Auto-Immune… Going, Going, Almost Gone
Me by fab photographer Loc Boyle
I have been meaning to write this post for the longest time.
I know many of you are in the same auto-immune boat as me although you may have a different auto-immune condition such as fibromyalgia, vitiligo, sarcoidosis or one of the hundreds of auto-immunes see here (staggering).
I have received loads of emails and questions from my original posts here and here about my progress with my new way of eating and my wholistic approach to Graves Disease, Alopecia Areata and Lichen Sclerosous.
Before I go on, I am not recommending anyone on medication to stop. If you want to change your diet you need to do it with the supervision of a good naturopath or Functional doctor.
One of the stand-out things I have found about auto-immune conditions is that we are surrounded by them, it seems degenerative disease is our generations gift for eating way to much processed food, living a fast lifestyle and not listening to our bodies and not taking enough time out. Ask a friend, family member, work colleague and you will be surprised who is suffering.
I have tried to quantify this diet and my lifestyle changes since January by having regular blood tests and the results have been overwhelming. So overwhelming I kept going.
As a reward after my recent holiday I had a blood test and the news was so fab I wanted to share the results with you.
Thyroid problem – Resolved!!! When I started this diet back in January my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was almost nonexistent. In December 2013 my TSH was 0.005 and as at Mid August it was 2.240 (so in the range it’s scary). Do the math (cause I am a photographer and not very good at it) but that is a massive jump. See comprehensive test results at the end of the post with monthly moves..
Auto-immune Antibodies – Down from 11. 9 in December to 4.8 in August. They need to get under 1.75 to be home free (in remission) so not there yet but getting closer
Alopecia Areata – Hair growing in all 3 bald spots. Gawd this makes me happy. Lovely little black and grey hairs 3 inches long filling all three baldies!
Lichen Sclerous – Prior to March I was still having problems with Lichen Sclerosous. I ended up in this private forum and discovered Oxalates. A word I had never heard before and one that has changed my life. I added a Low Oxalate diet to my Paleo Diet and I believe going on the Low Oxalate diet was the thing that hastened healing of all three auto-immune conditions.
Is the Low Oxalate diet fun? NO, but neither is Lichen Sclerosous or any of the others AI’s. I had almost instant results once I started this and then my thyroid values moved enormously so I have a sneaky feeling Oxalate is the new black. I think Oxalates are to blame for auto-immune as much as Gluten.. And I never believed in detox symptoms till I met Mr. Oxalate..
Without a doubt cutting Gluten and processed foods out was the first great step I took but discovering the Low Oxalate Diet was the second one.
There is so much great information out there and I will try and share as many links here as possible but all Auto-immune disease stems from a leaky gut so the important thing is to heal your intestine and then your body will heal itself. World expert Dr. Alessandro Fasano explains it here
Snapshot of Auto-Immune
- Leaky Gut – We all have compromised digestion thanks to years of processed foods and food intolerances. Sarah Wilson explains it simply here
- Inflammation – Is the root of all auto-immune and most disease. Things that cause inflammation are sugar, coffee, refined foods, alcohol and processed foods. Dr Mark Hyman explains it here
- Food Intolerance –Weakens the immune system..seems a large part of the human race is allergic to lactose and gluten.. more info here
- Give your system a break – By taking away irritating foods and flooding it with nutrition from whole foods and supporting it with complimentary holistic treatments such as acupuncture, massage and shiatsu.
- Get Moving – One of the best anti-imflammatory of all time, you don’t need to run or go to the gym. Walking is great.
- Practice deep relaxation – Such as yoga, meditation and long walks
- Be patient – Let your body heal itself naturally.. We took a lifetime to get into this situation its going take time to get out of it.
The Way I Eat
In general no grains or legumes but I do eat rice a couple of times a week
No Sugar (sugar is in everything once you read the labels) this includes almost all sauces
No processed food, this pretty much knocks out everything on the supermarket shelves
Organic fresh fruit and vegetables, a small amount of nuts, organic eggs and meat and wild fish (I eat meat once a week)
Good fats, such as avocados, organic butter, cold-pressed olive oil and coconut oil – this is really important.. I have learnt fat doesn’t make you fat. I have never eaten more fat in my life and it has had no impact on my cholesterol only my waist (it’s thinner).
