This week has been a doozy with many ups and downs! The biggest up is that I am employed and begin my new full-time job May 1st with ISU's Office of Admissions as a Communication Specialist! I am so excited for this opportunity and can't wait to continue working in higher education :-) I couldn't be happier, and a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Woohoo!
On the flip side, I have been not going about my health protocol the best way these past two weeks. I have started to get impatient and cranky about my leaky gut (see my post on leaky gut here) and tried implementing way too many supplements too fast. I reacted poorly to l-glutamine, selenium, and powdered gelatin, and now I'm trying to mitigate the effects of a hormonal flare (helllllllo cystic acne!). Thankfully, things have seemed to calm down, and the breakout stopped, but I was not happy camper.
I get frustrated because Hashi's is not my only issue, as is the case for pretty much anyone with an autoimmune disease. I believe that I have a MTHFR gene mutation, and as a result I have histamine intolerance. I have been managing my HIT pretty well lately, but I had a lot of symptoms crop back up this past week: itchiness, mood swings, bloated, really dry/red/bumpy skin, anxiousness, and cysts. Hopefully I will get this under control in the near future, as it's currently my number one health priority.
As a result, I'm trying to avoid high histamine foods and plan on writing a post on other tactics I'm implementing to get back on the right track. So, if you see my fan favorites missing from some of these pictures that's why (bacon, avocado, and ripe plantains are all high in histamine... of COURSE -_-).
Anyway, here we go! My favorite dishes from the past two weeks, since I didn't get around to posting last Sunday :-)
1) Ground Turkey Meatballs
3) Chicken thigh, Swordfish, Kalamata Olives, Brussel Sprouts, Asparagus, Greens, and Zucchini
4) Green Beans, Ground Turkey Meatball, Greens, and Orange
5) Bacon, Zucchini, Onion, and Golden Sweet Potato
6) Chicken Thigh, Roasted Carrot, Baby Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Pumpkin Puree, Zucchini Porridge and Greens
7) Chicken Thigh, Roasted Carrot, Butternut Squash, Broccoli Slaw, Bacon, and Greens
8) Cauliflower Mash, Zucchini Noodles, Cod, and Greens
9) Yellow Squash (Zucchini) Porridge and Butternut Squash, Broccoli Slaw, and Bacon
10) Mashed Plantains and Avocado
Have any of my lovely readers tried something new this week? Have any questions for me? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time!
So, a month or so ago I wrote a post on some of my favorite supplements that help me control bloating and gas, but it's more so important to figure out the root cause of your symptoms instead of guzzling down supplements or medication for forever. A lot of you reached out to me about having the same uncomfortable and unpleasant symptoms, so today's post is for you :-)
The past few months I've been doing a lot of research on leaky gut and intestinal permeability. In the autoimmune community, there has been a lot of acceptance that individuals living with an autoimmune disease most likely have stomach lining issues. Or at least those of us with Hashimoto's do, so this makes a lot of sense to me. One more piece added to my puzzle *pumps fists* *hoorays* *jumps for joy* Oh, and even if you don't have an autoimmune disease, there is a good chance that your stomach lining could use a little assistance, so please read on!
As an aside, for those of you who don't have a chronic illness, it may seem weird to celebrate a diagnose or an ailment, but it helps me create an operational healthcare plan that will make me feel better sooner rather than later. Prior to my hashi's diagnosis I spent most of the summer tooling around the Internet, spending tons of money on unnecessary supplements, and stabbing around in the dark for solutions.
Anyway, I digress, it's a bad habit. Today I am going to talk about what leaky gut is, the causes of leaky gut, and how to work to correct it (I'm definitely still in the process of doing this...). *Disclaimer* There will be a lot of references in this article because I cannot explain these terms as well as some of the lovely scientists and doctors that exist within the autoimmune/chronic illness community.
What is leaky gut?
So, one of our gut's main functions is to digest food and break that food down into its basic form. Whatever we can't break down is turned into waste and out it goes! Moreover, only a small layer of cells called enterocytes separates our stomach lining from the rest of our insides/body/bloodstream (hopefully you get the point... Bill Nye help a sister out!!!).
