Food Is My Medicine

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

I was always very slim as a child. This was probably partly good genes and partly my parents making sure my sister and I ate plenty of veggies and meat (grass-fed from their hobby farm), plus playing sports, riding my bike and exploring my parent’s hobby farm, as well as my mother strictly controlling our portion sizes when at home. We had homemade cakes/biscuits for snacks, and often had dessert after dinner. When I went for my interview at the local teaching hospital to do my nursing training after high school, I was told to put on some weight. I am 5’ 7” and was 54 kg (119 lbs) at the time, so over the next three months I ate lots of white potatoes and butter, and managed to put on 3 kg (6.6 lbs), so I got to 57 kg (125 lbs). This was a nice, healthy-looking weight for me.

I got married at 20, had two children by 25, and despite putting on a bit of weight during my second pregnancy, I was back to 58 kg (128 lbs) within a short time and stayed there for about the next seven to eight years. In this time I did some aerobics classes and walking, as well as working part-time as a nurse.

During high school I had started eating chocolate (any kind, often with coloured/flavoured fillings) on a reasonably regular basis, and once I moved from part-time to full-time work this became an extremely regular thing, as I had more money. Everyone “knew” that if they were looking for a gift for me, a box of chocolates was always well-received. I never put on any weight or had problems such as acne, so I figured the chocolate and sugar weren’t doing me any harm! (If only I had known.)

Over this time I got fairly regular bladder infections, which required antibiotics, and more and more frequently I succumbed to thrush infections as a result (my poor gut microbiome!). After a number of years, I seemed to get thrush infections regularly without even taking antibiotics. I got a cold about once a year.

Around my early 30s, I suddenly noticed that I now weighed 64 kg (141 lbs). I decided that I liked this new more voluptuous me, and my friends agreed that women looked better with a bit of extra fat as they got older. I also noticed changes in my bowel habits, but was reassured by my doctor that my symptoms could be fixed by drinking more water and ensuring a good fibre intake. I also noticed that my waist was gradually increasing in size, so that I had to alter the size and type of clothes that I purchased and wore. I started to think that maybe I had ovarian cancer, but a blood test (ca125) said this wasn’t the case. A pelvic ultrasound was normal.

Over the years my gut symptoms became more and more of a problem. My tolerance for fat plummeted, I started suffering from indigestion and nausea, and I began to suffer from chronic constipation. I saw several gastroenterologists, had tubes poked everywhere, was told that I had a bit of “redness” in my stomach, and maybe I had “Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” All these doctors just gave me the laxative/water/fibre advice like everyone else. I also had an abdominal scan which showed “multiple cysts” in my liver. My constipation got so bad that without laxatives, I could go a week between bowel movements and it was seriously hard work. So hard in fact that in mid-2010 I had to have an umbilical hernia repaired, which was a result of straining so much. By this time my belly was also so distended that I was buying “loose fit” tops to try and hide what looked like a five month pregnancy.

Debbie Before PrimalAs my gut symptoms were increasing, I also noticed that sometimes when walking I seemed to start to lose my balance. At first this was infrequent, but over time, it happened more often. I also became so tired that I had to have a sleep most afternoons and always felt exhausted after dinner. I got colds several times per year. I suffered from depression as well and took anti-depressants for a total of five years. I gradually got more and more varicose veins, as well as many spider veins around my ankles and the sides of my feet.

My menstrual periods also gradually got heavier and heavier, sometimes necessitating several changes of clothing each day as my pads and tampons could not cope with the flow of both liquid blood and large clots. I had to stop donating blood because I kept getting anaemic, and suffered nausea and dizziness after donating. I eventually got an IUD inserted with slow-release progesterone embedded in it, which after three months in situ, stopped my periods.

I often suffered from mouth ulcers and cracking at the corners of my mouth. The mouth ulcers I treated with a topical preparation, and I eventually discovered that taking vitamin B tablets regularly helped with the mouth cracking and frequency of ulcers.

I had been on a very high-sugar diet up this time too…not just my beloved chocolate (now dark usually, but with fillings), but also lots of meat/veggie stir-frys with sugary Asian sauces, sandwiches with honey or jam, and toasted (read sugary) muesli for breakfast. I was also strictly eating margarine and vegetable oils as my “healthy fats.”

In mid-2010 I had to have a BCC skin cancer cut off my face, near my eye, as well as have a “spot” treated with dry ice.

