Autoimmune, Mold and Enbrel – My Root Cause?

Getting to the root cause of an autoimmune disease can be very costly, time-consuming and tricky.  But I may have found one of my main ones, mold / fungus.  Before I begin, let’s start with the side effects of the autoimmune suppressing medicine I took for over 9 years, Enbrel:

Taken from Enbrel and RxList Web Sites:  “Patients treated with ENBREL are at increased risk for developing serious infections that may lead to hospitalization or death…Invasive fungal infections, including histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, candidiasis, aspergillosis, blastomycosis, and pneumocystosis. Patients with histoplasmosis or other invasive fungal infections may present with disseminated, rather than localized, disease.”  Overall, I am susceptible to fungus / mold and it may lead to death.  Update 8/1/13 – If you are concerned about this, read more on the fungal fix.

Environmental Mold

Environmental mold can seriously harm and kill you.  According to the CDC, “prolonged exposure to high levels of mold (and some bacterial species) can produce an immune-mediated disease known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis….In addition, exposure to beta glucans might have an inflammatory effect in the respiratory system.”  Beta glucans are particularly troublesome for me since they are found in the same foods / ingredients I cannot eat without flaring up (grains, barley, brewer’s yeast, etc.).

In the first two shots, you will see my old air conditioning unit filled with mold due to age and the corrosion of the coil.  The 3rd photo shows the new unit with a U/V light that is always on and kills any mold that tries to grow within the air handler.

Old Air Handler Loaded with Mold

Old Air Handler Loaded with Mold

Old Air Handler with Corrosion

Old Air Handler with Corrosion in the Cracked Coil – Condensation Lead to Mold

A/C Unit New Air Handler with UV Light

New Air Handler with Arrow Pointing to UV Light

Biocide Duct Sanitizer

Biocide duct sanitizer kills all existing mold within the air vents.

On 7/3 I had an inspection done by And Services.  Upon inspection I saw an outbreak of mold within the air handler of the air conditioning unit.  I had previous inspections done in 2012, but no one had warned me of the mold and I may have been breathing in this toxic air for years.  Fortunately this company did an amazing job putting in my new unit the next day – on the 4th of July!  The new air handler includes an always-on U/V light that kills any mold that tries to go in.  As for any existing mold, they piped in Biocide into the return air vent which then goes through all existing vents.  Lastly, I had the inspector double-check and make sure there was no mold in all of the attic.

Now we know I’m sensitive to mold / fungus with Enbrel and I have been breathing this in (possibly for years), but how could I confirm it?  Next up – Gut Ecology Profile.

Confirmation Autoimmune Test – Gut Ecology Profile

Within the same hour as the initial inspection on 7/3, I was emailed the Metametrix Gut Ecology Test Results.  Coincidence? No.  This was one of my “God-Intervening” moments in my life since I had been waiting for this test for a month and the timing of this inspection was planned just a few days prior.

If you look at the test results, you will see an area in red on page two that states I have a Yeast / Fungi infection at +2; +3 would mean I was almost dead since the results are exponential (specific strain on the test is Saccharomyces).  The only other important thing on this test is my Bifidobacter (good bacteria) is low and am taking a supplement for that.

How to Fix the Fungus / Mold

Dr. Mark Hyman, a well-known Functional Medicine doctor, states six ways to kill fungus:

1. Address predisposing factors. Don’t take antibiotics, steroids, or hormones unless absolutely medically necessary.
2. Eat a diet that doesn’t feed yeast in the gut (low sugar and refined carbohydrates, and low mold and yeast in food.
3. Use probiotics to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria (my water kefirBifidobacter supplement).
4. Take antifungal herbs and medications when indicated ***
5. Identify potential environmental toxic fungi and molds in your home or workplace (changing my A/C unit & air handler).
6. Reduce stress.

