My Autoimmune Health 9 1/2 Months Later

So much has happened since my last blog post almost 2 months ago, that I have decided to create multiple blog entries throughout this week and next week (if you have not done so, subscribe to my blog on the upper-right corner of my web page and you’ll see some great new recipes this week).  In this post, I will be focusing on what has happened to me overall with my autoimmune condition & leave the details to those future posts.

  • Exercise:
    • Chiropractor:  I have skipped around a month going to the chiropractor and allowed my body to heal through other ways of stretching and exercise.  Starting 11/7, I am going back 1X per week for an adjustment and using the power plate for rehabilitation exercises.  I stopped using head weights and home traction for over a month.
    • Walking 10-20 minutes 1-2 times per week.
    • Pool exercises 2-4 times per week in the past two months.  Times range from 1/2 – 1 hour and consist of exercise gloves, aqua fitness jogger (biggest help in my rehabilitation for legs), push-ups, tricep dips on stairs of pool, and climbing in/out of the ladder (increase strength in thighs, butt, and shoulders).  Since the weather has changed in the past week, I am usually going 1-2 times per week.
    • Gym 1 time per week.  Using the elliptical machine, dumbbells / free weights, and nautilus machines (for chest, shoulders, back), and leg press.
    • Wii Fit + for stretching and Yoga exercises in the morning.  I try to do this 2-3 times per week.
    • Until the end of the year I will go to the gym, swim, and power plate 1X each per week.  Wii Fit + 2-3 times per week.
  • Massage Therapist:  Found a licensed massage therapist who has Hashimotos disease (an auto-immune condition dealing with the thyroid) and really understands what I’m going through.  Started off at 1X per week and now down to 1X per 2 weeks.  Her treatments are definitely helping and I’m getting more mobility due to the massages and exercises she suggested at home.
  • Acupuncture:  I tried 3 separate sessions and they did nothing to improve my health.  I have a feeling it’s because I have a systematic issue, not a specific area of pain.
  • Sleep:  Sleep has been tricky lately.  While I stopped needing to go to the bathroom bad throughout the night, I am still waking up 2 – 3 times per night due to stiffness and/or pain.  I can tell, though, this is a transitional period and as long as I go to bed by 10pm & take a nap during the day, I usually get enough sleep.  I’m still figuring out when to take the ibuprofen – if taken too early, it’s hard to fall asleep.  Take it too early and I get up usually 3 times a night.
  • Supplements:  I have removed a majority of my normal supplements about a month ago.  For now, I take acacia fiber & iron, vitamin b complex, and vitamin D3 (5000 i.u.).  No more fish oil, Probiotics, HCL, chromium, digestive enzymes, and magnesium.  Also the Aloe Vera juice made my condition worse, so I stopped taking it.
  • Ibuprofen:  Over the past couple of weeks, I’m noticing my gut starting to do normal functional processes (do I really need to go into detail?).  My ibuprofen has reduced to 1-2 per day, but starting this week I’m able to bring it down to 1 per day (it isn’t easy, but I can do it).
  • Blood Pressure Results
    • April – 94/60
    • Sept. 6 – 104/66
    • Sept. 20 – 110/60
    • Sept. 27 – 100/60
    • Oct. 11th – 100/60
    • Oct. 30th – 90/50
    • Nov. 5th – 106/70
    • Although it fluctuates to lower amounts, there has been no concern from the doctor.  On Nov. 5th, I was on the Wii Fit + and found out that this does increase my heart rate.
  • Testing My Body:  On 10/23 I drank 3 alcoholic drinks (coconut rum with pineapple & cranberry).  The last time I drank was when I was in Costa Rica.  Both times I did not notice a major flare-up.  On 10/19, I stayed at a party till 1:30am and it took me a day to recuperate.  On 10/12 & 11/1 I took ballroom dancing lessons.  The 1st one was difficult and I was very stiff.  The 2nd was much better after 5-10 minutes into the lesson.  I needed 1 ibuprofen for both lessons.
  • Current Areas of Concern:  I have been diagnosed with anemia and possibly Crohn’s Disease (verified with a blood test and CT scan, but final verification is needed with a colonoscopy on 11/19).   Since June 14th (Week 21), I’ve had issues with my neck & shoulders due to chiropractic manipulation and inflammation.  I still only drive locally since I almost got into an accident because a few months ago.  I could not turn my neck and the driver was in my blind spot.  Massages and neck exercises along with health improvements with food are helping – some days I have good motion, others are not good (especially during a flare-up).  Still battling stiffness and soreness, but the length of these issues is getting shorter (depending upon the types of food I eat & testing “fringe” foods).  My weight is stable, but I’m still underweight.  Still mainly sleep on my back and sometimes on my side, but still cannot do a full night of sleep.
  • Areas of Improvement:  I know my game plan for healing.  Although I have not gotten the confirmation on the Crohn’s disease, I know my issue has been gut related the entire time.  Once I get confirmation, I’ll be on a safer low-dose medication than ibuprofen and the doctors will know (and fix) any damage occurred throughout this year.  My gut is starting to function properly and I’ve gone from 6 ibuprofen a day (just a few months ago) down to 1.  My SED rate went from 101 down to 34 on 8/21/12 with my comprehensive blood test and I no longer need to do the Th1/Th2 test due to the significant decrease in the markers of inflammation (Natural doctor confirmed this with me a month ago).  I can stay out longer at night, I have moments where I feel “close to normal”, and I’m able to bend / pick up things easier than before.  I can test foods and no within an hour or two if I’m going to flare-up.  I’ve drastically reduced my supplements and am feeling better and the nutrients in the foods I’m eating are being better absorbed.
  • Enbrel:  It has been almost 9 months since my last shot.
  • My lowest weight was 127 lbs. and a BMI of 17.75.  Although I cannot verify it, Crohn’s disease makes it difficult to absorb nutrients.  Over time (I’m guessing within the next 3 months), I will start to see my weight increase while the Crohn’s disease is in remission.
  • My End of 2012 Goal:  I am going on a 4-day dance cruise in early December.  My goal is to be able to control the disease and focus on having fun!  It’s my reward for all the hard work I’ve done in 2012.

