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My Health Journey

November 10, 2017

I wanted to take a moment today and write about my own health~ where I’ve been, and the things I’ve travelled through. Perhaps you’ll see what has inspired me to help others through health coaching with my own company, Transform Health. I guide people to the right nutrition, create custom herbal formulas, and help them move toward healthier lifestyle choices.

In my twenties, I was hardly ever sick. I was extremely thin and known for eating the most of my friends and family – this may have been a sign of gluten intolerance even then. I had issues with constipation quite often. Walking daily and trying to drink more water helped. (Knowing what I know now, I would have eliminated all dairy, or all except yogurt, and added in herbs that are moistening: real cinnamon, marshmallow root, slippery elm (endangered), flax seed, okra. Licorice root is also moistening, but can alter blood pressure, unless it is in its “deglycerized.”)

My twenties were about 1990-1995. The “no-fat at all” craze was in full force. Pritikin was making non-fat salad dressings, and people were eating high carbohydrate (flour and sugar) to make up for the lack of fat in foods. I can’t tell you how extreme and bad idea a non-fat diet is. (Read about numerous cholesterol studies cancelled because they were killing people in Ignore the Awkward by Ravnskov, M.D. Poor Pritikin died young.) I tried to be “virtuous,” (I thought wrongly) but didn’t realize the truth: every cell in our body is made up of fat. We need fats daily for every cell, for the endocrine system, and our brain. Twenty-five percent of our fat goes to make our brain healthy. I ended up craving and eating BOXES of cookies. I started becoming obsessed with food. This is malnutrition, my friends!! We need healthy fats in our menu!! (To read more about healthy fats, see this article about healthy fat sources and this article about wild and farmed salmon.)

Eating Dairy & Taking Antibiotics
In my early thirties, eating dairy with cereal started to make me nauseous. I started to avoid it. I had a few colds that involved taking antibiotics. No one talked about restoring gut flora after antibiotics then, so I didn’t do that. (oops!)

Bring On The Baby!
My husband and I started trying to conceive a baby, and it took us a while- over three years, in fact. I know now that being too thin and having trouble becoming pregnant can also be a sign of gluten intolerance. The body is not absorbing the food that has been eaten because the little hairs called villi that absorb in the small intestine have been sheered off. Stopping conception is the body’s failsafe: the body has to have enough fat and vitamins in it to be able to grow a baby successfully to term. (Babies are also the “perfect parasite” – the fetus gets all the vitamins first. That’s why it’s so important to eat healthy foods, including healthy fats, during pregnancy. You need vitamins, too!)

Cheese, How I Adore Thee!
After becoming pregnant, the constipation worsened, which is normal. Digestion becomes more acid, and wrings every vitamin it can out of our menu. Iron supplements can worsen this situation. The more acid stomach can cause heartburn. One positive side effect was that I could then eat cheese with no problem. This continued post-pregnancy for a while.

Birth & Antibiotics:
At the birth in 2005, I was dosed with antibiotics intravenously. This is supposed to increase healthy outcomes for babies and moms. I’m skeptical about this, however, for these two reasons:

  1. The mom is about to give her good bacteria to her baby through the baby’s birth canal travel, breast milk and skin contact. Mom’s today are often already too low in good bacteria due to a both a lack of breastfeeding in past three generations, the rare use of fermented foods which can raise food bacteria in the body, and the multi-generational use of antibiotics, which knock down our good bacteria, especially in our digestive tracts. (Cite 1)
  2. Mom and baby are in a hospital, the main site for extreme anti-bacterial cleaners and also the presence of anti-biotic resistant bacteria like MRSA. She needs her defensive system!!
  3. I’ve heard, but not researched yet, that a lot of appendix cases are post-birth moms. If that’s the case, we need to look at this practice, as well as increase the practice of lying in for 40 days, with friends and relatives bringing moms food and company, and doing their housework.