*** Since the antifungal therapies with essential oils did not work for me, my D.O. / doctor has prescribed an alternative to Nystatin (as stated in Dr. Hyman’s article) called Clotrimazole (generic for Mycelex).  I need to take it for 10 days, 5 lozenges per day.  Below is a record of my health each day while on Clotrimazole (10 MG lozenges 5 times a day for 10 days):

7/12 – Started on medication.  No major issues, but the lozenges do make my tongue white since it’s a chalky-based lozenge.
7/13 – Morning felt pretty good.  By afternoon, though, my mid-back and ribs are very inflamed and felt like someone hit me with a baseball bat.  Shooting pains in my right hip and my neck was stiff & sore.  Sleep was terrible & could barely get out of bed – 11pm to bed, up at 12:30, back up at 4am, went back to sleep at 5am, got up at 6:30am, went to sleep at 8:00am, got up at 9:30am, you get the drill…
7/14 – Still very inflamed & hard to get out of bed, but not as bad as 7/13.  Still some shooting pains & back still bad, but went to bed at 10am, got up 1:30am & 5:30am, 8:00am & 10am.  Slept most of the morning with a total of 12 1/2 hours of sleep.
7/15 – Went to bed at 10:30, got up at 3:30am & was able to sleep again until 7am.  Took an afternoon nap for 1 1/2 hours & was able to be semi-productive with work throughout the day.  Evening went for a short walk and mid-back & ribs start acting up again.  Late evening (around 9pm) things are better, but still stiff.  At this point I feel almost the same as I did before I started the medication with some additional rib / back pain.
7/16 – Went to bed at 10:45am, got up 1:15am, then got up at 6:15am.  Got up with a very stiff & sore mid-back / back rib area slept from 8am to 9:30.  Took a nap in the afternoon from 12:45pm to 3:30pm, neck & shoulders stiff but back better.  Went to a Whole Foods class at 6pm & still can’t sit longer than 1/2 hour on a hard chair; pretty exhausted by 8:30pm.
7/17 – Went to bed at 10:30pm & got up 2:30am & woke up at 6:15am.  Went back to bed at 7:45am & got up at 9am.  Morning and afternoon went better & feeling the best so far during the week; body still sore, but not as severe.  Difficult but took a nap at 1:30 – 3pm and all was fine throughout the day.  At dinner had 1/2 a baked potato & started to get that mid-back pain, so I’ve stopped eating potatoes for now.
7/18 – Went to bed at 11pm, got up 1:15am & then 7:30am.  As each day progresses it seems I’m able to get more sleep throughout the night.  Woke up and my lower back was very stiff (as expected since I was in bed for so long).  I’ve also been losing weight since 7/16 & am down to 121 lbs.  Took a nap from 2:10 – 4:15 and woke up weak.  Mid-low back is locking up again and difficult to bend over and do much.
7/19 – Drank Chardonnay, bed 10:30pm, up at 12:30 then up at 5:20am.  Went back to bed at 7am & up at 8:45am.  Felt stronger today & overall better throughout the day.  I have a feeling it’s the lack of food absorption and not having rice 1/2 the day.  Symptoms are still low, mid-back, sides (back of ribs), neck is a bit better.  Took a nap from 3:30pm to 6:30pm.  In the evening my mind / energy doesn’t need to sleep early, but my degrading body does.
7/20 –  Went to bed at 10:30, but slept at midnight.  Got up at 3:00am, then 6:45am, back to bed at 8:45 and woke up at 10am with back and neck stiff but times after 10am & early afternoon are the best for me and the inflammation.  Afternoon nap from 3:45pm to 5:15pm.
7/21 – Bed at 11pm, up at 3am, then up at 5:45am.  Back to bed from 7:15-9am and feeling less pain & inflammation.  Today will be the last day I am on the Clotrimazole and I have felt the best today overall than any other day.  Made chicken soup and found out my bullion is now made with yeast extract but still testing it anyways.

