DNA, food allergies and vitamin deficiencies.

Before the end of the year I had a bunch of bloodwork done which included DNA testing, standard tests such as cholesterol; and hormone, vitamin, and allergy tests.

I got all the test results back last week. I believe all the information I now have will help me in the treatment of my disease.

The DNA results are interesting. I have information that can be given to my rheumatologist as well as other doctors to help make decisions about medications based on my genes.

I found that I have two food allergies. I am allergic to milk and egg whites. In the past month or so I eliminated both milk and eggs on the autoimmune protocol diet (AIP diet) so keeping them out of my diet permanently should be fairly easy.

I did some reading about milk and egg allergies and how they manifest, and there is some evidence that they can cause an autoimmune response. So hopefully keeping them out of my diet will settle my immune system down some.

My vitamin levels are out of balance as well which is not uncommon in RA patients. My vitamin D is very low, as is my vitamin A, and my vitamin C level was almost nonexistent. I couldn’t believe it because not only do I eat copious amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits, but am religious about taking my vitamins and supplements. Thanks RA for yet another fun aspect of the disease.

I’ll be starting a prescription vitamin blend based on my needs and genetic make up. So my levels will be brought to the best level for me not the broad government standards. It will also have a substance to help me absorb them since my body is not doing it well enough on its own.

Once my vitamin D, C, and A are brought up my hormones and other levels should become balanced and I should feel a lot better!

I’ve stayed on the AIP diet through the elimination phase and just added legumes/beans back to see how my body responds.

I also have a call into my rheumatologist because I believe I had a reaction to the last Kevzara injection I did on Tuesday. I’ve had similar site reactions like I did with Humira, and had a significant rash/hives within 24 hours of the last injection.

We’ll see if she wants me to continue treatment or hold off. I would be willing to take a break from meds and pursue the AIP diet knowing that the 2 food allergies could have been impacting me greatly.

I still believe remission is possible and that my body has the ability to heal and be well.

I’m definitely persistent enough to keep trying.

AIP meal prep

Staying on the AIP diet so the long process of gut healing can continue. Being on an extremely strict diet is tough but I’ve found it’s getting easier. But I have to be prepared.

Sunday is my meal prep day. Lunches and dinners are easy. Grass fed, grass finished beef and wild caught seafood with copious amounts of vegetables. I drink kombucha daily and snack on fruits. Breakfast has been the challenge with no grains, dairy or eggs involved. Thank God for Pinterest!

This week my meals are looking good.

I made a bunch of AIP compliant veggies in my wok and roasted some sweet potatoes in the oven. I have some grass fed, grass finished Kobe beef hot dogs for a few meals, and cooked a grass fed, grass finished porterhouse steak in a cast iron pan in the oven.

I eat some kind of seafood every day. This week is wild caught salmon and wild caught tuna to go with either spaghetti squash or sauteed spinach.

Lunches and dinners are packed full of vitamins. I buy organic veggies whenever possible too.

After getting all that finished I moved on to breakfasts. I tried two different recipes this week. I opted for Tostones (fried plantains) and pumpkin spice macaroons made with dates, pumpkin puree, and shredded coconut.

I can assure you these are both delicious!

So the journey to heal my gut and balance my immune system in hopes of remission continues. And the best part is that I’m not feeling deprived and I’m eating nutritionally sound food.

Don’t take your health for granted.

Jumping in…AIP diet

Admitting that I’m not feeling great is a big deal for me. After putting it in writing I have decided to continue my research into gut health and autoimmune diseases. I still believe that my regimen was working before and that this is just a bump in the road.

I’m jumping in and starting the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet. I had researched it before and thought there’s no way I can follow something so strict. I have been a very disciplined eater for several years, but this takes it to a whole different level.

I’m going to focus on the things that I can have instead of the things I’ll be giving up.

I can have grass fed meats and wild caught fish. I can have tons of good vegetables and fruits. I can have kombucha and other fermented foods. And there’s a ton of recipes for sweet treats that only contain ingredients that are allowed.

Here’s where it gets a little scary. I’m be eliminating these things for at least 30 days, some forever:

  • All non-Paleo foods (grains, legumes, dairy, processed oils, non-nutritive sugars, and food additives)
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds (including cocoa, coffee, spices, and all other products derived from them)
  • Nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplants, peppers of all kinds, goji berries, ashwagandha, and all other products derived from them)
  • Alcohol
  • Nutritive Sweeteners (except in extreme moderation, like for special occasions only)
  • NSAIDs (including aspirin and ibuprofen)
  • More than 20g of fructose per day (fruit is the highest source of fructose on the autoimmune protocol)
  • Yeast (those with gluten sensitivities may cross-react with it)

I’m in. It’s helped thousands of people put autoimmune diseases in remission. If it means healing I’ll do whatever it takes.

So meal prep was challenging today but I got it done. I’m thankful for my husband who helped me get all the groceries I needed last night to pull this off effectively. He took me right to the door of the store while he dealt with loading and unloading the Jeep in the cold, pouring rain that makes me hurt so bad.