I found it very hard to take care of both myself and the baby post-birth, even with my husband helping me. I was so very tired all the time! When we are tired, we crave carbs, and I ate them with abandon. My go-to food was raisin bran cereal with milk. Looking back, I probably wasn’t digesting either of these. I was exhausted.

I also started eating  a lot of frozen food that was microwaved (read – lower vitamin content and exploded fats!), especially after my husband went back to work. I wish I had been eating meat, veggies, fats, broths, fruit. Two months after birth, the day after Halloween, I had extreme pain and lying on the cool floor tiles  seemed like a good choice. I had my appendix out that day. And then – wait for it – more really strong antibiotics!  (-With weird mind side effects. I had to pump my milk and dump it, and give the baby formula. I couldn’t pick my baby up because I was too weak in the abdomen.) Did anyone tell me to rebuild after the surgery with good bacteria? They did not. (Grrr!)

Diana Sproul at healthy weight, Fall 2006, fat face, good weight, before digestive issues, before stomach trouble, before stomach issues, before digestive trouble
This is me with a healthy weight and normal face, from about Fall-Dec. 2006. This is before we moved to Colorado, the digestive issues, and the GAPS diet.

My digestion was messed up after the appendectomy for a long time. About 2007, my child was about 1.5 or two. I had stomach pain all the time, which became worse when the stomach was empty. This may have been an ulcer, which we now know is a bacterial infection thanks to someone who gave themselves an ulcer, cured it, and then won a Nobel prize. Rather than treat an ulcer, the doctor (whom I liked) gave me a stomach acid blocker, also called proton-pump inhibitors (PPI’s). Proton Pump Inhibitors are a terrible, terrible idea. If the stomach acid is lowered, and any bad bacteria are present there, these bad bacteria can overgrow in the stomach further. Then they would lower stomach acid even further. Our flora should be in the colon (the end of the line), not in the small intestine nor stomach. If I could stop the production and dosing of one medication, it would be opioids, and proton-pump inhibitors (PPI’s). 

And we now know that these stomach acid blockers or proton-pump inhibitors (PPI’s) lead to gluten intolerance.

Why We Need Stomach Acid
We need stomach acid in order to get the vitamins and minerals out of our foods, too. (Lower vitamin absorption – ) I stopped after a while, and the stomach became more acidic. (Today I would have herbal helps for these, including aloe vera juice and slippery elm to soothe.) I’ve read, but haven’t confirmed, that there has not been a study to see if the proton pumps ever turn back on to full performance. And we now know that these stomach acid blockers or proton-pump inhibitors (PPI’s) lead to gluten intolerance.(5) And I would say dairy, too. Digesting dairy and gluten are a two step process, unlike other foods, so everything in the digestion has to work perfectly. (1)

Celiac Test
I was tested for celiac, but it was negative. Beware of these tests – the usually test only tests for 3 out of 50 possible gluten intolerance markers. And one can be gluten-intolerant, or unable to digest it, but still not have celiac (Side note: In Italy, it takes about three weeks to determine gluten intolerance. In the US, it often takes over ten years!! This means long term malnutrition and gut damage. Cite 2)

About 2009, I was losing weight and had diarrhea often. I felt tired a lot. I actually insisted that my next doctor send me for a colonoscopy. It hurt me as they pushed the tube past a colon turn twice, and I screamed out in pain in spite of the anesthetic. They found a little irritation, but no colon cancer or ulcerative colitis. No parasites either, but the colonoscopy prep is drinking a lot of salt water, which can remove those.

Fiber Solves Everything – Not!
I was told to eat more wheat fiber in apple sauce, which I probably couldn’t digest, and everything would be OK. This is the “more fiber solves everything” theory, which is horrifically wrong. (See the book Fiber Menace. His story matches mine.) The digestion is a complicated multi-step process. To solve things, we have to address the real digestive problem, which can’t happen in a 15 minute doctor conversation.

I had been cleaned out, but again not told to rebuild with good gut flora. The appendix normally is our backup pouch of good gut flora when the body decides to void bad food. I didn’t have one.

