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Two Year Anniversary on the AIP: Is it still the best way to treat autoimmmune conditions?

Pharmaceuticals macro

It’s been exactly two years since I began using the AIP diet and lifestyle to treat my Autoimmune Diseases. It was January 2014, from my hospital bed. (see here for what made me chose to do that).

There have been times of what felt like miraculous recovery and other times of utter desperation…

The last couple of weeks there have been some interesting news stories regarding Autoimmune Disease. One of those has been the much publicized and successful treatment of a woman who used stem cells treatment to successfully ‘cure’ her MS. On the other end of the spectrum the very sad death of Eagle’s guitarist Glen Frey who died from pneumonia after complications from the side effects of his medications used to treat his Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Although I think there is more and more research and more and more drugs on the market, I still don’t think that more medications are the right way to treat chronic diseases.

In the UK, woman with severe MS, whose disease worsened after the birth of her child, underwent a drug trial, which used chemotherapy agents to pretty much obliterate her entire immune system and then using stem cell therapy, she basically ‘rebuilt’ it. The results were phenomenal and she can now carry her child without any problems. Effectively her doctors have now claimed her to be cured of MS.

  • Would you consider a treatment as drastic as that?
  • Would you consider wiping out your whole immune system for sake of ‘healing’ your body?

Then the case of the talented Glen Frey. He was using the conventional medical approach to AI disease, of using immuno- suppressant medications to treat his disease. This stops the immune system from attacking itself, but in doing so, it unfortunately also suppresses the part of the immune system that fights disease- causing bacteria and viruses. Hence his development of pneumonia and colitis, that left him so weak, his body could not fight it.

I am currently reading Dr Jeff Bland, founder of the Institute for Functional Medicine, book The Disease Delusion. In it he emphasises conventional medicine’s mistake of treating chronic illness like an acute infection that can be treated with harsh drugs.  Antibiotics, like penicillin were life saving to wipe out acute infections like fevers after childbirth or severe staph infections and are still vital for acute bacterial infections.

Obliterating a chronic disease by using strong pharmaceuticals however, doesn’t treat the illness or the causes of the disease. In fact, in the majority of cases this leads to severe side effects, which can even lead to death as indicated in the above case. It also never really treats the majority of symptoms such as pain or fatigue or depression that might go along with the chronic inflammation the sufferer can have. I could and actually intent to write further on this subject as it is think so very important.

I starting this post telling you that I have been doing the AIP for two years now and instead of telling you how I am or giving you some recipes, which is not really my forte, I have rather given you two examples of why I haven’t chosen NOT to go on the strong interferons recommended for MS, or gone on other any other immune, disease modifying drugs. For me, in order to heal and treat my conditions, I have to look at root causes and work on healing my gut and immune system and prevent the self sabotaging attacks in the first place.. . Either way I don’t for one minute regret using this as a way of treating my Celiac, Hashimtoto’s and MS.

I think watching the results of the case of the woman with MS who had the stem cell transplant will be very interesting. I for one want to know, if she doesn’t remove gluten from her diet and heal her gut and remove the possible triggers form example chemical and other stress triggers, will her ‘new’ immune system not just begin to start attacking all over again……

 

 

 

Latest Update On My Health

Even though I did really well when beginning the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) 18 months ago, I hit some stumbling blocks with my health and stressful events beyond my control. I found I couldn’t get my health back on track. I have written about this before, but I think it’s important to reiterate. Diet alone sometimes is not enough. Sure its a starting point, and for some people the challenge is just getting to the starting point. But when it’s not enough and you require more, its ok to ask for help.

For me this involved seeing a Functional Medicine Practitioner. She uncovered that my thyroid was not working optimally and I had adrenal fatigue. She also picked up some interesting genetic mutations, which showed that I don’t detoxify well as well as methylation issues. And then the humdinger of them all, was that I was high in heavy metals, including mercury, lead, thalium, and cesium. This was what was casuing me to still have high antibodoes what was preventing me from getting truly well.