Starting Nystatin liquid 4 tsp per day for 10 days
7/22 – Went to bed at 10:45pm, up at 1:30am, then 6:15am, back to bed at 8am to 8:45am and not feeling as good as yesterday.  I have a feeling it’s due to the yeast extract in the chicken soup and will stop eating to verify.  Took a nap from 12:45 to 2:45 and wearing down in the late evening.  Had a glass of Chardonnay & this time no help.
7/23 – Bed at 11:15pm, up at 5:15am very tired & sore (hard to get out of bed).  Went back to bed at 6:30am and up 8:15am feeling much better.  Again & again this confirms that I need at least 8 hours of sleep plus I feel my worst during times of sleep.  I also tend to start crashing around noon & took a nap from 1:10pm to 3:50pm.
7/24 – Bed at 11:15pm, up at 1:30am, then up at 6am.  Back to bed at 7:45am and up at 9am.  Stiffness better, but harder to walk around since I took a walk last night for 20 min.  Took a nap from 11am – noon and the walking is back to “normal”.
7/25 – Bed at 11:15pm, up at 4:45am, back at 5:15 – 7:15 then 9:15 -10:30am.  Took a nap from 2:15 – 3:30pm.  Today my body is very sore from the muscles I use to pull myself out of the bed.  Back and neck are stiff as usual.
7/26 – Bed at 11:15pm, up at 4:30 – 4:45am, up at 7:15am.  Took a nap from 1:15pm to 3:15pm.  Sides of my body (especially left side) hurt, but other parts I use to pull out of my bed have healed since I roll out of bed instead of the normal pulling.  Back & neck are stiff as usual but not as sore as 7/23.  Evening  consisted of an energy healing class and then stayed out late with a late dinner at 10pm.
7/27 – Bed at 12:45, up at 5am, back to bed until 7:30am. Went back to bed at 9:15am – 10:30am.  Took a nap from 1:45pm – 3:15pm.  Felt better than previous days although difficult to get into the seating position due to uncomfortable chairs from the healing session (most discomfort went away today mid-day).  Started to crash around 9pm.
7/28 – Bed at 11:15pm, up at 4:15 then 7:15am.  Today’s biggest inflammation is in the neck.  Went to the pool (walked to each side of pool & back 10 times + hot tub) and took a nap from 11:15am – 12:45pm mildly sore all over but better range in my neck.  Took a nap at 4:15pm – 5:15pm, vacuumed house in the evening.
7/29 – Bed at 10:30pm, up at 3am, then up at 6:45am with stiffness in the neck and all down the spine.  Took a nap at 1:15pm to 2:45.  Dinner time had a couple glasses of Chardonnay and felt pretty good.
7/30 – Bed at 11pm, up at 4:15 then up at 7:15am.  Back to bed at 9:30am – 11am.  Took a nap from 2:30 – 4pm.  Overall feeling better, but tired and stiffness in the usual places plus stiffness in the ankles / feet (most went away by afternoon nap).
7/31 – Bed at 11:30pm, up at 2:15am then 7:15am.  Took a nap from 1:15pm to 2:45pm.  Overall the day is better, but general pain from the mid torso to my neck…the usual pains.  Neck would stiffen up as the day progressed or as I would lie my neck in a stationary position, but again…normal.  As I write this at 9pm I have just finished the last of the Nystatin I am required to take..hooray!  Tomorrow will be a week-long “die-off” period along with supplements to take care of my leaky gut syndrome.

Die-Off” (After Effects) 7-Days After Medication
8/1 – Bed at 11:00pm, up at 12:15am, then 2am, then 6:30am.  Napped from 8-8:45am and 1-2:30pm.  My lack of good sleep patterns are due to my neck stiffness and it continues throughout all day.  Driving and going to places in the morning was not easy and was tired/stiff.
8/2 – Bed at 10:30pm, up at 12:45 then up at 5:45 and alert.  Went back to bed from 7:15 – 8:45am.  Early morning more alert & got up a bit easier, but late morning back stiff if I sit more than a few minutes.  Took a nap at 3:15pm – 4:45pm and my neck got stiffer as the day progressed along with mental focus.  After 7:30pm, neck got very stiff and started to develop a mild headache.
8/3 – Bed at 11:15pm, up at 1:15pm, then 6:30am.  Back to bed from 8:30am to 10am.  Neck still stiff (not as much as previous night) along with concentration issues.  Travelling local felt very tired from 1-3:30 (I think my body is used to this time sleeping) and napped from 3:30 – 5:30pm.  Neck still stiff in evening time but not as much as yesterday evening.
8/4 – Bed at 10:45pm, up at 12:30am, 4:30am-4:50am and then up at 7:30am.  Napped from 11am-12:30pm.  Neck still stiff at morning time but did better after the nap.  Strangely enough I’m noticing within the last 1-2 weeks that my nails are growing much faster.  At this point I get tired a lot throughout the day, but the inflammation is reducing.  The bad sleep patterns at night are again due to the neck.
8/5 – Bed at 11:15, up from 2:45-3am, then up at 7am.  Slept again from 10:30-12 with no afternoon nap.  Woke up with a stiff neck & shoulder areas as usual & tired throughout day.
8/6 – Bed at 10:45pm, up at 12:30, then up at 6:30am.  Slept again from 9-10am.  Woke up with stiff neck as usual, right foot was in pain too.  As morning progressed, shooting pains coming from my right leg.  Had a few glasses of Chardonnay with a friend and went to bed late.
8/7 – Bed at 2am, up at 6:15am, then 9-10:30am.  Neck was still stiff & right hip with pains but felt pretty good overall.  Took a nap from 1:15pm – 3:15pm.
DIARY CONTINUED at Leaky Gut Absorption Test Blog Post –>


