Why we keep quiet about infertility

(by contributing writer Amanda) 

National Infertility Awareness Week is April 20-26, a week in which many of us in the infertility community commit to sharing our stories, spreading awareness, and bringing much-needed attention to the disease that affects an estimated seven million Americans.

But some who carry this burden – who walk this journey, do so silently, quietly, and mostly alone. Infertility is an isolating journey, and many choose to walk it alone. Their friends and family members are often left with unanswered questions, wondering what to say, how to help, and what it’s like. And they wonder why? Why will my loved one not let me be a part of this journey?

Every journey is different, every heart shatters into unique pieces. I can only share from my own experience, but perhaps my own struggle will shed a glimmer of light onto the struggles that others face as they walk this lonely journey.

Why We Keep Quiet About Infertility

why we keep quiet about infertility

1. Making a baby is (usually) a very private experience

We are keenly aware that most couples are able to create new life together without an audience. Babies are made in secret, in those intoxicating moments of love and passion. When a couple experiences infertility, those secret moments of passion are often replaced with gut wrenching moments in a doctor’s office, with doctors, nurses, and receptionists taking a gander at charts and medical tests and all things that once were private. Passion is replaced with frustration, love is sometimes overshadowed by fear, and what once was sacred and private becomes another statistic. We feel that invasion of privacy so deeply.

My husband and I battled infertility for a couple of years before we ever opened up about it – even to family. Clinging to what semblance of privacy we could, we guarded the sacred moments between husband and wife, even the ones in a sterile, cold doctor’s office. We tried to protect our hearts by keeping private those things we inherently know are supposed to be private.

2. You have questions, but we don’t have answers

Infertility introduces a crushing number of questions for which we rarely have answers. My husband and I were diagnosed with unexplained infertility, so we quite literally had no answers for most of our questions. Not having answers to our own questions is brutally painful, and not being able to answer your questions has its own pain and frustration too.

We know you have questions, and we know that most of your questions come from a place of love and concern. You want to know how we’re doing, but most days we really don’t know. You want to know if we’re okay, but sometimes (most of the time) we aren’t. You want to know how to help, but really, you can’t. You want to know why we don’t have babies, so do we.

For many, it is easier to journey silently and alone than it is to give the same answers (or lack thereof) over and over again. The “I don’t knows” and fragile facades of “I’m okay” wear us down and remind us of the never-ending heartache.

3. We feel our barrenness in our souls

I speak here as a woman of faith battling infertility. Christian couples facing infertility often feel barren within their soul. We question God’s plan, we wrestle with God’s will, and in our darkest moments we doubt God’s love for us. After all, God’s Word is clear that children are a blessing from God; so we wonder: is lack of children a curse from God?

Every Christian couple who battles infertility will do so on a spiritual level. Some will do so much more gracefully than I did. My faith was shaken to its core, and I often wrestled with God out of anger and rage. It was ugly and my heart was raw. And for a long time I was unwilling to be vulnerable with my friends and family about my bitterness and anger. Most of us don’t want to air our spiritual dirty laundry for others to see.

Perhaps you are the loved one of a couple facing infertility. Remember that they are on a journey of grief, and there is no wrong way to grieve. I hope you know that you are a much needed source of strength and encouragement. You have the ability to offer comfort, even when you don’t know what to say. I challenge you to value their privacy, to honor the way they have chosen to journey the path of infertility, to do what you can to protect their hearts.

Do you silently struggle with infertility? What are your reasons for staying quiet?



The top lab tests for fertility: part 1

Written by contributing writer Bridgit.

If you are ready to do a fertility check-up, you may be wondering where to start.  Today I’ll start with the best first lab for women, and next month we’ll talk about the guys.

A CBC ‘With Extras’ for Her

I think the best place for women to start is with an easy, peasy blood draw.  When you analyze blood work with a functional medical lens, it can tell you quite a bit about your health.  And when you order those tests with fertility in mind, you get a great base to get started on your fertility journey.

Here’s what to get:

top fertility tests for her

  • CBC with differential
  • vitamin D
  • Fasting glucose (you need to have not eaten)
  • HA1C
  • TSH
  • Free T4
  • Free T3
  • TPO ab
  • TG ab
  • free testosterone

These tests will inform you about anemia, digestion, immune activity, liver, thyroid function, autoimmune hypothyroid and blood sugar/ PCOS.

