Guest Post – Vanessa Dawn – Health Impacts of Societal Change

My Wheels R’ Spinning…..How many of you have ever bought a car only then to realize or become aware how many others just like it are on the road? Ive caught myself saying, oh look, now that I got my car, there are all kinds just like it. In reality, my awareness level just heightened. I felt the same way this past week while on vacation at the beach! First let me say to anyone reading this…I am in no way insinuating those here are obese etc etc or at fault for their disease. Doing so would be hypocritical of my own self. I am merely pointing out how my observations brought me to a different level of “awareness”. 1st—all I see on tv are beautiful, nearly anorexic sized women glamorizing their thin bodies. I have always tried to teach my girls that its not reality. My week at the beach was a far cry from what we saw on the old show “Baywatch”. I was saddened actually by what I saw. Of how the views have changed drastically from now compared to my first ocean visit at age 14, some 29 years ago!!! Have you heard that 2/3 of America is obese? That is the statistic. According to America’s criteria, obesity is when our BMI (body mass index) is above 28% determined by a height weight ratio. My awareness of this statistic was heightened when i was surrounded by so many people in one place to make the comparison. I observed very few people that would be considered in normal range, & it alarmed me. Especially the population of kids! And yes i include my own family in this observation. Whether it was at the beach or at the amusement parks, I felt surrounded by a new future population of brewing illness. Observing the consumptions of processed drinks, deep fried funnel cakes topped with sugar, corn dogs & then observing the swarms of people going out for that huge dinner at 6 everyday as an activity or treat. Furthermore i was saddened by the obese children I saw “out of breath” easily while attempting to do any exertion such as riding the waves, the parents who sat on the sidelines instead of engaging in activities & those I saw who couldnt ride the rides at the amusement parks or sit in a typical lawn chair simply because of size limitations. To know me is to know that i never meet a stranger which is why i took it upon myself to strike up a conversation with a few that i encountered who appeared to be within normal weight….all of which claimed they worked out regularly! My daughters & I had conversations about how what they were seeing now as the “norm” was not the “norm” 30 years ago. Just looking back at old family photos….everyone was so thin! I personally experienced lots of ridicule & fun poking for my own size growing up & by todays standards was nowhere near overweight. After my trip…i cant help but feel tricked by the food industry or has the human race brought it upon ourselves or have we all been mere participants in the change! This change didnt happen over night. But i feel like it has been a gradual, subtle change over the years & generations that “sneaked” up on us. I grew up on a 100 acre farm in Kentucky. My mom who is almost 80 now prepared everything from scratch. We spent summers raising our gardens, canning, raised & killed our own beef, pigs, deer & raised our own chicken. We were modernized yes. My dad was a mail carrier & my mom stayed home & worked the farm. There were hardly any processed items in our house & never a soft drink. Balogna was probably the worst thing in our fridg & lard was the oil of choice. I never had a riding lawnmower till i was 19! I push mowed several acres each week, rode my bike a lot, only ate out maybe twice a year! Gradually our lands have been tracted out & sold because it earns us more monies in the short term. Our demands for food have been put on our groceries because we arent raising our own. If we are putting this demand in the hands of others then have we really been tricked or have the manufactures been forced by us & greed to resort to GMO’s to produce large quantities to meet our demand? My grandma lived alone & died at age 97 from heart attack. My other grandparents died in their late 80’s of natural age causes…no cancer, no diabetes, no disease other than a lil dementia. I feel like I am a product of a new generation of disease. The cause & the effect! My daughters even noticed how our local Amish community lives, watching the kids push mow the yards, working in the garden etc. When i was young, i didnt have to ask what we were going to do today…because i knew! I was up by 7am…i didnt have phones or computers in my hands all day. I made mud pies, played tennis against the barn with a board & ball, swam in the creeks, played in the rain, had no germ-x….was rarely ever sick! This story like so many others Im sure. Its not all about weight, but about habits, the evolution of change….lost arts of self reliance versus dependence on others, greed etc…so many factors in combination…not just a finger pointing blame game. A societal shift in priorities! To the point I observed road signs threatening imprisonment for littering in a society where child abusers go free! Where animals are often given free surgeries & vet care while humans are homeless, sick, children are without healthcare. A generation taught to live any lifestyle & just get a pill to fix the effects! And another pill to fix the effects of that one & the vicious cycle continues. Where does it end? Where did it begin? If 2/3 of society is obese…and 1/3 to 2/3 have fatty liver…i wonder what is the correlation of the two? With the increasing need of liver transplants, i cant help but wonder if the demand will exceed supply of healthy livers in our future…more so our childrens future? Organic, non GMO food is more expensive, but not near as expensive as the medicines required for disease. I had no choice but to change lifestyle because I could not pay for the $1200 a month of meds when i didnt have coverage! Now I have coverage, and my Xifaxin alone is $1,400 a month!!! It & URSO combined cost my insurance almost 2 grand each month!!! Thats a lot of organic, healthy food! Food scares me now. Medicines scare me now! I am living proof that it can all be toxic & life threatening & have long term effects. 3 Years ago…i was on over 29 pills each day just to fix the thing each pill caused! I was toxic! Crazy! At age 27, i believed them when they said my meds where safe while pregnant, only to have my child born with a form of spina bifida birth defect that will effect her the rest of her life! The same drugs that had adverse effects have also been offered numerous times to my kids despite me explaining how they effected my liver! They insist they are safe! Theres a reason why supplements & herbs arent recommended! They arent regulated! The same humans preparing our food, our meds etc…are preparing our supplements as well. I dont live my life in fear no, but i am choosey now & determined to at least teach my girls better ways. Even if they make other choices, i will have taught them alternatives! Seeing & living with me throughout this journey has indeed been a good teacher for them. Just posting on FB wont help I realize, i do plan to be a more active participant in creating awareness & change in our society. We think our voices dont matter but they do! And our decisions & actions matter more! What we demand creates the fire thats fueled. There are no short term fixes in life, just instant gratification with long term results.
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Inspired by Ignite Culture and Ignite London …Ignite Health!?

