This week’s webinar is with Daniela Exley, founder of Beets Pulse & Thyme. She shares her story of illness and how a change in diet and attitude – and cutting out alcohol – made the difference in living with Rheumatoid Arthritis. In Daniela’s own words:
I’m Daniela Exley, a mother to two teens, wife, naturopathic nutritionist, blogger and photographer. My journey into health and wellbeing began when I became very unwell was eventually diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in May 2013.
Initially, my illness was debilitating, I suffered from extreme fatigue and depression, some days I was unable to walk and the joints of my hands were so swollen that I couldn’t pick anything up. At my lowest point, I remember hobbling downstairs to get some breakfast and crying into my bowl of cereals as I couldn’t chew because my jaw was locking up.
The year leading up to my diagnosis was a particularly stressful year in my life, both physically and emotionally. I tried to combat this with an unsupervised intensive exercise regime which would see me doing 2-hour intense cardio and resistance training 4 or 5 times per week on top of heavy alcohol use, smoking and high caffeine intake. Although I prepared home cooked meals, they revolved around red meat, a lot of dairy and refined grains. I also ate quite a lot of sugary treats as a reward for my intensive exercise! Something had to give and in the end, my body couldn’t cope with the huge amounts of acidity and inflammation caused by both the mental and physical stress, on top of my diet and lifestyle. Doctors don’t know what causes autoimmune diseases, but in my case, I can certainly say that this concoction of stresses on my body is what ultimately led to my immune system imbalance.
There were two factors which worried me the most at the time of my Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosis: firstly was the worry that I wouldn’t be able to be active with my kids who were then 8 and 7, take them swimming, kick a ball or even go out for walks as my feet hurt so badly. Secondly, I worried that I might not be able to carry on with my work which was then as a professional photographer, as at the time I couldn’t even hold my camera. The motivation was definitely there; I had to get better! The doctors I saw after my diagnosis encouraged me to take various highly toxic drugs to suppress the immune system and relieve the symptoms of RA. They told me that if I didn’t take the medication I’d be in a wheelchair within 5 years!
Although medication is the only path for a lot of people, I instinctively felt that it wasn’t the path for me. Overnight I decided to change the way I eat and cleanse my body. I immediately took out gluten, meat, dairy, alcohol and caffeine, and noticed vast improvements in my symptoms within a couple of months. Looking on the internet for information can be really confusing and often contradictory. What I really wanted to understand was the inner workings of the human body truly and deeply. I enrolled at the College of Naturopathic Medicine to study Naturopathic Nutrition in October 2013, now a fully qualified and registered Naturopathic Nutritionist.
Over the years I have had lapses, especially on holiday or during the festive season… However, after a few setbacks, I now fully manage my disease through a number of modalities, food and diet being the primary base. I don’t take any drugs, and I feel healthier and happier than ever before. I follow a well balanced whole food diet high in plant foods, wild oily fish, bone broths, eggs, fermented foods, nuts and seeds and occasionally gluten-free grains. I feel very positive about what I’ve achieved so far as I don’t feel that the disease is progressing, my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are under control and I live a pain-free life.
The best thing that’s come out from what could have been a negative life experience is that I now get to support others take their health into their own hand and overcome their systemic imbalanced through the 28 Day Mind & Body Reset and our Deep Connect Nature Retreats. At its core, The Reset is a cleanse program, which looks beyond the faddy ‘detox diet’, working from the root of imbalance to nurture and gently heal. The focus on Gut Health, Blood Sugar Balance, Lymphatic & Skin Health and Hormonal Balance, as well as addressing mindset and emotional health ensures my clients achieve and sustain their desired results.
The Retreats in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania are designed to open a space for people to uncoil, release and deeply connect with nature, themselves and others. We provide nutritionally balanced meals, mountain walks, bathing in hot thermal springs, therapeutic massages and informative workshops among much love and laughter.