5 Months on Dr Fuhrman’s Eat To Live Diet

 It was 6am and I was sitting virtually alone in the ocean, watching pink light dance across glassy wave peaks. A set of chest high waves approached, so I turned, paddled and swept across the face of the wave like lightening on my board. Delighted, I hopped off gingerly, avoiding the coral reef below. The darkness in my life that had come with frustration and anger due to sickness had been swept away by abundant light, health and life. My greatest wish had come true, I had found a way to live again. – April 2014

 The paragraph above is written about a surf trip to PR I took on Easter break, which was truly a celebration of the journey to wellness I have taken over the past 5 months. For the first time in my life, I was able to wake up at 6am and enjoy every minute of each day of vacation. I could surf for hours and only stop when fatigue built up in my shoulders, sit by the pool without passing out and enjoy dinner without wishing I could curl up and fall asleep. In fact one night I skipped dinner to surf for two hours in front of the restaurant! 

 This may all seem mundane, but last year my health had fallen apart so drastically that I wasn’t sure if physical activity, travelling or any form or demanding employment would be possible. The fatigue was constant, the inflammation painful and boy did I feel sorry for myself about it. 

When I started Dr Fuhrman’s Eat To Live diet (modified for no grains or nightshades which can trigger reactions) my goal, other than scraping myself out of CFS hell was to get well and eventually be able to reduce my adherence to the plan to around 80%. What I find interesting is although I am now well (other than seasonal allergies which will eventually get better on ETL) I am still happy to adhere to the plan 100%. If anything I am getting stricter. Whilst 42 days of this diet (6 week plan) once sounded like a death sentence, I now realize that the hard part was living with terrible fatigue and unexplained health conditions for almost my whole life, not eating a few veggies.  

Not only do I now enjoy plates of colorful veggies and fruits, but having enjoyed the health benefits of my modified intake, I am very sensitive to the fact these decrease when I veer off the plan. A candy bar here or there just makes me tired. 

To stay on track in PR, I found fruit/veg stands and a box that I would fill up over and over. Someone commented that they had never seen anyone eat so many mangoes for breakfast before. The mangoes were so good I would have had them 3x a day if I didn’t need to make sure I was getting my greens. A cheap blender in the rental was perfect for a romaine/water/banana smoothie and of course I brought my own nuts. I brought KIND granola bars which are not ETL and made me feel like crap. Real fruits and nuts are way better. The local vegetable was the plantain but I realized pretty fast it had nothing going for it. 

 At home, I’m finally finding I can eat a little less (I literally couldn’t stop – probably due to malnutrition for all those years). Typically doing green/flax smoothie for breakfast, fruit & large salad for lunch (kale!!!! stop and shop still haven’t figured out that they are undercharging for organic – $1/bunch) and then a bean/seed heavy soup for dinner. The soups last me for days and only take minutes to prep, which is awesome as I am no cook. 

The biggest shift I noticed in April was not only more energy, but I’m getting smarter. No joke! I just finished a semester at college with all A’s so far. I used to be incredibly tired every time I sat down, so would have to load up on coffee just to stay awake. Hence classes used to sound like that teacher in Peanuts… wah wah wah etc. I am mentally alert nearly all day and my memory has to be twice what it was before I started the diet. I can even remember where I put my keys! 

I think the best part is that eating this way is now habit. I was recently out of town for another weekend, and it was instinct to pick up fruit and a healthy meal at Walgreens instead of pining wistfully for junk food through restaurant windows. I am officially reformed! 

 

4 Months… Allergies, Workouts & The Green Smoothie Detox

So everything was AWESOME up until 2 weeks ago when I started getting tired. Now up to 5 days a week at the gym, I thought if I backed off it would help. It didn’t. Then the sneezing started, then the itching. Then terrible, hopeless depression and fatigue.  

Like dietary sensitivities, seasonal allergies are the most common symptom of leaky gut – which unfortunately takes longer than 4 months to heal. I sniffed my way through some local honey, Nettle Extract, green juices, tortured myself with the Neti Pot and finally did the unthinkable and bought my first ever allergy medication from Walgreens. Thanks to a Facebook post, I identified the strongest and most potent pill as breathing was getting rough – which turned out to be Allegra D. I am no fan of taking pills unless they are really needed but I have to say I woke up this morning feeling better than I ever have. Why? Because I am realizing that with 4 dogs in the house and a ton of dust that I need to get tested for dust allergies. My ill feeling predates having dogs and when I clean I sneeze like crazy. 20 million people in the US have dust allergies and as I am sensitive to every substance known to man I have a sneaky feeling I may be in need of allergy shots while my system in continuing to heal. I thought it was just seasonal but I feel better than I did all winter and the pollen hasn’t been around that long.  

 However, the good news is over time on the ETL diet many people with asthma/allergies see them clear up completely – which I am sure in my case will be when my gut stops leaking. 

Here are Dr Fuhrman’s comments on the issue: https://www.drfuhrman.com/disease/Other.aspx

“Allergies and Asthma improve and can even disappear over time

A significant number of medical investigations have uncovered that, just like other diseases, people develop asthma and allergies for reasons. Asthma and allergies have been linked to nutritional factors:

  • Low levels of fresh fruits and flavonoids[iii]
  • Fried foods, protein-rich and fat-rich foods of animal origin[iv]
  • Low blood levels of fruit and vegetable derived antioxidants[v]
  • Dietary fatty acid imbalance—an excess of omega-6 over omega-3 fats[vi]
  • Increased intake of high saturated fat foods (meat, cheese and butter)[vii]
  • Bread and butter consumption, lower vegetable intake [viii] (my old staple!!! – Nat) 

My experience in working with hundreds of patients attempting to resolve asthma and allergies has been rewarding. The asthmatics gradually improve, and the allergic patients slowly reduce the severity of their allergies and many become entirely non-allergic. Many patients who had strong allergies to cats, dust mites and pollen, no longer have these sensitivities. From a combination of dietary advice and a limited amount of nutritional supplements, most people start to improve their condition in a few months. I have even had patients who surprisingly continued to be allergic a year later and then after about 20 months following my recommendations, their allergies faded away. Recoveries are the rule and not the exception.”

