Life was not looking so hot when I turned 70 last year despite the fabulous low-key birthday celebration with close friends, a guitar player and a blues singer. It seemed like I was heading into a painful future and a loss of my precious independence.
The gastroenterologist who gave me the diagnosis of NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) told me there was nothing I could to do to help myself other than lose weight, lose weight, and lose weight. His recommendation of “eat less, move more” was not useful and downright offensive as far as I’m concerned. I’m not an unintelligent woman (of which I reminded him) and recounted the fact that I’d been a low fat, healthy eater all my life. Never a processed food eater and never a great sweet eater either.
He suggested a referral to a dietician which I was dead against. I want to eat real food and understand its value. I’ve been a Weston A Price Chapter Leader here in Australia and work with many people to access real food and work to support local farmers as much as possible. So a dietician was out of the question.
I’ve had obstinate obesity for many years which I’d not been able to resolve – at all. I have a wonderful GP who practices nutritional and environmental medicine and he was stumped. Thankfully my GP printed out some research papers which indicated some nutritional supplements that could be beneficial. That really empowered me to seek out some answers myself. Nothing worse than being told “there’s nothing you can do”.
I believe I ended up in this situation because of a 33-year history of chronic fatigue syndrome, a metabolic disorder. I’d been bedridden at many times in my life and had to retire at age 50 because of disability.
Because of this, my liver function tests were abnormal and heading very much in a dangerous direction. NASH can get worse and cause scarring of the liver, which leads to cirrhosis and my tests indicated I was heading towards cirrhosis.
NASH is similar to the kind of liver disease that is caused by long-term, heavy drinking, but it can also occur in people who don’t abuse alcohol. I’ve never been a big consumer of alcohol, but had stopped any intake for six years prior to diagnosis.
Understanding that weight loss was a key to healing my liver, I started my online research and dug and dug and then kept on digging to find some answers, as I knew I was not unique in trying to understand my fat issues. I was just so uncomfortable in my fat loaded body, and disheartened that I just couldn’t find a solution.
Somewhere along the line, I started reading up on keto diet and a low carbohydrate lifestyle and I’m not adverse to animal fats and/or bacon, so decided to have a go!
I started in February 2016, looking for fat loss, but more importantly, healing for my liver. Connecting with lots of Facebook pages and websites and finding the key players was a little frustrating but eventually I was headed on the right track. Lots of research to read and then irrefutable facts on lowering my carbohydrate intake and increasing healthy fats just made sense.
I started questioning my GP as to why our dietary guidelines recommend so many carbohydrates much to our detriment in this modern world.
I implemented some natural supplements and also increased my fish intake to three times a week.
My results were surprising; I lost 13 kg over a 7 month period enjoying delicious and satisfying meals and seeing many others regain their health.
I enjoyed a low-carb cruise in September 2016 for a four day educational intensive. I met lots of great local and international people so willing to share their stories about health gains, and even Persephone the cat who shrunk on a low carb diet – I was impressed!
The experts were there to impart knowledge and experience in a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere on the high seas, or at least the east coast from Brisbane to Airlie Beach and return. Just enough time for me to experience a cruise and know I never need another one!
From that time, I’ve continued my low carbohydrate diet with some refinement. I’ve learned to reduce my fat intake and that just eating low carbohydrate vegetables along with some berries maintains my current weight. That’s enough to stop my craving for more carbs and continue my health gain lifestyle. I have not lost any more weight since that time but my healing continues.
I’ve had a couple of visits to an endocrinologist who referred me for further insulin and lipid tests which were enlightening and pointed to a refinement of my lipid and fat intake. No further fat loss and there still seems to be a lurking mystery in regard to this point and I believe that’s associated with the very metabolic disorder of CFS where much more research needs to be directed worldwide.
I’m undertaking a gut healing protocol at present as I’ve been diagnosed with a nasty gut bug that is destroying my healthy bacteria. Low carbohydrate eating is an excellent way to prevent feeding up this gut bug, so I’m already ahead on this matter.
Another benefit after attending the cruise was a presentation in Brisbane when we returned, where I heard and met a neurosurgeon from Brisbane who recommends a low carb diet for many of his patients with spinal pain. I’ve had lower back pain and sciatica for many years and had regular nine monthly visits for a procedure called radio therapy neurotomy, where nerve endings are lasered/zapped under sedation for temporary pain relief. I undertook an 8 week functional movement training program that this neurosurgeon has developed and offers a unique motor pattern and movement deficiency restoration system through central nervous system rehabilitation.
The practical focus and essence of the program is to develop and retrain patient’s dysfunctional spinal, pelvic and hip movement which is the dominating cause of lower back pain.
By acquiring skilful coordinated movement patterns of the lumbo-pelvic spine through the application of the Functional Movement Training Centre program, secondary benefits of flexibility and power in the posterior kinetic chain and spinal core stabiliser muscles will ensue, and they have.
It’s hard work for this lady, especially having to travel across Brisbane during peak hour traffic but so worthwhile. I’ve had a pain syndrome in an ankle in the past which had caused a knee to turn inward and I thought that would be with me for the rest of my life. With a lot of guidance and attention from the very well trained staff at the centre, I’ve managed to change the direction my knee was headed with special exercises that were aimed at changing the neural pathways and now have a normal centred knee – amazing.
The results this week (two years after diagnosis) following a liver fibroscan and a liver ultrasound – NO FATTY LIVER! My liver function tests are now normal.
My back pain has disappeared as long as I continue to do some specific exercises at home that are not onerous.
I’m the woman with her hands in the air jumping for joy!
The human body is an amazing thing and well able to heal given the right nutrients and instructions.