How Changing My Diet and Lifestyle Impacted My Health Story
March was Nutrition Month, and we should celebrate! But, why just March? Shouldn't we pay close attention to properly nourishing our bodies all the time? It should be on our minds more often, but that’s easier said than done, isn’t it?
Read on to find out how changing my diet and lifestyle impacted my health story—we're in the same boat!
First, let's take a step back and think about why we eat in the first place. Our need to eat goes beyond eating for pleasure and taste—we eat to survive, right? But, even more, food is essential because it provides the energy our bodies need to perform basic functions and the building blocks to grow and repair tissue.
Our bodies are made of billions of cells, and those cells need certain nutrients that we can only get from food. That’s why what we eat matters, and the quality matters more than the quantity. A nutrient-dense diet provides the body with the raw materials it needs—vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals to begin healing, detoxifying, and rebuilding itself. This is the foundation of any effective nutrition and health program.
My health story is a perfect example of how making holistic changes can make a difference. When I was six years old, I was diagnosed with Central Precocious Puberty (CPP), a rare hormonal growth condition. In addition to taking synthetic hormones for over two decades, I had terrible acid reflux in my late teenage years and horrendous premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Not to mention, debilitating migraines forced me to self-inject the medication for quicker relief.
At 22, I was diagnosed with a rare condition the medical team had not seen for over 30 years—a carcinoid tumor that was blocking my left lung's airway. I’d never even smoked! As a result, my lung was working at only 20 percent of its capacity, and within a year, I had two severe cases of pneumonia. The tumor brought additional health challenges I couldn’t ignore. Ultimately, my lung was removed.
In my early thirties, I started gaining weight for no apparent reason. In my early forties, I was diagnosed with infertility due to a condition called adenomyosis. I was plagued with excruciating menstrual pain and an autoimmune disease called palindromic rheumatism that affects the joints, similar to rheumatoid arthritis. I also had bouts of acne in my twenties, thirties, and forties, a skin condition I never suffered in my teenage years. Other factors—primarily a standard American diet, chronic stress, and poor lifestyle habits created a web of ailments that slowly crept up for decades, causing me severe chronic pain conditions.
Ironically, I usually don’t like reading or writing long blog posts! But I believe it’s important to share my health journey with you so you know I understand where you may be coming from. There were days when the pain was unbearable, and I blamed my mother for not addressing my symptoms when I was young. But, she was dealing with her own journey through mental illness (another topic for a future post).
The vital part of my story is that I never gave up on myself and always sought holistic ways to overcome my conditions. I believe that life prepared me to become a Functional Nutritionist, and it was a blessing in disguise. In 2015, I worked with a health coach who introduced me to the concept of gluten intolerance, and my road to recovery slowly took off. Finally, in 2018, I embarked on the wonderful venture of becoming a certified Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and never looked back.
Today, I'm 51 years old and have never felt more healthy, vibrant, energetic, and sexy. My hormonal imbalance still affects my health, and I still have concerns like blood sugar and elevated cholesterol levels. Still, I can now wear a two-piece bathing suit without being self-conscious about my body, and having my picture taken is no longer an issue. My health journey isn’t over, but I'm learning to love myself, inside and out.
The solution to chronic health problems, preventing disease, and improving the quality of your life begins with fundamental changes in your diet and lifestyle.Basic nutrition is an essential first step on the road to recovery and sustaining health.
Helena Jean Louis is a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. She helps guide, support, and educate people with severe gut issues and hormonal disorders to make conscientious decisions to improve their health and wellbeing.
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