Her struggles with the disease and how she managed it daily, plus more health tips and healthy broth recipes are explored in this post.
On Ankylosing Spondylitis
Charlotte was obsessed with sport, but lacrosse was her passion. At school, she literally spent her life running around a lacrosse pitch and working really hard and doing her exams on the side.
But unfortunately, she did this in the kind of traditional way by drinking a lot of sugar, and bread and all other things that have really stressed her body out. She pushed her body to its limits, playing really well, being really successful. And that was her life.
After leaving school, she took three months off and just slowed down for three months. When she went to her first England lacrosse training camp after leaving school she noticed this really dull back pain in her back that she couldn’t run the way she used to run as she plays defense in lacrosse.
And suddenly her ability to run around was just not possible that it quickly developed into chronic back pain. At the university, she went to she was sleeping on the floor, couldn’t roll over the mattress if it was soft, even though it wasn’t that soft, couldn’t turn off an alarm some days, up to a point where she couldn’t even put on a pair of trousers. Let alone run around that lacrosse pitch that she really loved.
She resorted to taking as many pain killers as she could just so she could still get on that lacrosse pitch.
Charlotte’s story right up to this point will resonate with a lot of Americans. In football, for example, where the players start to get injured and the drugs come out and they start masking the underlying symptoms. Some of these guys grew up to be men who have chronic knee problems, chronic hip problems, back problems, and neck problems.
Sadly, grownup adults who should know better will take athletes who are struggling and have injuries and shoot them up with painkillers to keep them out on the field. It is a common story among our young athletes that are being treated this way. Unfortunately, when you take drugs like ibuprofen, you’re not only masking the pain but also stopping the healing process in the body.
That is why Charlotte is so passionate about raising awareness because she wanted people to just start asking their body why their body’s playing up and that we should be grateful that our body is telling something, even if it is through chronic pain.
***Listen to Charlotte Hill talk about her auto-immune disease and how she fought through it!***
After seeing a good physiotherapist who picked her up on it relatively quickly that things weren’t right, so she was sent to see a rheumatologist and they then did a blood test for something called HLAB27.
It is something that shows up in a white blood cell and it’s a genetic marker, and most people with ankylosing spondylitis have this marker. However, not everyone with this marker has Ankolysing spondylitis. Charlotte came back positive for ankylosing spondylitis, an autoimmune disease that affects the spine.
Luckily, her time to diagnosis from when she initially got the pain was only about two years, while lots of people go a very long time, even decades, without being diagnosed.
Her rheumatologist said she just needs to take these drugs and improve her core stability. There’s nothing else she can really do. So she started taking these drugs and started getting steroid injections in her sacroiliac joint, which is a joint that joins your spine to your pelvis. She would also wear a big sacroiliac joint belt to play lacrosse in. People would always go to her asking when she is going to be better and not injured, and she just didn’t know the answer because of the injury she had, she could not really explain.
The drugs didn’t really do anything and she would still have a steroid injection. Then a week later the effects of it had completely disappeared while affecting other things in her body. She just went on this roller coaster of a journey, finding her self good in some weeks to months, while other months weren’t so good.
She found herself giving up playing lacrosse for getting so frustrated because she wasn’t a standard that she wanted or needed to be an international lacrosse player. And the emotional toll it was taking on her was huge that she just had to give up her dream and get on with her working life. While this is happening, her diet remains the same, eating everything including pastries and sugar.
Eventually, her physio just doesn’t know what to do with her anymore and that the next drug of choice for her was an anticancer drug called methotrexate, which Charlotte didn’t want to take.
She then saw an osteopath and had her spine examined. Up to this point, it wasn’t really explained to her that ankylosing spondylitis is an autoimmune disease and this particular autoimmune disease attacks and causes inflammation in the spine.
And the endpoint of this condition is the spine being completely fused. And what needs to be done is to not let the spine be fused where the different individual vertebrae fused together. Because obviously, you want to keep on having as much movement as you can.
She was then given these two food dietary pieces of advice: One is to go gluten-free. This was a time when gluten was not common, and people didn’t really know what it was. And then the other thing was to start drinking chicken broth, which you have to go and make it at home’.
It’s so fascinating that six years into a diagnosis of a serious autoimmune disease, this is the first professional that asked her about her diet. It’s just shocking and disgusting and it’s so wrong on so many levels.
But the thing is, if we take off all of our clothes and we look at our bodies, every single thing that we see is the food that we eat. So why do we not think food is really powerful? And yet we don’t, and this is a topic we cover on this blog quite a bit.
On Bone Broth…
Charlotte started making her chicken stock and took gluten out of her diet. Chicken broth has the collagen one, two, and three where beef doesn’t have collagen two. While beef broth is heavier on the amino acids and a little bit better as a protein source. Just buy the bone from your local butcher, throw them in the freezer and make one batch a week that could last all week. It tastes like a warm soup when you put the right herbs in it.