Next Steps on Fixing the Fungus / Mold

1.  Since neither my D.O. nor my autoimmune doctor know of any tests for fungal infections (besides the Gut Ecology test), I talked with Amgen / Wyeth (the makers of Enbrel) and they suggest a specialist like an Infectious Disease doctor.  On 8/1/13 I saw Christine S Forszpaniak, MD and she states that anyone not severely sick (vomiting, respiratory, etc.) usually does not take the tests for histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, candidiasis, aspergillosis, blastomycosis, and pneumocystosis.  When these tests are done on people who are “healthier”, they only confirm whether antibodies have been made whenever I was in contact with one of these fungi.  Even if there is a confirmation, there can be false-positives and the results can only lead to academic at best.  Only when you feel ill should you take the medication for the fungal infections.  As for my test results confirming Saccharomyces, taking NystatinClotrimazole along with low sugar diet is the best protocol that can be done.  To recap, take the Gut Ecology test and then take Nystatin & Clotrimazole along with low sugar diet for the Saccharomyces.  Only request an Infectious Disease doctor if you are very sick and have the symptoms of the fungal infections.

2.  Complete Metabolic Panel (CMP) to make sure this medication isn’t taxing my liver too much (it’s the main side effect of this drug).

3.  Upon finishing the medication (7/12 – 7/31), I will be taking supplements to start fixing my intestinal lining.  Please read my next blog post on leaky gut permeability for details and daily diary.

My Autoimmune Medical Breakthrough

Autoimmune Medical Breakthrough and Holistic History of 2012

Imagine driving your car from New York to Chicago at night.  You know where you need to go, but you can only see a short distance in front of you.  By faith I knew this issue was gut-related, but I had no idea how to fix it.  Here is how I arrived to my medical breakthrough in 2012:

Healing Holistically

In the beginning, I changed my diet completely by doing a 21-day reboot (A – see diagram below).  Through this Vegan regimen, this allowed my system to start detoxifying what I thought was healthy for so many years – calorie-counting, low-fat, Standard American Diet (SAD).  Within 3-weeks  I lost 14 pounds and continued thereafter.  After 3-weeks, my sustainable diet focused on the No-Starch / Low-Starch Diet (NSD/LSD) and I stopped eating Vegan completely.  Throughout 2012, adding supplements, avoiding certain foods, and taking tests improved my condition over time.

The Damage

Coming off Enbrel (9+ years) was (what I could imagine) getting off of heavy drugs like cocaine.  Like a dam, my immune system was being held back and when I stopped taking Enbrel, the floodgates opened 3-4 weeks later.   I continued to have serious symptoms which tested me more physically, mentally, and spiritually than any other time in my life and found solace in God, the love and care of my parents, and taking Ibuprofen while my condition slowly improved over the next 6 to 9 1/2 months.

The Autoimmune Medical Breakthrough

In April 2012, I took a series of blood tests that showed off-the charts inflammation markers (SED rate, C-Reactive Protein, etc.).  At that time it was hard to pinpoint exactly what was going on until my body got over the Enbrel effect.  As the months went by, I learned more about the foods I should not eat (food intolerance – Cyrex Test), foods I needed to focus on (vitamin deficiency – Metametrix Test) used supplements to build me back up.  On the 8/21/12 comprehensive blood test,  my D.O. had enough comparison data (EX. SED rate went from 101 to 37) to see my Hemoglobin/Hemocrit was low and might be sign of anemia.

