What motivated you to "clean up your act?" Here, some readers share their stories.
If I change his diet, can I avoid Autism?
My son was a thriving 22 month-old toddler when I realized the prevalence of Autism. Sure, I’d heard of Autism. But I didn’t really think it was something I should be overly concerned about. After all, we can’t worry about everything, about every disease, or disability that children acquire.
But, as he approached his 2nd birthday, and upcoming vaccination appointment, the Autism chattering became louder. I began reading more, observing him more. Any parent can tell you the dangers of using one child as a measuring stick in which to compare others, but…in reality, our entire lives are all about comparisons. So we do it anyway.
My daughter was a very early and precocious conservationist. So when my son only had a few words by age 2, I took a hard look at the possibility that his lack of speech development was due to some problem. Some toxin, some vaccination, something I did. Maybe the type of formula I gave him didn’t have enough DHA. Maybe I don’t read to him enough?!
So I spent hours on my computer, checking developmental guidelines for speech. I held his next vaccinations. I changed his formula and read to him more. I also did some parental research on Autism, which at the time, was a big fear. To think that my perfect cherub son would struggle to say he loved me! No way! Not without a fight! This would not sneak up on me.
What followed was a whirlwind of events in our household. We completely changed our diet. No gluten, no casein, no refined sugars or flour. More water, more vitamins, more whole foods. I threw away all of our pots and pans that had “non-stick coating” (what is that stuff anyway?). We changed all of our house hold cleaning products to “green” or non-toxic. We change our hygiene routine and eliminated anything this commonly known “bad things” on their ingredient lists. And we purchased new organic pillows and bed clothes.
Our first few trips to Wholefoods took hours. Reading labels, printing lists from their computer, looking at magazine recipes. We couldn’t purchase everything we needed in one trip because it was cost-prohibitive, so we had to gradually add (and subtract) elements from our list, and our lives.
The learning curve is steep. After spending 6 hours (three two hour trips) at the store, we were familiar with brand names that tended to be gluten free, or absent of parabens. We were able to find a few new staple items that we could just ‘go to’ without much ado. And after a few months at Wholefoods, we were able to find some of those same products on the shelves at Target and Albertsons.
I spoke with my pediatrician about my reluctance to bombard my baby son with 4 shots (for a total of 13 different vaccinations in one day). He was obviously annoyed with my decision, stating that Americans are too concerned about the little things in life, whereas many children world-wide are dying of preventable infectious diseases. Why do we not appreciate vaccines in this country? Will it take a resurgence of preventable communicable diseases to shift our focus onto more important issues?
This is MY issue. My concern, in my country, at this time. So, yes, I *still* want to modify the vaccination schedule for my son. He agreed, but not before making me sign form after form in an attempt to absolve himself of any responsibility for my “bad” decision.
My son has since had all of his vaccinations and is ready to start kindergarten fully vaccinated. Never has he had a disease that a vaccine would have prevented (including the flu, which he doesn’t get vaccinated against). After he reached his 4th birthday with no signs of Autism/Asperger’s, or any other developmental issues, we gradually allowed those previously prohibited foods into our home. It turns out, he has a small enunciation issue with his speech. Nothing more. But what that experience taught us is….
….our world is very toxic, and unless you are aware of the issues, you will be a victim.
Could the hormones in our food explain our daughter's symptoms?
My wake-up call to clean up my act began about 5 years ago. At that time, my 3 year old daughter was a normal kid. She went to day-care, had an abundance of family nearby, and ate a standard American diet consisting of McDonalds, fruit-cups, and gummy bears. She was mostly healthy…except once every 6 weeks…
Every other month or so my daughter would curl up into a ball, and hold her stomach in agony. Initially I thought she had a common childhood ailment, such as gastroenteritis. I considered appendicitis, intussusception, and many other more esoteric illnesses, but her abdomen was never that tender to palpation, and she recovered from her bout (for the day) just as I gathered her things for a trip to the ER.
After her initial abdominal discomfort subsided, she’d start vomiting. Relentlessly. Even sips of water were not tolerated. I had zofran (dissolvable form) that I prescribed for her, and that usually was partially effective after 2 doses, and 3 hours. Then, for the rest of the day, the child subsisted on bread crumbs and pedialyte. This episode typically lasted less than 2 days. And it resolved as swiftly as it presented.
Then, at work, I started taking notice of other little girls my daughter’s age that presented with vomiting. They carried a diagnosis of cyclic vomiting syndrome. At the time, I’d never even heard of this “new” disease. The weird thing about this “disease” was, no one knew what caused it (there were theories of abdominal migraine, but no one really knew). And worse, no one had effective treatment.
This was intriguing to me. Did my daughter have this cyclic vomiting syndrome?
Then, I saw a girl slightly older than my daughter with “cyclic vomiting syndrome.” She was 7, and had breast development and pubic hair (Tanner stage III) which is typical of girls at about age 11. She was 4 years early! This got me thinking…
…perhaps, this precocious puberty and cyclic vomiting is linked?
