Day 22 to 6 Months – Week 14

What I Learned in Week 14

What is Gluten?
I recently went to the farmer’s market and a friend of mine Ruth owns a gluten-free bakery called Epiphany.  According to the data I received, I learned that gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.  It binds the baked goods together when it goes through the rinsing process after yeast is added.  Without it, baked goods would simply fall apart.

Why is Gluten Bad?
Gluten is very durable and very difficult to digest.  Some people are intolerant to gluten and the body cannot break down this protein.  When the body attempts to absorb the whole protein, it gets stuck in the gut lumen (a.k.a little hairs in the lower intestine) that absorb nutrients.  The body tries to solve this problem by bombarding the protein with white blood cells (body’s defenders) and keeps attacking this unbreakable protein.  This fight damages the gut lumen and in extreme cases, destroys the gut lumen completely; this inhibits the body from absorbing other nutrients from other foods.

What are the Symptoms?
When the body attacks itself in this way, it’s known as an autoimmune dysfunction and can be quite destructive.  Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain / cramping / bloating.  Subtle chronic symptoms include weight loss, irritability (especially in children), depression, and skin problems such as dermatitis & eczema.

Who is Gluten Intolerant?
A modest estimate of people with some gluten intolerance is 1 in 7 people while some say it is as high as 1 in 4 people.  Some who cannot have any gluten whatsoever (such as people with celiac disease) is as many as 1 in 133 people.

How Did Gluten Get So Bad?
Unfortunately, gluten we have today is nothing like it was in biblical times.  Through innovations in technology applied to farming over the last 200 years, the breeding of wheat became more productive and tasty; the wheat Jesus would have eaten was nowhere to be found.  It is estimated that wheat now has 50% more gluten than it did 200 years ago.

I Might Have Gluten Intolerance.  How Can I Fix This?
There are two ways to test and both don’t require any medication.  1st, stop eating any kind of gluten for two weeks and see if your symptoms reduce / removed.  The body is amazing at healing itself and the gut lumen should heal itself.  To confirm those findings, there are tests specifically made for gluten.  I myself took one of these test (Cyrex test – Array 4) and am waiting for the result.

My Health in Week 14

  • Overall:  My 1st week back in Naples and I’m learning to do everything myself – which is a good thing.  Besides taking much more protein (mainly fish), simple chores and exercises are helping me become more flexible.  Also I am now going to Jubilee Chiropractic 3 times per week and it’s been difficult (I’ve had a few painful screams come out from there), but quite helpful and my trigger points of pain are starting to be removed.  I’m also getting a minimum of 9 hours of sleep per night.  Basically, I’m eating the best I know (5-6 times a day), exercising / stretching the best I can, realigning the spine, and resting as much as possible.  I have an upcoming trip late next week (out of the country) and I won’t let this disease rob me of that pleasure!
  • Current Areas of Concern:  Trigger points below my right & left shoulder blade, spinal area between my shoulder blades, left side of chest (muscle pull from pulling up from rope), mid-lower back of stiffness, right side rib area & below locks up / stiffness, and ankles swollen.  Keep in mind these symptoms aren’t as bad today as they were two weeks ago.
  • Starch!  Unknowingly, I had some baked cod with cornmeal (full of starch – big NO NO) from Food & Thought on 4/23.  However, I am VERY happy to say that I didn’t not receive any long-term flare-up from it.  This is very good news as it shows my gut is really healing itself and I can take more doses of starch than I could a month ago.  I’ve also been able to eat a small amount of cooked beans (again, a good amount of starch there) and will start to incorporate them more next month.
  • Organics of Naples: I tried an organic food co-op by using my Groupon and I must say the delivery went great (the site was confusing, but they just recently updated it).  Since the farmer’s market will be ending this weekend, it might be good to keep using them throughout the summer along with the health food stores.  Typically, farmers don’t grow organic food from now until September / October in south Florida – too much heat.
  • Timing:  I’m learning more each day that the time I eat foods (especially meat) along with a digestive enzyme are important for my inflammation.  For example, the morning times I seem to do quite well with 3 eggs along with my side of cooked veggies.  Snacks and lunch throughout the day seem to fare well (and get better each day).  However, dinner has become quite tricky.  I’m finding that a “full meal” during dinner with meat (even a big salad) can bring me down with tightness and inflammation.  I’m still experimenting, but have to work on the amounts of foods I can have after 6pm, digestive enzymes, and introductions of harder digestive foods (meat, nuts, etc.)  Of course this complicates things as I need to find ways to gain weight.  If anyone has any ideas, please put a suggestion in the comment box below.
  • New Pillow:  Trying a new pillow out that Jubilee Chiropractic suggested. It’s called a mid-core pillow and it helps correct your neck posture as you sleep.  Others have used it and swear by it.  I’ll review it next blog post.
  • Dr. / D.O. Alessi I will be taking the Vitamin Deficient test (costs around $500) from Spectracell Labs + get the results of my other lab work on 4/30.  Once done with the Spectracell test, it will take 4 weeks to get the results back.
  • Supplements:  I am no longer taking Zyflamend and should be removing the Proglyco SP in a few days, Pylicorin within the next 1-2 weeks.
  • Enbrel:  It has been 9 1/2 weeks since my last shot.
  • My lowest weight was 134 lbs. and a BMI of 18.77 (4/25).

