My family and I have been going through an interesting and challenging time. I have not been feeling at all like myself, with zero energy and other signs of a distressed body. I referred to it as feeling “bone tired;” my husband refers to this time period as the time I “fell apart”. We did a load of lab tests with my doctors, and yesterday we finally got the results.
Turns out I have basically no reserves of iron. To throw out some numbers, I am at a 6, when it should be at least 70 or 110! When your iron is that low, it affects a lot of other things in your body. This explains why my thyroid isn’t humming along, for example. It seems I am not absorbing the iron from my food, which may be caused by some food intolerances. We also had a food antibody test done, which found that I am reacting fairly highly to all gluten grains, dairy, eggs and a couple of random fruits (bananas, cranberries and pineapple) and almonds. When your digestion is messed up with foods it can’t digest well, sometimes you can’t absorb iron well. That is at least the working theory for me at this point.
How are we going to fix it? Well, as of yesterday, I am avoiding 100 percent all of the foods that I have high antibodies to. I will also be doing iron transfusions (eight of them), to get my iron levels back to normal. Once my iron is back to normal, we will wait until the spring to recheck my thyroid and see if it bounces back. We will also check my iron in the future to make sure that it doesn’t get low again. If it does, we will explore other reasons why I am not absorbing iron.
I am so thankful to find out why I have been dealing with overwhelming fatigue. While I can’t get in to start my transfusions until January (we are hoping for cancelations so that I can get in sooner), I am just thankful to have hope that I will feel so much better once my iron is back up.
Ironically, I mentioned that I call the feeling “bone tired;” well, it appears I wasn’t far off there! One of the lab results indicated that my bone marrow was working extra hard (or something like that — I admit, I didn’t follow all of the technical language. I’ll blame it on low iron levels!). My low iron caused this.
It also means no banana ice cream, no maple whipping cream, no cranberry apple mini pies, no cranberry orange sauce, and definitely no gluten. But that’s OK! I already cook mostly gluten-free for my daughter. I will just have to make sure that when we are dining out, I don’t have soy sauce over my rice, or when I make a sandwich I use gluten-free bread, etc. So there isn’t a whole lot of gluten to take out of my diet anyway. I will miss eggs the most, I think. And cranberries. And bananas.
But if it helps me absorb iron better, it will be worth it! Plus, the vast majority of foods I enjoy are perfectly fine for me.
Should I be on the GAPS diet? I’ve talked about the GAPS diet before, and how it helps heal the digestion tract, which can then help with a wide variety of health issues. For some, it could help heal the digestion tract so that absorbing iron wasn’t an issue anymore. At this point, I have chosen not to be on the GAPS diet, because being on a completely starch-free diet over time doesn't makes me feel well. However, I think that making homemade bone broths and eating lacto-fermented vegetables and beverages is an excellent way to boost your digestion, so I will do those things regardless. The GAPS diet may not be ideal for everyone long term, and I may be one of those people, but I do know that many people have used it successfully to help with a wide variety of health issues. The gut is so important for good health after all!
So, that is my little personal update. I am looking forward to better energy in the future!
Related gluten stories on MNN:
- 5 gluten-free desserts
- What is the GAPS diet?
- If I eat a gluten-free diet, why do I still have allergy symptoms?