Six months ago I began, what I can only describe as a hideous chelation process. Chelation, is the removal of the heavy metals and toxins from the body. The process involved me taking tablets daily for 1 week on and 3 weeks off. The problem with chelation is that not only does it remove harmful metals from the body, but also removes vital and necessary minerals, like iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium. In the three weeks off, I had to supplement with those.

I was very sick from the chelation. It brought out hideous aches and pain in my body and all of my joints. It caused my stomach to flare up to pre-Celiac diagnosis days and it left me feeling weak and tired. I began to question the whole process, unsure if I was doing the right thing. Here I was eating this restricted diet, but I felt so ill. I couldn’t function the week of the chelation and by the time I had recovered, it was time to start all over again. I began having body twitches from being so low in minerals and electrolytes. I also had almost constant agonising back pain. Eventually after my fifth month (I was meant to do six months), I stopped the chelation and went back to my doctor. My gut had become so damaged from the chelation, that I was no longer able to absorb any of the millions of supplements I was taking. I also had chronic diarrhoea and had lost so much weight. My doctor put me on l-glutamine (to help heal the gut lining) and high dose omega 3 and then I had weekly drips of electrolytes and minerals. I then carried on with some vitamin B injections. That was last week.

Yesterday was my 35th birthday. I am feeling so fantastic now for the first time in such a long time, I want to jump for joy. The last 6 months of my life have been terrible and all consuming, but I have come out the other side and I have survived. Sure, I still have a way to go and I need to get my gut properly absorbing again, but I really feel good. This is the feeling I long to attain, whenever I don’t feel well. I know how good this feels, so I know I can achieve it. I get so down when I don’t feel good. I also try hold on sometimes too tightly to the feeling of ‘feeling great’. It’s as if, if I hold on tightly, it will last forever. I know it wont, but what I do know, is that each time I feel lousy, I can work towards feeling like this again.

The other good news is that my manuscript for my memoir about my healing journey, is finally done and is busy being editing right now and I’m busy with corrections. I cannot wait to be able to share that with so many of you, who know exactly what its like to feel like this.

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Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) Coconut Chicken Strips without Eggs

imageOne of the hardest things to try and do on the AIP is to try and coat things in crumbs, withought the use of flour, or crumbs or Eggs! When I discovered that I could coat things in oil, either olive oil or coconut oil, and that coconut flour would stick to it, I was thrilled. If you search for Paleo and Coconut chicken recipes, every recipe uses eggs, but what happens if you are following the Elimination Stage of the AIP or you cannot eat eggs?

This recipe was my solution and it has become a firm favourite in my house. It is also a great recipe for kids. Healthy ‘chicken nuggets’. 😉

  • x4 -pasture raised -skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 1 cup Coconut Flour
  • ½ cup Desiccated Coconut
  • Salt (Himalayan or Sea Salt)
  • Mixed Dried Herbs, eg thyme, marjoram, rosemary, basil, oregano
  • ½ cup Coconut Oil/Olive Oil plus extra for frying.

 

Preheat your oven to 180C.

Place the cut up chicken pieces into a bowl with coconut or olive oil and toss until the chicken pieces are completely coated.

Then place the coconut flour, and desiccated coconut mix into a plastic jiffy bag (or bowl if you prefer). Add the salt and mixed herbs into the packet. The above amounts are an estimate; add enough flour to coat the chicken pieces.

Place the coated chicken strips into the bag; make sure it’s sealed properly and shake it around to coat all the pieces of chicken.

Heat the oil in a pan and fry until golden on both sides but not cooked all the way through.

Then place all the chicken strips in an ovenproof dish and place in the oven for 20-30 min. You will need to cut a piece open to check it’s cooked all the way through. ( Don’t leave it in for too long, otherwise it will dry out).

Serve with roast vegetables, avocadoes and salad or anything else you chose.

My Guest Post for Faithful-to-Nature on the AIP and Healing Autoimmune Disease

AIPYou can see my guest post HERE

Even though the article mentions that FTN thinks that one can successfully follow a Paleo diet if you are a vegetarian, I disagree with that. If you have Autoimmune disease, you should not eat a vegetarian diet, if you can help it.(those who need to for religious reasons should be the only consideration) By its very nature, it is a diet high in grains, legumes and soy which can cause the destruction the lining of the gut, the foundation of the immune system. This promotes inflammation, which is everything a Paleo diet is trying to combat!

