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It’s Been Too Long

Nearly eight months have passed since my last blog post.  

There is a good reason for being MIA. For most of the year, I been consumed by a new world of diet and nutrition that took me on a journey I never knew existed.

While I thought I was becoming close to a nutrition “expert” – I had no idea the learning curve ahead of me.

Four days before Christmas, my daughter was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, ulcerative colitis. When we first heard the diagnosis, my immediate reaction was, “OK, how do I fix her?” And the response I received was “there really is no cure – this is a life-long condition that she can treat with medication.”

I am not writing this post for sympathy votes. Not even close. I am writing to share how much I have learned, in the hopes that I pass that learning on to a much broader audience.

The gut microbiome is a very complex and fascinating part of our bodies. Literally, our bodies function from this one main “control center”. It effects our minds, digestive system, organs, energy levels…the list goes on. When the balance of our gut is disrupted, it can cause havoc on our body.

In our case, I am convinced antibiotics initialized the disease. Sofia had 3 major infections, within 6 months of each other, that required strong antibiotics and hospitalization. Historically – healthiest, strongest child with a stomach of iron and no history of any illnesses/allergies/concerns.

The diagnosis was both shocking and devastating. As per doctors’ orders, we put her on prednisone immediately. Something I wish I had known more about before agreeing to the treatment.

Shortly after, I discovered something called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) through a close friend, whose son was diagnosed with Crohns. She healed him strictly through the diet, never touching any medicine.

SCD is primarily a diet of protein, veggies, nuts and fruits – no grain, gluten, starch, dairy or sugar. Think Paleo, one step further. It sounds nearly impossible, however, it’s much more versatile than you may think. SCD is widely recognized as a healing diet for disease. When using SCD to heal an autoimmune disorder, you typically go through stages of the diet – from basic, to more complex – opening up an abundance of options. It is definitely a journey, as the body takes a very, very long time to heal.

My option was to have my young, developing daughter depend on fabricated medicine, or heal her through diet. Yep, diet won.  And it worked.

Through diet alone, her bloodwork is now impeccable, inflammation markers are normal and she is currently symptom free.

What have I learned?

  • Healthy foods heal – first hand proof
  • The microbiome is a very complex organism – It is critical to keep a healthy gut balance with an abundance of good bacteria
    • Antibiotics, processed food, preservatives and sugar can disrupt this balance and cause havoc on our bodies
  • Probiotics and prebiotics are critical to building a healthy gut microbiome
    • The prebiotics help the probiotics flourish and multiply
  • The American diet is killing off bacteria strains – we have an abundance of good bacteria strains in our bodies – when the good strains can’t survive from being deprived of proper nourishment, they die off and become extinct. The reaction is not immediate, it happens over time. The fewer good bacteria strains we have, the less we can fight off sickness and disease.
  • A healthy gut begins as early as birth – implementing a healthy diet from the beginning can foster a multitude of good-strain bacteria
  • Cooking food from scratch is worth it…and fulfilling
  • There are delicious, grain-free, sugar free recipes and foods readily available
  • A good diet will make you feel better, look better, live healthier and grow stronger
  • Homemade almond milk is actually very easy to make, and delicious (most store-bought brands, including Starbucks, have ingredients like sugar, tricalcium phosphate, sunflower lecithin, sea salt, xanthan gum, guar gum, vitamin A palmitate, and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)).
  • Homemade 24-hour fermented yogurt is a powerhouse food, full of billions of healing probiotics
  • Soy, in any form, is not good for you
  • Fat definitely does a body good – Healthy fats increase your metabolism, help you digest, build immunity, repair and support cell function, help absorb key nutrients, help you feel fuller, longer, help you lose weight, alleviate depression, build memory, give you energy and promote optimal, overall functioning of our entire body
  • Long term effects of poor eating are delayed – the ramifications will happen over time, even if appearing to have no current implications
  • Labels are deceiving – it’s important to know and understand ingredient labels and if you are unclear, to call the company to clarify any ambiguity
  • Laughter and stress reduction techniques are critical to healing and overall happiness
  • Your journey leads you to so many incredible paths…through this odyssey, I had the pleasure of finding (and working for) a grainless, gluten free café/bakery, met a slew of incredible people associated with autoimmune disease, created the most magical bond with my daughter and our family, witnessed the incredible support system around us, saw food in a whole different light, found spiritual guidance, opened incredible doors and started new relationships
  • Perseverance pays off

We feel vindicated that we stayed the path and see such tremendous, positive repercussions. This is definitely a journey for the long haul. One we will continue – with now even more substantiated vigor. I have committed to the diet with my daughter from day one so she had someone who understood her struggle. I am blown away by her commitment and perseverance. It truly just becomes a part of your lifestyle.

With so many positive implications, it is worth every last effort.

  • Kristi

    I love it! You go, Mama Bear!