Based off the 8/21/12 comprehensive test, I saw a Hematologist and discovered I have slight anemia (TEST DATA).  The 1st page shows the iron deficiency, 2nd shows the out-of-range blood levels, 3rd page is blood in stool (internally bleeding) (D), and the last shows the percentage off of the normal range with anemia.  Although my Hematologist only focused this issue on my hemorrhoids, my D.O. and I both agreed there was more going on and sought out a Gastrointerologist.  Listed below are the three tests that have lead me to my autoimmune medical breakthrough:

My Autoimmune Digestive System Diagram
My Autoimmune Digestive System Diagram
  • Prometheus IBD sgi Diagnostic Blood Test (RESULTS – 1st Page)- the blood test shows focus on Crohn’s Disease – inflammation of the large and small intestine (colon).
  • CT Abdomen and Pelvis Scan (RESULTS – Page 2-3) – In this test, you drink a bunch of barium, get injected with iodine, and have a balloon device in the rectum area.  The CT scan reveals ulcerative colitis and compression of the distal esophagus (B).  Other info on the CT scan were confirmed by doctor as normal or a part of the inflammation issue:  Cysts in kidneys, the Jejunojejunal intussusception, and the fat surrounding descending colon (C).
  • Colonoscopy and Endoscopy (11/19 procedure, follow-up every 2 weeks) (A-D)  NOTE: I am providing preparation & procedure details so anyone who is thinking about doing this understands the sacrifice they need to make for the results.
    2 days prior to the procedure, I could not be on any of the ibuprofen I had been taking for most of 2012.  I planned 2 1/2 weeks to get from 2-3 ibuprofen per day down to 1-2 per day.   The day before I fasted (food) and had to drink 4 liters of this:

    Electrolyte Solution and Measurement

    4 Liters of PEG 3350 Electrolyte Solution

    I eased into this by taking 1 glass at 2,3, & 4pm.  From the hours of 5-10pm I needed to take a glass every 15 minutes.  As you can imagine, this flushes out your system by going to the bathroom many, many times (so much so your bottom gets raw).  Next morning at 8:30am I had to finish off with an enema and I was prepped for the procedure at 11:00am.

    Before they begin the procedure, I was put under anesthesia and did not remember a thing.  I woke up feeling a “next-level of health” better without any anesthesia effects, no food, and no water.  I woke up drinking some water, driven home by my parents and finally eating some soup around 1-2pm.

    The Colonoscopy and Endoscopy Results

    The doctor had taken some biopsies and confirmed I had Ulcerative Colitis (U.C.) and Gastritis (which may have been caused by taking Ibuprofen throughout the year) along with Grade 1 hemorrhoids (do not prolapse).  Also I tested negative for H. Pylori (gut bacteria that causes inflammation) and may have gotten rid of this using the Pyloricin supplements I took in late February.  Along with a modified / healthier low-residue diet for two weeks, I need to take these medications:

    • Prednisone – Take 3 tablets every morning for 2 weeks.Take 1 tablet in the morning and one at night for the next 2 weeks (12/4-12/17).  Evaluation 2-weeks later (12/17).  This basically replaces the anti-inflammation in ibuprofen, I feel phenomenal throughout the day and I can start to do the normal activities I once dreamed about when I was at my worst.  In fact, I even get surges of energy late into the evening (EX. cleaning my bathrooms like a mad man from 9-10pm – I never do that…never).  At around 2am it wears off & it becomes difficult to sleep.  Mornings were the worst (especially days 2-4), but got tolerable afterwards (inflammation around 7 out of 10, days 2-4 & 4-5 after day 4).  Reducing the dosage will lessen my side effects (increased acid production, runny nose, spikes in energy).  Prolonged usage is not good and hopefully taking one in the morning & one at night will keep things even and I can get better sleep.
    • Omeprazole – Because of the acid reflux & production with the Prednisone, this drug acts as an acid inhibitor similar to Prilosec OTC.  Take one in the morning and I usually have to take an hour nap after I eat breakfast due to drowsiness so I can start my day right.  Once I get off the Prednisone, I get off Omeprazole.
    • Asacol HD – For the treatment of moderately active ulcerative colitis and prevents it from recurring.  I take 2 in the morning and 2 at night with meals.  Once I get off the other two drugs and my symptoms are done (formed stools, no mucus, no inflammation break-outs), I can stop taking Asacol HD.

The Benefits After the Procedure

In the 2-weeks after the procedure, I’ve seen major improvements mentally and physically.  Although these benefits are amplified with the usage of Prednisone, there are times when I could tell it wearing off.  As each week progresses, I am feeling more of the benefits below with or without the Prednisone in my system.