I am so impressed that one of my contacts on Twitter created Ignite Culture. She did it by word of mouth and it was hosted successfully in Toronto last month. Now it is getting a headline in London Ontario and being presented April 3, 2012.

I tried to think of something I could add to an Ignite Culture presentation and really came up with a blank. I don’t have any artistic talents, I am the product of a very dysfunctional family and can’t really look back in my family tree to point out any interesting cultural stories.

 My daughter is far more well versed in Culture topics. She is history fanatic, she loves classic movies, she loves the theatre, she sings, she loves to act. All of the things I may have been if my childhood had been remotely normal.

So as I realized that I could not create a topic that was specific to Ignite Culture I had a lightbulb moment.

What if I created Ignite Health! Same format 5 minute topics related to health and wellness. A focussed session that you can attend to learn about the body, alternative medicine and healthy living.

I know it would be popular, I know I have a number of contacts in London already that have dealt with illness in their families or illness in their lives. I know I am meeting incrediible people like Kresimer Jug who would be a great speaker on the benefits of Chiropractory. What if we combined all those skills and all that knowledge to improve everyone’s knowledge of their own bodies and the impacts we inadvertantly have on our bodies with the choices we make in everyday life.

I am inspired and wondering where to start…I will sit down with Jenn Nelson soon to understand how she created Ignite Culture. I will talk to Jennifer Murray and Gavin Blair about Ignite London and see how that was started too.

I think that having 8 – 10 speakers talking for 5 minutes each on an aspect of Healthy living can only improve the health of our community!


Do you agree or do you think this is overkill for another separate Ignite??

Risks of Pregnancy with a Fatty Liver!

I am a strong advocate for people to go to their doctors and have an annual blood test to ensure your liver enzymes are within reasonable levels. I believe in prevention and becoming aware of this epidemic.

Recently in the support group I run on Facebook someone asked  if anyone had gotten pregnant with the fatty liver disease. A few woman had but almost all of them had been warned by their hepatologist that this was a very dangerous thing to do.

1. The risk of giving your baby a fatty liver while in your womb is high. The risk that a healthy baby will also grow up to have a fatty liver is also high.

2. Acute Fatty Liver occurs rarely but it can happen  This is killing women and baby in childbirth and is very scary.

So wow this makes this quiet disease even more important for you to pay attention too. If you are considering getting pregnant , please get a full physical with a test for liver disease. If your result is that you have a fatty liver , you need to take advantage of this organ which can regenerate cells and you can reverse the disease.  here are my suggestions:

1. Reverse the disease by eating lots of green vegetables, lean proteins, a few fruits, a few low glycemic grains, and unsalted nuts for fats.

2. Stop eating processed or fast food.

3. Drink lots of Water, and herbal teas, do not drink soda pop or sugar based juices.

4. Use high quality supplements that are based in scientific proof.

Go for the blood test every 6 months until your liver enzymes are low.

