Digestion Help while on The 21 Day Sugar Detox

Many people experience different digestion while on the detox. Sometimes that is for the better and sometimes initially it can change for the worse. Here are some important things to know about digestion.

  1. Digestion begins in the brain. Smelling food, seeing food, or thinking about food can cause the hormones involved in hunger to be activated to prepare the body for food and digestion.
  2. Avoid drinking a lot of water before, during, and after your meal. Water weakens the stomach acid and the digestive enzymes and reduces their ability to help process and break down foods.
  3. Chewing is “pre-digestion” and it vital for optimal digestive function. Be sure you chew your food until it is soft and no longer resembles its original self.
  4. Sit, relax,and slow down for your meals. If you are stressed when you are eating (perhaps at  your desk), your body and your hormones are in “fight or flight” mode. When your sympathetic nervous system has taken over (as in flight or flight mode), digestion is “turned off”. The body prioritizes other functions instead, like vision and fast twitch muscles. For optimal digestive function, it is vital to slow down to eat.

Health begins in gut. Here are some tips for optimizing digestion:

  1. Remove irritating foods. While on the 21DSD, it’s likely that you have done this. Removing vegetable oils, wheat, grains, sugar, soy, and conventional dairy is important to optimize digestion.
  2. Increase your probiotic rich foods. Add foods like kombucha (watch the sugar in this for the detox. Here is a link to a 21DSD compliant kombucha – original flavor only), sauerkraut, yogurt (full-fat and plain only while on the 21DSD), kimchi, beet kvass, and kefir (look for a plain kefir for during the detox).
  3.  Heal your gut lining. Consider adding L-glutamine, an amino acid that is vital for gut health, bone broth, aloe vera juice, vitamin c rich foods, and collagen peptides.

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Artichokes

Boy! It has been waaayyyy too long since I blogged last! But I am nearly done with blogging about The 52 New Foods Challenge, so even though it’s Winter now and these foods are from the Fall portion of the book, I’m just going to finish up! PLUS, here in Northern California (where the self-proclaimed Artichoke Capital of the World is located) artichokes are in season in March, April, and May, so I feel like it’s okay that we’re talking artichokes in February.

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests grilling artichokes or steaming them with lemon butter. Honestly, I don’t really get artichokes. I’d like to get them, but I don’t. As a kid, I thought they were weird and avoided them like the plague. As a grown up, I’ve only had them a handful of times because I’m really sure that I’m doing it wrong. Am I supposed to be getting some meat off of these leaves?!?!? I think they taste fine, so I’m willing to keep trying them, but I’m still baffled.

Food Facts:

  • Native to Northern Africa.
  • We eat “… the leaflike bracts of the unopened flower” (Robinson, p.196, 2013).
  • Artichokes have been used historically for their liver protective properties. Recent studies have found that artichokes contain silymarin and cynarin, both liver protective compounds.
  • Artichokes have a higher ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity – a measure of antioxidant capacity) value than any other modern fruit and vegetable.
  • A rich source of inulin, a prebiotic fiber that helps to feed the probiotic colony in the gut.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • The Globe/French artichoke is the most nutrient dense variety.
  • In order to get the maximum nutrition from artichokes, they should be eaten as closet to harvesting as possible due to their high respiration rate.
  • To pick a fresh artichoke
    • Rub two together and they should squeak.
    • It should feel firm when you squeeze it.
  • Boiling artichokes is a great way to prepare them because it increases their antioxidant levels.
  • Steaming artichokes is the BEST way to prepare them – you get three times the antioxidant levels of boiled artichokes.
  • Good source of vitamins K and C, folate, potassium, lutein, niacin, riboflavin, and iron.

Sources:

Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard, and The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee.

 

Dec. 2016 Book of the Month – GAPS Gut and Psychology Syndrome

I first heard the term GAPS on Pinterest about five years ago when I started finding and pinning healthy recipes. I continued moving forward on my path toward healthy eating and becoming a Nutrition Consultant and I kept hearing about GAPS all along the way. I bought the book well over a year ago and it’s been on my list of books to read for quite some time. I finally picked it up a few months ago and got to reading it.

Gut and Psychology Syndrome was written by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. She wrote this book as a practical guide for those suffering from all host of mental illness issues including autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and ADHD,  as well as asthma, eczema, and allergies. I hate to be redundant here but “All disease begins in the gut” and so this too is a book about healing the gut in order to heal the domino of other issues that cascade after an inflamed and irritated gut.

Campbell-McBride draws upon her experience as neurologist, as well as her experience as a mother of an autistic child to detail the inner workings (pun intended) of the digestive system, the gut flora, the immune system, and how the gut and brain are connected. Later, she details how to treat the problems, with food and supplementation.

I’ll leave you with a quote: “In GAPS people, due to the abnormalities in their gut flora, viruses from vaccines or the environment have a good chance to survive and persist” (p.29). Some folks will tell you that it’s all in your head, but I’m starting to think that it’s all in your gut.

If you’re interested in learning more about the gut and how to improve your own health, GAPS Gut and Psychology Syndrome is an amazing resource.

