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Surprising Finds from an Elimination Diet (long)
Old 09-02-2015, 02:25 PM   #1
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Surprising Finds from an Elimination Diet (long)

I have been on an elimination diet over two months now. My doctor thinks my thyroid autoimmune disease could be due to food intolerances and advised me to take this step. He believes that many autoimmune diseases are related and usually linked to gut health, so he has put me on a path for healing the gut. He mentioned ďleaky gutĒ. Iím thinking, what? People who suffer from IBS or other issues like celiac or Chronís disease may be familiar with these terms.

This elimination diet is a rather strict one, prescribed by the AL-CAT test. The AL-CAT test is a food sensitivity test that exposes your blood to up to 200 foods and some environmental chemicals and measures your immune response. It is not testing for allergies, but rather for food intolerances, which is much milder than allergies.

Itís very strict - foods that you usually eat often - 3 or more times a week - that you show some intolerance for need to be eliminated for a period of 90 to 180 days, depending on the degree of intolerance. In addition, you go on a rotation diet of the ďOKĒ foods where you donít eat the same thing every day and most foods you only eat every 4 days.

The theory is that you can get past most food intolerances by taking a break for 3 or 6 months, depending on how strong your reaction is to the food, and then reintroducing the food to see how your system handles it. If your body is not exposed to the food for a long enough time, it stops making the antigen to it.

You canít eat out. You have to prepare all your own foods - mainly from scratch. Even the cooking oils you use have to be rotated. I have several foods that I am intolerant too - like barley/malt, for example - that show up insidiously as an additive in many processed foods (caramel color, for example). There are only certain spices I can use. So Iíve been a slave to the kitchen, and thank goodness I'm a fairly experienced cook, because I am definitely working with a limited palette!!!

I general, I am currently dairy, soy and gluten free, as well as a smattering of other foods. I think it likely that dairy could be the main culprit. I noticed some digestive changes immediately from stopping dairy, and maybe coffee as well.

Results so far - there has been an improvement in my thyroid numbers so far, some by as much as 20%. Itís small, but significant as this is the my fourth full T-panel in 16 months, but the only one that has shown any improvement.

My digestive system does feel ďcalmerĒ - itís hard to quantify better than that. But it does feel like there is some ďgut healingĒ going on. I keep a food journal to note what I am eating every day, any foods that seem to cause me digestive problems, keep track of food rotations, etc.

But there have been many other surprises. After only a few weeks I noticed that my knees didnít bother me nearly as much as they usually do. Dairy is often a culprit in joint pain.

Last night I was reviewing some notes from 2012 where I was exercising about at the same level. And I noticed that I often made notes about muscles soreness in 2012. Well, I have not experienced muscle soreness in the past couple of months - zippo, nada. And I have been increasing weights some, doing a few more strenuous things, etc., compared to a few months ago. Normally this would cause muscle soreness and fatigue.

And, I have lost almost 10 pounds since starting the diet. I had lost 5 before starting the diet, mainly due increasing my activity level in Feb. But these last pounds are under a weight that I have not able to break under since before 2008 - a very stubborn weight threshold. I thought that meanít thyroid function had improved more than the blood test results - and maybe it has, it just hasnít shown up yet. Hypothyroidism can make it really hard to lose weight.

I havenít been counting calories at all. I did notice that I didnít feel the urges to snack that I sometimes had before. This diet is probably slightly higher carb with the elimination of dairy. Also, the grain carbs I can eat - corn, rice - are higher GI starches. I also eat plenty of fruit. But no added sugar. I eat plenty of nuts and oils - as much as I want.

My blood pressure has dropped steadily all year - this corresponds directly to the weight loss. Itís lower now that it has been since I started tracking it.

Anyway - itís not necessary to take an expensive test like the AL-CAT to try an elimination diet on your own, simply but cutting out certain foods. If there are certain chronic conditions you are suffering from, you can read up on whether certain foods are considered to be culprit and try eliminating those particular foods for a certain time period and see if your symptoms improve. I had tried just going gluten free at first - without any improvement which is why we decided to take this more comprehensive step.
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:12 PM   #2
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Very interesting, Audrey. Glad to hear that putting up with all the restrictions is paying off with some results. Hope it continues!
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Old 09-02-2015, 06:00 PM   #3
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I think it's very interesting too, Audrey.

My gut has been acting up lately and I've realized I'm better when I manage to follow my low carb diet. So I have been guessing that gluten or carbs in general was bad for me. I've never heard about this test and will read up on it.

Thank you for writing about this.
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Old 09-02-2015, 06:19 PM   #4
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I'm just chalking up the rest of this year to focus on "gut healing". If there isn't anything else, at the least I will have given my body a huge break with eating only whole foods and absolutely no junk.

