• Still Flaring (Whole9 Recap)

    August 28, 2012

    Hi, friends! I’m home from Oregon. Mal and I got in yesterday morning, picked up Murphy from the dog sitter, and then spent the rest of the day unpacking, grocery shopping, and getting our lives back in order. It’s so good to be home. I missed my little pug-let.

    IMG_0845 (750x563)

    I wanted to give you guys a colitis update since I didn’t talk about it much when I was on vacation last week. The short of it is that I’m still flaring. Boo. It’s NOTHING like my previous two flares that kept me close to a toilet for two weeks straight, but I’m still bleeding. I feel totally fine, which is why you saw me having so much fun on vacation, but things are still not quite right. I called my doctor yesterday, and he said to just keep trucking along with my current meds. (He switched me back to Colozol early last week.) He said sometimes it just takes awhile for the drugs to work and the colon to completely heal, so I’m trying to be patient.

    Anyway, with that said, I thought it would be a good time to recap the Whole9 Seminar since I’ve had a lot to think about since I attended it.

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    The Whole9 Seminar was awesome. It was exactly what I expected and really helped me connected the dots with regard to my health and ulcerative colitis. The ‘9’ in Whole9 comes from these 9 factors, which Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, the creators, believe are all important for optimal health.

    Factor-Graphic-Updated-2012
    [Source: Whole9Life.com]

    At the seminar, we spent about 3/4 of the time on nutrition and the Whole30 diet. The rest of the time was devoted to exercise and active recovery, which really resonated with me. More on that in a minute—let’s cover the nutrition stuff first.

    NUTRITION

    Melissa and Dallas believe the food we eat should meet four criteria:

    • Promote a healthy psychological response
    • Promote a healthy hormonal response
    • Support a healthy gut
    • Support immune function and minimize inflammation

    The first two bullet points were interesting, and I may blog about them in the future, but for the nutrition portion of this post, I’m going to focus on the last two since they are more directly related to my health issues. As you know, I’m not a medical doctor or Registered Dietitian, so if you have specific questions, please consult these health professionals.

    Support a healthy gut

    When it comes to nutrition, it really doesn’t matter what you put in your mouth if your body can’t properly absorb it. If the gut is damaged in any way (often referred to as “leaky gut”), its ability to protect you and keep the “bad” stuff out is compromised. It basically opens you up to a whole bunch of problems and food can disrupt this balance. Sugar, in particular, fuels and changes the growth of bacteria in your gut. If there’s an imbalance, it changes the communication between the gut and the “friendly” bacteria, which then can alter the activity of your immune system. Three-quarters of your immune cells are located in your gut, so your food choices are really important. This is where things got really interesting for me…

    Support immune function and minimize inflammation

    As you probably know, your immune system fights off infections and other “bad guys” and repairs the body. Acute inflammation, your body’s initial, short-term response to damage, is okay. It’s a healthy response—acute inflammation is the start of the rebuilding and healing process. However, if there is ongoing inflammation, there’s more of a breakdown of tissue as the body tries to heal itself. Chronic inflammation stretches the inflammatory response over weeks, months, and even years, which creates all sort of problems. And you might not even know you’re experiencing chronic inflammation (also know as “silent inflammation”). Basically, chronic inflammation puts you at a higher risk for “lifestyle diseases,” including autoimmune diseases.

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    [Source: Whole9 Foundations of Nutrition Workshop Packet]

    Did you see ulcerative colitis in that list? Chronic/silent inflammation can become an autoimmune dysfunction down the road. Your body is basically bathing in inflammatory chemicals, so your immune system gets confused and improperly identifies “threats” (your body’s healthy tissues/cells) to attack. Ulcerative colitis is basically an attack of the immune system on the colon. It’s a malfunction in the body that sends the immune system out to destroy invading organisms, but in this case, the “invaders” are a perfectly healthy colon. This “attack” causes inflammation and ulceration (bleeding ulcers) inside the colon. I know, it sounds lovely.

    Of course, there is a genetic component to all of this. Apparently, somewhere inside me, there’s a gene for ulcerative colitis, so I had a much smaller margin of error for dealing with chronic inflammation, and so the gene was turned “on.” Dallas explained this well: “Genetics loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger.” Lucky me, right? According the Melissa and Dallas, however, you can improve (and even cure) these “lifestyle diseases” with dietary changes.