Day 22 to 6 Months – Week 6

Food for Week 4 (7 Weeks Since Start)

Fruits & Veggies Detail - Week 6

Uniqueness of Week 6

  • Making “Bread”:  Looks like I can use almond flour and/or coconut flour to make breads, crackers, etc.  The catch is to use this in small doses as too many almonds can lead to omega 3/6 imbalance and too much coconut flour can lead to flare-ups.  For me, I’ll probably visit these flours after the 6 months.  MORE INFO >>

Kale Chip & Dehydrating Fruit

  • Dehydrated fruit & kale chips.  Kale chips had garlic, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese (didn’t have nutritional yeast on-hand).  Tastes good but too salty.  For the fruit, here are the preparation instructions & length of dehydration.  I tried oranges, mangoes, bananas, apples, and kiwi fruit.  Although all taste good, most people gravitated towards the mangoes and apples (add cinnamon for an extra kick in the apples).
  • Zyflamend – After attending an inflammation class on 2/25, I found out that the turmeric and ginger root were not nearly as effective as a supplement.  Plus they overpower the taste of my smoothies.  According to the doctor, she said “how much curcumin is in an actual turmeric root (or culinary turmeric powder).  Although the numbers vary, it’s primarily between 3-5% (some sources say as little as 0.6%, some as high as 6%).  That pales in comparison to the 95% found in supplements!”  I will update my daily routine to reflect these changes.
  • Concentrate vs. Pasteurized – Which is Better?  Consumers often favor not-from-concentrate over concentrated juice because they think it’s fresher.This is not the case. During the pasteurization process, the juice is heated, deprived of its flavor and stored in vats for as long as a year. When it’s time for packaging, orange flavor must be added so it seems fresh. Not-from-concentrate costs more, but it’s neither fresher nor more nutritious than juice from concentrate, as reported by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.To make juices concentrated, they are put through all kinds of processes and then frozen in a slushy vat just like you see at your local 7-11 (only much bigger).  The process is more about removal of the juice than adding preservatives.  A great explanation of all these procedures can be found here.

My Health in Week 6

  • Red Meat:  On Tuesday 2/21 I tried red meat (sirloin – 3″ X 3″) along with grilled asparagus and two raw carrots with salsa.  Whenever you don’t eat red meat for over a month you realize how hard it is to chew and digest.  Plus the taste is nowhere near as good as it used to be and I felt a type of reflux (almost a burp, but not quite) after eating it.  After this experience, I don’t really see my self eating red meat anymore.  It just doesn’t make sense.
  • I had a pulled neck since the beginning of the week and had to take some Advil / ibuprofen to reduce the pain to manageable levels.  On 2/23, the pulled neck was greatly reduced and I’ve felt better on 2/23 than any day while I’ve been here in Venice.  I also purchased a water pillow on 2/27 to help relieve the pain while sleeping.  In one night I have seen some reduction in my neck, but it will take at least a few days to see if it all goes away.
  • Sleeping with Inflammation & Pain:  After the pulled neck, my daily routine works out quite well.  However, my issue is still sleeping.  The best times seem to be a day or two after I take Enbrel up to 7 days after that.  After that, the pain & inflammation greatly increases.  For example, I’m writing this paragraph on 2/25 at 3:30am (went to bed around 8:30pm exhausted) with heavy inflammation & pain around my entire mid-chest & back area.  Also the pain & inflammation has moved from my right hip to my left.  It seems I cannot sleep well without an NSAID each night (I took Advil when I wake up from the pain).  I went to bed at 8:30pm, got up at 3:30, went back to bed at 4:30am & woke up at 8am – my longest sleep since the start of the diet.  Each day afterwards, I’ve taken 1 Advil with food 1-2 hours before bed.  It’s allowed me to sleep 8-10 hours per night after 2/25.
  • My lowest weight was 142lbs. and a BMI of 19.85.

Notable Meals this Week

Shrimp Avocado Salad (Mi Pueblo)

  • I admit it, I messed up on this meal.  I forgot to tell them to remove the cheese & put the avocado dressing on the side.  Other than that, the meal will full of good ingredients – avocado, shrimp, mixed greens, tomatoes, sunflower spouts (I was surprised to see that), and some other ingredients that I can’t remember.  The great news – no flare-ups…whew!
  • Mi Puelbo also has an organic menu & juices / smoothies that I will try next time.  Make sure to ask for it as I never saw this menu coming in.
Synopsis of Meal:  Large enough portion for a lunch.  If you’re still hungry (I was, but not too much), add in a juice / smoothie.  I can’t comment on the taste because I had those extra ingredients.  I would assume that it would taste good without the cheese & avocado dressing.