Monday, April 20, 2015

How I overcame over 30 years of Psoriasis.

For over 30 years I had Psoriasis.  Yep, no joke.  I was diagnosed at the age of  2 with Psoriasis but I had suffered from it for about a year prior to diagnosis. I was lucky with my form of the disease because I only had it on my ankles, knees, genitals, fingernails, elbows and scalp.  I did not have the very bad case where it covers large areas of my arms, legs or abdomen.  Although it wasn't easy to have  flaky, red patchy skin where it was visible if wearing shorts, flip flops, or short sleeves I could have had it much worse.

What is Psoriasis?  It's an auto-immune disease where they body attacks the body recognizes certain areas on the body as foreign invaders and starts attacking that skin.  The skin starts to reproduce much quicker than a normal skin cell.  A normal skin cell grows, matures and dies in about 30 days.  A Psoriasis cell grows, matures and dies in as little as 7 days therefore creating thickened patches of skin that can be white and flaky.  It's a bunch of dead skin hanging out on your body.  Fun stuff right?!?!

I clearly remember a spring day in second grade, I was sitting on the sidewalk outside my 2nd grade classroom.  The weather was beautiful, a warm, slightly breezy late spring day and it was time for recess, every child's favorite time of day.  I sat on the sidewalk next to one of my new friends, this was my first year at this school, and she noticed my red flaky knees.  She exclaimed as she noticed them, "Oh gross!!! What's wrong with your knees?"  This started the endless lying about my condition.  I knew what it was.  I knew it wasn't contagious.  I knew there wasn't much I could do about it but use the steroid cream and deal with it but how does a second grader explain that to another child.  My response:  "Oh, it's nothing, just scars from a really bad bike wreck that healed weird."  The response worked.  She never asked me about it again so for years I continued with the lie.  It was simply easier than trying to explain that I didn't have cooties and that I wasn't contagious.

Fast Forward almost 30 years.....
Sitting in the functional medicine doctors office after having 2 colonoscopies by another Dr who said nothing was wrong with me,  for 3 years of ongoing diarrhea without much relief with terrible bouts of gas and bloating I finally heard the words I'd been dreading but knew were possible.
                                            "Sheila, It's time to try going Gluten Free." 

Psoriasis of the scalp

What does this have to do with Psoriasis you ask, hang on it will all come together.  

I knew it was a possibility because we had spoken of it before.  She'd done everything she could to try to help with my constant bowel problems and this was the next step.  I went dairy free first which helped with the gas and bloating, however, the suggestion sounded like a prison term.  How could I do this?  I LOVE PASTA!!!  I have a wonderful homemade cinnamon roll recipe.  I eat pasta at least 3 times a week.  I love bread, pancakes and PIZZA!  UGH!!!

BUT ---- It was still a choice ---

I had a choice.  Continue with debilitating diarrhea, gas and bloating or try going Gluten Free for 30 days.  That was all she asked of me.  30 days of my life gluten free.  I was upset at first but after a couple of days I embraced the decision, because at the end of the day it was up to me to make sure that I did it.  

No one told me that I would have more energy - loose some weight (chronic inflammation), the diarrhea was tremendously better not fixed but much better (more on that later), and best of all my Psoriasis went away.

My Psoriasis went away!!!!

It took longer than 30 days to clear up my Psoriasis, about 8 months to completely clear up actually, but I saw good improvement in those first 30 days.  This gave me tremendous hope to continue my Gluten Free journey.

Since Psoriasis is an auto-immune condition and gluten is a known trigger for auto-immune diseases, it causes AI disease to flare and never heal if you keep it in your diet.  Boy does this explain a LOT!

Stress is also a trigger for auto-immune diseases.  When I am under an enormous amount of stress, even though I'm completely gluten free I can still get a small psoriasis flare.  Stress is absolutely horrible on the body.  Read more about how stress undermines your health from the Paleo Mom.

