Paleo? Plant Based? Who is Right?

Last week, I ended the Bone Broth Diet by eating some Einkorn flour pancakes. I have been feeling unwell ever since. It made me wonder if all grains should be out for me. During the week, I watched the Tyroid Secret series and lots of interviews were pointing to a paleo approach to healing. There are no doubt that grains can be inflammatory (a little more on this here) and should be avoided by some people. But, at the same time, I have been learning from Chris Beat Cancer (his Website is truly a wealth of information) and a lot of what he says makes sense. He promotes a cup of beans a day, very little meat, oatmeal for breakfast and potatoes as a health food. Not quite paleo, right? In some of his videos, he talks about the fact that, traditionally, people didn’t eat as much meat as we do because they saved it for special occasions. Only the rich could eat as much as we do and their overeating (meat, sugar, processed grains and dairy products) would cause them to suffer from diseases of affluence (like our Western culture today). In an interview with Dan Buettner, author of the Blue Zones, he explains that a huge factor in the cultures that enjoy longevity is that they eat at least a cup of beans a day. He promotes a plant based diet for optimal health and that is how he helped a lot of cancer patients get healthy. His goal is to nourish the body enough to allow it to heal. I may not have cancer, but that is also how I think I should be able to get better. The problem is, I think I might be sensitive to grains. I have been unwell ever since I reintroduced them in my diet and every time I eat them, my weight goes up a few pounds (a sign of inflammation?). I am not sure about legumes though, I haven’t tested them without grains.

I am still trying some new supplements I purchased last week, but if I don’t see any improvements this month, I think I might have to go paleo again. I might also look at other gut healing diets (like the GAPS diet or I was also considering the WHALS protocol).


Taking a Step Back to Evaluate the Effects of Increased Nutrients on General Well Being

First, I want to emphasis how good I felt on the Bone Broth Diet even though I was not following it a 100%. I was having more fruit and sugars that the plan allows for (I know, I am weak!). Still, I felt better than I had in a long time. For this reason, I figured it would be a good time to test Einkorn flour. If you don’t know what Einkorn is, it is the only non hybridized wheat available today. It is dated back as far as 5000 years ago. Its protein, vitamin and mineral content is higher than any other grain. It won’t rise your glycemic index nearly as much as regular wheat and it bakes amazingly well! I have experimented with breads, cookies, pasta, pie crust, etc. It is just lovely all around! Unfortunately, I finally came to the conclusion that even Einkorn is off limit for me now. I tested it 3 days ago by eating only one small pancake and I have been suffering the consequence ever since. I have been feeling fatigued, and the brain fog won’t lift. I used to suffer for 2 days only after cheating with gluten, it looks like I am getting worse. No more gluten for me for at least a year! I have not decided completely swear off gluten because I believe gluten sensitivity is not natural, just like any other food sensitivity. Therefore it may be possible to heal it. I know gliadin is involved causing intestinal permeability (leaky gut) for everyone, even those who don’t seem gluten sensitive, but I think that there must be a reason for this. I mean, Jesus himself ate wheat! If it is as deadly as some make it sound, I don’t think he would have fed himself and his disciples using wheat (Luke 6:1). He is the Creator of the universe, he knows the human body more than anyone else.

  And that leads me to the second point of this post: I decided to take a step back. I have been testing various diets non stop since January and I am running out of motivation. What I would like to do now is to stick to a whole foods gluten free diet and focus on my nutrient intake. I became an ambassador for an organization called Plexus last week, and I purchased a package calle Tri-Plex after listening to a series of amazing testimonies by people who cured all kinds of health problems with these products. I thought it would be worth a try. An update will be coming soon on that, but in the meantime, I also plan to post more on general health and lifestyle topics.