In healthy people, the enterocytes are fully intact and keep our stomach lining tight and are not permeable. In individuals with leaky gut the stomach lining is permeable, which causes undigested proteins, bacteria, and other waste products to enter into our blood stream or lymphatic system. This leakage (I don't like that phrasing, but it is what it is), and the release of toxins into our blood stream, causes our bodies to wage an attack on these unrecognized invaders.
Once this happens, inflammation and overtaxation of the liver can occur. The body can then launch an attack on itself as it becomes confused and is unsure of what to do with the multitude of undigested particles floating around one's blood stream and lymphatic system.
Okay, I'm going to stop trying to play scientist and direct you toward a very reputable article by The Paleo Mom by clicking here... oh, and here's another article worth reading to shed more light on this issue.
Where does leaky gut come from?
Well, now that you have somewhat of an idea as to what leaky gut is, you may be wondering, but how do you get it? Or why do I have it in the first place? This question is easier for me to answer/write about since it doesn't involve too much sciencey jargon ;-) Simply put, certain foods, infections, toxins, and medications can cause leaky gut.
Gluten, dairy, sugar, and alcohol can all negatively affect your stomach lining. Good thing these items comprised literally 75%, if not more so, of my diet in college and growing up. It's amazing to look back and reflect on how all of my past decisions and health choices have directly impacted my health today.
Moreover, candida, parasites, and small intestine bacterial growth also can contribute to leaky gut. I can definitely check off candida and parasites, so it's really no surprise as to why I have leaky gut, but you have to be your own detective if you suspect you have leaky gut! I'll get to the symptoms in a second here, so you can begin to unpack your personal intestinal mysteries :-)
Next, mercury poisoning, over-exposure to BPA, and pesticides may also be a contributing factor. Oh, and as with pretty much any illness, lack of sleep and stress will mess your stomach up. Lastly, medications such as Advil, Motrin, antibiotics, steroids, and acid-reducing drugs may cause leaky gut.
What are the symptoms?
- Issues with digestion, bloating, and gas
- Food intolerances or allergies
- Acne, rosacea, eczema
- Mood imbalances and mental struggles (ADD, ADHD, etc.)
- Chronic fatigue
- Hormonal issues/imbalances
- Candida overgrowth
(A more extensive list can be found here)
How can I fix leaky gut?
Every time I go to type leaky gut I accidentally type leaky guy! Ewwwwww. Anyway, can you tell I'm a bit overtired and burnt out at the moment? More importantly, how can we repair our gut lining to fix all of the aforementioned symptoms? I'm still struggling with this, and I have only recently really started following any type of protocol to fix these issues. Eating a healthy diet is not enough - certain steps and supplements need to be implemented.
1) Stop eating crappy food, no seriously, put down the slice of pizza and don't drink that soda. In order to repair your gut lining, you have to 100% commit to a healthy diet and stick to it. Also, not drinking alcohol is CRUCIAL, which can be challenging at times. I feel so much better now that I don't drink though, so it's definitely worth it. Plus, it's nice to actually remember what happened the night before when I wake up every morning. Here's some information on a diet that will help repair your gut lining, it's what I eat, and is called the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol.
2) Include digestive aids such as digestive enzymes and betaine HCL. See my prior post on why these supplements are so helpful by clicking the link above.
3) Incorporate healing foods/beverages
4) Take the following supplements
Okay, so that was A LOT of information, but hopefully it all made sense and flowed nicely. Fixing leaky gut is not an overnight cure, and it requires time, patience, and discipline, but it will be worth it for me in the end. My motivation is clear skin and being able to reintroduce foods such as eggs and nuts back into my diet. Oh almond butter, how I miss you so!
Readers, what's your take on this topic? Do you suspect you might have leaky gut? Do you have any suggestions on how to ease stomach discomfort? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time!
