I can tell you first hand how true this statement is by Stefani Ruper in Sexy by Nature. I’ve been on a journey to heal from the inside out.
I can identify with Tonya from Flame to Fork when she said “Something to help everyone feel a bit more “normal” while living in a world where they can’t eat normal”. I’ve shed a few tears myself. In frustration , in desperation and in pure why me? fashion, I have felt less than human on many days. And then, in the middle of my sob story, I read another humans story and realize I am not alone. I am human because of my story. Just like the many others who suffer from their own varying autoimmune and leaky gut issues.
This is my story as of right now. Sometimes it seems downright futile. But then I rememeber that I always have the choice in how I respond to a situation.
The not-so-great of my vague, yet troublesome symptoms:
– A diffuse, macropapular rash similar to an allergic hive reaction, so itchy, yet I got it every single time I ate. Yes, every single time food went in my mouth, my body was attacking itself. My naturopath said this was from overactive histamine receptors from a long time of general inflammation.
-bloating (to the point of having 6month pregnant looking belly)
-amnorrhea and menstrual irregularity (including periods of 10 days to 2 weeks)
– leg cramps
-horrible, week long reaction to alcohol including water retention, and a flu-like syndrome likely related to the MTHFR mutation
-i actually get “sick” very frequently. Think stomach flues, pneumonia, sinus infections, and the most recent Mononucleosis.
-chronically low white blood cell count and low IgG (the immunity portion of your blood)
-immense pain in my abdomen with gas and bowel movements
-yeast overgrowth (which produces a major intolerance to sugar and reoccurring yeast infections)
-gastritis (inflammation of the stomach)
-fatigue. not just I’m sleepy fatigue, but I can sleep anywhere , at any time fatigue. (and I do. I’ve been known to just fall asleep in the middle of conversations. how embarrassing)
– SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
– severe stinky, and sticky sweating
-persistantly being cold
– i bleed and bruise ridiculously easy. like spontaneous nosebleeds everywhere and huge bruises that make me look like an assault victim
-low blood pressure (yay for fainting everywhere and anywhere)
-two symptoms, only occur now if I am glutinized (my official term). brain “fog” and neuropathy, tingling and numbness in my fingers
-anxiety (now for the chicken and the egg scenario. do i have anxiety because of all the aforementioned and my restrictions, or is anxiety one of the actually symptoms. I think its both. more on that later. )
I have gone through a variety of diet plans, removing offending foods, trying food pairings, hot or cold foods etc. But nothing to date has completely helped. It only removes one or two symptoms for a while, but they always come back. After much research, I began realizing that my symptoms tend to line up with many others who suffer autoimmune disorders and have tried the autoimmune paleo diet with much success. My journey into the Autoimmune Paleo protocol has been a modified approach as directed from my naturopath, our main focus has been actually getting nutrients into my cells. Eggs and nightshades were removed months ago and now I need to do the full elimination diet. The basic tenant of this autoimmune protocol is that by not eating pro-inflammatory foods (that is to say anything that contributes to, directly causes inflammation or assist with inflammation), it gives your body time to heal and start fresh:
Foods To Avoid on AIP
Grains, Soy, Dairy, Legumes (including green peas and beans)
Nuts/Seeds (including seed-based spices like mustard and cumin, chocolate and coffee)
All capiscums (bell peppers, red pepper, jalapenos, paprika, cayenne, etc)
Tomato (including tomatillo)
Ashwaganda (medicinal herb)
Alcohol, NSAIDs, additives, preservatives, guar gum and carrageenan
Foods to enjoy:
- all fresh meat, poultry and seafood (preferably locally sourced and organic where possible)
- organ meats and bone broth
- Veggies: acorn squash, artichoke, arugula, asparagus, beets, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, cucumber, fennel, garlic, greens, jicama, kabocha squash, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, onions, parsnips, plantain, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb, scallions, seaweed, spaghetti squash, spinach, summer squash, sweet potato, turnip, and winter squash.