 

I also dug up this from: http://fuelyourhealth.net/tag/asthma-2

“Dietary Guidelines for Children with Allergies and Asthma (from Dr. Fuhrman’s Disease-Proof Your Child on page 66)

  • A high-nutrient, vegetable-nut-fruit-based diet
  • One tablespoon of ground flax seeds daily
  • At least one ounce of raw walnuts daily, with the addition of other raw nuts
  • DHA supplement, 100-400 mg daily
  • Multivitamins without vitamin A or isolated beta-carotene (such as Gentle Care Formula)
  • No processed foods, dairy fat, or trans fat
  • Little or no oils; essential fats are supplied from raw nuts and seeds and DHA supplementation
  • Avoidance of known allergens (for example, pollen, house dust, cat hair, chemical irritants, etc.)
  • The reason for increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables is to increase the immune function of the affected individual. The reason for the elimination of animal fats and oil is to lower the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids while increasing the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to the above recommendation, supplementation in vitamin D should be seriously considered given the associated benefits.”

 Having felt so much better from changing my diet, it’s entirely possible with the right allergy treatment I could feel even better. However, I don’t believe in medicating forever which is making me re-evaluate adding beans back to my diet so soon because they make me pretty tired. I believe beans are great, but they mess me up at this time. I also need to watch oils better, based on the info above. 

 So I’m almost a normal person but maybe this Allegra has made me realize what I am missing – how it feels to get up feeling rested with a lot less ADD. Like anyone on a healthy diet, I am disappointed that I had to use pharmaceuticals BUT now I KNOW that allergies are causing my fatigue/depression/add. Not just in my diet, but in the house and environment too! Which is why medication for those things specifically didn’t work. Because now I am on Allegra I am on cloud 9 and feel I should apply for the New York Marathon. 

Therefore I’m going to commit myself to healing with a 10 day organic green smoothie fast ( 2 bananas/spring greens to top of Vitamix from Wegmans) – ironically I’m going to have to do it whilst taking Allegra, but the new energy will help me keep my house and companion canines as clean as possible while I restart the healing process. After all, when one feels terrible, one tends to go buy vegan chocolate which is exactly what I had to do yesterday to stay awake through a photo shoot. 

Feeling grateful & full of purpose! 

Here’s to another 4 months and an allergy free 2015 😀 

3 Months A Nutritarian and 95% Free Of CFS

It seems like a lifetime ago that I started my commitment to follow Eat To Live 100% and I never could have anticipated that just 3 months later, I would live and feel like a normal person.

Last year was beyond a nightmare for me. CFS is generally progressive and can be caused by any number of underlying issues or food sensitivities.

This time last year, I was unable to work and struggling to run my own photography business to make ends meet. I typically would wake up between 9 and 11 feeling like I had been kicked in the head. If I tried to get up earlier and drink coffee to open my eyes, it would trigger PVC arrhythmia that has sometimes sent me to the emergency room. My insurance of course, didn’t cover enough diagnostic testing to see a cardiologist. At night I could NEVER sleep and would toss and turn whilst munching on melatonin.

How I longed to go to the gym or take my bike out. I would shuffle though a few errands and then drift back to Facebook, because at least I could sit down. My muscles were weak and my joints swollen, so a simple walk would frustrate me and cause me pain. I gave everything I had to my photo shoots, and tried to keep up a social life but by the evening I felt so tired I had nothing to say to my friends. I didn’t want to call people and be negative so I stopped calling them at all. Some days I would get bursts of energy, spend it all and then pay it back for days later. I clung to every sporadic surf session, walk and gym visit with a mixture of hope and despair. My friends offered me jobs and I would constantly be calling out because I was in bed all day, weak, feverish and sometimes with extreme nausea. I lived to sleep but it never satisfied me.

I had read every book on nutrition and thought I was doing my best. Gluten free muffins, Kashi cereal for breakfast, brown rice pasta for dinner and even salads at lunch time. To me, there wasn’t much more I could be doing. Maybe I needed more Abx for Lyme disease or an underlying infection. I ran a gamut of blood tests with my PCP which showed immune markers. Even though my insurance didn’t cover any further visits I decided not to pursue any single diagnosis because at this point there were numerous problems with my blood work and health that indicated something was wrong on the holistic level, rather than an individual disease.

What I didn’t realize was that the pain I felt often after eating was my body telling me my digestive system was seriously out of balance, which was destroying my immune system. The sugar I used to feel alert was feeding a massive overgrowth of the wrong kind of bacteria. 3 months on Abx for Lyme had destroyed my immune and digestive system including filling my body with dead cells that needed to be cleared out. A toxic diet when I was younger had left permanent damage. Using an elimination diet, Eat to Live’s guidelines for the foods I CAN eat and a few juice fasts when I felt toxic, I have a life again.

At first I resisted posting too much because I was so afraid I would wake up and feel awful again. I religiously stuck to my grain free, nightshade free version of the plan and took things one day at a time. I forced down green smoothies. I took my Vitamix on a ski trip. I ate 5 papayas a day in Hawaii. I made mistakes and reacted violently to eggs and dairy in processed foods. But I kept picking myself up.

Today it is 3 months since I started my journey. I truly credit my success to finding like minded people on Facebook and checking in every day to stay motivated and keep a clear idea of what my health goals are.

I naturally wake up between 7 and 8 now and have no trouble falling asleep… usually at 10 or 11. I start my day with affirmations and a gratitude list, because despite the cold weather I enjoy being awake for the first time in years. I have 3 jobs now and am back in graduate school which was a huge gamble because I applied when I was just starting my new diet. I am able to keep up with everything and take my dogs running on the beach. The swelling in my knees took the longest to heal but has made the biggest difference in my life as I can be as active as I like. I am back at the gym regularly and look forward to biking daily when the weather breaks. I waste time on Facebook still but it’s optional, I can see my friends just fine.

Changing the way I eat and treat my body has changed my whole world. Now nothing is impossible to me. I want to run 5ks, surf around the world and take long hikes with my dogs and there is no longer anything holding me back as long as I stick with my dietary program and make sure I get a fair amount of rest. I’ve learned to say no and to treat myself right.

