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This Little Health Journey.

posted by

Brittany Johnson

May 31, 2023

I shared on Instagram a few months back how I had been really struggling health wise.
My health journey is definitely still a journey and I always am a little hesitant to share certain things because SO many of us are on a journey and this isn’t always a one-size fits all kind of deal.

But for the sake of maybe helping someone on their way just a tiny bit, I will share my journey and if you relate in any way, definitely seek help from a local Naturopath or Functional Medicine PA.

When we moved to the Spokane area, we started off by seeing a Naturopathic Doctor who had starting with food sensitivity testing (different than the sensitivity tests I will list further down this blog post) and who had a very black and white approach in their practices. Now typically, this would be my style; leave no room for grey and that is where I thrive because it is all or nothing.
But now as a Mom, and having my whole family seeing someone who had this black and white of an approach, it was harmful for our overall well being. The plan was too strict, too narrow minded and in the end caused a lot of overall sadness around food which was NOT the goal. The suggestions being made weren’t certain food types to avoid, it was entire food categories that were being eliminated.

After realizing that we learned a few things but it just wasn’t a good fit, we were fortunate enough to be connected with a Functional Medicine PA who had a much softer approach backed with testing and care and received a second opinion. I will say, never be ashamed or afraid to seek a second opinion.

I am a full believer in our food being the vessel that can harm us or heal us. The hardest part about this statement is the fact that the choice is fully in our own hands once we know what is harming us.

When Keith was diagnosed with Celiac back in 2017, my dad was also just diagnosed with colon cancer. It was an extremely overwhelming time to get that news that I think added up to additional worry surrounding such a drastic change but also, it was such a relief to know why Keith was so sick AND that we could make some lifestyle changes to help fix it.

Due to the severity of his celiac and the risk for cross contamination, we had to go cupboard by cupboard and clear out everything that had Gluten; I don’t wish this on anyone by the way. Seasonings, snacks, breads, you name it. If it had Gluten, it had to go.
But I will always say this was the biggest blessing in disguise because it forced me to learn how to cook. I went from buying a lot of packaged food, ordering out, easy quick grab and go style meals to sitting down with cook books and teaching myself to cook for the first time at 26 years old.
And for anyone sitting right here in this same spot, I purchased this cookbook and it honestly did teach me how to cook GF. (She now has two more: True Comfort + Truly Simple)

So fast forward to when I started feeling “sick.” Knowing that Keith’s diagnosis was purely driven off of food, that is where I started looking at myself. What am I eating that my body doesn’t like? Looking at our recipes and feeling like we ate very clean, so what is wrong with me?
I was always exhausted, had “wet noodle” legs, headaches, acne, you name it. I just felt “off” and upset that I just couldn’t feel “normal” but then realizing it had been so long, I didn’t even know what my normal was.

With the guidance from our new Functional Medicine PA, I went forward with a large blood panel to check general health + hormones, a new food sensitively test (that was targeted at specific food items vs. food groups like the previous one), wheat zoomer test and a full toxin panel: mycotoxins, environmental and heavy metal. If you are not familiar, the food sensitivity test(s) and the toxin test are at-home tests (you prick your finger and mail in your sample) but these were all ordered by my doctor. My tests were from the brand Vibrant Wellness I’ve linked the tests I had completed above.

My Food sensitivity test came back sensitive to:
High: Wheat (ironic since I have been primarily GF)
Moderate: Almond, Carp, Broad Bean, Dill and Kiwi Fruit
The results were not the end of the world since we are already 100% gluten free, but I was using Almond Flour (since we were already GF) and used Almonds in recipes. That was something I instantly cut out. The other foods we didn’t really have that much of, so it wasn’t awful.

The Toxin test was a little bit more of a guessing game for me on what was leading to the results but after some of my eliminations (coffee / less rice / potato / laundry detergent swap / haircare + makeup swaps, etc.) I have started to feel better.

My results came back positive for: (these are just a few, not everything)
Mycotoxin: Both food based mold + black mold *We think we did have mold in our last house that contributed to the black mold part of this result.
Environmental: Patulin, BPA, Methylparaben (can be found in cosmetics)
Heavy Metal: Tungsten (still don’t know where this one is coming from)

With this new information, I had to take a deeper look at the products I was using for skincare, makeup, cleaning, cooking, you name it. Foods that were heavy mold contenders: coffee, peanut butter, etc.
Sometimes, it isn’t just all about the food we are eating, its also what we are putting on or near our bodies too. And no, even with best efforts, we can’t always control everything and some of the toxins listed above can last in your body for a LONG time. Example, BPA – we try to have glass or metal everything… so I was shocked to see I had such a high amount of BPA in my system. But look at how saturated our life can be with plastic! Salsa containers, salad mix comes in plastic, shampoo, hand-soap, the list goes on and on.

One thing I really want to encourage here, if you’re still reading, you most likely have found yourself in similar shoes as mine. Don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. Go slow and steady towards your healing process; one bite at a time. If you try and tackle the full meal deal, it can be overwhelming and discouraging.
We are such creatures of habit and it can be so easy for us to associate “feeling” to smells or foods. So when that feeling gets disrupted, it can cause us to slip into almost a sadness over this new “loss” and make these changes really hard and uncomfortable.

Because of how poorly I truly felt, I cut out coffee which was HARD for me. The process of making a cup of coffee, the smell, it was an emotional parting. I know there are mold free options and I actually just recently made a purchase from Kion coffee. But for the first couple months of “detoxing” I just wanted to not leave any attempt unprocessed. I made the switch to Matcha (that was an adjustment) and rolled with it the best I could.

I also started looking at my food items a little more intently. How much more effort could I put forward to make things at home vs. buying from the store. I love Peanut Butter, but I was completely unfamiliar with the fact that Peanut Butter is actually quite high in mold as well, I read how Valencia Peanuts contain less mold due to the climate they are grown in and made my own Peanut Butter.

I also took a deep dive look into my cosmetics / hair care (also a toughie for a creature of habit like myself!).
I’m not perfect by any means, but I did find a few “clean” brands that I have been enjoying.

So what does a healing process look like for me?
Aside from the journey of making healthy “swaps”, it purely is a program that my Functional Medicine PA has outlined. She has me on a supplement “detox” program if you will.
She wrote out a schedule for different vitamins / supplements that I take multiple times per day to help assist in the detox / healing process. This is the part where you really need to work with your naturopath or Functional Medicine PA to design a program that works for you and takes into consideration all of your test results.

I would just say, if you too find yourself here don’t be sad about the items you might need to swap or feel like you’re “losing”. Reframe that thought process towards an exciting journey of healing your body and finding new things that you love and help you become the best version of yourself.

Its truly a process, but you’ve got this.

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