Category Archives: Autoimmune

Paleo Day 9

Its been 9 days since I started the “strict” Paleo diet. Here’s what I learned so far:
1. Staying away from grains is not that hard. I just need to plan my meals/restaurant choices. If worst comes to worst there is always salad at most restaurants.
2. Staying away from cheese 100% is a completely different story. Most of the salads at work have some feta or other cheese on them. I had a little emotional issue on monday and felt like I “deserved” some expensive French cheese…I ate it with apples, improvement right? I am going to work harder on this part of it this week.
3. I am not seeing any “miraculous” results yet. My Raynaud’s is bad and my joints are a little achy. Maybe if I try harder on the cheese thing I might see a little improvement.
4. I have been doing great on the supplements. All it takes is a little planning to make sure I have the supplements I need. I don’t even notice the fish oil burps anymore!
5. My performance at Crossfit has really declined. This is the most frustrating part. Robb Wolf says that it should take 3 weeks to fully adapt. Right now I am about 1.5 weeks in…I guess I have another 1.5 weeks to really see improvement. It is frustrating now because I am exhausted during the workouts and am not used to it. Its really been a struggle.
6. I think I need to eat more protein. It is so easy for me to eat veggies and fruit. For the next week I am going to try to get rid of some of the fruit and increase the protein. I am going to get some recipes that include more protein so that I will get motivated to eat more.
7. I have lost about 2-3 lbs..weight kinda fluctuates. I think that is pretty good for me in 9 days.
8. My occasional digestive issues are gone. I do love that about eating more fiber.
9. I really don’t feel hungry. I don’t really want to munch at night. I feel satisfied after my meals.

I think I am going to continue what I have been doing with a few tweaks. There are always things one could do better and be stricter about. Hopefully in another week or so I will start seeing the results I am looking for…weight loss, less joint pain, improvement in Crossfit…for now I will just have to wait it out.

The Wheat Series- Part 2

In the last post in this series, I discussed how modern wheat is different from ancient wheat because of genetic modification due to the need for greater crop yields. Modern Triticum aestivum (wheat) is unable to survive without human intervention, fertilization and pest control.  Kind of reminds me of Jurassic Park when the scientists made the dinosaurs  in the movie all lysine dependent (trying to keep them dependent on humans to live) then the dinosaurs mutated and we all know how that story ended…ooops! The point is don’t screw with mother nature, she knows what she’s doing.

Due to genetic modification, modern wheat is about 70% carbohydrate and is lower in protein than ancient wheat (read more about ancient wheat at www.growseed.org). The carbohydrate in wheat is 75% amylopectin and 25% amylose. Amylopectin is very efficiently digested and easily turned into sugar.  The specific type of amlyopectin in wheat is amylopectin A which has been called a “super carbohydrate” as it is the most readily turned into blood sugar of all the types of amylopectin.

In this study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants were given a diet of 70% amylose or 70% amylopectin. Those on the amylopectin diet had higher glucose and insulin responses after a meal. Due to the high amylopectin content, white bread has a higher  glycemic response than table sugar (according to the glycemic index). So why does this matter for health?

The reason it matters is because of insulin. As I have discussed in previous posts, high blood sugar (from amylopectin and other refined carbohydrates), leads to increased insulin, which leads to increased inflammation, and then to chronic diseases (diabetes, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, and even mental illnesses- more on that in a future post). Insulin is also a storage hormone and causes food to be stored…excess food leads to excess storage (ie FAT). The only way to get rid of fat is to allow insulin levels to decrease enough in the body so the fat can actually come OUT of the cells. So, due to its high amylopectin content, wheat elevates blood sugar leading to not only excess weight, but a whole myriad of other health problems. How is this a “safe” food again?

 

PS When I was writing this post, I came across this article from 2011 that basically says how great the genetic modification of wheat is. Ha! Enjoy!

Autoimmune Disease Rant

I’m sorry, I try to be positive. I try to look for solutions instead of focusing on problems, but today I feel like just ranting a little…for one day. So, here goes…

As many readers know, I have an autoimmune condition that has not been given an official diagnosis. Currently they call it “mixed” or “undifferentiated” autoimmune disease. Basically, we are waiting for more symptoms, so that we can give it an “official” name. Lupus? Scleroderma? Who knows? “We” (doctors) are just waiting to see where else in your body this is going to pop up so we can put a label on it. After a bout with pleurisy about 2 years ago, I finally agreed to take the medication Plaquenil. Its an anti-malaria medication that is shown to decrease inflammation levels. The problem is that after the doctor tried to convince me the medication was “mild”, he then said, ”oh and you need a yearly eye exam to make sure you don’t go blind from it”. Really? So the side effect is blindness? Great. I was desperate at the time, so I took it. I have been on it for about 2 years now.