I just went to see a new PCP and my blood work came back perfect. Best part – NO AUTOIMMUNE MARKERS! My new doc is a Functional Medicine doctor and has many patients who have changed their life though diet. Apparently gluten, dairy and food additives found in processed foods can mimic any number of diseases and cause massive inflammation. Anemia I had when I was eating meat is now gone – B12 and D3 are good bc I supplement often with Emercen-C drink.

My typical diet is super simple: unlimited fresh fruit/green smoothies for breakfast. I figured out how to make almond flour crepes but the strangest thing is when I eat dry foods such as baked goods and pasta, I find them too ‘dry’ and get uncomfortable with a  stomach ache. I am so used to fruits and vegetables!

Lunch: unlimited Salad, Steamed Vegetables, Fruit, nuts, seeds, beans

Dinner: Sometimes skipped to allow fasting, steamed veggies/smoothie or veggie soup.

Can’t say I feel deprived at all as being in bed every day when I should have been at the beach is deprivation. Eating foods that my body likes is just the right thing to do, regardless of what everyone around me thinks and eats! My new challenge is learning to let things go and let people be right when they challenge plant based diets – but given how much Eat To Live helped me it’s hard not to get passionate! At just 3 months in, I am so excited to see how I feel in the future!

Clinical Evidence! Diet & Fasting Heals AutoImmune Conditions

One of my favorite books, other than all of Dr Fuhrman’s was The Lupus Recovery Diet by Jill Harrington. It’s very simple, to the point – half success stories and half guidelines and clinical evidence. Her main point of reference is Fuhrman, which is how I found her because she was posted somewhere as one of his success stories.

When you are sick there is plenty of free time to read, so that’s what I did all last year.

Whilst I love Fuhrman his guidelines on AI diseases are spread out and limited to certain areas of the books – so I enjoyed Harrington’s book because it was ALL about diet – specific to autoimmune disease.

I respect what McDougall does, however because I am allergic to the grains/starches he promotes and prefer Fuhrman’s high nutrient approach I stick with the Eat To Live Diet.

However, he is a good doctor and has great newsletters. I found these linked in Harrington’s book:

Newsletter One: http://www.drmcdougall.com/newsletter/may_june1.html

Newsletter Two: http://www.drmcdougall.com/newsletter/may_june2.html

The following excerpts are from Newsletter Two. I have gone through and made notes, because McDougall fails to point out something very interesting. The best results came when ALL GRAINS and ALL DAIRY were removed from the diet.

McDougall’s suggestion is to simply start dairy free and maybe take out wheat and corn at 2 weeks but I don’t think they should be left in at all. Furhman suggests to remove gluten regardless and incorporate more blended, raw foods, but to also try an elimination diet following a water fast.

Dr Fuhrman’s immune protocol: http://www.alternativeratreatments.com/joel-fuhrman-autoimmune-protocol.html

Here is Dr Klaper’s elimination diet protocol, however they almost always start with rice. Rice was already giving me stomach aches and bloating so I knew not to do it. But it can be modified. Note that they mention nightshades which are a huge problem for me – they trigger fibromyalgia. http://www.alternativeratreatments.com/food-elimination-diet.html

My own elimination diet started with NOTHING which meant it took longer but I identified unusual foods such as yeast, tomatoes and potatoes that were causing problems. I did it twice and got the same results, 5 months apart.

According to Dr Fuhrman (Fasting and Eating for Health), legumes, alfalfa sprouts and peas can aggravate Lupus. As everyone is different and IgG testing is inaccurate (Dr Fuhrman) then perhaps it’s worth everyone doing a food by food elimination diet that starts with 3 days water, 3 days apples, 3 days apples and romaine, 3 days apples, romaine and bananas etc etc to truly rule out issues. It’s a hassle but I was so sick I was ready to eat nails if it made me better. So I did it this way. Problem foods such as grains or dairy should not be reintroduced for at least a month to allow healing to take place. Dairy really shouldn’t be brought back at all because it’s health implications are enormous. The reaction when foods are reintroduced is so terrible you will just know. It’s also important to keep a diary and take a good probiotic.

I know from my own research that all grains in fact have their own glutens and lectins which can sometimes mimic the glutens in wheat. I thought I was going crazy because Gluten Free is so common, but Quinoa, rice etc are seen as happy, safe foods. Which for me they aren’t. Quinoa is a seed but if I eat it I get slammed with a migrane and stomach pain. Sharp pain.

This article looks at the safety of Quinoa, but I thought the comments at the bottom were the most telling. Just like product reviews, you can always trust the public to settle an issue. http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-free-society-blog/is-quinoa-a-safe-gluten-free-food-alternative/

That being said, for a healthy person grains are fine. But if you have health issues, which don’t improve on a GF plant based diet then perhaps they should be a consideration, along with certain beans, nuts and seeds that are known to cause IgG allergies.

Ÿ In 1979, Skoldstam fasted 16 patients with rheumatoid arthritis for 7-10 days with a fruit-and vegetable juice fast, followed by a lactovegetarian diet for 9 weeks. One-third of the patients improved during the fast, but all deteriorated when the milk products were reintroduced (a lactovegetarian diet) (Scan J Rheumatol 8:249, 1979).

Although only a small amount improved during the fast, 7 days is considered short for a water fast for RA, let alone fruit and vegetables. Watch Fat Sick & Nearly Dead to learn more about juice fasting and autoimmune disease.

Ÿ In 1980, Hicklin reported clinical improvement in 24 of 72 rheumatoid patients on an exclusion diet. Food sensitivities were reported to: grains in 14, milk in 4, nuts in 8, beef in 4, cheese in 7, eggs in 5, and one each to chicken, fish, potato, and liver (Clin Allergy 10:463, 1980).

Note that only 4 were troubled by dairy but GRAINS were problematic for 14 of them! McDougall doesn’t comment much on this because his diet is starch based and promotes grains, but that is a huge percentage of the group! The meat allergies keep coming up and are an antithesis to the Paleo Diet’s claim that meat is right for everyone.