I started eating fermented foods
Most auto-immune diets also knock-out nightshades, I reduced them but still put capsicum in salads and ate the odd tomato.
Using all perfumes and non-organic body products including hair shampoos, body creams
Being connected 24/7 to social media and working like a maniac
Got rid of all cleaning products in the house and replaced them with eco versions.
Walking everyday for 45 mins (exercise is the best anti-inflammatory there is)
Getting 15 mins of sun where I could (to help with low Vitamin D levels)
Meditating twice a day
Making bone broths to substitute eating meat.
Drinking filtered water
Drinking herbal teas, Rosehip for Vitamin C and Nettle for Iron
Bought an earthing mat for our bed – these videos are interesting
Reduced stress and my workload
These are some of the natural supplements that were prescribed to me by my naturopath. I would suggest seeing a great naturopath for your specific health needs.
Cod liver Oil once a day – a teaspoon
Vitamin D3 1000 u
Grapefruit seed oil
Symptons of Auto-Immune:
Chronic tiredness (like falling asleep at lunch)
Heart palpitations (thyroid)
Muscle fatigue (I could hardly climb to the 2nd floor without feeling like it was Mount Everest)
Sleep problems (thyroid)
Baldness 3 totally bald spots on my head (Alopecia Areata)
Itchiness and lesions (Lichen Sclerosous)
Brain Fog and a sense of not being here (thyroid)
Itchiness on the front of my shins
Bumps on the backs of the top of your arms
Millions of small pimples that look like a heat rash but were discovered in the middle of winter
There are a million other systems but these were some of mine.
Some Frequently Asked Questions:
Was it difficult to go on the Paleo diet? and how much meat to you eat? No. I have always loved eating well and had previously bought organic food but was almost exclusively vegetarian unless eating at someone’s place and I didn’t want to cause a fuss. I was eating loads of carbohydrates and almost no protein. When I made the switch I found I was rarely hungry and no longer had sugar highs and lows thanks to the whole food diet and eating good fats and protein. I eat pastured raised meat once a week and make bone broths to put in soups and stews. For me the focus is on fruit and vegetables and I eat a lot of eggs.
What was the hardest thing to give up? For me it was coffee, I love coffee and even now my morning doesn’t feel like it ‘starts’ because there is no coffee ritual. In the past couple of weeks on the weekend I make a big deal of going out and finding a great coffee in Paris and enjoying it like it is truly special instead of using it like a crutch as I did before.
Any setbacks? Yes. Once early on when my system was very fragile I kicked off the Graves again by eating lots of sugary fruit (bananas, pineapple and mango together). I did the same thing this summer when I ate an enormous gelato (first one in 8 months) and nothing happened so I ate another one the next day and then thyroid was off and running again with heart palpitations and exhaustion for a week.
How do I handle travel? I travel regularly for work and take my own food stocks. When I worked in the mountains in Italy for a week I took canned sardines, pre boiled eggs, avocados, baked banana bread (I substitute the almond flour with chestnut flour and go light on the honey) and fruit in case I couldn’t access what I needed when I arrived. Guess what? I couldn’t..
Do I eat out? I rarely eat out preferring my own food!!! Gluten is in everything, in Thai sauces and other foods I love. I eat Japanese and take my own gluten free Tamari, chose things like Omelettes or ask how the fish etc is cooked. Have been caught out with batters and breadcrumbs many times.
If and when I go into remission will I go back to eating gluten? Getting off Gluten has been one of the greatest and liberating experiences in my adult life. I no longer need to walk into the local bakery ever again and the bonus has been a slimmer waist and better health. It has allowed me to reconnect with real food and cooking it in a respectful way.
Any health bonuses you didn’t imagine? I have been plagued with headaches my whole life. Since changing the way I live and eat I haven’t had a headache for 6 months and I have lost four kilos. My husband who has had chronic ‘wake you up at night’ Eczema since he was a teenager has lost 12 kilos and his eczema has gone. He wasn’t convinced about the diet till he saw this film. Now he is the world’s number 2 fan (after me).