 

 

When Diet Is Not Enough!

There are many factors involved in healing from an Auto-immune disease.

Step number one must be healing the gut. In my own and many other’s experience, following a diet like the Auto-immune Protocol (AIP) Paleo way of eating is the best choice.

The best resource for any information on this way of eating is Dr Sarah Ballantyne, whose incredible book The Paleo Approach gives a wonderful scientific explanation of how and why this way of eating calms down the immune system and starts to get it to stop attacking the body’s own tissues. I am not going to go into detail on that here as that is something I have focused on in many other posts. (see here)

For this post, I want to focus on what happens after you have changed your diet; after you have removed all the offending food, all the grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy, eggs, nightshades and problem spices. You have added in bone broth, and high quality vegetables, grass-fed animal proteins and good fats.

What happens if you are not getting better? Or if you did get better at first, quite miraculously, but some of the old symptoms have come back and you are starting to wonder if this diet thing is actually right. Well to answer that first question, yes, yes and yes some more.

The diet, is still right, you just need to do some more digging into your health to get more answers. For some lucky people, just changing the diet and the important lifestyle factors of getting enough sleep, relaxation and exercise are enough to get them well.

I improved hugely on the AIP and started to do really well. I then had some major stressful traumas and couldn’t get well again. I finally found a Functional Medicine Practitioner who has helped me with finding the missing pieces to the puzzle. (for those who are reading about me for the first time, I have Celiac disease, Hashimoto’s thyroid disease and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) ).

Here are just some of the extra tests I have done to help look for some more answers. Some people might have one or more of these; so far every box has been ticked for me.

1. Check the gut with a comprehensive stool test for infections, parasites and the status of beneficial bacteria.

I had this done in September last year and my results showed problems with my gut bacteria. The results showed a hemolytic e Coli (the bad one) and zero growth of Bifidobacterium and very little growth of all the others. I was put on a herbal antibiotic and mega doses of probiotics. This cured the chronic diarrhea I had been experiencing for months.

 

2.  The second thing to check for me was a comprehensive thyroid panel. This involved not only checking the standard TSH and T4, but checking my T3 as well, my reverse T3 as well as what my antibodies were doing. My levels of reverse T3 were very high and my T3 was low. I have had fluctuating levels of TSH for as long as I can remember. My doctor changed me from Eltroxin only to a lowered dose of Eltroxin along with a Natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) (contains all of the hormones). It’s the first time my T3 has ever improved so well and I began to feel really good. (see this post for more info).

3. I had my salivary cortisol levels checked and it showed I did have adrenal fatigue. The Adaptogens I took did not agree with me, so for now I am working on getting my thyroid and other issues right first.

4.  My doctor has thought all along that I might have an issue with toxins! She even mentioned that while doing her studies on a new course, that something about what she read about heavy metals and toxins reminded her of me! The test is very expensive so I have had to wait a while to do it. I finally did it 3 weeks ago and the results are in. I have high levels of mercury, lead, cesium and thalium and low levels of lots of minerals including calcium and molybdenum. When you have high metals in your body, they replace where the minerals should be! This is very scary and probably one of the main triggers/last outstanding reasons for me not healing completely. I have just begun chelation therapy yesterday!

5. Hopefully the final piece of the puzzle is my genetic tests (SNP’s), which I also did a couple weeks ago. The results are amazing and I will be doing a separate post about it, when I have also learnt more about it. For now the short answer is, I have a few genes that affect my methylation and detoxification abilities (MTHFR is the most well known one), which of course coupled with the heavy metals, explain why my body cannot get rid of them! I also, it turns out have the gene for lactose intolerance, so I guess I will never be reintroducing milk again! I am on a whole bunch of supplements now to help my body with this.

This has all been such a long process and journey for me. I am really hopeful that this is the last and final piece of the puzzle. As you can see though, there are so many other factors involved in healing AI disease, so please don’t think that diet is the only thing. It’s just one step and if you aren’t as well as you would like to be, then please try find a good Functional Medicine Practitioner to assist you. There are many paths to getting well.

