I Did it…. I Started!

Two weeks ago, I started my 4-month elimination diet to address some health issues. I also see this as big a reset for my system. It was time.

The most important reason I am doing this 4-month elimination diet is that I have 2 autoimmune diseases and leaky gut. Honestly, I don’t really notice the 2 diseases. Thanks to the Synthroid I’ve

been taking for decades, the hypothyroidism has not seemed to affect me in any obvious way. The other disease I wouldn’t even know about except that my dentist told me I have oral lichen planus during a routine dental examination and cleaning. (I had to look that one up. The symptoms I’m aware that I have are the white patches on the tissues inside my mouth and a new sensitivity to mint and spicy foods. Some people feel a burning sensation and more).

Regarding the leaky gut, I didn’t realize that’s what I had but I knew something was up. That’s because very often I feel bloated after eating and it can be quite uncomfortable. But the most annoying thing and something that’s hard to not notice is….. (TMI alert!!) …I have “plumbing” challenges. That is, I usually have trouble “going no. 2”. This has been a problem for many years and from the doctor and dietician I heard the usual “have more fiber”. I tried that but it didn’t help. Seeing a naturopath more recently gave me a diagnosis and a plan for fixing this. Add to the list, given everything else, I also likely have inflammation in my body and food sensitivities, all contributing to negatively impacting my health.

How did I get this way? Well…. That’s not entirely a simple question to answer. I was told by my doctor that autoimmune diseases “just happen”. Hmm….okay, maybe….. As to the leaky gut (and maybe, really, all of my issues?), I’m pretty sure that occurred one fork and spoonful at a time. Along with the good food I’ve eaten during my life, there has been plenty of food – culturally “normal” food – that’s not been so good. I address some of that in thoughts I share in a previous post.

My Way Back to Health

The plan, this diet, my naturopath recommends should help. Actually, I knew something like this was going to be necessary as it coincides with what I learned when I started researching about autoimmune diseases last year. As I understand it, you can get any one or more of many different autoimmune diseases when your immune system decides to attack your own body rather than protect it. The common denominator, as I see it, is the immune system attack. Maybe individual genetics and/or life circumstances determine the actual disease you get? Regardless, this is why I became inspired when I learned of two women’s successes in dealing with and overcoming their respective autoimmune diseases. I write more about them below.

My Healthy Aging Project, as I see this, has some other desired and probable outcomes for me, too. I’m hoping for better sleep and to lose the extra weight I’ve been carrying for too long. I’m already seeing a downward shift in my weight after just 2 weeks, though last night I still was awake until after 2 am. It’s my intention to also work on building my strength and hopefully with the reduction in inflammation in my body, I will move past living in a weak and/or mildly injured state and into one of increasing strength and stamina.

My Efforts Over the Years

Maybe you wonder if I’ve done anything over the years to help improve my health?

Yes, I have. Along with generally trying to eat well (Mom taught me at least 2 veggies at dinner!), I have always been motivated to have good health and I have taken action. I read and watch videos about health and wellness and I try things. For instance, I did a paleo challenge a few years ago and more recently, I’ve been doing intermittent fasting. As well, I have exercised with the goal of becoming a runner and a stronger cyclist. 

I also want a stronger body for being able to play my trumpet more easily. And, I'd just like to be stronger for daily life. For those reasons I have done some weight bearing exercises over the years. Despite my efforts, I have only seen some minor successes. Some of it, I’m sure, is due to follow through. For various reasons, I guess I keep letting life derail me (though I did try running with wool socks in my runners in the winter but couldn’t do it! Too cold.). Anyway, whatever happened or didn’t, I have never succeeded in reaching the level of physical fitness that I would like. I continue to be either slightly injured (a wrist or a foot, for example) or just vulnerable to injury, and this has been the case for decades. I’m so tired of that.

A Boost to my Motivation!

As I started to mention above, last year when I learned about my most recent autoimmune disease, the oral lichen planus, I started researching autoimmune diseases to learn more and to see if I could do anything about it. I didn’t like that I had this ‘thing’ that wasn’t good and a wee bit scary. What I found was both interesting and compelling. The two women I discovered who had overcome two different autoimmune diseases are both medical doctors. Dr. Brooke Goldner reversed her lupus and Dr. Terry Wahls reversed her progressive MS. Those two diseases aren’t supposed to be “curable” or “reversible”. How did they do it?

Both of them did it with diet. That’s why I’m so optimistic. Because I’m in charge of what goes in my mouth.

Both women also wrote books about their experience. I decided on Terry Wahls’ book and bought "The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles", and started reading. It’s a great book offering a ton of information and guidance. It’s a big book, though. I read off and on through spring, summer and into the fall. But I wasn’t quite ready to jump into an elimination diet like she suggests; not yet. I did know I needed to make changes, though. 

So, finally, I realized I wanted/needed local in-person support and last fall, I booked an appointment with a local naturopath. She is knowledgeable, kind and patient with all my questions and also my tears one day: “I want to have good health and I’ve tried.” With no pressure to do anything, she and I talked about me doing an elimination diet, the one I’m now doing. It’s taken over a year since learning about the second autoimmune disease and then leaky gut to finally take action. It’s definitely a change (and struggle) for me and my family, with me not eating as I normally do. But I’m very glad I’m finally doing it. And, my appreciation for this is increasing because….

Turning Point Looming

As I am closing in on my 58th birthday, I am increasingly aware that “old age” is approaching. It’s like I feel I am reaching a sort of turning point. Over the course of my life, I have seen so many people who had problems in their advanced years, problems I don’t want to have. I want to age well. I want to be healthy. I want to live a long time. And, recently I said in conversation “I’m not ready to get old!” ….and I’m not. I still feel like a kid.

I still want to play and have fun doing things. Becoming crippled in some form or another is not what I want to have happen, especially when the information is out there to prevent most age-related diseases and illnesses. But I do have some health issues. Am I going to do anything about them when I believe the information is out there for aging in a healthy way? Yes! I finally am and, you know, we get there when we get there. I’m "there" now.

Steps to Optimal Health

My elimination diet is one of my steps on what I’m calling “my journey to optimal health” aka “my Health Project”. I want to heal my gut and reduce or even reverse the autoimmune diseases happening in my body. I want to reduce the inflammation. I want to sleep better and by golly, I want happier times in the loo!

There’s no reason I have to be sick with any of it. And, I want to avoid any sort of cascade into a 3rd or even 4th autoimmune disease, which I recently learned can happen with autoimmune diseases left unchecked. The next one could be the one that knocks me on my butt! Yet, I believe it is totally preventable. At very least, I’m going to give it a-go and implement measures like the successful women above who have gone ahead and shared their journey and their knowledge from lessons hard won.

In my next post, I’ll share my elimination diet parameters. Until then, do you suffer from an autoimmune disease or know someone who does? What wisdom can you share from your experience?

Photo Credits by:

Raven Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash.com
Toilet Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash.com
Footprint Photo by Evie S on Unsplash.com

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