Trying to Stay Positive When Nothing Seems to Be Working

Well, I have made it about 3 months on a mostly paleo ketogenic version of the GAPS diet. I did have a bit of cheese on the eggs that I had made because I made some for my father, but he didn’t eat the side with the eggs on it. But it wasn’t a ton of eggs. It didn’t spike my insulin levels. If I had been on full GAPS, I would have been able to eat cheese. So, I don’t want to think that I ruined three months of being strict. 

I did restart the Ion Biome gut health supplement. I started thinking that it is working and my gas and bloating is reduced. But I’m not so sure. When I got to work this morning, I burped a lot. It seems like my bloatedness has reduced in the last few hours, but it is hard to measure. 

I was optimistic about my nail ridging going away until I noticed yesterday that some of it was back. So…whether this dietary intervention is really making a difference or not is very difficult. 

I have read about other people doing the Autoimmune Paleo protocol and it taking 8 months to have their hair come back. I’m only at month three. Eight months is a long way off, so somehow, I have to stay positive. 

I have discovered that I am enjoying the foods that I am eating. I look forward to my morning breakfast hash and have discovered that GAPS soups can be creamy if you make them with summer squash. 

Think Positive Thoughts

While I’m trying to heal my alopecia and epilepsy, it is easy to get discouraged without seeing results immediately. I’m going to try to think positive thoughts each day and focus on the good things that are happening in my life. 

One of the positive things that is happening is that my garden is growing! I planted beans and cucumber seeds and they have germinated! These are low carbohydrate vegetables that won’t be sprayed with pesticide and will be safe to eat this summer. I also will have the enjoyment of watching them grow. 

Another positive thing that I am focusing on is getting better at archery! My aim is now good enough that I am hitting the target 80% of the time. It is thrilling to hear the arrow slam into the target. I feel so much more accomplished when I do that. 

Guest blogging is one thing that has started to happen for me. Some people have reached out to me to write blog posts. I know they just want a backlink to their website, but writing for them will give me more practice in putting together blog posts. It will also help them out and improve their websites. 

Reintroducing Eggs Into My Diet

So, I decided to go on the AIP diet just after I had purchased two dozen eggs. Actually, I think I was gifted some farm fresh eggs from my brother and I had 18 eggs from the grocery store. I seemed to do fine without eggs in my diet, but I felt like I was wasting the ones that I had bought. They past their best buy date a couple weeks ago and I just wanted to get them out of the refridgerator. I was egg free for almost three months. 

So, what happened?

Nothing. I can’t say that there was any remarkable difference after I ate the eggs. I still was having very mild digestive symptoms of bloating and gas. My digestion is very irregular and tends to cycle between constipation and diarrhea depending on where I am during my menstrual cycle. 

If I had done this correctly, I would have waited until my symptoms were completely gone before trying to reintrodue eggs. However, you have to live your life. 

Did I enjoy the eggs? 

Hmm…they weren’t as great as I remembered. I created an egg bake with some leftover ham and topped it with liver pate. I figured that I was getting all those wonderful liver nutrients and that may counter the detrimental effects that can come from eggs. As great as eggs are, I don’t think I’ll keep them in my diet during June. I have decided to get the eggs and bacon out of my diet in case they were holding me back from healing my autoimmune symptoms. For the month of June, I put in a big order of grassfed beef from a local area farm. 

I’m hoping that eating beef without hormones will help balance out my hormones so that I don’t feel these weird PMS symptoms. I also want to regrow my hair. I do have some hope that this dietary intervention is working. My bottom eyelashes have started coming in clear. The vellus lashes are a step above nothing. I have a few pubic hairs, but I’m not going to take any pictures of that for obvious reasons. None of the hairs have any color to them, but it is a start. 

So, I have been on a verson of paleo ketogenic diet for three months now. Not totally AIP because I had some eggs. Not totally GAPS, because I haven’t been having bone broth everyday, but the diets are very similar and I have been following the guidelines to at least one of them for three months. 

I’m trying to be patient because I have heard that it takes about 4-6 months for some people to see results. I think I’m in that category of people. I ate poorly and took medications for at least 20 years. Today, I’m feeling a bit more optimistic.

Is My Problem Estrogen Dominance?

I’ve been struggling with why the heck my seizures came back after 40. It was so frustrating. I started noticing that they coincided with my periods. No, being in ketosis didn’t stop them. The Buteyko breathing exercises stopped working. Eating an elimination diet (paleo keto and carnivore) didn’t stop them either. I had to experience a few months of monthly seizures to put it together. My seizures were occuring when my hormones were fluctuating. I was also going through perimenopause. So, my hormones were fluctuating naturally. 

