Superfoods

I bet you’re dead excited seeing that title and are thinking I’m going to write a really informative post on how to improve your health eating some newfangled pod found in the Arabian Desert………..but this is me.  Miss Cynical.  So you’re going to be sorely disappointed 😉 .

I’ve been ill since 1994.  Absolutely zero was known about M.E. then (the situation has barely changed but that’s a topic for another day) so spurious ‘cures’ appeared with monotonous regularity and the majority of them involved either food or supplements.  So I may be a low histamine newbie but I’m a very old and weary veteran of diets that claim to make you well.

These days popular diets include:

  • holy basil
  • medjool dates
  • kale
  • coconut oil
  • bone broths
  • Paleo
  • anti-inflammatory
  • FODMAP
  • no gluten and/or grains (try telling heart healthy Italians that pasta drowned in olive oil is bad for them!)
  • no dairy
  • no sugar (seriously, is there any fucking thing left?!)

When I first got sick it was:

  • bee propolis
  • probiotic yoghurt
  • anti-candida (ie zero sugar, yeast, fermented foods or fungi)
  • gluten-free
  • aloe vera juice
  • sprouted seeds & beans
  • spirulena
  • l-carnitine
  • co-enzyme Q10
  • ginko biloba
  • ginseng
  • echinacea

And inbetween there has been:

  • goji berries
  • manuka honey
  • cranberry juice
  • kamboucha tea (have you ever drunk that shit? Eugh!!!)
  • drinking raw olive oil
  • almonds
  • di-ribose
  • fasting
  • juicing
  • raw
  • low GI
  • low fat
  • Atkins (low carbohydrate)

For the first 8 years of being desperately ill I tried everything and remained as sick as a dog.  So I threw in the towel and started eating like a normal human being.  I have friends from those early days who still eat anti-candida and gluten-free and yet they’re still sick as a dog – I have no idea why they continue when it’s clearly not helping.

I do know one person who was diagnosed with M.E. and who was cured by eating anti-candida.  Which goes to show she didn’t have M.E., but a yeast problem.  Not a single person I’ve ever known has cured themselves from M.E. (or any other disease) by taking l-carnitine or sprouting mung beans.  In fact of my friends who are still following restricted diets I’m the most well of them all and they are, without exception, as sick as the day I met them.  Which has to tell you something.

To a large extent I credit my partial recovery from M.E. to improving my diet so I’m not dissing eating well in any way.  I spent years juicing, eating organically, often raw, and it absolutely improved my health.  No question.  But I’m not ‘cured’.  And I will never be ‘cured’.  Not unless someone finds a way of altering my buggered up genes and replacing my knackered nervous system.  I’m more hopeful of a cure for my overly vigilant immune system, although knowing my luck it will involve drugs my overly vigilant immune system attacks 😉 .

I take all the latest Superfoods and cure-all diets with a humongous pinch of salt.  In fact, the salt would probably make me feel better than a bowl of medjool dates due to the fact that it would increase my crappily low blood pressure 😉

I know many people who read my blog have complex food intolerances/allergies and have to live on restricted diets.  If I eat high histamine foods I literally feel like I’m about to die.  I’m not advising anyone with a wheat intolerance to suddenly start eating bagels or someone with fructose intolerance to binge on fruit salad.  What I am talking about here is believing all the hype about current ‘cure-all’ diets or superfoods which in 20 years time will turn out to be a load of old nonsense (we’ve been told for 30 years that fat is the enemy and now we’re being told fat is good, it’s sugar that’s the enemy……..seriously, somebody shoot me!).  Every single natural food item you eat is good for you in moderation and in its own way – none are really any better or worse than any other, and many need a balance of each other in order for the body to utilize their nutrients (ie. calcium rich foods/magnesium rich foods/vitamin D rich foods/potassium rich foods – one is useless without the others).  I get genuinely concerned when I read about diets online which advocate excluding entire food groups like grains or dairy, especially if you are already following a restricted diet like low histamine – you should never do this without the help of a trained and registered Dietician.  Becoming deficient in B vitamins, or carbohydrates, or not consuming enough fat (which is vital for brain function and mood, even Dr Oz agrees!), is potentially damaging to the body not to mention your energy levels.   Use your common sense and don’t believe everything you read.

