I have Lyme. I’d like to not have it anymore. I also just want cake.
FIRST of all. Thanks so much for all the supportive messages in response to my last post! I was just waiting to see the friends I’d make once I stepped off the antibiotics train… hee hee.
I promise the chip on my shoulder towards that anti-antibiotic crowd will go away in time. But only for *my* healing, not to be nice.
Annnnnyways. So, many have asked what I’m doing. They want deets. And I do have deets to give. And also beets. In fact most of you wanted the deets on the beets. Or what I’m eating these these days. Mmmm beets. Which brings me to the primary thing I’ve been doing since stopping antibiotics. Let’s just dive in. This is likely going to be more than you asked for. Because I am a chronic over-sharer.
Massive. Diet. Overhaul.
It really just came to me in an instant December 30th, 2017… “go plant-based“. And so I did. That day was the last day I ate meat or dairy or eggs or butter (two exceptions… I ate fish twice back in Jan because Texas Roadhouse is no place for a vegan). It was the smoothest diet transition mentally and emotionally for me ever. I didn’t dread it once. I was just like, ok I’m doing this. And I did it. That’s not to say I jumped in willy nilly, I did research this. I had thought about it a bit in the month’s prior and was growing curious about how to do it right. So when the day came I was ready.
Previous to this, I had been a multi-year low-carb activist, really. I went low-carb in 2010 for fitness purposes. I wanted a 6-pack. It worked… it worked really well combined with the weight-lifting and yoga I loved so much. I mean there’s no denying low carb works for a while in many respects. I remember leaving a lunch I had made for work in the fridge at home once and receiving a text from my brother asking why I was eating like a bird. Protein, fat, and vegetables like celery or carrot sticks were my jam. It was over 1,000 calories, but I could have held it in the palm of my hand. I did juice like crazy during this time and so I got that part right at least. I had amazing energy which I attribute to my fitness (and likely the adrenaline state it caused when combined with long-term low carb). I believed I was *so* healthy. Carbs were literally poison. And over the years I began to denounce carbs for other reasons than maintaining a healthy weight. They spiked blood sugar, contributed to insulin resistance, grains were bad and ruined your gut, etc etc. I was verbal about my belief against carbs.
When I got sick, I cut out gluten and sugar. Which wasn’t hard because I was already used to low carb. That made a tremendous difference in my symptoms and thank goodness for it. Since then, I’ve tried various diets in an attempt to improve my health. I eliminated dairy for a while, I moved to grass-fed meats, then I added back raw milk and even wrote a post about it. I tried GAPS, I tried Keto (never, ever again), I ate a TON of fat to compensate for low-carb and the general trend I followed for the last several years has been Paleo-like. The longer I adhered to this diet the MORE I actually started to struggle with metabolic issues and would experience uncomfortable symptoms if I did eat carbs (tachycardia, chest discomfort, anxiety). Really, the only thing left to try was plant-based, I was just a very committed meat lover who’s favorite thing was BBQ ribs and street tacos and vegan seemed incredibly extreme. But being that I was so used to experimenting, was so used to abstaining, and so used to giving up foods I loved, once I decided I was going to do it, the transition felt effortless. And frankly, nothing has made a more dramatic influence for good than this experiment.
Since Dec 31st, my diet has consisted of predominantly organic vegetables, fruits, legumes, and occasional white rice or quinoa. I’ve dramatically reduced the amount of fat and protein I eat and I dramatically upped the amount of carbs I eat.