In September 2010 I went to see two different naturopaths about my gut symptoms, as conventional medicine seemed to have failed me. One of them helped me start to turn my life around. He looked at my live blood under a microscope, and my blood was in bad shape. Firstly, it was full of yeast. He recommended a one-month “low-yeast diet.” After some research on the internet, I decided to give it a go – it was very difficult, and after a few days I had a yeast “die-off” in the middle of the night, which included chills and massive shivering for about 20 minutes. I had signs of anaemia, my white blood cells were out of balance, and I had signs of calcium deficiency, metal toxicity, and vitamin deficiencies, and general gut ill-health. An oral “zinc taste test” showed a high level of zinc deficiency.

The low yeast diet was effective in decreasing my blood yeast levels, as shown when the naturopath looked at my blood a month later, and my waist size decreased by about 3 cm (1.2 inches), but the bloating and constipation were still a huge issue.

In late November 2010 my life changed. One day I noticed that I had what seemed to be a vaginal prolapse. A visit to the doctor led to an ultrasound, which showed a fist-sized lump on my left ovary. On the 10th of December I had a large Teratoma (encapsulated mixed-cell tumour- with some borderline cells) removed via a total hysterectomy and omentectomy. The next day I had an internal hemorrhage requiring a transfusion of three units of blood. I went home after eight days in hospital but was readmitted three days later with a severe pelvic infection requiring triple intravenous antibiotics for several days.

This surgery meant instant menopause at age 44. I did not want to go on artificial HRT, but after two months, my body felt like it was drying up, I had dreadful insomnia, and my brain was mush. After some investigation, I started on daily Bio-identical hormones, which helped me feel almost normal.

My naturopath had told me that after the month on a low-yeast diet, I could eat on an 80/20 rule, being 80% sugar free, 20% not. My gut symptoms, although somewhat diminished, were still a big problem, as were the weird head feelings. I ate this way until mid-March 2012, by which time I realised that I was eating more like 50% sugar free, 50% not.

One day, my husband heard a lawyer named David Gillespie talking on the radio about a new book he had written, called Big Fat Lies, about sugar/industrial seed oils and his weight loss journey. I listened to the podcast of the interview, bought his book, as well as his previous one, Sweet Poison, realised how bad my diet (SAD – Standard Australian Diet from the Australian Food Pyramid) was, and decided to quit sugar and seed oils. Initially this meant no chocolate, no desserts, porridge without sugar, no sugar in my coffee, and olive oil instead of vegetable oils. Over the next few months I did lots of reading and research, as did my son and also my father. Around the same time they both discovered

My naturopath had been suggesting for a long time that I try giving up gluten, but it wasn’t until I looked at Mark’s website, and then purchased and read The Primal Blueprint and Nora’s Primal Body, Primal Mind, that I decided to stop eating gluten. Within three days I had lost 5 cm (2 inches) of bloating off my waist!! I then decided to give up my beloved oats for breakfast – more bloating gone!!

In September 2012 I decided to look at every label on every product in my pantry and fridge. I removed anything with added sugar and grains, dried fruit and honey, and seed oils…about 2/3 of things were gone. I then restocked with coconut products and other “Paleo/Primal” goodies. I subscribed to Mark’s newsletter, and when my aerobics membership ran out in December 2012, I started working through the Primal Blueprint Fitness plan, starting with the very basics. I walk the dog most days, go bushwalking once a week, do resistance exercise twice a week and sprint once a week (using a rowing machine as my left ankle/knee doesn’t like running).

Debbie Before PrimalAt 47, I am now back to 57 kg (125 lbs). I don’t eat any sugar, including honey, maple syrup, dextrose or rice malt syrup, or stevia. My waist is now 14 cm (6 ½”) less than before changing my diet, my skin is glowing, and I have had just one three day cold in one and a half years. My gut is very happy, as long as I take a probiotic capsule every day, and I tolerate lots of good fats. The spider veins around my ankles and feet are slowly receding. My vitamin and mineral levels are good, except when I tried eating white rice for about a month last year, which caused me to almost lose my taste from zinc deficiency. I have lots of energy most days, and rarely rest during the day. My head is also happy; no more dizzy feelings. My lipid studies, vitamin D, C-reactive protein, fasting insulin and HbA1c are great. I no longer get mouth ulcers or cracks at the corners of my mouth.