But here’s the thing; your doctor may not be willing or able to order and/or interpret these tests for you. You can certainly ask your GP or GYN to order these tests, and you may have better luck with your endocrinologist or RE.  But many physicians are not trained to order or interpret blood work from a functional medicine perspective.

There’s no reason to get upset if you can’t get these tests this way.  We can’t ask physicians to suddenly practice in a way they are not trained for, and we can’t ask them to utilize your insurance benefits in a way that they can’t justify.

So what can you do?  You can order through directlabs.com and then set up an appointment with someone trained in functional medicine (either as a virtual/online consult like I do) or through a qualified local naturopath trained in functional and fertility medicine to have the results analyzed.  I think you’ll be quite surprised by what you haven’t learned through your labs thus far!

You can usually use your health savings account (HSA) to pay for these non-covered medical expenses, so that’s something to think about for next year if you don’t already have a HSA.

It’s worth the time and money to get this information so you can create a clear plan, based on fact, with your qualified practitioner.  And then you’re really on your way to making that baby!

What are your questions about labs?  I’m always happy to help!



6 tips to balance adrenal fatigue naturally

(by contributing writer Nichi)

Notice how you feel when you read through this list:

  • Long hours at work
  • Exhaustion of parenting wee ones
  • Living with teenagers
  • Relationships
  • Your annoying co-worker
  • Emotional stress
  • Bad food choices: coffee, sugar and highly processed foods
  • Traffic
  • Lack of sleep
  • Illness and disease

Are you stressed out yet?

What about when your alarm goes off in the morning and you either jolt upright out of bed or do the hand-scramble as you flop it around feeling for the OFF button?  No matter which way you respond to that morning alarm clock, your heart is now in your throat and we start out day exhausted and with an adrenaline rush all at the same time.

How to balance adrenal fatigue naturally   www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com

Working with clients on adrenal fatigue is a multi-faceted approach, AND, balancing it naturally via managing your lifestyle goes a long way.

Now, I can’t do without my Drenamin a lot of days, which is a raw organic supplement that contains whole food ingredients that support my whole body in dealing with adrenal fatigue.  That being said, a specifically clinically designed nutrition protocol is what I am in and it’s the whole versus the part that supports me.

The adrenal glands produce hormones in our body that help us respond to stress.  I personally notice a link with my blood sugar metabolism and immune response when my adrenals are suffering.

When you don’t have supplementation available to you, you can seek out the support of a Nutrition Response Testing practitioner, Naturopath or Acupuncturist and they will create a protocol just for you.

In the ‘meantime’, you know, that space between when you decide to take a step toward seeking support and when you actually do, there are a few lifestyle management tips you can implement to soften the sharp rise and fall.  I always say it can make the difference between feeling like you’re on the G-force roller coaster and the old wooden roller!

6 Tips to Naturally Balance Adrenal Fatigue

  1. Implement a healthy sleep rhythm-settling into bed at the same time every night and rising at the same time every morning quickly establish a cadence your body will soon drum to.
  2. Drop the refined and processed food and opt for whole foods.  At least commit to this for one meal/day.  Perhaps begin with lunch-opt for the salad bar, add a boiled egg and grilled chicken instead of the drive through McSandwich.
  3. Cut sugar.  I know, you’re so sick of hearing about sugar as begin a culprit.  Don’t even get me going.  Just. Cut. It. Out.  It’s in your soda, in your bread, your cereal, your candy, your juice, your granola bars and cookies and fat-free this and low-fat that.  In just about everything that says “no sugar added”, they are just substituting it with an ingredient you can’t pronounce and thus don’t know it’s sugar.
  4. Drink water.  Replenish your cells, please.  They are so thirsty and they try to tell you, but when you listen, you’re actually hearing that you’re hungry.  You’re not.  Often when we are thirsty we are already dehydrated and we opt for food instead.  Drink half your weight in ounces per day.
  5. Turn off the screen.  I get you’re reading this on a screen, AND, I urge you to turn them off at least 30 minutes prior to sleep at night and read a book or take a bath instead!
  6. Practice relaxation.  Whether it be sitting on a bench at the park, taking a restorative yoga class or participating in a meditation course, you need to implement relaxation into your life.

Combat adrenal fatigue naturally
Now, I can relate to all of this.  In the past year I have struggled with adrenal fatigue and candida.  I did a candida cleanse during the summer, which took away the fog and the need for adrenal support.  My acupuncturist requested I turn my brain off at 6pm every night.  I agreed upon 8, then after seeing how much better I felt, I quickly took on the 6pm cut off.

