May 022008

So I’ve had this really annoying digestive issue for a long time: every time I ate much protein or anything high in animal fat, I’d get ungodly ill. I mean, I couldn’t even take a tsp of fish oil without feeling like I’d swallowed a swamp for at least 24 hours. If I ate a steak, it stuck in my gut for two days and I turned a bit green around the edges. Yeah I know, my liver, more poor liver. But the thing is, all the liver treatment in the world even with specific protein digestion enhancers like Mahonia wasn’t doing me a bit of good. On some level, this isn’t a surprise since I don’t fit the normal pattern of protein intolerance combined with allergies, dry skin, arthritis and so on. I was a vegetarian for seven years and my eating patterns during that time helped send me into inflammatory hell thanks to my wheat allergy combined with borderline insulin resistance. By the times I started eating meat again, I was undernourished, overweight and my gut was a mess.

So I cut wheat out, that was good. Then I cut all grains out as part of a raw foods experiment. Cutting the grains out was great, the raw foods (especially all the tropical fruits) was very bad. I lost tons of weight and got myself a bad case of hypoglycemia. Hmmph. I added cooked foods back in but the left the grains out. Closer. I was still eating tons of fruit every day and still having lots of problems eating fat/protein. I knew that in order to properly deal with the blood sugar issues I needed to lessen the amount of carbs I was eating but kind of afraid that if I cut carbs and couldn’t digest the fat and protein, then I wouldn’t know what the hell to eat. I stalled out at that point, and did further research while working with several clients with insulin resistance sometimes combined with adrenal burnout. One of my main resources throughout this has been Paul Bergner’s excellent work on nutrition and herbs as related to insulin resistance.

I finally decided to do a trial run with a much lower carb diet, although I still had hesitancy and was anticipating some serious digestion issues as well as increased sugar cravings. Strangely enough, none of those things happened. In fact, within two days, I was having less digestive trouble than I have in many years. And wow, suddenly I could eat fatty fish again and even pure fish oil. No sugar cravings though, and very suddenly no hypoglycemia either. This is especially remarkable considering what a sweets freak I’ve been for most of life as well as a former heavy drinker. There have been times in my life I would’ve sold organs for chocolate or candy. You think I’m kidding, and I am, but only a little bit.

I’ve also had that hypoglycemic “need to eat now” thing happening for a long time, as in, if it had been two hours or so since my last meal I’d start to get shaky, anxious, irritable and then very very dizzy. But in the last several weeks, I’ve had none of that. I do get hungry, real stomach growling hungry which is pretty nice. My digestion has normally been slow enough that I have to go without food almost a full day before experiencing true hunger. Lately my body has actually been giving me real hunger signals and metabolizing nourishment at something like a normal speed. This might sound trivial to you if you’ve never had metabolic issues but for me, it’s worth having a party over.

For a lot of people my diet might look kind of harsh, I don’t eat any grains of any kind, no beans (besides green beans), no unfermented milk products (all that milk sugar you know), no sweeteners of any kind (I’ll add a bit of honey and/or maple syrup back in eventually though), very little fruit and very limited seeds and nuts. I see people talking about low carb diets all the time and for them this often means not having “refined” carbs like pasta etc, but that really doesn’t do the job in most cases of insulin resistance in my experience, and certainly not for my body. If you find the low-carb approach hard to swallow, keep in mind that this is fairly similar to many primitive peoples diets pre agriculture and pre welfare handouts.
So what do I eat? Lots and lots and lots of green veggies, seaweeds and wild greens, lots of fermented veggies like sauerkraut, many eggs (local happy chickens that eat bugs and scraps and plants), meat/fish (preferably wild meat and fish but I’ll stoop to storebought turkey and bacon if I have to), happy fats like olive oil, butter, ghee and coconut oil, some nuts and seeds (I’m especially fond of golden flax just now which are super high in fiber and make the most AMAZING breads, pancakes and muffins when combined with baking powder, oil and eggs), some fermented dairy (especially goat yogurt and cheese),  and select fruits which are mostly berries (strawberries and blueberries score high right now).

Did I mention this really helped with residual brain fog and low energy levels? All in all, I feel tons better. I’m really interested to see how this will effect the rest of my endocrine stuff. I’ve had problems with reduced digestive function during the second part of my menstrual cycle for years now and I’m hoping this shift will help eliminate that problem. My liver certainly is feeling and acting better now that it doesn’t have to deal with those all blood sugar yo-yos.

Yay for good food!