My adult children also follow a fairly strict Primal way of eating. My daughter has eczema and has recently been diagnosed with kerataconus, both of which are inflammatory conditions, so she is trying a month of strict Paleo without dairy at the moment to see what happens. My husband has been a fervent embracer of giving up sugar and seed oils, but has struggled to give up beer and pizza when out with his friends. However, over the past year he has noticed many health improvements from being 80% Primal: gums no longer bleed when he brushes his teeth, aches and pains at night are gone, softer and more glowing skin, gastric reflux gone. He has lost a little bit of weight and wants to lose more, but can’t seem to. His high sensitivity C-reactive protein is elevated (37 last month) so he still has quite a bit of inflammation. A week ago he started a Whole 30, which for him meant cutting out milk and cheese (his go-to snack) and alcohol. So far, the pimples on his neck, which he always seems to have, are gone, he is losing weight and his mood and energy levels are more even. His sleep is also somewhat better – he is a terrible sleeper and falls asleep at the drop of a hat. The next three weeks should be very interesting…

The only thorn in my side is the fact that ever since I went Primal, my hormone levels have been erratic, causing my hormone doctor to have to regularly adjust my prescription, and I constantly have dry skin and eyes (not good with contact lenses). Having a month of eating white potatoes and rice didn’t seem to help. At the moment I am waking up most nights with a mild hot flush, so I am a bit tired during the day. My oestrogen (71pmol/l) and testosterone (<0.24 nmol/l) levels are low and SHBG (133 nmol/l) is up, but my doctor can’t work out how to best fix the situation. My progesterone is slightly high at 23 nmol/l. I am still on bio-identical hormones.

I have done huge amounts of reading and research over the past couple of years, but I make sure that is my breakfast reading. I am also enjoying the new Primal Blueprint podcasts. As well as trying to follow the 10 Primal Laws, I have recently given up shampoo/conditioner in favour of bicarb soda and apple cider vinegar. I despair when I look around me at all the sick people walking down the street, but cheer to myself every time the media releases another story about the dangers of sugar, seed oils or processed foods. Food is my medicine.


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  1. Kudos to Debbie and what an amazing journey and accomplishments! As a woman who has struggled with menopause and hormonal issues, I wanted to tell her a couple of things my doctor discovered. In general, many people recommend soy products for women while going through menopause, however, we found that actually increased the number of hot flashes I had as well as the severity of them. We also discovered that being on HRT also made menopausal symptoms worse. As of now, I sparingly include any type of soy in my diet (including my much loved edamame!) and I am off all HRT and as a result, have very few menopausal issues. While everyone does need to consult their doctor as to what is best for them, I do encourage others to consider not following traditional routes as that may be the best!

    1. Hi Caro, I used to eat some soy products prior to going Primal, but only have occasional naturally fermented Tamari now.

      Just to clarify, I am not on conventional HRT, which is made from pregnant horses urine, and is chemically different from human hormones. I have bio-identical hormones, which are as the name suggests, identical to what humans usually produce. As I don’t have ovaries, I only have my adrenal glands producing tiny amounts of hormones, plus a bit of oestrogen from fat tissue, which I have a lot less of now. I tried weaning myself off the bio-identical hormones early last year, and the hot flushes that returned felt like all my nerves were on fire and it was extremely painful, not to mention all the other symptoms that came back. At the moment, I can’t survive without the bio-identical hormones.

      1. I can’t either. I had early menopause age 37 and transdermal oestrogen and testosterone saved my life.

      2. Debbie, Please look into adrenal fatigue (and its usual follow-on, thyroid problems) … With your history, your poor adrenals may be gasping for help! (I recommend the website Stop the Thyroid Madness — which saved MY life: I’m not associated with them, just grateful!)

      3. Awesome story Debbie – well done sister! Just a thought – have you had your sex hormone binding globulin blood levels tested? My doctor and I couldn’t figure out why despite paleo eating, good healthy lifestyle, vitamins and supplements, as well as bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, I still had horribly low sex hormones. I’m taking a chinese medicine remedy (that’s normally prescribed for men) and it’s working, albeit slowly, but that’s better than taking drugs! Thanks again for the inspiring story.

        1. Hi Lucrecia,
          I have had my levels checked. They are regularly checked as part of taking the hormones. My SHBG has been rising each time my hormone dose is increased, which is really annoying. My naturopath suggested taking nettle root extract, but it seemed to make me pee more so I stopped after a few days. Also, I am a bit nervous about taking it while my hormone doctor is still trying to balance things out. What have you been taking?

