**This post was written in 2017 (I used to write posts about my health protocols as I went through them, so those posts are more time-dependent), and since writing this, these health issues have been resolved. I am grateful for these experiences as they inspired me to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and health coach myself. Please remember that this post is not current – it was just a documentation of my experiences at the time.**
Yesterday I officially started my newest health protocol, so I thought it was about time for an update post! It’s fun stuff following along with this topsy turvy ride I call my “health protocol”, don’t ya think? If you’re interested in reading the earlier installments of this series, you can read part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here, and part 5 here. I can’t believe we are already on part 6!
In my last update, I explained that I decided to start from scratch with everything. It was very frustrating to have to start over after being so diligent for over five months with a strict diet and supplement regimen, but I felt like things had actually gotten worse. My digestion and hormones were incredibly off, I was having a lot of symptoms, and it was clear that what we were doing was not working. I retested everything and am going back to the beginning, and I’m doing things differently this time.
Right now the focus is on healing my gut, and that should allow other things to fall into place afterwards. As we know, a healthy gut is pretty much the key to everything else, so we always start with that. My most recent labs showed a new strain of Candida overgrowth, inflammation in my small intestine, and a number of food sensitivities. In order to heal my gut, I’ll continue to work on killing my Candida overgrowth. In addition to that, I’ll be removing the foods from my diet that my body is sensitive to.
In terms of the Candida protocol, I’ll still be following an anti-Candida diet in combination with a few different supplements to work on killing the overgrowth. If you want to learn more about Candida overgrowth, you can read my post about it here. In terms of the Candida protocol, it’s very similar to what I’ve already been doing for the past 5 months, except now I’m taking a stronger anti-fungal and additional supports in order to be more aggressive with my treatment. The diet is mostly the same – no sugars, fruits, mushrooms, processed foods, etc. Basically, nothing that could feed the overgrowth!
The main changes to my protocol are due to my MRT results. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, the MRT is the Mediator Release Test, which is a blood test for food sensitivities. I have experience with a number of different food sensitivity tests, but the MRT is the only one I really trust in terms of results. No food sensitivity test is 100% accurate, and everyone is going to have their own opinion about the validity of different tests, how you should interpret and handle the results, and so on. I personally trust the MRT and have seen success with it in the past.
After getting back my new results, I was happy to see that a lot of the food sensitivities that showed up on my previous test were no longer there. Last time, I had a really difficult time with how many vegetables I was sensitive to, since vegetables are the main part of my diet. However, there were still a few foods that showed up again on this test, which I’ll explain in a moment.
The MRT is divided up into sections of different food categories, so I’ll go section by section. The dairy section was highly reactive – no surprise there. I don’t eat dairy, though, so I don’t really care about those results. Same with the grains section. Wouldn’t be eating them anyways. In the fruits section, the foods I reacted to were olives, cranberries, and honeydew melon. Honeydew melon has shown up on every single food sensitivity test I’ve ever taken in my life, and I’ve never liked melon anyways, so I’ve always just thought of that as a permanent food intolerance that I don’t care about. Cutting out cranberries is really no big deal either – I never eat them. While I don’t eat many actual olives, that sensitivity includes olive oil. We will talk about that in a moment.
Let’s move on to vegetables. I was really pleasantly surprised in this section because I was convinced that I had become sensitive to the vegetables I had been eating over and over again during the past few months. However, the only vegetables that showed up were white potato (which I never eat), sweet potato, zucchini, and lettuce. Both sweet potatoes and lettuce showed up on my last MRT 5 months ago, as well. Zucchini was a new one, but it makes sense since I’ve eaten so much of it in the last few months.
In terms of seafood, the only food that showed up was shrimp. I was SO happy that was all that popped up in that section. For meats and poultry, the only food I reacted to was turkey. Again, I was pleasantly surprised it was only one food, but turkey also showed up on my food sensitivity test 5 months ago. Another repeat offender, which makes me concerned.
In the flavor enhancers section, I reacted to cayenne pepper, maple, parsley, dill, lemon, and cocoa. In the miscellaneous section, I reacted to coffee, baker’s yeast (again), cola, and tea. For nuts, I reacted to walnuts.
Thankfully, most of those things I either don’t eat a lot of to begin with or just don’t care about. I’m going to miss walnuts, but I can definitely live without them. I can have cashews again, which I’m so happy about, and I can still have almonds and pecans as well. Tea refers to black and green tea, which I rarely ever drink, so I can deal with that as well, and I’m not a coffee person.
