I’m looking at videos of Downtown Miami right now and really hoping anyone in the area has found a way to evacuate to somewhere safe.
It’s so surreal to be over here in sunny California while watching torrential downpours in other parts of the country. It’s easy to get caught up in my day-to-day and not even think about what I would do if a huge storm were coming for me. Where would I go? I don’t even have a driver’s license! Hopefully my friends would bring me with them somewhere safe.
For those of you not fighting mother nature for your life, I want to give an update on some of the health stuff I’ve been working through. I share this because the stuff I’m dealing with could happen to anyone, and I hope it helps at least one person reading this.
To catch you up: I’d been feeling super tired, cranky, moody, and sore for a while. I had a feeling it was dietary, so I hired a nutritionist to help me figure it out.
My nutritionist went through all my symptoms and concluded they were likely caused by systemic inflammation. She took me off all commonly inflammatory foods: gluten, sugar, dairy, alcohol, and she put me on a variety of anti-inflammatory herbs and natural supplements.
Why would I have so much inflammation?
- The theory is the barrier between intestines and bloodstream can become compromised.
- Undigested food particles can then make their way from intestines to bloodstream…
- Where the body’s immune system reacts to this foreign invader …
- And you get inflammation.
- If that same undigested food enters the blood stream again, you can get an even stronger immune response the next time — hence food intolerances.
- Like I said, this could happen to anyone. Systemic inflammation is a root cause of many diseases, including depression, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and pretty much everything else we associate with aging.
If you’re tired all the time, have aches and pains or old injuries that get unexplainably re-flared, feel moody / cranky, and often have a foggy brain, systemic inflammation could be the issue.
Leaky gut and the systemic inflammation resulting from it can lead to a lot of other diseases, usually autoimmune in nature. The immune system keeps getting reactivated by the food you eat every day until it goes wild and starts attacking your own body’s cells.
So far, I don’t seem to have any autoimmune markers, and I’d like to keep it that way. So I followed the restricted diet and took supplements to heal my intestines.
After following my restricted diet for about 3 months, I could start to notice when my body would react to certain foods. It felt like there was less chaos and noise, now that I was eating cleaner, and could tell when something I ate was upsetting my system.
Sometimes I would notice my stomach get upset right after a meal. Other times, there’d be no digestive issues, but I’d start getting joint pain for no reason.
I started paying closer attention, even keeping a food diary at times, and it started to look like maybe I was having a reaction to nightshades. Nightshades include peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes. It’s hard to avoid these common foods.
It was confusing though … sometimes I’d eat a meal with nightshades in it and have no problem. Sometimes I’d experience the stomach upset even though I knew I’d eaten no nightshades.
It got to a point where I started to feel afraid of food. I didn’t know what would send me running to the bathroom or
doubling over with stomach pains, or if my next meal would cause my body to ache for the next two days.
So when my nutritionist suggested we do a full ALCAT food sensitivity test, I agreed. Several vials of blood were drawn and sent to the lab to be tested for antibodies to a wide variety of common foods.
This test was not cheap, by the way. Like almost a thousand dollars. But I decided to go through with it for a few important reasons:
- I would know exactly what foods were causing my painful symptoms, so I could avoid those foods and eliminate those symptoms.
- By avoiding foods that inflame me, I would give my system a chance to restore the impermeability of my intestinal barrier. If I could heal my leaky gut, I could go back to eating trigger foods without a reaction.
- By avoiding foods that cause an immune reaction, I’d avoid aggravating my immune system further and developing an autoimmune disease.
- When I talk with people about my diet, I often hear things like “I could never stick to a diet like that!” Sometimes people say they’d rather not know if a food was triggering them.
Yes, it’s a pain. It’s hard. I miss pizza. But my instant gratification now would mean even harder times and pain down the road. I plan to have more energy than I do now when I’m 50. I plan on healing my body so I have more energy to devote to building my business.
The ALCAT test informed me that some common foods were triggering a moderate immune flare up, including:
- Black beans
- Ancho chiles
That explains why some dishes with nightshades (like Eggplant chili) would cause a reaction, but others, like potatoes or tomatoes, would be fine. Or why sometimes I’d get the reaction after eating a kale salad with no nightshades.
Every body has a different reaction to stress. This is mine.
Once I stopped eating those foods, I started feeling better immediately. After about a week or two, I could definitely see my energy and mood increase. My joint pain went away. I’m sleeping better. I’m thinking more clearly.
So it’s working. My efforts are paying off. And I have to keep reminding myself because sticking to this is hard. I have to avoid most off the shelf dressings and spreads and spice blends and make everything from scratch. Eating out is a mine field.
It’s worth it, I keep reminding myself.
Whatever you’re working on, keep going. Celebrate the small victories and find ways to remind yourself why you’re doing it. It’s worth it.