It feels awesome.

I am very ready for bed by 9:30/10 and am very ready to jump out of bed by 5:30 the next morning.  I feel rested and peaceful and my skin glows.
Relaxation to me sounds like this: “I’ll just go for a 4 mile walk today instead of 5.”  That exercise is great and all but is not a practice in relaxation.  What I do is put myself into a book that has exercises for me to follow, or listen to meditation cd’s that require me to practice a visualization for even just a few minutes per day.  My weekly Higher Brain Living session does wonders as well.

Now that you know how to balance adrenal fatigue naturally while on your way to the support of a practitioner, which step will you implement today?

Photo credit



Three Recipes using abundant spring asparagus

Written by contributing writer, Renee

Three Recipes Using Abundant Spring Asparagus  www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com
It started snowing the week of Thanksgiving where I live, and I haven’t seen our grass since. After a long (and I mean LONG!) winter, seeing our farmer’s markets open, and abundant bundles of spring asparagus pop up makes every last ounce of winter blues melt away!

West Michigan is known nation-wide for our abundant asparagus in the late spring, and every April and May I load up our house with green goodies bursting with spring flavor.

We eat pretty seasonal, so after our long winter I can’t tell you how *good* asparagus tastes!!!

Roasted asparagus is a great start. If you have never had asparagus before, I would start here! The flavor is incredible, and the recipe is very easy. Serve it along side beef roast and potatoes, or a roasted chicken and squash!

Three Recipes Using Abundant Spring Asparagus

Roasted Asparagus
Author: 
 

Ingredients
  • 1-2 lbs asparagus, coarse ends cut
  • 2-4 TB friendly fat to roast in (butter, coconut oil, lard, bacon grease work great)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional but so good!)
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Toss the asparagus with the friendly fat, garlic, and seasoning on a sheet pan and spread out evenly.
  2. Roast at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. I love the little tree tops a little “crispy” so sometimes I go a little longer – all in your preference – check them around the 20 minute mark in case you want them less “done”.

Asparagus soup is a great way to take advantage of end of the season “sales”. Right around the end of May when the asparagus season comes to a close, the farmers at the market start selling their asparagus bundles super cheap. As in usually half the cost per pound and even less if you buy them in 10 pound groups. So what do I do with all that asparagus? Soup! This soup freezes up so great. And you can make large batches that you can stash away so that late fall or early winter you can pull it out for something different to have!

Three Recipes Using Abundant Spring Asparagus

Asparagus Soup
Author: 
 

Ingredients
  • 3-4 TB friendly fat to cook in (butter, coconut oil, lard, bacon grease)
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (just coarsely chop – it will all be pureed anyway!)
  • 1 ½ quarts chicken stock (homemade preferable for extra nourishment and to avoid BPA)
  • 4-5 small red or yellow potatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 bunches asparagus, hard ends discarded, coarsely chopped
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • Garnish with sour cream or coconut milk if you wish

Instructions
  1. Saute the onions in the friendly fat over medium high heat for about 5-10 minutes with a couple pinches of salt to bring out their juices and sweeten.
  2. Add the garlic and cook a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the stock, potatoes, and asparagus and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the asparagus and potatoes are cooked through.
  5. Use a handheld blender or regular blender to puree the soup smooth. Add salt/pepper to taste.
  6. Garnish with sour cream or coconut milk if you wish.

Asparagus stir frys SO well. The flavor is amazing, and you can pair it with other spring favorites like peas or radishes. If you have those really thick asparagus stalks that have a bit different texture (in my opinion!) you can shave the spears with a peeler and it makes perfect stir fry veggie additions!

Three Recipes Using Abundant Spring Asparagus

Spring Veggie Pasta (Grain Free Option)
Author: 
 

Ingredients
  • ½ package of brown rice pasta (if you are grain free you could use chopped potatoes)
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 1lb), coarse ends removed, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 large tomato, seeds and juices scooped out and chopped (could do halved cherry tomatoes!
  • ⅓ cup reserved starchy liquid from cooking the pasta (I cook my pasta in stock for more nourishment and so my liquid is stock too but water works as well)
  • 1 ½ cups cheese, shredded (Raw cheese preferable. Otherwise stick with organic right off the block – shred your own – the pre shredded cheeses have too many unnecessary additives. If you are dairy free – just leave it out! It will be just as good with a drizzle of olive or coconut oil!)
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • Optional extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over top to garnish

Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta to al dente and set aside. Reserve about ⅓ cup of the starchy cooking liquid for the veggie mixture sauce.
  2. Saute the onion in a few TB of butter or coconut oil and a pinch of salt for a few minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
  4. Add the asparagus and another pinch of salt and cook on medium high for a few minutes until bright green and slightly tender.
  5. Add the peas and tomatoes for a minute or two and then add the starchy pasta liquid.
  6. Simmer the mixture about 5-10 minutes and then pour over the cooked pasta.
  7. Stir in the cheese until melted and is combined with the sauce making it creamy.
  8. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

 

What are your favorite ways to use up your spring asparagus?



The decision of trying to conceive during chronic illness

(written by contributing writer Jessica)

All of my life I dreamed having a large family. I must have been sheltered because I never once remember hearing things like ‘miscarriage’, ‘PCOS’, or ‘chronic illness’. I thought if you wanted a baby, you would have one.

My bubble of security was busted after my first miscarriage. My feelings were all over the place, but fear of never having a child ranked high up in my list of worries.

A few years down the road, I also never imagined I’d have to weigh my health into the equation about the decision of trying to conceive.

the decision of trying ton conceive during chronic illness

The decision to wait until I’m healthier has been a heart breaking one, that included a lot of prayer and conversations with my husband. It is a joint decision that we pray is the right one at this time. Our hearts are ready to try but my body is not.

Chronic illness, in many cases is a delicate balance from day-to-day depending on the condition. A delicate balance that pregnancy can completely offset.

How do you decide if it is the right time to try to conceive when you are managing a chronic health condition?

 Here is a brief list that helped me to logically see the answer that was right for us.

Prayer. 

Prayer is the first step that our family uses when making a decision.

What does your doctor say?

While I don’t think your doctor is the end all be all in making this decision, they should have an educated opinion on how your condition is going to effect a pregnancy and your baby. They may also have helpful things to do to get your body ready to try to conceive. The other great thing about doctors in this situation is they do not have the same person feelings invested and can give you a logical look at things.

How would your illness effect a pregnancy?

Some times the chronic illness itself until controlled can negatively impact a pregnancy and the baby. Or, will the supplements or medications you need daily have an effect on the pregnancy or baby while in the uterus? These are two things to heavily factor into the process of deciding if it is the right time to try to conceive.

How do you feel?

If you are in mid flair or experiencing a lot of symptoms, how would a pregnancy effect that? I know in my heart right now that a pregnancy would add a very large burden to my already very taxed body. I would be short-changing a new little life and depleting myself of already scarce resources.

What is your time line for healing?

What if by waiting a few months your body can be more fully loaded and healed to take on the burden of a pregnancy? It’s good to have a goal and then prepare the body for pregnancy.

There are so many things to weigh when making a the decision to try to conceive while you are manage a chronic health issue. It’s even more tough when your heart is already longing for a child. However, taking the time to heal and get your body in shape is only going to help pave the way for a healthier you and pregnancy.

What are some of the things that you had to consider when making the decision of trying to conceive during a chronic illness?

 

 

 



One simple way to raise your BBT (basal body temperature)

(Written by contributing writer Natasha)

One of the first things you’re told to do when you start working on fertility issues is to track your BBT (basal body temperature). Several years ago I started taking mine and immediately I had an issue. The handy little chart the doctor gave me? It didn’t go low enough. With the numbers starting at 97.0 and my temps ranging from 96.3-96.5, I was thoroughly confused.

Eventually I realized that my low BBT was a common aliment amongst those struggling with infertility. But what could I do about it?

one way to raise your basal body temperature    www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com

For seven years I tried numerous “treatments,” including, taking thyroid boosting herbs and supplements (like kelp), exercise, and natural progesterone.

After years of work, I was able to raise my BBT to 96.7-96.9. Better, of course, but still not stellar. However, by this time I was thoroughly sick of looking at unchanging temperatures and left my thermometer to gather dust in my bedside drawer.

Several months ago I went to a seminar about health and wellness. It was excellent and afterward I spoke with the speaker for a brief period of time. I mentioned some of the issues I have with losing weight and he made a suggestion. While I had been told that eating a “good healthy breakfast” would help me lose weight, he suggested pushing my first meal back until later in the morning.