Update on AIP: one year on.


I’ve wanted to write this updated blog post for a while now but I’ve just been hanging on until I get all my updated test results from my Functional Medicine Doctor.

 

I was diagnosed 17 years ago with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (autoimmune underactive thyroid). I was put on Eltroxin (synthetic replacement T4 tablets) and told that I would have to be on it for the rest of my life and that would be it.

I had suffered my whole childhood with extreme fatigue, ongoing digestive problems, low immunity and chronic pain. I hoped that this was the answer to all my problems.

 

However, I never really got better as every time I would have blood tests, my thyroid would show it was underactive and then I would have my dosage increased. At follow up testing it would show it was overactive and I would have my medication decreased. I have had that pattern for years and years with only short periods of “normal TSH”. Plus the medication never got rid of my symptoms.

 

After my Celiac disease diagnosis, 11 years after that (Celiac and Hashimoto’s are close cousins and frequently occur together), I thought that my mal-absorption would explain why my thyroid was never right and that maybe it would normalise once I began to eat a gluten free diet.

It did improve dramatically at first and then gradually I just went back to how it was before, suffering with overwhelming fatigue, headaches, chronic pain and an inability to cope with stress. I asked my endocrinologist to test my adrenal glands as the Pituitary, Thyroid Gland and Adrenals all work in symphony with each other. I had a blood test and my cortisol was shown as ‘normal’ and he pretty much shrugged his shoulders, unable to help me.

 

Then in January last year, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS),  now my third autoimmune disease! My husband and I began researching what I could do to get well and that’s when I completely changed my diet and began following the Auto Immune Protocol (AIP) Paleo diet and lifestyle. I read Sarah Ballantyne’s book, The Paleo Approach and I read Terry Wahl’s book, The Wahl’s Protocol.

I then cut out all grains not just gluten, legumes, seeds, nuts, vegetable oils, nightshades, egg and dairy. It was all done it an effort to quell the inflammation in my body and to try and stop my immune system from launching this attack on its own tissues. By removing the foods that trigger gut issues and replacing them with nutrient dense foods and lots of good anti inflammatory omega 3 rich fats, Autoimmune disease can be put into remission without the use of harmful drugs.

 

I began to get well very quickly in fact. I improved hugely and felt like I was getting my life back. I was also so angry that I might have been able to stop the progression of so many of the other AI disease I had, had I only know when I was younger the important role of diet and lifestyle factors involved in healing from AI disease. Unfortunately so many doctors still just hand out the prescription for Eltroxin ( and any other drugs) and send you on your way. I then successfully reintroduced eggs, nuts and nightshades.

 

Only a few months later unfortunately, my husband was out of work and we had to leave my beloved Cape Town behind and return to Johannesburg. I had a major setback with my health and my disease began to flare again, specifically my thyroid. I had many hormonal ups and downs and my health spiraled downward.

 

I had come so far so the drop back felt even more drastic, like a mineshaft depositing me in the depths of the earth. I felt very despondent as my health had been so good and now it felt like it had just gone backward.

 

Despite eating so well, I was so sick. I had utter exhaustion, depression, anxiety, frequent headaches, backache, constant diarrhea and unremitting brain fog. I just felt like I was back at square one. I went back to strict AIP again hoping for some answers.

 

The Paleo Mom, aka Sarah Ballantyne wrote a wonderful post about her recent setbacks in her health. She really inspired me. It had been hard for me talk about how ill I have been. Many readers expect us bloggers to be in perfect health, seeing as though we are advocating all these wonderful ways to get well but as you all know, this is all part of the journey and maybe it helps some of you, who aren’t feeling well to know you aren’t alone out there!

 

Towards the end of last year, I decided I needed to find a Functional Medicine Practitioner. After lots of searching, I finally found the right doctor. Unfortunately so many of these tests are so expensive and a lot of them are sent overseas, and we have to pay in Pounds or Dollars, so with the current Rand exchange rate, it is very tough, never mind not covered by medial aid.

