March is Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month
All month Dr. Amy Myers will be sharing articles about autoimmune disease on her blog (Amy Myers M.D.). Of all the books I have examined so far, hers has been my favorite for its clarity. I’m just getting acquainted with her blog, but trust that it will reflect that same quality.
Here are the books I am using to formulate a diet plan to eliminate symptoms of autoimmune disease (psoriatic arthritis). The last two have been added since my last post. There is currently research being conducted on several fronts concerning the connection between CFS/ME/ fibromyalgia and autoimmunity. I want to see also what effect the dietary changes have on post-exertion fatigue. With the exception of the first book listed, all the books recommend diet, supplementation and lifestyle changes based on healing leaky gut and nourishing body systems damaged from years of autoimmune disease. All of them have used this information to greatly improve autoimmune conditions in themselves and their patients.
Beating Chronic Fatigue, by Dr. Kristina Downing-Orr, 2010 (UK)
The Immune System Recovery Plan, by Susan Blum, M.D. (USA)
The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body, by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD (USA)
The Autoimmune Solution, by Amy Myers, M.D. (USA)
The Wahls Protocol, by Terry L. Wahls, M.D. (USA)
I am crazy busy since starting the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet on March 1. Since it requires that I use no processed foods, the food prep has occupied a larger part of my day. I decided to begin the diet even though I am still working my way through some of the books I recommended in my last post, as well as adding two. I believe I have a sufficient understanding of the science behind the diet, as well as the dietary requirements, to begin. And, well, I need to get started. Considering I experienced my first symptoms 42 years ago, it may take several years before I feel the full effect of a healthier body. The upside to that is that I can enjoy improvement along the way.
Understand that I am going against my nature in beginning before I have laid the ground work. For good or for bad, I am a linear thinker. My tendency is to begin at the beginning and work toward the end. Jumping in in the middle feels unnatural. You say I lack spontaneity? And your point is……?
So far, I am able to stay on the diet, and am finding it quite satisfying. In December, when I began a failed attempt to follow the AIP diet I was basically following a low-carb diet, finding that it was best at controlling my weight without requiring me to go hungry. My comfort foods were mostly dairy, sweetened with artificial sweeteners. I have a history of being very sensitive to sugar. A single serving of dessert will leave me with a severe headache. More than that, and it turns into the headache from hell. With such exquisite motivation, swearing off sugar was pretty easy. And, pulling away from sugar many many times over the years, I discovered that it takes only 3 days without sugar before I no longer felt its addictive pull.
In December, I thought “I can do this. I’m the person who spent the last half of the 1990’s eating no carbohydrates.” Carbs caused an immediate reaction in the form of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), or as a friend termed it, “Grouchy Gut”. But, that was another time and place. At that time I was attending college full-time and living with a friend who was very health-conscious. He was in charge of buying and preparing the food. I was happily distracted by my classes, and just ate what I could of what was prepared.
Fast-forward to today. I spend most days by myself, shop for and prepare all the food, and live with a junk food junky. When I first moved in 7 years ago, I gained 8 pounds from sampling the goodies available. My December attempt was a bust after 3 days. I missed my familiar foods, especially my comfort food. Eliminating dairy, eggs, all grains, tomatoes, peppers, and all artificial sweeteners was just too big a bite.
On February 1, I decided to take a first step. In 1992 I had gone to a doctor treating CFS with diet and vitamin-mineral infusions. He did an Elisa test, a blood test that indicates food sensitivities. My top offenders, in order of greatest sensitivity, were cheese, all other dairy, sugar, wheat, and brown rice. This seemed like the logical place to start, so I eliminated these, including that spoon of ice cream (my favorite food) that I ate while dishing up my husband’s dessert. In addition, I decided to continue to use Stevia with the intent of tapering off to little or nothing as my taste adjusts.
I think that approaching a diet as restrictive as the AIP in steps may be the only way some of us can do it. In addition, this approach is recommended by some of the author-MDs whose books I’m suggesting.