4 Steps to Heal Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Disease - Dr Axe. (2013, August 7). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://draxe.com/4-steps-to-heal-leaky-gut-and-autoimmune-disease/
Meyers, D. (2013, September 12). 9 Signs You Have A Leaky Gut. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-10908/9-signs-you-have-a-leaky-gut.html
The Paleo Mom. (2012, March 12). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/03/what-is-leaky-gut-and-how-can-it-cause.html
The Paleo Mom. (2012, April 5). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/04/what-should-you-eat-to-heal-leaky-gut.html
Weil, D. (2005, December 12). Q & A Library. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA361058/what-is-leaky-gut.html
Wilson, S. (2014, September 26). My latest gut health obsession: Gelatin. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.sarahwilson.com/2014/09/my-latest-gut-health-obsession-gelatin/
So, I am going to share an older post that I wrote for my dear friend Chandler's website, Loudspeaker, and I recommend you check out the amazing things that he does for social issues by visiting said website!
Anyway, over the summer, before I was eating an AIP diet, I struggled a lot with navigating the grocery store and figuring out what I could or couldn't eat. For those of you who have more freedom to eat pre-packaged foods, this article is for you! At this point in time, I eat maybe 2-3 products that I can eat without cooking, so playing Sherlock Holmes in the grocery store is not as big of an issue for me.
Read on to figure out how allergens can be hiding in your food (ah! the gluten monster!), what ingredients to avoid if you have specific allergies, and ultimately, be an informed consumer aka boss when you go food shopping!
P.S. I was eating a somewhat-paleo diet when I posted this, just FYI ;-) You can see how much knowledge I have gained since receiving my official Hashi's diagnosis! As of now, I won't even touch a tortilla chip or try to sneak things into my diet that cause inflammation (except for that jar of almond butter that I wolfed down post-thesis defense... oops! >.<)
It’s pretty funny how I just wrote a post about checking food labels, and yet I didn’t follow my own advice at the grocery store just the other day. I was in the organic section at our lovely Kroger and noticed a package of spinach fettucine noodles next to some gluten-free pasta. I snagged the spinach noodles off of the shelf thinking they were GF, had a meal planned out in my head on the drive back to my house, got home and happened to check the back of the package. Naturally, staring me in the face was “CONTAINS: WHEAT” and my roommate scored yet another one of my food hand-me-downs thanks to my arch enemy, gluten.
While it was pretty obvious that this food had gluten in it after glancing at the ingredient list, (sometimes I think food should have NOT GLUTEN FREE on the front of packages, that would be really considerate for all parties involved. Seriously, someone get on that) sometimes it isn’t so clear what is hiding in your favorite snack.
Today, I’m going to provide you all with some resources that I use to ensure that I’m not ingesting the plethora of ingredients that upset my poor excuse of a stomach (it’s okay, we have a love hate relationship), in the hopes that you won’t have to play detective every time you frequent the grocery store.
Since I eat a Paleo diet (well, for the most part… it’s nearly impossible for me to give up corn chips and rice. I’m fine with not being a cavewoman 100% of the time, as much as I used to dig the Flinstones back in the day) I have to be on the look out for the following ingredients: gluten/wheat, dairy, soy, added sugars, and corn (except for those triangle shaped pieces of heaven know as tortilla chips). Whether you have to avoid these food types because of allergies or insensitivities, or you’re just trying to eat more Paleo-like, you’re only doing yourself a favor in the long run by investigating what each ingredient is in the food you consume.
First, let’s go over funky lingo for gluten. Gluten likes to hide in many foods aside from breads, cookies, pastas, and other obvious gluten-y foods. This one time I decided to eat some creamed spinach (yeah, it was as gross as it sounds) and my stomach immediately looked like I swallowed a balloon whole. I checked the package and saw that it contained modified food starch, and since the only other ingredients were spinach and cream, I Googled “is there gluten in modified food starch” and had my answer (it’s yes, in case you were wondering).
A lot of the time, gluten is used to make creams thicker, just like in the spinach dish, so always make sure to check your labels, because ingredients can be added to your favorite products over time, or different brands might use different ingredients to make the same product.