Does everyone get complete relief from Psoriasis by going gluten free?  Unfortunately I've read a lot of articles where people say it didn't help them at all.  It's hard to say if what they reported was true or not.  I did not see their diet.  But hey, you have to believe them when they say they tried.  If it were my friend and their Psoriasis didn't clear up I tell them to ask their Dr. about "leaky gut" if their Psoriasis did not clear up going gluten free.  Notice I'm not saying anyone should avoid the Dr. You need to consult a Dr and work with a Dr.  You may need prescription medicine to get some relief from the itching and soreness.  I used prescription steroid creams and tar shampoo for YEARS!!!

Psoriasis of the fingernail.  Sometimes there is pitting of the nail but that is hard to see in this picture. 
Things to keep in mind when going GF - Have you inspected everything you consume and verified that they were gluten free?  Have you cleaned out the pantry and gotten rid of all the gluten laden food in the cabinets?  Did you know there is gluten in some Ketchup brands?  When you start educating yourself about gluten you will be amazed at what it is put in, this is why it's simply easier to make your own food.  Processed foods cannot be trusted.  Also previously non labeled, non gluten containing processed foods may change their ingredients and could now contain gluten so you always have to look at the ingredients.  

All I know is that going completely gluten free cleared up my psoriasis that I'd had for over 30 years and assumed I would be plagued with all of my life.  I also no longer have the debilitating diarrhea which I will share more about later.  That was the biggest reason of pursuing the gluten free diet.  I simply couldn't take the frequent trips to the bathroom much longer. 

When people tell me "I know I don't handle gluten very well but I couldn't possibly give up bread, I just love it."  I have two things I un-apologetically say to them:

#1.  Then you don't feel bad enough
#2.  There's a reason you crave bread and it's not healthy.

I'm not sympathetic.  I'm not all "Oh you poor thing, OK, then don't eat gluten free."  I truly believe that they don't want to get better and don't feel bad enough.
They will or they won't come around some day.  

When someone is ready, I will gladly hold their hand and support them when they really want to eat those Olive Garden bread sticks.

Until next time, take care of you!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

For the LOVE of Podcasts - The Paleo View

I do a LOT of traveling.  Traveling 2 hours to the airport for work, driving 45 min to and from work when I'm home, driving 20 miles to the nearest (only the basics grocery store).  Therefore I've turned my car into a mobile learning center.  I started out following other podcasts only because I read about them on their blog but by listening to one of those podcasts I found my favorite Paleo centered podcast - The Paleo View!

The Paleo View podcast is hosted by Stacy Toth of Paleo Parents and Dr. Sarah Ballantyne  of The Paleo Mom please go to each of their websites by clicking on their names.  These two lovely ladies bring home different topics each week, and when I say each week I literally mean each week.  They haven't missed a week in over 136 episodes.  I love their dedication to their listeners.  

The podcast starts out with an update from the two hosts on whats new in their lives and in the Paleo sphere.  Then they go to the "Science with Sarah" section where Dr. Sarah discusses the sciency details of Paleo lifestyle, medications, medical testing, supplements, importance of sleep, etc,etc in a way that even someone like I can understand.  This is a huge benefit to anyone who really is interested in "why" things happen or "how" you can feel better.  I love this portion. I really love it.  Then they wrap up each episode with Listen Questions.  Listener Questions allows anyone who logs onto their respective sites to to submit a specific question for the two hosts to answer.  I can't tell you how many times one of the listener questions has related to me in some shape or fashion.  While I've never submitted my own question I've also never felt the need because the information delivered is quite thorough that there is nothing left for me to ask.  

Both Stacy and Sarah have many other talents.  They are both authors of very popular books, check them out here and here. Also, they are both wives, and moms who have a very realistic outlook on life and family.  For example: they are of the mindset that if you can tolerate great quality dairy then you should consume it, if you cannot tolerate it then don't.  It's as simple as that.  This endears me even more to them because they see that there are benefits to foods that are considered "non-paleo" yet really provide some benefits for our nutrient starved bodies.  Therefore: Paleo Police need not apply.    

