Sarah’s story reminds us how the simple matter of diet can shape our lives for decades, affecting energy, body weight, emotional health–just about every aspect of our physical and social lives before we finally stumble on the right answers. After many years of struggling with poor health, relying on prescription medications that never addressed underlying causes, it therefore came as a surprise to Sarah that she could indeed achieve magnificent health without the drugs by simply following the diet programmed into human genetic code and supplementing nutrients that are deficient in modern life.
“I was only 14 when my weight doubled over the span of several months as puberty took its course. I wasn’t just fat, slow, always sad, but also plagued with acne, clumsiness, and heavy menses. My brothers would call me ‘swollen potato’ and my mother kept nagging me to ‘start to pay attention.’ I was unlikeable at school probably because of constant sadness, social withdrawal, and because I couldn’t even keep up with my colleagues walking from school – being so slow, tired and always stumbling.
“From being trained for the olympiad in mathematics, I began to fall asleep in classes, then to skip classes altogether, focusing instead on diet and exercise. I learned early on that fats have double the amount of calories than carbs, and I would avoid them like the plague. I would mainly eat carbs (‘healthy whole grains,’ salads, vegetables), and the more I tried, the more I failed. My father beat me a couples of times (yes, with the belt!) to straighten me out, at school I was punished for not showing up and for bad attitude. I hated myself so badly that one night I took all of my mother’s sleeping pills hoping to put an end to my misery. When all of that failed, she took me to the doctor who diagnosed me with hypothyroidism and started me on levothyroxine. The endocrinologist explained that I ate too much and the thyroid couldn’t keep up with my weight gain. Not long after starting the levothyroxine, I developed immense hunger, (even worse than before), panic attacks, bulimia. As my acne and facial hair have worsened with time, the endocrinologist started me on Cyproteron for policystic ovary syndrome, which made me feel so depressed that he send me to the psychiatrist. Because psychotherapy didn’t work, I was diagnosed with “atypical depression” and went through several unsuccessful trials of anti-depressive medication until Prozac became available.
“I lived on levothyroxine, Prozac, Mediteranean low-fat, plant-based diet, yes with ‘healthy whole grains’ in moderation and a disciplined exercise routine. Which worked, but I was still very tired and always with joint pains, (from having to work out so often, or so I thought). I decided not to have children out of the fear they might take after me. Because I was feeling old myself, I found it only natural to marry a much older man and be a housewife.
“I always thought of myself as being ‘out-of sync’ and suffering from an unknown genetic disease because I couldn’t live without the medications and unable to maintain a normal weight without meds, diet and exercise. I thought I had the misfortune to inherit bad genes from my mother (whose weight, just like mine, skyrocketed at puberty, and just like me always suffered from gallbladder pains) and from my father who, besides his own osteoarthritis, mood, hypertension problems, had several family members with thyroid disease, depression, joint pains, heart disease, stroke, anemia.
“When I moved to America, I dreamed I might figure out what was wrong with me and other members of my family. During my health-searching odyssey, I have been to 4 endocrinologists, 3 psychiatrists, 3 dermatologists, but the bottom line was the same: it is constitutional and, for the rest of my life, I need to take these medications.
“Two years ago, I went on the ketogenic diet and my long-standing formula didn’t work any more. I gained 35 pounds, developed diverticulitis, tremendous back pains, more depressed than ever. It was now obvious that food was more powerful than I had ever thought. For the first time it dawned on me that the problem might be food itself, not just in my head, nor in my thyroid, nor in my genes. Because of SIBO, I paid closer attention to Dr. William Davis, whose book Wheat Belly I had partially read but never quite believed, just as I never believed my grandmother who noticed my weight skyrocketed when the new bakery opened in the neighborhood. Besides, I never even considered I might have nutrients deficiencies because I was already eating too much!
“As I started the Wheat Belly program, I replaced the levothyroxine with Armour Thyroid, I supplemented D3 ( 5000 IU daily), magnesium, iodine, iron, fish oil. And off course, I removed ALL GRAINS. Within days I was able to drop Prozac (and live without it!), that immense hunger which was labeled as ‘bulimia’ never hit me again. The postprandial gallbladder pains and joint pains have vanished completely. I don’t get the afternoon crash. And the best part of it is that I don’t feel awkward, out-of sync, despite not taking Prozac and levothyroxine. And I don’t think of myself as an embarassed ‘sick person.’
“I reached out to my family in Eastern Europe and told them all ‘It’s the grains! It’s the grains!’ I must have been quite enthused because my father, one brother, aunt and cousin dropped the grains and reported they feel better, with recurrence of the symptoms when they consumed grains. My mother couldn’t live without her daily bread despite having triglycerides 255: ‘I’m not satiated if I don’t eat bread.’
“As I researched who in my extended family had issues with thyroid, joint pains, iron deficiency anemia, cardiovascular disease, the trail lead me to my paternal grandmother’s lineage whose last name was “Miller” (the man who mills grains) ! Coincidence or not, she died of breast cancer after long suffering from diabetes, hypothyroidism, depression, hypertension, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and osteoarthritis.
“My home country? ROMANIA: Europe’s Breadbasket! It is heresy to tell them grains are actually bad for their health, well-being and life overall.
“Dr. Davis, THANK YOU so much from the bottom of my heart for the work you are doing. It truly is extraordinarily to take on such deeply ingrained beliefs but, as far as I am concerned, you‘ve been right on everything you said: changing the thyroid medication, supplementing minerals, omega-3s, limit carbs, allow healthy fats with every meal.”
Sarah’s experience also illustrates that principle that I promote in my Undoctored program: Resist the idea of “treating” health conditions; instead, address the common factors that allow such health conditions to emerge in the first place, a far more powerful and effective strategy. Thankfully, the only irreversible health condition that Sarah developed with thyroid gland damage that leaves her reliant on exogenous thyroid hormones from Armour Thyroid. Follow the Wheat Belly/Undoctored strategies so that you, too, are left with minimal or no permanent organ impairment.