Thursday, July 18, 2013

Big Update

Its been a long time since I have talked about our life in regards to health so here it goes!

After I got pregnant I felt like the only thing I was doing was caring for Josiah and growing a little human in my body. About halfway through my pregnancy during the winter I started having some scary episodes of nausea, anxiety, and the feeling like food was just sitting like a brick in my stomach. I thought maybe it was my gallbladder so I did a liver flush that didn't go that well. I just managed my symptoms by not eating a lot of meat in the evening, chewing gum after meals to help settle my stomach or if I needed to go somewhere and felt sick. I never did vomit the whole pregnancy (besides when Ryan and I got food poisoning from Little Caesar's pizza), but I definitely could have. It was such a relief that the day I gave birth I didn't have the nausea anymore. I feel for any expectant Mom that is going through severe morning sickness. I decided my body was done having children! Since then I've had bouts of feeling sick to my stomach, but I seem to be able to manage it (or avoid the foods that seem to cause it).

During my pregnancy I really got into studying the work of Ray Peat, PhD. I learned that getting enough sugar in the form of tropical fruit is really helpful for people who struggle with low thyroid and energy problems. It has been such a relief in my life that what I thought was an addiction to sugar was the cells in my body crying out for energy, or relief from stress hormones. I started to reverse the damage that orthorexia did to my life; the fear of 'unhealthy food'. I was able to see that my obsession was actually worsening my health. I still believe that certain foods are harmful (like vegetable oil), but the stress of avoiding it or the guilt and fear of consuming it can be worse! My mantra these days ala Matt Stone of is 'Eat The Food'!

There is a great anti-sugar cult, with even moralistic overtones, equating sugar craving with morphine addiction. Sugar craving is usually caused by the need for sugar, generally caused by hypothyroidism. When yeasts have enough sugar, they just happily make ethanol, but when they don't have sugar, they can sink filaments into the intestine wall seeking it, and, if the person is very weak, they can even invade the bloodstream and other organs. Milk, cheese, and fruits provide a very good balance of nutrients. Fruits provide a significant amount of protein. Plain sugar is o.k. when the other nutrients are adequate. Roots, shoots, and tubers are, next to the fruits, a good carbohydrate source; potatoes are a source of good protein. Meat as the main protein can provide too much phosphorus in relation to calcium. ~Ray Peat

A daily diet that includes two quarts of milk and a quart of orange juice provides enough fructose and other sugars for general resistance to stress, but larger amounts of fruit juice, honey, or other sugars can protect against increased stress, and can reverse some of the established degenerative conditions. Refined granulated sugar is extremely pure, but it lacks all of the essential nutrients, so it should be considered as a temporary therapeutic material, or as an occasional substitute when good fruit isn't available, or when available honey is allergenic. ~Ray Peat

The polyunsaturated fatty acids, which break down into toxic fragments and free radicals and prostaglandin-like chemicals, are--along with bacterial toxins produced in the intestine--the source of the main inflammatory and degenerative problems. Sugar and the minerals in fruits are fairly effective in keeping free fatty acids from being released from our tissues, and the fats we synthesize from them are saturated, and aren't likely to be stored as excess fat, because they don't suppress metabolism (as polyunsaturated fats and some amino acids do). The minerals of fruits and milk contribute to metabolic activation, and prevention of free-radical damage. ~Ray Peat

I started this blog in the hopes of healing my gut via the GAPS diet. I think it can be a healing protocol since it does contain a lot of healing bone broths, but only if it is not low carb. There needs to be plenty of fruit, honey, dairy and especially for those with greater nutrition needs during pregnancy and lactation well cooked root veggies. Also, I've learned that probiotic supplementation is not for everyone, some people get a huge increase in endotoxin from them. Endotoxin is not something to mess around with. This is why antibiotics work so well, they decrease the burden on the liver from bacteria that produce endotoxin. This was also a good turning point in learning about the body for me, I was not afraid of killing off bacteria, in fact raw carrots which have natural antibacterial properties are really helpful. They also help sweep out excess estrogen from the intestines which can be re-absorbed putting more strain on the liver. Maybe this is why I've heard of pregnant women craving raw carrots, maybe they are protecting their unborn from endotoxin and too much estrogen.