On any given day my fridge is pretty green. This pic was from back in Feb… I’ve transitioned to even more greens now. The few animal products you see are the hub’s. My main goal was to give my liver a break, re-feed my cells the glucose I’d been depriving them, give my brain all those good serotonin precursors found in healthy carbs, detox, and reduce inflammation. I had very little expectations other than I knew in some way, this would help me. I’ve done hours and hours of research since and have found the few arguments used and cited to implant the idea of “risk” in people’s minds when considering a switch to a plant based diet used examples of people who relied heavily on wheat, cereal, and fake cheeses and meats for the bulk of their calories instead of actual plant-based whole foods. The benefits of a plant-based diet are well documented (I’ll throw some links that I personally found convincing at the end for those interested), and perhaps if I wasn’t so compromised physically I wouldn’t be moved to make such a change, but again, I just felt my body asking for this. And this is my cue bullet list of why’s:
In general, my goal was a giant clean out session. I want to be clear, I didn’t intend to go low-protein, I believe protein is still important. But I also believe we, especially Americans, have come to worship muscle and bulk over health and we eat far more protein than is necessary. I could write an entire article about how unhealthy I think so many of the fitness enthusiasts are drinking their whey protein shakes and taking mirror selfies at the gym because as a society we consider physique to be a sign of health. But I won’t… because it will seriously implicate previous me.
I base my day around the following goals: detox (from bacterial toxins, ammonia, medication, heavy metals, other pathogens, excess fat in my liver), organ rest/restoration, non-supplement nutrient restoration, and rebuilding my gut. To do this, I implemented the following:
Juice every day (unless traveling).
This grows tedious fast, I know. But I’m being a drill sergeant about it to myself. The first thing I do every morning right after waking is sip warm lemon water while I juice to get the night’s sludge moving out of my system. I make 2-4 juices for the day (32-64 oz per day) with a Greenstar juicer. I also dilute some of the juices (green and carrot/beet one) so it is half water. I do not want so many minerals assaulting my kidneys at once. I don’t know if this matters, but my juicer gets ridiculous mineral build-up so fast and one day I wondered if my kidneys appreciated this… (plus I also did read once that one perfectly healthy man incurred kidney damage from the juices doing the Gerson protocol, so… being that I am juicing a LOT, I play safe over sorry). My usual juice go-to’s are below:
a) Entire head of celery + thumb of ginger. This makes 16oz. I drink this on an empty stomach right after the lemon water before breakfast. I have found this one drink to be my most essential of the day and has made a noticeable difference from day 1, but effects grow with consistent use. (Why you should get your celery juice on). Enjoy the weird looks you’ll get at checkout when you drop 7 heads of celery on the conveyor belt.
b) Green juice consisting of mostly herbs (herbs stimulate detox organs). Typically handfuls of parsley, cilantro, fennel, and basil combined with green apple, more ginger, a lemon, and some sort of non-cruciferous green like romaine (to avoid extra high doses of oxalic acids and goitrogens).
c) Five carrots, one beet, one blood orange. Carrots and beets are excellent liver and bowel cleansers, and the blood orange is simply because I love the taste it gives. I consider this my “treat” juice. Cara Cara oranges are also basically amazing whoever bred them deserves humanity’s finest accolade.
d) Pure cucumber. I love this juice as the taste is light and fresh, is lovely with ice, and cucumbers are high in silica which is great for hair, skin, nails, and healing your gut.
e) Pure purple cabbage. Excellent for gut health. You can choose to ferment it by leaving it out with some sea salt and covered with a cloth for a few days before refrigerating or just drink it fresh from the juicer if “cabbage juice” sounds revolting enough alone without the idea of it growing bacteria.
Become a serious smoothie snob.