What is estrogen dominance?

Estrogen is the one of the female hormones that controls the menstrual cycle and fertility. It also plays a role in our memory and skin. The levels of estrogen fluctuate. It begins to decrease during peri-menopause. Estrogen dominance is when the estrogen isn’t balanced out by the progesterone levels. 

Other symptoms of estrogen dominance include weight gain, headaches, brain fog, fatigue, insomnia, severe PMS, slow metabolism, and irregular periods. I’ve had a few of those symptoms. In fact, I have noticed my PMS getting worse and my metabolism slowing down. 

Progesterone is a hormone that is an anti-convulsant. Taking progesterone will help to control catamenial seizures. So, if I am estrogen dominant and likely to have a seizure during the PMS period right before my menstruation, maybe it is my estrogen. 

Estrogen dominance and hypothyroidism

In addition to the seizures happening surrounding my menstrual cycle, another reason I am led to believe I may have estrogen dominance is due to my hypothyroidism. After being diagnosed with seizures as a teen, my doctor encouraged me to go get my thyroid checked. 

There is a relationship between estrogen hormones and the thyroid hormones. Estrogen dominance stops the conversion of T4 into T3 thyroid hormones. This leads to low T3 levels. There won’t be a direct issue with the thyroid gland, but symptoms of hypothyroidism will occur. Elevated estrogen can also block the uptake of the thyroid hormones. 

Symptoms of hypothyroidism often will manifest strongly during perimenopause. This occurs because the progesterone levels are signficantly decreased, but estrogen is still present. 

Yikes!

This is super frustrating. I am eating all the great foods. I am even making liver pate weekly and downing it. (Some days I like it, but most days I hate it. Either way, I get it down because I know there is a lot of nutrition in liver.)

So, I need to focus on balancing out the hormones and eliminating excess estrogen. 

Gelatin to balance out hormones

As I was thinking about my different dietary changes and lack of results, I realized that I didn’t do as much bone broth for the GAPS diet as was recommended. I started looking into the benefits of broth and gelatin to see if there was a connection or way that it could help me. 

I stumbled across Empowered Sustenance’s blog on balancing hormones with collagen. The theory is that the glycine in gelatin stimulates stomach acid production. That will improve the digestion and nutrient assimilation. Because poor digestion is often the underlying cause of hormonal imbalances, improving the stomach acid will support the hormone balance.

Gelatin to the rescue! 

So, after reading that it can help to balance out my hormones, I drank a big cup of homemade beef soup which had plenty of gelatin in the broth. It was delicious. I’m hoping to make that a daily habit. 

Will it work? Let’s hope so! 

    My Journey to Heal My Gut Microbiome

    So, I first must admit that I was in a bit of denial about having gut dysbiosis. I figured that since I had mostly normal bowel movements that I didn’t have any problem. I didn’t really pay much mind to the gas or bloating that I would have during my menstrual cycle because it was pretty mild. It wasn’t terribly smelly or loud. I wasn’t debilitated from my PMS symptoms like some of my friends. But as I start to pay more attention to my health and write down the things that do bother me, I’m realizing I have more symptoms of gut dysbiosis than I originally thought. 

    I have attempted the GAPS diet in the past. I usually gave up around month two or three when a seizure would occur or I would run into holidays and have to decide if continuing on a strict diet was worth it. I usually opted to enjoy the junk foods my friends served and get back on the diet after the holidays if at all. Even a full elimination diet or carnivore diet didn’t stop the seizures. They were really mild, but they would still come. 

    Another thing that was frustrating was my alopecia universalis. Hair just doesn’t grow back that quickly. Starting over every few months didn’t seem like a big deal when there was no growth to begin with. 

    I’ve tried the carnivore diet, the GAPS diet, the AIP diet, the paleo ketogenic diet, and the raw vegan diet. Right now, I’m focusing on the paleo ketogenic diet and eating the GAPS and AIP approved foods in small amounts. Carnivore is great, but I’d really like to be eating eggs for variety if I were doing carnivore. 

    I wish I could say I’m having success on this diet, but I’m not. Maybe I’m in the process of having success. I still have seizures that correspond to my menstrual cycle hormone changes. Each month a few days before my cycle, I notice I belch more and feel a bit off. That is my warning. The last few I have had while sleeping, so that is nice, but I am able to feel the seizure come on now and get to a safe place. That wasn’t the case when I was medicating. 