*Here are some other ingredients that contain gluten*: artificial flavoring, bleach flour, dextrin, hydrolyzed wheat protein, malt, maltodextrin, natural flavoring, vegetable starch, wheat grass, and wheat starch. For a more extensive list please check out http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/read-and-understand-labels-to-select-paleoapproved.html (please note that I do not think that you are a dummy, if so, I am definitely the queen of ingredient mishaps ☺)
Next on our list is soy. I plan on writing an article in the near future on why soy, as well as some of the other ingredients in this post, should be limited in your diet, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I avoid soy because I am currently struggling to get my estrogen levels down (and when I say currently I mean for the last two years, thanks copper IUD (intrauterine device)), but just like gluten, soy likes to hide out in foods too. For instance, miso soup, one of my favorites, tofu, and tempeh, and this makes it harder on vegetarians to limit soy in their diets.
*Other names for soy include*: artificial flavoring, hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP), tamari, vegetable broth, vegetable gum, and vegetable starch. For more “sneaky” names for soy, please check out the website listed above ☺.
Now it’s time for dairy, which is a food group that my poor old Italian soul misses the most. There is no such substitute for fresh mozzarella (or even mozzarella sticks, YUM!), alfredo sauce, or some grated parmigano-reggiano (yes, I used to lip grated parmesan cheese like chewing tobacco, no, I am not ashamed of this habit at all). I avoid dairy like the plague because every time I eat some my hormones rebel and I get cystic acne breakouts (as much as I love cheese, it’s just not worth having bumps all over my face for a few moments of bliss).
If you’ve been having trouble with your complexion, maybe dairy is the culprit. Here are some ingredients that are dairy laden: butter, casein, cream, custard, ghee, goat milk, magnesium caseinate, nougat, sour cream, whey, whey protein (search on Amazon for vegan protein powder for a dairy-free alternative. I use Sun Warrior and swear by it), whipped cream, and yogurt. Here’s an awesome website that has more dairy ingredients, potential dairy ingredients, and dairy-free ingredients: http://www.godairyfree.org/food-and-grocery/food-label-info/dairy-ingredient-list
I’ll try to make these last two ingredients (sugar and corn) quick, as I don’t want to bombard you all with too much information. In my last post, I covered artificial sweeteners, but if you are looking to cut back on your sugar intake overall, there are other ingredients to look out for. If you see any of these ingredients, sugar has been added: agave nectar, cane crystals, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrin, disaccharide, evaporated cane juice, fructose, lactose, malt syrup, ribose, treacle, and xylose. Reference the dummies link to see their full list of added sugars if you’d like to know more.
Last is corn. I find it humorous that I’ve tried to cut back my corn consumption soon after moving to the Mid West, especially since I live next to a cornfield. The New York in me is actually cringing as I say that. Anyway, corn gets a bad rep. because it has a bad ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, and this imbalance can lead to inflammation and cause many other illnesses (Callahan, S.). Not to mention, we are unable to digest corn, which cannot be good for our stomach or GI tract (I’m trying really hard to refrain from make a fecal matter joke, anyone who knows me knows how hard of a challenge that is, but I will spare you, the reader ☺). Per usual, I’ve rambled on, so here are some ingredients that contain corn: artificial flavoring, corn oil, dextrin, dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, sorbitol, vegetable gum, xantham gum, and xylitol. Want more corn ingredients? Check out the dummies link!
Okay, so that concludes my crash course on ingredient labels, at least for now. As always, feel free to leave a comment if you have a question, a supplemental source or fact, or even something that challenges what I’ve talked about today. I’m still figuring out what I’ll post about next week, so if you have a suggestion definitely let me know! This will end up becoming redundant, but use the Internet to help you figure out your own health journey, the answers are out there if you look long and hard, I promise ☺.
P.S. Also look into purchasing an app for your phone called Fooducate. It allows you to select ingredients that you want to avoid, scans barcodes of food products at the grocery store, and then alerts you if it contains whatever ingredients you selected. I highly suggest it for those of you who are just starting out. It helped me immensely.
Callahan, S. “The Ugly Truth About Corn – What It Really Is, Why You Shouldn’t Eat It, and How It Never Seems to Go Away.” The Ugly Truth About Corn – What It Really Is, Why You Shouldn’t Eat It, and How It Never Seems to Go Away. Callahan Strong23, 23 Mar. 2013. Web. 25 June 2014.
