.   (Some of the common culprits are:  Aspartame, Food additives/preservatives & MSG, Sugar and simple carbohydrates, Caffeine, Gluten, & Dairy) but there are others.

“In order to be as healthy as you can be, educating yourself is the key”

My Third Blog “I bet you didn’t know you feed on Cottonseed”

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cotton-seedMy Third Blog “I bet you didn’t know you feed on Cottonseed” – Cottonseed oil, since when do we eat cotton?  – this blog will explain how I learned my kids were allergic to cottonseed and when I asked the allergist, what it was, she indicated not to worry about it, it wasn’t in foods.  After doing a little research of my own I realized just how WRONG she was.  What I learned will shock you!!

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Both my children have food allergies, many food allergies!  One of their food allergies is “Cottonseed!”  When I asked the allergist what this was she indicated I wouldn’t have to worry about it, it wasn’t in foods.  I was relieved!  I came home and did a little research on the internet to learn more about it and I was astonished at I learned and realized just how much the allergist didn’t know about it.

More than 80% of cotton grown is genetically modified. Genetically modified crops contain (Bt) Bacillus thuringiensis, which is Screen-shot-2012-07-28-at-8_42_56-PM1a toxin in a soil bacterium that has been used as a pesticide spray for many years.  Cotton crops are not regulated as a food crop since it is not considered a food (we wear it we don’t eat it), therefore, more toxic chemicals and pesticides can be used to increase farmers yield.  When cotton is reaped, the cotton and the cottonseed are separated.  Many many moons ago the cottonseed was considered waste and had no value.  Until one day when someone got the bright idea to extract the oil from the cottonseed.   Cottonseed oil was born!

Cottonseed oil was found to extend the shelf life of food, decreasing spoilage!  It was cheap to manufacturer and widely available.  Food manufacturers found a way to extend the life of their product and make it cheaper – which increased profits!  Why not, right?  Wrong!  Little did they realize cottonseed oil has been linked to various health concerns, including allergies, immune system impairment, bleeding and inflammation.

Cottonseed has a very similar protein structure as a peanut!  Oddly enough my kids are allergic to peanuts as well, so that all made sense!  The FDA currently does not require allergy labeling for Cottonseed oil used in foods, which can be a serious health concern to many.  Including my kids! As I have to read every word on the label to ensure it doesn’t contain this oil.

Here is a list of products that I have found contain cottonseed oil:IMG_1819

Peanut butter (combined with cottonseed oil is a double whammy for kids with Peanut allergies), Boxed Cereals, Breakfast pastries, Snack cakes, Crackers, Chips, Cookies, Packaged Breads, Salad, Oils, Mayonnaise, Dressings, Marinades, Margarine, Frozen French fries, Other fake fats like shortening and artificial butter products,  Many other processed foods,     

 Cottonseed oil contains over 50% Omega-6 fatty acids; could this be a cause of the United States obesity problem?  If you wonder why you are seeing more and more organic and non-GMO foods hitting the shelf – because we are getting smart and asking questions and demanding better foods.  We wear cotton – we don’t eat it!  Look out America, if you are counting on your government to protect you from FOOD poison, you will be counting a while!  It’s time we take our health into our own hands!  Read the label before you buy any food product – you may now think twice before purchasing food with Cottonseed oil in it!  If you need more information to convince you, google it!

“In order to be as healthy as you can be, educating yourself is the key”

My Second Blog “I have a positive ANA, what’s that?”

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DsDNA_antibodies

My Second Blog  “I have a positive ANA, what’s that?” – this blog will discuss the foods I identified that created my autoimmune disease and what I did to create a path for my own cure!

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After yet another visit to the doctor complaining of various symptoms such as:  fatigue, stomach pain, bloating, hip, back and knee joint pain, muscle cramps, leg pain, low grade fever, constipation, color change in hands and feet, and random blisters on my back, neck and face the doctor decided to run a few blood tests.

A few days later I got a message saying my test results were available on MyChart, so I logged in to see my results.  The test results all came back normal, expect for 1.  I tested positive to ANA (Anti-nuclear antibodies).

The anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) test is used as a primary test to help evaluate a person for autoimmune disorders that affect many tissues and organs throughout the body (systemic) and is most often used as one of the tests to help diagnose systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

ANA are a group of autoantibodies produced by a person’s immune system when it fails to adequately distinguish between “self” and “nonself.” They target substances found in the nucleus of a cell and cause organ and tissue damage.  http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/ana/tab/test/

After discussing this with the doctor he indicated a positive ANA means your body is attacking itself and thinks something in your body is foreign.   Positive ANA is directly correlated to autoimmune diseases.  My first thought, WONDERFUL, which one is it!  He referred me to a rheumatologist who ran a series of additional tests as well as upper and lower chest x-ray.  I tested negative for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus.  The X-rays did show a little arthritis in my back and hips.  However, she didn’t feel it was the primary cause for the positive ANA.

So I asked my PCP, what now?  He indicated my body was in the process of developing the disease and it is not showing up in my bloodwork yet.  That he would run some more tests at my annual checkup. I received a handful of prescriptions and I was on my way.

Are you kidding me?  So I am supposed to just sit back and wait until the disease finishing developing before they will do anything about it?

After pondering a few days, I started fuming.  Was I really going to just sit back, pop pills and wait for the disease to develop?  I think not!  So I started doing some research on my symptoms.  The more I researched the more references to food allergies and food intolerances I found.  So I made an appointment with an allergist to have a food allergy panel test performed.  I tested negative to all of them!  I was shocked, I was certain something would come up positive.  I did some additional research and found it could be a food intolerance, which would not come up on a food allergy test.

Now what?  I started a food journal and inventoried all the foods I consumed on a regular basis.  I organized them in quantity order based on occurrence.  What I was consuming the most appeared to have contained flour (wheat/gluten). The other item I felt I consumed the most of was Diet Soda, drinking on average 6 cans a day.  So I decided to start with the first one and run with it.  I read up on Gluten-free diets and started one immediately.  My symptoms immediately started to improve, but not all of them.  I went to the doctor again, he reran the blood test and I was still testing positive to ANA.  I still had some symptoms that continued to be a problem so I selected the next item on my list, I eliminated Diet Soda, replaced it with purified water.  Most of the remaining symptoms disappeared within 8 weeks.  3 months later I returned to the doctor and he again reran the ANA blood test, and to my surprise it was NEGATIVE!  I fixed my own auto-immune disease!  Gluten and Diet Soda was the root of my problem! Reflecting back on that, I realized not even the best doctor would have figured that one out.

My first Blog! Introduction to Deb’s Dietary Diary

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appleMy first Blog!  Introduction

My name is Deb Saunders, I am 43 years old, married 23 years and have 2 kids (son 19 and daughter 12).  I currently work as the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) for a large non-profit in Roanoke, VA and am enrolled in the Radford University MBA (set to graduate fall 2015).  My job role as CCO is to proactively access overall organizational risk and audit for compliance.  I realized early on in my career when businesses access and managed risk proactively their performance and outcomes were much stronger than businesses that didn’t apply this approach.

As years passed, I developed some irritating health side-affects which started affecting my work performance and my daily life. Both my children and my husband also struggled with various random symptoms that Doctors did not find alarming but would not think twice to write a prescription to help manage the “symptoms.” My medicine cabinet started to fill up with pills which in turn created more side-affects.  It was then I realized I wasn’t interested in covering up the problem (or treating the symptom) I wanted an answer to what was causing it!  So I decided to try applying the very familiar Risk Based Approach to my family’s individual healthcare. Knowing I wasn’t an expert in this field I started educating myself through books, blogs, websites, and other material and I started building my knowledge in nutrition and applying it to this risk based approach. I knew myself and my family better than any doctor and I decided to take charge of my own healthcare and use the doctors to lean on for advice.  Our bloodwork is now charted and family history documented.

I have become passionate about nutrition and the importance of educating yourself so that you can solve many of your own health concerns by tuning in to what your body is telling you.  I am not a doctor and do not hold myself out as one, my stories are my opinions and my life experiences. My hope is that you will learn something from each blog, as I have learned, and focus on the importance of assessing and managing your own risks!  If you’re waiting on a doctor to do it for you, you will be waiting awhile!

“In order to be as healthy as you can be, educating yourself is the key”