        2. Debbie – I’ve been taking a Chinese herb called Tongkat Ali. It’s been tested with great results mainly on men. But they’ve started using it on women with very promising results as well. My labs have been going down (albeit slowly) but definitely heading down. Like you, I’ve been doing the Integrative Medicine route. Check it out… (I’ve been Using the Source Naturals brand and taking 1 a day at breakfast. Men take 2 a day.)

  2. Thank you for your story. I know several people who are in seemingly good health despite consuming the SAD (standard American diet). Good genes will get you by for a while, but then at some magical age the inoculation of youth leaves us and what we did to our bodies comes at us hard.

    My wife is a nurse and sees this in the hospital. People truck along just fine until their late 30s, early 40s…sometimes even up to 50, and then BOOM, the body can’t do it anymore.

    Again, thank you for your story.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. So glad to hear how well you’re doing after suffering such a long time! I also have seen immediate effects on my waistline after dropping grains. I notice that on the very rare occasions I eat something with wheat or even other grains, my mood changes too; more irritation, & mood swings; not worth it! Congrats on your success 🙂

  4. Glad you are better Debbie. Primal living is not a cure for everything, but it sure gets you most of the way there without much effort really.

  5. That was quite a story. Your transformation is remarkable …….best of luck to your husband. Beer can be a difficult sacrifice as it cannot be truly replaced like other items but the benefits experienced by both body and mind are well worth it.

  6. Geez Debbie what a journey! You had some serious obstacles. Congrats on your diligent efforts to get healthy. I’m always impressed by story’s like yours. It would be very easy to get overwhelmed, depressed, and never get better! Again congrats!

  7. Thanks for sharing, Debbie! I’ve been a Primal for just over 18 months now, and interestingly, it’s what kept the symptoms of my own extreme hormone imbalances masked. Because I wasn’t gaining weight anywhere except in my chest, my doctor (and boyfriend) didn’t see a problem. After 5 months of trying new BC pills and the progesterone iud, I finally got it taken out two days ago, and now in wild flux. Primal eating and living is amazing, but having good research on female hormones is like searching for a needle in the haystack. Good luck to you, and thanks for the inspiring story!

    1. I agree that trying to figure it out in hormone analyzes is something incredibly complex. To someone progesterone helps to lose weight, and to someone on the contrary.

  8. Very helpful information, Debbie. I was very interested in your hormone journey as I am taking bio-identicals as well. You look terrific, and your smile is a big indicator of your level of satisfaction! Good grief, isn’t it crazy the things we put up with because we think there’s no answer? Thanks for sharing your story.

  9. THANK YOU so much for sharing. I’m in my early forties and have never been sick, except for pregnancy. Lately I have been obsessing about dropping my 25% body fat to 20% and even getting frustrated when I eat more calories then I should…even though they come from healthy things like fruit, which I crave for some reason. Your story has reminded me of how grateful I should be to just be healthy!

  10. Love your story! You look AWESOME! Congrats and thanks for posting. Were you ever tested for celiac?

    1. Yes, I had the blood test that looks for the HLA D Q 2 and 8 genes, which was negative.

      1. Oh good. I’m sure you know the level of vigilance required for a celiac versus someone just avoiding gluten, being a nurse.
        Your story is an inspiration!

  11. Amazing transformation! I love how you inspired others in your family to make similar changes for themselves. Most people don’t realize how many nagging health issues can be addressed with a primal/paleo approach. It really is not about the weight but about the healing most of us need to do. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I love your frank and detailed history, and honest description of some of the challenges that you are still analyzing. How you have suffered and now so generously gifted us with your story and research. Thank you, Debbie!

  13. Great work! It’s cool to see so much global love for MDA. It’s amazing to watch disease follow the SAD worldwide. I guess that correlation doesn’t indicate causality… isolation of nutrients/behaviors have damaged our complexity.