So I have been having tests done gradually. First thing I did, was I had stool tests sent overseas.

I waited impatiently for the results for weeks. The gut is one of the most important things in regaining health, so that was the first place to start.

The first thing it showed was that I had an e-Coli bacterial infection (the bad kind) in my gut. She treated me for that and I felt a million times better. I also had virtually no good bacteria in my gut, so I was given high doses of specific Probiotics. ( despite being on a probiotic supplement by the way, but it wasn’t the right bacteria)

I am also taking high doses of Salmon oil, which contains Omega 3, a very powerful anti-inflammatory. My stomach started to improve immensely but I knew that my thyroid was still a problem.

Then in January of this year I finally had thyroid tests done. One of the tests I had read over and over about on websites and blogs from the who’s who in the Thyroid community, especially Hypothyroid Mom and Isabella Wenz, Thyroid Pharmacist, was the importance of checking reverse T3. Not to go into a whole long explanation here, but if these levels are high, it can indicate that you are not converting the inactive T4 hormone (the stuff in Eltroxin), into the active T3, which gets into your cells. Instead it is converting to Reverse T3, which not only is inactive, but also actually blocks the active T3 from working.

 

So my doctor tested it and my levels are very high! It is unfortunately not the standard test done by Endocrinologists and in fact they aren’t even trained in how to interpret them. So at least finally I have had that tested!

 

So despite being on Eltroxin for 17 years, I have not had enough of the active hormone in my cells. It is akin to insulin resistance as an analogy, but instead with thyroid hormone. The high levels show not enough active hormone is getting into my cells, which is why I have still be symptomatic all these years!

 

I am now taking Thyroid S, a natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) that is more naturally absorbed in the body and contains T3 and T4. Also my doctor is also trying to figure out why my revers T3 is so high! So that’s the next step. That’s the great part about Functional Medicine Practitioners they always are looking for answers to why.

 

Funnily enough The Paleo Mom was just recently diagnosed with Hashimotos ( see her post here) after years of trying to figure out her health issues and is on Armour, which is also a natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) supplement. So her and I virtually started ours at the same time!

It has been a month since I started the Thyroid –S. I felt terrible to begin with and not well but then it feels like it literally kicked in a few days ago! All of sudden, I did not need to go lie down and sleep in the afternoon; a huge achievement for me as it had been impossible for me to get through the day before without an afternoon nap! Now I’m feeling just more on an even keel and my brain fog had eased, even enough for me to write this blog post! :)

 

I also had a salivary cortisol test done and my doctor plotted it on a graph for me. It should be up in the morning and then gradually go down in the day and then be low at night to help you sleep. Mine rises excessively in the early morning and then drops sharply mid day and plummets for the rest of the day. So that blood test my doctor had done previously was pointless, as it never show what my cortisol actually does throughout the day.

 

So finally I have explanation for me extreme daytime fatigue and mood issues and difficulty in handling stress. I’m on a Chinese Herbal combination now help me with that. Also I am low in Zinc and so have been put on a Zinc supplement. I am also working hard on reducing my stress levels, with meditation, more walking and some yoga and trying to find more ways to be social.

 

I also want to emphasize, please don’t get me wrong; I don’t think for one minute that the AIP diet is not the right thing. I think it is the perfect thing to overcome and heal from AI diseases. I do think that sometimes we all need to find someone to help us find the missing pieces of the puzzle. I hope that now I am finally starting to find mine. I also just want to reiterate, that I no stage did I waver from following this way of eating and have never ‘cheated’. A term I hate as those of us with these diseases, especially Celiac, know that that is never even an option! I seem to have no problem with nightshades, cocoa, and seed based spices, but haven’t trying reintroducing eggs or nuts again until I am feeling a lot better and my thyroid and adrenals have normalised.

 

I am still very busy writing my memoir about my journey with Auto-immune disease as I think it is so important for people to realise the importance of self empowerment; of becoming your own health advocate in an effort to get well. Only when I made the decision to educate myself did I find the right path to get healthy.

I am busy writing my story and I don’t always do long blog posts, but please follow me on Facebook, where I tend to post a lot.

 

Wishing you all Good Health!

