Five Stories of Nutrition and Healing in Autoimmunity

Stories of Nutrition and Healing

Today, I listened to a Phoenix Helix podcast Episode 30. I love her Stories podcasts which are Episodes 1, 14 and 30. In each of these three episodes, Eileen interviews people with different autoimmunity diseases. Today several of the stories really hit home for me.

In the first story, Tracey reversed Scleroderma, Polymyositis, and Raynaud’s with the Autoimmune Protocol diet (AIP). She had severe muscle destruction from her disease and is now back to participating in golfing tournaments and helping to (GASP – she’s 50) take care of her grand babies while running several businesses. Many of her symptoms sound like mine. Even with exercise, she continued to get weaker.

In the second story, Joe healed her severe Psoriasis with AIP. This story was interested b/c stress was a HUGE trigger for her Psoriasis. Even now in near complete remission, a lot of stress will bring on patches. Also sugar is a huge trigger for her autoimmune issues. So while paleo community has “paleofied” many treats using natural sweeteners, even those can be problematic. As Eileen says, if you’re on AIP and still not getting better, remove AIP treats completely to see if that is a trigger. Jo has a blog www.comfortbites.com with best trips for treating psoriasis. What hit home for me was that when she was stressed, it was hard to make wise food choices which of courses makes you feel worse.

In the third story, Dora discusses healing Grave’s disease with AIP. She is early in her journey but is slowly making progress in getting better. She got huge improvements, including a goiter shrinking, after just a few weeks on AIP and being off of steroids for a year. If you want some AIP version of Chinese dishes, check out Dora’s blog, Provincial Paleo.

In the fourth story, Freyja successful treats uveitis with AIP after numerous steroids including eye injections did not work. Interestingly, while she has no symptoms before her diagnosis and AIP, when she went back on a standard diet within hours she felt like she had the flu, she developed psoriasis in 3days, and her back pain which she had learned to live with and had disappeared on the 3months of AIP, was back.

In the fifth and final story, Barbara was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, which her mom also had. While Parkinson’s is not thought to be autoimmune disease, Barbara was told by her doctor to try Dr. Wahl’s protocol for just a few months. She got her life back w/ Dr. Wahl’s protocol. When the holidays came and she ate standard foods, her Parkinson’s symptoms returned.

These stories really drive home for me the importance of nutrition in fighting any chronic illness.

12 Common Triggers for Autoimmune Disease

This article, 12 Common Triggers for Autoimmune Disease, very succinctly discusses the impact that nutrition has on autoimmunity. I think the phrase “being on the autoimmune spectrum” describes autoimmunity very well. I think many more people are on the autoimmune spectrum than have full-blown autoimmune disease. I feel my best and look my best (no bloat) when I stay true to autoimmune protocol. When I finally cut out most nightshades, my GI tract was much happier. I’ve not been able to have dairy in decades. I refused to give up beans until I realized how much they inflame my GI tract. When I eat clean, I have less inflammation in my hands and feet. In fact, my last blood work showed no inflammation as based on the common markers!!!

I am currently reading Dr. Amy Myer’s new book, The Autoimmune Solution. I will post my thoughts on her book in another post! Stay tuned….

Dr. Terry Wahls – Healing MS with nutrition, exercise, meditation

This is a wonderful video by Dr. Terry Wahls. She is a traditionally trained physician who lived life on the other side of the desk – as a Multiple Sclerosis patient. She was quickly confined to a zero-gravity chair for most of the time until she started researching animal models for healing the brain. She has a book titled,

The Wahls Protocol – How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine.

I am dealing with the possibility of a second autoimmune diagnosis, Myasthenia Gravis. It’s time for me to further refine my nutrition so that I’m able to keep the level of fitness that I so enjoy.

To watch the video, just click here.

Autoimmunity and fitness with Focus T25

While looking for a specific youtube video I made recently, I came across this one from October 30, 2013 filmed during Focus T25 Speed 3.0. In this video, I was struggling because I had not had anything to eat prior to working out. While I have worked out first thing in the morning for years, since developing Sjogren’s Syndrome, this has become problematic. I feel weak and nauseous during my workouts. I just realized that at some point, I started working out again on an empty stomach and was fine. I felt great, in fact. I had awesome P90X3 and 21 Day Fix workouts! I am now back to struggling and didn’t make the connection to not eating before a workout! I think this happened because I started waking up later and therefore, didn’t have time for my morning Shakeology to digest and workout before having to start school with the boys. I think when I am in an autoimmune flare, I need to have some fuel before my workout. I’m looking forward to my workouts next week to see if it makes a big difference with my current struggles.

Sjogren’s and Pilates???

Today, I did the Pilates Fix routine from the 21 Day Fix workout program by Beachbody. I am in love with Pilates! This routine worked every muscle in my body but in a relaxing, slow burn kind of way. It felt restorative rather than taxing. So it was quite fitting that a fellow Sjogie should post the following blog post, about a dancer battling Sjogren’s. She also owns and runs her own fitness studio teaching Pilates and yoga!