Christine: I'm not one who thought they had any gut problems, or at least they were so minor as to be ignored. So it's been interesting experiencing an apparently much happier gut.

One other thing that the doctor had me start taking after about a month on the diet was digestive enzymes. The idea is to help break down the food particles so that only small particles will pass through the "leaky" gut - the smaller particles being much less liable to irritate the immune system. I've noticed a pronounced improvement in how my stomach and intestines feel since I started taking these enzymes with my larger meals. So maybe I did need some help.
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Old 09-02-2015, 06:25 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
You canít eat out. You have to prepare all your own foods - mainly from scratch.
I think this may be the key factor.
For the last couple of years, probably 90% of what I eat has been cooked, mainly from scratch, by myself.

All my blood numbers are fine (Just as an example, my HDL is always in the 80s or higher, and my triglycerides are very similar (always below 100)).

I also feel better, and have lost weight to the point that I'm almost down to my college weight (well, 5 or 6 pounds to go yet).

Of course, I follow a LCHF diet, which adds another wrinkle to the equation, but I would still posit that avoiding commercially prepared foods is a good idea for most of us.

I don't believe I have any food intake problems. Gluten, dairy, soy, and any other common culprits are fine with me. So this input is just from a normally healthy individual. Still, I think you're doing the right thing, and I would probably recommend your approach to anyone with those sorts of difficulties.
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Old 09-02-2015, 08:58 PM   #6
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I think this may be the key factor.
For the last couple of years, probably 90% of what I eat has been cooked, mainly from scratch, by myself.

All my blood numbers are fine (Just as an example, my HDL is always in the 80s or higher, and my triglycerides are very similar (always below 100)).

I also feel better, and have lost weight to the point that I'm almost down to my college weight (well, 5 or 6 pounds to go yet).

Of course, I follow a LCHF diet, which adds another wrinkle to the equation, but I would still posit that avoiding commercially prepared foods is a good idea for most of us.

I don't believe I have any food intake problems. Gluten, dairy, soy, and any other common culprits are fine with me. So this input is just from a normally healthy individual. Still, I think you're doing the right thing, and I would probably recommend your approach to anyone with those sorts of difficulties.
My diet has really changed completely. Even though we ate out a lot, we never ate junk or fast food. I didn't eat much processed food at home before either, but due to various food intolerances, I have had to change what I eat quite a bit, so it's like night and day.

I'm eating a lot more fish. Tuna steaks, salmon and trout are common. I'm using avocado oil and various nut oils - almond, walnut, pecan. As well as eating the same nuts and avocados. I'm eating lentils pretty regularly - something I rarely ate before.

There is little saturated fat in my diet, since I eat no dairy (butter is out - casein). I do have beef and pork occasionally, and duck - no other poultry. Eggs are OK thank goodness.

Since grapes are out for the initial 3 months I have had to be creative about things like salad dressings.