I looked at my meals for the week and I’ll have adequate protein, good carbs (even without any grains), and healthy fats. And my calories will be up in a healthy range to allow for working out.

So here’s to the AIP diet and jumping in!

Progress

I took the last of only 3 Humira shots on July 20th. In June I started taking a gut health regimen in hopes of putting my disease into remission.

If there was any doubt that these products were working it’s gone now.

I’m pain and inflammation free since July.

I started with a prebiotic fiber that helps feed the good gut microbes. I began feeling better. After a few weeks I added the probiotics. More improvement.

I had an appointment with my rheumatologist a week ago. She did my exam and confirmed that my joints were free of inflammation as compared to before.

She asked what I was doing and I told her. She said that was good and reiterated that most of our immune system is located in our gut.

So if scientists have confirmed links to autoimmune diseases and gut microbes why wouldn’t we stand a chance in settling our immune systems down by bringing that back into balance?

I think in my case that’s exactly what happened.

Would it be true for everyone? I don’t know.

Is it worth trying? I think so.

We spend too much time treating symptoms instead of treating causes in my opinion.

I encourage anyone reading this to do the research. NIH has countless articles about gut health and the connection to numerous ailments from autoimmune diseases to depression and anxiety.

All I know it’s that my body and my blood tests agree right now. I’m definitely making progress.

Reflecting on the past year.

This time last year I was just starting to experience my new “normal” of chronic pain. I was hurting so much physically and it was beginning to affect me emotionally as well.

I had not begun the journey of failed medications and depression that set in during the months to come.

RA is a nasty disease with no cure and little answers as to what causes it.

I’ve continued to research the disease and possible causes and believe that gut health does play a huge role triggering an autoimmune response in your body.

So fast forward a year and I’ve been doing a gut health regimen for a little over two months. I’m currently pain free and am off meds. I’m hopeful that I’m slowly getting my immune system balanced.

I continue to research. I watched a documentary called “Heal” the other night. It was interesting and I’ll be putting some of the things from the documentary into practice.

I’ll be looking into spiritual healing beyond asking for prayers. I’m going to learn more and begin to practice visualization and meditation to see my immune system as balanced and functioning normally. I’m going to try and find someone who practices sound therapy and see if I can get that done.

I believe that complete remission of my disease is possible and that my new “normal” I wrote about last year does not have to be my normal at all. #makeitcount #mic4d

Off meds and hopeful

After numerous side effects or allergic reactions to Humira my rheumatologist agrees my body needs a break.

The struggle with having to take meds has been a big one for me. I’ve continued researching information about gut health and autoimmune diseases and now I’m putting my theory to the test.

Since starting the Plexus products I’m feeling better than I have in months. My energy is up, I’m sleeping better and I have almost zero pain. I’ve been able to workout as hard and heavy as I did before RA started taking over my body.

I’m not claiming to be cured. I know better. But I’m hopeful and praying for remission.

It was a great relief when my rheumatologist called me this week and said to stop the Humira injections. Last Friday when I injected myself it hit me hard that I’m really just playing a game with this disease and the meds. After the awful burning stopped, and I pulled my shaking hand away from my leg, and my eyes filled with tears. Not because the shot burns so bad, but because I was putting more of the substance into my body that I can’t control, and am at its mercy as to whether I’ll have a serious reaction this time or not. It’s in there….for two weeks at least and there’s nothing I can do about it.

So I’m relieved that I can take a break and I’m hopeful that the link between gut health and RA will be realized in me.

If you’re interested in the products here’s a link to my website plexus/carolfrontera/home

I take the triplex products but started with Slim once a day. No risk because there’s a 60 day money back guarantee. Get in touch with me if you have any questions. Here’s to hope for health!

Gut health and hope

I know I’ve talked about gut health imbalances and the link to autoimmune diseases.

Believe me I’m skeptical of products that make claims that they can fix or cure my disease. I’ve researched and tried numerous products and foods with no success.

On July 4th I started taking Plexus slim after having lunch with a friend. I believe our meeting was meant to be because she did not meet me to discuss the products she distributes. Our conversation evolved and before long we were talking about my RA.

She told me about her best friend that has MS and RA and how she’s used these products and gotten off meds and is in remission.

This wasn’t a testimonial from someone who is thousands of miles away but someone who is a person that I could call if I wanted to. I was intrigued.

So I started using Plexus slim to only introduce one thing at a time in hopes of balancing my microbiome. There are numerous scientific studies about RA and gut health. A lot of RA patients have an overabundance of one particular “bad” bacteria and not enough good bacteria.

I started this before Humira could possibly work and noticed a difference within a week.

I firmly believe the product is working.

Humira takes time to work and I had only one injection before taking Slim and setting results.

My pain and inflammation is much improved.

I’ll be discussing this with my rheumatologist since she recognizes that we are seriously behind in research here in the US.

I’m still having issues with Humira and side effects. I’ll take another injection this Friday but if the side effects continue she wants to discuss another biologic.

I’ll be discussing taking a break from meds altogether and seeing if I can go into remission on my own.

I’ll be smart about it and certainly she can track my progress by blood markers.