  14. Great to read your story, and thanks so much for sharing it. I was particularly interested to read the bit about hormones. I am a pre-menopausal woman in my early thirties and have been on a primal diet for a year now. I found that a huge number of health problems were cleared up due to the diet BUT hormonal-related issues have increased and have in the last few months got so bad they are making my life a misery. Sleeplessness, terrible migraines, PMS worse than ever, stress levels through the roof. Hormones wildly erratic. I am unwillingly to go back to eating higher carb and reintroducing some of the CW foods because for the first time in my adult life I have lost weight, reduced inflammation, no longer have debilitating IBS, can actually run (miracle!) and finally feel like an active member of the human race but sometimes I am at my wits’ end how to control the hormonal problems. And they are definitely hormonal. I think research into the primal lifestyle and female hormones is very necessary as I do not feel the primal diet as it is at the moment works fully for women. I’ve been following Stefani Ruper’s blog “Paleo for Women” with interest but when I tried reintroducing carbs the way she does my inflammation issues resurfaced. Sorry to make such a long comment but your post really hit a button with me regarding female hormones.

    1. Hi Sarah, I think that I went too low carb to start with, so now make sure I eat sweet potato or white potato, plus some fruit, evert day. I suspect that the combination of low carb, rapid weight loss and no ovaries was hard on my adrenals and maybe even my liver. My energy levels are great, so pretty happy really. 🙂

    2. Hi Sarah,
      Don’t forget progesterone is the first hormone to take a dip in levels, even at your age. All your symptoms sound like some bioidentical progesterone may help a lot.
      Been there, done that….still doing that… At 53!

    3. You may want to check out paleo for women by endocrinologist stephanie ruper. She deals alot with hormone balance 🙂

      1. Yes I have had a bit of a look at her blog, and will definitely read more.

    4. Ditto. I’m 47 and peri-menopausal. I’ve had menstrual migraines and PMS since I was 27. Switching to paleo has really helped with bloatedness, energy levels, and gut issues but the migraines march on. The only time I got a break from them was when I was pregnant about 8 years ago.

      I often wonder if it takes time, like a couple years, for hormones to rebalance? That’s my hope, at least! And, like Debbie, I find that if I go low carb(50g or under) or attempting to become keto-adapted, I don’t feel well as well. I’ve found that a bit more fruit or sweet potato seems to help.

      Good luck with your journey! And, congrats to Debbie, who I also have some common experiences with.

      PS: My husband does extremely well on a keto-adapted diet. I actually get jealous when I see him get nice and toned. : )

      1. You may wish to look into Ketogenic Paleo/Primal if you have migraines. It worked for me. Look for Dr. Kossoff (spell?) on youtube.

    5. Sarah, I had early menopause age 37, I tried for a couple of years to battle through but eventually I gave in to bio identical hormones. They transformed my life and age 43 I now totally forget I’m post menopause. As my amazing health practitioner said to me early menopause isn’t necessarily a sign of ill health..we all have given number of eggs at birth and when they are gone they are gone. It definitely seems to be the case the younger we are when menopause strikes the more severe the symptoms. Stick with primal eating, it’s the only way and don’t beat yourself up if you give in to HRT. I’m sure I have read somewhere on this site that Marks wife has used bio identical hormones…but I may be wrong on that xx

  15. This is a great story, Debbie; I like your research, persistence and progress – for yourself and your family. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend The Perfect Health Diet by the Jaminets (preface by Mark S.!). You might glean some helpful ideas, even if the book doesn’t specifically address your remaining issues. Good luck.

    1. Thanks Susan. I have read this book as well, and really liked it. I am working closely with my naturopath and hormone Dr to sort out the final issues.

    2. I’ve been on a similar route with hormone issues and use bio identical progesterone cream and a very small amount of estradiol (tablet can be inserted vaginally and directly absorbed into the bloodstream meaning you can take a much a smaller dose than an oral dose and get relief. Much cheaper than any of the patches and less estrogen needed).
      Read Dr. John Lee’s books such as “Hormone Balance Made Simple”. They were a godsend for me and I finally got the answers I needed. Hope this helps!

  16. Wow, Parts of your story almost parallels mine. Chronic constipation only controlled at the moment with magnesium tablets, head-fog, IBS, super achey joints. And disrupting menopausal issues! With the Primal concepts being put in place I am experiencing relief of symptoms. Thanks for sharing your journey. It is so encouraging to see how far you’v come through diet alone. The take away is to never give up, esp. when it comes to allopathic protocols. Glad you found most of your solutions from another avenue.
    You look great and healthy, more power to you!

  17. So good to hear from another Australian woman! You really been through the wringer with your health, but fantastic to hear (and see!) your results. Looking pretty spunky in your bikini! I’m going to share your story with my mum.

