Health is wealth

I’ve previously used this blog to explain that I was being plagued by some sort of mystery illness that I couldn’t quite figure out. It’s been affecting me for YEARS.

Prior to COVID, I spent nearly five years going to specialists of all different types. I seemed to be in the doctor’s office, or the emergency room, once a month, and no one would/could pinpoint what was wrong with me. I multiple allergy spectrum tests done, I was tested for 15 different auto-immune conditions, even had a biopsy done. I saw an ear, nose and throat specialist who shoved a camera in through my nose and throat (not the same camera) down to my stomach. I had cat scans, ultrasounds, and cervical examinations. I was screened for cancer at one point.

I avoided foods that I was told I was allergic to, but beyond that, I still felt like shit. I felt like shit and all of my tests were coming back normal. No one could figure it out.

Through that time I was on antibiotic after antibiotic, steroid after steroid, and so much medication that I can’t even begin to tell you.

I saw a doctor who told me that I have Crohn’s Disease shortly before COVID became quite bad in Canada. Though I did not have the symptoms of it, he’d decided that was the case and he offered me advice of what to eat and what not to eat and told me to ‘just deal with it’.

I’m pretty sure he thought I had munchausen.

I saw another doctor about two weeks later who told me it was just IBS and if I stopped eating fast food, I’d be fine.

I’m pretty sure he just wanted me out of his office so he could go home for the day.

I always knew that whatever was happening was related to food. Despite avoiding the foods that I was told I was allergic to (from the allergy testing), I was still having severe reactions to food, every day… some days multiple times per day. I knew it was food, though. I knew it was food because if I didn’t eat, I wouldn’t have symptoms. I was fine. Hungry, but fine.

I kept a food journal for years.

Every time I look at what caused me to have these massive, at times violent, reactions, I could never connect it. It was always random foods. There were days I just felt as though I couldn’t eat anything because everything was making me sick.

If I ate something that my body didn’t agree with, I would bloat to the point where I looked 6 months pregnant. My throat, sinsuses and ears would swell to the extent that it became difficult to breathe (why I wound up at the doctor or hospital so much). For someone who never had acne as a teenager, by the time I reached my late 20’s, I was covered in acne. My body was in a constant, consistent state of inflammation and I didn’t know what to do about it. I just felt gross/bad/sick all of the time. I was always tired and I didn’t know why. I was deficient in so many vitamins and I didn’t know why. Someone could touch me and my body would bruise. I could touch myself and my body would bruise. No one could figure out why.

Well…

Earlier this year I learned that I’m allergic to pork.

Earlier this year I also learned the extent to which pork is in just about fucking everything.

For context, gelatin is most often (not always, but most often) made from pork. Gelatin is used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics; as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings (such as Jell-O); in candies, marshmallows, cakes, ice cream, and yogurts; on photographic film; and in vitamins as a coating and as capsules, and it is sometimes used to assist in “clearing” wines. 

Furthermore, most bread that is purchased from the store and even bakeries, are made using a dough conditioner called L-cysteine which are certain proteins gathered from the hair and follicles of pigs.

A lot of cheeses are “thickened” in the process of being made with pork enzymes.

A lot of shelf-stable peanut butters contain gelatin that is pork derived.

Vitamins and pain-killers (Motrin, Tylenol, etc) that are made in the gel-cap formulas are all made with pork derivatives for the gelatin caps. When my body was inflamed, I was taking Motrin gel-caps to help with the pain, not realizing the gel-cap itself was contributing to my pain.

A lot of baked goods – cookies, croissants, brownies, etc… use something called sodium stearoyl lactylate. Sodium stearoyl lactylate is a cheap ingredient used to increase the shelf life of food products because it keeps mold away. PRESERVATIVES CONTAIN PORK.

This is just a few of the things I’ve discovered beyond the obvious – don’t eat bacon, ham or sausage.

Freaking protein bars have pork protein in them.

