Posts

The blood test results are in paleo weight loss slimming diet-min

The blood test results are in…

If you’ve been following my series on my weight loss struggle – and discoveries, you’ll have read how I’ve struggled to lose weight (despite my paleo diet and exercise), the tests I had done and experts I saw, my DXA body scan and how wildly out my metabolism turned out to be. This week it’s time for the results of those tests!

In Australia the test results all seem to be delivered to you at home – which is great as you don’t have to wait until your next appointment to get the results from your doctor.

Because I’d had genetic testing and various other tests, they all arrived at different times. The blood tests show your result, against a reference range which shows the range of average results they receive. This is great, but who tends to have blood tests? People who aren’t well. So in theory this means you’re comparing your results to people who aren’t in optimal health, which is perhaps not an ideal marker…

The blood test results are in paleo weight loss slimming diet-min

I quickly saw from my results that my SHBG (Sex hormone-binding globulin) result looked high, so distracted myself by researching this. Apparently a high result means the SHBG binds with testosterone, which means a low free testosterone count. Everything else looked fine, to my didn’t-go-to-medical-school-mind, so I assumed the problem was hormonal and eagerly awaited my appointment to see what the doctor would suggest to remedy this.

I didn’t get the result from the stool samples sent to me at home, but I knew that test was a complete waste of time, so wasn’t worried about that….

The doctor’s surgery

My doctor’s appointment finally came round and I knew exactly what we were going to talk about. The SHBG result and how to change it.

I couldn’t have been any more wrong.

Blastocystis hominis

I was completely floored when she said “You have a parasite, you must be exhausted!” I only took that test to tick all of the boxes. I’ve had no symptoms to indicate a parasite (especially not the sudden unexpected weight loss symptom. Why couldn’t I have had that symptom?), so would have bet my life savings on not having had one. It turns out the test results detected moderate numbers of a parasite called Blastocystis hominis which has apparently been living in my intestines. It’s contracted by accidently swallowing something that’s been contaminated with it. Perhaps even organic produce that hasn’t been washed properly? Or touching a door handle after someone else? Or drinking contaminated water or ice?

It can linger for many years, during which time I’ve backpacked around a lot of Asia, swam in rivers and lakes, eaten from street Vendors, shared food with other travellers – I could have got it from numerous places. I could just as easily have got it from a posh restaurant. I guess I’ll never know…

In terms of treatment, I could go the herbal route (through my naturopath) or take a specific antibiotic based treatment. The herbs take a long time and had a 50% success rate. The success rate of the drugs was over 90% and takes 10 days. Given that I just want to fix things and have more energy, I opted for the antibiotics – something I’m usually very against and haven’t taken for years. I also found out about a drug called Biofilm defence, which if taken just before the antibiotic apparently helps attack the parasite wall making the antibiotics more effective.

Are you a vegan?

Moving onto the blood test results, the doctor’s next comment was “Are you a vegan?! I only ever see Vitamin B12 and Iron levels this low in Vegans!” Whilst she was speaking she got a vitamin B12 injection out of the freezer to give to me then and there… Of course I’m not a vegan! I eat a decent amount of good quality meat – how can this be?! I do tend to eat more white meat and fish over red meat, but I would say I still have red meat a few times a week. It just makes no sense! Again, she commented on how I must be so tired all the time with not only the parasite, but being so deficient in Iron and Vitamin B12. Yes, I am always tired and worn out, but I’m always very busy too – isn’t this how everyone feels? I also think perhaps you get used to how you feel, and it can be hard to realise it isn’t normal. Wouldn’t it be interesting to swap places with your friends for a day, just to see what their version of normal feels like…

It doesn’t stop there…

There were also a few other items of interest from the test results….

My Homocysteine level also seems slightly elevated. Would you believe this can result in clots – i.e. pulmonary embolisms! This seems to be strongly linked to my vitamin B12 deficiency, interesting…

Ferritin was also low, given that this is related to iron storage – and my iron is low, this is hardly a surprise.