“Our bodies need adequate time to digest our food,” he told me, “and if your body struggles with the normal routine of things, making sure that you have a 13-15 hour ‘fast’ in every 24 hour period can make a huge difference.”

The idea was simple: make sure there are around 14 hours between your last meal in the evening and your first meal in the morning.

It’s not hard to implement and completely flexible. (If, for example, you have late dinner the night before, just push your breakfast back until 10 or 11 the next day.)

It sounded like the easiest diet in the world, so I immediately started. Around this time I decided to begin taking my BBT again. Imagine my complete surprise when my temperatures almost immediately zoomed up! Since I made this one simple switch, making sure there is always a 14 hour break from dinner to breakfast, my BBT has held steady at 97.3-97.5 with an ovulating temp at 98.0-98.3.

When I researched online, I found it has already been documented that this simple change does raise your BBT, but for some reason I had overlooked it.

I feel like I have been handed a lifeline, one that frees me from swallowing handfuls of kelp capsules and remembering which days to apply progesterone.

Do you have a low BBT? What are the tricks and thoughts you’ve learned in the process of trying to raise your temps?

 

For more on raising your BBT:
Naturally Warmed Up, How to Raise Your Basal Body Temperature

 



Dreaming of babies: the realities of infertility

(Written by contributing writer Natasha)

dreaming of babies

I was in the shower when I realized that I was having a baby. I didn’t even know I was pregnant, but it was obvious that I was giving birth. I screamed for my husband to come take me to the ER. No one answered. I kept screaming for help until finally my mom showed up.

By then I had a teeny, tiny baby boy. He had dark hair and the same chin that all my brothers and I have, very defined with a little dimple in it. He was breathing but I knew he wouldn’t be for long.

But instead of helping me get out to the van, my mom started gathering all these strange children together. Eight of them, to be exact. I stood there, holding this tiny little baby who was turning blue, and watching them all come down the stairs. I was crying and BEGGING Mom to just stick them in the van and she gave me this disgusted look and said, “Now, Tasha, we can’t take them until we get them all dressed and buckled into their seats.” I must have looked shocked because she added, “I can’t believe how selfish you’re being. What’s the point of saving one baby if you’re not going to take proper care of all the rest?”

I sat right down, rocked this itty bitty blue baby, and cried and cried.

The good news? My mother would never, ever, in a million years, be that horrible. The bad news? It was all a dream and I don’t really have a baby boy with dark hair and my chin.

And to be honest, my first thought on waking up had nothing to do with how terrible my mother had been in this dream. It had everything to do with feeling sad and empty because it wasn’t real and I didn’t have a baby or the hope of one. 

I’ve had so many dreams over the years about babies. Sometimes I wake up crying. Sometimes I just lay there, trying so hard to fall back asleep and continue the dream. Sometimes they are horrible and involve me not being able to save a baby or accidentally hurting one. Sometimes they are lovely,  like the time I was finally adopting this beautiful Ethiopian boy.

For a long time it made me angry. After the dream wore off and I was done feeling empty or lost or fearful, I would get so mad at God. I wanted to shake my fist at Him. I can exert some control over my waking thoughts, but what in the world am I suppose to do with dreams? 

I’ve learned since then that dreaming about babies while dealing with infertility is completely normal. People have shared all kinds of dreams with me. Sometimes sweet (those few delusional minutes of rocking a baby that you think is yours) sometimes horrible (the ones where the baby dies or someone in your family does something out of character) and sometimes even funny (like the time I dreamed that Walmart started carrying babies at greatly reduced prices).

In dealing with these (often undesired) dreams, I’ve found three helpful responses:

1. Pray.
God’s shoulders are big enough to carry any of the hurts that rush through our minds. He can handle our pain, our anger, our insecurities. So, when I wake up after a dream that leaves my heart heavy and empty– the best response is to talk to the only true source of comfort, Jesus.

2. Laugh.
Sometimes the best medicine is simply to laugh. I mean, seriously, can you imagine Wal-mart carrying babies at greatly reduced prices? (I must have been reading too much on adoption costs at that point!)

3. Share
Telling your spouse your dream can help tremendously.  It may also free him to share his own dreams with you. I’ve also been known to call up a friend, or my mother, the morning after a dream that keeps plaguing my mind, and sharing it with them. I’ve found that just talking about it– reminding my heart and mind that it was just a dream can be helpful.

What about you? Have you experienced any “infertility dreams”? 