Ÿ In 1980, Stroud reported on 44 patients with rheumatoid arthritis treated with the elimination of food and chemical avoidance. They were then challenged with foods. Wheat, corn, and beef were the greatest offenders (Clin Res 28:791A, 1980).

Wheat and corn again! Thank goodness I don’t eat beef.

Ÿ In 1981, Parke described a 38-year-old mother with 11-years of progressive erosive seronegative rheumatoid arthritis who recovered from her disease, attaining full mobility, by stopping all dairy products. She was then hospitalized and challenged with 3 pounds of cheese and seven pints of milk over 3 days. Within 24 hours there was a pronounced deterioration of the patient’s arthritis (BMJ 282:2027, 1981)

Like me, the patients regress when the problem foods are reintroduced.

Ÿ In 1981, Lucas found a fat-free diet produced complete remission in 6 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Remission was lost within 24-72 hours of eating a high-fat meal, such as one containing chicken, cheese, safflower oil, beef, or coconut oil. The authors concluded, “…dietary fats in amounts normally eaten in the American diet cause the inflammatory joint changes seen in rheumatoid arthritis.” (Clin Res 29:754, 1981).

In Newsletter One, this is explained. Oils affect the permeability of the gut… making it “Leaky” which causes particles to enter the bloodstream that shouldn’t, thus adversely affecting the immune system. 

Ÿ In 1982 Sundqvist studied the influence of fasting with 3 liters of fruit and vegetable juice daily and lactovegetarian diet on intestinal permeability in 5 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Intestinal permeability decreased after fasting, but increased again during a subsequent lactovegetarian diet regime (dairy products and vegetables). Concomitantly it appeared that disease activity first decreased and then increased again. The authors conclude, “The results indicate that, unlike a lactovegetarian diet, fasting may ameliorate the disease activity and reduce both the intestinal and the non-intestinal permeability in rheumatoid arthritis.” (Scand J Rheumatol 11:33, 1982.)

Perhaps why a lot of people feel better when they fast, but get sick as soon as they break it.

Ÿ In 1983, Lithell studied twenty patients with arthritis and various skin diseases on a metabolic ward during a 2-week period of modified fast on vegetarian broth and drinks, followed by a 3-week period of a vegan diet (no animal products). During fasting, joint pains were less intense in many subjects. In some types of skin diseases (pustulosis palmaris et plantaris and atopic eczema) an improvement could be demonstrated during the fast. During the vegan diet, both signs and symptoms returned in most patients, with the exception of some patients with psoriasis who experienced an improvement. The vegan diet was very high-fat (42% fat). (Acta Derm Venereol 63:397, 1983).

Ÿ In 1984 Kroker described 43 patients from three hospital centers who underwent a 1-week water fast, and overall the group improved significantly during the fast. In 31 patients evaluated, 25 had “fair” to “excellent” responses and 6 had “poor” responses. Those with more advanced arthritis had the poor responses. (Clin Ecol 2:137, 1984).

Ÿ In 1985, Ratner removed all dairy products from the diet of patients with seronegative rheumatoid arthritis, 7 out of 15 went into remission when switched to milk-free diets (Isr J Med Sci 21:532, 1985)

Ÿ In 1986, Panush described a challenge of milk in a 52-year-old white woman with 11 years of active disease with exacerbations allegedly associated with meat, milk, and beans. After fasting (3 days) or taking Vivonex (2 days) there was no morning stiffness or swollen joints. Challenges with cow’s milk (blinded in a capsule) brought all of her pain, swelling and stiffness back (Arthritis Rheum 29:220, 1986).

Ÿ In 1986, Darlington published a 6-week, placebo-controlled, single-blinded study on 48 patients. Forty-one patients identified foods producing symptoms. Cereal foods, such as corn and wheat gave symptoms in more than 50% of patients (Lancet 1:236, 1986)

Over 50% reacted to grains! That is a HUGE number!

Ÿ In 1986, Hanglow performed a study of the comparison of the arthritis-inducing properties of cow’s milk, egg protein and soy milk in experimental animals. The 12-week cow’s milk feeding regimen produced the highest incidence of significant joint lesions. Egg protein was less arthritis-inducing than cow’s milk, and soy milk caused no reaction. (Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol 80:192, 1986).

Ÿ In 1987, Wojtulewski reported on 41 patients with rheumatoid arthritis treated with a 4-week elimination diet. Twenty-three improved. (Food allergy and intolerance. London: Bailliere Tindall 723, 1987).

Ÿ In 1988, Beri put 14 patients with rheumatoid arthritis on a diet free from pulses, cereals, milk, and non-vegetarian protein foods. Ten (71%) showed significant clinical improvement. Only three patients (11%) adhered to the diet for a period of 10 months (Ann Rheum Dis 47:69, 1988.)

Ÿ In 1988, Hafstrom fasted 14 patients with water only for one week. During fasting the duration of morning stiffness, and number and size of swollen joints decreased in all 14 patients. No adverse effects of fasting were seen except transient weakness and lightheadedness. The authors consider fasting as one possible way to induce rapid improvement in rheumatoid arthritis (Arthritis Rheum 31:585, 1988).

Ÿ In 1991, Kjeldsen-Kragh put 27 patients on a modified fast with vegetable broths, followed by a vegan diet, and then a lacto-ovovegetarian diet. Significant improvement occurred in objective and subjective parameters of their disease (Lancet 2:899, 1991) A two-year follow-up examination found all diet responders but only half of the diet nonresponders still following the diet, further indicating that a group of patients with rheumatoid arthritis benefit from dietary manipulations and that the improvement can be sustained through a two-year period (Clin Rheumatol 13:475, 1994.) Patients dropping out with arthritic flares in the diet group left the study mainly when the lactovegetarian diet (dairy products) were introduced (Lancet 338:1209, 1991).

Ÿ In 1991 Darlington reported on 100 patients who had undergone dietary manipulation therapy in the past decade, one-third were still well and controlled on diet alone without any medication up to 7 ½ years after starting the diet treatment. They found most patients reacted to cereals and dairy products (Lancet 338:1209, 1991).