If you’re interested in talking about the products I’m happy to have that conversation. I will be distributing them now myself. That’s how much I believe in the link to gut health and autoimmune diseases as well as other issues.

Gut health and RA

If you’ve shared in my journey you know that I’m constantly reading about ways to help ease my symptoms and possibly put my disease into remission.

A lot of information is out there concerning gut health or leaky gut and it contributing to, or triggering an autoimmune response.

I’ve looked into many products. I’ve read testimonials. I finally decided to give Plexus a try.

I’m only introducing one product right now so tracking any results will be easier. Since I’ve only had one Humira injection and that takes time to work it should be easy to attribute any symptom relief to my microbiome being balanced.

My rheumatologist said many of her patients look into gut health to ease their symptoms.

So here’s to hoping that this will be beneficial!

Black cumin, miracle noodles and possibly failing meds

The title sums up what this post is about. If it seems to be all over the place, and that is where I have been lately. I have been dealing with much more prolonged pain than “normal.” It can be consuming sometimes when I let my mind wander. Are my meds working? How much pain is normal? Should I really expect to have completely pain-free days? Are my meds working enough to slow the disease progression? Are my joints sustaining permanent damage because I don’t want to switch meds? Am I only hurting because it is cool, rainy, I’m too stressed…..

I admit I have been struggling lately with a lot of the aspects of the disease. I am still able to workout and that is a blessing. I actually feel better when I’m up and moving or at the gym than when I’m sitting at my desk on the days I work in the office.

I continue to research alternative or adjunct therapies to slow the disease and fight the pain and inflammation. I really do believe that gut health plays a major role in auto immune diseases like RA. I also believe that there are answers out there that we just haven’t found because it is easier for drugs to mask our symptoms and pharmaceutical companies want customers not cures.

I ran across a double blind study the other day when researching RA and alternative treatments. Nigella sativa or black cumin has been studied for it’s potential to significantly reduce pain and inflammation in people with RA. Although called black cumin it is not the same as ordinary cumin used in cooking. It is also known as the Blessed Seed.

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Nigella Sativa or black cumin is an annual flowering plant native to South and Southwest Asia. It is used as a spice and had a unique flavor. This plant has been used for its therapeutic properties for centuries.

Its oil and another extract, thymoquinone have been and used extensively for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective qualities in traditional medicine. Considering these benefits, scientists in recent years have been investigating its use in treatment of many common diseases.

In order to understand the anti-inflammatory activity of the oil extract of Nigella sativa, a study was conducted using a group of 40 arthritis affected females. They were divided into 2 groups- a treatment group and a placebo group.

The treatment group consumed Nigella extract containing capsules. After 6 months, a reduction of inflammation in the subjects was seen and evaluated through clinical examination and laboratory investigations

It was found that there was a significant decrease in cytotoxicity and inflammation status in the treatment group. It appears that using Nigella sativa has the potential to reduce cytotoxic activity and relieve inflammation making it a potential adjunct therapy to traditional RA treatments.

I researched dosage and found information for crushing the seeds into a powder and using it on food daily. I started using it today. I crushed up some seeds, which was no small feat! I tried crushing by hand using a mortar and pestle. I dumped the entire one pound bag into my blender attachment on my Ninja and nothing happened. The I decided to try the small smoothie attachment to the Ninja and had success!

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So then I needed to decide what to put it on and try it. What better to try than on my “miracle noodles” – in this case “miracle rice.”

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Miracle noodles are made from the Konjac plant, Miracle Noodle and Miracle Rice are 97% water and 3% soluble fiber – called glucomannan — (plus a natural calcium additive to help the noodles keep their shape). You can order them here Shirataki Noodles

Glucomannan is a highly viscous, soluble fiber. According to a double-blind study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, patients who were given glucomannan daily (vs placebo) saw a 10% decrease in total cholesterol, 7.2% decrease in LDL cholesterol, 23% decrease in triglycerides, and 2.5% reduction in systolic blood pressure.

These noodles are a high-fiber food yet have no calories and no carbohydrates. The Glucomannan fiber in the noodles is a type of viscous fiber (soluble fiber). The viscous fiber in Shirataki noodles is known as a prebiotic, meaning that it is indigestible to humans. It provides no calories or nutrients to human cells, but nourishes good bacteria in the digestive system. This fiber also moves through the digestive system slowly and offers digestive and gut health benefits.

The texture is not like a traditional noodle for sure but if it will help improve my gut health and possibly get my RA under control I can eat it!

I made some miracle “rice” and then added butter and 1/2 teaspoon of black cumin. The texture of the miracle “rice” is definitely one to get used to but this tasted pretty good. I guess we’ll see if it helps.

I don’t want to have to change meds and stop taking the Xeljanz so if eating miracle noodles and consuming black cumin daily helps then I’ll continue.

I’m still eating a ketogenic diet which is also supposed to have positive effects on my pain and inflammation.

I go to see my rheumy on July 5th so as I see it I have time to test out the black cumin and miracle noodles and see if they help!

Don’t take your health and ability to move pain free for granted! #makeitcount #RAsucks