    Benefits of Paleo Ketogenic Diet

    One of the main benefits of the paleo ketogenic diet is that I have lost all my cravings for junk food. Sure, if I see some junk food, I think about how it used to taste and think it is nice, but I don’t feel like I must have a piece of cake or pie. In fact, I’m pretty happy with the meat and vegetables that I eat each day. 

    One important thing that I should note is that I have followed the paleo ketogenic diet now strictly for 2.5 months. I feel strongly that my healing is going to take longer and I really need to stick it out for six months. I wish that I was one of those people who did a thirty day challenge and suddenly felt amazing. But as I scour the success stories looking for other people with epilepsy and/or alopecia, their success has usually taken longer. One epileptics seizures didn’t go away on carnivore until month 4. I read about success on AIP with alopecia universalis taking 8 months for hair regrowth. 

    So, I am working on my patience. 

    What I Eat

    I like to make a breakfast hash by mixing ground beef with butternut squash and onions. I use a small amount of frozen butternut squash and I chop up a slice of onion just to get some flavor into my dish. I use the butternut squash to soak up some extra fat. 

    I make a soup that I eat for lunches or dinners. It consists of beef broth, onions, carrots, and celery. I keep the amount of the vegetables low and make sure they are well boiled. I usually make a batch of it and eat it for 4-5 days. It’s a great meal in the winter, but as the weather warms up, I don’t always feel like eating soup. 

    I have discovered making sashimi at home. To make sure that the fish is safe to eat, make sure you freeze it for a few days. This should kill off any parasites. I dip my sliced fish in coconut aminos since soy sauce is made from soy beans and those are off the AIP diet and the GAPS diet. Even though they are fermented in Tamari, I think it is just better to be safe than sorry. 

    Hamburgers are a mainstay for me. I make a bunch of patties and keep frozen ones on hand to pull out at any time. It makes meal prep very simple and easy. 

    Staying Optimistic

    It is tough to stay optimistic when you haven’t seen any progress. Even harder is when you really didn’t feel all that bad on the standard American diet to begin with. In some ways, the whole Covid shut down has helped me to focus on my health. I’m not going out to eat to a bunch of restaurants or entertaining people and feeling like I should be eating questionable ingredients. 

    One way that I stay optimistic on this diet is by reading success stories from GAPS and Meatrx. I’ve also started learning more about how the gut microbiome and the hormones are connected to brain function. As I understand it more, I feel more confident that I can stick it out a few more months and eventually see some positive results. sashimi (but I don't eat the rice)

    My Gut Dysbiosis

    I’m finally acknowledging that I do have gut dysbiosis. When I was eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), I really didn’t notice much constipation/bloating or PMS symptoms. For me, those symptoms are really pretty minor. But I have started noticing them now that I am tweaking my diet. I did chart my bowel movements and during one cycle I went 13 days without a bowel movement. After I had one, I had a round of diarrhea. It corresponded with my menstrual cycle. The dots started to connect. 

    Yesterday, I googled gut dysbiosis and PMS. I learned that there is a strong connection between having a messed-up gut and having too much estrogen. What can cause seizures and excitability in the brain? Too much estrogen. So, now I’m still working with the paleo ketogenic diet, but I’m trying to figure out just how it is going to work. 

    The last few seizures that I have had were very minor and I had them in bed during times when I would normally be sleeping. This means that it was more of a disappointment than anything else. I didn’t hurt myself. I recovered extremely quickly, but I was super disappointed that the ketogenic diet didn’t prevent the seizure. It may be that the gut dysbiosis isn’t balanced just yet and could take a few more months. 

    I seriously want to add eggs back, but I feel like I should give it a few more months before I attempt it. I’m doing the AIP-approved type of paleo foods for my paleo ketogenic diet.  

    Do I have any hair regrowth? A few pubic hairs that are clear have shown up. So, I might be on the right track to healing the gut and restoring immune function. 

    Combining Exercise and Diet

    When I started the Paleo Ketogenic diet, I was discouraged from exercising. Dr, Zsofia Clemens explained that my body needed to focus on rest and healing. Well, I think it is time to add back some exercise. I got lazy and I don’t think it benefitted me at all. 

    Now, Misha Sakharoff has a program for healing that combines the Buteyko Breathing Exercises with the paleo ketogenic Diet. As much as I want to slack in either my diet or exercise areas, I think combining the two will be helpful for me. 