Smoothies are an excellent way to get in a dense shot of nutrients pre-digested to allow less stress on your system. I started buying bananas by the pound and I freeze them to make my base. From there I bought glass jars and have stored all of my smoothie add-ins in them and put them in the freezer to keep them fresh. I typically do not add any additional fruit (other than wild blueberries/bilberries because they have fantastic effects on the body) but will add coconut milk, cilantro (I am so obsessed) and occasionally small amounts of nut butter like peanut, almond, or tahini. My add-ins are as follows:
In place of all that animal fat and protein I cut out as I abandoned the almighty paleo way, I decided to bulk up my vegetables with healthy, fibrous, and nutrient dense carbs. The way nature intended carbs to be. In fact, you’ll be amazed at how much delicious happy, healthy carbs you can handle without gaining weight when you cut out all the excess animal products. I mean I was right all those years to shun processed modern day carbs… the waffle mixes and potato chips and cereals and white breads and etc. Our bodies are just simply not designed to receive a blunt hit of sugar to its system. But natural carbs… carbs from the ground is the perfect system I had been ignoring for so long. I completely believe 8+ years of low carb had starved my cells and made my mitochondria weak. When you choose plant-based carbohydrates, the sugars are bound to the fiber and other nutrients which requires the body to extract them. This ensures an appropriate flow of glucose to the system (aka not too much, not too little). Multiple studies show that when nutrients and even water is extracted from foods during digestion our bodies utilize them more as opposed to just a vitamin or even a glass of water, the majority of which ends up going right through you. In fact if a person “eats” 8 oz of water, say through watermelon, and another drinks 8 oz of water from a glass, the first will retain more of that water for physiological functioning (chemistry level functioning). Plant based carbs also contain the nutrients in them to make their glucose anti-inflammatory. The main source for my everyday carbs are as follows:
Shed my protein myths.
Guys, we don’t need nearly as much protein as we’re eating, and it’s taxing your system. I’ve cut my protein intake in half, from around 90-100 grams to about 50. I’ve experienced zero muscle wasting. I mean think about it… think back to when you were experiencing your biggest growth period where you were doubling your weight over months and growing all sorts of muscle, bone, and tissue, aka the first year of your life. Human breastmilk has just 2.5 grams of protein per cup. That represents about 15% of a child’s diet. Human breast milk has the lowest levels of fat and protein and the highest carbohydrate content than any other mammal. Even if a breastfeeding woman loads up on protein, her body will not increase the amount found in her milk, it will limit that protein from getting any higher (source). Now, of course babies are not adults, so jump to another study which found only a few – very few – protein calories are needed to support rapid muscle growth. The protein content of muscle is 16.4%, so adding 26 pounds of muscle per year requires only 5 grams of protein per day. That would be 5 grams above your normal requirements, of course. Also, the “complete protein” mantra is also false. Your body does not need all of its amino acids given in one setting. You don’t need to feed your body the entire assembled wall, it just needs the individual bricks. It’s going to break down that wall anyways if you eat it. This is a great analogy to describe animal protein vs. plant protein. It’s kind of crazy how infiltrated the dairy and meat industries have gotten into our nutrition education. If you break down all of these dietary guidelines we’ve been fed you really have to wonder how our ancestors ever survived without a food pyramid. That was hard to type while eye-rolling. Of course they want you to think you need their product. But you need meat for protein about as much as you need milk for calcium. So…
Here’s where I’m getting my protein (currently not eating soy, but not opposed to tofu here and there in a stir fry or miso soup):
There is a lot of legume hate going around and it is, in my opinion, shameful. Poor legumes. They are so nutritious and when combined with vegetables and fruits contain everything the body needs to grow, sustain, and regenerate. There was never a malnourished vegan who ate legumes. The main issue people take with legumes is 1) they can cause embarrassing digestive issues, and 2) contain phytic acid, touted as the “antinutrient” that prevents absorption of other nutrients. The answer to both problems is found in going back to how humankind has always prepared legumes for generations on generations and that is soaking. Soaking dry legumes for 24 hours and then cooking breaks down the phytic acid as well as renders the fibers more easily digestible. Many legumes, grains, and seeds contain phytic acid as a way to survive the GI tract of birds and animals as they are eaten so they can still sprout and grow when the animal eliminates them. It is nature’s way of sustaining the continuation of the plants, or your food source. Ignoring the amazing benefits of something like legumes simply because of phytic acid is like saying we shouldn’t eat oranges because they contain a protective peel. Prepare legumes correctly like you do with every other food item that requires a little prep.
