It’s not what you think, and I’m not going to lecture you on what to eat. Instead, this is a personal account of my battles with an autoimmune disorder. I experienced a cluster of so many symptoms – chronic fatigue, psoriasis, recurring staph infections and cellulitis, anxiety, and the worst of them all, IBS-D. Cramping, indigestion, and a very uncomfortable experience.
The drastic immune dysfunction mostly presented itself as recurring staph infections (Staphylococcus pronounced: staf-uh-low-KAH-kus, a type of bacteria that can live harmlessly on many skin surfaces – but when the skin is punctured or broken, staph bacteria can enter the wound and cause an infection). In one case, I developed cellulitis on my shin. That morning I visited my favourite organic markets, drank coffee, and had a great time. By that afternoon I couldn’t walk down my stairs — I drove myself to emergency (on a Sunday) and demanded antibiotics immediately. I dare to say that if I had waited one more day, the leg may have required amputation (yes, it’s that serious). I’ll spare you the photo.
So I visited my GP a dozen times and requested blood tests, everything came back normal and he said that “your immune system is doing a great job of keeping the infection localised to the skin, everything is fine”… stop. This is the critical moment, this is where it could have all gone so wrong. This is where most people simply comply with what their doctor says because they don’t know any better. As with most cases, I started searching elsewhere. I was very fortunate to meet a practitioner who could guide me in the right direction.
After weeks of running around and $600 worth of blood test (that’s a whole lotta blood, poor lady at the collection centre knew me on a personal basis) I finally figured it out. For now.
“Tissue typing came back, you are homozygous HLADQ2 which means you are likely celiac. Please stop eating anything with gluten in it. Dairy may also be an issue.”
We’re about to go geek mode, please pay attention. Tissue typing essentially means genetic testing. HLADQ2 — Human Leukocyte Antigen DQ2, is a gene that is present in 97% of Celiac patients. Homozygous, means I carry the gene from both parents, as opposed to heterozygous, which would mean I only carry the gene from one parent. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten causes damage to the small intestine. Autoimmunity occurs when the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body by mistake (oops). Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat and wheat related species — and the small intestine is the place where you absorb the nutrients you eat and drink, unlike the large intestine, which is where your poop is made.
Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about you. Do you experience bloating? How about a skin rash? Eczema? Perhaps Psoriasis? Maybe you get unexplained migraines? How about extreme fatigue? What about irritable bowel syndrome? Abdominal pain? Iron deficiency anemia? Arthritis? Osteoporosis? Depression? Anxiety? Dermatitis? ADHD? Bone or joint pain…
Takes deep breath
These may all be food related. Food intolerances can present themselves in many different ways, especially gluten and dairy intolerance. For those that know me, I have always been an advocate of healthy eating, but now more than ever, I realise how important it really is. I know there are skeptics out there, but all you are really doing is delaying yourself from good health. Gluten won’t kill you, but apathy will. Stop leaving your health in someone else’s hands and start taking responsibility. Your doctor will do their best but sometimes they just do not know enough. Don’t rely on them, it’s your job to dig deeper.
In a nutshell;
Take responsibility for your own health.
If not you, who?
You know that small niggling symptom, the afternoon headache, or the rash that pops up when you’re stressed? Investigate that, figure out what’s causing it and then stop doing that thing.
“The food you eat (or don’t eat) can really be your safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.” Ann Wigmore