    I used to be great at exercising everyday. It takes discipline, but once you get in the habit of it, it becomes easy and addictive. 

    In the video below, Misha discusses the program that he used to heal his brain tumor and what he recommends to his patients. His protocol is simple, but not easy. I’m really happy that he states that it is not easy. I have started to find the Paleo Ketogenic Diet much easier, but getting into the breathing exercises again requires discipline. 

    The Detrimental Effects of Citric Acid

    I ordered some vinegar and salt flavored pork rinds the other day. I neglected to read the ingredients and enjoyed the pork rinds as a snack. I ate them rather quickly and noticed my mouth felt raw. I had purchased a couple bags and repeated the experience the next day. Again, my mouth felt a bit sore after I finished the bag. I drank some water thinking it was just because the pork rinds were rough. 

    Hours later, I noticed that my tongue still felt raw and sore. I was super disappointed. I read the ingredients and realized that they hadn’t used salt and vinegar in the pork rinds. They used sodium diacetate (?) and citric acid. Oh no! Here I am trying to heal my gut and I just ingested some questionable ingredients. 

    I googled sodium diacetate. The websites made it sound like a pretty safe ingredient, but my tongue was telling me otherwise. I went to the mirror and stuck my tongue out. I noticed that there were areas of my tongue that looked like they were peeling!!!

    I looked up citric acid. I was sure that I had eaten citric acid before in candies, but I thought I would read up on it to find out how damaging it could be. I did read a website that talked about how citric acid can be used in sour candies. There was a mention that if you ate it too quickly, it could cause your tongue skin to peel. Ouch. I guess that is what happened. 

    Now that I see the physical impact of consuming too much of a chemical too quickly, I wonder about the impact that it has on the gut. Is this happening to my gut lining? Do I need to start my whole GAPS and gut healing journey over? Oh man. So disappointing. 

    I wish I was one of those people who saw progress within 30 days of a diet so I would be more convinced to stick with it. I was so strict with my diet for two months and still had PMS gas and bloating. I didn’t really have serious health concerns before starting the diet. I just really wanted to get rid of the PMS symtoms and regrow my hair. 

    Lesson learned. Avoid citric acid at all costs!  

    Starting the GAPS Intro Diet

    After a month on the paleo ketogenic diet, I hadn’t made much headway in correcting my alopecia. Since it is April, the pollen is out and my seasonal allergies have hit. I must still have a leaky gut because I’m suffering from allergies. I also have noticed that my tummy isn’t always comfortable. I am often bloated and gassy. Not so extreme that it is painful, but I’m beginning to wonder if the extra gas created in my intestines contributes to the gut permeability by stretching out the intestines. 

    I read that fatty meat can cause gas. This was surprising to me, but it explained how I could go on the paleo ketogenic diet without any fibrous foods and still have gas. It may or may not have been due to my hormone fluctuations. Apparently estrogen can cause gas too. 

    Starting the Intro Diet

    I’ve decided on a slight change to my paleo ketogenic diet. I’m going to make the GAPS intro soups and eat those for a few days. The macronutrients will still be ketogenic, but soups can be a bit easier to assimilate. 

    My first step in starting the Intro diet will be to make a big pot of meat stock. Luckily, I have tons of bones in my freezer. I will add boiled hamburger, carrots, onions, and celery to the meat stock for flavoring. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride recommends eating meat stock for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the Intro diet. I’ll aim for two to three times a day. 

    Setting a Goal

    The Intro diet is tough. I know that I can get through it. But I am going to set the goal of getting through five days of the GAPS Intro diet. That seems reasonable and I think I have enough food to get by until the weekend when I go grocery shopping. 

    I’m hoping that in those five days, my gut discomfort will settle down. My allergy symptoms will decrease, and I’ll start feeling more like myself. 

    GAPS Intro Foods

    The foods that I will be eating on the GAPS intro will be:

    • beef soup
    • hamburger patties
    • bacon
    • fish
    • pork fatback for cooking

    The emphasis on the Intro diet will be the beef soup. I know that Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride recommends boiled meats on the Intro diet as well. I will probably end up pan frying the bacon and fish. I don’t know how important the cooking method is for the Intro diet. I’m not char-broiling or creating a charcoal crust on my meats by smoking them. I think that is good. I also don’t tend to cook them very long anyway. 

