This One Nutrient Drastically Impacted My Vegan Diet & Health

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It has been a long time since I’ve blogged. Way too long! Not to make excuses, but there are a few reasons for that.

I relocated to Florida last year and for a little while my priorities shifted. I still care about health and wellness, but I have other projects I work on that are unrelated to this blog. Since I apparently can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, my blog got pushed to the side. Nevertheless, I’m back and I want to share a few things that have impacted me.

For the past year I have been struggling to stay on track with my healthy vegan lifestyle. It’s not because I don’t’ believe in it anymore, I still do. I may have mentioned in a previous blog that I have fibroids. I should say I have one HUGE fibroid. It has thrown me completely off balance – mentally, spiritually, and physically.

Fortunately, it’s not intrauterine so I don’t suffer from many of the physical symptoms other women suffer. My fibroid sits on top of my uterus and my bladder, so my only physical symptom is excessive urination. I joke that I have the bladder of a pregnant woman in her third trimester.  Actually, my doctor equates the size of my fibroid to that of a woman who is five months pregnant.

I’ve tried to take my health challenges in stride, but the past year has been tough. When I initially found out about my fibroid I resorted to the natural approach. I chose to tackle it through my diet. I truly believe food is medicine, so that’s always my first course of treatment. After about six months of diet changes I went back to my doctor. It didn’t shrink, but she was excited that it hadn’t grown any larger. That was encouraging.

However, there is one side effect that is quite discouraging. Since there is a connection between fibroids and estrogen dominance, I began to notice those effects on my body. The biggest effect has been on my weight. I’ve had the hardest time losing weight without a lot of effort, and I’ve been steadily gaining weight. That has impacted me the most, especially my self-confidence.

While I was struggling with finding balance, including hormonal balance, I didn’t feel inspired to blog about health and wellness. I tend to teach others as I learn, but this time I couldn’t do that because I’ve been trying to figure it all out.

Another change I noticed was in my hair. I’ve always had strong, healthy hair so when it started getting thinner and shedding more, I was really concerned.

Honestly, I’ve felt like my body has been invaded, and I don’t even feel like myself. I’m just beginning to find my way back.  I’ve decided that I do want to have the surgery to remove the fibroid. I’m going to have it this year. In the meantime, I’m taking charge of my life. I’m taking control of the things that I can.

I’ve abandoned the excuse that it’s impossible for me to lose weight until I have surgery. That’s not true. I may not be able to lose 5 pounds as quickly or easily as I have in the past, but I CAN still lose them.

I began to suspect that my iodine levels were deficient. The more I researched it, the more it made sense to me. I also believe there is a connection between my iodine deficiency and my fibroid growth. Being a vegan, I was at risk of iodine deficiency. Unfortunately, I didn’t know to look out for that. You hear so much about vegans lacking adequate protein and iron. So, I kept an eye on those things. But I didn’t do that with my iodine levels.

There are so many things vegans and vegetarians can do to get iodine. I’m going to focus a full blog on that next week.

I felt like I’ve been deficient so long, I needed to do something to have an immediate impact. About four months ago I added wild caught salmon and tuna into my diet. I chose these two because of their omega 3’s. I also added eggs. I prefer cage free because they too have lots of omega 3’s.

So far, I’m happy with the changes. I’ve seen a tremendous improvement in my hair and iodine levels. I’m not sure if I’ll go back to a strictly vegan diet or not. With the exception of adding the fish and eggs, I kept my other eating habits the same. I still don’t eat dairy, cheese, or meat. Most days it’s plant-based anyway. I have fish about 3-4 days per week.

So, now I’m on the upswing and I’m working to become the best, healthiest version of myself. If you too are trying to re-establish healthy routines, keep these things in mind.

  1. Take it one day at a time. Don’t get consumed by how far you think you have to go, do what you can today.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to your former self. Accept where you are right now. It’s okay. Just remind yourself that everyday you’re getting stronger and better.
  3. Keep it simple. Do one small thing each day to restore your health. Whether it’s drinking more water, adding more fruit and veggies, or just doing something active, such as walking, swimming, or biking. Positive change happens over time – if you’re consistent in your efforts.
  4. You’re good enough now. Don’t convince yourself that you’ll be good enough or better once you hit a magical weight loss goal or fit into an old pair of jeans. You’re good enough right now, even if you never lose another pound.
  5. Be grateful. An attitude of gratitude will help you appreciate where you are on your journey and remind you that life is good.

Until next time…

Peace & Blessings!

A Natural Approach to Combating Fibroids

I’ve come to realize that whatever you believe in will be tested. A familiar scripture in the bible reminds us that “the testing of your faith produces patience.”  (James 1:3). Well, my faith in my beliefs has been tested quite a bit over the past year and a half.