The Bone Broth Diet and Carbohydrate Intolerance

The Bone Broth Diet is a low a carb diet. It removes grains, corn, processed fats, artificial sweeteners, soy, all sugars (including natural ones), processed meats, white potatoes, beans and legumes. Since trying this diet, I have been learning more about the low carb world in general. For example, I recently learned about carbohydrate intolerance and how to establish a “safe” carbohydrate threshold. It’s called the two-week test. Most of us are carbohydrate sensitive to some extent, but the question is: to what degree? The preliminary symptoms are elusive; they include fatigue, intestinal bloating and loss of concentration. If it goes undiagnosed and unmonitored, carbohydrate intolerance can cause more serious conditions like hypertension, elevated triglycerides, diabetes, heart disease. The two week test eliminates the same foods as the Bone Broth Diet (plus all fruits, which I will do from now on), but reintroduce them after two weeks with the goal of assessing the person’s tolerance level. One carb every other meal (a piece of fruit for example) is added back into the diet while watching for symptoms to reappear (like bloating, depressed energy, craving for more carbohydrates). Before starting, it is a good idea to write down any symptoms. After the two week period, during the reintroduction phase. It is important to pay attention to any return of symptoms.

This second week on the Bone Broth Diet has been a failure for me. I had some dates a few times and some maple syrup twice. Many evenings my craving for sugar were so strong, I couldn’t resist. And that is exactly why I am doing this. I want to be in control of my food desires instead of my food desires controlling me. I will not go back to a more “normal” diet (including beans, legumes and natural sugars) until I feel I have victory of sugar cravings. I also believe that the two week test, or a variation of it, will help me establish a carbohydrate consumption level that doesn’t cause me to want more. I might struggle and fall a few times, but I will keep in mind that there is no need to go hungry during the test. The only requirement is to fill up exclusively on the non starchy foods allowed. I am planning on carrying out this experiment during the next two weeks. It might take more than two weeks if I end up cheating, but I will eventually get rid of my cravings and establish my craving free zone.


The Bone Broth Diet and the Benefits of Fasting

I am on my fourth day of Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet. The Bone Broth Diet is a low carb diet that involves sipping on two cups of broth every day. I her book, Dr. Kellyann talks about the benefits of drinking bone broth:

1- It fills you up without adding pounds.

2- It’s packed with collagen (keeps you looking young).

3- It heals your gut.

4- It heals your joints.

5- It’s anti-inflammatory.

In the context of the diet, one is supposed to fast on bone broth two days a week. I decided to skip this aspect of the diet partly because I am nursing and fasting is always discouraged for nursing mothers, but also, I wanted to adopt a strategy that is sustainable in the long term. And seriously, I don’t to be fasting two days a week for the rest of my life! However, I know that minifasts are very beneficial for healing and detoxifying and so, I would like to find a fasting option that I could maintain for the long term. One way is making sure not to eat 2-3 hours before bed. This means about 14 hours without food each day, which gives the body a chance to put all its energy on rejuvenation as opposed to digestion at night. For more profound healing benefits though, a longer fast is necessary. I remember hearing a health expert talking about the fact that the fast needs to be at least 48 hours for the body to start doing some real rebuilding. This particular article talks about a 5 day fast every few months. It’s based on the work of Dr. Valter Longo. According to his studies, eating 750 to 1000 calories for a 5 day period protects against inflammation, cancer and cardiac diseases as well as a water fast would. The foods consumed during these days should be mostly vegetable soups and nuts. That makes so much sense to me! I think I will start fasting this way every change of season. By the way, his work also promotes a mostly plant based diet with less animal protein, which conflicts with the Bone Broth Diet. As a sugar addict struggling to keep from endless cycles of over eating, I find meat protein very satiating, but in the long run, I am aiming at a more plant based diet.

Now, let’s talk about my experience with the Bone Broth Diet. The first day, was good. The first day is always good for me because of the excitement of trying something new. The second day was awful! I was always looking for food! I didn’t know why I felt the urge to eat constantly, but I was worried about my lack of self control. Things stabilized on the third day, but I really wanted something sweet and I almost caved in (already!) by making some form of a paleo treat. I didn’t have time, so I ended up eating coconut manna with almond butter instead. That is my favorite easiest snack when cravings strike. Today, I barely have any cravings at all! I feel satiated and healthy, and I don’t feel like food has power over me anymore. This afternoon, I made a delicious low carb chocolate treat that I am planning to have after dinner. I sampled it and it is truly amazing!

