My cousin requested a quick recommendation of books and vitamins that I take every day. Thought I would post what I had written to her. Enjoy!
The Trifecta of books
3. Good Calories, Bad Calories (This book is a monster, but not a single wasted word; 20-30 hour commitment)
This book is a beast but worth reading. Its an investigative expose that got so big that it turned into a book, this author has gone on to write 2 more books about health after this, I've read all of them, but this is the best one. He wrote a shorter version of this book without all of the intense scientific references called "Why we get fat and what to do about it" (a 10 hour read instead of a 20 hour read). If you feel like you can't read all of "Good Calories, Bad Calories" you can get that one instead. But I have read both and prefer the larger one because I like all of the information.
Vitamins and supplements
Every woman should get their thyroid tested. And make sure you get a full panel. A lot of doctors will only test TSH and T3 levels, but it is important to get a full panel, since people that have the inflammatory disorder, Hashimotos Disease (This is what I have), can have inflammation for up to 10 years before they actually start having thyroid dysfunction. It is good to know if you have inflammation so that you can take steps to reducing your inflammation such as starting an autoimmune diet, reducing your exposure to mercury, etc. I have high TPO levels and high TSH when I am under stress and at the peak of my work related chronic injuries (increased inflammation in my body).
Make sure you get these things tested:
Are you overweight, have joint pain, feel bloated, tired, foggy, fatigued, constipated, or just don’t think you’re performing your optimal potential? Here are five steps you can start today, and that I try to follow every day to the best of my lifestyle and ability.
1. Get enough sleep
3. Sugar free
4. grain free
5. Dairy free
Before I build my blog further and talk about these subjects in greater detail, I want to get all of this information out as soon as possible, for the people that want to do something right away and understand it later. I’ll explain these steps in brief below:
1. Getting enough sleep- Sleep is so important, for your body and mind. A lot of important repair and autophagy processes occur during sleep, and sleep is also when the body performs the most fat burning. My fiancé is a very thin person and I suspect it has a lot to do with the 10 hours of sleep he likes to get every night. Aim to get at least 8 hours every day. I also recommend downloading a sleep tracker or using your exercise wearable to gauge how much sleep is right for you. For me personally, I naturally prefer about 8.5 hours of sleep, and perform best when I’ve had this much sleep as well.
2. Mindfulness- Taking the time to give yourself a chance to relax and clear the mind is great for balancing cortisol and stress levels, which in turn reduces adrenal fatigue. I need mindfulness to manage my adrenals because they are not making thyroid hormone if they are stressed. Testosterone and essential sex hormones also get put on the back burner by the adrenals when they are chronically stressed.
3. Sugar Free- Keeping your insulin levels in check is a key factor of being able to lose weight, and helps to lower systemic inflammation. There is hidden sugar in everything, and once I began noticing how much sugar there actually is in most processed foods, I realized that the diet I was actually beginning to eat is Whole 30 or Paleo. Another great diet to try that follows the same principles of real food and low sugar is the Bulletproof diet. To keep it simple, I just try to eat things that don't come with a nutrition label, with the exception of special ketogenic or paleo cooking supplies, such as coconut oil, stevia, etc. I also have a few favorite snacks.
4. Grain Free- there are multiple reasons to get rid of the grains in your life. For me, since I’m newly sensitive to barley, I have to pretty much exclude all grains that are made with generic flours, since they tend to contain trace amounts of barley, or be made of a flour blend that contains barley. For reasons I will elucidate later, I’m trying to keep wheat out of my diet as well because it is inherently inflammatory. Since Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an inflammatory disease, it behooves me to keep my diet as anti inflammatory as possible. Now what exactly in the wheat is inflammatory is a contentious and heavily discussed issue. There is gluten obviously, but I’m not sensitive to gluten, at least not yet per the food sensitivity test. It is believed by certain researchers that the lectins in all grains are highly inflammatory and bad for your gut. They can increase the junctions between your epithelial cells in the intestine and contribute to leaky gut and even provoke other food sensitivities by simply allowing the food particles to pass through the cells.
5. Dairy Free- going dairy free is essential for me, obviously because of my food allergies. But it would also benefit you to try going dairy free for a few weeks to get your nutrition back in balance. Dairy has lactose in it, which increases your daily sugar intake and is bad for insulin stability. Removing dairy from the diet has worked for a lot of people that suffer from cystic acne as well.
Keep in mind that it is crucial to eat high quality food, make sure vegetables are washed and organically grown. Make sure your meat, eggs, and dairy (if you decide to eat it) comes from pasture raised grass fed meat. It is not enough that meat is pasture raised, if it is still being fed unnatural grains. Have you ever heard of the term bioaccumulation? Just as toxins can bioaccumulate in animals high up in the food chain, such as tuna, so can beneficial micronutrients bioaccumulate in grass fed animals. Animals that are fed stale grains are not advantageous for us to eat, not to mention the fact that it is NOT natural for a cow, pig, or chicken to be eating corn/soy/wheat meal.
Thanks for reading!!!
