How I Overcame Obesity — More than Once

Obesity boils down to toxicity. In fact, it’s related to toxic overload with any one or all of the following: environmental pollution, pharmaceutical drugs, toxin-filled food. In addition, gut dysbiosis caused by nutrient-depleted processed foods loaded with toxic pesticides, toxic hormones, and antibiotics fed to food-producing animals plays a key role, as does over-stimulation of toxic cortisol production due to chronic or extreme physical and or emotional stress.

A program glitch inherited epigenetically from a parent or grandparent exposed to toxins can also set one up for obesity and chronic illness. Figuring this out and then learning what to do is difficult. Here are examples from my own experience.

I never had a problem with weight until 1969, when I returned from Switzerland to India to attend Benares Hindu University in the magical ancient temple city then called Benares, and now known again by its old name, Varanasi. I had grown up in India. I was coming home and I was elated. I shared a flat with two American students.

We all ate the same food cooked by a dignified old cook who had learned his trade during the Raj. His food was excellent, the ingredients bought fresh daily in the local markets. Yet, I very quickly packed on about 50 pounds. I was a blimp and miserable. Alcohol, sweets, or high fat foods could not be blamed. Nor could lack of exercise because I went everywhere by bicycle. Indeed, I had been far more sedentary in Zurich where I had also never resisted the temptations of Swiss bakeries. Yet, then I had been slim, healthy, and fit.

In Varanasi, the university was closed shortly after that, due to political upheavals. So in early 1970, I returned to Germany to live with my parents and got a job at the university hospital requiring me to bike to and from work. I also followed my intuition, which never lets me down, and decided on a radical change in diet, which did not include going hungry.

I drank a lot of water, daily ate enormous amounts of fresh asparagus with lots of butter, whatever other vegetables looked inviting, bib lettuce with tomatoes and onions drizzled with oil and vinegar, a lot of cucumbers with cream cheese, lots of fruit, cereals with whole milk, lots of yogurt, the occasional plum cake, and sometimes a piece of chicken. I avoided bread as much as possible.

It is important to remember that in those days in Europe, antibiotics were not fed to food-producing animals and most chickens were free-range; there was no genetically engineered food, virtually no pesticides were used, and everything I ate I bought at the open market in the city. The result was that I lost 40 pounds between March 2 and the end of June. I had met my future husband the previous year in India and we had arranged to meet in Ireland. At Shannon airport he walked right past me because he did not recognize me – he was looking for the blimp of Varanasi!

Toxic Pesticides and Synthetic Premarin

Now I know that I must have gained all that weight so suddenly because Varanasi is surrounded by emerald green rice fields totally saturated in DDT, which wrecked my resident microbiome (reducing its diversity and increasing the presence of less helpful microbiota) and also assaulted my hormonal system. Everything I ate had DDT in it. That sudden weight gain suggested water retention as a defence against being poisoned outright. Dr. Sherry Rogers, the famous environmental medicine physician, tells us “the solution to pollution is dilution.” I also know now that asparagus, onions, and fruit contain prebiotics, and the yogurt was full of healthy probiotics.

My weight remained normal without any effort and two pregnancies until 1977. In 1975 I was diagnosed with endometriosis and the treatment in those days was a total hysterectomy followed by synthetic hormone replacement therapy. Today we know that this disease is primarily caused by DDT to which I had already been exposed during the critical period in adolescence while growing up in India.

My gynecologist then put me on Primarin (synthetic hormone therapy) – one of the most toxic drugs ever invented Big Pharma. Not until the 2000s did it become known that its manufacturer, Wyeth, had already known about its toxicity and carcinogenicity during the clinical trial period before it released the drug for sale, duping the FDA into passing it through doctored data. I gained weight rapidly and hit 200 pounds within a year, yet my food intake or its quality had in no way changed, nor was I sedentary. I was raising 11 children of whom four were preschoolers, two were physically handicapped, one had fetal alcohol syndrome; and the old stone farm we lived in was a 5,000-square-foot daily challenge to keep in order.

