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…
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.
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….)