Moving to Another State
We moved to Colorado with our then three and a half year old and a dog. We had no home, no jobs, no friends or family. Our goals was to start a business, which we did successfully. The stress from this move can easily be categorized as a “life event” or “crisis.” I worked long hours along with my husband (sometimes the home shift), ate too much sugar and coffee to prop myself up, and didn’t exercise as often as I adapted to Colorado winters. I got a mysterious lump under my jaw, and a tooth crown.

My digestion was having trouble, and I had diarrhea and constipation. I felt tired and a little crazy. My doctor didn’t help me much, calling it “stress.” (It was that, too!) I was prescribed an anti-depressant, which left me sitting in the window for hours with no energy. (It also blocks vitamin B’s and the things you need to feel better.) (Today I would say that I needed child care help, and probably Vitamin D, because its a common deficiency in northerly climes. I would get dark curtains so I could sleep well without the street light flooding my room, and take magnesium to help me relax into sleep. And maybe a life coach referral. I didn’t get any of these.) I got a shrug-

I started having all kinds of teeth trouble with cavities, and they were related energetically to the small or large intestine, according to a book by Donna Eden. (3) I also got a crown put in after a root canal, which may be a source of continued infection.(4)

We were concerned about money, and I hadn’t gotten help from three different Western doctors at this point. The issues had persisted through five to seven years. I found out about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet online and through a book about IBS. It eliminated sugar, grains and beans, which are fibrous ad called “double sugars.” These can cause bad bacteria to overgrow. I didn’t know if I could do it, because it included raw veggies like broccoli. (You could cook them, I found out.)

Diana Sproul, too thin, lost weight, following the GAPS diet, on the GAPS diet, date around 2015, my health journey, healthy lifestyle blog, nutritionist blog, healthy articles, digestive issues, stomach trouble, stomach issues, find a nutritionist
Me, way too thin, while I was on the GAPS diet for digestive trouble (which turned out to be viral- read the blog!) I can see my chest ribs- ugh- From August 2011.

I read about the GAPS diet (from the Gut and Psychology Syndrome book), which was adapted from the SCD diet, but added probiotics, broths, fermented foods, and stages. I went on this solid for two years, eating meat from farmers and grass-fed when possible, and bought organic vegetables from a CSA (community supported agriculture, or a farm produce subscription). I was better. Eliminating gluten worked for me, and the soups were nourishing. I started to absorb my food. The Introduction diet (broth and sauerkraut water, later with egg yolks) did cause me to lose weight, which was a terrible look. I went down to 104 lbs: read skeleton in a bikini. Yikes! I was embarrassed when visiting a pool.

Diana Sproul, too thin, lost weight, following the GAPS diet, on the GAPS diet, date around 2015, my health journey, healthy lifestyle blog, nutritionist blog, healthy articles, digestive issues, stomach trouble, stomach issues, find a nutritionist
Me, too thin, having lost weight while on the GAPS diet for digestive issues, which turned viral (read on). Sharp collar bones & too thin neck. Yikes! From around 2015.

Turning It Around:
The good news is that I quickly found out what I could not digest. And my eye lashes grew in thicker and longer, and my nails stronger, as I started to digest better. The bad news – I kept trying to test some things that weren’t good for me. Nuts is one. I never got to the stage where you can eat a lot of raw vegetables, including lettuce. To this day, I have limited digestive power.

I learned to ferment things, which is intentionally leaving things to grow on the counter. I’ve craved salt and fat for a long time, and this will make more sense under the Ayurveda section below. The warm, wet soups and emphasis on fats, helped me feel better.

Stopping the GAPS Diet:
I tried to go off the GAPS diet, adoring my small rye toasts (gluten!) with butter (dairy!). The digestive problems returned. I had read of someone who could eat wheat after avoiding it for two years. This was not me. I was so sad about this.

I could not digest gluten-free products, either, except for brown and white rice flour. Gluten-free grains tend to be low nutrition, often made with white rice, potato and tapioca. These three can grow bad bacteria.

