“They” are Me…

I don’t want to belabor the point, but I want to write more about the dangerous trend that Jill wrote about in our newsletter last week — with myself as an example. 

Jill wrote about the increasingly common practice of people getting lab tests and then posting their results online, like in Facebook groups, for any random reader to weigh in on. They hope that others who’ve gotten a similar diagnosis or gone through a related experience can tell them what to do.

In addition to social media groups, they also hope they can find all the answers they’re looking for in articles and blogs by their favorite functional medicine practitioners.

Who are “they?” They are me!

I’ve never shared lab values — which feels dangerous to me for several reasons, including privacy concerns — but I’ve used Google as my medical professional more than once.

I wanted to write about this because I need to reiterate how easy it is for anyone — even coaches and practitioners — to spend time spinning their wheels at Google University.

To be sure, you can learn a lot from Google. But you need to know where to look. (I’ve shared some of my favorite online sources of information below.) And other folks going through a similar experience can be a great source of support.

But what worked for them is exactly that – something that worked for them based on their unique situation, symptoms, and circumstances.

That doesn’t translate into a universal cure. Why? Because everyone is bio-individual. You can have all the raw data in the world, but sometimes you hit walls and need qualified help piecing it all together and helping you to sequence an approach.

…which brings me back to my story, and to the amazing people and resources that I turn to for advice.

That’s the first thing I want you to take away from this post: even the pros have pros!

Allow me to illuminate…
A couple of years back, I learned that I had high blood sugar. This was a huge shock.

I’d always been a “healthy eater” (more on that in a second) and I’ve always been on the slender side. I associated high blood sugar with reckless sugar intake and a lot of extra pounds. That wasn’t me, so how could high blood sugar be my reality?!

I thought, “Well, I’m smart and I’m already working as a health journalist. I can figure this out.” So I dove deep and did my research, learning that healthy fats and protein can help stabilize blood sugar and that beans should have enough fiber not to spike my glycemic index — good news since I was a strict vegetarian at the time. 

I hit the beans hard. And I added walnuts and toasted seeds to my morning oatmeal to give it fat and protein. I already eschewed processed foods.

I patted myself on the back.

And…my blood sugar stayed the same.

This stunned me at the time, but it doesn’t now. Vegan and vegetarian diets can be alarmingly high glycemic when done thoughtlessly.

So I went back down the research rabbit hole. I read about avocados and getting enough sleep and eating lower glycemic fruit.

I did those things. The numbers didn’t move.

Soon I began to rethink my 17 years as a vegetarian, a practice that I’d always considered the pinnacle of healthy eating. I’d always thought of meat-eating as barbaric and corrosive to health. But I was learning that eating the right kind of lean animal protein can help stabilize blood sugar.

I started eating meat. My numbers moved a little, but not as much as I needed.

So I researched the best practitioners when it came to my unique condition and symptoms and scheduled an appointment. My practitioner, Michelle, went through my numbers, my eating history, and my current lifestyle.

She saw gaps I didn’t even know were missing.

She noticed in my blood work that my zinc to copper ratio wasn’t ideal. She had me tackle that by taking zinc and eating pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds have a 10:1 zinc-copper ratio, making them nature’s perfect zinc-copper balancing food. Who knew?!

Well, Google knew, I’m sure, but I didn’t know to ask the question. Google can’t tell you the answer to questions you don’t know to ask.

Michelle also suspected that I didn’t make enough digestive enzymes, so I started taking those. She suggested ditching the beans, which can spike blood sugar in some people and I was clearly one of them (something else Google had been unable to tell me). The oatmeal had to go, too. It’s high glycemic, no matter how many nuts you throw on!

Three months later, my numbers had improved significantly.

I felt like I’d discovered the secret to the universe.

And I desperately wanted to become one of those people who evangelizes in online forums and Facebook groups. “Here’s what worked for me! Do this too!”

But I didn’t because that’s the thing – we’re all unique, so what helps us heal is unique.

We want there to be templates for healing. Got Hashimoto’s? Do this, this, and this, and you will be healed. Got diabetes? Do this, this, and this and your blood sugar will stabilize.

Truthfully, there’s some foundational advice that doesn’t change — for example, the changes I made initially (eating more healthy fats, getting more sleep, etc.) had to be there before the other things could work. They were innately healing on their own, even if it wasn’t reflected in my blood sugar — yet.

But my body and my life — just like yours — is unique. It would be irresponsible for me to make blanket recommendations.

If you’ve been down your share of rabbit holes, if you’re not seeing results or if you feel stalled, or if you’re afraid you don’t know what you don’t know, take it from me – it can be WELL worth it to find someone who specializes in your concerns and consult with them.

It can ultimately save you time, heartache, money – and your health.

In the meantime, here are some of the places I turn when I want trusted info:

PubMed 

Healthful Elements (of course!) 

Dr. Mark Hyman’s House Calls 

Chris Kresser 

Dr. Aviva Romm 

Dr. David Perlmutter 

Dr. John Douillard 

Kris Carr (she’s a great resource for vegans and vegetarians) 

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