CVID…. what the heck is that?

cvid-ribbonTeam KLB,

Let me back right up to where it all began…

Before I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer I had noticed that almost every time I ate, my nose would run. It didn’t matter what foods I ate, whether I was eating on the go, or whether it was spicy or not. Most meals made my nose run. I had even commented on this to Jim. I assumed this was some type of additional food intolerance.

During my time going to Bauman College (my in person classes, before I switched to distance learning), we learned about histamine and that got me thinking that this must be related to some issue with histamine. That stuck with me, but then I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so many other things got put on the back burner.

Fast forward to early 2016. At that time I had been completely done with all cancer treatments for about a year and had my last surgery in Oct. 2015. I kept waiting to get my energy back, to not have to drag myself out of bed every morning, to feel like myself. I know my body well enough to know that there was something else going on. At that time, I just didn’t know what or who to ask. In mid spring of 2016, while on instagram, I found a post by a woman with the handle @thelowhistaminechef (she has since changed her handle and can be found at Healing Histamine.) Coupling my low energy with my runny rose, I thought, THIS must be what I need to learn more about. THIS is what I have. And to top it off, she was going to be a Paleo F(x) in May. I had to go see her talk.

At Paleo F(x), she did a food demo. After the food demo, she answered some questions about her experience. (A great story, by the way, I highly recommend checking out her page). After going into anaphylactic shock while reporting for CNN in war zones, she consulted a naturopathic doctor. This eventually lead her to a diagnosis of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) and to a low histamine diet. She encouraged her listeners to reach out to an immunologist or a naturopathic doctor. When I came back home after the conference, I looked up MCAS and contacted my doctor for a referral to an immunologist. There are many symptoms of MCAS, but the ones that I noted were: gastrointestinal (intestinal discomfort), brain fog, headaches, migraines, general fatigue, being cold all the time, food and chemical sensitivities (including perfumes), and of course my respiratory symptoms.

I met with an immunologist just a couple of days after arriving home from Paleo F(x). Before going to the doctor appointment, Jim jokingly said, “they’re going to put you on the no food diet” since this was something I dealt with at nearly every meal. It was the most thorough doctor appointment that I have ever had with a doctor. I told her about what I thought I had and about my symptoms that aligned with MCAS. Then she went on to ask me about everything I had ever done. I told her about my my cancer diagnosis and treatment, my recurrent sinus infections, my digestive issues, chronic yeast infections, and a systemic yeast infection. I told her a story to illustrate my experiences. In Feb. of 2016, I got a common cold. That cold lasted for four weeks! And then I was well only for ONE WEEK before I started getting sick again. This is a common occurrence in my life. She then did a physical exam and told me that she didn’t believe I had MCAS because people that have it usually have skin lesions and I don’t have any of those. She did, however, suspect that there was probably something amiss with my IgA. She noted that the sinus symptoms and the bloating and digestive discomfort was like a red flag for low IgA. She asked me to have 11 vials of blood taken for testing and asked if I would get the pneumonia vaccine to help determine what I had. I decided to put off the vaccine until I knew I needed it.

Throughout the appointment I was able to convey to the doctor that I wasn’t looking for a prescription or a quick fix. I wanted to understand what is wrong with me and to do everything in my power to heal it on my own with holistic, natural, and diet/lifestyle based interventions. I know my body and I know when things are “common, but not normal” (refer to this post for more…) and when there is truly something amiss. She was awesome. She was so impressed that I knew my body so well and that I listened to it. She also understood that as a holistic nutrition consultant, I practiced what I preached.

After two separate blood draws (I pass out folks!) I went back to learn about my results. Here they are:

IgA  <6 mg/dL                   Normal range: 87-474 mg/dL

IgG 343 mg/dL                 Normal range: 681-1648 mg/dL

IgM 26 mg/dL                   Normal range: 48 – 312 mg/dL

IgE <2 kU/L                        Normal range: <114 kU/L

Please note those normal ranges come directly from the test results. As you can see, they are all very low, but my IgA and IgE were the lowest. Based on these test results and the fact that most of the other test results came back “normal”, she believes that I have Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID). However, she could not diagnose me without first giving me the pneumonia vaccine. To be able to diagnose, she had to prove that my body did not respond to the polysaccharides in the vaccine. So reluctantly I got the vaccine. Six weeks later I had my blood taken again to see if I had any presence of antibodies. When looking at the test results, side by side, you can see there are virtually no differences. To my body, it’s like I wasn’t even vaccinated, I have no antibodies built up to the pneumonia virus. So on August 4th, I was officially diagnosed with CVID.

Here’s an FAQ:

Q: What are the treatment options?

A: There are three main treatment options:

  1. Prophylactic antibiotics. Basically a prevention in case I get sick. Just in case. This option is not for me. I’m anti prophylactic antibiotics. See this post for more on why….
  2. Immunoglobulin infusions. The immunoglobulins come from healthy blood donations. They are then processed so that it’s just the immunoglobulins, not all of the blood. It is actually a clear liquid.
    1. Every four weeks, for about 4-5 hours at the infusion center at the medical center. Indefinitely.
    2. Weekly, for about two hours at home. These infusions are subcutaneous (under the skin in the abdomen region.) I would give the infusion to myself. Also indefinite.

