“I had a colonoscopy several months ago… and I am very happy to report that my gastroenterologist told me that I have no symptoms of ulcerative colitis in my colon.”
Mira Dessy was happily working as a database administrator and raising her children. Then, what began as digestive issues progressed to life-limiting levels.
Along with a few other nagging health issues, Mira had been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). But things turned serious when her immune system collapsed. And soon, she had no choice but to stop working and live life on the sofa.
“I got very, very ill in very short order,” she recalls. “I literally could not walk up a flight of stairs without having to lie down on the top step, the landing, and recover. I could not brush my hair without my arms feeling faint and feeling like I was going to pass out.”
Doctors progressively diagnosed her with one autoimmune disorder after another: ulcerative colitis, Hashimoto’s disease, Raynaud’s disease, chronic fatigue syndrome and a form of POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome). And for each of them, she had an “ist,” a gastroenterologist, a cardiologist, a rheumatologist, an endocrinologist and so on – none of which seemed to be working in concert on her health.
After complaining about a lack of coordination, for a time she was assigned a gateway doctor to round up multiple doctors’ recommendations. But even with that, she knew she needed to be the boss of her own health.
“I needed to be a more active participant in my own healthcare,” she says. “I needed to stop simply following along and I needed to ask more questions and be more proactive.”
Scrutinizing Hidden Food Ingredients
A turning point came when a friend gave her a book on artificial colors. Back then, Mira was already one of the healthiest eaters she knew. She shopped at the farmer’s market, baked her family’s bread, and canned pickles, jams and spaghetti sauces.
“But there were still junky ingredients I was bringing into my house,” she recalls. “I began to do more research after the artificial colors. I realized that there were a lot of hidden sugars in our food and especially high-fructose corn syrup and began to pull that out. And then from there I began to look at some of the preservatives and some of the other additives and it sort of snowballed from there.”
As she cleaned up her diet, she slowly regained her energy and felt less faint. After about a year and a half, she could join back in regular life – helping cook, do laundry and take part in activities with her family.
“As I began to change my diet, I began to get healthier,” she says.
Over time, her diet evolved further. She noticed she felt better on a gluten-free diet and by avoiding most forms of dairy, except for yogurt and grass-fed butter. These days, she refers to her diet as “Mediterranean/paleo-ish.” Her body likes certain legumes and grains such as quinoa and teff.
“I really want to point out to people that we are all bio-individual, and while it’s great to have a dietary theory to work towards, sometimes that doesn’t really work for you,” she stresses. “I’m here to tell you that there is no one dietary plan that fits a hundred percent of the humans on the face of the planet.”
Along with the diet changes, Mira adopted important mind-body practices to keep her stress down.
“We need downtime,” she says. “We need rest time. We need to sleep well. We need to make sure that we’re getting physical exercise. We need to make time for meditation, prayer, journaling, whatever it is that fits that need for you.”
No Symptoms of Autoimmunity
These days, Mira is strong and healthy – and free of former autoimmune symptoms. And a recent checkup confirmed that she had put her ulcerative colitis into remission.
“I had a colonoscopy several months ago and it was, I believe number six in my lifetime, and I am very happy to report that my gastroenterologist told me that I have no symptoms of ulcerative colitis in my colon,” she says.
Mira’s transformative experience led to a major career change. She went back to school to become a board-certified Holistic Health Practitioner and to author the book, The Pantry Principle.
She now helps those with chronic health issues find nourishing solutions for wellness. She can be found online at www.theingredientguru.com and on Instagram.
Mira’s Nutrition Tips for Autoimmunity
- Read food labels – Scrutinize carefully, and for help deciphering ingredients, check out Mira’s book, The Pantry Principle.
- Make one change at a time – Avoid overwhelm with small changes.
- Try gluten-free – She urges people to try going gluten-free for 30 days and then try adding it back. She finds many feel better off gluten. The same goes for other food groups such as dairy or nightshades.
- Keep a food journal – Log what you eat and how you feel afterward and try to spot patterns.
- Watch out for plant gums – Plant gums such as guar gum or carrageenan are used to thicken non-dairy milks, ice creams and other foods. If consumed too frequently, they can irritate the gut.
- Buy in-season foods when possible – Buy foods that are in season locally for you. Otherwise, fruits and vegetables are force-ripened and not as nutritionally complete or delicious (plus are more expensive).
Want to listen to our interview with Mira? Check out her podcast episode here or wherever you get your podcasts.
Check out Mira’s Pantry Preparedness Masterclass (offered occasionally).
If you enjoyed this story, you might also like: Physician Assistant Finds Freedom from Pan Ulcerative Colitis.
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