Read Part 1 here
A Facebook targeted article is what changed my life and sent me down the rabbit hole. I follow a science news network on Facebook and I was searching so much on google about ways to control my acne, that a Facebook targeted article about the effects of intermittent fasting controlling insulin spikes. I had read that irregular insulin regulation could also be a factor in acne, and I had never heard about intermittent fasting and was intrigued.
Thus began my trip down the rabbit hole into the alternative health world that is intermittent fasting, ketogenic dieting, and paleo. Not only could I maybe control my acne, but also lose those 10 pounds that had creeped up over the last year, reduce my risk for developing cancer, and all the countless benefits of intermittent fasting. For once I felt hopeful that I could heal and be myself again.
I had no idea how much I underestimated the benefits of changing my lifestyle. I could go into detail of my exact discovery process, but it’s pretty circular in the beginning. I spent countless hours reading books, blog posts, and listening to podcasts.
The first book that I read was The Obesity Code, by Jason Fung. An incredible book written by a Canadian kidney doctor, with plenty of scientific references to back his theories, not to mention that actual success that he has personally had in his own clinic, reversing type II diabetes mellitus in many of his own patients. I will write a book summary and review soon, but this is a good place to start if you’re looking for a non intimidating way to begin to delve into the vast amount of information that is out there. The book took me about 4 hours to read.
A huge influence and a great source of authors, books, and people to follow came from Dave Asprey and his BulletProof podcast. I think I listened to close to 100 episodes in the first few weeks because I just couldn’t get enough information. He is well learned for having no background in biology and has some really stellar interviews, which I can link to in the future.
My next step in self discovery was to take an at home food sensitivity test. These tests differ from your traditional allergy tests because traditional tests look at IgA blood reactions, which are the more acute allergic reactions. They are responsible for anaphylaxis, hives, swelling, and redness people get within minutes or even seconds of eating an allergenic food. The IgG pathway is what is tested in the IgG sensitivity test. This pathway is more related to chronic inflammation, and also happens to be the same inflammatory autoimmune pathway that drives Hashimoto’s (SURPRISE!). IgG takes about 1-3 days after exposure to be in full effect and can be displayed in symptoms of brain fog, anxiety, joint pain, and in my case, cystic acne.
I suspected that my dairy sensitivity went beyond lactose intolerance. The typical bloating, cramping I would get after eating cheese and cream seemed to severe to just be an inability to digest lactose. I reached a point where I was only eating cheese sometimes on the weekends. Like clockwork, by Monday or Tuesday the following week I would have 3-4 new and painful cystic pimples. But sometimes it happened when I didn’t eat dairy. Because I don’t drink often during the week, I was able to pin it down to only days that I had a lot of beer, especially unfiltered beer. Trying to figure out my sensitivities by trail and error was driving me nuts, so I finally decided to just pay for the allergy test.
I will post a more detailed review of the allergy test in a future post, but the one I used was from an online web site that sent you the kit in the mail after purchase. They work with CLIA certified labs within the US to provide their clinically validated test results, which are then analyzed by a doctor before the results are returned to you. The best part about this was that I was able to collect blood from the comfort of my own home, send the kit in the mail, and I got results back within 5 business days. I had to prick my finger with a lancet and provide 4 very large droplets of blood onto some whatman filter paper, wait for it to dry, then put into a biohazard ziplock bag.
In short, the allergy test confirm exactly what I had suspected: I was allergic to all types of milk protein, and any derivation of any type of milk protein including yogurt, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, but especially cow’s milk.
I was also able to confirm that beer was indeed the other cause of my acne, specifically barley, and more so: malted barley. No more beer for me. :(
There were a few other unexpected sensitivities, including foods that I eat every day such as eggs and almonds. I’m not so sure if they are actual sensitivities or just a result of leaky gut from eating dairy and drinking alcohol. I plan to retry this test after a few months when my system has had some time to settle.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of my journey, where I discuss how I found out that I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis!
So how did it all start for me? I just thought I should share why I care and wrote this blog. When I was doing my research it was so enlightening to find other authors personal stories, which fueled their initial passion to getting to the root cause of their problems, and by proxy helping others in the process. I hope my story can provide some unforeseen insight to you.
I’m a preclinical scientist at a major pharmaceutical company in California, so I’m naturally pre inclined to have a curious and skeptical mind.
Looking back, I can see now that it must have started when I got carpal tunnel. My work in a fast paced intense start up biotech company caused me to have not one, but two work induced injuries. I had bilateral carpal tunnel and a neck sprain for about 2.5 years. Thankfully, I never reached a point where I needed surgery, but it’s pretty obvious now that that level of constant chronic inflammation, not to mention stress, and emotional despair at being 26 and almost too injured to work, is what was the catalyst for my future issues.
Then came the food intolerances. All of a sudden after eating what was seemingly normal food, I was getting severe discomfort and bloating. So severe, that a few hours after eating a “healthy” breakfast omelette, I could no longer fit into a dress I was planning to wear at a friends wedding!