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Here is the recipe I followed. The only thing I did differently was to add about 2 tablespoons of a mixture made with erythriol and stevia that I grounded in the blended to the chocolate layer. Yum! (UPDATE: oops! I discovered that even stevia is a no no on this diet. I thought it was ok because most low carb diets include it. Starting on day 5, no more stevia for me!)

The Bone Broth Diet Cookbook is also pretty amazing! My favorite this week was the grilled salad with the ranch dressing and the grilled salmon with a blueberry sauce.

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That’s all for now, stay tuned for an other update next week.


Next experiment: Ketogenic or Bone Broth Diet ?

It’s been almost a week since I finished the Autoimmune Protocol and I have been wondering about what my next experiment should be. I have been eating following mostly Dr. Fuhrman Lose 10 in 20 plan. I like his Nutritarian approach, nutrient dense and plant rich, small amounts of animal products and no processed foods, flour and sugars. Here is the source for Dr. Fuhrman’s great food pyramid:

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The problem is, although I like that each meal contains lots of veggies, I tend to get bored with the recipes, as most of them seem to revolve around black beans and tomatoes or mushrooms and kale. It seems to me that they also use a lot of corn. Besides that, I need to get my blood sugar under control and this plan doesn’t keep me satisfied for long periods. I crave sweets all the time and I frequently feel hungry. I want to loose weight (between 5 and 10 lbs would be great), but not by starving myself. I want to find the right diet that will help me reach my ideal weight and maintain it effortlessly (or almost) by conquering my cravings. For this reason, I feel that plans with a reduced sugar load might be the answer for me. I have recently been learning about the Ketogenic diet and I am intrigued. A ketogenic diet is high fat, moderate protein and low carbs. My Keto Kitchen presents a clear food pyramid for the keto diet:

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Studies are being done to demonstrate its effectiveness as an anti cancer diet, since cancer cells need sugar to survive. However, I would try to keep meat protein consumption at 20% because of the possible link between meat protein and some forms of cancer. Also, I have seen meal plans that involve dairy and processed foods like low carb tortillas. I think a dairy free whole food plan would be preferable. I found the plan in the Keto Beginning particularly appetizing. After about a week of low carb intake, the body will be in ketosis and start using fat and ketones for energy instead of glucose. After about a month, the body will reliably use fat/ketones as a source of energy, this state is called keto adapted. The benefits of using fat and ketones rather than glucose for energy are, for example, stabilized insulin levels and reduced inflammation in the body. It reduces hunger and contributes to overall wellbeing. Once one has reached this state, carb consumption can be increased while maintaining ketosis. Also, one will usually go back to eating more carbs at some point following a certain pattern (like carb cycling).

The third option I was considering was Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet. It is similar to the Ketogenic diet, in that it works mainly by stabilizing blood sugar and reducing inflammation, but it includes more carbs and does not aim at maintaining a ketogenic state. Basically, all grains and legumes are eliminated as well as all forms of sugar. Bone broth is consumed daily for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties. An other cornerstone of the Diet are its fast days. Have you heard of fasting mimicking? It offers all the benefits of fasting, but still allows for some food intake (this post is particularly informative). Fast days offer tremendous healing and detoxing benefits on top of aiding weight loss by reducing caloric intake. During these days, one should consume 5 cups of bone broth and a light meal or 6 cups of bone broth. I am leaning towards trying this one, as it seems more attainable and sustainable. Plus, I have read that ketosis might not be appropriate for nursing mothers. My plan would be to keep it safe by following the Bone Broth Diet without fasting days. Nursing mothers are always advised to steer clear of helpful supplements, herbs and diets. I know this is to ensure they produce enough milk and that their milk is safe for the baby (as free of toxins as possible), but I suspect part of it might be a liability issue. I might decide to try fasting, I will simply listen to my body. Also, my baby is approaching one year of age, so maintaining milk supply is not as much of a concern. I am giving myself another week to decide what the next step is, since I have to wait till next Friday to go grocery shopping. More on that next week.

