In my last post on health, I wrote about emotions and chronic illness. In that post, I mentioned about my hormones being out of balance. This has been something I have been diligently working on for the past two years. It was exciting to find out from the lasts blood test that the hormones had balanced and normalized. Only the cortisol was still a little high, but it had come down quite a bit.
Another good change recently is that my Vitamin D levels have come up from 16.4 to 22. This is not a lot, but it is going the right direction. It will be a goal this year during the warm weather to spend some time outside every day as long as the weather is nice.
Some of the changes that occurred in the past few months are good changes. I am feeling a little stronger and have more energy. I thank the Lord for these good changes.
Not So Good Changes
One change recently that has not been good is that my ferritin levels have come down. Two years ago they were tested, and they were 13. The reference range was from 15 to 150, so I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t realize that anything below 20 was considered an unhealthy level. Why then does the reference range go from 15 to 150? Some doctors consider anything below 30 to be unhealthy.
Ferritin is the body’s stored supply of iron. This is stored in the liver. My hemoglobin and serum iron are still normal. Sometimes the body will take from its iron stores to normalize iron levels in the blood. The hemoglobin and normal serum iron levels may continue until my stored iron has become more depleted. Two years ago my ferritin was 13. Now it is 8. That is a fairly big drop. At that rate, my iron stores could be depleted within two to three years.
There are several things that can contribute to low ferritin levels. Some of these are genetic conditions. Celiac and Irritable Bowel Disease can contribute to it as well. A low ferritin level is usually caused by blood loss of some sort that is occurring over time.
Considering the significant GI symptoms I have been experiencing the last few years, some sort of bleeding along the intestinal tract is definitely a possibility. In my case, Celiac is not likely to be the problem as I have not been eating grains. IBD could certainly be a contributing factor. With low ferritin levels along with GI symptoms, there is the possibility of colon cancer. I’ve dealt with GI problems caused by various things for over twenty years now. These problems were bad in my early twenties, and they have worsened again somewhat over the last three or four years.
My doctor was able to give me some dietary help that regulated things a bit. He gave me some very good advice. There was one thing I could not do, however – add more fiber. More solid foods and more fiber just caused things to quit “moving.” My diet changed to mostly soft or blended foods. Many of my foods (such as soups) I strain and drink the liquid. Even though things have improved, and my big belly is not so big anymore, my doctor was not thrilled with this. He was frustrated that I would not add more fiber rich foods or a fiber supplement. However, these things pretty much stopped the lower GI tract from “moving” all together, so I could not do them.
My doctor also wanted me to have some other tests. I did not commit to them at the time, knowing that funds are limited. The blood tests I did get done via Life Extension. The other test he wanted was a virtual colonoscopy. That is understandable. However, if something shows up, then I would have to follow with a regular colonoscopy. If something were found there, surgery would probably be recommended after that. These things are pretty much out of the question financially. The doctor’s concerns were legitimate, and I do understand his frustration. However, something did occur as I was leaving that may keep me from going back to that office.
What Will I Do?
So, what will I do? That is something over which I have spent many hours in prayer and research. Although IBD could certainly be a cause of the low ferritin, it is important to look at all factors and possibilities. There is no way to know without testing if there is any kind of cancer, or maybe a genetic disorder, or something like that. Even if I found out I had one of these things, what could I do? Lack of finances prohibits many avenues of taking care of them. Most likely I would take the natural route anyway. So, that is the direction I decided to go.
How to start?
Well, one thing to consider is that, with so many GI problems for so long, my body is probably not utilizing nutrients like it should. Many illnesses can result from various nutritional deficiencies. There is a test that can check for deficiencies in just about every area, but it is nearly $400. The test is not an option now, but maybe it can be done in the future. In light of that, a good overall nutrient packed diet is probably a good place to start.
How Does One Go About It?
Considering that I have many food allergies or sensitivities and am unable to digest a lot of foods, how would I go about this? One possibility is food powders. Christy discovered a place that sells organic food powders. This was a huge answer to prayer. I do get cranberry powder from Bulk Supplements. In addition to this, I decided to try papaya powder, lemon powder, kale powder, and taro powder from a company called Biofinest. Those powders came about a week ago. They smell good and fresh. A taste test revealed that they taste good too. Here is how I plan to use them.
To the Superfood Powder, I added
1 Tbsp. Lemon powder
1 Tbsp. Papaya powder
1 Tbsp. Kale powder
1 Tbsp. Cranberry powder and
1 Tbsp. Orange peel vitamin C powder
These were all shaken up. Their pretty colors turned into brown when they were all shaken together. These can be added to smoothies or yogurt or other drinks to make a high powered nutritional drink. I will add a Tbsp. at a time. This should last five days. Then I can make the mix again if my body seems to tolerate them well.
The taro powder will be added to soups. It will help make them nice and smooth. Taro is good for the digestive tract. It is one food that we got in Papua New Guinea that I really miss here.
Note: I did try these. I think I will put less lemon powder in next time and have the cranberry powder separate. Otherwise, this worked fairly well. It makes the yogurt taste good too.
The goal is to work on this new diet and regimen for six months. Then ferritin and Vitamin D will be retested. Vitamin C is often low if ferritin is low, so that will be tested next time too. If things have improved, I will keep going on the regimen. If things have not improved, we will make a decision what to do at that time.
Thank you so much for reading this very long post. Maybe it will help someone.