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Wednesday, August 14, 2013
This has been quite a summer for me. You may have noticed that I haven't posted much.
The low-carb cruise in May this year attracted followers of Paleo, Primal, low-carb, and LCHF [low-carb high-fat] diets as well as various hybrids, so while almost everyone agreed that grains are bad, there were different opinions about dairy. Jimmy Moore was eating half a package of butter with his dinner every night and Dave Asprey demonstrated how to make coffee with 3/4 of a stick of butter. Some of us brought our own supplies of Kerry Gold butter, but some brought coconut oil instead.
If I had to give myself a label, I guess it would now be, "LCHF/Primal." The main difference between Paleo and Primal is that Primal allows dairy and I've been a big fan of high-quality butter, cream, and cheese, and still recommend them for anyone who is not allergic to them, but some of the symptoms attributed to dairy intolerance (skin problems, ear infections, and sinus congestion) matched ones that have bothered me for most, if not all, my life. I was given my first prescriptions for steroids to treat itchy, scaly skin and ear infections when I was 16 and have used drops or creams periodically to treat flare ups ever since.
After I got home from the cruise, I decided to try cutting out all dairy foods except clarified butter to see if it helped. I also went to an allergist to find out if I was sensitive to dairy products and, if so, whether it was just pasteurized, bovine dairy or if I also needed to avoid fermented and raw dairy and the cream and cheese from goats, sheep, and older breeds of cows. The first allergist I saw told me that she could only test for one kind of milk allergy, the one that caused immediate digestive distress, which I obviously didn't have. She suggested that I go to a naturopath instead because they have more specific tests. It took a while to get an appointment and another 3 weeks to get the results of an antibody assessment from US BioTek. I was flabbergasted when the report came back. I had almost no reaction to milk, yogurt, or cheese, but I am allergic to almonds and very allergic to EGGS, two things that I was eating more frequently after cutting out dairy. Apparently, some symptoms of egg and dairy allergies, such as hives, congestion, and histamine related reactions, are similar.
It may be a coincidence, but about 3 weeks after I started my no-dairy experiment, I got an itchy, swollen rash with painful blisters on my right foot, accompanied by shakiness and a rapid heartbeat. I first thought it might be shingles and went to a walk-in clinic on a Friday night so it could be treated quickly. When a round of anti-viral medication didn't help, I went to my regular MD who diagnosed it as an infection and gave me an anti-biotic. He warned me not to call him if it suddenly got worse, but to go directly to the emergency room. I slept in my clothes for a few nights, just in case. When the rash broke out on my left foot, even worse this time, he gave me a prescription for more anti-biotics and sent me to a dermatologist, who added a second anti-biotic plus a steroid cream for the hives that were coming and going on my face, arms, and legs.
I've now seen seven different doctors (for a total of 13 office visits), taken mega doses of three different anti-biotics, and had several cultures and biopsies all of which came back negative. The doctors concluded it was not an infection after all, just a hyper-sensitivity to something, so I discontinued the anti-biotics. The original sites are now almost healed and I'm controlling new eruptions by using the steroid cream three times a day. I'm hoping this was an allergic reaction and that omitting eggs and almonds will be enough to eventually take care of it.
I plan to add dairy back carefully while monitoring my reactions, since both the naturopath and the printout from the US BioTek report said that the tests don't cover all sensitivities and that you can still have a severe reaction to something that didn't register in the tests. I also downloaded Dave Asprey's app for self-testing for food sensitivities to see if it agrees with the first set of tests. (It was free when I got it, but I don't know if it still is.) If you are interested, check it out: Dave's iphone app.
Dave is also offering a 3-day seminar that you can watch for free. Click here to sign up for seminar.
If there is a moral to this story, it would be this: We are all different and what is good for one person may not work for everyone. Get tested for allergies and do your own experiments to back up the results. Meanwhile, I'll be working on dairy-free, egg-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, almond-free, low-carb (whew!) recipes just in case. I suppose it could be worse ~ I still have chocolate and bacon.
(C) 2013, Judy Barnes Baker, www.carbwars.blogspot.com