The advantage of doing weekly infusions are: you don’t have to sit at the infusion center for 5 effing hours every month! and that your IG levels stay more stable rather than spikes and dips with monthly infusions. The disadvantage is that you have to do this each week and you have to do it yourself. Ick.

Q: How did you get this? Is it related to cancer?

A: I was born with it. The doc believes I was born without IgA and IgE, and that the rest of my immunoglobulins are low because they have been working on overdrive to compensate. Most people do not get diagnosed until they are in their 30’s or 40’s. It does not have anything to do with my having had cancer. However, a compromised immune system is more at risk for cancer. Think of it this way: the immune system is like an army. My immune system doesn’t have very many soldiers (very low IgA and IgE) and the soldiers it does have are busy fighting small battles (low IgM and IgG). So when a big battle (cancer) comes along, it can only do so much to fight the cancer.

Q: What are the infusions like?

A: They are mostly long, boring, and uneventful. Except for the first one.

I remember my doctor mentioning something to me about the fact that because I don’t make IgA, I could have antibodies built up to it. This means that I could go into anaphylactic shock. That’s where I remember the conversation ending, which left me concerned. So before I would let them give me anything, I asked how they test, prevent, or treat for this. The standard protocol is to treat with premeds (antihistamine, hydrocortisone, and Tylenol) and then to ramp up slowly. For the first half hour, the dose is very low, and every half hour they increase the dose. They also have additional meds (Benadryl) if needed. Once I felt that I understood their plan, I consented. Initially, I noticed nothing. But after the first half an hour, when they increase the dose, I noticed feeling a little flushed. Then I noticed that near the IV site, my arm felt kind of tingly. A little bit itchy, but mostly like someone had put icy hot on my arm. I told the nurses and they decided that they should flush my IV with saline. Then they gave me Benadryl and more hydrocortisone and restarted IV. My arm was still tingly and so they slowed infusion down. This did not seem to help. The doctors and nurses came to check on me and it was decided that since it was only near the IV site, and not all over my body, it was probably not an allergic reaction. We continued the infusion. Afterwards, I had a bit of a headache and felt tired from the Benadryl. The nurse emailed me the next day to say that she had talked with my doctor and that the tingly feeling was normal. The second infusion went much smoother, but I still had the tingly sensation.

Q: What differences will you notice?

A: The doctor said that is likely that I will notice feeling less tired. She didn’t seem to think But many of my other symptoms would go away. I should also get sick less often and be able to have and more robust immune system. So far I haven’t noticed much. My levels were so low that it could take a while to rebuild them to normal.

Q: You’re doing all of this for a runny nose?

A: No. It’s much more than that. It’s giving myself an immune system that actually functions. It’s preventing cancer reoccurrences. It’s regaining energy. It’s preventing a lot of hospital visits due to “non-serious” illnesses. The runny nose was my catalyst for seeking out medical help for a much bigger problem.

Q: What are the risks associated with CVID?

A: Getting sick, a lot. Many people with CVID end up getting very sick from things like pneumonia. Or are just chronically sick.

Here is a link to learn more about CVID.

Thanks for reading this, it was a lengthy one!

XOXO,

Katie

Sept. 2016 Book of the Month – Gut

September’s Clean Eating Book of the Month is Gut by Giulia Enders. After Eat Dirt, Brain Maker, and Gulp, you may begin to think that I’m obsessed with the digestive system. And well, I guess I am. I am a nutrition consultant, after all.

Enders takes a unique scientific approach to teaching us about our gut. A microbiologist by trade and currently enrolled in a gastroenterologgut-imagey PhD program, Enders infuses humor throughout her book and her sister creates simple and enlightening illustrations like this one of how to properly use the toilet to go poop (Ender, 2015, p.19).

I hear from many people that like to debate the existence of gluten intolerances. Enders does a wonderful job of clearing up the confusion for folks. Celiac disease is what Enders terms a genetic intolerance to gluten. Here is how she explains a gluten intolerance: All grains (and all plants for that matter) have a small amount of toxins in them. These toxins exist to ensure the survival of the species. Compared to other grains, wheat produces more toxins. Because of the high level of toxins in the proteins in wheat, gluten (and gliadin), can pass through the small intestines into the bloodstream, undigested. In turn, it can weaken the junctions between the cell lining the small intestines (microvilli). When those junctions are weakened, food particles (like gluten) can pass through unregulated and cause the immune system to go on overdrive. The job of the microvilli is to keep out large (undigested) food particles and toxins, so when food particles are allowed to pass through and the immune system is on overdrive, many other health problems occur, resulting in an intolerance.

In addition to clearing up confusion around food intolerances, Enders also discusses poop, acid reflux, constipation, vomiting, the brain-gut connection, the HUGE role of bacteria in our lives, and much more. This is a fascinating poop book. I actually did type poop there first, so I thought I should leave it. 😉 I highly recommend it for all homo sapiens. 5/5 Strawberries!5:5 Strawberries