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    The Whole30 believes these foods make you less healthy (sugar, gut health):

    • Sugars & artificial sweeteners
    • Alcohol
    • Grains
    • Legumes
    • Dairy

    And these foods make you more healthy:

    • Meat, seafood, eggs
    • Vegetables
    • Fruit
    • Oils, nuts, and seeds

    For more info on the Whole30, check out the Whole9 website or It Starts With Food.

    Diet is definitely important for supporting gut health, immune function, and minimizing inflammation, but you can’t always look to nutrition to answer a lifestyle problem. Basically, you can’t fix all of your issues with food. It’s just one piece of the puzzle, which brings me to exercise and active recovery.

    EXERCISE & ACTIVE RECOVERY

    Besides nutrition, the seminar also focused on exercise and active recovery. I found this part really interesting, especially since I always thought my flares might be related to the amount and intensity of my workouts. My doctor insisted exercise wasn’t causing my flares, but now I definitely think it’s a contributing factor.

    Health and performance are different things. You can get healthier and continue to improve your performance, but there comes a point when these two things no longer correlate. For example, take professional athletes—some of them push themselves really hard to perform at an elite level, but, often times, at a cost to their health. You always hear about so-and-so athlete dealing with a reoccurring injury or playing through one. Of course, it’s their job, so they take the risk, but for regular people, it’s not worth it; it’s no longer health-promoting. You don’t want to risk your health or any long-term damage, so it’s important to moderate frequency, intensity, and duration of your workouts as well as active recovery. The seminar didn’t cover these things specifically (I think it’s in the book), but I heard the message loud and clear!

    So, what does all this mean for me?

    Diet

    I won’t be doing a “real” Whole30, but I am going to keep trucking along with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) since it’s specifically intended for improving intestinal health through diet, and I know a lot of people have had success with it. It’s also very similar to the Whole30.

    IMG_0847 (750x563)

    I know I mentioned Paleo in my previous post, but I now realize I probably shouldn’t have lumped it together with SCD. They’re very similar diets (I just figured Paleo was more familiar), but just to be I’m clear, I’ll be eating more of a SCD—closely now, but, hopefully, with more flexibility in the future.

    Exercise

    As far as exercise, I’m definitely going to take it slow—less CrossFit, less running, less everything. In the next few days, I’m planning some long walks with Murphy and yoga, but nothing too strenuous until the bleeding completely stops (as suggested by my doctor’s nurse, who is familiar with CrossFit workouts). Once I stop flaring, I’ll get back into CrossFit (I miss it so much!), but I won’t go 5 or 6 times a week like I was once doing. It was just too much for me. I also plan to take more rest days and incorporate some lower-intensity exercise into my weekly workouts.

    Stress-management & Sleep

    Additionally, I’m really going to try to better manage my stress levels. I suck at manging stress and know I’ve said this before, but it’s tough to pull myself away from my job since it’s all-encompassing. I really enjoy it, but I know I need to unplug more than I currently do. I’m also planning to put a priority on sleep and really try to get 8 hours every night.

    I hope my recap of the Whole9 Seminar was helpful! It was definitely an interesting and worthwhile workshop, and I highly recommend attending if it ever comes to your area. If you have specific questions about the Whole9 or Whole30, feel free to ask—I’ll do my best to answer them—but definitely check out the Whole9 website or It Starts With Food for yourself. Additionally, the Whole9 Resources have been really helpful to me.

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    { 121 comments… read them below or add one }

    kalee @ SoreyFitness August 28, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks for posting your notes from Whole9. I cannot believe how big of a problem inflammation can be for me. I have had issues with them my entire life, but the women in my family have a history of inflammation and auto immune diseases as well. I am going to look at the Specific Carb Diet you are following and this book for more ideas as well as the ones I already am using.

    Reply

    Joe August 28, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Everyday Paleo & Everyday Paleo Family cookbooks will give you a great start to a gut healing journey. Third best would be Well Fed

    Reply

    Tina August 28, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Thanks!

    Reply

    Vicky August 28, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    It’s interesting they list Lyme disease–isn’t that a disease passed by tics?

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    Steph August 29, 2012 at 12:10 am

    @Vicky: Yes, it’s a bacterial infection spread through tick bites. I have questions about the links made between inflammation and type-1 diabetes and bipolar disorder as well. Not nearly enough is known about the causes of either of those diseases to make that claim, in my view, and it seems irresponsible.