So, what did I do? Once I came to the realization this could be an allergy, I cut it from my diet completely. I became even more of a hawk for reading labels then I ever was before. I’ve learned the 40+ different things that a company can put on a label that’s code for pork derivatives, and if something was/is fishy, I call or email the company. I switched to eating Halal meat products. I haven’t had anything with pork in a long time.

I stopped taking gel-caps pills and vitamins. You know, Motrin actually works for me now when I need it.

I am stupidly, disturbingly happy to admit that I feel the healthiest I have in ten years. My body has moved away from the state of feeling constantly inflamed and I feel like a normal person. My throat, sinuses and ears have stopped swelling, my skin has completely cleared up. I feel awake and alive. I can digest food without wanting to throw up. I can breathe properly. I sleep properly at night. I just feel like a whole new person.

I have to schedule some blood-work at some point this summer. Now that I know what it is/was that was causing me so many issues, I want it officially confirmed for my medical records. With the amount of pork that’s used in medication (pork and eggs are used as base ingredients for some medicines, which is why people with egg allergies can’t have certain medications), if I ever get sick or injured in the future, I don’t want to be prescribed medication that’s just going to make more sick.

I feel so normal (from a physical health perspective). This feeling has been a long time coming.

I can’t even begin to explain how good that feels.

92 thoughts on “Health is wealth

  1. I deleted my first thought lol. Let me just say congratulations! You did what no doctor could do . But you didn’t say , how did you know it was the pork ? I’m beyond thrilled that you’re feeling so great! I’m also shocked that pork is in so many things! That’s insane.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. I was sharing a breakfast with my nephew (Harry’s older brother) after Harry went to the hospital. We ordered scrambled eggs and bacon and the little bugger wanted all of the eggs and wouldn’t touch the bacon. I ended up driving that day, and all I had was two pieces of bacon the whole day… realizing I felt like shit with only two pieces of bacon in my stomach, I began testing what happened if I ate bacon and if I didn’t. Then I branched out to ham. Then I branched I did some research about pork allergies, and learned realized that all of these foods that made me feel awful that I thought had no common factor, did. I did one full month without anything that had pork derivatives and felt great. Tested it one day and immediately felt like shit again, all of the symptoms came back with one small portion. So, knowing what I’d done I went to get it confirmed.

      Liked by 14 people

      1. Good for you . My friend has a beef allergy that resulted from Lyme disease . I wonder if pork allergies will become more common. Just thinking out loud.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. I’ve heard beef allergies are super rare still too, even though they’re becoming more known. I’m sure people thought your friend was crazy in the beginning.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Pork is one of the cheapest animal byproducts to come by. There are companies that use bovine (beef) sources for gelatin or additives, but I’ve noticed those products are often the more expensive options on the shelf. Which, never would’ve thought of prior to discovering all of this.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. You don’t need to explain to me because everything you’ve said, I have experienced all my life. No one took seriously that I felt so unwell, so exhausted. I was obviously just lazy, a shirker (far from true, in fact). I have now met a doctor who believes me and may get to the bottom of my problems…but pork…good grief, I had no idea. The smell of bacon makes me want to puke and I have been veg for over 30 years but I guess pork is like sugar which is also in everything. How to avoid it? Have you heard of burning mouth syndrome? I have that too. Yes, I know how you feel and I am so happy for you! Really, really happy for you. People shouldn’t have to go through this.