Stop being lazy and get back in to binders.
Every afternoon between lunch and dinner I take a heavy duty binder like Zeolite, Bentonite, chlorella, or activated charcoal. I really want to try Silica-based Enterosgel… I hear great things… it’s going in the Amazon cart soon. But once you start freeing up the liver and kidneys to start doing things, you are going to need to usher those toxins out. Being plant-based is naturally going to do this constantly as your fiber intake will soar and provide natural binding of toxins all day and night long (again, how nature intended). But for the first year off abx I plan to do some serious detox, so binders it is.
Drastically reduce supplements, take only the NECESSARY ones.
So, supplements are great. But in general, I don’t believe that the right combo of supplements will do more for one’s health than the right diet (however in the absence of certain dietary options supplements are of course necessary). I also believe that supplements can be just as hard on the liver as many medications… it’s just another high dose shot of something to process. What’s normal is to get small doses of magnesium throughout the day. What isn’t normal is to take several hundred milligrams all at once. You get me? I have eliminated most of my supplements since starting a plant-based diet and I feel GREAT about it. SO FREE.
That being said, there are certain nutrients that are low in a modern-day plant based diet. Vitamin b12, for example, is naturally produced by bacteria in the soil and was breathed in by our ancestors as they worked the land. Inhaling b12 is actually a very superior way to get the vitamin (do NOT snort a b12 tablet). But we just don’t grow our own food anymore nor would we spend several hours a day in the dirt. Supplementing b12 on a plant based diet in today’s world is just common sense.
Other nutrients that are lacking in a modern-day plant based diet is iodine, zinc, and in some cases where nuts and seeds are avoided, selenium. This is largely due to nutrient depletion in over-farmed soil. It’s not possible for most of us to buy locally grown farmer’s market glorious produce year round. It is also important to up your essential omega fatty acids when going plant-based. Vitamin A deficiencies have been found in junk food vegans, so honestly just be an adult and eat the orange things ok? For others, extracting iron from plant sources is more difficult so some need extra iron or they need to make sure they are eating plenty of real food and not vegan junk food. A couple servings of dark leafy greens, legumes, and a handful of dried apricots and some spirulina a day will keep your iron plenty healthy. My current supplements:
B12 drops. I like this brand because it contains two forms of b12 which my body seems to work best with.
Iron. I take this brand because it is gentle. Ordinarily I wouldn’t take iron, but my ferritin stores started dropping before I even cut out meat so this is something I need to take until I get my levels get back up.
L-Lysine. When combined with lysine, ferritin storage is dramatically increased when supplementing iron as lysine is an iron transporter. Lysine is also great for viruses so win-win.
Zinc. Nothing too crazy, just some zinc.
EPA and DHA fatty acids. So, I have something to say about this one. I don’t skimp on my fish oil, and the main reason is because I want a mercury free product and I want a high dose product. In other words I don’t want to have to eat 10 grams of fat in order to get 300 mg of EPA or DHA. I am also tapering off Trileptal and Klonopin and want to feed my brain as best as I can. I also want to support brain health and healing as I try and bounce back from the havoc that was wreaked in my brain and CNS. I take this and this both every day at separate times. I really feel like it’s helped my brain to balance, as evidenced by rebounding quicker after each taper and subsequent withdrawal process.
Nascent Iodine. I may try a different kind when I’m done with this bottle, but I got this a while ago and might as well use it up.
Acetyl L Carnitine. I’ve been low in this for years and have had to supplement. Sidenote, a lot of the “normal” parameters for all of our blood tests were largely developed by sampling a large healthy population in the mid-late 1900s and making their averages the “healthy range”. What we aren’t taking into consideration is that this was a time where protein intake (thus amino acid intake) was high, everything was fortified with vitamin D and other vitamins (such as milk or Cheerios), and we have no idea if these skewed the results. I mean, likely? When indigenous tribes or rural areas of say, India, are tested, the Vit D levels are always “low”, and many nutrients like carnitine are as well. Yet they are healthy. I’m not sure my low carnitine is clinically relevant and I have many, oh so many questions about what IS an actual healthy and appropriate vitamin D level…
BCAA’s. These are just the amino acids the body does not make itself. I do not take them every day, but here and there.
