Monday, March 31, 2014

First week on the autoimmune protocol (low histamine edition)

As written recently, I've decided to try to heal my eczema by following a low histamine version of the autoimmune protocol. I'm now on day eight, so thought I'd give an update on my progress, including my food diary and some observations from the week.

Food Diary (March 24 to 30, 2014)

Couple quick things first...
- I've been oil pulling with coconut oil every morning. No big revelations as yet.
- I've been supplementing daily with fish oil, probiotics, vitamin D, and liver pills
- The food is listed in no particular order and simply includes the ingredients
- I'm weening off the cortisone. I'll go a couple days without, but apply if I've had a big flare up or if it becomes difficult to bend my fingers/make a fist. I know I'll have to get off it to truly see any impact from this approach.

10:00 - Ground beef, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, cilantro, garlic, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
12:40 - Ground beef, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, cilantro, garlic, coconut oil, EVOO; (organic gala) apple 
18:45 - Chicken thigh (with skin), bok choy, sweet potato, ginger, EVOO

9:15 - Apple (after fasting for blood work - I don't usually like to eat fruit in isolation - especially first thing in the day, but I'm pretty limited in food-to-go)
11:00 - Beef strips, broccoli, purple sweet potato, EVOO, cilantro
13:15 - Apple
14:50 - Raw carrots
18:15 - Ground beef, spaghetti squash, broccoli, asparagus, ginger, garlic, honey
19:00 - Apple

9:00 - Beef strips, broccoli, purple sweet potato, EVOO, cilantro
13:00 - Beef strips, bok choy, purple sweet potato, EVOO
14:00 - Two kale "muffins" (kale, honey, baking soda, carob powder, coconut oil, coconut flour, salt, modified from this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie)
15:20 - A few green apple slices
17:30 - Roast beef, sweet potato, cauliflower, EVOO, fresh dill
19:40 - Apple
20:40 - Kale muffin

8:30 - Puree of cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, cilantro, heavy cream (was from freezer, a bit of a dairy accident), garlic; apple
11:15 - Roast beef, cauliflower, sweet potato, EVOO, fresh dill, "leather" (apple, carrot, ginger) snack that Molly didn't like - it was very gingery); 1/2 kale muffin
13:00 - Raw carrots, apple
15:30 - Two kale muffins
17:15 - Raw carrots, ground beef, broccoli, bok choy, garlic, cilantro, sweet potato; apple

8:00 - Roast beef, cauliflower, sweet potato, EVOO, fresh dill
10:40 - Raw carrots
12:15 - Ground beef, broccoli, bok choy, garlic, sweet potato, cilantro, apple
18:15 - Chicken thigh, coconut aminos, celery, broccoli, asparagus, cilantro, carrots
19:35 - Apple

8:00 - Beef, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, coconut oil, cilantro, broccoli
[Fasted through lunch at an event with not one "allowed"piece of food.]
15:15 - Chicken thigh, coconut aminos, celery, broccoli, asparagus, cilantro, carrots; green apple; raw carrots and celery
18:30 - Roast beef, sweet potato, boy choy, zucchini, EVOO
20:15 - Apple, homemade beet chips

8:45 - Beet chips (they were a bit better having crispened overnight)
9:35 - Beef strips, Brussels sprouts, arugula, coconut aminos, EVOO
14:00 - Beef, zucchini, bok choy, sweet potato, EVOO
15:10 - Mango
17:10 - Beef, zucchini, broccoli, EVOO, raw carrots and celery
18:00 - Two kale muffins
19:15 - Green apple slices, raw carrots

I've been keeping rough notes on my skin condition as I go, including any flare ups along the way (only a few, with some mild itchiness here and there). Admittedly, I have trouble accepting that the itchiness doesn't disappear immediately and my skin improve steadily from day one on, but such is life.

Photo taken Friday, March 28, 2014

Photo taken Friday, March 28, 2014
On the upside, this extra clean spell has been a great reminder of how delicious real food is when your palate isn't tainted by extras. I literally find myself making "mmmm, mmm" noises throughout my meals. I've also been using this experience as an excuse to change up our veggies a bit. Not a whole lot above, but tonight we had roasted radishes and Chinese broccoli. I also have fennel and kolibri to try (cooking suggestions welcome). So there's always that...even if this doesn't send my eczema back where it came from :-)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A new plan: the autoimmunity route

Since my last post, it's been more of the same. With a few breaks, I've continued the use of cortisone, which is just keeping my eczema at bay (sometimes barely). Based on this lack of positive progress, I've been debating my next move with the help of these two books:

1. Is Food Making You Sick? - The Strictly Low Histamine Diet by James L. Gibb

2. The Paleo Approach - Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD ( aka The Paleo Mom)

The approaches in these two books are quite different, though I'm finding both to be helpful in my quest. The biggest difference is probably that the Gibb book would have me cut out meat altogether - something I'm just not completely comfortable with. On the flip side, grass-fed, organic, high quality meat - red meat in particular - is a cornerstone of The Paleo Approach (with an emphasis on organ meat). I may do a more thorough book review of each soon, we'll see. FYI - The Paleo Approach includes info and modifications specially for those with histamine intolerance, which is what drew me to it in the first place.

So here's the new plan:

The Paleo Approach won over in the end, however, I am incorporating some elements (i.e. restrictions) found in the Gibb book, which are not specified in The Paleo Approach. I'm now on day two of my customized autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet, which includes:

(List modified from The Paleo Mom)
  • Vegetables (Emphasis on green, but from a variety of colours; excludes known histamine offenders such as spinach. My go-tos include broccoli, bok choy, asparagus, cauliflower, sweet potato.)
  • Quality meats (Grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild as much as possible; poultry in moderation due to high omega-6 content.)
  • Organ meat and offal (The Paleo Mom suggests aiming for 5+ times per week, which I find  ambitious. I was delighted to find this great idea for consuming liver by Primally Inspired, which I've since incorporated. I bet I can do this with other stuff too. I'm also making plans for the beef heart in my freezer...)
  • Quality fats (pasture-raised/grass-fed animal fats, olive oil, coconut oil)
  • Limited fruit (apples, melons, figs, mangoes)

Notable exclusions include (beyond grains, dairy, legumes):

  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Nightshades

For later reference, this is what my hand looks like today, two days in and still on cortisone:

Looks pretty good, but this is the cortisone talking.
Also of note, I had blood taken today. The results should be ready in about a week or so. We'll see if that has anything to say.

In closing, I should add that I was inspired by one of my readers here to look at the autoimmune protocol. I'm interested if there are others out there who have had good experience with such an approach. Let me know in the comments.