In terms of spices, I’ll miss parsley and dill a little bit, but no biggie to go without them. The hardest thing in that section is the lemon. I use a lot of lemon in cooking, and it’s also in a lot of products – dressings, teas, and even spices – so that was a huge bummer for me. Lemon is one of my favorite flavors, but I’ll survive.
My biggest concern is the olive oil. I use a lot of olive oil every day, but I can replace that in my own cooking with other oils like avocado oil, macadamia oil, coconut oil, and so on. It makes sense why my body can’t heal if I’m pounding down something it’s intolerant to with every single meal, though.
The main problem, however, is that eliminating olive oil makes it pretty much impossible for me to eat out at all. Olive oil is used in almost everything made or served at restaurants (unless they use an unhealthy oil, which I wouldn’t be eating anyways). After just coming off of five months of avoiding eating out at restaurants because of my pepper/lettuce/spinach intolerances, I was hoping that my sensitivities this time wouldn’t limit me from eating out. That wasn’t in the cards, though, so I’ll have to just last a few more months with only home-cooked meals! Socially, this can be a huge challenge, but my past experiences in the last few years have equipped me very well for dealing with that obstacle. I’m honestly a pro at this.
Lettuce is another extremely inconvenient thing to take out of my diet, just because being able to make salads whenever/wherever is incredibly helpful. The more concerning thing about this, though, is the fact that lettuce showed up again on my MRT.
Sweet potatoes, turkey, and lettuce all showed up two times in a row, which could mean a few things. The first possibility is that I have an actual longterm intolerance to those foods and will need to just avoid them like my other longterm intolerances. The second is that the previous elimination diet didn’t allow for full healing.
In terms of lettuce, my guess is the second option. During my last elimination diet, my NTP told me that “lettuce” didn’t include tango or endive, so I was eating a lot of both of those throughout the whole process. I have now discovered that tango and endive are in the lettuce family, so turns out I didn’t completely cut out “lettuce” the past five months, even though I thought I did. I’m hoping that is why my sensitivity persisted, and this time I will not be eating any more endive or tango!
When it comes to the turkey and sweet potato, I’m a little more worried. I definitely did not eat either of those foods at all in the past five months. When I reintroduced turkey a few weeks ago, I did notice that my stomach hurt shortly after. At the time, I didn’t know if it was really the turkey or not. Now I’m wondering if I have longterm intolerances to these foods. If I do, that could explain why I never had symptom relief even back when all of my tests showed up “clear.” Turkey has always been a huge part of my diet, and I used to eat two sweet potatoes every single day! The jury is still out on those, but it’s something to consider. Obviously, I would hate to be intolerant to turkey and sweet potatoes longterm, as they are some of my favorite foods. However, I want answers and symptom relief more than anything. Sometimes, the truth hurts.
Another thing to note – I didn’t show a sensitivity to garlic, but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to have a free-for-all with garlic now. The MRT doesn’t dictate how I feel. The MRT can tell me what my body might be reacting to internally, but that doesn’t mean that other foods aren’t affecting my body in ways that the MRT doesn’t pick up. My body will tell me more than any piece of paper ever will. I know I react to garlic because of the fainting, dizziness, and blurry vision I had when I consumed it previously, so right now I’m not going to go out of my way to eat it. I would love to be able to include it in my diet with no symptoms in the future, so I’ll try it again when I feel comfortable doing so! I think that my garlic reactions might be connected with my Candida overgrowth, so I’m hoping that as the Candida dies, I’ll be able to tolerate it much better.
The plan is to remove all of the foods I have sensitivities to for 3 months, continue the anti-Candida protocol at the same time, and then retest my gut to see if the overgrowth is gone or not. In addition to removing these foods, another key piece to this puzzle is reducing stress levels in order to reduce my cortisol. I’ve taken a number of steps to reduce stress in my life, and in the next few weeks I’m going to share what I’ve been doing and how it’s been helping me. Stress is the source of so many health issues, but many people try to ignore that fact. Your body cannot heal if your cortisol levels are sky high!
I had also been planning on taking a new SIBO test, but I decided to hold off on that until I see how addressing my Candida overgrowth and food sensitivities makes me feel. If I do this healing work and all of my symptoms go away, there will be no need for another SIBO test.
After these results, I immediately started craving all of the foods I knew I would be removing from my diet for the next few months. Typical, right? We always want what we shouldn’t have! Olive oil, zucchini, lettuce, lemons, turkey, and walnuts were the main things I pined for. I spent my last weekend finishing up my groceries and eating those foods to my heart’s desire, and now I’m ready to spend the next three months healing my gut! Wish me luck.