Once your liver enzymes have  been clean for 1 year i would consider risking pregnancy.

It is critical for you and your developing baby that you eat healthy throughout the pregnancy and throughout the time you breastfeed your baby.

You do not want to risk giving your  baby this disease through your body or your breastmilk.

Once you have this baby commit to protecting your child from this disease by staying away from processed foods make your own baby foods or at least buying organic foods from a trusted source. Do not let them eat chicken nuggets, kraft dinner or any other convenient foods. Foods need to be homemade and full of healthy goodness for life!

Please consider this information and share with anyone who might be considering pregnancy. This is important and we need to stop this epidemic now!

How do I fix my Fatty Liver disease?

I have 200 members in a group on facebook who are dealing with non alcoholic fatty liver disease. They range in stages of the disease from very minor with few to no symptoms, to the extreme of swelling (ascites), and constantly being in the hospital.

There are a lot of recommendations for coping with the disease and helping the liver by avoiding certain things: High Fructose Corn Syrup, other sugars, MSG, Trans fats, excess sodium, and deep fried foods. These are the fun foods, they are the social foods, they are comfort foods and everyone has a fond memory associated with one of these no-no’s.

People in the group talk a lot about wanting to get a liver transplant and I understand that desire. This sounds like the perfect answer and relief to serious pain and late stage liver disease. They go through lots of tests and analysis to determine if they are a good candidate for the liver transplant and when they make the list it is a celebration! We are all happy for them and know they are getting a fresh chance at life!

I think the fresh chance at life is really the key message here for liver transplant patients. You can’t go back to the same habits that destroyed your liver in the first place. You can’t go out and celebrate with a beer, chicken wings and nachos and expect that this new liver will be any happier with your choices than your old liver. Those foods and beverages are still toxic. This new liver is vulnerable as it tries to fit in with all of your other organs that have been there the whole time. Those other organs have had to take the extra workload from the compromised liver for all these years and are also going through a bit of a shock!

So here is the point. Those banned foods do not change after a transplant. They are still hurting your liver and your other organs. A transplant is not an invitation to party. Think about driving home your first child. Do you remember how careful that drive home was? I remember bringing home my son Alex and my ex husband driving so incredibly slow, we were both so afraid we would hurt this new baby. Giving the baby the first bath, the first nail clipping. We are super careful and we would never take a newborn baby in an Indy 500 race! Think of your new liver like a new baby. Treat it with the respect and care you would give your child.  

For people who are dealing with Early or Mid stage liver disease my message to you is different. I don’t want you planning your road to your transplant. I want you focussed on helping the liver you were born with. Your goal is not a new liver.

Eating healthy , exercise, use supplements that work for you, that have been approved by your doctor or health care professional. Do everything you can to eat low carb(20 G per day), low sugar (15 g per day), low sodium(1000 mg per day)  with lots of veggies preferably raw!, good healthy proteins, and healthy fats.

Reading labels is something you need to do forever, everyone needs to do this. Everyone needs to wake up to the sad truth that the fun we were having with food is not without a price to pay in our bodies. Short term flushes and detox will not do the trick, quick weightloss will not do the trick, Those things will shock the liver and cause more damage even if they appear to be helping.

I want everyone in their yearly physical to ask to have your liver function tested in your blood test. If your AST or ALT numbers are higher than recommended levels you need to demand a stomach ultrasound to confirm that your liver is compromised.  You may not be dealing with symptoms but this is a huge wake up call that your liver is waving a white flag and begging you to stop what you are doing. Drive away from the drive thru, Back away from the nachos and wings, and just say no to alcohol. Give your liver the break it needs it desperately. Be gentle to your liver, treat is with the respect it deserves.

A liver transplant is meant for people who despite eating properly and following all the guidelines are still not able to get the original liver to function. You have to be healthy and fit, the rest of your organs have to be strong enough to deal with the surgery and the aftercare of preventing rejection of the new liver. Very few of us will make that list and be that strong and healthy. Your goal is to get that way without requiring a transplant.

Taking care of your liver is a life long journey not a short term fix!

NAFLD Hints and Tips for dealing with Liver Disease

You were just diagnosed with NAFLD or NASH and now you are being told to eat healthy and exercise with no direction and a pat on the head. You search the internet and you find so much mixed information but your doctor told you not to worry about it too much.


There is something bothering you, you sense that there might be more to this since you are struggling with exhaustion and stomach aches.


Your liver is one of the hardest working organs in your body. I want you to think of it as a powerful sponge that is absorbing all the food you eat, all the beverages you drink, all the air you breathe,all the drugs or supplements you use, all the products you put on your skin, and everything you touch.