So it’s real traditional food that we just have forgotten about. And there’s a famous dentist who went around the world to compare different tribes because he was a dentist and he realized he saw a massive increase in tooth decay over the time he was a dentist. So he then went around the world to all of these different tribes to see what was in their diet.
And what he realized was there are lots of different diets around the world, but they have some very common things. And one of them was having nutrient-dense, amino acid-rich, mineral-rich bone broth. And so it’s something we’ve really been having for generations, but it’s something that we forgot about until it became fashionable, how many years ago.
Bone broth really nourishes the body, it’s full of all the minerals, the collagen, amino acids. But what it does is it actually help heal our gut. In our digestive system, the first point where food really crosses into the body is in our small intestine, and at that point, there was a single layer of cells. We should really fully break down our food.
But through chewing it, through hydrochloric acid in the stomach and through other enzymes, and when it’s at its smallest, most broken-down part, the food should be absorbed through this single layer of cells in the small intestine. And it goes into the bloodstream.
And because our body just wants to protect ourselves from the environment, it puts approximately 80% of our immune system behind that single layer of cells to monitor anything that crosses over and is about to go into the bloodstream, because we don’t want things that shouldn’t be going into our body.
But what actually happens in a lot of us as we don’t digest our food properly, we eat food that’s contaminated with pesticides or hormones and we have lots that have antibiotics, and there are personal care products. And what actually happens is that a single layer of cells is not tightly knit together anymore. And it becomes what we call leaky. So the cells pull away from each other.
And so what actually happens is that it’s kind of a freeway for anything to pass into your body and it stimulates that immune system because our immune system just wants to protect us. And in anyone with an ultra immune disease, they have been shown to have this dysregulated gut lining called leaky gut. And that’s probably what stimulating the immune system, which stimulates a lot of the inflammation that’s driving this immune system.
So the first thing that we often wanted to do with someone with an autoimmune disease or to anyone with a chronic disease is making sure we’re nurturing and healing that gut lining to bring those cells back together. And the chicken broth is an amazing way to do that.
A lot of people love broth because of the collagen specifically for their hair and nails and, and skin and, and knowing that the type two, uh, type one, two and three collagen is in the chicken, I think is a big motivator for people.
But it’s really important to get a good variety of foods in our diet because what happens if we eat the same food over and over again and we have slight gut dysfunction as we can become sensitive to foods that we eat all of the time.
So therefore if you’re having chicken broth every day or you’re having brief broth every day and not mixing it up, you may have a high propensity to start reacting to it.
And the diversity of our food has shrunk beyond the leaf and we only actually have access to so many nutrients every day because we’re often eating the same thing over and over again. You want to have as much variety to have different minerals and different amino acids in it. So make sure to mix it up as much as you can.
Here’s Charlotte’s chicken broth recipe:
Poach a whole chicken first. Then add carrots, onion, turmeric, peppercorns, and any other leftover veggies. Once it’s cooked, take the chicken out and take all of the meat off the bone. Then have chicken for lunch or dinner for the week, and then put the bones back in again.
Chicken feet are amazing cause what they do is they increase the gelatin content of the broth, which is really healing as well.
At that stage add the chicken feet and just add the chicken carcass back in with all the bones and a bit of Apple cider vinegar also to try and to make sure you’re pulling as many nutrients out of the bones as you can.
And because you are pulling nutrients out of the bones of an animal, that’s why you really want to buy the best quality animals that you can. So ideally organic pasture, raised if you can because if they haven’t been fed in optimal diet, that’s what’s going to be going into our body.
So quality is really important. That’s why using the whole chicken is ideal because you get the meat and you also get the bones.
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Use the joint bones and then slow cook them or do them in the instant pot. You can also have those fatty bits which are around the bones that become really smooth and soft when cooked and it’s actually really healing for our guts. The marrow bone’s not as good as the joints but it really has nurturing property as well.
On the work of Weston Price and Francis Pottinger…
The ice study through the nutritional therapy association and one of the pioneers that we very much believe in is Weston A. Price. And the kind of the philosophies that he found through when he traveled around the world. The work that he did was amazing.
What happened was, he looked at tribes and saw commercialized versions of the same tribe. And he just saw the health decline over such a short period of time just through changing their diets, which is phenomenal.
And there was that amazing book called ‘Nutritional and physical, general degeneration‘, which is just nutrition and physical degeneration, which just shows how important nutrition really is.
Francis Pottenger, on the other hand, did an experiment with cats and adrenal glands. He got so many cats donated to his experiment to which he was doing this Sanitarium. Among his experiments with cats is using raw milk versus pasteurized milk, versus pasteurized sweetened milk.
And even in that first generation of cats that had the different types of milk, there was a difference in their health depending on the types of milk that they had, whether they had warm milk, milk that had been heated up or melted, it had been heated up and sweetened.
But then what was even more interesting was the kittens of the warm milk cats were just as healthy as the cats that had the warm milk. But then the pasteurized sweetened milk cats and the pasteurized milk cats, the kittens that were born eat the same diet as their parents, were not as healthy as that parents, even though they ate the exact same thing. And so it was really the first experiment that shows what you eat affects your genetic expression.