 


Dr. Amy Myers Autoimmune Solution Results and Review

It has finally been a month! And it wasn’t an easy month! I really enjoy having nuts and seeds as well as gluten free grains and legumes. I missed them and felt deprived many times. I also cheated a few times, but I really tried hard to be as strict as possible. The main problem was that I didn’t see results. In fact, after over a week of really sticking to the program, I felt awful, I think my body may have been fighting a virus that was going around. My health problems are not extremely serious (fatigue, brain fog, sinus congestion) and they usually don’t interfere too much with my life, but there has been many times when I have seen drastic improvements over a few days just by cleaning up my diet. In this case, there was no improvement at all (coming from a gluten free dairy free lifestyle). I have been trying to loose an extra 5 pounds that I gained during my last pregnancy and that my body has been hanging on to. In the past, going grain free has been the most reliable way to loose weight. For some reason, this time, I didn’t loose any weight.

As far as Dr. Amy Myers Autoimmune Solution program goes, it’s a good program with lots of information and interesting resources. It is divided into six lessons: Understanding Autoimmunity, Heal your Gut, Get Rid if Gluten, Grains and Legumes, Tame the Toxins, Heal your Infections and Relieve your Stress, the Myers Way for Life. The videos included in the lessons are interesting and the symptom tracker could be helpful if, unlike me, one was going to use it. The program doesn’t require too much time in the kitchen and allows for using leftovers as a mean to cut down on cooking time. I think it would provide just enough diversity for a lot of people (I recently read that most of us use a repertoire of 12 recipes that we cook over and over again), but as someone who rarely cooks the same thing more than once, I got incredibly bored with the options offered. I had to look at three other autoimmune cookbooks (He Won’t Know it’s Paleo, The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook and the Paleo Approach Cookbook to find more inspiration.

In conclusion, I know the autoimmune protocol has been helping a lot of people. I also know that no matter what your health problem is, eliminating trigger foods is the most important step. Grains and legumes are said to be inflammatory to the body, because they contain phytic acid, phytates, lectins and prolamins. They also contribute to an omega 3/omega 6 imbalance (The Paleo Approach is my source on that statement) they rob the body from important minerals (since phytates bind to calcium, iron and other minerals) and they are not very nutrient dense (calories to calories compared to meat and veggies). I don’t find that eliminating grains makes me better, and the claim that meat is harder for the body to digest than plant foods makes more sense to me. Those who are in favor of eating more meat rather than plant foods argue that the human body is not designed to break down cellulose. I argue back that the cellulose (fiber) is the ultimate anti-cancer food (colorectal, pancreatic and breast cancers) and even phytic acid seems to have some anti-cancer properties! In the end, it looks like I haven’t found the Ultimate diet yet.


Cost of Groceries on the Autoimmune Protocol, Part 2

 

The first week and a half cost about $400 (to feed a family of 9). You can check part 1 for more details. At the week and a half mark, I stocked up on meat that was on sale. Now, I buy grass fed beef from a local farmer, but I had decided I could not afford to afford to buy my meat organic (we do grow our chickens in the Summer, but we ran out).

Here is my receipt:

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It comes out to about $10 in produce and $80 in meat. Now, I was operating under the premise that factory farming in Canada is not as bad as in the States (I don’t know why I was under this impression). I did some research on the Internet (I should have done that beforehand) and discovered that it is in fact pretty horrible. I decided I would no longer purchase meat unless it is certified organic. Now, I realize that organic does guarantee perfect conditions for the animals, but it is a huge improvement and what else can I do if  I want to go on with this experiment? So, I will have meatless breakfast and lunches and meat for dinner from now on. The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott offers a menu plan with meatless lunches and I will have a green smoothie for breakfast.