  • Day 4 – 2 weeks after the procedure, my inflammation went down to tolerable levels in the mornings and I’m completely off ibuprofen.
  • Day 4 – 2 weeks receiving major boosts of energy and mentally clairvoyant throughout the day.  I work out 3 times a week at my local gym and have seen major gains in strength.  Spikes in energy are too much in the evening time and hard to sleep.
  • Although I’ve only tried this today (12/4), moving the Prednisone dosage to 1 in the morning and 1 at night allows me better inflammation coverage (along with less soreness & stiffness), better sleep, and no spikes in energy levels.
  • Getting in/out of bed is so much easier now & I don’t need to use the rope to get out of bed (although it does make it easier).
  • My weight is gradually increasing.  As of 12/3, I now weigh 131lbs, 18.33 BMI
  • Wider range in foods.  For example, I have tested and can now eat waxy potatoes (ex. red-skin potatoes) where I could not before.  More details on my new diet below.
  • My shoulders are not as sore getting out of bed during the night.
  • No need to fast, Colonics or anything to flush out my system per doctor’s 2-week follow up suggestion.
  • I don’t have the urgency anymore to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  My cortisol levels must be normalizing now (see spike on page 2 of Figure 1 graph to see the spike from midnight to 8am – test done on 4/18/12).
  • I’m able to sleep on my side up to 2 hours maximum.
  • Range of motion in my neck is finally better.  During my massage on 11/20 (1 day after the procedure), my massage therapist noticed a major improvement in my neck’s range of motion.
  • Other symptoms I didn’t mention above & are listed in my 6-month review are either gone or haven’t been tested yet.
  • Friends say I look better.  One comment that stands out is “you don’t look like a prisoner from a POW camp anymore”.
  • Mentally I’m much happier because I can do much more; be more productive at work (or making this blog), seeing people without always needing to do stretching exercises, sitting down at dinner with a friend without needing to get up due to pain, working out, dancing, and knowing that I can start working on my bucket list.  Lastly, I’m happier because I know that the faith I had in God was not in vein.  He directed my path and the hard work I did is paying off.

Symptoms Still Needing to be Resolved

  • I’m slightly limping due to inflammation pinching my neve(s) in my hip areas.  But the pain is far less than when I started exercising back in early July.
  • Bowel movements are still muddy and I still have mucus.  In order to get off the medicine, the bowel movements need to have form and I can’t have the mucus.
  • Need to go to the bathroom 3-5 times a day.  I need to be one in the morning and one at night.
  • I am still not able to have a full night of sleep and battling stiffness / soreness.  However, the pain getting out of bed is much less and am able to get back into bed quicker.  Sometimes I am able to do exercises within the bed & go back to sleep.  I usually wake up 2X per night.
  • Although I cannot confirm, I still have to take an iron supplement for my anemia & a B-complex supplement detailed from the Metametrix Test (taken on 6/6).  When the supply runs out of the B-complex, I will test & see if I need anymore.

New Diet Plan – Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)

During my 2-week follow-up, I explained how I use a modified version of the low-starch diet (LSD).  The doctor gave me a diet plan they follow for people with U.C. / IBD / Crohn’s called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).  Both utilize the same theory where eating specific foods cause bad bacteria to grow.  The difference is which foods these diets choose from.  In most cases people modify the SCD & NSD / LSD diet based on food intolerance tests & whether they flare-up (autoimmune kicks in & inflammation spikes).

Listed below are SCD foods to avoid and foods allowed (via WebMD):
NOTE:  I will modify this list based on my food intolerance tests.

The following foods are allowed in the diet:

  • Vegetables (except canned)
  • Legumes (except the ones noted below)
  • Unprocessed meats, poultry, fish, and eggs
  • Natural cheeses (except those listed below)
  • Homemade yogurt fermented at least 24 hours
  • Most fruits and juices without additives
  • Nuts, peanuts in the shell (past issues where peanut got stuck in the colon), natural peanut butter
  • Oils: olive, coconut, soybean, and corn
  • Weak tea and coffee
  • Unflavored gelatin
  • Mustard and vinegar
  • Saccharin

Foods and ingredients not allowed on the SCD include:

  • Sugars: lactose, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, fructose, molasses, maltose, isomaltose, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), and any processed sugar – my list of sugar alternatives are safe for me to eat in moderation.
  • All canned vegetables
  • All grains: anything made from corn, wheat, wheat germ, barley, oats, rye, rice (my results), buckwheat, soy, spelt, and amaranth
  • Some legumes: chickpeas, bean sprouts, soybeans, mung beans, fava beans, and garbanzo beans
  • Starchy vegetables: potatoes (tried 3-4 days ago and no issues), yam, parsnips, seaweed products (eaten plenty of sushi-wrapped Nori seaweed with no issues), agar, and carrageenan
  • Canned and processed meats (I buy Wild Alaskan fish and I’m fine)
  • Dairy: milk, milk products, ice cream, whey powder, commercial yogurt, heavy cream, buttermilk, sour cream, and the following cheeses: ricotta, mozzarella, cottage cheese, cream cheese, feta, processed cheeses, and cheese spreads – for me, the more processed, the more chance of a flare-up.  The lactobacillus helps my digestion.
  • Canola oil, commercial mayonnaise (I use Soy Free Vegenaise), commercial ketchup, margarine, baking powder (I use 1 part baking soda to 2 parts cream of tartar), and balsamic vinegar
  • Candy, chocolate (small amounts are fine or homemade with cacao powder), carob
Food Testing After the Procedure
Over the past few days, I have introduced new foods to see how my system would handle.
  • Chicken wings (removed fried outer area) with bleu cheese dressing – no flare-ups
  • Jambalaya pasta over Rice – no flare-ups, slight energy drop afterwards.  Offending food might be in the mild Cajun cream sauce.
  • Red skin potatoes (homemade) – no flare-up
  • Peppermint Breakfast Date Brownie (Local baker from farmers market) – Ground dates, butter, unsweetened chocolate, almond milk, eggs, ground almonds, sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, vanilla, raspberry vinegar, cocoa, peppermint extract stevia, salt, baking soda – took for dinner, flared up at night & throughout entire next day.  If I had to guess it was the rice or tapioca flour.

What’s Next?

  • To celebrate the hard work done this year, I leave for a 4-day dance cruise tomorrow.  It will be the first time I have no control over the food I prepare and the first time I will be testing out both my dancing and sea legs.  Good timing?  Nope, God’s timing.
  • On 12/17 I will also have a comprehensive blood and anemia test done and reviewed.
  • Also on 12/17 I have my 2-week follow up with the gastroenterologist.

I’m No Superman

As I write this post at 4:50am, I am reminded of the pain and suffering I continue to go through during my rehabilitation.  I have an auto-immune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) and have been medicated with an auto-immune suppresor called Enbrel since 2003.  While Enbrel has carried me through these 9 years, it has only masked the symptoms, but never treated the cause.

In January of 2012 I discovered a holistic way of treating the cause by not eating starches, or commonly known as the Low Starch Diet (LSD).  I’ve sought out multiple nutritionists and focused mainly on fruits, veggies and nuts.  Additional research lead me to understand supplements to heal the areas of my body that have been severely damaged by AS.  A little over a month into the program, I stopped taking Enbrel completely, but I paid the price.

I have been on the LSD diet for 2 1/2 months while being off Enbrel 1 1/2 months.  During that time, I have fought pains, stiffness, and swelling in areas I’ve never dealt with before.  I’ve relied on my parents helping me out of bed when I could not do it myself.  I’ve come out of the chiropractor’s office shaking and bewildered due to (much needed) the spinal and neck adjustments.  And my sleep continues to be intermittent – I wake up 2-3 times per night knowing that my body is desperate for full nights of sleep.  I put up with a lot, but I’m no Superman.

As of last week I’ve decided to improve my quality of life and become more functional by allowing Ibuprofen into my diet and use as much as I need to get me through the rest of the days/weeks/months until my body heals itself.  Up until this point, I’ve always convinced myself that any time of medication will somehow stop the process of healing my body.  Only a few days into this regiment, I found out how much I was wrong.  When healing the body from AS, you need to always be moving, sleep as much as you can, and take in quality whole foods (no processed junk!).  With Ibuprofen, I take my normal draining days and reduce the pain & inflammation by 80%.  In turn, I sleep longer.  I move more.  I function.  And now I’m taking less naps during the day, I’m able to bend and be more flexible, and I’m getting longer nights of sleep.  So the recovery time the body needs is getting met whereas before I couldn’t due to all the pain and inflammation.  And when the body gets enough days to recover, I will ween off my Ibuprofen as it only stays in the body for a short period of time with no major side-effects.

If you’re ever feeling guilty of taking low-dose NSAIDs like aspirin, Ibuprofen, Advil, etc., consider your recovery time over your fear of medication.  While we’d all like to be Supermen and kick AS ASAP, we need to remember that pain and inflammation don’t need to follow you while you’re fixing your body.  Keep up the good fight and God bless you on your journey to 100% health.