We all think we are our genes, but actually, our genes have the ability to turn on and turn off and food has a big influence. Which was just so interesting. And over time when the cats reproduced the cats that have pasteurized milk in the past, raised sweetened milk over time lost the ability to reproduce after approximately four generations.
And then other things happened that jaws became smaller, their teeth became more crowded, their faces became narrower there for a change. That energy change that bones were a lot more brittle compared to the raw milk cats. The good news is is that once you brought the raw milk back into the other cats, their health started increasing.
To bring it back to modern society where the health is just going downhill. But the food we eat is so powerful and we can each make a slightly better choice every single day. The food that we’re going to eat has a big impact, not only for us and the rest of our lives but our children and our children’s children.
On Vegetable Mash! Yummy and Delicious
Charlotte’s vegetable mash recipe:
To make a vegetable mash get cauliflower or broccoli or any desired vegetable, boil it up in some chicken broth or beef broth, whichever is available. Then add a tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil, ghee pecan oil, or any other source of fat. Once it’s tender, add salt and pepper. When the cauliflower is cooked through, put it in a food processor or use a stick blender to basically make it into a mash, just like a mashed potato.
Find the similar recipe for cauliflower mash here.
Charlotte’s Sheperd’s Pie recipe.
Minced beef (or your preferred mince)
1. Saute some onions and garlic and then add the Minced beef in there.
2. Then add barrier’s Herb’s and spices and add canned tomatoes.
3. Simmer it on the stove until it’s cooked.
4. Reduce a lot of the liquid.
5. Then add different herbs and put it in a casserole dish or a baking dish.
6. Then add the mash. Either mashed sweet potato or cauliflower mash.
7. Put the whole thing in the oven and heat it up. The top should go nice and crispy.
8. Then take it out again and serve it in portions on pates with salad, or vegetables or whatever you like.
Sheperd’s pie is so delicious and it meets the hand rules of getting a good mix of protein, carbs and fats and vegetables. You want to have a balanced diet where you can add the chicken broth, and add lots of vegetables, and it is just a perfect nutrient-dense meal and a great winter warmer as well.
Get similar Sheperd’s pie recipe here.
Or Cottage pie recipe here.
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Chill and Nourish!
Charlotte’s website Chill and Nourish is actually taken from her name, which is C, for her initial, and her last name Hill that makes up the word Chill.
But it’s really all about nourishing oneself, which is really important through the journey that she’s been on. Realizing that it’s not just about what you eat, it’s also about how you digest your food, and basically how you live off your life.
Unless we sit down and eat off our food in a relaxed state, we’re actually not going to digest it properly.
The goal is to relax, enjoy the foods, and do the things that people love and really connect to that. Having a positive mindset in life is equally important. Charlotte had to change her mindset quite a lot through going on her journey with ankylosing spondylitis.
It’s not a surprise that she’s feeling grateful for her condition not only because of her introduction to real foods but also making her slow down and look at the way she lives her life.
Lessons learned from living with an autoimmune disease
Charlotte is still dealing with autoimmune disease on a daily basis. However, now she does not take any drugs for it but just trying to reduce the inflammation before it even arises in her body rather than the conventional approach of suppressing it. She has to carefully listen to her body every single day to make sure she’s not overdoing it.
Her approach is to nurture herself by doing the right things to her body and to tune into it which has been invaluable and just set her up for success, hopefully with her health for the rest of her life.
Despite her daily battle, she still loves being able to do the job that she’s doing and to be able to pass on the message to other people by giving them hope.
The hope that has been scarce simply because people couldn’t get their questions answered by their doctors, and that they weren’t really treating the root cause of a condition.
To be able to have impactful conversations and make massive changes to Charlotte’s clients and doing what she wants to do defines her amazing life now.
Biggest lessons Charlotte teaches people with Autoimmune diseases
1. Be mindful of what you are eating. Eat a whole-food, nutrient-dense diet. Eat vegetables, meats, the good quality fats, and the protein because they’re all going to nurture our body.
Supporting your body with the nutrients that it needs and we’re not putting extra pressure on our body through having the process foods that come out of a packet that is refined that are just going to make it worse.
2. Go and see someone to support you with looking at your digestive function. Because everyone with an autoimmune disease has something called a leaky gut.
Take steps to improve your digestion and there can be things that are lurking in your digestive system, or it can not be functioning in a way that is optimal. Thus, getting someone to help you is really powerful.
3. Make sure you’re sitting down and eating your meals in a relaxed state, you’re really chewing your food because unless we do that, we’re passing on food to the rest of our digestive system in a state that’s not suitable.
We can then have lots of foods that contain chicken broth or beef broth that can really help heal our gut lining. It is also really nourishing to the body.
4. Have things like Lemon hot water in the morning. It is also a great way to help clear out our bodies.
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