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In my last post, I discussed test results that show I need to be on a low-oxalate diet. I had already decided previously, due to ongoing thyroid problems and having celiac disease, that I would go on the Paleo Auto-Immune Protocol. That is my attempt to locate any lingering intolerances I hadn’t caught previously, in case there is something I missed that keeps me from healing. It has been very difficult this weekend, working to find the common ground between the low-oxalate diet (LOD) and the paleo auto-immune protocol (PAIP).
At this point, I believe I need to concentrate on the slow reduction of oxalates out of my diet. Oxalates build up in your system and sudden changes in what you’re consuming can bring on problems like kidney stones and other miseries as you experience what is called an ‘oxalate dump.’ That is where your body starts dumping oxalates into circulation in large amounts, leading to trouble. A weekend in pain and a trip to the ER don’t sound like a good time, so I’m going to do this slowly and hopefully avoid the dumping.
If you’re scratching your head because you aren’t familiar with oxalates and you don’t know what they do, I recommend you check out What are Oxalates? by Patty at Loving Our Guts. Her post gives some excellent information. Patty is a dear friend and she is a tremendous resource to me on this journey. She’s spent a good deal of time with me this past week, trying to help me wrap my brain around it all.
The problem with oxalates is that there isn’t a consensus on what is high-oxalate and what is low-oxalate. I’m meeting people who have had problems with oxalates for years and they’re telling me some of the lists I’m finding online are outdated or incorrect. What’s worse, what I’m reading is also telling me that you can’t heal an oxalate problem. I’ll supposedly have to deal with this for the rest of my life. Of course, I’m not good at accepting ‘can’t’ from someone when it comes to my health. 😉 I think my track record shows where I stand on overcoming problems that people say are impossible. But for now, I feel buried and overwhelmed with trying to find information and get on my feet.
Combined with this, I’m also dropping my carbs back down to help take the stress off of my liver. I feel SO much better when I’m below 80 grams of carbs a day– I have far more energy. I’m also going to look at the leptin protocol once I’m on my feet with everything else. Throw all of that together and it’s a lot to swallow. So I’m going to take it slow. One week at a time, change just a few things.
Where I Stand
I’m currently grain, pseudo-grain, baking starch, bean, gluten, legume, seed, potato, tomato, eggplant, chia, lentil and soy-free. I’m staying under 70 grams of carbs a day and avoiding rapadura, sucanat and other solid sweeteners. I’m not purposefully counting my carbs, though, I’m just staying on the foods that aren’t likely to be able to eat enough to go over that 70 gram mark in reasonable amounts. I might consider a tiny amount of raw honey or maple syrup if I need to keep my carb count up to avoid headaches from my insulin production trying to adjust, but so far I haven’t needed it. I’m currently dealing with all of the fun that comes from dropping your carbs. It takes a bit for the digestion to adjust.
On Thursday, I eliminated chocolate. Why? It is eliminated on both the paleo diet and the low oxalate diet. Chocolate is extremely high in oxalates- it’s really one of those ‘off the charts’ foods. Since you should only change or replace one high-oxalate food a week, I’m picking chocolate to start as it appears that I take in more oxalates from chocolate than any other single source. The recommendation is to swap a high oxalate food for a medium oxalate food, then to a low oxalate food to gradually work down on what you’re consuming. Carob is also extremely high in oxalates, so it is not a suitable replacement. I will replace my chocolate with berries covered in coconut cream. While they are out of season and some berries have high oxalate, they’re still much lower in oxalates than chocolate. It is the best I can do right now to meet my goals without feeling deprived or going without. With such upheaval and transition, I’m willing to give up seasonal eating for a bit in order to keep my spirits and morale up during such a difficult time. So I will have a handful of berries covered in a little coconut cream after dinner at night, should I feel the need. The last three nights, I’ve felt the need.
Next week, I will eliminate peppers. I thought I had already eliminated them, then realized that I was having small amounts of pepper jack cheese which has jalapeno in it. I’ll switch to mozzarella or cheddar for my morning plate of eggs. I will also swap out the extremely high oxalate almonds for a lower-oxalate nut, probably pecans. We have plenty of pecans in the freezer. Soon, I will no longer have nuts or eggs as an option. That eliminates baking, but I shouldn’t be doing much baking anyway with trying to stay lower carb. Still, I struggle with the idea of having nothing that I enjoy eating and nothing to look forward to. Worse, my family is going to continue eating all of the foods that I love and can no longer have in front of me. I can see quite quickly that any remaining pleasure from eating is going to quickly be gone. I am very much in mourning, and having trouble coming up with meals, even now. I know I’ll get over the hump and feeling better will encourage me to go on, but right now it all just seems awful.