    Liked by 8 people

      1. Literally…your mouth feels as if it’s on fire…around mouth feels like the worst sunburn, throat, tongue….it’s different for everyone and no one knows what causes it…I thought it was just me but then I discovered it’s an actual syndrome…they have known about it since 1932….not nice!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I am happy that you are finally diagnosing what has been causing you so much grief V!
    Food allergies are real and I have learned that I am allergic to “tree nuts”, not peanuts. I use to suffer severe migraines. It was a matter of elimination for me to find what the trouble was. I haven’t had a severe migraine in a year or better.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Ooof, I’ve heard tree nuts can wreak serious havoc when you’re allergic. Glad to hear that you were able to figure that out and that you’re migraine free. Migraines are not fun.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. “most bread that is purchased from the store and even bakeries, are made using a dough conditioner called L-cysteine which are certain proteins gathered from the hair and follicles of pigs.”
    I’ll never stop wondering how on Earth humans thought these things up/discovered them!!??
    Have you suffered from eczema too? Well done to you for holistically working out a part of the puzzle!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Btw whenever I’ve been on a vegan/vegetarian diet, I always knew it was virtually impossible to be literally vegan/vegetarian, but only ethically so. It’s ridiculous. There’s no way I could scrutinise everything for obscure ingredients like this, unless I had some stronger motivation like an allergy.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I honestly don’t know how this shit comes about. Who thinks ‘Let’s put some pig follicles in the bread dough to keep it from molding as fast’? Human beings are crazy. But, as I learn more and more about the extent of what’s in processed foods that I’ve never paid attention too before, it makes me want to make more and more things myself and not purchase already made food.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, with respect to vitamins, I’m not taking them unless the bottle explicitly states Vegetarian or Vegan! I had no idea that there was pork derivatives in vitamins. That’s crazy!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. WOW that is crazy!! How did you eventually figure it out?
    I’m going through something similar, though my symptoms aren’t as severe as yours. I think I’ve narrowed it down to having a nightshade allergy (garlic, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, etc) but apparently my allergist has never heard of such a thing. Sweet cheese.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. STACY! I went through the night shade allergy testing in early 2019. IT’S A THING! It’s totally a thing. I did night-shade testing and sulfite testing in January and February of 2019. I completely know what you’re going through!

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  6. Glad to read that you found what was going on with your body, as well as the “cure,” i.e. change in lifestyle to resolve this issue. Food allergies can range from mild annoyance to potential death, and they should never be taken lightly. I’m blessed that I have no known food allergies (although I do have sensitivities to, for example, caffeine and dairy), and I can’t imagine not being able to eat certain foods if I had severe allergies. Good thing you managed to turn your life around with a change in eating habits– hope this keeps up!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re so right – allergies come on quite the spectrum. Some people have horrible side effects and some people barely notice it. You mentioned caffeine sensitivity – I’m not sure how sensitive you are too it, but I know some people when they have caffeine, their heart races so fast they say they feel like they’re having a heart attack because their heart is in overdrive. Things have the propensity to affect everyone so differently!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m so happy you’ve gotten to the bottom of your sensitivities V! Phew, what a relief this is for you. I spend so much time reading labels because ingredients matter! Here’s to more wealth within your health my friend ❤

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Yes ma’am, my partner jokes around with me when we’re in stores because he knows I take the time to read which makes shopping slow but for health sake it’s a non negotiable 😊

        Liked by 2 people

  8. When you said Munchhausen I like to died laughing not due to the situation, but that one sentence was poignant because my body literally came to a standstill for 6 months and because they couldn’t find the answer to my pain (no chronic fatigue syndrome, no fibromyalgia) and no explanation for me falling asleep on the spot (narcolepsy) they deemed me the same. Nevertheless I chose to believe that THEY are not God and it’s not my fault that they have a God complex. I healed mostly and I’m glad that you were able to get down to the source of your issues without giving up on yourself.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Wow. I am so glad you were able to get to the bottom of what is/was/continues to affect you. You’re so right, doctors don’t always get it right. Doctors don’t always know. And some of them (not all of them, but largely the more vocal ones), they really do operate with a god complex.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. I’m so pleased you have found out what it is. And even by cutting food groups out it would have been hard, given as you say that there’s pork protein etc. in so many products. Fingers crossed it’ll be confirmed officially for you as well.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Cutting food groups was so hard! I’ve always been lactose intolerant, and I have celiac disease, so when I started cutting out food groups, it made it feel as though I couldn’t eat anything at all. Now that I know what it is, I have been able to add foods back into my life again. It’s a good feeling.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I noticed that when I turned pescatarian, my stomach was so much happier! I didn’t realise it wasn’t normal to get stomach pains after eating. It’s so much better standing in your power with knowledge. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Pork proteins are traditionally used in gel-caps. Some gel-caps are made with beef protein, but if you’re questioning it, don’t be alarmed, just read the labels! The gel-caps are made with gelatin, and here in North America at least, gel caps are traditionally made with pork derivatives. Not sure what might be common practice in your part of the world so it’s best to check!

