Lesson Learned: ALWAYS Check Food and Supplement Labels

Posted by Wendy Neal Wednesday, September 1, 2010 Bookmark and Share

I learned this lesson the hard way. When you have food allergies, you always need to check the ingredients on the label every time you buy something, even if you've bought it before and it previously didn't have any allergens in it.

I thought I had been doing everything right - for the past 8 months, ever since I found out I'm allergic to dairy, egg whites, and also gluten-intolerant, I had completely eliminated these culprits from my diet. Or so I thought.

The other day when I went to buy some multivitamins at the health food store because I was nearly out, I could not find the ones I normally buy. In their place were something similar, but they were labeled "Ultimate Vegetarian Multi" (instead of "Ultimate One"). I looked at the label and the vitamin and mineral content looked exactly like what I had bought before and was currently using at home; I couldn't immediately see any differences.

Recently Diagnosed - Type 2 Hypothyroidism

Posted by Wendy Neal Wednesday, June 30, 2010 Bookmark and Share

Holy cow, I just realized I haven't posted since end of April! A lot's happened since then. Let's see, I found out that I have Type 2 Hypothyroidism, also known as "thyroid resistance". Once I found out, I did some research on it, and let's just say that the world makes perfect sense to me now!

In Type 2 Hypothyroidism thyroid hormones, T-4 and T-3, appear normal in the bloodstream, but they are inactive (resistant) at the receptor-sites (this is similar to how Type 2 Diabetics have plenty of insulin, it's just resistant). In addition, nutrient deficiencies can affect thyroid conversion, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, and iodine deficiencies, all of which I was deficient in.

Here are some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism:

• Hypothermia/low body temperature (feeling cold when others feel hot)
• Fatigue, exhaustion
• Puffiness and swelling around the eyes and face
• Pains, aches in joints, hands and feet
• Morning headaches
• Slow heartbeat
• Irritability
• Difficulty concentrating
• Forgetfulness
• Shortness of breath and tightness in the chest
• Feeling the need to yawn to get oxygen
• Eyes very sensitive to light
• Strange feelings in neck or throat
• Lightheadedness, dizziness

Garlic, Garlic Everywhere!

Posted by Wendy Neal Tuesday, April 27, 2010 Bookmark and Share

A couple weeks ago we found out that my son has food allergies just like me. It was no surprise to learn that he is allergic to dairy, gluten, wheat, and egg whites. But what was surprising is that he's allergic to garlic as well. Which seems silly because garlic is so healthy for most people.

What was even more surprising to me, downright shocking actually, is that garlic is used in so many products, and that according to law, it DOESN'T NEED TO BE LABELED on the food ingredients! It can legally be included as part of "spice" and "natural flavor" without needing to be listed separately in the ingredient list. And did you also know that garlic is prevalent in almost all tomato products, including ketchup, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, salsa, etc.? And also in most salad dressings? And chicken broth? And gravy mixes? And bread mixes (even the gluten-free kind)? And just about all other processed food? I didn't.

For the first week of my son's new diet, I thought I was doing good to avoid all his food allergens. The dairy, gluten, and egg whites were easy because I'm on the exact same diet. I thought I was avoiding garlic as well until I started researching online about garlic allergies, just to see how common it really was. I was surprised to find A LOT of people are allergic to garlic, yet garlic isn't recognized as a common food allergen, and therefore doesn't need to be labeled as such.

Like Mother, Like Son

Posted by Wendy Neal Sunday, April 18, 2010 Bookmark and Share

Wow, it's been three weeks since my last post.  I've just been so busy!  With spring also comes track, baseball, and T-ball season.  Seems like we're always on the go.

