31 Days – When You Eat Healthy But Still Get Sick


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I’ve been battling strep throat since Tuesday. 2013 has been a bad year in our house for strep. Just 2 months prior, I had the worst case of strep I have ever had, and I’ve had it a lot, and Syd suffered 4 bouts of it in just 4 months time.

Strep is a frustrating thing, because it comes on suddenly without warning or any chance to try and fight it with rest and fluids, like you may be able to do with a common cold or other mild illness. And because the complications with repeated strep exposure can be severe, although very rare, doctors almost always recommend antibiotics for it. When Syd suffered from his 4th case of strep earlier in August, I wasn’t very reassured when I left our exam room to use the bathroom, only to find the doctor he was seeing, hunched over a huge medical book, asking for advice on what antibiotic to prescribe this time. I was reminded that it’s called practicing medicine for a reason; even the doctors get stumped and don’t always have the answer.

For Syd, we’ve decided that our first proactive approach to fighting off infection is to get his tonsils and adenoids removed on November 1st. With a quick glance by the ENT we saw earlier this month, she immediately could see they were huge and swollen, from repeated illnesses.

For myself though, and this round of strep, I’ve decided to try and treat it naturally. The more research I do into repeated antibiotics exposure, especially to illnesses like strep, the more concerned I’ve become that I’m stripping away my body’s natural antibodies to try and fight off this thing on its own. So far I’ve tried to combat this naturally by trying oil pulling, gargling with cayenne pepper, taking Vitamin C, probiotics, and I’ve dug into a leftover stash of my placenta pills. I’ve also been drinking a tea concoction of lemon, ginger, coconut oil and raw honey, with a shot of whiskey added in at night, and it definitely helps to soothe my throat for a bit. I’ve also pretty much stayed in bed, or down on the couch as much as possible, and with the help of my dad and my husband who has been coming home at a decent time and taking over, the extra bed rest is helpful. While the results have not been as rapid as when I take antibiotics, I am definitely feeling an improvement in my symptoms with each passing day.

I’m not naive or stupid, and if the symptoms persist for a couple of more days I’ll go in and see what we can do. But I’m going to advocate for more tests this time, to see what the hell is going on. Each time we’ve seen a doctor this year, they’ve all hinted that we may be strep carriers, but when I ask how we officially get tested to confirm this, they all sort of brush it off and give a dismissive answer, claiming they don’t really test for it anymore, and let’s just see how you respond to this round of antibiotics. It’s frustrating to say the least.

Even more frustrating is that since altering our diet, I’ve contracted this 2 times now. One of the biggest benefits I was hoping to gain from eating more whole foods, ditching processed foods and refined sugars, and switching to clean meats, is to feel better and keep my body healthy. I’m trying to stay positive, but it feels pretty depressing to put all this work, not to mention money, into changing our way of life, only to reap the same shitty outcomes. Granted, the rest of the time I’m not sick, I’m feeling pretty great, but I feel bad enough right now that I’m finding it pretty easy to forget the good times and focus just on the negative.

From every thing I’ve read and every search I’ve done, the best ways to help your immune system stay strong is to get plenty of rest, something I have a hard time doing, and to eliminate stress as much as possible. Beyond that, exercise and sex are supposed to be great immune boosters, and then rounding out the health equation with a balanced diet. While our diets may be on track, we can always do better in the other departments, and my husband would agree, especially to the s-e-x part, although what man wouldn’t?

While we may want to use one thing as an easy fix and cure-all, in times like this I’m reminded that in life, there are no easy fixes, especially when it comes to internal health. I may be down and out right now, but I’m not discouraged and will keep on keeping on.

In the meantime, I’ll keep trying any remedies you can throw at me, and furthermore, if anyone has any advice on keeping Syd healthy through all of this, I would appreciate feedback. It is especially crucial he stays well because he cannot take any meds 2 weeks before his surgery on November 1st. If he gets strep again before then, I would of course get the poor kid on antibiotics, but then we’d have to push back his surgery further into cold & flu season and the holidays.

When I’m able to sit at the computer for more than 20 minutes, I’ll post our meal plans for last week along with recipes too. Thanks for your understanding.

photo credit

Andrea is the founder of For The Love Of, a lifestyle blog dedicated to approachable, modern living. She writes about style, her love of DIY, and living a healthier life through wholesome, nutritious cooking. She is also a regular contributor at Babble. Get in touch: Facebook, Twitter You can find Andrea on Instagram @andreavhowe and @gwynethmademedoit

  • KateB says:

    Good food can’t combat exposure to illness. You seem so much happier and healthier 95% of the time and you can’t ask for more than that. Keep it up, girl. You are inspiring so many of us with your journey. Don’t let the germ bastards get you down!

  • Danielle says:

    I don’t have any helpful advice to offer – just cheering you on to hang in there!!

  • Jessica says:

    Oh, strep is no fun. Kids with strep is even less fun. Hang in there!

  • Margaret says:

    Ugh, strep is the worst. So sorry for you and Syd! If it helps at all, I went through the exact same thing when I was his age — strep almost constantly over a period of 6 months, finally got my tonsils out, and then never had a problem after that. Fingers crossed surgery works as well for him! And hopefully once he can kick it, it’ll make it easier for you to stay healthy, too. I agree with KateB: Good diet can only take you so far when you’re talking about contagious bacteria, so don’t get discouraged if you end up having to treat it the conventional (antibiotic) way! Hope you both are on your way to feeling better soon…

  • Antibiotics make healing time faster. If the natural route is the way you want to go, just know it takes longer. We all want quick fixes, but that is not always the case. I am constantly disinfecting the house so no one gets sick. I believe that no matter how well we care for our bodies, we are always susceptible to bugs now and again. I would keep questioning the doctor about being a strep carrier. Maybe go and see a homeopath.

  • Sarah says:

    My 80 year old Czech grandmother swears by apple cider vinegar for treating any sore throat. She makes me drink (sip-but quickly) 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and then follow up with lemon tea.
    Hope you feel better!

  • joanne says:

    I recommend seeing a naturopath. We can’t be experts in everything, so it’s best to consult with one. They will take account of your whole person and recommend a specific plan of herbs and/or vitamins, acupuncture, etc. Our family has had a really good experience with our naturopath. As much as I love learning about and using herbs on myself for nutrition, I don’t have the experience to get the specific plants or dosing right for acute illnesses.

  • I applaud all the work you’ve done on your health this year, but don’t be so hard on yourself. Bacteria and viruses are nondiscriminating — they will choose anyone and everyone to infect.

    Also, natural remedies are great for some things, but keep in mind that modern medicine exists for a reason. Imagine if you didn’t have the option to pick up antibiotics. Reason No. 5,493 I wouldn’t have wanted to live in the 1800s. :-\

  • Sorry you’re under the weather, friend. Sending you healthy thoughts and praying!

  • sharon says:

    Feel better soon! My son had his tonsils out a few months before his fourth birthday due to chronic inflammation and illness. BEST thing we’ve ever done for him. It’s been almost two years and he hasn’t been on antibiotics since. Not to mention he’s sleeping better and has grown like a weed. Best of luck

  • I second the suggestion of seeing a naturopath — or a doctor of Chinese medicine. Good ones are able to identify causes and treat accordingly. I’ve had luck seeing alt practitioners for problems no MD could help me with. I hope you can get to the bottom of it soon and that you both feel better!

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