How to transition from hormone treatments for endometriosis

Natural Treatment for EndometriosisI know when I first found out I had Endometriosis and my doctor recommended I go on hormone treatments for my it, I personally think I made that decision out of fear. Fear that the Endometriosis would spread. Fear that things would get worse! I just didn’t want any of it to affect me anymore than it needed to and if these hormonal treatments were somehow going to slow down the Endometriosis growth, then brilliant!

I went down the path of hormonal treatments for over 12 years. I tried a wonderful selection of things but ultimately my body just rejected them or couldn’t deal with the constant side-effects.

When I eventually decided to try a more natural approach for my Endometriosis, I initially thought I could just stick with the contraceptive pill and adjust my diet etc to kinda “get the best of both worlds” or so I thought. What I didn’t realize was that the contraceptive pill was having effects on all aspects of my body – and not just my hormones. It was affecting my digestion, my liver, and my overall health.

Now, I was nervous but somehow I knew I needed to get off the contraceptive pill. I was so scared all the pain would just come rushing back.

Here are some of the tips I learned to make it easier for you if you wish to do the same:

1. Build your body up a little before you do it

When I say “build up”, what I mean is, giving your body some boosted good nutrition. Get it working well. Give it all those extra minerals and vitamins you can get from a good healthy diet. Get into juicing and green smoothies to help your liver detoxify and get ready for the freedom of being synthetic hormone free!

2. Flush out the excess Xenoestrogens

*Only do this once you have decided to go off the pill or synthetic treatment.

Xenoestrogens are basically all those synthetic hormones that you have been taking. The trouble with them is that they cause an overflow of estrogenic activity within the body, which is not a good thing -especially with endo! You want to make sure you get your body to flush them out. Calcium D Glucarate is a great solution for this, along with taking some powerful liver tonics like Bupleurum or any of the bitters.

3. Support your liver

The liver is the one that gets rid of all the hormones and regulates all that is going on with endo too. (in terms of hormone production and toxin release). You want to support your liver as much as you can. You can try drinking Dandelion Root Tea daily, take Milk Thistle, or get onto a powerful daily liver tonic or supplement. The liver will love you for it.

4. Really consider your diet

Your diet could be loaded with triggers that make your endo grow more! Sugar is a big one. There are also foods which inhibit mineral and vitamin absorption and you definitely want to make sure you eliminate those! Your diet is the grounding to healing and you need to optimize it to make sure endo doesn’t come back fast and furiously.

5. Sweat it out

All those synthetic hormones are like toxins within the body. You want to get them out of the body! One of the best ways to do that is to take up some exercise. Testosterone building exercise is fabulous – like using weights. Yoga and walking are also fabulous to help flush out those toxins.

6. Support your digestive tract

Many women experience a condition called Candida Overgrowth after being on synthetic hormones or the contraceptive pill for many years. Make sure you control this one quickly with a low glycemic diet, fermented foods and the right herbs. It can play havoc with your digestive system and really hamper so many aspects of your natural healing journey.

hormone treatments and endometriosis

I honestly believe that using synthetic hormones for Endometriosis does more harm than good for the body. The sooner you can flush that stuff out of your body, the better you will feel! Trust in your journey and build your body.

Having been on the pill for over 9 years and having experienced all those side-effects and issues, I can promise you that since going off it, my journey has dramatically increased. I also don’t experience any pain with Endometriosis and have healed so many other aspects of my body.

 Have you made the move to go off hormone treatments for your endometriosis?



Is brown rice *really* better than white rice?

Confession: I eat white rice.

*gasp*

I’m usually called out by the real food police when I mention this fact via social media so I thought I’d finally tell you all why I’m ok with eating white rice.

white rice vs brown rice

As a kid I grew up thinking that the only way to eat rice was if it was covered in white sugar, but I thought that was only something weird that my family did. We didn’t eat it often, but every week or two we’d have some instant white rice with our dinner.

After I got married I began to move away from instant rice and make brown rice on occasion since everyone told me how much healthier it was for me, and it became a regular staple in our home. Once I started moving our diets to more traditional and whole foods we stuck to only brown rice as it seemed a deadly sin to use anything else. I also found that I enjoyed brown rice so it was not a big issue to switch.