Where there any times you felt like giving up? There was a day afterI had been on the Low Oxalate diet for a couple of months when I realised there wasn’t a lot of fun in my life at the time. I had read everything I could on diet, I was not only gluten, sugar, alcohol, coffee, processed food free but also free of almonds, sweet potato, chocolate, figs and many other heavenly foods I loved. I was miserable, from that day forward I decided to lighten up and have more fun, have a massage, go to the cinema and forget my oxalate obsession for a while and be kind to myself.
Is it expensive? Yes, without a doubt I am spending twice the amount of money on food that I previously did and wholistic practitioners aren’t covered in the health care system in France. I cart home a shopping caddy full of fresh fruit and vegetables twice a week but being sick is also expensive. I am investing in my health now instead of later and seeing the benefits makes it worth while.
Any Tips on making the change? The toughest thing about eating this way is that you need to be organised and always have food handy. This means thinking and preparing in advance, always having the fridge stocked and something in your camera bag or handbag.
What reactions do you commonly have when you tell people how you are eating? The most common reaction is suspicion. People tend to not believe you and think you are slightly kooky. Try telling an Italian that the pasta they have been feeding their child it’s whole life is causing him/her harm! It’s like saying the very fabric of their culture is turning on them. Much easier to walk away from it than believe it.
Anything else you would like to add? This has been one of the most empowering experiences in my life. Seeing that my body can heal itself with kindness, good food and love is a powerful feeling. We all make such a big deal about eating like this but it’s simply returning to the way our Grandparents ate.
Want to learn more:
The Perfect Human Diet – A documentary that explains the concept of Paleo eating
The Wahls Protocol
– Written by the doctor who had MS and was in a well chair for years) after one month on her diet she could walk with crutches, after 5 months she rode a bike and after 1 year she rode 50kms. This book explains degenerative disease in simple language and gets into the details of what to eat.. Wonderful.
Minding Your Mitochondria – Terry Wahls Ted Talk on diet and disease
Sarah Wilson – Sarah has a section on her blog discussing auto-immune here
Practical Paleo – A great practical guide to understanding your particular auto-immune condition, what to eat and some great recipes.
Nourishing Traditions – One of my favourite books recommended by a dear friend and tells us the traditional ways to prepare foods.. Love this book
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration – If you want to go the whole way this is a study done in the thirties by Weston Price. He travelled the world to find people who were still eating traditional diets untouched by white man’s food. I loved it.
My Blood Results from December to August
Red Means the values are out of the range
TSH – The accepted Range is from 0.270 – 4.20
23/12/2013 – .005
4/2/2014 – .005
22/4/2014 – .770 (woohoo in range)
14/8/2014 – 2,240 (woohoo in range)
T3 – The accepted range is from 0.93 – 4.40
23/12/2014 – 5.6
4/2/2014 – 4.5
22/4/2014 – 2.50 (woohoo in range)
T4 – The accepted range is from 9.3 – 17
23/12/2014 – 20.1
4/2/2014 – 16 (woohoo in range)
22/4/2014 – 12 (woohoo in range)
Auto-immune antibodies – The accepted range is under 1.75
23/12/2014 – 11.9
4/2/2014 – 7.54
22/4/2014 – 6.49
14/8/2014 – 4.86
If you are wondering why I have gone to the trouble of adding my test results its because throughout these eight months its the one piece of information I couldn’t find on the internet. Nobody had quantified their results and shown their progress although many spoke of healing.
I did this for all of those like me who were searching for an alternative to the doctor’s standard response of ‘its incurable you will have to live with it for the rest of your life.’
I believed it was possible and I can see it is.
Wishing you all good health and happiness.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates
Please share for the good health of those we love..x
What a wonderful achievement – well done. Thank you for this post. I too never feel like I am truly ‘here’ and I have to be for Lucy. I owe her that. Time for my change. Sending love and continuing best health to you xxx
Hi Debby, Wishing you well on your journey.. its exciting
What an inspiration you are Carla!
