Wednesday, July 31, 2013
What's Going On With My Gut? And Why the WAPF Diet Wasn't Enough For Me
As regular readers of this blog know, I've been struggling with some GI related health issues since this past winter. Recently I had endoscopy testing done and also returned to a paleo diet as part of the 21 Day Pick Your Poison Paleo Challenge (something I plan to do again on a quarterly basis - so if you missed out on this one we will be doing another in early November).
So what's my diagnosis? The truth is I still don't know. The biopsies revealed chronic mild gastritis, focal lymphangiectasia in the small bowel and signs of inflammation in my colon as well (specifically hyperplastic polyps and discoloration of the mucosa). Right now my GI is working under the assumption that I have IBS and chronic gastritis of unknown cause and has been willing to work with me on making dietary changes first and then only adding medications if they are still needed later on. In any case it is apparent that my gut is leaky and my system inflamed from my gut on out.
While on my elimination diet over the past few weeks my symptoms have improved greatly, but I'm still tired, my hair is still thinner than I would like it to be and I know that though my bowel habits have improved I still have a lot of healing to do.
While I came to the "real food" movement through advocates of Weston A. Price and the foundation that bears his name. It is only through paleo that I've begun to achieve my health goals. If you too are having gut or autoimmune issues it may be worth looking into the diet as part of your holistic treatment plan under your doctor's guidance.
Which brings me to my other concern. In the summer edition of Wise Traditions, the quarterly journal put out by the Weston A. Price Foundation, their president slams paleo claiming it is dissimilar to their traditional diet philosophy. In my own experience nothing could be further from the truth. I fully support WAP diet principles for healthy individuals, but I know how much going the step further in eliminating grains, legumes and most dairy has changed my health outcomes. On just traditional foods I was surviving and feeling better than on SAD (Standard American Diet) foods, but still had bowel troubles several times each week and was not losing more weight, only maintaining the weight I had lost on paleo. (When I reintroduced gluten for my gluten challenge I actually started gaining weight - which I now attribute to the combination of inflammatory response due to gluten intolerance, as well as the higher carbs and calories this made me consume).
It's only been on a pretty strict version of paleo that I have started to heal and am progressively feeling better. I was disappointed in WAPF's article primarily because it was unnecessarily divisive to the community of advocates for nutrient dense and ecologically raised foods, but also because of their refusal to acknowledge that for many people raised in our SAD food climate, just returning to a WAP type diet is not enough. Many people have lifelong food allergies and intolerances that may not clear up even after following a gut healing protocol. Many people also do not have access to raw dairy or sprouted grains and choose for financial reasons to go paleo since they can buy more of the cornerstones of the paleo diet at a conventional grocery store. The myopic view of paleo presented in the WAPF article also completely failed to show the amount of personalization of paleo diet principles that takes place within the community. Some paleos include dairy like yogurt and cheese regularly because they tolerate it well. Others, like me, include it only rarely and in low-lactose forms like butter and aged cheeses. Still others avoid it altogether because they are completely intolerant. Some include properly prepared grains of all kinds as rare treats, like a slice of sourdough with butter once a week. Others, like me, completely avoid gluten and only very rarely have gluten free grains. And still others avoid grain entirely because even gluten free and/or properly prepared grains cause autoimmune flares or digestive distress.
I am an advocate for traditional foods. Paleos are advocates for real and traditional foods. I cannot comprehend why WAPF would want to distance themselves from such natural allies and to set back the real food movement in the process - except that they are either dogmatists or are being intentionally inflammatory in a "Look at me, look at me too!" kind of way that is simply beyond juvenile for any adult, much less an adult that has such (largely good) influence in the health and wellness and sustainability communities.
Like many other paleos I would call upon Sally and the WAPF to apologize and correct the erroneous comments made about the paleo diet and the paleo community at large. To bury the hatchet and move forward together in campaigning for better health and wellness through traditional diets.