I am also working my bedtime back to 10pm and eating a large, high protein breakfast as soon as I get up in the mornings. The leptin reset has a goal of 50 grams of protein within 30 minutes of rising, but holding that much food physically isn’t easy. I’m petite. So I’m aiming for a minimum of 35 grams of protein as quickly as I can each morning. I have ordered some ground turkey, ground chicken, bacon, and other items from Green PolkaDot Box to help me with that goal. Five eggs have 30 grams of protein. Add one ounce of cheese to that and you get bumped up to 37 grams of protein. So I’m going to have difficulty reaching 50 grams a day if I don’t have meat at breakfast. I believe over a period of a week or two, I could become more comfortable with holding the full 50 grams.
What I Need to Eliminate
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be going off of peppers, fruits, nuts, eggs, seeds (including spices) and dairy. Nuts are a no-no on both protocols, but because the nuts I have been consuming appear to all be high oxalate, I need to back down off of them slowly. I’ve been eating almonds, cashews and brazil nuts. Eggs are a no-no on the PAIP, as is dairy. Seeds are a no on the PAIP. I will come off of them, give myself time to clear then challenge them to see if they are a problem for me. I would like to add back as many foods as I can, as quickly as I can, so I don’t develop food fatigue or new intolerances from being on a limited diet. It is going to be difficult to meet my morning protein goals without eggs or dairy, as I eat eggs every morning, and cheese most mornings. I’m going to need to work out a meal plan in place of the eggs.
As far as I can tell, there are a number of food items that are acceptable on both a low-oxalate diet and the paleo auto-immune protocol. This list is my goal list to get me back to baseline before we begin challenging foods. It’s for short-term once I can work down to it, and it isn’t meant to represent a well-balanced diet with a ton of variety and all seasons, just one that is the least likely to aggravate my health symptoms. Of course, this list is subject to change as I learn more.
- All raw and unprocessed meats, poultry, seafood
- Coconut oil, coconut aminos, coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut flour
- Tallow, lard
- Bone broth
- Basil, bay, dill, marjoram, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
- Cilantro, parsley, ginger, horseradish, peppermint, garlic
- Leaf lettuces for salads such as Bibb. Augula, mustard.
- Mushrooms, onions, shallots, winter squash, summer squash, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, cucumbers
- Lactino kale, brussels sprouts, oregano and carrots in small amounts
- tinctures of herbs and seeds I need that are high-oxalate, such as milk thistle. Tinctures are low-oxalate.
I believe these foods are low-oxalate. They need to be eliminated initially on the PAIP and then tested after 30 days:
- Blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cherries
- Lemons, limes
- Certain types of oranges
- Very limited amounts of red potatoes (due to the carbs)
- Limited Amounts of Tomatoes
- Red Peppers (including spices)
- Pumpkin seeds in small quantities
- Sunnut butter in small quantities
- White pepper
- Vanilla and vanilla extract
- Mustard seed
- Honey and maple syrup
Also, I must personally avoid avocado and kiwi due to having anaphylactic reactions to them in the past. They’re both related to latex, and latex makes me stop breathing.
Other foods, such as bacon and other processed or value-added meats, such as a raw sausage mix, must be evaluated on an individual basis from their ingredients. For example, anything with red pepper in it wouldn’t be considered acceptable on the PAIP, even though it does appear to be low-oxalate. Peppers are nightshades, which do cause problems for many on the PAIP.
With oxalates, the dose makes the poison, so to say. It appears that oxalates are found in plants, and animal products contain few, if any, oxalates. There is a level of consumption each person can tolerate; go over it and you’re in trouble. With the PAIP, it’s all or nothing as it is dealing with an immune response.
Supplements and Lifestyle
I will also add a calcium citrate supplement before meals. This isn’t as a supplement, as my body will likely not absorb it. There are a couple of studies that suggest that free calcium can bind to oxalate in the gut, preventing its absorption when taken before meals. I will also go back onto selenium and all of my gut healing protocol– L-glutamine, Betaine HCl, digestive enzymes, digestive clays. I will continue using magnesium oil at night.
I am continuing to work less, reduce my stress and sleep with a sleep mask. I do not set an alarm in the morning, but instead sleep until I wake up.
Photo credit- The Eternal Handshake by Orin Zebest at Flickr Creative Commons