Turning health around in (under) a year
Please don’t miss my incredible interview with leading mast cell researcher and practitioner Dr Castells – she outlines how diet and lifestyle changes can make a world of difference to those of us with mast cell/histamine disorders.
Check below for my October 2015 update!
I won’t lie – I was quite alarmed when I heard (through a friend) that famed mast cell expert Dr Castells said resolving mast cell/histamine induced inflammation takes around a year. I was about 8 months into my big health push to turn my life around. While I felt good, I still engaged in a long bout of mental masturbation imagining how many hours/days/months each fall off the wagon had cost me. Would I make that deadline?
This was the wrong attitude.
Just four months later, I’m feeling even better than the best I felt last year.
There are no more off days, no cowering under the duvet or avoiding friends and family. Sure, there are off hours, days where I may be breaking out a little or slightly foggy thanks to pushing things a little too hard diet-wise, and others where doing more than 30 minutes of hatha yoga isn’t such a great idea. I now allow myself to see the small victories for what they are. Sure I wanted to do 60 minutes of high octane kickboxing. But practising my Wing Chun Kung Fu form at home in front of the mirror with some chill out music will do nicely thank you very much, especially considering that just three years ago I was literally passing out at the dinner table and going into shock at the drop of a hat.
In celebration I’ve decided to share some of my big wins since ditching antihistamines (in July 2012) in favour of a high nutrient low histamine diet. Some of them are major, some will seem petty to anyone who hasn’t experienced some of the hardcore symptoms (like perfume induced anaphylactic shock). Each and every one of these is a huge deal to me. And believe me, it is important to give yourself a hearty pat on the back rather than the wet fish smack across the face we so often subject ourselves to.
Abandoning meds might not be necessary for everyone…that’s just how I chose to go about healing. You’ll find the recipes that helped me get here in the Anti-Cookbook: High Nutrient Antihistamine & Anti-inflammatory Recipes for Health.
I can get out of bed.
That’s not a joke. Aside from the two years where I was either so dizzy that I couldn’t see straight, was yakking up my guts into a bowl by the bed, or unable to wake up for days at a time, 2011 – early 2012 was still a trying period where I either just physically couldn’t wake up before 2pm, or was simply unwilling to face the world I felt I was no longer a part of.
I jump out of bed (in the morning).
Yes folks, I’m actually excited to bound out of bed in the AM, caffeine free, ready to tackle whatever the day has in store for me. That I’m no longer blighted by the “mystery” depression that has plagued me since childhood definitely helps, as has the fact that I can sleep before 6am. That was some insomnia I had there.
I can use make up and bath products.
That was a biggie for me. In 2010 I wasn’t able to wear any make up without my lips swelling up like bozo the clown, my fingers buzzing like live wires, a horrific migraine taking me out with each dab of lipstick and other lovely assorted symptoms. I can now wear (count ’em) five organic brands of make up (more on that in the Low Histamine Beauty Survival Guide), water based nail polish, and have graduated from scrubbing myself raw with a loofah and sea salt to various raw/organic soaps – AND a 100% Pure pomegranate body wash! Last month I even managed to apply shampoo to my scalp, something I haven’t done since December 2011. I know. Ew. It had to be done – I couldn’t afford any more sick days. It’s totally true that the scalp begins to clean itself…
I can wear organic Jasmin essential oil! Wow – incredible. It’s not quite my favourite (Jasmin heavy Gucci Envy) but such a relief to smell so lovely. I can’t believe just inhaling someone else’s scent could send me running to the loo for a yak! I would never wear scent around any of my sensitive friends of course…
I’ve added (high nutrient) foods back to my diet.
As Dr Clements of the Hippocrates Institute recently confirmed – elimination has its place, but it’s what you add back to your diet that’s going to help you heal. This last year/six months I’ve managed to add back: olives (I don’t eat them frequently), olive oil, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, kale, cacao/chocolate, some probiotics (small quantities), quercetin, Vitamin C supplements, buckwheat (small amounts and infrequently), carrots, spirulina, chlorella, all fish (dark, red, white – you name it), coconut yoghurt (dairy free), as well as olive leaf, holy basil and ginger teas.
How did I do it? I recognised that my salvation lay in not only lowering histamine, but overall inflammation, and that a lack of nutrients was probably what helped break my body in the first place. Having gone through a lengthy (unnecessarily strict in my opinion) elimination diet, I try not to obsess too much over histamine status, preferring to focus on overall nutrition. I often wonder how much faster I would have healed if I had added nutrients right at the outset. For more on my high nutrient approach check out the Anti-Cookbook.
I can exercise.
