The Case Study of Jean: Fatigue, Brain Fog, and Food Intolerance

 Jean is an eighteen year old who just graduated high school and is headed off to college. She always seems tired, but attributes it to her heavy school load and on-campus job. She is very active and works out regularly. On occasion, she experiences digestive upset when consuming ice cream on an empty stomach. When it happened in her teen years, she chalked it up to something wrong with the ice cream or blamed it on an empty stomach. As she continues on in college, she gets married and adds the duties of a wife and homemaker onto her plate. She is going to school full-time still and is always so exhausted. She goes to bed by nine or ten o’clock every night and gets at least eight hours of sleep. She wakes up so tired, like she has not slept and pushes herself through the day. She takes a nap between classes just to make it through. This chronic fatigue is once again blamed on going to school fulltime and doing so many things at once. At this time, she is still working out daily and eats a somewhat balanced diet. She and her husband do eat out a lot because it is just the two of them. Jean feels that this is just part of life and she will just have to deal with the fatigue. She mentions that along with the fatigue she experiences brain fog. She doesn’t seem to always think clearly and her brain feels tired. Fast-forward a couple of years to age 22. Jean contacts a naturopathic doctor, referred to her by a family member, who does a hair analysis test. The test results show many vitamins, mineral, and hormones that are deficient or not working as they should.  Shortly thereafter she finds out that she is pregnant. Her symptoms do not seem to be worse during this time. Her energy level is just as bad, but now, according to her, it is because of full-time school and being pregnant. There is always a reason why she is tired. She believes it is a normal way of life and everyone else must be going through the same thing. Her baby is born and because of the late nights and middle of the night feedings, her health begins to suffer. She just wants to sleep. Her mood and attitude start to suffer and the brain fog continues.  Fast-forward five more years and additional health problems begin to arise. Now she has two kids and is busy taking care of them. Skin issues start and Jean develops a mysterious itchy rash above her eye that the doctor can not diagnose. She gets a yeast like rash on her ring finger, possibly from staying wet where her ring sits. She also develops an itchy scaly rash on her scalp. She goes to her doctor who diagnoses it as psoriasis and prescribes a special shampoo to use to help dry it up. Her female hormones also start to cause problems. Her menstrual period is out of routine and her sex drive has diminished. She also complains of frequent headaches and deals with constipation.  In a desperate attempt to find out what is wrong with her and why she is always tired, she consults a family member who recommends reading “The Hormone Diet” by Natasha Turner N.D. Upon reading this book, Jean decides to do the food detox plan that is recommended in the book. It said to cut out the main foods that can cause a food allergies/intolerances for ten days. Corn, red meat, wheat, dairy, nuts, etc., were eliminated for ten days and on day eleven one of these foods were introduced back into the diet. If any reactions or symptoms were experienced, then most likely that was your food intolerance.  During the food detox, Jean discovered she was intolerant to gluten. She started to feel somewhat better after eliminating it from her daily diet, but something was still not right. After she would eat certain things such as cottage cheese or yogurt, her stomach would get nauseous and a headache would arise. She felt maybe she had missed an intolerance while doing the food detox plan. She decided to try it again for two weeks. Sure enough, dairy was her other intolerance. Upon removing dairy from her diet, she began to feel like a totally different person. She even lost nine pounds, which was an added bonus, since her weight had started to creep up for no apparent reason. She found out later on, this is a symptom of food intolerance.  For the first time in nine years she had energy again and did not feel like she needed to constantly sleep. Her eyes did not look so tired either. Her headaches started to diminish and her digestion improved as well. She no longer dealt with nausea after eating and her psoriasis went into remission. Her mysterious skin conditions cleared up as well. Her hormones began to correct themselves, but she also used bio identical hormone cream to help in that process.  Jean felt like a totally different person but wondered what to do now. What was there for her to eat? She went through about a year of self-pity and trying to research and learn all that she could about gluten and dairy intolerance. At the time, there were not many options to choose from at the stores. Instead she had to do without most alternatives to the “normal” food that everyone else was eating.  She has now been gluten and dairy free for the past five years and experiences great health overall. Many times food intolerance can disappear over time, but resurface when the problem food is reintroduced. This is the case for Jean. She can tolerate very small amounts once in a while, but her symptoms come back with a vengeance if she has too much. She experiences major fatigue, nausea, digestive upset, headaches, and brain fog that all start 48 hours after ingestion and lasts for three days until it is out of her system. She feels it is not worth the misery so she avoids the trigger foods.  Jean has read that leaky gut may be the issue and the key to underlying food intolerances. She is going to explore further and find natural ways to continue on the road to recovery and health.

The above case study is just one example of someone who had undetected food intolerances for many years and as a result started developing chronic illnesses, such as debilitating fatigue, psoriasis, and hormonal issues. There is no doubt that many more conditions would have resulted and her health would be in a downward spiral, if she had not removed the problem foods. This case study is proof to back up the thesis that food intolerances can cause chronic problems, but the very same conditions can be reversed when the food intolerance is addressed.

(Excerpt from my thesis called Undetected Food Sensitivities.. The Hidden Culprit of Chronic Illnesses)

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