So my son has been pestering me for the last few weeks about getting tested for food allergies. I guess he had seen the tremendous transformation I went through after eliminating all my food allergens, and how much better and healthier I felt and looked. I had also mentioned to him in passing that after just a few days my skin had completely cleared up and I no longer have acne. Being a 13-year-old, I think this fact really peaked his interest, because he does seem to have moderate acne and is not happy with the way his skin looks. He had even been researching online and discovered that not only can food allergies cause acne, but that it's also hereditary, and he was just convinced that he was allergic to something.

I had also read online that food allergies can cause a whole host of other problems; in particular it can cause ADD or ADD-like symptoms. My son has never been diagnosed with ADD or suspected of having it by teachers, but over the years I have noticed minor symptoms including constant daydreaming, inability to concentrate, short attention span, etc. And it seems to have gotten worse since he became a teenager. He has probably only watched a handful of movies in his lifetime all the way from start to finish, because he just can't pay attention long enough to understand the plot, so he just quits watching it. And his grades have started to slip a little since he got into junior high, I think because he doesn't pay attention in class so he gets lost. He is extremely intelligent, so I know it's not that.

First Experience Dining Out After Food Allergy Diagnosis

Posted by Wendy Neal Sunday, March 28, 2010 Bookmark and Share

If you've been following my blog, you know that a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with severe food allergies to dairy (from cow's milk) and egg whites, and moderate allergies to mushrooms, psyllium, alfalfa, and turmeric. And while I don't have an allergy to gluten, I'm evidently sensitive to it so I'm following a gluten-free diet as well.

My new diet had been going very well for the first few weeks - mainly because I was preparing all my meals myself and I could control exactly what was in them. I had not yet gone out to a restaurant since my diagnosis. That is until one day a bunch of coworkers and I decided to walk down to the local lunch spot just down the street from our office.

Let's just say that the experience was less than stellar. First of all, nearly everything on their menu contained wheat. So I ended up ordering a burger without cheese, and planned on not eating the bun. Also instead of the greasy fries that normally comes with it, I substituted chili (the only type of soup they had with no gluten and/or milk in it).

Is My New Diet Working?

Posted by Wendy Neal Friday, March 19, 2010 Bookmark and Share

In my last blog post, I told you that I finally found a naturopathic physician, Dr. Jason Bradley, and he was able to find the root cause of a lot of my issues. After just a few weeks on my treatment, which included dietary changes and a few supplements, I'm happy to say that I'm feeling much, much better!

Following are the results of my initial lab tests:

Food Allergies

I have major allergies to cow's milk dairy and egg whites and need to avoid those. Also moderate allergies to mushrooms, alfalfa, turmeric, and psyllium, which means I can consume them sparingly. And I may be gluten-intolerant, though I'm not allergic to gluten.

Vitamin/Mineral Deficiencies

After my first blood test, I was on the borderline of having a serious vitamin D3 deficiency (below 32 ng/mL would be considered deficient and I was at 32.2).  He wanted my levels to get up to 75 or 80, so I started supplementing with 15,000 IUs of D3 a day. 

Find the Root Cause

Posted by Wendy Neal Monday, March 15, 2010 Bookmark and Share

Got a New Doc!

I have been very lucky to recently find a naturopathic doctor in my area, only about 20 minutes from where I live. I decided to go see him because I had another serious episode with anxiety, panic attacks, and digestive problems in the fall of 2009, and it was much worse than any I'd had before.

It started out with what I thought was a normal stomach bug: I had abdominal cramps and nausea for a day or so and wasn't able to eat much. But then the nausea and cramps kept getting worse, and the nausea was horrible shortly after eating. I began to lose a lot of weight, of course because I wasn't eating much (and those who know me personally know that I’m a pretty small person to begin with). Not only was I losing weight but I began to feel severely malnourished, lethargic, had dark bags under my eyes, pale skin, and just felt plain awful and was in a lot of pain. My anxiety levels were skyrocketing and I was having severe panic attacks that were physically debilitating. I ended up missing 13 days of work in the span of about 6 weeks.