  18. Congratulations! Awesome success story! So many of you symptoms were similar to mine. I also saw the decrease in spider veins, something I wasn’t expecting, but happy to see them get even fainter over time. You look amazing in that bikini!

  19. Great story! Impressive bikini shot, too! I long for a flat tummy like that 🙂

    Wondering what the status is on (Carrie, Mark”s wife)’s book is coming out. I am really hoping for some solid info on menopause, primal nutrition for women etc.

  20. Hey fellow Aussie. Woohoo!!
    Looking fab in that bikini and the health is showing up in your smile.
    You’re amazing!! Good luck with the hormone stuff xx

  21. I have recently been diagnosed with this. Tests are scheduled for June. Is there any way we can contact each other privately? I think there is…

    Just need someone to talk to about it. Thanks if we can work this out.

    1. What is it that you have been diagnosed with? I am happy to be in contact if you give an email address or Facebook.

        1. Now that I have had a total hysterectomy, I no longer have a uterus or the top of my cervix, so the prolapse was removed as part of my surgery.

        2. Thanks Debbie for your reply. I have since spoken with my family dr. who said I don’t have to have surgery. I can wait until I feel like it.

  22. I am 45, Aussie, with similar story! Was always slim my whole life, had good English ‘post war’ diet growing up, liver and onions once a month, potatoes, some meat but not much, carrots, cabbage etc. I was 57kg when I got married – picture of health. Ate what I wanted, including all the crap you can think of. Always, always, considered myself healthy, and actually only went Primal out of intellectual curiosity after reading Sally Fallon’s ‘Nourishing Traditions’ politically incorrect book (which just seemed like normal to me!)…and stumbling across Mark’s Daily Apple…
    My weight at 40 had also crept up to 64kg and I wore a lot of flowing tunics (very fashionable) so no one noticed how thick I had become round the middle.
    These are the things that disappeared once I went Primal (I drink raw milk and eat dairy)….: Raynauds Disease (I developed this at 40, had it for a few years, went Primal and it has never come back)….post nasal drip, hayfever, stinky poos (sorry folks!), head fuzz at 3pm, hunger, thick waist, bloating, regular colds….
    now I am 58kg (I’m 5″7 too), flat stomach, slim waist and feeling fantastic. I have not had a cold for two years. The thing is, in your first photo you look pretty ‘normal’ to me….. but your second photo is fantastic… I guess it shows how conditioned we have all become as to what is ‘normal’….

  23. Thanks everyone for your comments and encouragement. I really appreciate them. It took me a while to reply because of the time difference….I was asleep in Australia while you were all reading my story.

    It still amazes me that I got more help for my health from a naturopath, books and Primal/Paleo blogs, than from traditional doctors.

  24. Yay for a story from an Aussie woman! As usual it is impressive how people can take control of their health and find answers the the general medical fraternity don’t seem to offer. You look and sound happy with the improvements to your health, and you can be proud that you are so fit despite the hurdles you have had to overcome.

    I found your hormone story interesting too, and for me (I am post menopausal at 55) my hot flushes and erratic sleep that had been dogging me for about 3-4 years, settled fairly quickly when I went 80% primal over 2 years ago. Perhaps it was just co-incidental that my symptoms settled at that time. Whatever it was, I ain’t going back!

  25. Wow! Your transformation is inspirational! Thanks so much for sharing this post. Best of luck to your husband

  26. Wow! You went through a lot and persevered. I give you lots of kudos for finding what works for you. You look fantastic, happy and healthy!!

    1. At the moment I am taking Wagner Probiotica, which has 2.6 billion Lactobacillus gasseri, 0.2 billion Bifidobacterium ifidum and 0.2 billion Bifidobacterium longum per capsule. I have been taking this one for a while, so am thinking of trying a different profile of bacteria next time just to mix up my microbiome a bit.

  27. hi, debbie, thanks for your inspiring story! i had low thyroid like symptoms, and have added small amounts of white potato and white rice into my diet. would you tell me more about why you had that in your diet, and what it did? for me, i seem to be a bit warmer now, and it seems to be good for me to have a little more carbs, especially since both are sources of resistant starch. but i’m not sure–it’s not paleo, and i don’t want to negatively impact my health! thanks!