Your liver is an investigator. It will break down everything that it absorbs. It will take the vitamins and minerals that are in your liver and send them to other organs to make them work better. It will take all the toxins and chemicals and send them to the dump to be rejected from your body.


If you are are not overwhelming your liver with too many toxins your liver can do its job and your body will be happy!

Sadly our environment, drug, supplement, skin care, cosmetic manfacturers are generally about making profits and your health is a secondary concern if it is even on their radar.


There is very good news for your liver though. Your liver is the only organ in the body that has its own regeneration factory. Your liver is constantly trying to fix itself. Its like a busy body that can’t take a break no matter how much you warn it that its a workaholic

When its not trying to break down toxins it is replanting a cell, watering it, giving it nutrients and care. The cell needs to be nurtered in order to grow. This is the livers part time job and its a careful balance. Its priority is to break down toxins and nutrients that are being absorbed.


Your fulltime job as someone with liver disease is to support that balance and be kind to your liver.


My job is to share what I have learned that will help you help your liver!



1. Review the drugs and supplements you are taking. Determine which have warnings that they should not be used if you have liver disease and talk to your doctor about coming off them.

2. Do not buy over the counter medications, Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, Cough Medicines, Stomach medicines. They all have to be broken down by the liver and most are proven to have a negative impact on liver.

3. Read supplement labels and make sure ingredients are from nature. They should be top quality and tested scientifically.

4. Use natural cosmetics, natural skin care products.

5. Use natural products to clean house and clothes.

6. Exercise daily – start with walking and build up to include aerobic exercise that you enjoy.

7. Avoid all added sugars and high fructose corn syrup! Fructose is showing itself scientifically as being the main precursor creating this disease.

8. Do not lose weight quickly this can further damage your liver! No more than 2lbs per week!

9. Avoid Genetically modified products. They are not natural and our bodies consider them a foreign toxin for liver to deal with.




You can consider using the following basic supplements daily to improve your immunity and help your liver.


Millk Thistle

Vitamin B complex

Vitamin C

Vitamin E

Quality Pro Biotic

Vitamin D3 1000 mg

Essential Fatty Acids – Omega 3


If you are on Statins you need to supplement with CoQ10


Once a week to boost fat metabolism and energy:





Food and Beverages:


1. Fresh organic vegetables and a few organic fruits. Fruit has lots of natural sugars and if your liver is compromised your intake of fruit should be limited. Lots of Lemon and dark green leafy vegetables.

2. Processed foods should be avoided as a rule. Read labels and look for products that have ingredient lists that you understand.

3. Nuts – Almonds, Walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts all have nutrients and fats that are healthy for live.r peanut butter should be organic try almond butter!. Use Raw organic unsalted nuts!

4. Grains limited – spelt, rye, sprouted grain, Brown rice, brown rice pasta, steel cut oats, air popped popcorn

5. Dairy- Organic greek yogurt, skim milk, organic cheese.

6. Seeds – pumpkin,sunflower.

7. Legumes – chickpeas, beans -not sweetened! Soy not genetically modified!

8. Protein- Lean Chicken,Turkey, Beef, Pork. Nothing with nitrites! Fish – avoid high mercury in Shark, Marlin,Orange Roughy, swordfish, tilefish, Ahi Tuna. Be careful and limit intake of canned albacore or yellowfin tuna, sea bass, grouper and bluefish.


Juicing is a great way to get the raw nutrients that your liver craves.

Low Glycemic Index foods are important to keep balance in your body.

Organic and Gluten free products tend to be natural always read labels.



Try to keep your insulin levels balanced and help your liver as well!


Avoid the following ingredients:



Artifical colour or flavour

Brominated Vegetable oil (BVO)

Corn Syrup



Heptyl Paraben

invert sugar

corn sugar






partially hydrogenated vegetable oil

Monosodium Glutumate



hydrolyzed vegetable protein.

gums for thickening


casein, sodium caseinate


benzoic acid


potassium bromate

propyl gallate




Sodium Chloride

sodium bezoate

sodium nitrite




trans fat


CNN takes notice of Fatty Liver Disease

There it is the article I have been waiting for since 2008. Dr. Michael Curry a hepatologist in Boston admits that 30% of North American have this disease. That is 6 MILLION people in North America. 80% have few or no symptoms, but the key is to find this EARLY. If you find it early you can change your lifestyle to ensure that the liver can regenerate new cells in the liver that are NOT fatty. Children as young as 4 have this disease.