Tips for Controlling Hypoglycemia

Posted by Wendy Neal Tuesday, March 2, 2010 Bookmark and Share

First of all, what is hypoglycemia? The literal meaning is low blood sugar: "hypo" meaning low, and "glycemia" meaning sugar. It is a disorder which is characterized by both sugar highs and lows. It can occur when sugars or carbohydrates are not metabolized correctly.

Several years ago, during the time I was having all these dizzy spells and weird episodes, my doctor decided to do a fasting blood glucose test. My results came back pretty low and he just mentioned that my low blood sugar levels were low. I didn't get a specific diagnosis of hypoglycemia, as doctors at that time typically did not view hypoglycemia as a valid disease for the general population; it was mainly something that a diabetic would experience as the result of their diabetes medication causing their sugar to plummet too low. He just told me to avoid too much sugar and pasta and then sent me on my way. No specific dietary plans or education or anything else.

Panic Attacks and Anxiety - Part Three

Posted by Wendy Neal Thursday, February 18, 2010 Bookmark and Share

This is the last post in my 3-part series on panic attacks and anxiety. If you haven't seen them, you may read the first two posts in the series now:

Panic Attacks and Anxiety - Part One
Panic Attacks and Anxiety - Part Two

In my last post I mentioned that my doctor had put me on antidepressants to try to curtail my anxiety, which she believed was attributing to my panic attacks. One thing she mentioned that alarmed me was the fact that if you were on them long term, they could damage your liver. The reason that was shocking to me was because it was a medical doctor warning me of the potential side effects. I remember thinking at the time, wow this must be really nasty stuff if my doctor is actually mentioning long term side effects.

Panic Attacks and Anxiety - Part Two

Posted by Wendy Neal Tuesday, February 9, 2010 Bookmark and Share

(Continued from Panic Attacks and Anxiety - Part One)

Around the summer/fall of 2007, I started having severe panic and anxiety attacks again on a regular basis. They were similar to episodes I had experienced previously, except I didn't feel like I was dizzy or spinning. I just felt really nauseous and like I was going to lose consciousness or faint. And it mostly happened while I was driving. I honestly thought that I might pass out while driving, which would cause me to wreck my car and die. A couple times I had to suddenly lurch over to the shoulder and park until I felt the sensation pass, then I would finish driving home. It got to the point where I was terrified to drive and this was very debilitating to me, as I had a full time job, carpooling duties, groceries and errands, etc.

There were a few days where I had to work from home because I was too scared to drive on the interstate. I am fortunate to have a job and an understanding employer where this was possible. But obviously this could not go on forever. I went to see my doctor (different doctor than before, as we had moved to a new city by this time). She is actually the one who diagnosed me with anxiety and panic attacks, and as most MDs do, she prescribed me some magic pills to mask the symptoms of my anxiety rather than trying to find the root cause and treating that.

Panic Attacks and Anxiety - Part One

Posted by Wendy Neal Sunday, January 31, 2010 Bookmark and Share

In my first blog post, I mentioned that I have experienced numerous mysterious symptoms and ailments over the years and my doctors just could not figure out what was going on. Or they just didn't think my complaints were to be taken very seriously (I've heard the phrase "it's just all in your head" more than once).

One of my biggest and most menacing health issues is that I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. Before I delve into how nutrition and natural therapies have helped to alleviate these attacks and greatly improve the quality of my life, I'd like to share some of my experiences and what it actually feels like to have a panic attack. I have a lot to share on this topic, so I am going to break this up into a few posts so I don't ramble on too long.

Welcome to My First Ever Blog Post

Posted by Wendy Neal Friday, January 15, 2010 Bookmark and Share

I never in a million years thought I would be writing a blog of any kind, especially a blog about natural health topics, but here I am. I've recently become extremely interested in natural health due to my own health issues and have done much research into natural remedies and nutrition.  I am not a doctor nor a health professional, just someone who has taken control of her own health and body in her quest for better health.

So why exactly am I starting this blog? Well there's a couple main reasons:



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