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  10. True…health is what matters most…every body responds to food differently…the earlier one finds what he or she is allergic to ,the better. But it’s not easy to find.
    Good you found what the body was not accepting.
    Stay blessed always
    🌹🌹🙏

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It was really surprising when I learned that it could/was in so much.
      I never would’ve thought there’d be pork derivatives in Peanut Butter.
      It’s crazy!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank You! Yes, there is pork products in a lot of processed foods and medications. I’m so glad I was able to finally figure it out.

      Like

  11. Congrats on taking your health into your own hands! Your story is one of so many and I’m thrilled you sorted it all out and feel your best.
    I’ve had My own struggles with allergies and food along with some family members and it just makes you feel so helpless when you can’t get to the root of something that is making you feel so terrible.
    It’s stories like yours and mine that inspired me to become a nutritionist and try to heal with food, and try to help educate on labels and ingredients because it truly is shocking when you start to do the research.
    Thank you for sharing your story

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’s incredible that you were so motivated to help that you became a nutritionist. Thank you for sharing. I bet you’ve been able to help a lot of people.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the wishes of health! Yes, I’m definitely going to be an advocate for everyone in my life to read labels very closely from now on. Every time I had a headache and I took a tylenol gel cap, I was consuming the very product that’d given me a headache to start with.

      It’s crazy because now that I know, I can never go back. Reading labels will become who I am!

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  12. 😳🥺😱 so glad that you troubleshooted your own and was able to nail down the root of your allergic reactions rather than continue with the frustrating-repeated-and-no-results visits to the medical specialists. So happy for you, V.
    My daughter and I are also going through similar issues and can relate to the endless frustrations. Thanks for the spill on gel caps. I’m going to avoid then too. This is worth sharing with all. What a relief!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through with yourself and your daughter. I’m sure it’s all too frustrating! Keep up and keep standing up for yourself. Don’t give up. You deserve to feel like your healthiest self, so I hope you guys get to the bottom of it. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Afterall pork is haram for a reason. Alongwith alcohol, these are extremely unhealthy food choices. I’m glad that you’ve accomplished so much in your life. And that you’re living a healthy life now. Best wishes❤

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Wow! Absolutely mind blowing. This was so interesting. Thank you for sharing. I am so happy you feel good again! Btw, my roommate has what used to be called munchausens. It is now called factitious disorder imposed on self or factitious disorder imposed on others. That last one used to be called munchausens by proxy. Yeah, my roommate makes herself sick. The hospital is her happy place. So, be happy that you are you and not her. Good luck. Keep getting better.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. So happy for you, struggling with an invisible ailment is awful.
    I cannot believe how many foods contain pork! I cut pork years ago so I actually feel sick thinking of how much I still ingest. It has always made me feel queasy after eating. Glad you feel better, that’s what counts 💚

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m so sorry that you resonated with the story. It really sucks when you know something is wrong with you and you don’t know what it is.

      Like

  16. Wow, thanks so much for your informative post (just getting to it now unfortunately).. My friend is going through something similar.. I think for her it’s just skin related.. Her face and body gets inflamed and red like she’s having an allergic reaction… She’s done multiple tests and is waiting for results…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This is such a familiar story for me too! I’ve had a mystery illness for about 9 years and we still don’t know what’s wrong. I’ve just cut out meat completely and am praying it helps. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  18. Firstly, thank you for sharing this with me (and the world ofc). Your health journey is shedding light on alot of issues. Like the misleading ways food company’s mask harmful or irregular ingredients (pork in cheese, wine, and medication!? Oh hell no!) I’m happy to hear that you’re feeling better and I’m glad your health condition has improved. It’s a shame you weren’t able to receive the help you sought for so long. Going doctor after doctor and receiving misdiagnose after misdiagnose must’ve been alot for you. The good news is now, because of you, other people can avoid making the same mistakes. And at least I will be alot more careful when buying food for me and my family. Thank you for sharing

    Like

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