Fleming, A. “The Dairy Ingredient List – Go Dairy Free.” Go Dairy Free. Go Dairy Free, 16 May 2006. Web. 25 June 2014.
Joulwan, M., & Kellyann P. “Read and Understand Labels to Select Paleo-Approved Foods.” Read and Understand Labels to Select Paleo-Approved Foods. For Dummies, n.d. Web. 25 June 2014.
Okay, so things are somewhat slowing down academically, but I just got a job at the YMCA to bring in some extra $$$ so my schedule has still been pretty jam packed! That's okay though. I operate best when I'm busy.
I am happy to report that I have had zero slip-ups this week with my AIP protocol regiment, and I have upped one of my supplements (Estroblock - helps to detox my body of excess estrogen which is a HUGE issue for me), and I am feeling much, much better. Hopefully this trend will continue! I have a few other supplements that I need to look into (I just started selenium to help my poor old thyroid, and I need to research ferritin some more to help with my iron levels), but I am satisfied with everything right now.
I have been dealing with a nasty head cold the past few days, but I am always surprised at how well my body gets over a cold despite my having an autoimmune disease. I've been touting around a full box of tissues just in case though ;-)
Anyway, I have really been happy with the meals I made this week, and I am excited to try some new recipes later today. While I obviously don't have pictures of the finished product of said recipes, I will post them below in case you want to try them out!
1) Cod, avocado, roasted carrots, zoodles, zucchini, greens, and brussel sprouts
2) Sardine salad with greens, avocado, kalamata olives, mango, and cucumbers
3) Plantain Chips!
4) Chicken thigh, brussel sprouts, roasted carrots, greens, avocado, and mango
5) Autoimmune Paleo care package courtesy of barefootprovisions and The Paleo Mom!
6) Chicken thigh, coconut chips, greens, and carrots
7) Yucca fries! :-)
As promised, here are some of the recipes that I will be putting together later this evening/this week:
1) Plantain and Apple Fritters by The Paleo Mom
2) Roasted Veggies, Bacon and Pan-Fried Figs by Enjoying This Journey
3) Instant Oatmeal by Grazed and Enthused
4) Olive Tapenade by Feed Me Rachel
Have any of you all made anything new and exciting this week? If so, feel free to comment below :-)
Until next time!
Okay, so, self-control has not always been my forte. This health journey has challenged me in so many ways, and one of those areas has been changing my diet and lifestyle and sticking to it. In the past I have had trouble committing to a new dietary change, workout routine, bedtime, or breaking free from toxic relationships, etc. But when you have an autoimmune disease, self-control, discipline, and at times, restriction, are necessary in order to feel better.
I'm sure we all have tried to adhere to some sort of change in our lives that fell by the wayside in a matter of weeks, days, or even hours. While I don't think we as humans should be perfectionists, I do get upset with myself when I get all rebellious and then wonder why I have a pimple the size of a quarter (okay, I'm being hyperbolic, but I'm a bit dramatic at times) on my face, or why the bags under my eyes seemingly stretch past my cheek bones, or why I'm cranky for a stretch of three days.
Yes, I think it's important to give ourselves some freedom to "slip up" here and there, but it's also important to get back on track ASAP so as to not undo our hard work. I have found myself stretching one bad day into a week and then some. In the past it has been too easy for me to justify a string of cheat days, but thankfully, I have learned from my mistakes :-) Therefore, I'm going to talk about my most recent fall off the wagon, the result of these actions, and how I plan to move forward.
Recently, I have had a lot of exciting things going on in my life: I passed my thesis defense, I got a new job, I met someone who makes me happy, and I've just been in a really stable space mentally and physically. Whenever I have a culmination of good fortune I start to feel invincible. I do believe this emotion to be a good one, but it can be easy to get wrapped up in it all and lose that voice in my head that keeps me on track.
I find that celebrations and hanging out with loved ones especially trigger my need to dissent. After all, I am a rebel at heart, but I just seemingly have grown out of my binge-drinking, rule-breaking, unhealthy behaviors of the past. But, the past couple of weeks have been some of the happiest of my life and I wanted to celebrate.
