Category: food

Which Comes First, the Brain or the Gut?

Which comes first, the brain or the gut? It’s a valuable and confusing question in my health journey these days. I wish I knew the answer.

I made another trip to Mayo last week to meet with Dr. Cascino to discuss my epilepsy journey. We agreed that we’re not happy with the results that I’m getting from my medication and that, with my history of negative reactions to medications, it’s time to look at other options.

So, while I’ve been spending the last few weeks trying to detox to clean up my gut and recover from my latest recurrence of DRESS Syndrome a few months back, I now find myself getting ready to go back to Mayo for more tests and the possibility of a whole new plan to address my epilepsy, maybe including brain surgery.

I don’t quite know what to do with my diet right now. I’ve mostly been sticking to it. I figure that it’s a good thing to give my gut and, by extension, my whole body all the support that I can. But on the flip side I find myself thinking, why not wait until I know what’s going on with my plan of care? I think for the moment I am just going from moment to moment and maybe it’s giving me a chance to learn.

Today, I had a bagel with cream cheese. Shortly after, I noticed the bloating and heaviness in my gut. I don’t know if it was the dairy or the grain or maybe some other ingredient, but I strongly suspect that my body wasn’t impressed by the bagel though I’ll admit it tasted really good. Eating a little something like that on occasion right now probably isn’t all bad if I’m writing about it and learning from it, discovering what I can and can’t eat and feel good. The trick is to maintain a diet that is vast majority fruits and vegetables.

I did notice today, before my bagel discretion, that I am finally starting to regain my energy again. I’m walking more, starting to do yoga a bit again, practicing my guitar a bit more, and napping a little less. I’m slowly coming back to normal. I am hopeful that I can overcome DRESS and that with the help and guidance of my Mayo team I can become seizure free too. It’s exciting to imagine what that might be like to regain even just a bit of my former self. I’ll never be a decade younger, but there is some hope that my mind will work a bit better again. I guess we’ll see. Life remains an adventure.

The Next Step

I made it through the detox. It may have helped that I think I had a seizure last week. It left me exhausted and without any appetite. That made it much easier to limit what I was eating. For several days I had nothing but berries with coconut milk and maple syrup for some meals and black beans and cauliflower rice for others. By the end of a ten day detox I’d lost about nine pounds. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. It’s okay that I lost the weight, but it was a lot faster and harder on my body than I wanted. I was tempted to stop and not do the AIP, but it seems a waste to not at least give it a try. So, the plan at this point is to move forward with the AIP for the upcoming month to see what happens.

I’m not going to be too strict. I’m focusing on the big picture pieces; keeping out dairy, eggs, grains, nightshades, etc. I’m not going to put energy limiting my fruits. The goal is just to give my gut a break. I am hoping that I’ll rebuild my vegetable habits. I am hoping that rebuilding my vegetable consumption habits and giving my gut a break will help me get back to feeling healthy.

Over the next month I hope to pay attention to my body and just see what happens to me.

Day 7 of Detox

It’s day seven of detox and day two of being sick. Two days in a row of barely eating must have some plusses for detoxing, right?

It’s been berries and coconut milk for some meals and cauliflower or cauliflower and beans for others if I have anything at all. Tonight I went wild and had some sweet potato chips that I baked the other day.

I am writing this just to keep my place, so I can look back and know what happened with my detox.

Detox: The Halfway Point

Yesterday, I had plenty of energy. I did a lot of stuff. Today, I slept in. I’m usually out of bed somewhere between 6 and 7am. Today, I woke up a few times, but just went back to sleep. I didn’t get up until almost 9am. I didn’t get much of a nap today, just laid down for a bit and listened to a meditation. I don’t think I fell asleep at all. Now, at 7:30 I am exhausted.

I didn’t do much today. I could feel a slight tired ache in my muscles. Doing yoga this afternoon reinvigorated me for a while, but it was definitely a lower energy day than yesterday. Still, a lot better than just a few weeks ago so I am happy. Plus, I expected that there would some down days. I know my body is going through a lot. Just in the last five days I’ve lost 4 pounds. It will take some energy to find balance and it’s important that I allow myself rest.

Buddy and I spent a little time at the dog park this morning. We took a walk this evening. This afternoon I tidied up the room that I’ve been using as my yoga studio (sounds much classier than spare bedroom, doesn’t it?). The tidied up space really makes for a much more grounded practice. Otherwise, all I did today was laundry, guitar practice, and a few little kitchen projects. I grated some cauliflower so I’ll have “rice” ready for the next day or two. And, I made sweet potato chips so I have something to snack on.

Beyond that I sat and relaxed watching videos and reading about AIP. I’m getting ready now for the switch in a few days. It’s confusing. I was looking at recipes and there seems to be some inconsistency on what can be eaten. Maybe that’s because of the process of elimination and reincorporation. Some people may be at a stage where they are eating seeds and others aren’t. The individual really has to decide what recipes fit their version of AIP. As I’m just getting into it, that means a lot asking myself “Is this on the list of things I can eat or not?”

I am glad to say that my longing for cheese from day one seems to have melted away. Today though I wanted something sugary. It probably didn’t help looking at AIP desserts. I’ve been totally sugar free (besides the sugars in the fruits and vegetables I am eating) for the past five days. Today, I’ll admit I added about teaspoon of maple syrup to a bowl of mixed berries and coconut milk. It was delicious! Sometimes it’s important to decide what healthy indulgences are okay. I figure a teaspoon of maple syrup on occassion is just fine.