My copper levels were also high, and zinc low. These are inversely correlated, so increasing my zinc should help. After the antibiotics, I’m going to be taking the supplement Zinc piccolinate, which should help address this imbalance.

Once I finish the antibiotics I am also going to be starting a course of liver detox & immune herbs that the nautropath has prepared for me.

Quite a lot and I haven’t even got to the genetic results yet (I’ll open that can of worms next week….)

Why can't I lose weight loss paleo primal diet-min

Getting answers – why can’t I lose weight?

Last week I wrote about my weight loss struggles, and how I finally realised there might be more than “eat right, eat less and move more” to the weight loss equation…

Why can't I lose weight loss paleo primal diet-min

 

The Naturopath

After speaking to my naturopath-trainee friend Jodie, I got an appointment with one of Sydney’s top naturopaths. I’ve always been a little wary of seeing an expert, for fear of being told to make sure I eat my whole grains and switch to soy milk. Luckily my naturopath happens to completely support & endorse the grain-free, organic, natural food diet that I eat.

I completed a detailed questionnaire before my appointment, and during my appointment we went through a lot of detail about my medical history, things that may have affected my past and how I feel. Reflecting on it now, it’s quite amazing to think no doctor had ever asked me for such a complete picture before. Questions like: Have I ever had food poisoning? What illnesses have I had? Do I get pins and needles? Do I retain water? What do I eat in a typical day? How do I sleep?

We spoke for almost an hour and it made me think about things I’ve never thought about before. Now I come to think of it, I do quite often wake up with pins and needles in the middle of the night. I quite often feel exhausted. I’ve been seriously ill with two unexplained pulmonary embolisms. There was that time I capsized in the river three times during my first (and last) time canoeing, shortly after heavy rainfall – and got suspected Weil’s disease. I got food poisoning when I backpacked in India. All of these things, perhaps completely irrelevant, have never been considered together.

Next Steps

What I love (and hadn’t realised) about naturopathy, is that it’s a fusion between age-old herbs, and cutting edge science. I’d naively dismissed naturopathy, as I imagined I’d be given a mysterious overpriced mixture of herbs and sent on my way. I couldn’t have got it any more wrong.

The naturopath took notes as we spoke, of things she wanted me to be tested for – and at the end gave me a referral letter to take along to a doctor. An actual medical doctor, who specialises in functional medicine and works closely with the naturopath.

A few weeks later I managed to get an appointment and went along to this doctor, expecting her to charge me a lot of money in exchange for a 2 minute appointment and a form for the blood tests I needed. Wrong again.

I was with the doctor for almost an hour, during which time she asked me a barrage of questions again, homing in on particular areas as my answers lead her. Was I breast-fed as baby? Was I premature? Did I take lots of antibiotics as a child? Did they find out why you’d had the Pulmonary Embolisms? Have you had genetic tests? And on, and on.

She not only knew what paleo was, but spoke to me about Chris Kresser’s latest book. She completely gets it and believes in going grain and sugar free.

As with the naturopath, the doctor was not surprised I have struggled to lose weight with diet and exercise alone and explained how so many different biochemical reasons can prevent fat loss. What a relief to hear there may be an answer out there.

I was surprised at her interest in my Pulmonary Embolism episode. Yes, I had had genetic tests, but come to think of it, I had never seen the results myself and just took the assurances that everything was fine. She compiled a fairly sizeable list of blood tests she wanted me to have, then asked if I have ever had food poisoning, before giving me a kit for stool samples. I knew that was completely unnecessary, but took the kit to humour her.

Tests

A few mornings later I went to the clinic for the blood tests, which other than being quite lengthy due to the huge number of vials they needed – was quite uneventful. I also provided the urine and stool samples, and waited for the results, fairly convinced we were going to find some sort of thyroid related issue.

I’ve been on a big journey of discovery over the last few months, and will be sharing with you what I’ve learnt about my own weight loss struggle over the coming weeks and months.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your journey in the comments, below. Do/ did you struggle to lose weight? Have you seen a naturopath or functional doctor?