One of my favorite things about the paleo community is how much information there is out there. Articles, research, and blog posts galore. Everyone sharing their knowledge and experiences. A lot of open discussions on what works for some folks and what works for others. It’s fantastic, when you’re new to paleo it’s like joining this club and everyone is really nice and they wants you to succeed.
What happens when you run into uncharted territory? What happens when you no longer see yourself being represented in the great wealth of information out there? What if you have tried all of it, and it hasn’t worked? You start thinking “What am I doing wrong?” I mean, if ALL of the experts, all of your role models say hey… THIS is how it works. Do THIS, or this and it will happen… but then… it doesn’t… what now?
Most folks come to paleo for one or two reasons: weight loss and/or health issues. Paleo has the power to help pounds melt off without starving yourself. It teaches folk to LOVE whole ingredient meals, to cook more, to nourish their bodies instead of just eating to fill up. Paleo has been known to heal leaky gut, Cohn’s, and a slew of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. This is why I ended up going paleo, I wanted both of those things.
I saw GREAT results. I lost 40lbs, I had more energy, I was learning so much. I did the autoimmune protocol and learned how to keep my autoimmune disease in remission. It’s been an amazing journey. But now I have reached the point where I’ve been at this long enough, eating like this is second nature to me. I love it. I’m active. I get enough sleep and sun. I have made it my business to stay on track… and yet… over a year has passed and my progress is still halted.
When The Status Quo No Longer Applies To You
In the last year I have tirelessly read EVERY SINLGLE ARTICLE on “trouble shooting.” All the “how you’re doing paleo wrong”, “most common mistakes on the pale diet”, “break that plateau”… ALL. OF .THEM. Most of the time I sit there (internally) yelling at the screen or book… I already do that, tried it, nope! If that isn’t the case then I implement the advice given. I don’t pretend to be an expert on this stuff. My area of expertise is in the kitchen. I need help just like everyone else to figure out my health. So I read, research and listen to those who are experts. I am open, flexible and willing. Willing to learn, to change, to try.
As my frustration amounted I went to see my naturopath to get answers. While he didn’t have all the answers, my conundrum even stumped him; he suggested Dutch Test (https://dutchtest.com/). The DUTCH test is a comprehensive hormone test.
What I did get from seeing him; the realization and confirmation that I WAS doing everything right (for me). That it was no longer MY FAULT, that I wasn’t progressing. I think that was a very important (mental health) aha moment. It also re-energized my resolve. I practice self-love in my dedication to figuring out what is going on with my body and not giving up on my goals.
Between ordering the DUTCH test, waiting for the right time in my cycle to get the samples (you pee on a few strips), mailing it back and waiting for results… I ended up trying the keto diet. I KNOW that insulin plays a big role in balancing hormones, and I KNOW that my body is very sensitive to carbs and sugar. To the point that if I eat high carb too many days in a row or eat sweet treats too many days in a row, I get an autoimmune response. Whoa. So I went with my instincts and embarked on keto. Not a huge leap from my already low carb paleo, but a change none the less.
It’s been a month now. I got my hormone testing results back. I wasn’t surprised. In a nutshell: my estrogen levels are through the roof, my cortisol levels are fine, but my cortisone levels are really high, and of course adrenals are depleted. My doctor wants to focus on lowering stress. Of course I want that, but I’m concerned with my estrogen levels. Again, going with my intuition here… but I feel like I’m connecting all these dots.
You see, even though I have been eating keto, and as per the keto strips turning purple when I pee on them, telling me I’m in ketosis… I still feel out of whack. My energy is not consistent, my weight loss CRAWLS. My cycle really messes with me, like bad. I can tell when I begin ovulation because I feel like I have a hangover. Yeah, WTF?!?
Before you say, but you just need more carbs… I have tried it all folks. Done more carbs, and yes helped during workouts, but wreaked havoc on my system the rest of the time. I’m getting to the part where I say… by golly we’ve got it!
Quick insert here: yes, I do often think, even after TWO years of paleo how can my body still be so unbalanced? But all I can do it keep trying get better. On ward!
Ok, here are the dots I’ve connected… being in ketosis but still feeling without energy during my workouts means my body isn’t in fact using stored fat for fuel… which means my liver isn’t metabolizing fat… which means, there are probably some nasty toxins that my body is storing and I think my liver can’t handle it. Guess what? The liver is also responsible for eliminating extra estrogen and other hormones in the body. Paired with my crazy estrogen dominance… welp. .. that explains pretty much EVERYTHING.
The key is my liver. I need to help my liver. This extremely regenerative organ has worked so hard for me, now I need to give it a little extra love. I need to help it filter out toxins and hormones probably accumulated from years of using conventional beauty products, plastic food storage, pregnancy and alcohol consumption. On a more esoteric note, I think our emotions can be manifested in your physical bodies and while I have done a lot of work to heal my inner self along the way, I think I may need to further connect with my inner self, talk to my body and ask it what it needs, as well as not judging it and being grateful for all it does for me. I’ve had to work really hard on letting go of resentment, resentment for my autoimmune disease. I was very angry with my body for turning on itself and I used to think of the life I would have had, had I not been burdened with my HS. Now I know, if it weren’t for all of it… I wouldn’t be ME, and I, despite and even because of it all, LOVE the life I have.
Now that I THINK I have (mostly) figured out my great hurdle I would like to say that I don’t know if you are going through the same thing, or what will help you. You have to do your own self experimentation.
I plan to keep digging, I need a more complete picture. I want to get labs done again. I also ordered a blood glucose meter. Last time I had labs done, a year ago, before going keto, my blood glucose tested at 70 (which is pretty dang low). So I’m interested to see where it is now, and test it regularly to achieve a really steady blood glucose level which will help my hormones.
I’m eating lots of leafy greens, duh. I’ve added flax seeds into my diet.
Other things I am doing to help:
Ashwagandha: For adrenal support. Yes, it’s a nightshade. The supplement I am taking is made from the root and it does not cause me to flare.
Dandelion Root: detox support, helps balance blood sugar
Milk Thistle: detox support, anti-inflammatory properties
Vit B Complex: helps liver work efficiently
Exogenous Ketones: for energy during workouts
Zinc: boost immune system, helps protect against liver disease (important to consume liver to balance out Vit A and Copper)
Magnesium: Helps with all bodily functions. Soothes and energizes muscles cells.
Calcium D Gluconate: This is the heavy hitter… it’s the strongest support for liver detox, and works really well with estrogen dominance. More on why this supplement is awesome here: https://blog.bulletproof.com/calcium-d-glucarate/
I have also ordered Reishi Mushroom powder to help recover after workouts. I am also considering DIM, a compound naturally found in cruciferous vegetables which blocks estrogen production but I am going to wait on it. I am taking a lot of stuff right now. Maybe this will be my back up plan.
I’m sticking to low carb paleo for now. That may change, depending on what the glucose meter tells me. All things subject to change. I don’t think there is ONE answer. I think it is often a million VARIABLES. Kind of like parenting, there is no manual.