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Superfoods

  1. Niki

    You are so right! I had ME 25 years ago and was put in the candida diet, it didn’t do much…I was lucky I recovered, how? I think I was lucky, I started going for teeny walks built it up and up…the day I climbed a mountain I knew I was over it but I still don’t have the energy levels do friends…
    Thank you so much for this blog. dr s put my daughter on a low histamine diet yesterday and without this wonderful blog I would be absolutely lost x

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Hi Niki

      It makes my day to hear that my blog is useful, so thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂 I hope the diet helps your daughter – I felt awful on it initially and it took about 4 months to start seeing the benefits but now there’s no way I could go back – it’s wonderful to be able to eat again without being terrified of the consequences.

      I’m thrilled you recovered from ME 🙂 I dont know how I’ve improved either – several things helped, but as you say it’s mostly luck!

      Jak x

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  2. Christine

    Just….yes! And very funny, too. People who insist that “their” diet, followed to the letter of the law, is the ONLY WAY to get better scares me a bit.

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  3. Elizabeth Milo

    I completely agree! Which is funny coming from someone on a bunch of restrictions with no definite reason. I actually continually try to preach to my Facebook group not to eliminate anything that is not absolutely necessary. The hard part for me is, I started to feel better after I eliminated oats and nuts, so I wonder if that was contributing to my high mycotoxin levels or some sort of inflammation… April was my best month in ages and that was the month I restricted the most foods. I added back everything I wanted to in the last month and have slipped terribly downhill. I can’t point to any one food as the culprit, but I keep wondering what if? Anyway, I totally agree. The diet dogma and the policing Facebook groups drives me bananas! (Mmmm…bananas….) I’m probably going to continue to add more foods to get back to normalcy. Fingers crossed.

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Bananas…….oh how I miss you and I particularly miss you in Banoffee Pie 😉

      So sorry to hear you’ve gone downhill this month 😦 If being more radical with your diet helped carry on with it! Just be sure that for everything you eliminate you eat something with equal nutritional value (which is where the help of a dietician might come in useful).

      I don’t do well on oats either funnily enough. And I don’t do well on Cashew nuts, BUT I can eat peanuts and macadamia nuts. It takes months and months to find out what you’re not good with – I usually introduce for a week and can tell by day 7 whether I’m OK or not. Best just to do one food at a time too, because if you do lots at once you have no idea which food is harming and which is helping.

      Hope you perk up again hon x

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      1. Elizabeth Milo

        Oh, I know. I don’t have an off- switch, it seems. One day I decided, I’m having an avocado! And the next thing I knew, I’d added 25 more foods. The red grapefruit I inhaled like a starving person, standing over the sink was one of the best things I remember eating in my life!

        I’ve decided my nutritionist is hopeless even though she was highly recommended by 4 different people. I’m just going to keep plugging away on trying to figure it out. X

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  4. Jodi Owen

    I agree with most everything you said up to ‘you should never do this without the help of a trained and registered Dietician’…I always laugh when I read these disclaimers, especially on the Low Histamine Chef. Considering the reception we chronically ill folk get from most in the medical profession, it’s absolutely hilarious to think that a dietician will know anything about what we experience. That being said, I feel SOOOOO much better after eliminating high trigger foods. Because mine is an autoimmune mast cell disease, I react to myself (!) and everything I eat triggers me to some degree. I live off of maybe a dozen different foods which doesn’t include grain (except rice) or dairy because I react badly to them, not because someone suggested I stop. It’s impossible to say that either restricting foods or not restricting foods is the ‘best’ way to live or that either will lead to better health; it comes down to each individual person. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to living with ME, EDS, MCAD, POTS et al. It doesn’t matter if it’s Dr. Oz or Dr. Castells; if it makes me feel badly, I don’t eat it.