If gluten-free products are not poor-nutrition “white” flours, they’re made with scratchy coconut flour. This can cause trouble with anyone feeling like Crohn’s or fiber causing pain could be an issue.

Gluten-Free Products contain Gluten!

Gluten Inside Gluten-Free Products?!
GF grains are also often cross-contaminated with wheat – I’m not sure how, but they are.

And these gluten-free products are allowed to contain a certain percent of gluten – it’s low, but still high enough to cause a reaction, according my multi-generational, celiac, nurse friend. It was better for me to avoid all gluten-free products.

Naturopath One: Step Up
I paid a lot of money to see a naturopath for several months. They are a medical doctor who also deal with Eastern medicine things like acupuncture, herbs, and definitely nutrition! He found out I had candida overgrowth, and low thyroid, calcium, and vitamin D. (Vitamin D alone is tied to 400 body processes. Most people in northern climes are low in vitamin D – Get yourself tested via a lab!) He treated the yeast, and tried to help me work on lifestyle issues like exercise and sleep. I started doing rice powder with a full amino acid profile, which are the building blocks of protein. They found out that I had food reactions to many common GAPS foods, including peaches, carrot, celery, eggs – common foods!! (This can be a sign of deeper illness, when you react to weird things. Who is allergic to peach or carrot? It’s a sign of rampant inflammation. Look for a deeper issue.)

I went on an anti-candida diet, which Dr. McBride said  (I learned later) that candida is “invited into the body” to deal with toxins.(1) More on this later.

I wish the previous Western doctor had tested my blood for anything, when I told her I felt crazy and exhausted. We could have at least solved the thyroid issues… I suspect the low calcium continued from low digestive power (from the acid blockers still wreaking their havoc?). I had been eating tons of dark greens daily, which have calcium in them. But you need digestive power (stomach acid!!) and gut flora to convert them to something usable.

My first naturopath left his practice after a time, se we parted ways.

I Studied Herbalism and Nutrition:
In 2014 I started attending the Colorado School for Clinical Herbalism. I was guided through meditation to become a homeopath. I knew so little about herbalism that I thought that it was homeopathy. (These are quite different.) However, I was guided to go to this school, so I went. And I got much healthier. Getting out of the house and doing something I loved was amazing! I drove three days a week for ten months to Boulder, even through winter, and loved most of it.

Epstein Barr virus and Lyme Disease are common illnesses in the community at large

Epstein Barr virus and Lyme Disease are common illnesses in the community at large. Lyme is common nationwide and worldwide, even. This becomes important later.

I invented my own gut tea, which really helped me. I tested flower essences and tested many different herbs.

I had a really bad cold that winter while in school, and I made my own anti-bug brew with burdock root and a strong antibacterial called oregon grape root, which I had never used. (Oregon grape root contains a compound called berberine, similar to Golden Seal herb. Its often found in the blood sugar area of health food stores, so it must also help with that.) I ended up with a boil on my elbow, which the herb school teacher told me was my body trying to throw off something. A boil looks like a raised red column on the skin about 1/4″ high. So odd! (Some people in the past have had multiple boils on them – yikes! I can’t imagine!)

Diana Sproul nutritionist, nutritionist and herbalist at Transform Health, healthy lifestyle coach at Transform Health, Advanced Herbalism Certificate from the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism, Boulder Colorado, Fort Collins Colorado, Loveland Colorado, Windsor Colorado, herbalist, custom herbal formulation
I earned an Advanced Herbalism Certificate from the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism in June, 2015. The school training included nutrition, physiology, herbal safety and custom formulation, and much more.