Grains and dairy again. Gluten free may not be enough for some people.

Ÿ In 1991, Skoldstam fasted 15 patients for 7 to 10 days. Almost all of the patients showed remarkable improvement. Many patients felt the return of pain and stiffness on the day after returning to their “normal” eating and all benefit was lost after a week (Rheum Dis Clin North Am 17:363, 1991).

Fasting is pointless unless it is followed by clean eating, unfortunately.

Ÿ In 1992, Sheignalet reported on 46 adults with rheumatoid arthritis who eliminated dairy products and cereals. Thirty-six patients (78%) responded favorably with 17 clearly improved, and 19 in complete remission for one to five years. Eight of those 19 stopped all medications with no relapse. Favorable benefits appeared before the end of the third month in 32 of the patients (Lancet 339:68, 1992).

78% improved when ALL grains were removed, not just wheat.

Ÿ In 1992, van de Laar showed benefits of a hypoallergenic, artificial diet in six rheumatoid patients. Placebo controlled rechallenges showed intolerance for specific foodstuffs in four patients. In two patients, biopsy of the joints showed specific (IgE) antibodies to certain foods (Ann Rheum Dis 51:303, 1992).

IgG are sensitivities, IgE are severe allergies.

Ÿ In 1992, Shigemasa reported a 16-year-old girl with lupus who changed to a pure vegetarian diet (no animal foods) and stopped her steroids without her doctor’s permission. After starting the diet her antibody titers (a reflection of disease activity) fell to normal and her kidney disease improved (Lancet 339:1177, 1992).

Ÿ In 1995, Kavanaghi showed an elemental diet (which is an hypoallergenic protein-free artificial diet consisting of essential amino acids, glucose, trace elements and vitamins) when given to 24 patients with rheumatoid arthritis improved their strength and arthritic symptoms. Reintroduction of food brought the old symptoms back (Br J Rheumatol 34:270, 1995).

Ÿ In 1998, Nenonen tested the effects of an uncooked vegan diet, rich in lactobacilli, in rheumatoid patients randomized into diet and control groups. The intervention group experienced subjective relief of rheumatic symptoms during intervention. A return to an omnivorous diet aggravated symptoms. The results showed that an uncooked vegan diet, rich in lactobacilli, decreased subjective symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (Br J Rheumatol 37:274, 1998).

I would be more interested in this study if they reintroduced vegan cooked foods first, instead of jumping straight to omnivorous. It’s possible that raw diets help because they are grain and legume free.

Having suffered from RA since I was 13, I was astounded when after a month on the elimination diet, the pain started slowly lifting from my knees. I had a lot of trouble walking last year and I was on an elliptical machine today with no pain. I do however notice that dietary lapses cause symptoms to return, in addition to temperatures below 20 degrees.

The main conclusions from the article & studies:

– Oils, meat and other fatty foods cause damage to the gut which is the center of our immune systems. A low fat, vegan diet based on non processed plant foods provides the best chance of recovery. Plant oils are not OK when isolated.

– The best results were seen when not just wheat, but all grains were removed from the diet. These can always be reintroduced later but lectins and glutens are known promoters of leaky guts and these can be found in all grains and some seeds.

– Dairy is a repeat offender and terrible for RA and other immune problems. Beef is common too.

– Most people need to stick with the diet to retain the health benefits.

– Everyone has DIFFERENT triggers which is why individual elimination diets are the best defense, followed by a long term, unprocessed diet comprised of the allowed, vegan foods.

– Eat To Live can easily be modified for grain free eating as in the 6 week plan, only 150 calories are supposed to come from grains anyway. The focus is green vegetables. I think a big reason why raw diets help some people initially is because they are grain, potato and legume free which are common allergens. Dr Fuhrman has written articles against the raw movement claiming they are too restrictive, too high in fat and can even cause hair loss when done improperly.

– Grains can easily be replaced by squash, (sides) bean flours (baking) and beans. (veggie burgers) I make grain free pasta with a zucchini spiralizer, which was maybe $30 on Amazon.com. Whole Foods also has bean pasta.

– As Leaky Gut and nutrient malabsorption are associated with auto immune conditions, supplementing as directed by Fuhrman with DHA is essential. Eat To Live’s emphasis on nutrient dense foods, rather than simply the avoidance of trigger foods, is essential to make sure the body is getting what it needs to repair itself. Green juices are mentioned which when made fresh at home are way better than any multivitamin or superfood.

I’m no doctor but I do enjoy reading & finding studies that back up what I have found in my own experience. Juice on! 🙂

Observed Reactions To Foods

So I’m posting this here mostly for my own safekeeping but having used an elimination diet to isolate and identify food allergies, this is what I found. 

I realized my problems were likely food related when they dropped away on juice fasts. So I started with a juice fast and then added in a new food every 3 days, in large quantity. If there was no reaction I would add a new food, if there was a reaction I would try and add it back again to see if I got the same reaction. High School science taught me well! 

Food Group: Sugar, Chocolate, Caffeine

Immediate Effects: Extreme ADD, OCD, Hyperactivity, Irregular Heartbeat

Withdrawal Effects: Weakness, Extreme Fatigue, Intense Cravings, High Irritability, Headaches

Food Group: Dairy 

Immediate Effects: Nasal/Sinus Congestion, Stomach Upsets, “Heavy/Sick” Feeling

Withdrawal Effects: Depression, Anger, Sick Feeling, Intense Craving

Food Group: Grains and Quinoa

Immediate Effect: Uncontrollable Consumption, Stomach Pain, Hyperactivity, Adrenaline Rush

Withdrawal Effect: 3 day Migrane, Starving Feeling, Depression, Fatigue, Stomach Upset

Food Group: Nightshades

Immediate Effect: Increased Skin Sensitivity, Fibromyalgia, Twitching

Withdrawal Effect: Passes within 24 hours.  

Food Group: Yeast, Fermented Foods, Alcohol

Immediate Effect: Adrenaline Rush, Itchy Skin

Withdrawal Effect: Intense Depression, Sadness, Cravings

Hoping that’s it for now! I like my fruits, vegetables and seeds too much to give any more up.  