I was finally able to narrow it down to dairy foods, specifically heavy cream and cheese, that seemed to be the culprit for my discomfort. The bizarre thing was, I always had upper gastro intestinal symptoms. Never had the typical diarrhea that was normal of lactose intolerance and inability to digest milk sugars. I spent the year experimenting with foods to see if there were any that I could tolerate, but had a hard time figuring out what prompted the symptoms. Surprisingly, milk and yogurt seemed to be the least provoking, but were also the ones with the most lactose.
The other odd thing about my symptoms was the acne. I had reduced my exposure to milk products to be mostly on the weekends, when I would find myself in front of cheese platters at parties, or other situations where I didn’t want to be THAT annoying person with the food sensitivity, and just ate the food that was in front of me.
Without fail, 2-3 days after eating dairy, I would get the most awful cystic acne pimples on my chin and cheeks. They felt enormous, were so painful, and became red and left scars from inflammation even if I never popped them. It is 6 months later and I still see the same pimple I had on my cheek that was caused by last Christmas dinner.
Back to my story of 2 years ago: I let myself take a break over one Thanksgiving, and had a piece of my cousin’s infamous hash brown casserole. It contained sour cream, cheese, condensed milk, but I thought if I only had a small piece it might be okay.
It was not ok.
I woke up in the middle of the night in the most pain I have ever been in my life. I was pale, sweaty, and in so much pain I could barely breathe. The only reason I didn’t take myself to the emergency room was because trusty web MD informed me that my appendix is actually located on the other side, so it was not appendicitis, but I was clearly dying of some other rare disease or type of cancer.
I woke up the next morning feeling fine, but worried, and booked an appointment with my primary care doctor.
She listened to my ailments for about 30 seconds before cutting me off to condescendingly explain that it was clear that I was lactose intolerant, and all I needed were some probiotics and yogurt.
As if it hadn't occurred to me that I was lactose intolerant. But hey, she’s the doctor, so maybe there was something that she knew that I didn’t.
This was my first visit with this doctor, having been put onto a new insurance plan because I changed pharmaceutical companies where I worked. So, I also brought up that I had been wanting a genetic test to assess my risk for breast cancer.
She declared that despite my background in pharmaceuticals and biology, I wouldn’t be able to comprehend the difference between a pathogenic and non pathogenic risk factor, and that the risk to my emotional health upon finding out I was predisposed to having breast cancer was greater than my actual risk to getting breast cancer. And that since only my mom had breast cancer (despite having no other sisters), the risk CLEARLY wasn’t genetic. Because I’m sure this doctor had more than a few hours of genetics taught to her in medical school.
Needless to say, I left this appointment utterly livid and vowed to never go back to this doctor. I didn’t see a single doctor for the next year.
But being the scientist that I am, I decided to give these probiotics a try. I couldn’t rule out this new information that I had been told despite the fact that I was pretty sure that this doctor was full of shit. Pun intended.
Long story short, the probiotics didn’t work. Taking Lactaid didn’t work. Taking seven Lactaids didn’t work. Eating things with lower lactose content didn’t work, and seemed to make my reactions even worse than before.
So here I am back where I started, getting weekly pimples at 28. It was making me very depressed especially since I had never had cystic acne as a teenager and had never had to deal with a consistent skin care regimen. I began spending exorbitant amounts of money on new products, not to mention the chemicals I was covering my face with 2-3x per day. This was not sustainable and I was reaching my maximum limit.
I feel a little vain focusing so much on the acne. But you see, it’s like my canary in the coal mine. It’s my primary readout for my underlying inflammation and whether I am on track in my anti-inflammatory lifestyle. I’m young, I go out, I drink, I get sleep deprived from time to time. And now I am able to use such symptoms as acne and leg cramps to signal to me that I have been straying too much from the protocol.
Continue to Part 2
Your best defense in this volatile healthcare climate is to be as healthy as you can be, without the use of pharmaceuticals.
Intermittent fasting, Ketogenic, Paleo, Whole 30, Functional Medicine, Bulletproof, Wild diet, Caveman Diet, leaky gut, inflammation, all are nice buzzwords of different spheres of belief that have one thing in common: Food is medicine, and we in the west has been poisoning ourselves slowly for the last 50 years.
I'm not here to tell you which diet is the best diet for you. I can only provide you with the education and tools you need to be your own health investigator. I have done a lot of the work for you and will outline my own hybrid approach, which takes the best of all theories into a lifestyle that works for me.
I have read over 25 of the best health books out there, countless research studies, and hundreds of hours of podcasts from top experts in the ketogenic, paleo, whole foods fields.
This blog will contain my own healthcare story, the biology behind weight gain, why it matters what kind of food you eat, why the quality of food you eat matters, and why mind body health is so much more important than exercise. I’ve lost weight and kept it off, and have been acne free without the use of skincare regimen or expensive products.
There is no such thing as calories in calories out. The laws of thermodynamics explain how energy works on the molecular level, but not at the level of an organism with several energy pathways. How does it decide which pathway to use? Burn this food, store that one as fat, let this one flow through in the feces and urine. Why do some people eat exactly the same thing but one of them gets fat and the other doesn't? The laws of thermodynamics don't apply here.