Healing Insulin Resistance and Digestive Function with Food
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!