Dangerous Grains

It’s only been 2 months since I started this journey but I have settled into better health very easily.

Last fall it was very hard for me to even keep the house in shape but I now have shining kitchen counters, clean floors and a cluttered desk thanks to my new graduate studies. It’s easy to walk all my dogs daily despite the snow and I’ve been to the gym a few times without needing a nap.

The cold weather (as low as 5 degrees) in NJ made me question my progress as I got depressed and joint-sore again but as soon as it was in the 30s I was once again buzzing around and feeling better. It’s wonderful getting up at 7, 8 in the morning instead of my usual 9-9 sleep with additional naps.

Probiotics have helped me manage some nuts, seeds and beans so my food has gone from very plain to a huge variety of grain free crepes, bean soups and cashew cream sauces. Lots of raw vegetables is important and I have trained my local vegan eatery to make a huge salad for me without the nutritional yeast that vegan chefs are addicted to. It makes me itch, unfortunately.

As I have been so much better, I decided to try and add quinoa back in last night. It’s a great grain high in iron and complete protein.

Having been 2 months grain free – I immediately got sharp stomach pain that I recognized only too well from my elimination diets. It never bothered me too much when I was eating grains daily, but I was near death anyway. So quinoa is on my naughty list and I won’t be doing any more grain experiments any time soon. Also have been rewarded with my first headache in 2 months, I certainly don’t miss them!

I’ve read science behind this kind of reaction before on Paleo blogs and it turns out quinoa is potentially dangerous for those with celiac disease because it mimics qualities of gluten. Here’s one article: http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-free-society-blog/is-quinoa-a-safe-gluten-free-food-alternative/

Looking forward to an active & healthy spring! 🙂

Full Story & 6 Week Recovery Report!

I wrote the following on the plane 2 weeks ago! Enjoyed a vacation filled with surfing, hiking and beach walks which was beyond my expectations. This is truly the best thing I have ever done for myself! So… here’s the back story: 

 

“Six weeks ago I started a drastic elimination diet for the second time, with the goal of being able to take the trip I booked to motivate myself.

I have been sick for nearly 20 years and until this year, doctors were unable to find anything wrong. To sum it up I have an angry letter I pinned above my computer that I wrote to God in November that states – “I want to live my life instead of surviving it”. 

I’m happy to say I’m writing from the plane having been 80-90% improved most days this week. I had so much energy today I not only packed, but didn’t get affected by the 10 degree cold (usually my joints flare) and I cleaned the house AND the basement!

Although I have been posting, I ran into someone this week who mentioned it might help others to talk more about what I’ve done. I resisted posting in depth early on because I wasn’t sure if it would work. Now I know it’s not a fluke because I haven’t felt this much better, consecutively in nearly 20 years. 

What happened:

Exactly a year ago I was in Hawaii.

I had just been fired from my job because I was incredibly tired from morning until night. Tired all day and unable to sleep at night is most accurate. The amount of caffeine/sugar I needed to even function had impaired my ability to groom dogs without making mistakes. It was impossible to stay focused. I loved my job but also suffered constant outbreaks of strep throat, chest infections and a gamut of conditions from pushing myself too hard that made finding another one seem like a wasteful idea. I needed to get better.

At age 30, after spending 18 years self-medicating arthritis, (developed age 12) persistent depression (unresponsive to Rx), sinus congestion, ADD, OCD, PVC arrhythmia, palpitations, anxiety, migraines, inability to sleep, fibromyalgia flares, unexplained rashes, chronic and debilitating fatigue, constant infections, pre diabetes, ‘hypoglycaemia’ and CFS (doctors were approached on many occasions but simply told me to rest more or prescribed drugs with damaging side effects) I had been defeated. A few people also told me it was in my head so I tried the Wayne Dyer approach and there was no progress. It’s also hard to think positive when you feel like you need to be put down.

I simply couldn’t hold a 40 hour job by drinking coffee and loading my system with sugar any more. However if I didn’t take them, I couldn’t get my eyes open. I was scared to fall asleep driving. I couldn’t live with, or without stimulants. I had raged internally as the years went by and my ability to do simple things like go to the gym or ride my bike started to slip through my fingers. I needed a new body.

Having booked and prepaid my trip to Kauai in January 2013 before I got the axe at work I decided to go anyway. Maybe the tropical air would be healing, I thought. The crash when I got there was terrifying. My entire body was so heavy I couldn’t move or enjoy any outdoor activities. I slept on the beach as much as I could and started reading. I have friends on the island who brought me soup and watched me sleep through a camping trip.

In my waking hours I looked up everything I could about fatigue and absorbed every story I could find. No matter what I did I had to beat this because going on disability and losing my dream home were not viable options. With a ton of pets, I couldn’t just check out and find somewhere cheap to live. 

1. Exhaust Medical Options

My first step was extensive blood work when I came back from vacation. My panel the year before had ‘been fine’ apart from the infamous incurable Epstein Barr Virus (MDs are rarely helpful with fatigue) and this time Lyme came up. I jumped on the opportunity of a cure-all and enthusiastically took 3 months of Doxycycline.

What I wasn’t expecting was the change in attitude from my doctor when 3 months were up and I was still exhausted. She ran extensive tests (expensive too – over $3000 in OOP cost to me) and instead of taking my calls mailed me the results. 100% positive for Connective Tissue Disease, varying positives for a few other auto conditions and high cortisol. Sent a letter asking me to go for more tests that I knew I couldn’t afford. I tried calling a few times to discuss the ones I already took but there was no response. My insurance wouldn’t cover a Rheumy/specialist as the blood tests had used up all my benefits. The lady at Horizon suggested I wait until the new year. As it was now May, I wasn’t sure I could survive that long. 

Having established that there was no immediate cure for Connective Tissue Disease, only steroid based management and at this point not even sure where I stood with the Lyme Disease I decided to try the natural approach. After all thanks to my insurance company I had until January to try anything before I could afford further testing and medical treatment.

Having addressed a bad case of arrhythmia 2 years prior brought on by Wellbutrin (it doesn’t contain stimulants, she said) with a 2 week juice fast inspired by Joe Cross’ Fat Sick & Nearly Dead movie I revisited a controversial cure.