- natural fats from meat, avocado, coconut and olive (including their oils)
- herbs: basil, bay leaf, rosemary, sage, thyme, lemon balm, lavender
- spices :cinnamon, clove, garlic, ginger, horseradish, mace, saffron, sea salt, and turmeric
- coconut milk, coconut flour and coconut aminos (soy sauce replacement)
- and if I’m craving something sweet, coconut butter (or coconut manna) really comes in handy
- 2-3 servings of fruit/sweets a day: including honey and dates
- note: fermented foods are allowed but I personally cannot tolerate at this point
Autoimmune and inflammotory disorders include celiacs disease and asthma (mine is severe), and Hashimotos, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis. One of the tenants of healing autoimmune disorders is avoiding steroids, which I have to be on to control my asthma otherwise I cannot breath (inhaled corticosteroid). I haven’t been able to come off or even reduce this medication at all yet. Maybe one day I will be able to. I have removed my contraceptive, and am working on removing the Celebrex (long term antiinflammatory) that I take for my back pain . I take ACV to rebuild my stomach acid, instead of the acid-reducing medication that actually only makes symptoms worse. Part of my problem has been that my stomach acid was so low, my stomach was no longer able to do its job properly; there was not enough acid to actually digest food and foreign material properly. Letting food and bacteria through to my damaged intestines, where it then seeped through the broken gut lining into my bloodstream where it continued to break havoc by increasing the inflammation process and my histamine receptors worked overtime unable to decipher true allergens anymore.
I have been on this journey almost two years already. One of the biggest things we have observed is that I am super, incredibly sensitive to even the tiniest of changes. Therefore, we will only make one change at a time. Even with herbals I can have a severe reaction. All these other pieces that have been crucial to my continue healing, have been through a slow, methodical trial and error process. Digestive enzymes and cycles of HCL, high dose dairy and FODMAP free probiotics, lemon water, chlorophyll pills (i realize this is an algae), omega 3 fish oil, magnesium (in the form of CALM), L-taurine, L-glutamine, 5-methyl-folate, vitamin B5, the “spleen diet” (all foods need to be heated and/or broken down i.e. a smoothie), bone broth, peppermint oil and tea, Himalayan pink sea salt to everything, vitamin IV infusions, acupuncture, tinctures and liquids aimed at healing energies based on Chinese medicine, restorative activity (i.e. hot yoga and walking), and sleep! Of all these factors, me moving sleep from last priority to first has made the biggest difference. I am learning to listen to my body. And if I just got up 2 hours ago, but my body is telling me to sleep already, I do. Now, obviously sometimes this isn’t possible with many other commitments calling me. But when I can, I do. No more berating myself for saying that “I shouldn’t feel this way”. Thats not productive or being kind to my body. That is what I need. And it does help. Now, I still regularly will sleep for 10-12 hrs a night, and still have naps; I don’t feel guilty for it anymore. This is my journey to healing and it includes a large amount of sleep.
Bottom line is that healing for me is not just about removing foods, its about a multi-faceted and whole lifestyle approach to healing. Its about viewing the body as the sum of the parts, not just about one part, and about loving my body as it is, today. Its about the synergy in my mind, my emotions, my soul and my body.
- Focusing on what I do have, like eating nutrient dense foods that don’t cause inflammation (i.e. yummy plantains)
- that I am not alone, reaching out to others on their own healing journeys
- Minimizing stress and dealing with emotions as they come
- Counselling, burn journaling and meditation have all been tools for healing my mind.
- restorative activity. which includes long walks, yoga and just recently short, light, full body workouts at the gym
For more information: my own AIP pinterest page. Just click on the link to see 100s of recipes and resources I have been collecting. My favorite cookbook on this topic is The Practical Paleo , as Diane shows you how to modify meal plans for your certain needs. Otherwise here are a few direct links to some of my favourite AIP bloggers:
- Flame to fork
- The Paleo Mom
- Grazed and Enthused
- Beyond the Bite
- The Paleo Magazine
- Autoimmune Paleo
- Phoenix Helix
- The Real Food Guide
- The Curious Coconut
- He Won’t Know its Paleo
- Alternative Immune
- Comfort Bites
- The Paleo Partridge
- Grazed and Enthused