I started tracking my daughter’s nausea and vomiting episodes. Every 5-6 weeks like clock-work they were. And as I observed her behavior (from this new perspective) she seemed to become “premenstrual” prior to the onset of the abdominal pain and vomiting episode. So I anecdotally drew the conclusion that her cyclic vomiting episodes were likely related to hormone surges, and left untreated would lead to increased risk of breast cancer, precocious puberty, and the social fall-out of that. Not to mention, if these were the external signs of hormones gone amuck, what is happening internally to my daughter? And why is this happening?
After a bit of self-education, we made major modifications to our diet. We only eat organic meat, and decreased the amount of “junk food.” We cut out all high fructose corn syrup which contributes to obesity and (therefore) increased estrogen levels. We changed our hygiene products to avoid hormone disrupting ingredients, parabens, and many other toxins that remain untested on humans. And we educated our daughter about living a “greener” more organic lifestyle (so she would continue our modifications even when not under our direct supervision).
After we made our modifications, my daughter *never* had another episode of cyclic vomiting, pre-menstrual mood swings, or abdominal pain. And now, 5 years later, as a 5 year old, lean, healthy, active child, she has no breast buds, no pubic hair, and no symptoms of hormone surges.
If only all of those parents knew that “cyclic vomiting syndrome” is probably a manifestation of a body trying to cope with excess hormonal toxins.
Estrogen dominance? Who knew that I can probably prevent breast cancer?
My wake-up call happened about 10 years ago. At that time, I was in my early 30s, and discovered a small lump in my breast. My mother shared with me her “breast lump” experiences, and her biopsy’s were always negative for cancer. Therefore, while I had a healthy respect for breast cancer, I was not paranoid. I got my first mammogram when I turned 30. I figured, I am an African American woman, and the standard rules of waiting until you’re 40 for your first mammogram just don’t apply to African American women. And after meeting a woman dying of breast cancer at 41, diagnosed at 39, with two young girls and a distraught husband, I was determined to get a “baseline” mammogram.
The mammogram was normal, except for a small lymph node. I had no lumps, bumps, or concerns. Because of my concern of radiation exposure, I didn’t get another mammogram until age 35. It was unchanged from prior, which was excellent. I only intermittently checked my breast myself with self-exams because my breasts change so much through-out the month, and I didn’t want to create panic in myself by obsessively checking my breast. But, I would check them every other month or three. And on one such occasion, I was unsure if a lump I felt was old or new. I was pretty sure it was old…but I couldn’t be sure.
So I went to my primary care physician and she immediately heard “breast lump” and referred me for another (more advanced) mammogram and breast surgeon consultation. Thankfully, things happened very quickly, so I didn’t’ have to stay in limbo long. I got a breast surgery appointment 2 days later, and decided to fore-go the repeat radiation exposure to my breast until after that appointment.
At that appointment I was literally shaking in fear as I told the nurse practitioner my findings and my concerns. Uncharacteristically, I started crying in her office. She did a careful exam, and was unimpressed. She subsequently did an ultrasound in the office, and was quite convinced that the lump in question was just a normal cyst. She described the difference between a cancer lump, and a cystic lump. And although sometimes difficult to differentiate between the two, she was quite sure that my lump was totally normal and actually consistent with other lumps and bumps she felt in other parts of the breast, and in the opposite breast.
Because breast cancer is such “big business” she did share with me that a biopsy could be taken if I was really worried. The problem with a biopsy is, it’s not 100%, and it leaves scar tissue that will make future diagnosis more difficult if indeed cancerous tissue is present and missed. Also, if no cancer is present now, the scar makes future surveillance more difficult nonetheless.
This was not attractive to me as a first option. Especially with her experience, exam, and ultrasound suggesting that my breasts were normal. At 35, with a normal mammogram, normal professional exam, normal ultrasound, and a seemingly caring and experienced provider saying it’s not breast cancer, I was reassured and decided I did not have breast cancer.
But I did take pause…
…and try a new thing.
I made an appointment with a naturopathic doctor. She took a careful history, did an exam, and prescribed some supplements, dietary modifications, exercises, and life-style – among which included losing 10 pounds to cut my risk of breast cancer significantly.
I made an appointment for a thermogram of my breasts. The affected breast was demonstrating more heat reflection, which means that there was more activity, likely due to estrogen dominance. Progesterone cream (in addition to the supplements, detoxification, and dietary changes) was recommended.
I had no idea that certain foods were “estrogenic.” I had no idea about parabens and hormone disruptors. I had never heard of estrogen dominance and progesterone cream. I was totally surprised by how little I knew about something SO important!!!!
I educated myself with books, the internet, and magazines. I changed my hygiene products, deodorants, toothpaste, etc. I started washing my clothes and cleaning my home with non-toxic substances. And I lost 10 pounds.
I’ve been monitoring the breast more. After the weight loss, change in diet, progesterone cream, detox, and de-stressing, my breasts are healthy, and I am healthy.
I am so happy I did not have to get really sick to “straighten up and fly right.”