Apple & Stethescope

After a routine visit to the gynecologist I found out I have fibroid tumors. Actually, an ultrasound revealed that I have one huge fibroid that sits on top of my uterus.

Fibroid tumors are very common to women. Approximately 30 percent of white women and 50 percent of black women suffer from the troublesome symptoms caused by these nonmalignant growths.

Despite how common they are, I didn’t know much about them. I did my research and found out there were three primary options for my condition.  Unfortunately, because of the size of my fibroid the only option for me was surgical.

My immediate response was “No, I want to try a natural approach.” This was a defining moment for me. I was forced to test my beliefs. If I promote the benefits of following a plant based diet, I couldn’t doubt that now. Truth is, I never doubted it for a second.

Once I realized that many women have shrunk their fibroids using a natural approach I knew it could work for me. I asked my doctor to give me six months to try my approach. I wanted to see if I could shrink my fibroid by using a natural approach. Since I was basically asymptomatic, she was fine with that, under the condition that I would come back if my condition worsened.

I assured her that I would. Besides, she was uncomfortable performing surgery on me when I wasn’t presenting with any symptoms. I’m fortunate that my fibroid tumor isn’t located inside my uterus. That would certainly cause me to manifest more symptoms like bleeding and cramping. That’s why I never knew that I had them. I just knew that I was suffering from excessive urination. So much so, I knew it had to be attributed to something else. I just didn’t know what. So after researching fibroid tumors I learned that was one of the symptoms.

Taking a natural approach primarily consisted of nutritional therapy. Research revealed that nutrition is key in shrinking fibroids and alleviating symptoms. Most of the research emphasized getting rid of animal protein and basically adopting a plant-based diet. Since I’m already a vegan I didn’t think it was a lot I could do, but I realized there was room for improvement.

Here are some of the changes I made to my diet to tackle my condition.

  1. Eliminate sugar – simple sugars and refined sugars deteriorate health and promote fibroid growth. Simple sugars and starches are deadly to your overall health and wreak havoc on hormone balance.

  2. Eliminate wheat – studies show that gluten (a protein found in commercially grown wheat (i.e barley, oats, and rye) can interfere with the liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen. Non-gluten grains like rice, millet, and buckwheat are a better choice because they are more alkaline.

  3. Reduce caffeine – Caffeine promotes hormonal imbalance by compromising the liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen. It can interfere with the body’s absorption of iron- a major problem for women who suffer from fibroid-induced anemia due to heavy bleeding

  4. Take B vitamins – B vitamins like B6 stop fibroid growth by helping the liver metabolize estrogen efficiently and help restore hormone balance.

  5. Increase omega 3’s – consuming the right foods creates a balance between the omega 6 and the omega 3 fatty acids, thereby reducing the risk of hormone balance disturbance.

  6. Eat organic as often as possible – vegetables should be organic, free of pesticides and insecticides, and grown in soil that is rich in nutrients important for optimal health. In particular, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale and swiss chard are standouts for their ability to help metabolize hormones in a beneficial way.

One of the primary things that contribute to fibroids is high estrogen levels. So, an effective strategy is to be mindful of those things that increase estrogen and hormone levels.

I made  the changes and returned to the doctor for a follow up ultrasound six months later. What I found out was that my fibroids had not disappeared. But there was some good news – they had not increased in size. Initially, I didn’t see this as good news because the only thing I wanted to  hear was that my fibroid was gone or at least had significantly shrunk in size. I guess that wasn’t realistic.

However, my doctor was impressed. She even encouraged me to continue what I was doing. What I hadn’t realized was how quickly fibroids grow, so for mine to have stopped growing that was a positive change.

After I shifted my perspective and accepted that this was good news, I decided to get back at it. I’m still on this journey to shrink my fibroids and I know that I can. For the past few months I’ve been suffering from the repercussions of having estrogen dominance. It has been difficult to lose weight. So, I modified my diet (AGAIN) and I’m finally starting to see progress. I will tell you more about that in the coming weeks.

I just wanted to share my story and let everyone know what I’m dealing with because I’m not alone. I know I’m gaining a lot of knowledge through this experience and I plan to pass it along. If I can help one woman avoid surgery I will be happy. Some women really need surgery, but there are others who do not. I want those women to know there is another way – a simpler way.

If you’re one of the millions of women dealing with fibroids, I’d love to hear YOUR story. Please leave a comment.

Until next time…

Peace, Love & Fitness!

References: Healing Fibroids: A Doctor’s Guide to a Natural Cure