 

Yael

 

Here is a picture of the graph showing my cortisol levels

 

graph

To a new future in 2015!

For a lot of people 2014 has been a very tough year. I know that for myself, it has probably been the most difficult and trying year I have ever experienced.

Illness,hospitals, job loss, unemployment, moving cities,more illness and loss.

I know that as difficult as it had been, I am so grateful to be able to look back at it and find the positives in it all. It is not always easy to do that. In fact while you are going through the traumas, it’s almost impossible to see why things have happened, or how you can see the positive in it, you are just trying to survive it and weather the storm.

Now I can look back and say this year I might have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, but it was also the year I discovered the Auto Immune Paleo Lifestyle and diet. That changed my life. Not only is it treating my MS, but also my other Auto Immune diseases, Celiac and Hashmitos and my Fibromyalgia. It is something that is treated my whole body. I can honestly say through all the ups and downs, and there have been plenty downs, I have had intense moments of knowing this is the healthiest I have ever been in my life.

There is still a long way to go, but at least I’m on the right bus.

I have also finally found a great Functional Medicine Practitioner, who is helping me to get to the bottom of so many unresolved issues. That is a huge positive that I am grateful for. The doctor is in Jo’burg, in the city I didn’t want to come to!

Also, although we had to leave our beloved Cape Town, my husband has a great job now, and is working for a fantastic company. We have the support of our family and friends here, which also really helps. I have also met with fellow AIP followers here. We might be a small group now, but I think this way of eating and living is the future of health and that as more and more people discover it, there will be an even larger community, especially here in South Africa. It has been great to interact with so many Facebook, Twitter and other followers on my blog who share this passion for health. I know that we all have had tough times, but I am grateful that we have met through this journey.

For anyone considering trying out the Paleo diet and the Auto Immune Protocol in 2015, I can’t recommend it highly enough! If you have any questions be sure to contact me for help.

I wish everyone all the best for a wonderful 2015! I think this year is going to be a major turning point on all levels for all people, so let’s celebrate!!

Happy New Year!2015

Back to Basics

The thing with Auto Immune disease is that unlike lots of other illness there is no cure. Even the Paleo Approach is no cure and has never claimed to be. Sometimes life throws you curve balls even when you are following the diet incredibly strictly. There many things that are out of our control and those things unfortunately can be triggers for Auto-immune disease flare ups or just not feeling well.

I know my one trigger has been way too many anti-inflammatories, which I had no choice but to take for a short period a few weeks ago.  I know that stress is another and I went through a very stressful time for a few weeks as well.  ( I haven’t written about that yet, but when I feel I am able, I will write about that too).

This has been an incredible roller-coaster of a year with lots of ups and downs. I cannot even pin point which of my many diseases I am having a flare- up of , but something isn’t right. It might not even be a flare up of a specific disease but more a cascade of symptoms brought on by a leaky gut flare up. I am tired, and getting frequent headaches, sore shoulders and aching legs when I go to bed at night and an eczema flare up on the palms of my hands  for which I still cannot figure out the cause! I know that my hormone levels are not right and something is out of whack there. So it’s time to go back to basics. I had moved on from the very restrictive AIP and had reintroduced nightshades and nuts and spices with no problem, but that was when I was feeling good and my gut was healing.

Now its time to start again and go back. I am back at the stage where if I eat anything now it might trigger a reaction. Like I had some liver, which is so good for me the other night and had diarrhoea an hour later. I eat oranges and my hands itch or wait was it the coconut milk I had in my tea? I’ve got to that crazy stage where so many things cause triggers, that I might go insane. So I have to go back to AIP. The hardest thing for me is eggs. The first time I did this, eggs were the last to be eliminated and the first to be reintroduced, they are a staple food for me. I still haven’t found a doctor or anyone who can test me for sensitivities, so I have to do things the old fashioned way.

As I’ve said before this is daily work and I will keep at it until I feel just as good as I did at the beginning of this year! I know that I can and will take each day a step at a time.

