Mind, body and spirit

Spent most of the afternoon Friday with my naturopath doctor going over all the labs and test results to date, and coming up with a plan.

I believe I’m on the path to healing, long term remission, or whatever you want to call it. She is beyond thorough looking at my health history since childhood, all labs from both my rheumatologist and primary care physician going back several years, running a combination of non-conventional and conventional tests and seeing me as a whole, not just bits and pieces.

The gut health issue is huge and we’re attacking that aggressively with probiotics and even more strict dietary changes to heal my gut, and balance the bacterial overgrowths.

The lab tests have been extensive. Some “normal” tests and others that traditional medicine does not give credence to.

But if you look at everything together it makes sense that the immune response in my body can be put back into balance with a series of treatments to reduce the viral load in my body, get my vitamin and mineral deficiencies taken care of, and in turn get my RA to go into “remission.”

This is a long process and sometimes the pain is so bad that I wish I could just take a pill and make it go away. But in the long run I feel that this is the best choice for me and my body.

In the long run I won’t be caught in the cycle of “finding the right cocktail” of pharmaceuticals creating more issues that require more drugs to treat them.

I’m grateful that I found my naturopath. I will continue to see my rheumatologist and keep her informed of my progress.

My focus will remain on a mind, body, and spirit approach to my health and healing. I’m excited for the journey!

Progress. Knowledge. Power. Hope.

Part of this natural journey to balance my immune system is looking for anything creating an immune or inflammatory response.

I have the results of the food allergy and sensitivities tests back.

I’m amazed at the results. No surprise that cow’s milk and egg whites showed as allergies. This was found back in December. So they will never be reintroduced into my diet.

The sensitivities are a little more complicated. If we are able to heal my gut then the foods that are creating an immuneresponse should be able to be reintroduced in moderation in time.

A rotation diet will be necessary so that I’m never consuming too many at one time.

I already ate “clean” but these results show a large number of foods that I consume regularly that are not good for me right now.

So as of 9/9/19 I’ve eliminated all of these from my diet in hopes that I’ll see a reduction in inflammation.

Here’s the list of things causing an immune response. Some higher response than others, but I’m willing to be very cautious right now and temporarily eliminate them all. Even if pumpkin spice season is gone for me this year.

vanilla

curry powder

coriander

basil

cantaloupe

banana

oat

black tea

artichoke

peanut

cabbage

pumpkin

spinach

cinnamon

clove

peppermint

The good news is there’s a lot of other foods that are not creating an inflammatory response. And, knowledge is a powerful thing.

I have more labs coming back soon and a follow up on September 20th.

Progress. Knowledge. Power. Hope.

Healthy Self, Heal-Thyself

Had another appointment with the naturopath doctor and some test results since then.

I believe we’re onto something and am prepared to do whatever it takes to heal my body.

With that said, I am already feeling the effects of eating foods that are potentially unhealthy and inflammatory to me so that we can get an accurate diagnosis of food allergies and food sensitivities. Telling myself that eating real pizza was worth it!

Up until this week my pain and inflammation was not horrible. This past week I’ve been eating all the foods that I typically avoid so that the bloodwork will give me an accurate picture.

6 days in and the pain and stiffness is escalating. Fatigue is awful. I slept for 10 hours last night and haven’t done much this morning and am exhausted.

Throwing myself into a flare is no fun. But the end will justify the means I guess.

In the meantime my gut health test results are in and surprise, surprise (insert sarcasm here), there is dysbiosis.

Akkermansia muciniphila, is associated with excessive mucous production and multiple sclerosis. Now I know that it’s not a diagnosis, but with the fact that autoimmune diseases tend to cluster, and this is an increased risk factor, we’re addressing it right away.

Streptococcus spp. colonize skin and mucous membranes throughout the body; High levels in the intestine may result from low stomach acid, antacid use, reduced digestive capacity, or SIBO. Elevated levels may also be indicative of intestinal inflammatory activity.
The 2 other bacterial overgrowths, Bacteroidetes & Firmicutes are not associated with any specific disease states but are best not overgrown in relationship to ideal weight management. Their elevation imposes an increased caloric retention, weight gain and difficult weight loss.

That could explain a lot about my inability to lose any more body fat no matter how well I eat and exercise. Along with a chronic stress state in my body. I guess I’m lucky I’m maintaining my weight at least.

Elevated SIgA indicates an increased immune response which can be a response to food sensitivities, allergies, and or GI infections. However, since my gut inflammatory marker, calprotectin, was not elevated the doctor is not too concerned about intense immune reaction leading to identifiable inflammatory mucosal destruction. She believes it is reasonable to first introduce needed gut bacteria to get the overgrown bacteria into check. Then if we find it necessary we can utilize antimicrobials to cut down on the excess. This would be done with herbs, not antibiotics.

So the years of reading study after study about gut health have finally been put to the test! Hopefully bringing it into balance and getting the detailed food testing will help settle my immune system down in the long run.

I’m going to introduce a probiotic called HMF Super Powder from Seroyal.

I will increase daily vegetables and fibrous foods (psyllium) such as squash, lima beans, green peas, sweet potatoes, collards, and artichokes. My doctor knows that I don’t prefer beets, turnips, broccoli, and kale, but finding ways to include these cooked vegetables would be very helpful.
And eat more fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.

The saliva test indicated higher than normal cortisol level upon waking. And lower than normal during mid morning.

We’re adding in adrenal support through Adrenal Desiccated and Drenamin.

Also based on some other symptoms I’ll be taking a homeopathic phosphorus for just 2 days.

The doctor advised castor oil packs which have an immediate effect on my sore joints.

The food allergy and sensitivities testing, some standard and advanced bloodwork, and a DEXA scan are all forthcoming.

No quick fix here but I believe that in the long term healing is possible.

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.