Nothing quite so fun as watching in terror as your trembling arms threaten to give out as you’re in yogic plank position. Or losing your balance and smashing into the mirror from the relatively benign triangle pose. But really it was the fear of dying that stopped me from exercising for over three years. I mean really, I challenge you to keep calm when your hands and feet go numb while running, or when your personal trainer bows out on you saying they’re worried your heart is going to quit on them. Personal trainer turning down money was a biggie for me.
I doubt I need to stress to you how important exercise is; in addition to all the physical benefits, it can have a calming effect on the brain . I know that’s something most of us with histamine intolerance, mast cell activation, mastocytosis and other mast cell/histamine conditions could use. For me calm is the key to exercising. Either engaging in activities using my own body as weight, that also exert a calming influence (yoga/tai chi/qigong) or using pranayama (yogic breathing)/meditation while playing squash/kickboxing, helps keep my body from going into complete meltdown.
The best advice I can give you in this regard is to be kind to yourself. Getting upset over not being able to exercise as intensely as you’d like or pushing yourself out of frustration or determination to show your body who is boss isn’t helpful. I know it’s easier said than done, but I done, and so can you.
I’m not having anaphylactic episodes anymore…
I can take baths.
Again, maybe doesn’t seem like an accomplishment but you have to understand that as recently as five months ago I was freaking out about drinking mineral water from glasses in restaurants – because of any soap/tap water chemical residue. Understanding that by being hyper focused on every tiny little chemical exposure was priming my brain to seek out any connections – like thinking I could smell chlorine on the glass – but really my brain was just permanently stuck in fight or flight mode. Forcing myself to sit in a bath while meditating “cured” me of my water fear. Seriously – I went through a brief phase of only washing in bottled water. That’s how sensitive to chemicals I became. The exposure/meditation combo is how I got over hay fever too. I spent about a week meditating in Hyde Park when the season began.
I’d love to hear about YOUR progress. I really do think it’s important to remind ourselves of how far we’ve come!
October 2015 update:
I’ve gone from having days where 30 minutes of hatha yoga isn’t such a great idea to doing one and a half hours of rocket yoga (power/ashtanga yoga on rocket fuel) six times weekly, walking an hour and a half up mountains in the blistering south of Spain summer sun, taking B12 supps (which bothered me for years!), wearing perfume (natural stuff but still!), painting my nails with regular nasty nail polish (yes, it’s gross but I have a weakness for a pretty, long lasting manicure).
It’s finally here! Man Food – a high nutrient antihistamine and anti-inflammatory ingredient filled book geared towards guys, women who love to work out, yoga like they mean it, or just load up on healing nutrients. Features my personal shopping list of antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods.
The Anti-cookbook and all liquid Anti-Detox Book, don’t treat any conditions, but feature a plethora of the high nutrient antihistamine and anti-inflammatory ingredients that have been instrumental in helping me feed myself on a limited diet. The Anti-cookbook features a six page list of antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods and comes in regular and Paleo.
The Low Oxalate Cookbook features antihistamine and anti-inflammatory rich recipes.
Don’t miss the Low Histamine Beauty Survival Guide for non-toxic beauty tips, the skinny on histamine releasing (mast cell degranulating) beauty ingredients, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory beauty alternatives and the top brands natural brands I’ve found.
Take a peek at my other low histamine and antihistamine cookbooks for more high nutrient recipes and sign up to my mailing list for freebies.
Please remember, even antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods can hurt us, please always exercise caution and consult a medical practitioner before adding new foods.
1. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/03/how-exercise-can-calm-anxiety/You’ll find a collection of all liquid high nutrient antihistamine and anti-inflammatory rich recipes for days when my histamine bucket overflowed in the new Anti-Detox book. The Anti-cookbook, while it doesn’t treat any conditions, due to its high nutrient, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory ingredients, has been instrumental in helping me feed myself on a limited diet. It features a six page list of antihistamine and anti-inflammatory foods. It comes in regular and Paleo. The Low Oxalate Cookbook features antihistamine and anti-inflammatory rich recipes. Don’t miss the Low Histamine Beauty Survival Guide for non-toxic beauty tips, the skinny on histamine releasing (mast cell degranulating) beauty ingredients, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory beauty alternatives and the top brands natural brands I’ve found. Take a peek at my other low histamine and antihistamine cookbooks for more high nutrient recipes. If you’ve found this information useful I’d appreciate your support (at no extra cost to you!) – please check out my online store for your health foods, supplements, kitchen items and beauty product purchases. Affiliate sales through my online store go towards maintaining the website, funding travel to interviews and purchasing all the lovely foods for my free online recipes. You’ll find these items in the “Shop with us” drop down menu on my homepage. Please don’t forget antihistamine, pain killing foods can still hurt us, so please always check with your doctor before adding new foods to your diet.