Parsley Health NYC member Matt Demitroff, 26, is a former collegiate athlete who loves sports, playing the piano, and hanging out with his dog (and bff) Lily. Here, he shares how Parsley has helped him resolve digestive issues and improve his chronic health issues.
My health journey started in 2010 when I was a senior in high school. Up to that point I considered myself a healthy person. Aside from chronic acne and periodic bouts of digestive issues, I was doing well in school, was social outside of school, and was excelling in sports. Then, in an ill-advised attempt to quickly rid myself of the acne that had plagued me the 3 years prior, I was prescribed a 6-month round of Accutane by my dermatologist. Months later I was diagnosed with mono. This combination changed my life forever. The Accutane decimated my already sensitive gut while the mono sent my immune system into a frenzy.
I developed a multitude of symptoms almost instantly: bone-chilling fatigue , sinus congestion, chronic diarrhea, vomiting after certain meals, rashes all throughout my body, swollen lymph nodes, increased anxiety and depression, loss of libido, brain fog (to the point of forgetting people’s names), facial swelling…the list goes on. These symptoms continued through college, although varying in severity, forcing me to quit the sport I was recruited to play. I saw every top specialist in New York, and although I did see some good doctors in that process, none of them were able to provide actionable steps to heal myself of whatever was going on in my body.
Six years later I had gotten my first job out of school. With the stress of the new position and an altered sleep schedule (I was sleeping 12+ hours a night before starting the job) my health hit rock bottom. A family friend suggested I go to Parsley Health after going herself, and so I booked my first appointment with Dr. Berzin.
As advertised, my first visit with Dr. Berzin lasted for over an hour, which was a major transition away from the 10-minute doctors’ appointments I was used to. Something I appreciated was her overall confidence about the situation– she knew she could get me better. I also felt like Parsley was ahead of the curve in terms of their progressiveness in the medical space. It was a refreshing combination of conventional and integrative medicine, and I left the appointment with more optimism than I had felt in 10+ years.
After my first appointment, I was put on supplements specifically geared to heal the gut (probiotic, antimicrobials, etc.). I was relieved to finally find a doctor who understood the importance of gut health , and I was willing to do whatever it took to get better (even though an elimination diet seemed crazy to me at the time). Due to my overall sensitivity, I did not respond well to the supplements. However, once I began the elimination diet, it was as if a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I could actually think somewhat clearly again, my bloating went away, and no, it wasn’t one of those magical healing stories where someone starts a new diet and 3 days later they’re cured, but I finally felt some relief. I knew I was going in the right direction.
Over the past year, my health coach Jackie has helped me to continue tinkering with my diet. One thing I quickly learned, although somewhat cliché, is that the healing journey is not linear. One day I’d have a breakthrough and truly believe I found the food that was causing my illness, only to be bedridden the next day for some unknown reason.
Though some of my symptoms had improved, I still had some pesky, unexplained symptoms and had developed a few new ones.
Wanting to utilize Parsley’s wealth of resources and gain new perspectives, I began working with Dr. Palma as my doctor and Kelly as my health coach. My first appointment with Dr. Palma was a revelation. After explaining my new symptoms, she immediately pinpointed possible histamine intolerance and mast cell activation syndrome. She said it was most likely being caused by an underlying SIBO infection and a faulty immune system. I was somewhat skeptical as I had never heard of any of this stuff, however two days into a low histamine diet, my symptoms began to subside.
My life has completely changed since joining Parsley Health. I went from avoiding my kitchen to cooking over 90% of the meals I eat. In terms of diet, I eat a vegetable-heavy paleo diet and am conscious of higher histamine foods (fermented foods, vinegars, cold cuts, etc.). It has become a lot easier to identify triggers, and I’ve concentrated on simplifying meals as opposed to following complicated recipes. With a clearer head, I’ve been able to be more engaged in both work and friendships, and have definitely seen a positive shift in my personality since starting this journey.
Finally, I’ve begun to dive deep into the concept of mindfulness. That involves developing a meditation practice , being less connected to social media and my phone, and ultimately trying to stay in the moment as best I can (easier said than done).
The wealth of knowledge the doctors and health coaches possess has been extremely valuable. Every appointment I have with Dr. Palma, she’s bringing new ideas to the table. She’s always willing to collaborate with me and I’m constantly learning from her. Kelly has an obvious passion for her job and an amazing intuition about food and health. She keeps me feeling optimistic, even during the tough times, and reminds me that healing is, in fact, a journey. I still have a long way to go, but I’ve surrounded myself with a great team, and Parsley Health has provided me with the tools and resources I need to regain my health and take back my life.