Discovering the Importance of Gut Health – Hometown Focus

Becky Kuusisto is pictured here with her children, Johnnie and Gaige Waldvogel. Photo submitted.

VIRGINIA — Some people would describe Becky Kuusisto as a picky eater. Ask her if she is, and she’ll describe herself as a “peculiar” eater.

Kuusisto, human resources manager at the Range Mental Health Center, follows a Keto diet by choice. In fact, it’s his daily lifeline.

Flashback to 2011: Kuusisto was in an abusive marriage at home, while raising two children. This abuse had been going on for about five years.

“I lived in a constant state of flight or fight,” Kuusisto recalls. “Towards the end of that relationship, I started to develop massive hives which created physical problems. I wasn’t allergic to anything, but I was becoming anaphylactic and my tongue was swollen so much I couldn’t breathe.

Kuusisto sought help from the local ER for chronic hives several times, but the remedies and answers pointed to him.

“I’ve been to the ER so many times, and they kept telling me I was doing this to myself,” she said. “It was so disheartening that I didn’t want to ask for help anymore. I couldn’t understand why doctors couldn’t understand what was happening to me.

Her ailments continued, resulting in the removal of her gallbladder as well. It was of little help.

Kuusisto then self-referred to the Mayo Clinic, but she took advice from her mother before making the trip to Rochester. Her mother suggested we talk to a woman about natural healing.

“I told my mom I wasn’t sure, but at this point I was willing to try anything,” Kuusisto said. “I could feel myself dying. I could feel my body shutting down continuously.

By then she had left her marriage, and she and her children – aged 11 and 12 at the time – were living with her mother. She was also working full time, while battling a physical illness.

Before going to Mayo, Kuusisto met with the classic homeopathic nurse suggested by his mother.

“My first visit lasted three hours and it was so intense,” she recalls. “We really had to go back to the beginning of my birth. She would ask me questions about my mother’s labour, delivery and pregnancy. She asked about the phases of development from day 1 to present life.

At the end of the visit, the RN looked at Kuusisto and said she wasn’t sure she could stop him from dying.

“She said, ‘I don’t know if I can help you,'” she recalled. “‘I think you may have gone too far, and I worry about that.'”

Beyond despair, Kuusisto collapsed, begged and begged the RN. She has sworn to do whatever it takes to remain the parent of her children. The RN agreed to take her.

They started with basic food.

Kuusisto physically reacted to many foods and was unable to digest much. Her food options have become very limited. The registered nurse gave her a remedy that slowly made her feel better.

“I had also seen an endocrinologist and a cardiologist — you name it, I had,” she said. “And I couldn’t find any relief.”

Homeopathy seemed to work. They started peeling off the layers of Kuusisto. She then traveled to Mayo, where she sought a medical diagnosis to help her fully pinpoint what was happening to her. The hope was that medical science and homeopathy would work in tandem.

Kuusisto underwent heavy Mayo allergy testing, all of which previous tests had come back negative. Testing there gave the same results.

“During that time, I was continually saying that I’m really sensitive to most foods,” she said. “I knew that when I ate foods high in allergens, I had a really bad reaction. So we did a lot of elimination diets throughout that time. It was more about paying attention to my body and really, really learning about myself.

Kuusisto had been testing his thyroid for years due to common thyroid issues in the family. Tests over the years have returned to within normal limits. While in Mayo, doctors took panels and performed additional tests with his thyroid, which led to a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease.

“There was nothing wrong with my thyroid, but it had fallen victim to antibodies attacking it,” she explained. “With this they wanted to put me on medication, but throughout this process they threw medicine at me which made me even sicker. So, I was really scared to take any type of medicine.

She estimates that she had taken at least 20 different medications at the start of her battle and had cleared them to zero through homeopathy by the time she reached Mayo.

Kuusisto returned to her RN with Mayo’s results. They were on the right track.

“And that’s when things really started to change: knowing the diagnosis, Mayo wanted me to follow up with an endocrinologist, so I did,” she said. “He looked at me like I was crazy, saying you don’t just come back from a thyroid problem. But I said, ‘Well, I have it, and I don’t take any medication. I cured with food.

Getting the endocrinologist to question Mayo’s findings was the last straw for Kuusisto. From then on, she did not return to see a doctor.

“Over the past six or seven years, I’ve really worked on my gut health,” she said. “Your gut is your second brain. If it’s not healthy, no part of your body will be healthy.

Kuusisto turned to the gut syndrome and psychology, better known as the GAPS diet theory. The GAPS diet is based on the principle that gut health is linked to overall physical and mental health. In this theory, improving gut health can improve other health issues.

“The GAPS diet is designed to reduce inflammation, support the gut lining, and restore microbial diversity through dietary intervention and detoxification,” Kuusisto said.

At the heart of the GAPS diet, people avoid foods that are difficult to digest and that can damage the gut flora or intestinal lining. They replace them with nutrient-dense foods that help the gut heal.

After much trial and error, Kuusisto realized that a poor diet and a leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability, were responsible for his failing physical health. Some also claim that they are responsible for many psychological, neurological and behavioral problems.

“Living in a constant fight-or-flight response completely deteriorated my gut health and triggered leaky gut syndrome, which made me sick,” she said.

Ultimately, and looking back on it all, Kuusisto identifies his PTSD as what sparked this movement. However, she wasn’t diagnosed with PTSD until later. “It was really about figuring out how to eat again, taking the food pyramid and flipping it so that healthy fats are what you eat and cutting out all those carbs,” she said, noting that this is how she discovered the Ketogenic Diet.

“I found that with Keto it has the foods that I can tolerate and digest. I still do it today. I found that a lot of my flight or fight response had subsided , which also helped heal my gut. PTSD is still there, definitely, but homeopathy and learning about foods saved my life.

It’s been about six or seven years since Kuusisto took ibuprofen, Tylenol, or antibiotics. Yes, she has been plagued with common illnesses, such as colds and strep throat, but she said she managed to treat these conditions naturally and without traditional medicine. She takes a drug (European type) to help her with her Hashimoto’s disease.

Kuusisto also notes that she has undergone extensive trauma therapy, including talk therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. She has also engaged in acupuncture and chiropractic work, all of which are important parts of her holistic approach to health.

“The big picture is that with mental health and medical health, you have to take a holistic approach to really heal. You need all of these pieces,” she said. “Whether it’s your choice to be medically monitored, whether it’s your choice to be mentally monitored, you should feel safe at home. You should have an overview of a person and how they live – this is very important for optimal functioning. Food is also part of this optimal functioning, and people need to know that there are alternatives.

Kuusisto also urges everyone to be an advocate for themselves. Speak loud and speak loud.

“I really had to put my foot down, even in the doctor’s office and really voice my opinion,” she said. “I had to dig deep and say I know my body and I know something is wrong with me. Whether it was psychological or not, I knew something was wrong and I needed help. to understand it.

Kuusisto was joined on her journey to recovery by her children, who are now 18 and 19. She was bound and determined to beat death because of them, and she did.

“Through it all, it has brought me and my children closer together. We healed our traumas together and learned that the world can be a safe place, how to set really good boundaries and know what and how to see those red flags,” she added. “It was a whole family dynamic.”

Although her RN is retired, Kuusisto is considered a special patient and still sees her guide in homeopathy. She continues to be the best mother she can be, continues to set new goals, and of course works full time for a local mental health service provider.

She is also proud to be a “special” eater.

Kelly Grinsteinner lives in Hibbing. She is a communications and marketing specialist at the Range Mental Health Center. She can be contacted at

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