At the 2 week mark, I did the last half of my shopping:

I spent about $1000 dollars, some of it not specifically for the protocol. I spent about $160 in produce at Costco (includes lots of frozen fruits and veggies), about $60 at Walmart and $100 at Freshco. Meat cost me about $250 at all three stores and condiments cost about $100 (all the oils and coconut milk for instance). On top of all this, I bought coconut flour, apple cider vinegar, coconut aminos among other things and that cost about $100. Add another $60 for palm shortening and coconut butter.

Now, before I add up the totals for the month, keep in mind that I live in Ontario. Here food costs more than in the States (that is why I posted the receipts, people can compare for themselves to what they are used to paying). Also, right now, the exchange rate is very bad for us in Canada, that also makes our situation worst.

Here we go, to eat on the autoimmune protocol this month, and feed a family of 9, I spent $430 in produce and $400 in meat (not including beef). Oils, flours, coconut milk and all the condiments cost another $300 or so. The total for the bare essentials then would then be a little less than $1100. But I spent about $300 more in things that are not included in the protocol, like sourdough bread, peanut butter, cheese, etc.

This amount seems to be not any more than I am used to spending. I will keep writing these overviews on my spending each month and we will see what the next few months cost, but so far, I feel that this amount is not any more than usual.

 

 

 


Dr. Amy Myers Autoimmune Solution Progress

I was planning to write a seven day update about he Autoimmune Solution for the sake of comparing the results with Superwoman Slimdown (I did the cleanse for only 7 days). However, I decided it would not be a fair comparison for two reasons: 1- I started the program after having a cheat meal on the weekend and I think I might have suffered more from the gluten exposure than expected. 2- I didn’t realize that although baked goods are ok on the protocol, they should be consumed only once a month or so. Consequently, I really overindulged my sugar cravings. I these two causes might be at the root of the stalled progress or even the regression I experienced since the Superwoman Slimdown. I felt mediocre most days. I had low energy and I had various intestinal issues. That lasted of 8 days. On the 6, 7 and 8 days, I felt pretty discouraged and deprived. I cheated with nut butters and pop corn and felt ready to give up. I also felt uninspired by the AIP recipes. All these meals revolving around meat! I felt worried that I was eating too much meat. By the way, why do paleo people think of meat and veggies are the most nutrient dense, less gut irritant foods, while vegetarians promote veggies, grains and legumes as easier to digest than meat? I think I might have to look into this at some point…

But let’s get back to my progress on the protocol. On day 9, I started feeling much better, both physically and emotionally. I started appreciating the foods available to me again and I didn’t feel so deprived any longer. I felt like I could finish the month. However, I made some adjustments as the protocol seemed too meat heavy for me. And we are not talking only about pastured chicken, grass fed beef, fish and such, but a lot of cured meats that have been shown to cause cancer. I decided I would finish the protocol by having a green smoothie for breakfast, a meatless lunch and meat for dinner.

With only 1 week left to go, I thought the time had come to give a progress report. I have a bit of a foggy brain today, which I also had during the Superwoman Slimdown, but had blamed on the grains, legumes and nuts. I guess not. I will have to keep experimenting and I will make a final judgment on the protocol next weekend.


Cost of Groceries on the Autoimmune Protocol, Part 1

I have to feed a family of 9, so groceries are a huge part of our budget. For that reason, I had often felt that any type of paleo approach would be too expensive for us. Now, since I have committed to eat on the autoimmune protocol for one month, I thought keeping track of the cost of food would be a helpful exercise.

This week, the total cost of my groceries was $300. Now, keep in mind I didn’t have to buy beef, since I purchased a quarter of grass fed beef in the Fall. I also had a good supply of frozen organic berries, broccoli and cauliflower.

If you look at my receipt, you will notice that some items are not allowed on the autoimmune protocol. It’s simply because, although my children eat the same meals that I do, I let them eat snacks comprising other whole foods that I can’t have.

Here is a general breakdown of the cost: about $95 on produce, $70 on meat, $18 on olive oil and $15 on coconut milk. I have only $200 to spend next week, so it looks like my children won’t be getting as many treats 🙂