A little over a month ago, I stopped taking it.  I decided to do trial run to see if I could stay off the medication. I have been pretty good with my exercise, Paleo diet, stress management, etc so I felt like maybe I didn’t need it anymore. It takes about 6-8 weeks to get out of your system, so I have been feeling the same for the last few weeks. Until maybe the last 3-4 days. Today its my knee that is aching. Last night it was the bottom of my feet. Over the weekend it was my wrists. I am afraid that my illness is going to come back full-blown. I am afraid I am going to have to get back on my medications. Or medications that are worse than the Plaquenil.  I am afraid that this knee pain is going to go back to how it used to be where I didnt even want to stand-up to walk my patients to the door. I am afraid my lungs or kidneys will spontaneously fail. I want off the meds, but I am so afraid right now.

I went to see an alternative doctor yesterday that put me on an even sticter diet plan. No granis, no dairy, no alcohol. I already knew that that is what I needed to do. The problem is that I think 100% compliance is unrealistic. For example, I was not pefect with my diet over the weekend, I ate Mexican food on saturday and some crackers and cheese at an Oscar party on sunday. BUT, that is not even two full meals of cheating. All my other meals were Paleo meals.   I feel that is as compliant as I am going to get.  Sometimes I want some spaghetti or Mexican food. I can’t live on 100% paleo all the time, I have a real social life. I can’t constantly live in this place of deprivation, eating salads and meat only. Never enjoying a glass of wine, cheesecake, or a delicious Italian dinner. Feeling guilty over too much fruit. I desperately want to get better, but I desperately want a balance. I want to eat a good diet, be at a healthy weight, feel good about my health and my life, and enjoy foods that I like from time to time and not be so afraid. I don’t know where that balance is….

My boyfriend says, that if I really feel that way, I should get back on the medications. That way I don’t have to be 100% compliant all the time (although I probably still will eat mostly Paleo, just because its better for me) AND I won’t have any pain. I just don’t know if I want to take that risk of getting back on the meds. I also can’t live with this diet forever, always trying to be more and more compliant, and never feeling good enough.

So, thats my rant for today. I am tired of thinking about it all the time. I am tired of reading the blogs, feeling my diet doesn’t add up, feeling that my results are not good enough or dramatic enough. My body is struggling with inflammation. I don’t know definitively why. Some say diet, environmental toxins, genetics, stress. I think its all of those factors. Just a big combination of things making my body freak out and attack itself. The solution as I see it today are 2 things: take the meds that could have side effects; or follow a diet that makes me feel sad and deprived that I will never be able to be 100% compliant with.  What would you choose?

Gluten: Why you should eliminate it from your diet

Since I have been having so much pain from the cheating this weekend, this week I am continuing my research into the Paleo diet and trying to come up with as many air-tight arguments as possible to present to my cheating self when the temptation hits. I have been doing a lot of research on gluten and autoimmunity so here is what I found…and it explains why my freakin wrist hurts so bad today….
Gluten found mostly in wheat, barley, etc (like many grains) contains a protein called lectin. This protein is not broken down in normal digestion and passes through the intestine intact. The passage of these lectins through the GI tract cause holes and irritation in the small intestine leading to what has been called “leaky gut”. These holes allow all sorts of proteins and other foreign objects (viruses, bacteria, etc) to enter the body.
Immune cells sit right outside the intestine waiting to attack these foreign invaders before they get any closer to the body’s vital organs.  This process would normally be ok and is used to protect us from viruses, bacteria and other illness….BUT…..the molecular structure of these proteins is VERY SIMILAR to the body’s other proteins…i.e.the structural proteins in my wrist, fingers, and whatever other body part has the “-itis” on a particular day. Therefore, the body has created a full scale attack against its OWN proteins. This leads to all sorts of autoimmune issues and inflammation…because inflammation is basically a reaction of the immune system. Compound this with general overall chronic inflammation from stress, lack of sleep, too much sugar, processed foods, etc and we have a serious inflammation problem! Its systemic inflammation, everywhere in our bodies! No wonder I have the “-itis”!!!
There is research out there which explains this process and its connection to autoimmune conditions. There have been several articles that have linked a diagnosis of lupus to gluten sensitivity, in rheumatology journals. Why didn’t my doctor tell me that?

So Why Does Paleo Eliminate Dairy?

We feed grains to cows. Cows are meant to eat grass, they have 8 stomachs for god sakes! When cows eat grains, they have the same immune reaction, causing an increase antibodies against gluten, and drinking their milk/cheese/etc causes these proteins to come into our bodies. Feed cows grass!

The Wheat Series- Part 1

My time here in Brazil is allowing me to do some research into different topics I don’t really have time to look into in my regular life. I have been reading the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis, which describes how the genetic modification of wheat has affected human health over the last 50 years. I have decided to write a series on wheat based on what I learn from the book, including some of my own research on the topic. Hopefully, you will get more educated on this topic as well.