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    Dallas Hartwig August 29, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    @Steph: While I applaud your skepticism, perhaps some reading on your part would have (easily) uncovered the research on T1D that overtly demonstrates islet autoimmunity and the inflammatory etiology of said autoimmunity. An excerpt from the prestigious journal Nature:

    “Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is a chronic autoimmune disease with a strong inflammatory component. The latest studies indicate that innate immunity and inflammatory mediators have a much broader role in T1DM than initially assumed. Inflammation might contribute to early induction and amplification of the immune assault against pancreatic β cells.”

    In my opinion, what’s “irresponsible” is to flippantly dismiss statements without doing any research yourself. Here are a few studies to start with:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18176860
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1568997208000530
    http://www.nature.com/nrendo/journal/v5/n4/abs/nrendo.2009.21.html
    http://physrev.physiology.org/content/91/1/79.full
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v455/n7216/full/nature07336.html?free=2

    If you’re actually interested in learning instead of wholesale dismissal, there’s a lot more where those came from.

    Reply

    Sara August 30, 2012 at 10:43 am

    @Dallas Hartwig: Dallas, for someone who I would think would want to promote your research and learning, a condescending tone like that is not going to win you any fans.

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    Dana August 30, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    And your tone wasn’t condescending at all?? hhhmm… Interesting. He’s not promoting his “learning” – as you put it, he’s giving you facts, read them perhaps.

    Tasha August 30, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    @Dallas Hartwig: @Dallas Hartwig:
    wow, that’s rude

    Reply

    Dallas Hartwig August 31, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    @Tasha: What I think is rude is publicly accusing us of being irresponsible without any basis.

    Cheryl @ Happy is the new healthy August 28, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Tina! I love that you shared this! I have the book and I am so excited about it. I’m lucky to live in a city where there’s a really cool movement called “Life By Design” that is oh so similar to the Whole30 (very paleo-esque diet approach, crossfit/functional training, working on the brain/body connection, and taking responsibility for defining your values and purpose is the gist of it). I don’t usually promo my own blog but I’m doing my own sort of transformation and immersion into it all — http://happyisthenewhealthy.com/2012/08/27/its-about-time-2/ — but if you have time check it out! :D

    I’m excited to keep following along with you and your own progress — you’re a serious source of inspiration to me. :D

    Reply

    Tina August 28, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Checking it out now! Thank you!

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    Brooke @ Pretty In Protein August 28, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    Love this post! I would love to attend a seminar some day. I am currently on day 15 of my Whole30 so I will be checking in more frequently to see what your eating during your specific diet as well!

    Reply

    Juliette August 29, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Hey, I’m new here. I was just diagnosed with Crohn’s. I’ve gotten the same feedback from my doctors on stress levels and sleep…apparently working 12-14 hour days in IT is not good for the gut and immune system, haha.

    What’s your job? Do you have bosses flexible enough to let you cut back your hours and do what you need to do for your health?

    Good luck! I hope you feel better soon.

    Reply

    Becka @ simplybecka August 29, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I am totally checking out the Total30 website, sounds interesting thanks for sharing the highlights. Have a great day and get well soon. ^_^

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    jen August 29, 2012 at 10:08 am

    i want to learn more about paleo from legitimate, peer-reviewed scientific resources.

    i was taking “nutrition” information from my box’s lean out club. the trainer, i found out, has no nutritional or exercise science background other than crossfit certs.

    he told me and the other women the brain’s “preferred source of fuel is protein.” sadly, the women looked convinced. i almost had a stroke. i mean, science has proven it’s glucose, but, hey, if romney won’t “let our campaign be run by fact-checkers” either…

    so, come at me, science! i want some resources to read!

    Reply

    Penny August 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    @jen: Go check out all the resources in the back of Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution. That will be enough to hold you for a long time. Loren Cordain’s book will have a lot too The Paleo Diet.

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    Dallas Hartwig August 29, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    @jen: We have 400+ references in the back of our book (It Starts With Food), too. Also, I recommend practicing your Google-foo. :)

    Sadly, the CrossFit trainer at your gym was, as you point out, totally incorrect. A little information (true or otherwise) is a very dangerous thing sometimes. If there’s anything we can do to help you learn about healthy living, don’t hesitate to contact us through our website (http://whole9life.com).

    Best,

    Dallas

    Dallas

    Reply

    Anne Marie August 29, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    My husband was diagnosed about 5 years ago with ulcerative colitis when he was 23. He’s been through a few different medications, Colozol being one of them. For about the past three years though he’s been on Lialda and he hasn’t had a single flare since starting that medication. He also has learned his triggers through the years, such as raw tomatoes, whole nuts, and seeds and regardless of medication they’ll always upset him slightly, although the Lialda acts like a buffer so a full flare never ensues if he accidentally eats a trigger. Good luck in your treatment and I hope you find something that works for you.

