MasterChef judge Melissa Leong has shared details about her debilitating battle with an auto-immune condition.
After years of being misdiagnosed, the 38-year-old was told her mood swings and poor mental health could be put down to pyrroles – a genetic blood disorder where excess molecules make it hard for your body to absorb the essential nutrients it needs to function.
“I was extremely unwell and couldn’t work,” she told WHO Magazine.
“There was a time where I’d have to psych myself up for days just to walk to the end of my street to buy groceries, which was not a very good state of affairs at all, to be honest with you.”
Approximately 10 per cent of the population suffer with pyrroles, which results in extreme deficiencies of zinc, vitamin B6 and arachidonic acid – a long-chain omega-6 fat. Common symptoms include hair loss, chronic insomnia, an inability to efficiently create serotonin or deal with stressful situations and sensitivity to light and sound.
Thankfully, with the help of supplements and regular exercise (specifically Pilates,) Melissa began to “slowly get better.” She also became aware of the “crucial emotional and health implications of food” and how effective it can be when used as medicine.
“As I’d lived my life at full throttle previously, I hadn’t been very good at patience. I had to slow down, I was forced to, but it was a good lesson to learn,” she continued.
And while there’s no denying the demands of shooting can be physically and emotionally draining, she now knows her limitations – and makes sure not to test them.
“I’m in an incredible place right now, but I’m mindful every day to prioritise my health. I’ve learned — the hard way — not to push myself to the point where I break.”