2 – Diet

My introduction to the work of Dr Joel Fuhrman came in 2007 through a close friend. Thrilled with a week on greens, she gave me a copy of his book Eat To Live. She excitedly told me about a friend who had eliminated migraines. I had no idea food had any affect on health so fascinated I read it right away and did see great energy benefits by adding greens to my diet and quitting meat (I used to be on the candy/flour/ burger diet) but working in the restaurant industry made any strict adherence impossible. Plus when you are addicted to foods the withdrawal doesn’t mix with working with the public. I drifted through various yo-yo ETL cycles but only every managed a moderate version of the plan. Potato chips, french fries and candy were all still part of my daily routine. 

However, I did have the book memorized. As soon as these 2013 health diagnoses started mounting I was well aware that my situation was exactly what Fuhrman talks about in his books. The reason my doctor couldn’t help me wasn’t because she sucked, but it was because my entire system had gone to hell and treating any one ailment may have masked the symptoms but wouldn’t have restored balance to such a broad spectrum of problems. I remembered that he had helped many patients with similar problems such as mine like Lupus, Fatigue and even some Lyme patients.

In the summer I embarked on a 2 week juice fast, (mean green – kale, celery, apples and lemon) followed by an elimination diet. (foods added in one by one, every 2 days) All my symptoms subsided after a short herx period and a simple diet of fruits and vegetables. No processed foods or sugars. Nuts, legumes, grains and most seeds created GI problems and flares when reintroduced.

Feeling fantastic, still not convinced about the science of nutritional healing, I decided to give in and enjoy vegan pizza. The pain was immense and immediately crushing brain fog, depression and sugar cravings returned.

For some reason I just couldn’t get back on the diet. In denial. I decided it could be the Lyme returning but a Lyme Specialist wasn’t in my budget. I was determined that there had to be a way where I could still enjoy my favorite foods in moderation. Dairy congested me immediately so I knew it was bad and gluten/rice caused intense cramps but I felt so depressed and miserable I kept eating bread products and sugar anyway. The only reason I didn’t gorge on dairy was ethical.

The result of this ‘moderation’ was spending Labor Day in bed with massive joint swelling, once again not wanting to go to the ER because of cost.

As they say in AA, half measures were getting me nowhere so after much research on GI issues I began to understand that my gut was most likely damaged from large amounts of alcohol, my poor diet, my ignorance to my own gluten sensitivity, the Lyme, the Antibiotics (PCP didn’t warn about the importance of probiotics). I also knew that the Lyme could still be hanging out, along with a Candida overgrowth characterized by a sugar addiction that would have me doing disgusting things like eating boxes of chocolates in one sitting and eating candy from morning until night. I used to eat entire boxes of Ferrero Rocher in one sitting, or a jar of Nutella. 

I knew I needed to get back on the fruit/vegetable diet that soothed my symptoms and also detox and heal my system so I could potentially reintroduce nuts and seeds as a protein source.

Bill Clinton reversed Heart Disease with plant based. Venus Williams reversed Sjogrens with a raw vegan diet. Now it was my turn.

I picked my herbs/vits from journals online and Dr Fuhman’s immune boosting suggestions.

I ordered Herbastat, Haritaki and Samento to help kill the bugs. (nothing to do with Fuhrman – not on his plan)

To help my system heal I ordered L-Glutamine, D3, Zinc, B12, DHA/Omega 3, D-Ribose and an Iodene supp which is commonly deficient in vegans. Turmeric also goes in my soups which is an incredible anti inflammatory.

I ordered Primal Defense Probiotics and S Boulardi to help heal my digestive/immune system.

3 – Cold Turkey

I decided to start it all at once because I knew there was no point trying to heal the digestive system while poisoning it. Having just injured myself by eating inappropriate (but amazing) food over Thanksgiving, and having a break in my work schedule in December, I decided it was now or never. I was spending most days in bed, a shell of a person.

Fasting would have been too much on my system, but thanks to my elimination diet in the summer I knew what foods were benign.

For two weeks I was bedridden, taking my herbs and studiously adhering to a variety of whole, blended or souped fruits and vegetables. During the detox I felt so much worse so I found message boards to complain on. Everyone told me to keep going. I took it one day at a time, every ounce of me wanted chips, candy and pizza but I knew this time I couldn’t fail.

My digestion was so terrible I blended anything I could and can’t stress enough the importance of CHEWING FOOD PROPERLY. 

An acceptance letter to TCNJ for graduate studies came in the mail and I pinned it up to stay motivated. I also stumbled across an incredibly low fare for the trip I am taking today and booked it with insurance of course. The idea of both overwhelmed me so much, but I remembered feeling good in the summer, better than I had since I was a small child. It was a huge risk to plan on anything when things had gotten so bad.

There was no sudden event or realization when the detox was over, I simply started spending more and more time out of bed. By the third week I was awake and feeling alive again. I switched to an all juice diet for 5 days with no detox symptoms which made me feel good about backing off the herbs I was taking. I tried reintroducing potatoes and within hours I had symptoms. Nuts and legumes still gave me stomach aches. Processed food knocked me out for a few days.

I didn’t go all organic but I did stop drinking tap water to help myself detox.

4 – Acceptance

I am learning to love my new diet instead of fighting it. I make great soups (using minimal Himalayan salt and coconut oil) and deal with my protein phobia (of all the things I have put into my system I don’t know why too many vegetables is a worry) with kale, green beans and bee pollen.

My average day starts hot peppermint tea with lemon (flush!!!) followed by fresh fruit, apples, bananas and avocados – I can blend them with greens or even just have a green romaine/apple juice.

Lunch is a salad with fruit/vegetables and dinner is almost always a soup or heavy vegetables like squash. 

I don’t buy anything with a barcode (without having a reaction!) and if I have to eat out I’ll get something super plain like steamed vegetables. Salad dressings seem to be an allergen so I stuck with lemon and minimal oil.