That’s it. That’s my mainstay. The supplements I have left over I will slowly finish up, but I take them once or twice a week instead of every day now and purely just to get them empty and out of my cabinet. These are things like Magnesium malate, CoQ10, Vitamin C, B vitamins, and such. Really, when eating a true, actual plant based diet without the junky marketed vegan foods or tons of granola bars, you are going to get far more than your RDA in the vast majority of vitamins.
Stop shampooing, grow dreads, and obtain crystals
No, but funny right?
TARGETED THERAPIES AGAINST PATHOGENS
Initially I was not going to worry about antimicrobials. And in a Lyme sense, I’m not. But around February I felt I needed to focus on parasites as I’ve been a known reactor to pharma anti-parasitics. I had this parasite cleanse lying around so I decided to start it at the end of Feb. I’ve got plans to really go after parasites for the next few months. (that was a warning to my parasites, if they’re reading)
I’m also doing a few things for viruses including the lysine, raw garlic, olive leaf extract, and manuka honey (ok two things that make me officially not vegan). I feel confident that once my system is more clear my various viral loads will begin to lower.
WHAT I EAT IN A DAY EXAMPLES
(Answering the “so what, you eat salads?” question)
Pre-breakfast: 8 oz lemon water and 16 oz of fresh organic celery/ginger juice
Breakfast option 1: Nutrient dense smoothie bowl. (See my instagram worthy pic)
Breakfast option 2: Organic steel-cut oats with chopped mango and papaya, ground flax, hemp seeds, and coconut milk.
Snack: Green juice
Lunch option 1: Sandwich wrap (typically mushed lentils, beans, or chickpeas mixed with lemon juice and herbs/seasoning, various chopped greens like purple kale, rainbow chard, butter lettuce, sprouts, cucumber, shredded carrots, beets, and daikon radish, herbs like fresh dill or cilantro, a garlic-lime tahini dressing, and my latest favorite thing to do to make them a little more filling is spread warm cooked sweet potato inside a gluten free wrap before rolling everything up in it…. like, SO good.
Lunch option 2: Giant salad with various lettuces, dark greens, cooked and then cooled cruciferous veggies, mushrooms, shredded cucumber/radish/beet/parsnip/turnip/squash (whatever is in my fridge gets shredded and thrown in) with maybe some avocado or cooked quinoa or beans that’s been sitting in the fridge and a tahini dressing. I use tahini in a 1:1 ratio with water as a dressing for most things as I am avoiding all oils for now. This isn’t the puny salad you get before your entree, this is a meal and leaves me feeling full for hours.
Afternoon snack: piece of fruit, Bobo’s organic peach oat bar (my current crack cocaine addiction but I’m working on limiting them to just a few a week). I will also drink another juice around this time.
Dinner option 1: lentil pasta with raw zucchini, mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and lightly steamed collards or kale and spaghetti sauce. (see pic)
Dinner option 2: plant-based tacos or quesadillas. Saute peppers, onions, garlic, greens, anything that can slice lengthwise and soften in a simple saute with cumin and chili powder (I use veggie broth to saute), throw in corn tortillas with beans, avocado, lime, and salsa and you have my new comfort food. To make quesadillas I use lard-free refried beans in place of cheese so it sticks together (I’m sorry but fake vegan cheeses and meats just make me want to vom nor do I think they are healthy), and then I throw peppers, veggies, whatever on top of the refried beans and use corn tortillas. Corn tortillas aren’t my favorite thing to be eating, I know they aren’t super healthy, but I can’t say goodbye to mexican food I can’t.