Week 24 – My List of Healthy Fats and Desserts

What I Learned in Week 24

Segway Ride

Overall: Improving in health, I’m learning my limitations but still pushing forward physically and nutritionally (read below on healthy fats & desserts).  On the left, you’ll see I went on another Segway Tour ride, feeling ready for it.  Review my health below to see how I did before & after the ride.

Last week I dipped under 130lbs. and am finding ways to add in fats and calories to my diet while eating my soluble foods (to bind things), along with exercise from the chiropractor, pool and walking.  Listed below are the good fats in my diet + some desserts I’ve made or are going to try.  If you have a suggestion on healthy fats or dessert ideas, please look at my list of food intolerance and comment below with suggestions.

My List of Healthy Fats & How I’m Using Them:

Healthy fats will allow me to slowly gain the weight I need while giving me energy throughout the day.  I can overdo this (and did this week), so each week I monitor the intake of fatty foods.

  • Avocados – Salads, toppings on meat, substitute for mayonnaise.
  • Nuts – Usually raw & by themselves.  Most common I eat are walnuts, macadamia, almonds, brazil, pecan, pumpkin & chia seeds.
  • Oils – For cooking I use coconut oil, for salad dressing I use extra virgin olive oil.
  • Fish – Salmon, sardines (skinless / boneless) are typical fatty fish I eat.  Be careful not to combine them with an avocado & EVOO as it’s too much healthy fats at one time for my body – especially if I’ve had too many nuts for the day.

Desserts and Recipes:

There are desserts that are delicious but come with a heavy health price tag.  Below are desserts with healthy fats, alternatives to sugar, delicious and quick to make.

  • Chocolate – in bar form, at least 70% Dark Chocolate & sometimes with almond butter.
  • Almond Butter with St. Dalfour Black Current Jam (no sugar cane)
Raw Donut Holes

Raw Donut Holes

Raw Donut Holes

2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
2/3 cup walnuts
1 tsp vanilla
3 tsp cinnamon or 1 of cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp of sea salt
9 dates (can substitute dried figs)

Add coconut to food processor, and process alone for 30 sec to 1 min to release oils. Add in walnuts, vanilla, cinnamon, sea salt, process until all mixed & fine. Add in dates (pit removed)  & process.  Form into balls with your hands.

Other “Raw Ball” Recipes

Raw “Cookie Dough”

  • 1/2 cup raw coconut butter
  • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • 3 Tablespoons raw cacao nibs (you can also sub in raisins)

Combine butter & shredded coconut with vanilla extract & salt and process until smooth.  Add in dates (easier if they have been soaked for a 1/2 day) and process again until sticky & smooth.  Add in cacao nibs / raisins and pulse until evenly distributed in batch.  Roll into balls & add to refrigerator for a few hours.