  13 Responses to “Healing Insulin Resistance and Digestive Function with Food”

  1. awsome! I’m so glad you’ve found something that is working for you. Just rmember things always shift, like seasons, ecologies, and bodies…things may shift again , or not…but I’ve always had a hunch tht the paleolithic type diets had something going for them….
    if only i could stick to it….

  2. Indeed, something very useful that I’ve learned from TCM is how things constantly cycle. I love five element theory and the implications there…

    My body being so dependent on me eating well (and freaking out if I don’t) is good incentive for me to stick to things. I also think of everything as I giant experiment, so I tend to hold out better that way to get the results. However, I’m sure that if I could eat rice without immediate consequences I’d be more likely to indulge now and then.

  3. I appreciate your ramblings about your body and diet, because it sounds so similar to what I’ve experienced. I personally just want to find the one thing that works, and stick with it, I don’t want my body going and changing the rules on me, before I’ve figured out what they are! Though I know that’s not reasonable. Nothing more to say, just frustration to express.

  4. Hey, now! That’s wonderful to hear.

  5. I can only imagine what kin of dietary hell you’ve been though.
    Since childhood I suffer from a light case of lactose intolerance (not problem with yogurt and cheese though) and hypoglycemia.
    I’ve relied (and still does) mostly on whole grains to keep my blood sugar level in check and use honey as my almost exclusive sweetener (I also like maple sugar, I find that agave syrup only tastes decent in tea).
    I used to have a faster metabolism now it has slowed down so I’ve lower my sweets intake (don’t eat cake, ice cream and such) esp. since my liver can be sensitive. My diet has become more alkaline so sometimes I feel that my stomach doesn’t produce enough acid to digest, therefore I need to stimulate my liver (with my great dandy friend).
    I have developed a sensitivity to refined wheat, triticale and rye (strange with some german ancestry) but can tolerate low amount of gluten like in spelt (I’m also trying emmer and kamut…Maybe you should give these a try, they are high in protein among other things and easily digestible) and of course gluten free grains like sorghum, quinoa…etc
    I agree that meat (esp. fatty) can be hard to digest and I sometimes feel heavy and sluggish when I eat more meat than my body really needs…The first thing I noticed when I switched to vegetarianism is how light and energetic I felt (never liked meat much anyway but when I crave a steak I know that my body really needs it).
    Anyway the perfect diet is the one that suits and heal you whatever your needs are that also seem to evolve with time…

  6. The thing is, ALL grains are very high in carbs. To treat insulin resistance you MUST cut grains out of your diet almost entirely, see the work of Paul Bergner or Darcey Blue for more on that. I think the latest stats say that something like 60% of the population has insulin resistance to some degree, with or without being overweight.

    Furthermore, carbs in even their healthiest forms promote the loss of minerals in the body. Part of what causes insulin resistance is malnutrition, especially de-mineralization.

    Part of what I was saying, that when I was attempting a more “balanced” diet that included small amounts of whole grains (it’s not just gluten that’s the problem here) I was continuing to have trouble with blood sugar swings and unable to digest fat. HOWEVER, by switching to a very low carb diet I no long have ANY trouble whatsoever with fat and protein, I think I could drink a bottle of fish oil and be fine, and I have essentially NO blood sugar swings now.

    Animal based foods have been demonized by current popular culture but represent the basic food of primitive peoples, and the most complete nourishment available to us. All forms of traditional medicine that I’m aware of have known this (including the older forms of ayurveda) and have used meat therapeutically as well as dietarily.

  7. Oooo…please do share one or more of your golden flax seed recipes with us! I’m in the same boat. I _am_ gluten sensitive, but, really, i had to remove all grains and beans from the diet to get better. I still can’t tolerate much. I had rice last night for the first time in about 9 months and felt like crap all day today. Fruit used to send me into a tailspin, but I can handle a little bit now. But I never have trouble if I just stick to the veggies, meats/fish, and eggs. Yum.

  8. Can you share Paul Bergner’s work that you mentioned? I can’t find it in a quick google search. Thanks! 🙂

  9. In the Philippines we use cinnamon to control blood sugar. My grandmother who was a rural herbal and massage healer just boils them and adds a little raw cane sugar to improve the taste.

  10. Paul Bergner’s work included his excellent CD set specifically on insulin resistance.

    Rodolfo, cinnamon can definitely be helpful, but care must be taken not to become to dependent on it because it really only addresses symptoms rather that taking care of the root of the problem. Thanks for reading!

  11. hi there this is a very up to date and informative can i put a link on one of my blogs -regards Angela

  12. This is exactly what I am going through, thanks for sharing .

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