    1. Hi Jenny Rose, I eat white potato and sweet potato, because otherwise, with lower carbs, I get funny “wave-like” feelings in my head. I tried eating rice for a couple of months, but started getting a “hot” feeling in my stomach after eating it, and ended up becoming zinc deficient- I almost lost my sense of taste, so I no longer eat white rice. In fact, I avoid all grains. I also found that my energy levels are actually better with some starchy carbs each day, and my sleep is also better, including falling asleep more quickly.
      I firmly believe in the experiment of 1. Getting rid of sugar, gluten/grains, seed oils and processed food is a starting point, and you then need to try different things to find out what suits you body best. My adult son eats both white potato and white rice, as he feels like he needs a relatively high carb Paleo diet to stay well, whereas my husband does well on a fairly low-carb Paleo diet. Potatoes are also part of the nightshade family, so some people need to consider that issue as well.
      I think after a while of eating clean, you become very aware of what suits your body, and I would listen to it. If you feel better eating potato and rice, then relax and enjoy.

  28. Wow Debbie, that is amazing! You look wonderful. Good luck with the rest of it.

  29. Great success story! And also, this is a great example of not accepting the standard “this is what happens as we get older” line most doctors run by us! You look so great and healthy! 😀

    1. “this is a great example of not accepting the standard “this is what happens as we get older” line most doctors run by us! ”

      Yes! If only more people knew.

  30. Hi Debbie, have you read about the Iodine Protocol?

    are 2 great resources it’s a real help with hormone issues as the majority of westerners are iodine deficient. You must take enough of the other supplements though like selenium to do it justice. It’s really helped dry eyes (and other dry bits!) and brain fog for me , if you use facebook there is a group Iodine Workshop for extra support. It answers all those questions like: will this stuff my thyroid?

    1. Hi Julia,
      I did try supplementing with iodine, but it made my thoughts race and adversley affected my sleep.
      My progesterone and oestrogen are out of balance, but I have a good hormone Dr who is helping me sort things out.
      Thanks for the suggestion.

  31. Hi Debbie,

    An incredible article which proves how important is to eat healthy food and cut short your sugar intake. I too have stopped eating sugar in my coffee and other diet since last 4 months and actually noticed decline in my weight.

  32. Debbie thanks for sharing your story … for your remaining hot flashes magnesium chloride did it for me … my bio-identical doctor tells all his patients to do the same now … it costs me $10.00 a month … 🙂 There are only two on the market Slow-Mag 64 (drug store) and Mag 64 (online) … I buy it online because it is 1/2 the price.

    MAG 64 MAGNESIUM CHLORIDE compare to SLOW-MAG 64 Delayed-Release Enteric Coated Magnesium Supplement with Calcium – 60 Tablets 575


  33. Hi Debbie,
    In regards to the dry skin….we have always enjoyed purchased skin products but both of us get rashes and sore eyes from many plus after being more mindful of food it has also caused us to question what we put on our skin etc….anyway we thought we would try animal lard- i know that it sounds gross but you can ‘de-smell’ it and even add essential oils if you like. I am using it now and NO Smell and I have to say the most incredible absorbing rich moisteriser I have ever used. I strongly reccomend trying it for your dry skin. We just googled a how to guide. Good luck (fellow nurse in NZ)

    1. Thanks. I am a fan of using coconut and olive oil for skin, but understand where you are coming from. My main concern is that dry skin is a symptom of something being out of balance in my body, so my focus now is still getting my hormones in balance, which I am hoping will atleast in part help my skin.

  34. Thank you so much for sharing this, Debbie. I can relate to so much of your story. I had a major hiccup around 35 when I got embolisms and was taken off of all hormones. Those were the only thing keeping my body in check. Everything went haywire and I considered hysterectomy, but opted for Lupron. I did not want the IUD since my bleeding issues were insane. Since then I’ve learned a few things: Vitamin E at 1000-2000 IU per day during the period is as effective as the pill for stopping pain and ending the clotting. And DHEA will supply my body with the missing hormones. I won’t name an amount because that should be done by age, or with some experimentation. Being in Australia, I’m not sure if you can get that OTC, but your naturopath, if they’re an MD also, they may be able to prescribe it if the bioidentical hormones don’t work right. However, if your ovaries are not there, I’m not sure if any estrogen can be made, that’s something to discuss with a gyno.

    The benefit of the DHEA for me, at first was only in the gut though. It apparently lowers TNF, which is a drug target for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (one big step worse than IBS). I spent way too much time reading studies way above my reading level to figure that out, but when I did, I made a beeline for the vitamin store. I also take Omega-3’s (of course), and exercise a lot. I also have constipation issues, which are so easy for doctors to ignore.