5 Year Anniversary of Celiac Diagnosis!

It’s hard to believe that it has been exactly 5 years since my diagnosis with Celiac Disease. It took so long for me to get a name for what was wrong with me. It was with a combination of sadness but also intense relief at knowing that yes there was actually something wrong with me. My years of struggling with this illness that had no explanation, was real!

I had got so used to being sick! Isn’t that a scary thought? But when you live with chronic disease, that is what so often happens. I got used to always having stomach problems, always having ‘gastro bugs’, always having headaches, body aches and pains, weird reactions to things, heightened sensitivities, anxiety, depression, extreme fatigue, constant low iron, constant low grade nausea and constant acid reflux. I think I had started to believe it was actually just a part of my personality. I believed it was who I was, or who I was destined to always be.

Thanks to a new GP, who wasn’t happy with my very low thyroid function and virtually non-existent iron levels, she decided to send me to a Haematologist. She was the first doctor in 20 years, who decided to test me for the anti-bodies to Gliadin (gluten). I had been to every specialist under the sun, but they NEVER thought to check for Celiac, even though I fitted EVERY symptom on the list!!

My tests came back positive. I had very high levels of anti bodies. I was booked in for an endoscope the next day. The biopsy showed clear Celiac disease in my duodenum. I was told to follow a gluten free diet for life and was sent on my way….

Five years down the line I know so much more. I know that I need to be Paleo, ie completely grain free, legume, pulses and dairy free as they all cross react with gluten (my body can’t tell the difference between them and gluten so react the same way).

I also know there is no cure and that to heal from Auto Immune disease is DAILY work! Just eating well is not enough. I need to get enough sleep, control my stress, make sure I get enough nutrients, exercise and know that at times things might not always go according to plan, as this way of living is a way of managing a disease.

One of the things I have discovered in all this time, is the common thread running through most people’s diagnosis stories: the LENGTH of time it took to get a diagnosis. On average at least 10 years!!! If I can do anything out there it’s to make more people aware of this disease so they can get a diagnosis sooner and get well ASAP!

I started this blog 5 years ago, soon after I was diagnosed as there was so little information out there and there was so little knowledge and awareness in South Africa. Now virtually everybody knows what gluten free is, back then I got a lot of “WHAT?” “HUH’S”??

I’ve shared recipes and restaurant locations that serve gluten free food and I have loved hearing from people telling me their own discoveries and from overseas visitors requesting help with where to source local gluten free food. I have also enjoyed meeting with people who have Celiac who contact me via the blog and are so excited to find someone else who knows exactly what he or she are going through. It’s our own support group, so please feel free to share this page and join my Facebook page too. Let’s keep sharing and keep each other supported on our health journey!

Paleo Orange and Coconut Cupcakes

So the winter weather has finally set in and there in an abundant supply of beautiful fragrant oranges around. I am not the biggest fan of orange and chocolate, though I know that using any fruit in Paleo baking helps with the moisture content.

 

I also used only Coconut flour in this recipe, because firstly I have run out of Almond flour, as have all the shops around. There is obviously a surge in Paleo baking and retailers cannot keep up with the demand!

Secondly I wanted to try my hand at only using coconut flour to see the difference in textures. I have learnt by trial and error that coconut flour absorbs a lot of liquid so if you use too much, it will be very dry, but also a little goes a long way and with the expense of these high protein flours, that is a great bonus. These muffins, only take ½ cup of flour.

So these are my coconut and orange muffin/cupcakes.  I used coconut milk in them and you could ice them, that is the only reason they could be called cupcakes. I still haven’t learnt how to make icing yet. That will have to be another work in progress.  I’m calling it a cupcake, but call it whatever you want, they taste lovely, light, fluffy and yummy.

 

Paleo coconut and orange cupcakes

Preheat your oven to 180C and line a muffin tin, with cupcake liner.

 

In a bowl combine:

1/2 cup fine coconut flour, sifted

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

½ tsp salt

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Zest of one orange

In a separate bowl, whisk together:

4 eggs

5 T honey

1T coconut oil melted

Juice from 1 orange

2 T coconut milk

 

Mix dry ingredients into wet to combine.

Pour into the muffin and bake for 30 min, until a toothpick comes out cleanly.

image

 

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