2nd Year Autoimmune Review

1st Year Autoimmune Recap (2012)

On January 14th 2012, I began the process of eradicating my auto-immune disease in hopes to attain 100 percent health.  Started a 21-Day Reboot  (January 18th) – 3 week start of the “no starch diet” (NSD) + eating vegan.  I lost over 10 pounds and found out quickly this diet was not for me.  During my first 6-months, I  got off Enbrel for goodon February 7th, took many medical & holistice testswent to Costa Rica, started on an ibuprofen regimen, found out I needed starch (rice),  started an exercise regimen, and was able to expand my starches with potatoes and stopping the “no starch diet” (NSD).  From 6 – 12 months later (my first year), I discovered that my digestive system was medically dysfunctional and developed Crohn’s disease, IBS, and Ulcerative Colitis. Continuing to be off a biologic medication (i.e. Enbrel), I was given Prednisone, Asacol & Omeprazole medications along with the eating protocol of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to reduce inflammation & heal the gut lining.  In the end of 2012, my health was strong enough with the medications to go on a 4-day cruise.

2nd Year Autoimmune Review Details (2013)

In 2013, I learned that the focal point of all my symptoms stem from inflammation. The higher it is, the worse I get.  Below are the rates of inflammation that I had in the past two years (Dec. 2011 – Dec. 2013) along with explanations of what I did during those times.

Rate of My SED and CRP Rates of Inflammation

My SED and CRP Rates of Inflammation from Dec. 2011 – Dec. 2013 (2 Years).  Note the normal rates for both are under 15.

  • 10-20% Health – Mid-March 2012 Enbrel out of system, could barely tie my own shoes.  Life unbearable at times, but parents lovingly got me through as my body was slowly healing.  Many symptoms developed at this time.  Rates of Inflammation:  CRP spiked from 9 in Dec. 2011 to 142.8.  SED rate at 101.
  • 20-40% Health – July 2012:  Eating and learning to cook a healthier lifestyle improved my condition, but times still unbearable and started a regimen of ibuprofen to function in my daily life.  Started many tests to determine root causes of my issues.
  • 40-50% Health with Bursts:  December 2012 – Found major root causes from the tests I took.  Symptoms / issues pointed to Crohn’s Disease / IBS / Ulcerative Colitis (Which might have developed due to the ibuprofen I was taking – Mayo Clinic states:  “Don’t use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve) or aspirin. These are likely to make your symptoms worse.”).  My bursts were coming from taking Prednisone (hard to sleep taking this) and going off ibuprofen.
  • 40-60% Health: April 2013 – Detoxification off of meds and supplements.
  • 30 – 50% Health:  June – Early September 2013:  Recommendations from an autoimmune specialist put me on a new set of supplements and tests.  Although I reverted back to my lowest points in 2013 (I needed other people to help drive me to places and did not leave the house sometimes for a weeks), I did find root issues:  Mold / fungus in my houseoxidative stress, and leaky gut syndrome (nutrition dysfunction).  Taking medications helped the root cause, but made my system weak.  Supplementation either had little help or was harmful.
  • 50 – 70% Health – Mid-Late September 2013: Introduction of Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN).  With low cost and minimal side effects, LDN boosted my health around 20% + getting off all the “fixing the root cause” medication & supplements.
  • 70 – 85% Health – November / December 2013:  Along with the Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), I started taking Humira due to my Iritis attack.  Within the 1st 3 days after Humira I saw significant consistent improvement.  Increasing weight along with exercise / Yoga has continued to increase my health.  In December, back to a “normal” weight, Iron levels back to normal (no anemia), and have more energy than I ever had in my 30s.  Rates of Inflammation:  CRP rate at 3.3 (better than when I was on Enbrel and had a CRP of 9.5) and SED rate of 4 (review latest test).

For more extensive details, review my daily and weekly autoimmune diary for 2013.

Autoimmune Tests Taken

Out of all the autoimmune tests taken for 2013, the ones that helped me were functional medicine test and the comprehensive blood tests.  My gut ecology profile test did show for a fungal infection, but later determined that it was the water kefir I was taking.  The Leaky Gut Absorption Test was just verifying my nutritional deficiencies.  Once I started taking Humira and got my inflammation down, I was no longer nutritionally deficient.  The Cyrex (Array 4) food intolerance tests are someone accurate and did give me a starting point of food elimination.  But other markers, like eggs, turned out to happen because I was eating too many of them.  The Diagnostechs adrenal stress test is a waste of money for me as the stress levels were all due to the increased inflammation.

What I Have Learned in 2013 (Helpful Health Tips)

Autoimmune Recipes

Where Do I Go From Here?

In 2013 I learned that if I block the inflammation, I block the symptoms and most of the core issues.  Right now Humira is doing this, but I am looking for the reason why the autoimmune system is sending these signals to inflame my body.  The only consistent theory so far is making sure to eat clean and whole / real foods and this may take many years to clear out of my system.

My 6-month game plan is to continue to take Humira and get quarterly comprehensive blood tests done to gauge how my inflammation levels are in comparison to the food choices I am making.  For example, after starting Humira + LDN + better food choices, my CRP rate is at 3.3 which is better than when I was on Enbrel and had a CRP of 9.5 and SED rate of 4 (review 11/12/13 test vs. 12/6/11 test while on Enbrel).

Possible Future Plans to Finding the Autoimmune Root Cause

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.