But over the last few years I began to notice holes in this theory and silently and secretly began to make white rice (usually basmati) more often. I didn’t want anyone to know lest my real food blogger friends or readers think I wasn’t eating “properly”. (This was around the time I was told by a specific group that they wouldn’t share my blog posts anymore because I ate too many salads and they weren’t nourishing enough…*ahem*)

3 reasons I eat white rice

1. Phytic acid

One of the first things you learn when you begin reading about the traditional Weston A. Price type diets is that all grains have something in them called phytic acid. I like to think of these plant properties as natural preservatives, keeping the grain from going bad before it’s planted under the right circumstances. But when we consume the grains that contain this specific plant property it may also inhibit mineral absorption. By soaking, sprouting, or fermenting these grains we can lessen the amount of phytic acid in them, allowing our bodies to absorb more nutrients.

The phytic acid is mostly stored in the bran and by removing it the rice will contain a lot less phytic acid.

I was taught by many others to soak my rice for at least 8 hours before cooking, but the problem with rice is that it contains less phytase, making it much harder to remove the phytic acid by simply soaking and should be fermented instead.

While listening to Rami Nagel (author of Cure Tooth Decay, available on Amazon) speak last year he also mentioned that whole grains can be detrimental to those who are having problems with tooth decay because of the loss of mineral absorption in the gut. he also mentions that the traditional way of eating rice was to pound it with a mortar and pestle so that most of the bran was removed before cooking.

2. Arsenic

So this reason for me isn’t necessarily high on the list, and wasn’t the reason I began eating white rice again, though it is important.

While it seems that any plant can take up arsenic during growing, it seems to happen more with rice as it’s grown in water-logged conditions. Arsenic is also thought to be associated with thyroid conditions, miscarriages, and cancer so it’s something we want to be aware of!

Brown rice may contain more arsenic as it is more easily bound to the bran of the rice.

3. It’s easier

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always have a meal plan and even if I do, I don’t always remember to soak my rice the night before I need it. Especially knowing about the issues with phytic acid and knowing that I should soak it beforehand, I began feeling bad that my family was eating unsoaked brown rice. On those nights I began to use white rice instead, knowing then that I’d made a decision that hopefully meant we’d absorb more nutrients from our meal.

I also enjoy the lighter flavor of white rice in certain dishes. Cilantro-lime rice just doesn’t have the same flavor with a Mexican dish when made with brown rice, and my family eats less of it when I make brown rice as a simple side dish.

Brown rice still has a place in our home though! I love it with my veggie rice dish and I’ve found that it tastes great when you bake it instead of simmering on the stove, so we always have brown rice in the cupboard right alongside the white.

Still not sure why I seem to be forgetting the “dangers” of white rice? Here are a few of my answers to common questions.

But aren’t you then just eating sugar? After you take away the bran and germ it’s just a simple starch!

Yes, it is. White rice is starch and your body will begin to break it down much like it does sugar. But I’m also not advocating that we simply eat a bowl of white rice for a meal and I don’t advocate for a no-starch/low carb diet either. Starch is a fuel for the body and depending on your activity level, you may need more or less than someone else. We eat white rice in combination with some type of meat and plenty of veggies on the side which creates a balanced meal.

I no longer eat my white rice with white sugar. ;-)

For someone who is currently dealing with diabetes or problems due to insulin production, brown rice may be considered a better option. Always eat what your body requires. Don’t let my opinions change your mind if your body can’t handle simple starches.

Where are you getting your nutrients from if you strip them all away?

Another valid concern that comes into play anytime we refine one of our food sources.

I add plenty of nutrients to a white rice side dish! Often times I cook it in homemade bone broth and all the goodness gets cooked right in. We also add copious amounts of healthy fats like butter while it’s cooking or drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil after cooking.

White rice also serves as a side dish and not the entire meal, so we consume plenty of good meats, farm fresh milk, and multiple vegetables at the same time.

But it’s not a whole food!

And they’re right.

But as much as we talk about food and nutrition here (because for me, it was the most important aspect in healing) I have never claimed that I eat 100% whole foods every day of the year. In both my blog and my book I talk about not being consumed with eating the perfect diet. That the stress of trying to eat perfectly will do more harm that just eating the food. (Did you know that? Studies have shown that when eating under any type of stress that it affects digestion and nutrient absorption.)

We should always look to whole foods first and eat plenty of them. But if for any reason that you also include a food that isn’t perfectly whole, chalk it up to the 20% of the 80/20 rule, enjoy it, and move on with your day.

We shouldn’t be eating any grains.

Well, this is always a topic in and of itself! The paleo/primal world thinks that we shouldn’t consume any grains.

In short, I’ve done the whole primal diet thing and it wasn’t for me. Some people find they experience a lot of healing and it works really well for them and that’s awesome. I still eat plenty of grain free meals, but our family does well with grains now and again.

But so and so said…

There is literally a ton of information out there right now from tons of different nutritionists, doctors (holistic and conventional), and opinions from bloggers. But what I’ve found from reading about nutrition for the last seven years is that no one is right all the time. In fact some of them are plain old wrong.

Remember the low carb craze that seemed to overtake real food blogs a few years ago? I felt like I wasn’t good enough/healthy enough for a long time because we never went low carb. And now…the pendulum is swinging the other way. People are realizing that we need carbohydrates in our diets.

So while I am open to new ideas and dietary theories, I am also hesitant to blame one particular food for the downfall of all mankind’s health.

There have also been other bloggers that have “come out” and stated that they eat white rice.

I’m definitely not trying to get everyone on board with eating white rice, please follow your own dietary guidelines! But for those of us who do consume white rice I just want to make it known that it’s not “all that bad” and brown rice isn’t necessarily “all that good”.

What’s your preference – white rice or brown rice?

 

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/



Why thyroid medications may just be a Band-aid

(written by contributing writer, Jessica)

Everything has its place. That is a motto I repeat to myself often. Some times you need to do things just to get to the next step.

I have found myself doing this more often as I dig deeper into finding the root of my health issues. My health is important and while I’m not a fan of conventional treatment, it has its place. I have always told myself that if I need a medication, I will take it as a step towards healing. Some times our bodies become broken and in need of a Band-aid. 

why thyroid medications may just be a band-aid

Currently, my body is in need of a Band-aid. Between my Hashimoto’s and a drawn out miscarriage, my body was in crisis. My progesterone is tanked out. After long discussions and a lot of thought, I decided that I need to work with a doctor to help my body. What I knew to work wasn’t working and it was beyond my knowledge at this point.

I literally cringed when my doctor flippantly told me I need to take progesterone as I had about zero.

I do know this isn’t a permanent thing, it is a way to help my body heal. Band-aids aren’t meant to last forever, they are to be used until the wound is healed. In my case, I will take the progesterone while my body continues to heal. I will continue to work at healing my gut and supporting my thyroid  until my body can balance my hormones on its own.

Thyroid medications are dispensed often times with out thought by practitioners, “Here, take this, it will make you feel better!” While it is very probable that if your thyroid panel numbers are out of range properly dosed medication will help you feel good, they are not always the solution to long-term healing and health.

Looking past the up front issue to dig deeper into health is what will bring healing. Yes, your thyroid may be causing your symptoms but what caused your thyroid to act up on you?

Supporting your body with nutrition, supplements and cleansing can help bring you to a place of repair. The medication will bring you to a place of functioning so that you can work on healing. I know too well how difficult it can be to wrap your mind around diet and supplements when your body is fighting you each day.

Finding a practitioner that will help look past just the thyroid is the key…and frankly, is rather tricky. Most doctors just want to prescribe a medication for your thyroid and run labs once or twice a year. It makes me angry when I hear of so many people suffering through debilitating thyroid symptoms that could be managed with diet, supplements and medication if someone would listen to them.

do you really need thyroid medication

Covering up the problem with a medication is only going to work for a while. A life time spent on a medication meant to boost the thyroid may possibly cause long-term damage. This is particularly true when it comes to autoimmune conditions that can cause swings between hypo and hyper thyroid-ism. While a medication may work one day, it can totally reek havoc on your body if you start to swing in a different direction.

This is why addressing the needs of your body becomes crucial. Each of us are so different in our needs, we need to look at the entire picture our body is trying to paint. 

Please don’t misunderstand my words, thyroid medications have their place. They can be the breaking point to getting our thyroid working so our bodies can function. Some of us need those medications for life, with tweaks as the our thyroid ranges change. Don’t be afraid of medication if you need it, it can be a much-needed Band-aid to your healing.

However, don’t under-estimate your body’s ability to heal when cleansed and given the proper nutrition it needs through food and supplements. Don’t ignore your symptoms, push to get answers to what your body is telling you. There is hope for  healing from thyroid disorders.

Do you take thyroid medication? How has it helped in your healing process?

 

If you haven’t already signed up for the Thyroid Sessions*, make sure to do so! Sean will be interviewing experts on the subject and you will NOT want to miss it!

 



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