As such, I've been a bit more lax with my diet and lifestyle habits, which has resulted in both negative mental and physical effects: bouts of bad moods, increased anxiety, crankiness, a bloated belly, cystic acne, and an overall lack of energy. I have eaten two jars of almond butter, munched on some rice from Chipotle (and ate their chicken and guac which probably aren't cooked in AIP approved oils...) , and also had some wine (and proceeded to feel buzzed/drunk after half a glass... oh okay!).
In addition, I have not been getting to bed at a decent hour, and at times, I have forgotten to take crucial supplements. While this doesn't seem like anything crazy, as it's not like I ate an entire package of Oreos and washed it down with milk, (Lord help my poor toilet if that were to ever happen...) I experienced immediate deleterious effects after each and every detour. But, I will say, that almond butter was worth the pimples ;-)
Anyway, now I am trying to recover from the damage, and it's been a tad annoying. I hate when I get cysts, and they really mess with my self-esteem. I don't like feeling bloated, and it makes me very grumpy. I also had some really weird itchiness and lock-jaw-esque symptoms after drinking two glasses of wine. Needless to say, it is apparent that I need to stick to the AIP protocol 100% and try proper reintroductions instead of consuming a whole jar of almond butter in one sitting.
Okay, so enough of wallowing in self-pity. I'm now going to discuss how I plan to move forward, as this certainly isn't the first time I've had an "oopsies" on my health journey.
1) If you're going to deviate from your diet, health plan, exercise routine, etc. do it with pride and happiness, not guilt and shame. There is no point in having a "cheat" day or the like if you're going to insult and berate yourself the entire time. Enjoy the moment. I know I savored every bite of my almond butter :-)
2) Don't punish yourself after the fact. It happened and there is nothing you can do about it now. Instead of beating yourself up about the slip-up, look forward and create a plan for how to avoid this situation in the future if it is something you wish to avoid.
3) Avoid restarting your countdown or tally the next day. If you went 30 days without eating gluten or dairy and had one little piece of cheese, why start the count all over again? To me, framing a health goal in this light can be negative and not affirming. It makes me view myself as a failure instead of a normal human being. Maybe try using percentages instead if you have to assign a number to it. I myself don't formally track my progress anymore because I found it to be counteractive to my lifestyle goals (acceptance, living in the moment, forgiveness), but of course, do as you please :-) (not that you need permission from me!!!)
4) Empower yourself with information and facts as to why your health goals and habit changes are going to help you in the long run. For me, I know that every time I eat or drink something that isn't approved on the AIP protocol that I am ruining all of my hard work. I know this because I have spent countless hours researching correlations and connections between a certain food, supplement imbalance, substance, and effects.
Previously stated, this can result in deleterious physical and mental symptoms, which really put me on my behind and overwhelm me. Sometimes I'm willing to stomach (no pun intended...) these symptoms, as was the case the past two weeks. 99% of the time, the fear of a cyst, inflammation, a sleepless night, and/or a major mood imbalance keep me on the straight and narrow.
5) Don't get discouraged if you find yourself continuously making "mistakes." We are all human. When it comes to food and substances, there can be addictive properties at play which make it hard to simply stop eating gluten, dairy, or sugar cold turkey. When I first tried quitting gluten and dairy I would continuously find myself shoving sleeves of cookies and tubs of ice cream into my face thanks to candida die-off and side effects from antidepressants (seriously though, SSRIs are NOT my friend and made me have the appetite of a bear getting ready for hibernation.) It took me a very long time to break free from my emotional addiction to food, and sometimes I regress and regress hard.
So, I am now back to toting my pill box with me everywhere, eating a 100% AIP protocol diet, and making sure my tushy get's to bed at a decent hour! It's not easy, especially as the weather gets nicer and I have more time to be social, but I know better because I have fallen time and time again and it truly messes with my identity and pride. What's most important though is that I pick myself up each and every time!
I would love to hear from you all about any difficulties or triumphs you have had enacting health behaviors! What has worked for you? What hasn't?
Thanks for tuning in and putting up with my hiatus! I hope you all enjoyed this post :-)
Until next time!