Written by: Angelina
In the spring of 2012 I was told about ”The Paleo Solution” and how it changed a friend’s life. I picked up a copy of the book and it collected dust on my nightstand for months. On December 13, 2012 my mother had pancreatic cancer surgery. I threw the book into my bag and took it to the hospital, thinking I could read it to kill some time.
I sat bed-side with my mom for three weeks following surgery, during which time she recounted all of her health history, and I was shocked at how many conditions she had had over the years that the Paleo Solution discussed. My mother smoked cigarettes for 50+ years, and she had a stroke in 1994, at the age of 49. From then on her health continued to deteriorate. By December 2012 her veins and arteries from her abdominal aorta down to her toes were completely blocked with calcium and cholesterol plaque, which attributed to a stasis ulcer in her leg. At 68 years of age she has just begun recovery from a leg amputation. Her vascular surgeon stated that we all have “some” plaque build-up in our blood vessels, and told me and my sisters that we are genetically predisposed to have a similar problem with our vessels, particularly if we smoked. The doctors have not yet been able to begin cancer treatment.
But the diseases and symptoms my mother had, and almost all of which the Paleo Solution identified, began showing up many years earlier. Her conditions included: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, osteoporosis, gall bladder stones – gall bladder removal, hiatus hernia, gout, hair loss, psoriasis, calcium ring around the outer iris…etc. While they were all identified, traditional western medicine was not able to ”cure” them.
In December, in an effort to help my mom change her health, I suggested that we start the paleo diet together. I would be her ”diet buddy” to keep her motivated. I had selfish reasons; she and I are almost identical in physical features, and share the same blood type etc. I had a blood clot in my right leg in 2000, and was taken off birth control pills. I had smoked for 20 years and quit in 2005. And although I had quit, I had other health concerns. I knew that if I didn’t want to be lying in a hospital bed in a similar condition to her twenty some years from now, rather than enjoying my retirement, I had better at least try the diet. And that was the beginning of my paleo journey.
While visiting in the hospital I ”experimented” if you will with paleo eating, and found that my bowel movements were surprisingly much more ”normal”. I began to feel more energy, and just generally better overall. In the first week of February 2013 I gave up all grains, legumes, potatoes, and rice completely. Although I must say getting just two sausage patties and an egg white from the drive-thru took about 10 minutes, and persuading the clerk that I really didn’t want the biscuit was a bit frustrating, it was well worth it. My husband (who is lactose intolerant) and I had given up regular consumption of pasta, potatoes, and fatty meats several years earlier simply for the ”fat”. And milk products had not been included in dinner meals for years. When my second child was born in 2007, my paediatrician recommended we eat fish at least twice, and preferably three times, a week. About two years ago we took regular consumption of rice out of our meals, as it just seemed like “filler”, and we wanted the kids to get the benefits of more vegetables. And last fall after learning that cooking with olive oil was not so good for us, we switched entirely to coconut oil.
So shifting to a paleo diet was not too far a leap for us. I cleaned out the pantry on three different occasions, and made donations to the food bank (I did feel very guilty about that though). I cut back a great deal on my cheese intake, although I have not given it up entirely (yet), and cook fish every other day for dinner.
The physical and emotional metamorphosis’ I have experienced since has been life changing. I was never a morning person; my kids could not even speak to me until I had at least one sip of coffee. Now I wake up without an alarm clock, and some mornings I don’t even have a coffee. I no longer feel the sluggish ”need coffee!” zombie fuzz in the mid afternoon, and I go to bed tired, but not exhausted. My hair loss, which began to be excessive and concerning in January 2012, has almost entirely seized and has begun to thicken up. For as long and I could remember I regularly woke up with mildly aching pains in my ilium and pelvis bones. Doctors were never able to diagnose the cause of this. I haven’t experienced an ache in months. I can now walk up the 32 stairs from the basement to the second floor in our home without a single joint or muscle pain, or discomfort. To do something like that without the “grunt” that we often associated with just getting older was simply miraculous for me. Thirteen years ago I had taken up jogging for about one week. When I noticed tiny blood vessels broken, that looked similar to varicose veins, around the inside of my ankles I quit, thinking this sport was not for me. The vessels never recovered and looked the same all that time. Just this past week (April) I noticed the broken vessels were nearly completely gone in one ankle, and only a fraction remained in the other. How cool is that? My discharge, which was always considered ”normal” in volume, etc. is now almost non-existent.
But the most life changing was the change in my bowel movements. I had experienced chronic diarrhea all of my adult life that would leave me feeling wiped out and dehydrated. I was tested in 1994 for Giardiasis (beaver fever), and in 1995 for Crohns disease. Both tests were inconclusive, and I was not provided with any long lasting cure. I tried for years to determine which food it was that caused the stomach pain, diarrhea, and foul odour of my feces and gas. It was the most difficult condition to manage. I would avoid eating just to avoid embarrassing situations. After only three days of completely eliminating grains and legumes, the diarrhea seized. After reading The Paleo Solution and doing a little google research, I now realize that I likely have Celiac disease.
In March, I had my first annual check-up since turning 40 in 2010. And although I have no past reference, I am happy to report that both my HDL and LDL cholesterol levels are good. I was diagnosed with a Protein ’S’ deficiency in 2005. The deficiency can attribute to blood clotting. The annual check-up identified that I have a ”fatty liver”, which may or may not be attributed to Celiac disease. I plan to have another check-up five months from now to see if the paleo diet has influenced either of those two conditions.
A fringe benefit , as I like to refer to it, of the paleo diet is that I have lost 9 lbs and now weigh what I did when I was in my early twenties (107 lbs. and 5’ 2”). My new saying is “Just Think Outside the Bun”. I have shared my experience with whoever will listen. I carry a copy of the book, which I have read twice and underlined, with me everywhere. I have purchased 11 copies of the book and given them to family and friends, all of whom suffer from one or more conditions discussed in the book. Now if the Canadian Health Food Association would just get on board I might not go broke trying to share the good news.
Thank you Robb, you may have just saved my life! You certainly changed it forever.