I have been gluten and sugar free for some time now but have recently started reducing oxalates, after talking with you. Already I am seeing some positive differences.
Thank you so much for sharing your story.
Love to you
High 5 Carla! Thanks for sharing this part of yourself. I eat okay, but I can definitely make some changes – particularly with the amounts of coffee and sugar I’ve been having lately. I have also had unusual waves of exhaustion which need investigating – might be the sugar.
Hi Melissa, yeah sugar we can all live without.. Every now and then is nice. x
Thanks so much for taking the time to post this Carla. And your test results too. All heading in the right direction. Well done you. xx
Hope it helps.. and yours is on the improve. x
As a child growing up in the South (US) I got my fair share of fried foods and meat .. and it seemed that I was always sick with one thing or another. Respiratory and stomach .. all the time .. then when I was 21 I met a man who had quit eating meat. I fell in love with him and thus began my life of not eating meat. It was just easier and I thought I would try it. Never mind he was a few years older than I and we looked the same age. Gotta give that a try !
I am not exaggerating when I say that I am rarely ill and when I do catch a bug, it goes away quickly.
I am not overweight .. actually I get counsel from family members to eat .. I do eat, I just burn it off faster. But I am healthy.
I just have to be as strong as you and kick the coffee / sugar habit.
Stay well, sweetheart ..
HI Candice, veges and fruit and all things natural are a gift to us.. your proof x
WOW Fascinating Carla
BRAVO to the both of you for following this regime. Can’t be easty..
Hi Carol, easier than you would imagine.. and addictive.. no highs and lows.. lurking that. x
This made me think back…I was a vegetarian for 3 years before I moved to Paris. Now I sometimes have entrcote for breakfast and feel like a million bucks/euros. But it’s when I’ve had a few sips of Champagne the night before that I wake up a train wreck. They pour champagne like it’s water in this town…anyway a friend with RA really appreciated your post!
Congratulations Carla! Gosh, you look gorgeous so as she said “I will have what she’s having”! As a fellow autoimmune patient, I am so impressed with your research and treatment, nothing is better than taking control of your own health. Stress is also a large part of autoimmune illnesses, it can quickly undo all the good diet choices so it is important to keep life under control……..that is why we are building a house on the beach! I think it is wonderful of you to share your medical information this way, you will help so many people Carla! Much love to both of you. xx00
HI Sande, house on the beach.. I am hearing you!!! More beach less city.. no that’s a good remedy.. Carla x
BRAVA BELLA…….YOU DID IT!
I think you might recall I have Celiac…….so no gluten in my life now for 6 years.I just read a book that is taking me down your path by a NEW ZEALANDER named Dr. Libby WEAVER.Her book is called ACCIDENTALLY OVERWEIGHT.A real eye opener for me about sugar!IT’s processed 14 times before we eat it!But its in everything!Even the lettuce I buy has sugar!I have given up one coffee in the morning verses two and am having only one glass of wine with dinner………I know I should dump it all!BUT I”M FEELING BETTER just by cutting down there………and eating more greens!I will take a look at the videos you have mentioned here.
Hi Carla, such a lovely photo you look beautiful. Glad you are on your way to feeling great. Thanks for sharing your story!
Carla….this is an incredible post. You’re a star. And can I say how totally gorgeous you’re looking! I’m on to it fast! Ciao, Robyn.
Hi Carla – such a great post and so good to know you have well and truly truned the corner… such a huge change from last December! Am now going to look at making changes to my diet as well – we all think we are on good diets… mine based primarily on the Mediterranean – but it’s also the quality of the food that’s an issue. I mean there’s organic and organic right? And reading the fine print is such a MUST! Thinking of you and sending hugs F xx
Hi Carla…..what a. Truly inspiring story….you look gorgeous! I am gluten intolerant so have cut that out and feel so much better for it….Slowly heading the Paleo way and it is so delicious!!!! Thank you for blogging this! You Go Girl!