People told me I really changed and looked better. (I think they meant personality – I was calmer, and had some sense of humor back.) I felt better. Herbs and nutrition were very, very helpful. All of us changed in a positive way. We adapted to a Paleo diet or at least high enough protein (most people don’t get enough), slept and exercised more, drank more water, had less coffee and sugar, and used herbal medicine and nutrition to help us. I very much wish we had a “before and after” picture for all of us. I could see the changes in people’s faces.

most people don’t get enough daily protein

New Doctor
I went to a new Western doctor. She sent me to an ear, nose and throat doctor for the lump under my jaw. He told me it was a tumor (surprise!). It turned out through more tests to be benign, slow growing, and unlikely to spread. I can’t believe the previous Western doctor didn’t tell me it was a tumor, didn’t follow up with me, and MOST IMPORTANTLY didn’t tell me to AVOID SUGAR, WHICH FEEDS TUMORS!!! She did call and leave a message about doing a fine needle test on the tumor, but I was deep in the digestive and thyroid issues, and really couldn’t deal with anything else. I soon forgot about the call. Did that doctor follow up? No –

Naturopath Two: Step Up
I met with another naturopathic doctor. She found at least 6 things wrong, and helped me treat them. (I felt better about not being able to heal myself.) These included blood sugar, thyroid and cortisol issues. Sometimes your “day” timing is off – I was waking up at night and falling asleep in the morning.

I was eating the GAPS/Paleo diet then. My gut flora and leaky gut state were really good! (I should hope so, after five years of working on gut flora with the GAPS diet!)

About February 2016, I was doing a meditation with a spiritual book. I asked to know what I needed to get well. I had a lucid dream a few days later about our rental house when we first came to Colorado. It didn’t look like that house, but I knew that it was that one. I dreamt it was full of moldy leaves up to my waist. We were wading through them. I realized in the dream state that I had mold issues.

The test was expensive. I said “no” at first, shocked by the price, but then I said to myself, “NO! You asked, and now you know!” I got tested for mold, which involved drinking much less water for a day, to concentrate the urine sample. It was positive. I began taking a strong tincture (1:1) for nine months, and taking black clay daily to detox. Yuck! It was so strong that going up one drop at a time would cause diarrhea. I had to avoid any rice, potato chips sugar and chocolate during that time, which made me mournful. I realized how much my treats and events are associated with food!

Candida is “invited in” or encouraged to grow in toxic body conditions.

Remember the candida and what Dr. McBride had said? Candida is “invited in” or encouraged to grow in toxic body conditions. Mold causes toxins in the body.

After that I moved to the Autoimmune Paleo Diet (called AIP for short). I don’t have autoimmune thyroid, or any autoimmune issue. One is suspected, perhaps. Autoimmune Paleo Diet is a way to lower inflammation in general, however. It involves eating meat, vegetables, healthy fats, bone broths and fruit. These are avoided: grains, legumes, sugar, dairy, other vegetable oils besides olive, food colors, eggs, nightshades (tomato, chili, potato). I was physically able to eat white rice sometimes. This diet can get old, and I was hoping to increase my possible food categories, with dreams of traveling again sometime. (Can you imagine eating AIP in France or Italy?) But I do try to be creative, and these colorful “food porn” photos on Instagram show my pretty varied diet of meat and coked vegetables.

Autoimmune Paleo Diet is a way to lower inflammation in general.

In Spring of 2017, I got tested for Epstein Barr virus, and was positive. No dream hints this time. I was just looking for the deeper cause of my digestive issues, and remembered my school lectures. I knew it had to be something! If it had been negative, I would have gotten tested for Lyme and other things next. My herbal and nutrition school and a medical intuitive called Anthony Williams said it was an epidemic and the cause of chronic fatigue. I just wish I had gotten tested so much earlier.

Look for the deeper causes of illness

I am no longer able to tolerate white rice or potato chips (this last might be the vegetable oils). More pleasure foods gone away…. sniff!