Dinner option 3: Vegan chili with lentils in place of the meat.
Dinner option 4: Soups consisting of vegetable broth and usually root veggies (celery root, turnip, parsnip, carrot, potato, beets) with leeks, mushrooms, garlic, kale or collards, lots of dried herbs, and some type of bean, usually white or navy beans, or split peas.
Dinner option 5: Mediterranean bowl or wrap stuffed with greek salad, sprouts, and falafel, copious amounts of dill and cashew or tahini based tatzhiki… can I just move to Greece already.
Before bed: last juice of the day, or a piece of fruit.
*The only standards I follow is no oils and eat raw about half of the time. Enzymes are an extremely important part of our physiological functioning, they start and stop every process in the body. If you are short on enzymes, things just won’t function well. Cooking naturally destroys enzymes, so making sure I have ample raw foods is important. Obvi, no animal products aside from bone broth.
WHAT I DIDN’T WANT TO DO
Become “vegan”. Right? Like you know what I mean…
I just have no place in my life for a diet to become an identity for me. Nor could I tolerate myself if I had to bring it up to everyone or find ways to make smoothie bowls into unicorn colors and place flowers on them for social media pics. I saw a post on a vegan account on Instagram the other day where someone had carved out of zucchini tiny letters to spell “What will you do with your day” and my first thought was definitely not spend 4 hours carving letters out of squash to emphasize I live in a world enveloped with my food. And this is how I have seen far too many vegans as (no shade to you lovely quiet vegans going about life reserving your judgement). While I wanted to strictly adhere within my parameters (allowing bone broth) for minimum three months to truly decipher the effects, it’s important for me long term to allow my diet to remain fluid depending on my needs, physical as well as emotional.
I don’t think eating meat is wrong and won’t judge you for it. Am I committing to eating it at least sparingly for the rest of my life? Yes. Personal choice based on my beliefs on health. I’m sure there are some BBQ ribs in my future. And I tell you what, some of the most vicious food bullying (really, how ridiculous, food bullying) has been at the hands of vegans. I do not want my diet to become a big deal in my life, but I do intend to stay plant-based for as long as I reap such quantifiable benefits from it. I’m doing this 100% because I’m listening to my body right now. I eat a plant-based diet. Which is true. But I am not vegan. Vegans consider me fake and meat-eaters consider me extreme and deprived. Wow see, I’ve found a way to bring scorn from carnivores AND vegans alike, har har!
I also did not want to become a “raw foodie”. While raw is great, 100% raw is not (in my opinion) sustainable long-term. In fact it can be harmful and suppress the thyroid. I’m sure a raw foodie will correct me on that. But the sheer volume of food I would have to eat on a daily basis to meet my caloric needs would have me chewing until I physically could not chew anymore. Like, ok yes cows are big muscly creatures that live off grass but have you seen cows? Do they do anything else but eat? I got things to do. A raw diet would also require me to drastically up my fruit intake and while I hope to eventually, I don’t ever see a healthy reason to pound 5 bananas, which I would only ever do if I was about to run a marathon. Cooked food is important to digestion for many, it’s important for calories, it’s important to human nature as social creatures who bond and gather around food and have for millennia, it’s important for people who don’t have 3 hours to devote to every meal and cooked food is important in colder weather climates. I can only have so many smoothie bowls while watching the snow fall outside my drafty window.
So, essentially, this is it. As I’ve said, I’ve noticed immediate benefits and they keep compounding. I plan to write an update post at the end of March (90-day mark) with deets (minus the beets) on what plant-based eating has done… the good, bad, ugly, the physical, physiological, the emotional, the lab proof and the anecdotal proof, the personal AND the social effects, the parasite cleansing and of course… the triumph! In the meantime, I served you links below my mug.
Werkin on that “vegan” glow ya’ll.
Plant-based diet increases telomere length in humans (marker for aging and premature death)