Vanilla Honey Macaroons

  • 1/2 cup cashews or almonds
  • 2 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 c raw honey
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • Himalayan sea salt

Process almonds / cashews until sand-like texture.  Add with coconut, raw honey & vanilla extract into a bowl and mix together.  Mixture will be sticky so wet hands as needed and roll into balls with lots of pressure (mix can fall apart easily).  Place on dehydrator and dust with salt.  Dehydrate 118 or less overnight.
NOTE:  You can refrigerate instead of dehydrate overnight but mixture won’t hold up as well.

Almond Butter Brownie Sandwiches
  • Almond Butter Raw Brownie Sandwiches (SOURCE)
1 cup pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup dates
5 tablespoons raw cacao powder
4 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
(optional) 2 tablespoons honey
pinch of sea salt
almond butter (when ready to serve)
Process pecans / walnuts until they become small and crumbly.  Add in the dates and process so the mixture is sticky.  Add in the remaining ingredients and process – there should still be air between the small bits so that you will be able to press them down into your brownie pan.  Place mixture in a small dish or cake pan and press firmly with hands.  Refrigerate for a few hours and then slice them up.
When ready to serve, combine brownie pieces with with almond butter.  The original brownie recipe is too sweet, but the almond butter’s saltiness evens it out.
  • Amarettis (italian almond cookies) – Will need to test as the recipe calls for 4 egg whites & I’m food sensitive to eggs.
  • Almond milk shake – almond milk, almond butter, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, cacao nibs, some ice, and a frozen banana.
  •  If you have a suggestion on healthy fats or dessert ideas, please look at my list of food intolerance and comment below with suggestions.

My Health in Week 24

  • Overall:   Improving in health, I’m learning my limitations but still pushing forward.  On the left, you’ll see I went on another Segway Tour ride, feeling ready for it.  1 1/2 hours of sidewalk cracks, bumps, and hips / ankles getting a workout, I still felt fine but ankles were definitely swollen (but went down pretty quickly).  Made a big dinner and that evening was my downfall.  The rest of the Saturday evening & Sunday were spent with a sore body all over, swollen ankles, and limping due to hips.  Going to the pool on Sunday helped, but enough rest and then the chiropractor on Monday morning did the trick.  Feeling much better (even in the evening) on Monday compared to the weekend.  I was declining in energy on Tuesday and went to the pool, took a nap, and back to myself in the afternoon.
  • Exercise: FINALLY, I am able to start exercising on a consistent basis.  Exercises consist of:
    • Chiropractor 3X per week (send a comment if you want detailed info):  Neck warm-ups, wobble chair, adjustment, head weights for 10 minutes, traction for 20 minutes, and traction against the wall for 10 (will go up to 20 minutes)
    • Head weights 2X per day for 10 minutes each (1X in the evening if it’s a day at the chiropractor)
    • Walking as far as I can outside (currently around 10-20 minutes)
    • Pool exercises on days not at the chiropractor.  Times range from 1/2 – 1 hour and consist of exercise gloves, walking / high-stepping, push-ups and pulling legs in/out / side-to-side to strengthen core.
  • Sleep:  I am still waking up twice a night.  I go to bed at 10pm, get up around 1am (take 1 ibuprofen), then around 4am (take 1 ibuprofen, 1 probiotic, and fish oil), then finally get up at 6:30-7:30am.  The 2nd time I wake up, I usually pass out and wake up around 5am.
  • Supplements:  Probiotics, Vitamin D3, Magnesium (Gluconate), HCL (1-2 times per week), digestive enzymes, and Maine Omega-3 fish oil are my standard.  I’ve added Chromium Picolinate and Vitamin B-Complex – most of supplementation is done at breakfast time.
  • Current Areas of Concern:  Depending on the type of day (different exercises / activities) and time (evenings are the worst), my hips and ankles still act up.  Also, prolonged sitting enhances stiffness and fatigue.  Still difficult to raise my hands over my head and neck is still stiff (more on left than right).
  • Areas of Improvement:  Adding the chiropractor 3 times a week along with exercise has improved movement / flexibility.  I’m now barely able to bend over and pick up things off the floor (to me this is a BIG win).  Adding the nutrients I lacked from the Metametrix test has boosted my energy levels and reduced swelling.  Overall I’ve made some big steps this week and it’s starting to show.
  • Enbrel:  It has been 19 1/2 weeks since my last shot.
  • My lowest weight was 130 lbs. and a BMI of 18.18.

Auto-Immune Diet Daily Routine – 1st Two Months

Included below is the Ankylosing Spondylitis / Auto-Immune Diet Daily Health Routine I created for the first two (2) months.  For the latest version, please visit my daily routine.

My Daily Auto-Immune Diet for the 1st Two Months

Morning (some ingredients added throughout 6-month plan):

Lunchtime & Afternoon:

Dinner & Evening: