Helicopters in Your Belly

If you’ve been a frequent visitor, you will be aware that our household is undergoing some radical changes with diet and lifestyle, prompted by a keen desire to improve our health. However the path that we have taken has had many ups and downs, crossroads and detours due to new diagnoses impacting on recommended dietary treatments.

Well there is another one being thrown into the mix. Helicobacter Pylori – or as Mum calls them, helicopters. She was actually diagnosed with this infection a few years ago, but it had been put on the backburner. However, it has reared its ugly head again, by interfering with her treatment plan.

So – what on earth is Helicobacter pylori? As you know, I am not a doctor, and have no medical training. However I do like to have an understanding of diagnoses and why certain treatments are being recommended by our health carers.   The internet is such a marvellous tool, and though you do have to be careful of your sources, and sometimes take things with a grain of salt, you can learn quite a lot sitting in front of your computer.

I’ve tried to stick with genuine medical websites, and those that provide a consistent message. Here is my summary of these lovely little critters.

H pylori ulcer diagram en
 

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium (germ) that lives in the inner lining of the stomach. Due to the bacteria’s spiral shape and how they move, they are able to burrow into the stomach’s protective mucous lining. Once in there, they produce chemical substances that weaken that lining and make the stomach more susceptible to damage.

The damage caused by the bacteria causes inflammation of the stomach (gastritis), stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers, and has even been proven to cause some stomach cancers.

The bacteria quite often don’t cause symptoms themselves, and some people will never display symptoms at all, but symptoms of the damage to the mucous lining and excess production of gastric acids can include:

  • Gnawing of burning abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloating
  • Burping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Black, tarry stools

It is still not known how the infection is spread, however once a person has become infected, it is persistent and can remain for life.

Treatment is available to eradicate the bacteria, generally through a strong course of a number of antibiotics. If this treatment is successful, the chance of recurrence is very low.

Sources:

 When her GP diagnosed this infection, Mum was placed on the standard course of antibiotics, however the side-effects were so severe that she did not complete the course. Therefore, the infection is still present, and is now impacting on her other treatment. Natural treatments are available, and this is the path that we will be investigating next. As always, we’ll let you know how we go!

Liebster Award!

imageI feel incredibly thankful and humble to have been nominated by Lucy Borthwick for the Liebster Award.  I’m still a newbie blogger, and this is the second award I’ve been nominated for – wow!

This award is a wonderful way to connect with and share new blogs, with the rules being:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you
  • Answer the eleven questions they ask you
  • Nominate eleven bloggers with less than 500 followers
  • Ask those bloggers eleven new questions
  • Let those bloggers know they have been nominated, so they can continue the chain!

So, here we go:

1. What made you decide to start blogging?

As I was researching the raw food diet, I came across many blogs with so many interesting tips, hints, and shared experiences that I found really helpful.  I thought that maybe I could help someone else by recording my own journey into the world of raw food (which of course has now mutated into raw/paleo/gluten-free/whole food).  If any of the ideas or recipes I share help even one other person, it has been worthwhile.

2. Which travel destination would you recommend most?

Unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to do much travelling – yet.  I am determined that will change, but for now I can highly recommend Fiji as a travel destination.  I was fortunate enough to stay in the villages with the people, which is a wholly different experience to what many would have by staying only in a beachfront resort.  The people are the friendliest and happiest I have ever known, and more than willing to share what little they have.  The beaches and islands are stunningly beautiful too.

3. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

This may sound cliché or a little boring, but I could never imagine living anywhere else other than Australia.  I would love to visit many other places in the world, but as the song goes, “I still call Australia home”.  It truly is the Lucky Country, with such diverse and stunning landscapes, wide open spaces, ocean, desert, wilderness and rainforest.

4. What’s your favourite cuisine?

Ooh, that’s a tough one.  Can I just say European?  Italian, Greek, French – I can’t really decide!

5. Which food is your guilty pleasure?

Cheesecake!  Although, now that I have discovered how to make whole food raw cheesecake, it’s not so much on the guilty side :).  Smooth, creamy, light, and numerous flavour options….mmmm!

6. Where would you most like to travel that you haven’t visited yet?

Well the list could simply go on and on here, as I haven’t been anywhere other than Fiji!  New Zealand, Canada, Greece, Italy, England, Scotland, Ireland….

7.  What is one tip that you would give aspiring/new bloggers?

Stay engaged: respond to comments and questions, comment on other blogs, like posts, stay abreast of new blogs in your areas of interest.

8. Best piece of advice you have ever received?

Worrying doesn’t achieve anything other than wearing yourself down.  I’ve had to learn that the hard way, but I think I have finally mastered the art of letting go!

9. Your favourite thing to do on holidays/travels?

Get to know the people and the culture; see past the tourism hype and learn about the reality of life in that place

10. What’s your dream job?

I am really happy with the job I currently have, which is built around compliance and data analysis (not everyone’s cup of tea!).  However, I would love to either be able to spend more time working on my art, and become a professional artist (if I ever become good enough).  Or, since delving into food in such a big way recently, the idea has been lurking that I would love to develop my own products that work for people with multiple food sensitivities – such as a cafe, or produce line to sell through our local organic supermarket.

11. What’s the most exciting animal you’ve seen abroad?

Umm… nothing really exciting to share here I’m afraid.  As I’ve only been to Fiji, I would have to say dolphins, even though we have them at home too.  I have seen elephants, giraffes, tigers and lions at an interstate open range zoo – does that count? 😛

 

My Nominees

1. Eat Munch Love

2. Food Full Life

3. The Vegan Muffin Woman

4. I Need a Feed

5. Detox Mama

6. Ocean View Kitchen

7. Krumkaker

8. Vinicombe’s Food and Coffee

9. Sinfully Tempting

10. Chug Your Greens

11. Eclectic Odds n Sods

I have nominated these blogs as they have posted interesting, insightful, amusing and/or yummy things!

 

My Questions

1. What have you most enjoyed so far about blogging?

2. What is your favourite comfort food?

3. Where would you go if you could take a holiday right now?

4. Summer or Winter?

5. What has been your biggest challenge so far as a blogger?

6. What advice would you give to someone considering starting a blog?

7. What is your go-to evening meal recipe?

8. What is the strangest food you have eaten?

9. Is there anything you would never eat?

10. What is your favourite way to unwind?

11. What would be your dream holiday?

 

I can’t wait to see your answers! 🙂

Hi and Welcome (updated)

Welcome to my blog, recording my topsy-turvy journey into the world of Whole Food.  Since beginning this blog a few short months ago, my path has been redirected from a purely Raw Food diet to one I have dubbed the ‘Rawleotype‘ diet.  This is a somewhat peculiar mix of Raw Vegan, Paleo and GenoType.  The main emphasis remains that the food we eat is whole, natural and unprocessed, and that gluten, dairy, eggs and refined sugar are limited.

I hope that I may be able to share some of the things I learn, to help you maybe avoid some of the problems I have, and to provide some helpful tips on things that have worked for me.  I hope you will join me as I Hunt and Gather a raft of recipes, tips and ideas 🙂

MTHFR – A Brief Look

4As promised, I am going to provide a brief outline of the MTHFR gene mutation, and what that means for us.  I am not a doctor, nor have any medical training of any sort.  The information below is simply my understanding of the condition, based on my own internet research.  There are several sites, referenced at the end of this post, that will be able to provide more in-depth information if you’re interested.

Firstly, what does MTHFR stand for?  The full title is – methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase.  Unless you’re a scientist or in the medical field, you will no doubt find MTHFR easier to remember, write, and say.

The MTHFR gene produces the MTHFR enzyme, which plays a pivotal role in a process called methylation.  Methylation, which is the addition of a methyl group (a group of atoms) to another molecule, is responsible for a huge array of processes responsible for keeping your body whole, healthy, and functioning well.  Some of the key processes include:

  • Making proteins
  • Utilising antioxidants
  • Assisting the liver to process fats
  • Defence against depression and inflammation
  • Support for immune system
  • Production and breakdown of brain chemicals serotonin, dopamine and melatonin
  • Growth, repair and maintenance of cells and tissue
  • Elimination of toxins and heavy metals
  • Support of adrenal system
  • Supply glutathione, a key anti-oxidant
  • Support our energy cycle

In a nutshell, methylation is a switch that turns genes, enzymes and neurotransmitters on and off.  This can mean turning on or off:

  • Tissue repair
  • Inflammation
  • The stress response
  • The aging process
  • Production of anti-oxidants and amino acids

When someone has a mutated MTHFR gene, the enzyme it produces is defective, and does not function correctly.  This can lead to retention of heavy metals in the system, and high levels of homocysteine.  These build ups can each lead to multiple, and severe, consequences such as:

  • Increased risk of heart disease and thrombosis
  • Increased risk of dementia
  • Build up of stress and toxins
  • Increased risk of arteriosclerosis
  • Fatty liver degenerative disease
  • Anemia
  • Increased inflammation and free radical damage
  • Reduction in the production of SAM-e, which can lead to depression
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Miscarriages
  • Migraines
  • Chemical sensitivities

Other conditions that have been linked to the MTHFR gene mutation include:

  • Autism
  • Schizophrenia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Parkinson’s
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Heart murmers
  • Asthma

There are a number of forms of the gene mutation, with research only fairly new in this field.  Currently, there are two main positions that are being researched and tested for – C667T and A1298C.  These codes relate to the actual segments of the gene where the mutations can be found.  The terms Homozygous and Heterozygous relate to whether you have received a mutation from one or both parents.

Heterozygous means you have one copy of either the 677 mutation, or the 1298 mutation, plus a normal one from the other parent.  This generally relates to a 40% loss of function of the MTHFR enzyme.  This is the diagnosis that we are facing for Mum.

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So what does this all mean?

Genetic research is still a relatively new field, and therefore treatment is also not fully developed.  Most treatment protocols include the supplementation of the amino acids and anti-oxidants being limited by the mutation, along with dietary changes.  The removal of gluten from the diet, along with most other cereal grains, is a widely used technique.  The GenoType diet is also based on the methylation process, hence why it is also used as a foundation of treatment.

All in all, this will be an ongoing journey and education over the foreseeable future, as new research continues, and treatments are developed.  Come and join the ride if you dare!

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Resources

http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/mthfr/

http://www.mthfrsupport.com.au/

http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/MTHFR

http://mthfr.net/

http://www.proactivwellnesscenters.com/Hormone-Replacement/mthfr-implications-and-treatment/

The Rawleotype Diet – Say What??

imageIf you’ve been following my recent posts, you’ll be aware that medical issues and pending diagnoses have turned our dietary lives on our heads.

Well, the results are in.  Mum is not coeliac – phew!  However, she still must avoid gluten and processed sugar.  That isn’t so painful, as the Raw Food diet already complies with this.  However, her naturopath isn’t a huge fan of Raw, and insists on cooked food still being the staple.  Her dietary advice comes from a few different sources, based on scientific test results, so I’m willing to work with it.  Raw food will still be incorporated into Mum’s diet though, as there are too many benefits not to.

So, what are these tests and results?

Mum is Heterozygous for the MTHFR Gene Mutation C677T. 

I’m sure that makes as much sense to you as it did to me when I first heard it.  I will go into the exact details of the mutation in a separate post.  For now, I want to look at how our naturopath has interpreted this result and developed a nutrition plan.

1. The GenoType Diet

Dr Peter D’Adamo is the author of the Blood Type Diet, and the GenoType Diet.  He has undertaken many years of scientific research into the human body, and how foods interact with different people.  The question behind this research is essentially ‘why don’t all diets work for all people?’  I’m sure we’ve all seen examples of the inconsistency in results of different people undertaking the same diet.  Some people drop the kilos, have abundant energy and feel 10 years younger.  Other people following the exact same regime feel sluggish, bloated and the weight simply won’t budge.

Dr D’Adamo has discovered that our genetic makeup has a huge impact on how our bodies utilise and react to different foods.  I’ve read his book, and I can understand his theory.  We haven’t been utilising this regime for long enough to determine if it will have real effects yet.

There are 6 GenoTypes, and these are determined by such things as your physical measurements, body shape, teeth shape, fingerprint patterns and blood type.  Mum has been identified as a ‘Gatherer’, and reading the definition of this type, I can see how she fits.

Dietary wise, Gatherers are put onto a high-protein, low GI diet, with foods designed to aid in natural detoxification and to boost metabolism. There is a list of ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ foods, essentially those that your body can utilise well and provide the most benefits, and those that will slow down your metabolism and cause problems.  The list I posted recently is the Gatherer’s ‘bad’ list.  These are therefore foods Mum should avoid whenever possible.

2. The Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet has become very popular over the last few years, particularly amongst the fitness community.  The philosophy behind it is going back to our roots, and how our ancestors ate before the development of agriculture ie the Hunter-Gatherer’s.  Food was freshly picked, foraged and killed.

In modern-day translation, this means grass-fed meat, no processed food, no cereals or grains, limited nuts and seeds, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Other than the meat, this diet resonates with me, as it is natural, whole food, with limited human intervention.  I do struggle with the amount of meat included in the paleo diet, especially the use of organ meat.  I am still doing a lot of reading and research into Paleo, and think I will be taking some of the ideas on board, whilst leaving some alone.

3. The Raw Diet

You of course are aware of my belief in the Raw Food Diet.  Fresh, natural food.  Lots of fruit and vegetables, good fats and proteins from nuts, seeds and coconut, and retaining the maximum nutritional benefit by not heating the food above 46 degrees C.   I am determined to still use Raw methodology as much as possible, whilst complying with the specified foods on Mum’s approved lists.

Hence, I have labelled our new dietary regime the Rawleotype Diet – a balanced use of the benefits from each of these diet styles.  The results could be interesting!

The Big Experiment – First Batch of Gluten Free Baking

imageI went a little mad and did a huge batch of baking last weekend, trying out some of the new gluten free recipes I’ve collected.

There was a mixed bag of results, which I will share with you over the next few days.  Overall though, I’m pretty happy with how they turned out – especially my own modified recipe, which I was sure would wind up tasting like glue!

On the menu were:

  • Quinoa and chia flatbread
  • Muesli scones
  • Fig Newtons
  • Butter cookies
  • Lemon and flax seed muffins

All recipes were gluten, dairy, egg and processed sugar free.  And all perfectly edible, though some yummier than others!

Healthy Every Day Cookbook

imageSince having our dietary lives upset, I seem to be spending most of my time looking at recipes.  A very timely new cookbook has arrived on the shelves from Australian chef Pete Evans – Healthy Every Day.

I snapped up a copy from Big W, and proceeded to read through and mark off recipes to try.  It’s a very comprehensive book, with lots of extra tips and info.

I have just a few recipes tagged to try – could take me a while to work through them all!

We’ve already tried the quinoa crusted fish – mmm mmm!

Dietary Madness

imageI’ve been very quiet over the last week.  As previously mentioned, our lives have been turned upside down with the new dietary regime.  My head has been so full of trying to grasp the good and bad foods, and rearranging meals that I’m afraid I have let posting slide a little.

We have not yet returned for the test results, so don’t know those results yet, and therefore if the gluten and grain free requirement will be permanent.  I have still been digging and doing a lot of research on gluten free meals, and doing a little bit of experimenting.  There are some fantastic blogs and sites out there with reams of recipes that I’ve been enthusiastically downloading.  As always though, there is also a lot of contradictory information to wade through.

To give you an idea, on top of already being intolerant to eggs and cows milk, and trying to maintain a significant portion of raw food, this is the list of foods that Mum is no longer able to have:

  • Agar
  • Alfalfa Sprout
  • Apple Juice
  • Avocado Oil
  • Bacon
  • Black Pepper
  • Blackberry
  • Bok Choi; Pak Choi
  • Canola Oil
  • Capers
  • Cauliflower
  • Chickpea
  • Coconut Milk
  • Corn; Popcorn
  • Cornmeal
  • Cornstarch
  • Date
  • Durum
  • Ham
  • Hazelnut
  • Hemp Seed
  • Kefir
  • Ketchup
  • Kiwi
  • Leek
  • Margarine
  • Miso
  • Mung Bean
  • Olives
  • Orange Juice
  • Peanut Butter
  • Peanut Oil
  • Peanuts
  • Pine Nuts
  • Plum
  • Poppy Seed
  • Pork
  • Potato – white with skin
  • Rhubarb
  • Safflower Oil
  • Semolina
  • Shiitake Mushrooms
  • Sorghum
  • Sugar
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Tamari
  • Tapioca
  • Wheat Bran
  • Wheat/Wheat Flour

Also, she has been told to avoid gluten, as many cereal grains as possible, plus cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), corn and lettuce.

Needless to say, a significant amount of my time is spend poring over recipes and checking lists.  Grocery shopping is taking twice as long as it used to.  I know this will all become quicker with time, but it’s all quite exhausting at the moment.

I’ll try to share the successful recipes I find, both raw and cooked.  Let the fun begin…. I mean, continue!

Spot the Difference

This is the change so far.  I still have a way to go, but I’m pretty pleased with my progress so far.  This is without going hungry, and no frenetic exercise.  Just good, healthy food. 

I’m not a bit one for photos of myself, but when this one was taken the other day, I could really see the change.

The December photo is the one I saw of myself and suddenly realised how fat I had become.

image

A State of Confusion

imageOur lives have been completely turned upside down this week. The naturopath has thrown our dietary lives into a spin.

She conducted a live blood analysis, reviewed a very thorough questionnaire we had previously completed, measured weight, height and muscle-fat ratio, and completed the genotype assessment.

In conclusion, she drafted a diet plan that is somewhere between the GenoType diet and the Paleo diet.  

She has also ordered additional blood tests, though she would not disclose what it is she was looking for, preferring to wait until the results come back. Whilst I understand her not wanting to cause unwarranted concern for something that may never eventuate, there is a large question mark hanging over our heads.

When we went for the test, the phlebotomist asked if Mum was being tested for coeliac disease, which raised a few red flags. Coinciding with the naturopath’s ruling to avoid gluten and grains, this was a major cause for concern. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.

Going back to food, we were given a list (from the GenoType diet) of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, with instructions to avoid as many of the bad ones as possible. We are also to go gluten free, and preferably avoid all cereal grains, as well as corn, dairy and lettuce – I’m still puzzled about the lettuce. Also ruled out were cruciferous vegetables (kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), due to pre-existing thyroid disease.

There are some elements of the Paleo diet that aligns with the Raw diet, such as no processed sugar, no wheat or processed grains, lots of fruit and veggies. A lot of the ‘good’ food list from the GenoType diet are also part of the Raw Diet.

However, the key difference is the meat. Lots of meat. Three times a day meat. Steak for breakfast, soup for lunch, stew for tea.

Considering for the last two months, we have been predominantly raw vegan, this has been a bit of a culture shock. Thankfully this is not my prescribed diet and I therefore don’t have to follow it, however as I’m the one who prepares all of the meals, it still has made life interesting. I’m trying to still remain at least 70% raw, but it’s simply not practical to cook two separate meals all the time.

Therefore, the strategy is to have raw breakfasts, snacks and desserts whenever possible; maintain green smoothies for lunch, and try to incorporate a raw element into the evening meal. My head is full to bursting with all of the new structure and legal foods, so this week was a bit of a shemozzle.

I’m determined that next week will be better.