  • Sabrina

    This hits so close to home. My 13y/o son was diagnosed with Crohns in June. We immediately put him on SCD while waiting for treatment (Remicade) to be approved. In 3 weeks he gained 3lbs with no tx, only dietary changes. Leading up to the diagnosis he had lost 12lbs, which left him at 73lbs. I was terrified. I wanted to not do medication but was so fearful seeing him so thin. We have continued SCD and will be having his 3rd Remicade treatment Saturday. I’m hopeful we can begin to see significant improvements in the near future.
    Something that really resignated with me was the origin of how this all came to be. When he was only 6mos old he developed a respiratory infection and was placed on antibiotics and steriods. Then had several issues like this follow closely. I’m convinced the overuse of medication left his microbiome completely in dis array. I wish I had known more when he was younger.

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Vitamins and Minerals: What, Why & How Much?

Vitamins and minerals are micro-nutrients, part of the 6 Essential Nutrients, required for your body to turn food into energy.  Whole foods are the best source of vitamins and minerals, but it sometimes difficult to figure out if you are getting enough from the foods you eat.  Below is a list of the most important vitamins and mineral women need and suggestions as to the best food sources.  Note: Recommended daily allowances (RDA) listed below are for an average 45 year-old female.Healthy-Nutrition-For-Optimal-Tennis-Fitness

Calcium:

  • Why you need it:  The body uses calcium to build and maintain strong bones and teeth, to help muscles and blood vessels contract and expand, to secrete hormones and to carry messages through the nervous system.  Women start to lose bone density in their twenties which can lead to osteoporosis over time.  Calcium is one of the best defenses against bone loss.
  • Where to find it:  Milk, cheese, yogurt and dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and kale.
  • How much you need: 1000mg.  Do not exceed 2,500mg.

Iron: 

  • Why you need it:  Iron carries oxygen in the body, aids in the production of red blood cells, supports immune function and cognitive development, and is essential for cell growth.
  • Where to find it:  Lean red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, cereals, whole-grains, beans and dark leafy vegetables. Also remember that vitamin C rich foods enhance absorption of iron.
  • How much you need: 18mg.  Do not exceed 45mg.

Magnesium:

  • Why you need it:  Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, keeping heart rhythms steady, supporting a healthy immune system, regulating blood sugar levels and promoting normal blood pressure.
  • Where to find it: Leafy green vegetables, whole grains, almonds, cashews and other nuts, avocados, beans, soybeans and halibut.  Note that a diet very high in fat may cause less magnesium to be absorbed.
  • How much you need:  320mg.  Do not exceed 350mg in supplement form.

Vitamin A:

  • Why you need it:  Vitamin A ensures proper development and function of eyes, skin and immune system and may prevent some types of cancers.
  • Where to find it: Leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomato products, fruits, dairy, liver, fish and fortified cereals.
  • How much you need: 2,310 IU.  Do not exceed 10,000 IU.

Folate (Vitamin B9): 

  • Why you need it:  Folate helps to produce and maintain new cells.  It is necessary for proper brain function for mental and emotional health, and helps protect against birth defects.
  • Where to find it: Leafy green vegetables, fruits and beans.  It is also often added to cereals, breads, pasta and rice.
  • How much you need: 400 micrograms.  Do not exceed 1,000 micrograms in the synthetic form.

Vitamin C:

  • Why you need it:  Vitamin C facilitates normal growth and development, and repairs bodily tissue, bones and teeth.  It is used to produce collagen, functions as an antioxidant to block some of the damage caused by free radicals and boosts the body’s immune system.
  • Where to find it:  Most fruits and vegetables especially citrus fruit, red peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and strawberries.
  • How much you need: 75mg.  Do not exceed 2,000mg.

Biotin:

  • Why you need it:  Biotin plays an essential role in energy production and the metabolism of sugar and fats.  It is also believed to aid in healthy hair, nails and skin.
  • Where to find it:  Nuts, eggs, soybeans, cauliflower, fish, avocados and berries.
  • How much you need:  There is no RDA, but generally 30 to 100 micrograms.

Other B Vitamins:

  • Why you need them: The B vitamins help the body convert food into fuel for energy.  They contribute to healthy skin, hair, and eyes and also help to maintain muscle tone, metabolism, nervous system functions and memory.
  • Where to find them:  Fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and many fortified cereals and whole grains.
  • How much you need: 
    • B1 (Thiamine):  1.1mg.  No upper limits have been set.
    • B2 (Riboflavin):  1.1 mg.  No upper limits have been set.
    • B3 (Niacin):  14mg.  Do not exceed 35/mg in supplement form.
    • B6 (Pyridoxine):  1.3 mg.  Do not exceed 100mg.
    • B12 (Cobalamin):  2.4 mg.  No upper limits have been set.                         

Vitamin D:

  • Why you need it:  Vitamin D regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorous in our bones and it is needed for bone and cell growth.  It also helps to reduce inflammation.
  • Where to find it:  Fortified mils and cereals, eggs yolks and fish.  The body can make Vitamin D from exposure to sunlight.    
  • How much you need:  15 micrograms.  Do not exceed 100 micrograms.

 Omega-3:

  • Why you need it:  Omega-3 assists in proper brain function, helps reduce high blood pressure and calms inflammation.
  • Where to find it:  Fish, especially salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel, flax seeds and walnuts.
  • How much you need:  There are no standard doses for Omega-3.  Check with your doctor to find out your specific needs.

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  • Virginia

    Great information!

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