Tia Cassady writes:

Since Jacqueline’s discovery of Sjogren’s she can no longer professionally compete in ariel fitness. Jacqueline can not train like she used to and can not keep up with the other competitors as her body gets fatigued sooner, her joints are stiff at times, she gets easily bruised and the recovery time is much longer than most dancers and athletes. Jacqueline has decided to not get on medication at this time and is approaching the disease in a holistic manner for now. Jacqueline is taking supplements, made changes in her diet, exercising daily, attending physical therapy, massage, chiropractor and acupuncture treatments. Jacqueline is more determined than ever to continue her passion for dance and helping others.

….Jacqueline decided to rehabilitate herself through safe and effective exercises on her own through methods such as Yoga and Pilates.

 

As time marches ever closer to my third Spartan Sprint, I am reminded of last years race where fatigue, weakness in my hands compromised my performance. It was frustrating, and yes, I will say devastating, but I pushed past it and finished the race with an excellent time in my age group. I’m approaching this race with the thought of training hard and doing my best. It’s day to day at times with how my body feels. I am hoping with better nutrition and nailing down my supplements that my body will do what my mind wants it to do ….and that’s to climb that darn rope and not have to do BURPEES!!!!

So what is Sjogren’s?

Sjögren’s is a chronic autoimmune disease in which people’s white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands. Today, as many as four million Americans are living with this disease.

Although the hallmark symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth, Sjögren’s may also cause dysfunction of other organs such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system. Patients may also experience extreme fatigue and joint pain and have a higher risk of developing lymphoma.

With upwards of 4,000,000 Americans suffering from Sjögren’s, it is one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders. Nine out of 10 patients are women.

We all have mountains to climb. You just have to find the best path and put one foot in front of the other and get moving!

Food as fuel and medicine

Food as Fuel and Medicine

This is something I think about often. I’m in the middle of reading several books on the topic. Yes, there are conflicting ideas out there and only more time will tell which is the best approach … if there is a best approach. It’s more likely that there are a few best approaches. The data is heavily leaning away from the current American diet of highly processed and refined foods, low fat, high carbohydrate diet. It can be difficult to embrace a new way of eating for fear it is the latest fad and will be replaced by some new thing soon. However, it seems we have tested most of the combinations so far, after all, there are only so many food groups! A friend sent me a link to this article from CBS Sports about a change in nutrition for NBA athletes. I think NBA athletes have a lot in common with us. They need to get as much out of their body as possible. Those with autoimmune issues are trying to get the most out of our bodies with as little pain and fatigue as possible. Shockingly, according to the article, the NBA is not known for it’s good nutrition. These athletes struggle with injuries and surgeries yet are not giving their bodies the food they need to rebuild and repair!

 

This sentence really struck me! “We’re making the shift from basically worse than pet food to actual food,” Cate Shanahan said. Worse than pet food? Money is not an obstacle for these folks. Knowledge is!

With Howard, the intervention began where it does with most athletes (and non-athletes, for that matter) who need to change their diets. It began with sugar. It turned out that Howard was consuming the equivalent of 24 Hershey bars a day in the form of candy and soda — not to mention the additional sugar his body was making out of all the empty starches he was eating.

It was bad. At Cate Shanahan’s request, Howard had undergone a blood screening that revealed a frighteningly pathological profile. His glucose readings were through the roof, much higher than they should have been for a ripped, 27-year-old professional athlete who used to call himself Superman.

Howard was struggling to return to form after back surgery the previous spring, and was wrestling with the enormous pressure of whether to re-sign with the Lakers as a free agent. Cate Shanahan believed his performance and recovery were being seriously compromised by his poor diet. She saw the telltale signs of sugar addiction — spikes in energy followed by crashes and erratic motor skills that were indicative of nerves misfiring.

With diet modifications, Howard’s bloodwork is now much improved in a very short time. He avoids sugar, all processed foods, vegetable, canola, and corn oils. In contrast the current government food pyramid, these professional athletes now get at least 50% of their calories from healthy fats! The Lakers now only eat grass-fed beef and free-range chicken and pigs that are eating natural diet rather than fed on corn. If you want to learn more about the nutrition plan, read Dr. Shanahan’s book “Deep Nutrition.” I have just ordered on my Kindle and will review it at a later date. If you read several of the nutrition to fight autoimmune disease books, it’s the same nutrition plan. We, just like athletes, need to give our bodies the fuel it needs to repair damage done by autoimmune disease  and allow us to lead normal lives! Processed foods, too much sugar, vegetable, corn, canola oils are thought to all contribute to inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of heart disease. If you have autoimmune disease, inflammation is your middle name. If you’re trying to get optimal performance out of your body to jump higher and run faster, you want inflammation at a minimal to build and repair tissues. “”I’ve definitely noticed my joints aren’t as sore, aren’t as stiff when I wake up when I don’t eat the bad oils,” Kaman said.” That’s music to anyone’s ears! It will certainly be interested to see how all this plays out in the big leagues. Stay tuned….