Acupuncture and Ayurveda
Lately I’ve been exploring three other modalities: NAET Acupuncture, Ayurveda and Hands-On Healing (Energy Work). NAET is a form of acupuncture where you hold the allergenic food during the fine needle treatment. First the practitioner clears out things like blood sugar, salts, fats, and then individual foods. The client can clear about 1 food per 24 hours. I did it once a week for a while. I feel like my food reactions to nuts (anger reaction) and corn (swollen belly) have gone down. I still can’t physically digest them, though. And corn in general is genetically modified, which my naturopath said causes a list of ills, including holes in the intestines (different from leaky gap junctions). Best avoided –

Ayurveda is an East Indian medical modality that involves nutrition, heating or cooling foods, breathing and herbal-infused oil massage to correct imbalances. There are three types of imbalances called “doshas”: Vata (air humor), Pitta (fire humor), and Kapha (water humor). Each type is associated with mental states and physical types, too. People are born with one type as a main, but mostly we’re supposed to have all three in balance. Life changes can cause one area to be more out of balance.(6)

It was interesting that I’ve craved salt and fat for a long time now. I have even ADDED salt to chips. I thought this was low adrenals and my body’s attempt to raise low blood pressure. The Ayurvedic nutritionist said that my cravings for these were my attempt to adjust my dry and cool temperament that was made MORE out of balance by moving to an even drier Colorado (dry airy person + dry airy land = Vata imbalance). Isn’t that interesting? Now I try to balance it out with pure coconut milk shakes with stevia and vanilla, instead of chips. (Well, most of the time.) I was also given an herbal sesame-oil massage to do to help remove toxins.

Hands-On Healing:
I also tried energy healing work with someone who trained for four years by Barbara Brennan, who supposedly could see the energy and its impaired flow around the body. I felt a lot of anger in my gut, and strong negative emotions are related to digestive issues. I asked for help in releasing whatever was negative in the stomach. I can’t say I saw a huge shift, but I’ve only gone once so far. (If you have them, you know how the state of the mind can affect the stomach and vice versa.)

What’s Going on Now:
I was able to work full time outside the house for many months. It caused me stress, but was also an accomplishment. Now I’m returning to my healing work, helping clients. I hope to sign up for homeopathic training and other healing modalities.

I’m treating the Epstein Barr virus with another fatigue-causing, strong tincture as the virus is woken up and attacked. I’m trying to be virtuous in what I eat, but that difficult. I’m eating AIP with potatoes, which I know I should cut out. Soon… I’m working on getting more than eight hours sleep a night and exercise. (Sleep can greatly impact all aspects of health and healing.)

I wrote about the virus on several forums for the GAPS and SCD diets. I’m hoping that other people can cut short their healing time by uncovering the root cause sooner. (I’m hoping that doesn’t come back to bite me – )

I love using herbal medicine to treat whatever is going on, and just kicked out a cold that was on its way in. I used herbal medicine, tea, extra sleep and warm covers to gently simulate a fever.

I want to learn more about acid blockers and whether the stomach’s proton pumps ever recover.

I have read several times that root canals may be a cause of disease due to locking bacteria into the mouth, possibly causing autoimmune issues. I want to research this further related to the tumor and digestive issues.(4)

And I just read another article (on PubMed) where they said that bacteria in the mouth may be the cause of bacteria overgrowth and digestive issues. (Is this the case, or is it just in both places?) In case this is true, I have been using toothpaste with neem oil in it.

If you enjoyed this article about my health history, please Share it with your friends, using the social media buttons below. And let me know what you think in the Comments below. Should we look for the deeper issue?

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And check out my online course, Raising Your Immunity Through Herbs, Nutrition and Lifestyle Methods. Here’s a course discount, below, too! Runs through Nov. 2017.

Contact me if you would like my help for your health journey. Thanks!

Citations of Sources:

  1. Gut and Psychology Syndrome book, Dr. McBride, Medinform Publishing, 2010 and
    2012 Weston Price Conference lecture
  2. Gluten Free Magazine, I believe
  3. Energy Medicine book, Donna Eden and David Feinstein, Ph.D., 2009, Tarcher Penguin publisher, p. 307
  4. Article on Pottenger-Price Website
  5. Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism, class education
  6. Planetary Herbology, Michael Tierra, N.D., Lotus Press, 1988




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