I do eat quite a few things that are usually avoided on a low carb diet like root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and beets, lentils/beans, and plenty of fruit including tropical fruit. But since my weight has been dropping and my lipid profile is pretty healthy, it seems to be OK for me.
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Old 09-03-2015, 06:32 AM   #7
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I wish there was a simple blood test that would identify food intolerance by type and degree. Could be a lot of mild problems (like the muscle soreness you mentioned) could be addressed by diet but few of us would go through an elimination diet to find out absent a major disruption.
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Old 09-03-2015, 09:10 AM   #8
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I feel much better since eliminating diets...
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Old 09-03-2015, 09:37 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
I have been on an elimination diet over two months now. My doctor thinks my thyroid autoimmune disease could be due to food intolerances and advised me to take this step. He believes that many autoimmune diseases are related and usually linked to gut health, so he has put me on a path for healing the gut. He mentioned “leaky gut”. I’m thinking, what? People who suffer from IBS or other issues like celiac or Chron’s disease may be familiar with these terms.
I don't know if it is because I'm no longer a kid, and neither are the people I hang out with, or because it's an overall trend, but it sure seems like a lot more people are having digestive issues than was the case many years ago. Sorry that you are going through this but happy to hear that the elimination diet is working so well for you. I had some digestive issues too but they have subsided for the most part since my doctor changed a couple of my meds to fix it (digestive issues were apparently a side effect). I supposedly have autoimmune problems too, but in my case I think that is BS and presently think/hope that the meds were responsible.
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Old 09-03-2015, 09:46 AM   #10
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audreyh1, Admirable that you can stick with it. Congrats, hope it will work out well.
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Old 09-03-2015, 09:51 AM   #11
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One other thing you may want to look at is probiotics.. many "gut" type issues and many other non-related things tend to be because the foods we eat killed good bacteria in our body..and then sugar and starch feeds the yeast that builds up in our body .. and that causes lots of issues in our body including inflammation in joints, nasty nail fungus, etc.. so by lowering starch/sugar intake people often feel better because they are not feeding the yeast, but to eliminate the overgrowth, it really is about taking probiotics to put back the "GOOD" bacteria. Ive heard 100s of testimonials of people feeling so much better and not craving sugar and coming off their meds for a myriad of diseases.
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Old 09-03-2015, 11:36 AM   #12
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One other thing you may want to look at is probiotics.. many "gut" type issues and many other non-related things tend to be because the foods we eat killed good bacteria in our body..and then sugar and starch feeds the yeast that builds up in our body .. and that causes lots of issues in our body including inflammation in joints, nasty nail fungus, etc.. so by lowering starch/sugar intake people often feel better because they are not feeding the yeast, but to eliminate the overgrowth, it really is about taking probiotics to put back the "GOOD" bacteria. Ive heard 100s of testimonials of people feeling so much better and not craving sugar and coming off their meds for a myriad of diseases.
Yes, thanks, - I expect to be introducing probiotics at some point. The advice I was given is to let the intestinal lining heal first - which is where the enzymes help. Another good intestinal wall healing supplement is the protein L-glutamine, but the doctor hasn't. Then later I will be adding probiotics.
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Old 09-03-2015, 11:39 AM   #13
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audreyh1, Admirable that you can stick with it. Congrats, hope it will work out well.
It's difficult when your body turns on itself (autoimmune disease). Trying to heal my thyroid, or at least prolong the years it is able to function before it self-destructs and/or has to be removed. These are pretty motivating stakes so I was able to make this 6 month commitment and see what happens.
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Old 09-03-2015, 01:33 PM   #14
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Maybe find a new name for the diet? Sounds like you're eating sh*t and drinking p*ss
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Old 09-03-2015, 01:42 PM   #15
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Maybe find a new name for the diet? Sounds like you're eating sh*t and drinking p*ss
Ah. That's the Bear Grylls diet...
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Old 09-03-2015, 01:43 PM   #16
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Ah. That's the Bear Grylls diet...
Or the corporate cafeteria...
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Old 09-03-2015, 06:21 PM   #17
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Audrey, what are the foods to avoid for Hypothyroidism? I have "normal" blood panels for that, but am very cold intolerant. Some alternative doctors think that the blood tests just haven't caught up with the symptoms.


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Old 09-03-2015, 06:57 PM   #18
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Audrey, what are the foods to avoid for Hypothyroidism? I have "normal" blood panels for that, but am very cold intolerant. Some alternative doctors think that the blood tests just haven't caught up with the symptoms.


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If you feel cold that is a strong hypothyroid symptom. Some of the routine ranges given for tests are way too wide. If your TSH is above 3 it is probably out of range. Your probably need to find a doc that will treat you in that range and focus on symptoms as well as blood test results.

There aren't necessarily foods to avoid for hypothyroidism specifically, although there are goitrogens some people avoid - look that up. Those might only apply to people with Hashomoto's thyroiditis, I'm not sure.

There are various causes for hypothyroidism, and you need a full thyroid panel to see if it's an immune system problem or something else.

My (subclinical) hypothyroidism is an immune system issue, and my tests were specific to me and wouldn't apply to other folks.
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Old 09-03-2015, 10:28 PM   #19
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You mentioned getting below your "stuck" weight. I was having very achy feet, and the aches went away after I lost a stubborn 5 pounds by cutting back sweets by around 90%. I cut back the sweets for oral health, and the weight loss was the unexpected side effect. If losing 5 pounds made a difference to my feet, perhaps your 10 pound loss was the key to your reduced achiness? Either way, thanks for the interesting report, Audrey.
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Old 09-04-2015, 12:48 AM   #20
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How do you find a good food "allergy" doctor & a good thyroid doctor? Do you see an endocrinologist? I have most of the major thyroid symptoms, as well as hypothyroidism or thyroid cancer family history, yet my doctor and lab say I am fine until I go over 5.0 on my TSH. As for dietary issues, my stomach processes food really slow sometimes, causing all sorts of other issues. I frequently have severe I digestion & heartburn even though I eat pretty healthy. I do have diagnosed GERD & minor damage to my esophagus. Kind of freaks me out because I am not even 40 yet. During some elimination diet trials I did on my own, I discovered that my stomach is very sensitive to moderate amounts caffeine. The good news is that I can still drink decaf coffee without winding up on the fetal position on the floor with severe indigestion. Yay!

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