Why is it necessary to even genetically modify wheat or any products in the first place? Why not just leave things the way mother nature created them? The main reason is to increase crop yields is to feed a growing world population (now estimated to be at 6.98 billion). About 1/6th of the world is hungry and suffering from malnutrition. That doesn’t even include those who are undernourished and not getting adequate vitamins or minerals needed to truly thrive. For those of us who generally have too much to eat, not having enough food seems like a crisis, and we need to solve it! We need to feed these people! Everyone should have a chance, right? It would be inhumane to not help these people! Don’t get me wrong, I have a bleeding heart myself. I donated money to Doctors without Borders because I learned on the evening news that 25,000 children had died recently in Africa, I bought towels for the victims of hurricane Katrina when Oprah asked me to. I get the desperation to fix human issues like world hunger.

So, scientists were put to work to figure out HOW to increase crop production,  so we could feed more people for less money. Of course part of the problem is about power and social inequality more than it is about lack of food, but that is a whole other post. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (IMWIC) located in Mexico, decided to start working on genetically modifying wheat to produce larger yields and make it more energy dense. Norman Borlaug, one of the primary scientists at the IMWIC, created a dwarf wheat plant (shorter than normal varieties) which could hold a larger seed, was disease resistant, and had a high yield. He won a Nobel Prize for this work and is called the father of the Green Revolution. He was able to help several countries, who were on the brink of famine, feed their population. This was an amazing feat! The dwarf wheat he created is now more than 99% of the wheat grown worldwide. This means all of us eat the wheat he created, people are being fed because of this genetically modified wheat. This is awesome right?  The issue is that none of this wheat was tested for safety….stay tuned.

Some thoughts on a herniated disc….

The weekend of July 13th, I lost function of my right foot due to a severely herniated disk that is pressing up against the nerves behind my spinal cord. Here is

the MRI for your viewing pleasure, the circled area at the L5 vertebra is the disc that no longer lives in its home inside the spinal cord, but instead has decided to hang out with the nerves (white part) and put pressure on them.  There are several reasons why this happened to me, including Crossfit, sitting too much, driving too much, and basically ignoring back pain that I have had for well over a year. But, let’s not dwell in the past as we cannot change it. For the last 3 weeks, since I lost my foot, I have been devastated, afraid, ANGRY, resisting every moment of this whole process and complaining to anyone that will listen. I have had several other medical complications in addition to the foot drop and that has not added to my happiness or acceptance AT ALL.

This week, due to support from several friends and my “Power of Now” group, I decided to change that. Today in my “Power of Now” group, the question was asked “How do you know that this illness is exactly what you need?” and the answer was “Because you have it”. SIMPLE AS THAT. This foot drop is what I need for my spiritual, emotional, psychological growth because HERE IT IS, RIGHT NOW. All the stories I have been telling about it, about how I can’t walk or wear cute shoes, or do this or that, are just stories…and many are untrue. Today I am determined to ACCEPT this situation and identify why I am being faced with this current challenge, so here goes:

1. About a month before the foot issue, I had a bad attitude. I was upset with my current life situation and was constantly resisting what was. The foot has made me stop and realize, that maybe all the stuff that was making me angry, was really just ANOTHER story created by my mind. None of it was real and therefore the anger can no longer be there.

2. I was working too much, focusing on financial gain, instead of taking a step back and doing what I REALLY want to do (write). The doctors took me off work, so I was forced to stop. I was also angry about this at first and scared I wouldn’t have enough money or would lose respect from coworkers. Now, I realize that pushing myself did get me a few extra bucks, but it also may have cost me a piece of my health and well-being. Not worth it. And guess what, even though I took a few weeks off, I still have more than enough money! Another story created in my head.

3. Pre-foot drop I felt lonely. All the time. And the lonely feeling controlled my whole outlook on life. Even though my social situation hasn’t really changed that much, my friends are still my friends, I have realized that the loneliness was another story I was telling. During this time several friends have been texting, calling, taking me out for Shabu Shabu, and trying to make me feel better. Mark, who is always loving and kind, spent 5 hours with me in the ER on a Friday night. My sweet Manny-kins, came all the way to my house to massage my foot and watch “Celebrity Ghost Stories” with me. Terry, who always seems to teach me something, was able to see me through the bad foot, horrible rash, and accept me exactly as I am. A lonely or alone person does not have these loving friends in their life. I am a lucky, blessed girl to have so much love and support.

I am not going to sit here and say that I have accepted my gimpy foot 100%. But, what I can say, is that I am willing to do the work it will take to get better: physically, spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically. I am willing to look deeply at my life and find the blessings and lessons hidden in this experience. I am unwilling to look at the foot as a limitation, but instead am going to choose to look at it as a blessing and a lesson. This gimpy foot is everything I need RIGHT NOW.