    Evaluating My Progress

    I will be monitoring my symptoms on a daily basis. While I don’t expect major improvements in five days, I’m hoping for at least one of my symptoms to subside a bit. I will rate my pain or discomfort on a scale of one to ten. Hopefully by keeping this record, I can determine whether these dietary interventions are making any sort of difference. 

    I Have an Egg Intolerance

    It never occurred to me that I was intolerant to eggs. I used them as a staple when doing the ketogenic diet for a long time. I enjoyed them as a part of the GAPS diet. I did eliminate them for Whole30 and the AIP diet, but didn’t make the connection at the time that they irritated my digestive system. 

    Yesterday, I added eggs back after taking a break for almost a month. At first, I didn’t really notice much. I felt okay. I noticed that I had some gas, but not a significant amount. I also had realized that some bloating and gassiness could be due to my hormone fluctuation. 

    I ate eggs again today. They were delicious. A few hours after I ate them, I realized that I was kind of uncomfortable. I had some gas. On a scale of 1-10, it was mild. Around a one or a two. A walk or stretch the right way would help to relieve some of the pressure. 

    The idea of leaky gut had been a concern for me because I still suffer from seasonal allergies. My alopecia isn’t improving and leaky gut is supposedly at the root cause of autoimmune conditions. But where the heck was my leaky gut coming from and why wasn’t it improving on the paleo ketogenic diet?! 

    One reason could be because of eggs! No. They haven’t been ever-present. I did give them up in the fall fo

    r three months without seeing much improvement. But it could be that eating them triggered some leakiness in my gut and it will take more time to heal. 

    So…what tipped me off? What was it that finally clued me in to the possibility of being intolerant to eggs? A stinky fart. 

    It smelled like sulphor. Oh yes, I had had a tiny bit of onions and mushrooms in my omelet as well, but they hadn’t created a smelly fart like that before. So, I googled. I realized that eggs were different in my diet today than what I had  been eating. 

    I found a website that said eggs don’t cause you to get gas, but they can if you are intolerant to them! Oh, I think I am! So, I think they will be out of my diet for awhile now. 

    I can retest my tolerance for them in six months. For no, the eggs are out. I will be relying on ground beef, sausage, pork, and fish for my protein. I will be eating plenty of pastured pork fatback to make sure that my calories are high. We’ll see if this bloating and gas goes away. It has been seven hours since I consumed the eggs. My discomfort has pretty much subsided. 

    It will be interesting to track this intolerance and see if eliminating the eggs helps improve my autoimmune condition. Even though the bloating and gas wasn’t super painful and debilitating. I would like it to go away. I could still function with everyday activities, they were just slightly uncomfortable. I wonder if that was a PMS symptom that I just ignored because it wasn’t debilitating and I could easily function. I could be wrong.

    Eating Eggs and Autoimmune Conditions

    I’ve read it in many places. Eggs trigger autoimmune conditions. I’ve avoided eggs and my autoimmune conditions persisted. I’ve eaten eggs and my autoimmunity persisted. It’s tough to avoid something without seeing much improvement. At the beginning of April, I avoided eggs and ate an Autoimmune Paleo-type ketogenic diet. 

    It didn’t prevent the seizure that I had on April 19. I was bummed out about that. But continued to avoid the eggs until today. 

    Right before deciding to go autoimmune paleo, I had purchased some pastured chicken eggs and some grocery store eggs. I have had about 2 dozen eggs in my fridge all month. They didn’t really tempt me until today. Today I caved and had some scrambled eggs. 

    They were okay. I think the nice thing was mentally using some of them up and getting them out of the fridge. I don’t actually love eggs. I like some of the variety that they provide in a meat-heavy paleo-ketogenic diet. 

    I think that I may just boil a bunch of them up and take them for lunch with me or eat them when I need a snack. That will get them out of sight and out of mind. I can get back on track and not worry about it for a while. 

    Do I feel like I completely ruined my progress on the Paleo Ketogenic diet? No. Eventually, you are able to add the eggs back into the diet. For me, it is super tough to stick with a diet for four months before seeing improvement. I do think that is what I need to do. 

    I listened to Mary Ruddick talk about her healing journey with the GAPS diet and she had seizures that didn’t seem to improve until month four of the GAPS diet. Yikes! I usually have given up around month two. I’m pretty good at staying strict with a diet when I need to be. A self-imposed diet is more challenging when I don’t need to lose weight and I’m looking for healing and health improvements. 

    One of the big improvements that I am noticing lately is that my teeth feel smooth. There isn’t a lot of fuzziness that I need to brush off of them after a day of eating meat like there was with eating carbohydrates.