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    Joe August 29, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    @ Dallas Hartwig…I know your position on saccharin I was referring to carrots and cake saying she was going to use the Breaking The Viscious cycle book, I looked at a few recipes in that book…and it mentioned saccharin

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    StoriesAndSweetPotatoes August 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    That’s so awesome you were able to attend and that is was helpful. I’m going to look up the other diet you are talking about because I’m doing Whole30 for IBS.

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    Christina @ The Beautiful Balance August 30, 2012 at 12:30 am

    The good news for your digestive disease is that the digestive tract is the most generative part of your body. I hope sticking to those guidelines keeps your colitis away!

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    Allison August 30, 2012 at 11:14 am

    I think it’s super irresponsible to say that the diseases listed can be “cured” by diet alone:

    “…you can improve (and even cure) these “lifestyle diseases” with dietary changes”

    I agree that some of these diseases have environmental “triggers,” but as someone with a close family member who has suffered with multiple sclerosis for over 20 years, I assure you that if the doctors who have cared for her thought that diet alone could cure her, they would have tried that by now. The aunt that has MS is a registered dietitian in NYS herself and I have never heard any of this stuff from her, either.

    It seems fishy to me that no one on the Whole9 team is a doctor or registered dietitian. It seems that some of them pursued advanced degrees, but if they are so interested in selling the nutrition program they claim to believe in so strongly, why have none of them pursued medicine or nutrition at the Masters level?

    Reply

    Meg August 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    @Allison:

    I think what we want to avoid is someone feeling like a failure bc they changed their diet and their disease is still hanging around…no doubt though diet plays a HUGE role in this various diseases.

    I do think that many symptons can be made better or worse depending on what you ingest. I have a autoimmune diseases and my diet def makes or breaks my situation. I follow a basic paleo template but do allow dairy and potatoes and rice in every once in a while. I also have been known to eat my fair share of chocolateand wine! :) However, when I am eating as clean as can be, I also feel and look my best and my antibodies (yes, I have scientific markers that prove my diet is helping me battle the disease) are going way down. When I get gluten-ed ( using it as a verb here) then I can literally feel my thryoid being attacked by antibodies for days afterwards and my antibody tests go waaay up. For me at least, there is a direct correlation to diet and the state of my autoimmune disease.

    ” I assure you that if the doctors who have cared for her thought that diet alone could cure her, they would have tried that by now” don’t be so quick to assume that…Drs are NOT certified nutrionists and many do not even have to take that many courses – or any – in nutrition…yet somehow patients believe their dr’s know best when it comes to diet. Its just simply not the case in most instances. Plus no one is saying that when you are that far along in a disease that diet is the only thing necessary to control or cure it…sometimes you are so far into it, the most you can hope for is to further reduce anymore complications or to maybe slow down the progession of a disease.If too much tissue etc (in my case my thyroid tissue) has been distroyed, then diet most certainly wont grow it back! I will likelky be on meds for the rest of my life. However ,my diet is helping me manage it much better.

    In my mind, it is not a bad thing that Dallas and Melissa may not be certified nutritionists…I disagree with most of the dietary guidelines out there (you must drink milk, you must consume whole grains – hows that working out for your IBS peeps?! – sat fat is the devil…etc)…in order to become certified they would have to knowingly answer exam questions against what they know to be true.

    Reply

    Allison August 30, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    I see what you’re saying, doctors and RD’s are not always right, and there are a lot of dietary recommendations out there that have been generally accepted to be “healthy” that do not work for everyone. My only point was that it is too bold to say that diet alone can cure autoimmune diseases. If it were that simple, someone would have figured it out by now (dr., RD or otherwise.) I do not deny the power of diet to help ease symptoms in some cases.

    Also, by pointing out that no one at Whole90 has a degree in medicine or nutrition…simply put, there are a lot of quack nutritionists out there. ANYONE can call themselves a nutritionist. People need to be careful.

    Reply

    Anna August 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    @Allison:

    I completely agree with this. To say that diet can cure some of these diseases is a very bold statement. While I have no doubt many of the illness/diseases listed can be positively affected by diet, to claim that, for example, Alzheimer’s disease can be cured by what you eat is very far-fetched. The causes of AD aren’t even known, and there are no proven treatments or preventative strategies. Yes, there is evidence that an overall healthy lifestyle is beneficial for those predisposed to ANY disease, but claims of curing diseases like AD through diet is very misleading.