These are outstanding results, Carla, and I can imagine how elated you must be! Anything that improves people’s health and quality of life is a great thing. Inflammation seems to be the culprit of many health issues today and certainly worth researching to familiarise ourselves with how it affects our body.
I believe a holistic, balanced approach to life and nutrition is key – sometimes we complicate things or are just too confused with what’s out there.
Continue the great work and I look forward to your next progress update! x
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. I can only imagine how long that it took to put together but the great thing about the web is that once it is out there, it is out there! Who knows how many people you will help, how many lives you will change…For the second time today I will say merci enormement for your generosity.
Merci Carla!!!! – I was diagnose with Hashimoto early this year and although the medication helped symptoms such as fatigue, hairless and weight gain remained. I starting a similar diet to the one you describe and hopefully I will start feeling better.
Do you have any suggestions for a Naturopath in Paris?. Want to see one, but I do not know where to look for one.
Thanks for your note. I went to a naturopath in Australia but I know a friend of mine is seeing someone here. .I will get the contact for you. x
Thank you Carla! Much appreciated.
What Naturapath did you see I. Oz? X
Wonderful News Carla, gluten is everywhere, I have been reading also, hidden and affecting many souls out here. Thank you so much for your generous sharing. I try to eat this Palsio Diet, buy local as often as possible, and love going to the farmer’s market, so “colorful” and “fun” chatting with the local organic farmers. Here is a Neuropath in West Palm Beach, wonderful Dr. Doug Phillips. Happy to forward his phone number should you “ever” get to Florida and would like a contact while on a shoot, or visiting sometime. I am on your blog so very often, yet like you, off the computer more and more. I adore your blog immensely. Merci for your generous news and the research given to all of us all out here! Your research is invaluable! PS Check out this beautiful area (where I live, North Fla.) for a shoot, hee hee, Seaside, Rosemary Beach, Santa Rosa Beach, Destin, Florida! ;-))) XO
goodness, most important, “you look Fabulous darling” ;-))
Carla – you look and sound fantastic! I read this post with tears in my eyes ticking off various symptoms. I removed dairy, gluten and sugar for about a year almost 10 years ago and didn’t know I could feel so well! I got a little lazy and have been paying for it since. This post more than any other that I’ve read about thyroid has encouraged me to re-implement a life plan that I know works. I know I haven’t been listening to my body. Thank you so much for your candour and encouragement. Your hair looks fab by the way:) M xo
Lovely to hear from you.. It is incredible how good we feel when we give our bodies a break.. Good luck.. It’s a challenge in the beginning but if it pays off.. so worth it.. x
What was your breakfast lunch dinner daily eating in a day? Thanks!
I’m also autoimmune and this article really helps me a lot. Thanks for sharing and posting!
it’s 2020 and I’m going through the same Journey. Years and years of going through this and I am curious how you are doing now?
Wow, you really write with realistic sense. You’re not selling anything, nor do you sound cheesy and doing it for the sake of your blog, I feel. And you provided resources, some data, and the journey. Thanks so much for these details – I have been scouring the internet for more in-depth opinions like this, instead of just people’s vague thoughts. I have Alopecia Areata and it has scared me immensely- of course I feel very thankful for its benign nature, but to think my body is suffering and attacking itself and I had no idea, and the idea of losing my self esteem to it, has really made me worry. At least now I have a place to start with a fair amount of confidence.
Thank you for being real!!
Thank you for sharing, I have LS I’ve been looking at low oxalate but I’m so confused, I know berries aren’t so good for you but berries are out ? Same with sweet potato? Also have you found a cream that helps with your LS?
I just found your post and it inspired me a lot. You did exactly what I am planning to do… I’m already on the AIP diet but I feel like oxalates are causing me trouble.
Do you happen to have a reliable list of vegetables and their oxalate content? It is so hard to find a good one online.
I would appreciate it a lot 🙂
Hi there, I just stumbled onto this post as I have been researching oxalates for my autoimmune condition and it’s great to hear success stories. Can you tell me which high oxalate foods in particular you cut out what kind of veggies you used in soups? Kind regards Chris