    I now make a primalovely veggie puree that helps me. I find I can’t handle roughage without plenty of fats and without pureeing it. My recipe includes 2 cans (14.5g x2) carrot (use fresh if you prefer, I’m poor though), half of a bag of frozen mixed greens (kale and collards), and 4 T of mixed fats (my choice is a tasty mix of: butter, coconut oil, and duck fat, but use what you like). I only add a few pinches of salt, no other spices and this is so incredibly delicious to me that I have no need for more adornment. It doesn’t look much, but yum!

    Anyway, what you do is, you pan-sautee the veggies until the water has boiled off and you hear sizzling, then stop. Pack them in a food processor (you could meticulously chop and mash them, I suppose), and puree until all the green bits are tiny specks. Then spoon into a container and refrigerate. Makes about 3 cups for me.

    1/2 cup serving has: 136 Calories, 9.3g Fat, 10.6g Carbs, 4.3g Fiber, 2g Protein.

    I’m not sure I can express how sweet this tastes, with no added sugar in it. I call it my veggie ice cream. I got the idea from an SCD book which allows carrots as the starchiest food in the strict diet. Nothing like real food to have awesome flavor. I had to check the carrots to be sure they didn’t add sugar to it, but if they did, they’re not labeling it as with sugar. I miss Asian food too, so this sweet side dish is very satisfying.

    I noticed that since I made my gut happier, my lower back doesn’t hurt either. But as soon as I get bloating and sluggish motility, the lower back is aching again. Hmm..

    1. I was on bio-identical DHEA for a while, but have not needed it since going Primal. I don’t really understand TNF, although do remember reading about it somewhere along the way.
      Thanks for the veggie ideas.

  35. I would also highly recommend Dr Sarah Gottfried’s book ‘The Hormone Cure’. Loads of well-researched information, and definitely Primal-friendly.

    1. Yes I have heard her speak on a podcast so will look her up. Thanks.

  36. Thank you for your story Debbie. I am more and more convinced of the primal diet. I am 57 and and finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for menopause symptoms. Hot flashes are minimal and I have little or no anxiety. I am taking Zoloft for the anxiety right now. I do have trouble sleeping though and take some kind of pm medication over the counter. I am grateful for this. But I am just now going to begin my journey into Primal or Paleo eating. It will be a struggle to go without dairy. It seems I CANNOT lose weight. I exercise regularly, run 5Ks and now triathlon sprints. I am careful with food, but gluten and sugar are definitely problems for me, as well as coffee!!! Oui!! Best of luck to your continued success and to your husband as well.

    1. Hi Kathleen, it is taking my husband a while to lose much weight, but he still has quite a bit of inflammation in his body. His c-reactive protein is still 12 times higher than normal. However, his body composition is changing, with waist measurement going down even though the weight is not changing much.
      Don’t worry about the weight. It is more important to get yourself as healthy as possible by eliminating sugar, seed oils, processed foods and gluten/grains. Be careful not to fall into chronic cardio with all the exercise you are doing….it may be stressing your body too much. Good luck!

  37. Great progressive detective work paid off for you! Have you tried Maca Root (Peruvian powdered root product) for these menopausal symptoms?

    1. No I haven’t Kathy. My oestrogen and progesterone are still out of balance. I think that when I lost weight very quickly after going Primal, I lost a big oestrogen producer, because I went from about 34% to 23% body fat, and oestrogen is produced in fat cells. As I do not have ovaries, my adrenals, which were probably not happy anyway, are struggling to keep up production of oestrogen and testosterone.
      I will look up the Maca Root, but for the moment, I am currently happy with my hormone Dr trying to balance my hormones.

  38. I am a regular Marks’ Daily Apple reader. Thanks to Debbie to give us some valuable information throughout her story.

  39. You give me encouragement that it is possible to slowly feel better! It sounds like you are getting things figured out! Thanks for sharing your story!!!

    For your hormone struggles I recommend you see the Pope Paul VI Institute: National Women’s Hormone Laboratory. They do a very complete study of every woman’s body to help them with a variety of concerns including hormone issues. Women travel from around the world to see Dr. Hilgers and his partners.

    I wish you all my best.

    1. Thanks Amy, but Nebraska is a really long way from Australia. Good luck to you.