I joined the Weight Loss Clinic in downtown Burlington where I was put on a 500 calorie/day diet, had to write down daily everything I ate, and was given an additional exercise regime of walking two kilometres a day. This diet kept me hungry all the time, but instead of losing, I gained weight. My counsellor finally said: “You are lying about your food intake.” This was mortifying and I protested loudly. The clinic’s boss came into our consultation room and started asking, “Do you take any drugs?” I said no, except Premarin. Given that in 1977 nobody knew about Wyeth’s deceptions, this lady’s intuition was astounding. She suggested I reduce the dosage by half. I did just that, lost the weight and returned to normal. One thing was amazing: how much urine I produced as the water retention eased and I returned to normal weight.

Toxic Dental Fillings, Heavy Metal Poisoning

Of course, those were the times when everybody had “silver” tooth fillings – that toxic mercury amalgam that now is rarely used anywhere. It slowly deposits itself throughout the body until a critical point is reached and something snaps. Depending on your medical and nutritional history as well as your genetic endowment, those areas that have taken the most abuse historically are the most likely to break down. All that DDT since age three when I came to India, and the increased mercury deposits contributed in the 1990s to Myasthenia gravis, a neurological illness often referred to as the little sister to Multiple Sclerosis.

Starting around 1994, when I was working on my MA in paleoanthropology at U of T, I began to gain weight again, became increasingly weaker in all muscle action and developed slurred speech. I completed my MA work, just barely, but had to stop working as a teaching assistant at U of T’s Mississauga campus and abandon my PhD plans because of slurred speech, impaired vision, and crippling fatigue.

Through a chance conversation with the then toxicologist of the World Health Organization, Professor Boyd Haley, a world expert on mercury poisoning, I found out that the label of my condition was irrelevant, but that the cause of any neurological disorder should first include checking for heavy metal poisoning, especially mercury, as found mostly in “silver” amalgam fillings and pesticide-loaded food. I subsequently replaced my mercury fillings with non-toxic material (I reported on this in Vitality’s Success Stories in November 2000).

Through a friend, I was referred in 1995 to Dr. Jozef Krop in Mississauga who treated me with the detox protocols taught to members of the American Academy for Environmental Medicine. By then I was confined to my bed or the living room couch. Dr. Krop ordered standard tests which revealed my elevated mercury levels. My levels were so high, I was on my way out from planet Earth. At the same time, Dr. Krop instructed me to eat only organically grown foods to avoid a further influx of toxic pesticides, many of which include heavy metals. Again, down went the weight as the detox regime progressed. I lost 30 pounds in three months and regained my power to speak and move – and peed a lot again as well. Any occasional weight gain since then has been triggered each time by an imbalance of the hormones I am obliged to take exogenously (e.g. estrogen, progesterone, testosterone creams) due to the 1975 total hysterectomy. Ovaries are much better at orchestrating that required balance than a mere human brain. Correcting them always returns me to normal – age-appropriately normal, as I am now close to 70.

The last example comes from one of our adopted kids. I shall call her Diane. She came to us in 1985 after several suicide attempts and was taking the new and trendy anti-depressant Prozac. Nothing was then known about its extreme toxicity nor was it known until the early 2000’s that this antidepressant promotes and increases suicide. Diane was short and fat with pasty skin. One day at breakfast she informed me that she was no longer taking “those pills.” Ignoramus that I was back then I promptly replied, “Are you sure that’s wise?” She said, “Don’t know. But I am not taking them anymore.”  Within a few months she had lost weight dramatically. She became a stunningly lovely petite and went on to have a great professional career and a fulfilling personal life. All that suicidal drama was also gone, and she observed, “What’s amazing is that I am peeing like 10 big bears in spring!”

Helke Ferrie is a medical science writer with a master's degree in physical anthropology. Her specialty lies in investigative research into ethical issues in medicine and the politics of health. She started her investigative journalism career in the mid-1990s, looking at issues of medicine and environment. She has been a regular contributor to Vitality Magazine ever since. Helke has also authored books on various subjects including: "Ending Denial: The Lyme Disease Epidemic", "What Part of No! Don't They Understand: Rescuing Food and Medicine from Government Abuse", and "The Earth's Gift to Medicine".

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