If you are a parent, if you know a parent they NEED TO KNOW that feeding your child yogurt cups, granola bars, kraft dinner, hotdogs, pogo sticks and any other processed foods can overwhelm their liver early. My daughter was impacted by age 11.

Juice boxes, iced tea, sports drinks, pop or soda all add to this count. One of the key problems is High Fructose Corn Syrup, Our livers do not recognize this and treat it like its alcohol . SO essentially if you are eating this stuff or feeding your family these things as far as your liver is concerned you are an alcoholic!

If you do not find this disease early the longer term symptoms are terrible. I have a group on facebook with members who spend a lot of time in hospitals because they need a transplant and are waiting. While they wait they are dealing with extreme complications like muscle cramps, edema, brain changes that cause havoc in their lives and looks like alzheimers to the lay man’s eye.

Please have your blood tested, have an ultrasound if you or someone you love have repeating stomach aches, is overly exhausted, loses their appetite. Those can be early symptoms that are easily ignored. Your liver needs your help and I am writing a book right now that will help you with choosing the right foods for your liver and how to use them. Will be available as an Ebook this summer!

This will be the first in a series of books I will write to help people prevent, identify, deal with symptoms, deal with doctors, and assess supplements and medications that impact your liver.

I am a Fatty Liver Disease Consultant and advocate. I will be speaking, teaching , coaching and advocating for patients of this disease for the rest of my life on behalf of my daughter Megan!

Thank you CNN maybe next time you can make it more visible on your site!

Are you tired and have stomach aches a lot?

There was no way I thought liver disease when my child was complaining of stomach aches, all kids complain of stomach aches. What a great way to get out of going to school. Sometimes she would throw up and I would think it was a stomach flu, she ate something bad or had heat stroke. Never once did I think Liver disease.

She complained she was too tired to help out around the house, I thought she was just being stubborn or lazy. I never thought Liver disease.

She would take forever to get over any cold or flu bug, I thought her immune system was just weak, I filled her with vitamin C, supplements and chicken soup. I never thought liver disease.

She would have trouble sleeping at night, she would toss and turn, never able to get into a restful spot, I tried sleepy music, I tried calming her with words, I tried melatonin and gravol because she always had a tummy ache. I never thought liver disease.

In Fall 2008 ,When the pediatrician finally did an ultrasound of her stomach and had the blood test results he turned to us and said…you have a disease called NASH, go home exercise.and eat better.

I went home happy, I finally had a diagnosis for my daughter, the name of a real disease, she was not making it up!

I went to the internet and typed in NASH. I got a lot of Steve nash sites. Then i found one site that talked about it as liver disease.

I started reading and see that it can be fatal, that there is no cure and that its the 2nd stage of fatty liver disease.

Now I was angry, how could the doctor just turn to us and casually say this, no real direction no real help!

She could have cirrohsis next how close was she to that , I had no idea.

I then started searching for a diet for fatty liver disease. There was nothing. Out of desperation I started a support group on Facebook. Slowly I started getting people joining the group from all over the world. Some old, some young, some skinny , most overweight. Now I know how to deal with living with the disease and thats why I am doing this blog. I want everyone to know about and to start respecting this disease.

This is a global disease, with global ramifications. This is not going away, you cannot hide from it. Doctors are only now starting to research it and most know less than I do after dealing with over 200 people in my group with the disease over the last 3 years. I know the pains, I know the challenges with doctors, I know the ways to alleviate symptoms.

Stomach aches and fatigue are the symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease. 2 years ago it was estimated that 25% of the north american population has this disease. Now in 2011 that estimate is at 30%. Most people are completely unaware that they have the disease or that their child may have the disease.

With the increase in Sodium, preservatives, pesticides, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and other chemicals in our foods our poor liver has no way to break everything down and it starts to give up. It takes this odd unnatural item and it stores it within itself as a fat cell. It doesn’t want to make the other organs try to deal with this intruder in your body. The liver is a martyr , the liver is the hardest working organ in your body. When its compromised the rest of your body has to work harder. When its comprimised you have no choice but to change the way you eat!

The next time you are at the doctors office, the next time you take your child to the pediatrician, ask them to run a blood test to check your liver levels. You need to know if you have this disease as early as possible to avoid the later stages and to avoid more complications.

So do yourself a favor get tested,  join my group on facebook to find people that understand and please share this blog with everyone you love.

Your liver will thank you

Michelle Clermont

Fatty Liver Disease Consultant