As I have been mostly unable to work it’s been on a budget. Costco is a fantastic resource, as are Asian markets. My local Stop  n’ Shop has an expired produce stand that is excellent. Blaming the cost of healthy foods is just an excuse, I can assure you that medical care is much more expensive. Avocadoes, Kale, Apples and Green Beans are all inexpensive when bought in bulk. One doesn’t need exotic super foods, acai berries or wheatgrass shots to regain health!

5 – The Results

I am only 6 weeks in but the reason I don’t mind giving up processed foods is because I literally feel like a new person.

Chronic fatigue had affected every part of my life to the point where I could no longer work and had spiraled into a myriad of health issues. If anyone has seen The Lord Of The Rings, you will remember when the King Of Rohan is cursed and becomes weak, unable to think for himself.

I literally couldn’t get through a day without feeling overwhelmed. I avoided people and friends because pretending to seem engaged when I was exhausted, was exhausting. I would snap at the people I loved and I couldn’t even think positive because it felt like there was a fog in my brain. This summer I cried watching people bike past my house because I felt so sorry for myself.

I didn’t want to live, so I killed myself. I changed my life and who I am. I stopped and listened to my body to find out what foods I could eat instead of binging on the ones I couldn’t. I bought an array of books to change my mindset and help me love myself enough to stick with this. 

It doesn’t matter whether I was toxic and malnourished as Dr Fuhrman would suggest, allergic to harmful components in grains, nightshades and lectins as the Paleo crowd advocate or just so emotionally wounded that stress created this.

In 6 short weeks a laundry list of symptoms has been resolved by around 90% and growing depending on which days I adhere to my healthy diet. Now it’s the new year I don’t need a specialist after all, just a new PCP to help monitor blood work. I had to stop by the doctor to get a shot and it was fantastic to answer no when asked if anything else was bothering me.

I will continue to post and this is just my journey, if others do not believe in natural healing that’s totally fine – I just tried this as a last resort and thankfully it was a success. I am not advocating for anyone else to refuse or ignore medical advice and everyone may have their own route to wellness. I just hope everyone is as lucky as I am and that they can find their way.” 

And at 8 weeks – at the time of posting:  

Fatigue: 90% Improved – only issues have been associated with deviance from the diet

Insomnia: Gone

Brain fog/confusion: Gone

Digestion problems: Beans & seeds are now OK! 

Joint Pain: Gone (took over a month) 

Exercise ability: From trouble walking to heavy cardio such as surfing and intermediate hiking.

Headaches/Migranes: Not one since detox period ended. 

Fibromyalgia/Skin Sensitivity: Gone, but flared when potatoes/tomatoes were reintroduced

Immune System: One sinus infection from dirty sea water, resolved in less than 3 days

ADD/OCD: Keen to keep house organized and clean, better focus

PVC/Arrythmia: Gone

Dependence on coffee: Gone

Other benefits:

Immediate tanning, instead of burning in the sun. 

10lbs weight loss

Reduced muscle pain after exercise. 

Sharp memory, eyesight & smell

To be continued… 

 

The Superfood Binges

Other than our Florida cousins, most of us end up paying double digits for any fruit of the ‘superfood’ variety. I agree with Dr Fuhrman that most of the hype is nothing more than crafty marketing but there’s no question of the benefit of whole fruits. Some in particular such as the Noni have been used for healing in Polynesian tribes for hundreds of years.

On my annual trip to Kauai (I’m thrifty and get good deals) I’ve been loving finding Noni’s (cheap but disgusting), Sour Sop juice (with mint… to die for) and the Mangosteen at roadside stalls. Stores seem to have the standard fare but if anyone is eating right and traveling be sure to look at local produce markets!

I will add pictures when I am home but my favorites have been the Mangosteen (gross shell, incredible center), fresh passion fruit, rambutans (lychees with a fro) and my favorite, the EGGFRUIT. This mango shaped delicacy is grown in Florida too but has a unique dry texture like an egg. And it TASTES LIKE CAKE!

I found a local lady who will send Noni juice from her farm to the mainland for $75 (two giant mason jars which is gross enough to last a long time) – if anyone wants her info let me know.

Other than my distaste of the cold, this trip has compounded my theory that humans are best suited to the tropics. Where else do cakes grow on trees!

Conquering Cravings

It seems like it’s human nature that as soon as we get our heart’s desire, we take it for granted. 

Like a girl I know who was really sick for nearly 20 years, found a limited diet that resolved most of the symptoms but kept getting in her own way by rolling the dice with foods…. 

It started last night with a can of lentil soup because I was starving and couldn’t be bothered to cook a healthy meal. I’m allergic to tomatoes but there was trace amounts in the ingredients. I figured maybe it had magically gone away in the last week since I last had a reaction. Poof, skin pain all night. Instead of letting myself detox I did the unthinkable and bought ‘healthy’ chickpeas… coated with vegan chocolate! This occurred this morning. Within 30 minutes I was drugged like Emma’s encounter with the Mad Hatter on Once Apon A Time. Eyes heavy, legs weak, walked around looking for flip flops while I had them on…

In my past I might have decided to just go get pizza at this point but I’ve learned that when you are eating well your body can usually flush out toxins pretty fast. I also know that the only reason this happened is because I am traveling, didn’t plan my meals correctly and most of all went into a health food store hungry ( I have posted this before, but these can be the most dangerous places for someone on a healthy LID).

There are certainly great ways to control cravings. Juice fasting, never shopping hungry and filling up on greens consistently as part of a balanced diet. 

However almost everyone on this path will eventually be caught unaware & some badass willpower will be required. I may have to force myself to purchase and consume bananas. Sometimes I use the AA trick, I won’t have it just for today. I’m spiritual so I also pray for help with cravings. Food can be nothing more than an addiction, wrapped up in a package saying Vegan & Gluten free. The real problem food – sugar – sneaks into nearly everything. No worries for those who can tolerate it but I need to remember I’m not everyone else. It’s not my diet that’s extreme, it’s the fact I was in bed all last year that I need to focus on. And now I’m not. Plus I hiked 6 miles on a solid mud trail that seemed uphill both ways this week before my food failures started. The new me doesn’t run on chocolate.  I’ve messed this up before and can’t ever let that happen again.