    Good luck with everything Tina! I hope you find a good diet that keeps your colon happy :)

    Reply

    Meg August 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    @Anna:

    agreed- I dont know if anything can CURE alzheimers but more and more research is pointing to the fact that Alzheimers disease is heavily correlated with sugar consumption….Some Drs and researchers are going so far as calling that and dementia “type 3 diabetes”. I dont think anything can cure it, but a low sugar diet might help prevent it or stop its progression (I stress the word “might”)

    And their statement was “…you can improve (and even cure) these “lifestyle diseases” with dietary changes” thats not incorrect nor is it misleading. Its true. If you have T2D and consume excess sugar your condition will worsen…if eat less sugar you will minimize symptons…they might not completely disappear and you may still need medicine but your diet will in fact affect your condition. I just have so much more respect for the power of food in general since seeing it myself. It my not be true for everyone and we will all have different experiences but I just wanted to stress the fact that what they said is not incorrect.

    I agree with you though – you should def be careful and look at things skeptically – there are def a lot of quacks out there. However, Dallas and Melissa’s info is all backed up by research.

    I’ve never met them or worked with them but have read their book and it’s legit. I also recommend Robb Wolf’s book, as well as “The Perfect Diet” (which isn’t marketed as paleo but says many of the same things: eat real whole unprocessed food. I’m a huge fan of Chris Kressler and his website – he has been a godsend in helping me manage my hashimotos (I’m a patient) and his website is chock full of great articles (his series on thyroid health and GI health are particularly great). He’s not technically paleo but again says a lot of the same stuff.

    Peggi August 31, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Hope this all gets better soon Tina. I myself have been in the hospital 2 times in the past 2 weeks. I had been having fevers for 2 weeks. My white blood cell count was so low. I was in the hospital the first time from wednesday thru Sunday and they were treating it like a virus and waiting for additional test results. Came home and had a dr appt this past Wednesday and he sent us straight back to the hospital :-( my white blood cell ct is still only .7!!! It should be at least a 4. So I do not have a lot of energy. We finally did get a diagnosis yesterday that I have Lupus. So now we are treating for that. Just need to get that WBC up so I can go home. I have been put of work for 12 days and my son cannot see me at the hospital because I’m sorta in isolation…everyone has to where masks.

    Had to vent because I know you have had your share of health stuff. I’ll be thinking of you.

    Reply

    Tina August 31, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry to hear all this is happening to you. I hope you are well soon. What helps me when times are tough is knowing God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle. Hang in there! Stay strong!

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    Lauren @ Sassy Molassy September 3, 2012 at 10:47 am

    So interesting. Thanks for sharing. I’ve always wondered if folks who are allergic to gluten might be because their environment has turned that switch ON. Very interesting. With so much processed food in our world these days it is hard for people at times to make the healthiest choices on their own.

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    Danielle September 3, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    You might want to check out Julie Daniluk’s book Meals that Heal Inflammation. A fantastic resource – detailed information on the connection between food and nutrition, several meal plans (for meat/vegetarian/vegan lifestyles) and awesome recipes!

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    Heather @ Rise & Shine Life February 6, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Very interesting. I already have 4 things on that list & had sudden terrible reflux yesterday that is still happening today (which is what led me to this post, out of desperation). Thank you for the helpful info! I have already been on quite the food journey for my other issue, but I can’t handle this acidy feeling sooo, I guess the research continues!

    I hope your diet & other changes are making a positive difference in your life!

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    Julie November 24, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    I know this post is two years old, but I’m curious about what has happened as you’ve worked to heal your UC with diet. I’m on day 36 of my first whole30 AIP. I’ve had UC for almost 30 years and my symptoms are mostly controlled with drugs (not currently on prednisone-yay!) But I’m looking for alternatives, because my next step is going to be infusions-boo! Ok, here is my question-did your UC get better or worse while on Whole30? Because I was fine the first two weeks, and now I am having a bit of a flare, and I’m wondering if you experienced this or have heard of other people reacting this way. Thank you for any info you have!

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    Tina November 24, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Sadly, diet changes didn’t do anything for my UC symptoms. (I did AIP for 4 months with no improvement.) I’m actually on Remicade now and it seems to be working. Check out this post I just wrote: http://carrotsncake.com/2014/11/remicade-infusion-2-everything-i-tried-ulcerative-colitis.html

    Reply

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