The intestine is a potential source of reabsorbed estrogen, and a daily raw carrot (grated or shredded, with a little olive oil, vinegar, salt) helps to lower excess estrogen (and endotoxin produced by bacteria). While lowering estrogen, it is likely to lower cortisol and increase progesterone. ~Ray Peat

I look at the body more holistically these days, instead of saying, 'heal the gut,' it helps to understand what causes gut dysfunction and its not as simple as going gluten free or taking a probiotic. I will talk about this in another post. But for me I have found a sluggish digestive system or one that is leaky is because of low thyroid function. I think during my pregnancy in the deep dark depressing winter my body became very stressed. The thyroid needs light, darkness increases stress hormones which is why you need more thyroid hormone in the winter. I began taking desiccated thyroid at one grain a day several months ago. I feel like it has given me the extra boost from lack of sleep and unsaturated fats in my diet (which block thyroid hormone from getting into the cell). It has also helped depression, I have always had the tendency towards negativity and a victim mentality (because of a history of bad relationships), as if everything is going wrong at all times! But I feel like a much happier person when I get enough sugar in my diet, keeping blood sugar steady and working on my thyroid. And I am a coffee drinker, with cream and 2 FULL tablespoons of sugar!

It's important not to drink coffee on an empty stomach, it should always be with food, since it increases the metabolic rate, and can deplete glycogen stores. ~Ray Peat

I am placing an emphasis on certain B-vitamins especially now that I am eating a high carb diet, the B vitamins help our body process those sugars. Ocassionally I will make a tea out of Brewer's Yeast which is high in a lot of the B's. It can also help boost milk supply.

As for the kiddos, I really obsessed over whether eating real foods like raw milk, butter, grass fed beef, and liver (over the somewhat vegeterian and skimpy diet I had during Josiah's pregnancy) would give Adlai a better outcome or not. I think developmentally he is pretty average, he's a little monkey, started walking at 11.5 months, but he is not nearly as verbal as Josiah was (and I thought he was behind!). He also had eczema over the winter which I'm hoping doesn't come back. I think he is pretty healthy, only one cold so far at a year. He is following the 25th percentile and surprises me when he actually outgrows something! Josiah was so small at this age. I am a pretty laid back parent, but that doesn't mean my kids are going to be easy going, although Adlai is much less shy, I think it really is personality, and boys tend to be fussier and hard to manage. He is not as picky as Josiah was and has more enthusiasm around eating food, but he loves his nun nuns as well! I think he struggles with more digestive upset though because he has trouble sleeping at night and I am just really trying to make it, I will most likely try to night wean much sooner than I would like.

It is hard to talk about Josiah because I am concerned about him and looking back I really struggle because I know I couped him up in the apartment far too much for such an active little guy and probably had some post partum depression and emotional obstacles. He really thrives at our house- being able to run around outside and play in the dirt. But he has not done well with having a sibling. From the getgo he didn't know how to treat him and would try to hurt him, I couldn't (and still can't) leave them together for anything, even to go to the bathroom! I had to physically restrain Josiah far too often. For 8 months straight we were babywearing Adlai for all of his naps (otherwise he wouldn't sleep for very long), which obviously was really tough for Josiah who was used to having me all to himself, he would constantly try to sabatoge his naps and wake him up. It has been a really really tough year as far as parenting goes.

Josiah is spirited and strong willed with possible developmental delays. He obviously can understand quite a few emotions and ability to express those, and he is developing fairly well in social interactions, but he still lags behind in a lot areas. I hate to label him but some people might think he needs more discipline or be taught more manners when he acts out, or doesn't understand that what he does hurts people, or is too loud, or can't sit still at the dinner table.  We are constantly adapting or finding ways to help him cope with life's stresses and emotions that he doesn't understand. Its hard to approach discipline because usually it is the parent that needs more patience! It can be really frustrating when I try to ask him something or talk to him and he acts as if he doesn't hear a thing! 

I really want to homeschool, but I have butt heads with Josiah so much that I am concerned about my ability to regulate my own emotions and have the patience to teach him. Everything for him right now is about "I can do all by self", so if I try to show him anything he freaks out, just the other morning I was writing the letter 'A' and he almost had a meltdown because he didn't want me to write it. Same thing with chores he wants to help out with, like watering the garden, multiple times when I just needed to get it done he would have a meltdown and try to dig up the watered ground so he could do it, almost destroying the plants. I have had my most shameful parenting moments when he is like this (mostly yelling at him). I love him so much and want whats best for him, just praying I can get more sleep so my patience is better. I try to cherish the moments when he acts like any other normal 4.5 yr old and just try to do the best I can and have the tools I need to parent him when he seems out of control.

 Basically, my life is just coping with being a stay at home Mom to two very active little guys! Have to remind myself it will pass! But I'm so grateful I don't have to work for us to have everything we need, I know that's not a possibility for a lot of Moms, and I really do feel blessed.