I hope you are finding your healthy indulgences and taking good care of yourself today.

Day 4 of Detox

Saturdays can be really nice. Today was one of those days. A couple hours at the dog park some of which I got to spend reading while Buddy wandered about reading the pee-mails that other dogs had left and just enjoying himself. We spent some time training. I need to learn some new tricks. Buddy is a smart dog and at almost two years old he’s already gone through my limited arsenal of dog entertainment. I’d love to see what he is capable of. We wrapped up with Buddy getting some energetic play with a couple other dogs. At home we made more dog treats, which brought Buddy great joy. I also practiced yoga, did a little cooking (another veggie bake with carrots, garbanzo beans, zucchini, broccoli, green onions, portabella mushrooms, grapeseed oil, and a mix of spices), practiced guitar, finished up my assignments for my integrative health class, went for a walk, and just relaxed.

As I look at the list, it seems like I did quite a lot today especially as I’ll probably still be awake for another 3 hours or so doing stuff. That’s amazing to me. Just a few weeks ago I barely had the energy to move. I took a nap today for about a half hour. Two or three weeks ago, I was napping about two hours a day and barely getting out of bed.

Again, I can’t say that just a few days of detox has brought me back to life. I was getting better before the detox started, but I think it’s helping.

Reflections on the 3rd Day of Detox

There wasn’t much remarkable in today’s meals beyond the great joy of having cherries for dessert tonight so I will skip regaling the world with the details of my menu. I suspect that I will know tomorrow whether or not I went overboard with the cherries for dessert, but they were really tasty.

The detox continues to go smoothly. I credit this to already having a largely clean diet. I remember it being much more difficult four years ago when I removed the nine foods that appeared on my list of allergies when I was tested. At that time, I was eating a lot of processed foods and just fast food. I still have some foods that I can’t eat right now tucked away, but they will either be given to my students and friends, tossed, or made into treats for my dog, Buddy. He was quite impressed with the homemade cheesy dog biscuits that he got last night. I was impressed too. I was able to grate a cup of frozen cheddar without a huge craving to eat some myself. It helped that I had frozen it making it somewhat less accessible.

Today, I spent some time studying the autoimmune protocol further and deciding on my grocery list for the remainder of this stage of detoxing. Right now, I’m just doing a basic detox. I have seven days remaining. After that I plan to start AIP. I realized today, as I looked at the foods lists, that’s when things may get challenging. I looked at what I’ve been eating over the past few days and found amongst my foods; onions, tomatoes, eggplant, and beans. All of these aren’t allowed on the AIP and all of these, except eggplant, are regular parts of my diet. I guess the next seven days are my time to prepare and create a plan. I think I will need one along with some creative thinking on new eating. I am thankful that there is a growing collection of resources to work with and lots of recipes. I look forward to the challenge.

Be well and take good care.

Detox Day 2

I may say something totally different in a few days, but right now detox is actually kind of tasty. The morning started much like yesterday, with a smoothie. This morning it was just raspberry, carrot and spinach. A simple, healthy, and tasty way to start … Continue reading Detox Day 2

Let the Detox Begin

One of the realities of living in the world today is that our bodies are filled with toxins from before the time we are born. The air we breathe is polluted. The water we drink is polluted. Much of the food we eat is treated with chemicals or maybe isn’t really food at all, but simply a mix of chemicals politely called “processed food.”

There are benefits and there are downsides to this reality. We grow a lot more food then we’ve ever been able to in the past, but it’s generally less nutritious, or at least that’s true of the conventionally grown foods. We have tons more stuff than we’ve ever had before, but I’m not sure that we have as much, much less more happiness. We’ve also got a lot more medicines and health care tools to keep us going. Sometimes that’s great. Sometimes the medicines can add to the disease. That’s what brought me here today.

As many of my readers know, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I think it’s about seven years ago now. Generally, it’s not a huge part of my life. It’s largely controlled by medication and I go about my day to day like anyone else. Over the past year or two though I had a couple small seizures which I suspect were caused, at least in part, by a stressful job situation. In any case, my doctor and I decided to try some changes to my medications. The changes didn’t work.

I had an allergic reaction which became something known as DRESS Syndrome (Drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms). I can be thankful to say that with a great team of physicians from the Mayo Clinic, mine was caught early and no major damage was done. Still, now and for the foreseeable future, the added toxins in my system mean periodic flares with exhaustion, weakness, rashes, and other symptoms.

So, instead of getting beaten down by this new challenge, I am trying to find the opportunity to learn and to renew. Yesterday, I sat down with my integrative medicine practitioner, Dr. Kelly Felmer, and we agreed on a plan. Over the next ten days I’ll be embarking on a detox diet; no dairy, meat, grains, artificial colors or flavors, and following a strict set of guidelines on what I can eat focusing on lots of healthy fruits and veggies. This morning is starting with a nice smoothie made with blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries, carrots, and spinach. After the ten days of detox I’ll start on the autoimmune protocol, another clearly defined diet to help me heal my gut, get rid of toxins, and determine what foods might causing me harm. That will take at least a few months probably longer.

It’s a journey, but one that I get to define and one that, I hope, will get to the root of the health challenges that I’ve faced and make my overall physical, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing better for the long run. My plan is to share that journey here. I hope that you will come along.