Even if you don't follow the Paleo/Primal lifestyle this podcast would be worth listening to for anyone who is interested in eating REAL food, learning to take better care of yourself and to learn more about why and how things affect your current lifestyle.  Neither of them are here to push the Paleo lifestyle down any one's throats nor are they dogmatic in there approach.  They are just two very down to earth ladies who have remedied multiple health issues (including loosing a considerable amount of weight each, check out their blogs to read about their stories)  by choosing to follow a different way of eating.  Paleo is not just a diet (oooh i hate that word), it's a way of life.  

If you couldn't already tell this is my all time favorite podcast on the Paleo lifestyle and I encourage all of you to check it out soon.  Like yesterday.  Go to itunes to download their latest episode on Adrenal Fatigue.  If you like them as much as I do please be sure to leave them a review in itunes so that more people can find there podcast.

Note:  This post is my own personal opinion.  I am in no way being sponsored by either person listed in the above comments nor have I been compensated in any way.  I simply love the information that they share and want more people to find the encouragement of these two wonderful women.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Cauli Arborio Bacon " Rice"

I've not been feeling well for quite awhile, therefore I'm trying very hard to make sure I'm eating food full of nutrients and lots of vegetables. That being said we're getting a little crazy for cauliflower around our house. Plus my hubby doesn't like a huge variety of vegetables.  If it were up to him we would only eat green beans, spinach, and romaine lettuce. But he will try new things and I've found a way that he will eat cauliflower. We love rice, especially cooked in homemade chicken broth. But we really love arborio rice. You know the stuff, with butter, Chardonnay, chicken broth and delicious Parmesan cheese, yeah that stuff.  Well I've looked at those cauliflower rice recipes on the Internet and I thought - why not?  Why couldn't I try the arborio style rice with the cauliflower "rice"?  So I did and the results, if I fo say so,myself they are pretty darn tasty.

Food Processor, Cutting board, Sharp knife, Large skillet (should hold 8-10 cups), Spatulas

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into pieces - processed equals about 6 cups
1 cup of chopped onions
3-5 strips of bacon
1/3 cup of dry white wine
1/2 cup of  chicken broth
1 packed cup grated Parmesan cheese, Parmesano Regiano is truly the best. I beg of you to not use the stuff out of the green cans. Splurge for the good cheese for this one.

Place the chopped cauliflower in your food processor, do not fill it more than half full, pulse the cauliflower until you see rice sized pieces of cauliflower. Be careful not to over process. Continue pulsing batches of chopped cauliflower until all the cauliflower has been run thru the food processor.

Add the bacon to a large skillet, you will use this skillet for the entire dish so make sure it's big enough. Cook the bacon till crisp. Once the bacon is cooked place it on a paper towel to cool. Leave the bacon grease in the pan. Add the cup of chopped onions to the skillet with the bacon grease left in it the pan and saute the onions till translucent, approximately 5-7 min on medium heat.

After the onions have been cooked till translucent add in the dry white wine or your favorite white wine. Turn up the heat on the skillet to high now. Cook the wine until reduced by half. Now add the "riced" cauliflower to the skillet. Stir to incorporate the onions and wine.  The cauliflower should begin to steam now. After about 4-5 minutes and 1/2 the chicken stock to the cauliflower mix. Cook the mixture now until the bottom of the pan seems dry, now add the rest of the chicken stock.

If the cauliflower is still very firm place a lid on the skillet for about 5 minutes to let the cauliflower cook thru. Continue to stir the mixture until the cauliflower rice is cooked. Be careful to not over cook the rice, it can turn into mush if over cooked.

Remove the skillet from the heat.  Chop the bacon into bite size pieces and add to the contents of the skillet. Now add the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine the bacon and the cheese.

Taste the mixture, add salt and white pepper as needed. Note that I wait to salt the cauliflower until the very end because the cheese is very salty. 

At this point I tilt the skillet slightly so any extra liquid can be separated from the rice. 

Dip out the rice into a serving dish and sprinkle on a little bit of bacon as a garnish. 

Now enjoy!