Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Benefits

Looking back I am often surprised by how my health has improved since I changed my diet. I had a boat-load of things going wrong with me and felt like I was deteriorating faster than I should be at my age (just turned 50 this year).

Here's a list of things I suffered before going "paleo-ish":

IBS, horrible intestinal cramping
Painful joints (ribs, even feet, fingers, wrists, knees, shoulders... everything)
Muscle spasms in the neck
Bursitis in the hips
Every so often, my eyelid would turn into an inner tube (swell to enormous size)
Post nasal drip
Migraine headaches (rarely)
Symptoms of Ankylosing Spondylitis (which I was diagnosed with)
Brain fog (poor memory and thinking)

But I stumbled onto gluten as a possible issue, was tested by Enterolab and found out I react to both gluten and casein (in milk). I had already been on the Atkin's diet to lose (and maintain) my weight but it was pretty clear that I needed to make some changes to improve my health. After figuring out the gluten issue I went on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) but found it was awfully fussy. Eventually I realized that it was very similar to a "paleo" diet and just switched. Many of these symptoms went away never to return. Some come back if I reintroduce dairy (the mucus related issues and muscle spasms). I don't ache in every joint now, I haven't had any attacks of rib pain when breathing like I did.

Not everything is 100% perfect, I still struggle with my intestines. It seems like there are a lot of foods that irritate my gut and perhaps there is something else going on down there. But I am no longer having 7-15 painful moments in the bathroom every day. I got the nerve to stop taking the meds I was taking for my Ankylosing Spondylitis and the pain didn't return any worse than it was with the meds. Most of the time I can sleep through the night without waking up with back pain. Most of my joints are pain free, just a few give me trouble and only sporadically.

No more mysterious awakenings with my eyelid looking like a spare tire.

The brain fog was the worst. I felt like I was getting Alzheimer's sometimes. I just couldn't seem to retain new information. After going off gluten that cleared up pretty quickly and I felt like someone had given me back 20 IQ points I used to have.

Fatigue is better, although I'll probably never bristle with energy. There are good days and there are not-so-good days.


Natascha said...

I can relate to everything you have had except for the eyelid.....I am switching from Atkins to Paleo as well. I was wondering about coconut as it is not listed in the book....so you have used it and still lost weight?

I feel like I am 80...and I'm only 37....so I actually feel like there is hope now! I have been off gluten for 3 years...but am still feeling pretty lousy....so it's time for the dairy to go too.

Thanks and have a great day!

Nancy LC said...

By "the book" are you referring to Loren Cordain's book, "The Paleo Diet"? I don't follow that book or any book really. I've gleaned what I have about Paleo from various web sites, with my own modifications to make it more appealing to me, and more conducive to weight loss.

Coconut is (was) a staple in the diet of many hunter-gatherer cultures like the Tokelau and Kitavans and they've been fantastically healthy free of disease and weight issues.

I recommend that you read the Migrant studies at this blog, they're amazing! http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/

I will caution you though, coconut can be hard to digest for some of us who have food intolerances. In particular if you use coconut oil I'd go easy on it until you see how you react. Some people get diarrhea. I've heard it said you can gradually get used to it though.

I'm still experimenting with coconut flour sometimes I think it might be rough on my GI tract but then again, I used a sugar substitute that might be the culprit. I'll have to try it again.

Coconut milk is great in cooking curries and sometimes can be used as a milk substitute. I don't care for it in coffee though. I did manage to train myself to drink my coffee black and I'm working at getting off coffee entirely.

Good luck! I hope you can find whatever is causing you to feel crummy. Hopefully it is something in your diet you can exclude.