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    1. bertieandme Post author

      Do you have a food blog Jodi? How do you deal with the situation of people who are clueless when it comes to nutrition and maybe aren’t in a position to research to make sure they’re eating a balanced diet yet desperately need advice? 80% of the readers of my blog are American and fortunately they have access to more specialists than here in the UK so to be fair I do aim many of my posts to the American reader, but if you have a better suggestion I’m all ears because I do find it hard to answer questions from all these desperate people on what best to do x

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      1. Jodi Owen

        I don’t have a food blog, no. I don’t see the point. What works for me may not work for someone else. I cannot tell another person that, because I can’t tolerate grains, they won’t be able to either. I can suggest experimentation with elimination (which I mentioned to you and you explained you’d already tried) but I would never say it’s THE answer. If I eat wheat I feel horrible, if I don’t, I feel less horrible but I’m STILL unwell. That doesn’t mean that I should go back to eating wheat because eliminating it didn’t cure me. I personally think a cure is wishful thinking anyway and that a more realistic goal would be to lessen symptoms.
        I’ve read dozens of diets too and, due to my naivety, tried far too much of what’s being touted as ‘truth.’ Time after time I was met with horrible reactions and crushing disappointment. It finally registered that, as I said before, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to these illnesses and whomever tells you there is, might be full of their own hype or in it for the money, or both. For example, I’ve purchased The LHC cookbooks to find I can’t tolerate most of her ‘healing’ suggestions and what I can tolerate, I’d already identified through trial and error. Lesson learned. I don’t regret buying them (entirely) because I needed to experiment with foods to identify my triggers. In my case, that turns out to be everything but I still needed to identify which foods I most tolerated. It seems some people have gotten help from her suggestions which is great. However, I’m dumbfounded that she charges hourly private consultation fees greater than a credentialed psychotherapist (i.e. me). She shares what has worked for HER and feels justified to charge desperate people money? In my opinion, how can any of us be authorities about anything beyond our OWN experiences?
        I appreciate your blog for its human interest content, Jo. (I see a lot of similarities between the two of us.) I appreciate you and others in the community who share your journeys; without you all, I doubt I would have ever discovered I have an autoimmune mast cell disease. (Dr. Diana Driscoll was my gateway into awareness and I’m so grateful my partner happened upon her page.) My concern is that people ARE desperate and are seeking CURES, a worrisome combination.
        I don’t know if your question was rhetorical but…my suggestion for whats ‘best to do’ to help people? (Again, just my opinion…) It would be to help them to help themselves. The only way people can TRULY know what is safe for them to eat is for them to do an elimination diet. It’s hard work and takes a lot of time with trial and error but otherwise, they are grasping blindly at what works for others and may end up no better off for it (I speak from personal experience.)
        I’m wondering why you feel obligated to ensure people are eating a balanced diet. (?) That seems like a lot of responsibility to put upon yourself and, depending on how you phrase your suggestions, might put you in the role of an ‘authority’ in their eyes. Is this what you want for yourself? What if someone doesn’t improve (or worse, gets hurt) following your suggestions and they end up blaming you? Not that it would be your fault, of course, but, considering you feel obligated to help them find answers, I imagine you might feel responsible on some level. (I wonder if The LHC has professional indemnity insurance for all of her ‘healing’ claims. It’s one thing to offer free advice but once you start charging, you open yourself up to malpractice claims.)
        I’m an American settled in the UK. I don’t believe it matters where we live (aside from availability of testing), we still need to identify what foods and medications work the best for each of us individually. We can look to other ‘pioneers’ for general directions to take but the specifics will ultimately vary from person to person.
        All of that being said, it’s incredibly compassionate and generous of you to share your journey with us, Jo. You have a very big heart. xx

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  5. Dead Men Don't Snore

    I so agree! I avoid large portions of carbohydrates because (despite being advised by dieticians that they should make up the majority of my diet) they make me feel sluggish and headachey and I avoid too much dairy because it upsets my stomach, but neither of these things is going to cure my ME, and if it did that would imply that my symptoms were never ME at all.

    Even if I thought that a raw vegan or paleo diet might magically cure me, I am dependent on social services carers who have limited cooking skills and very little time to make all of my meals so those kind of complex restrictive diets just wouldn’t be possible and it would be so easy to miss vital neutrients without the ability to carefully plan a balenced menu. Essentially I have to eat whatever my carers know how to cook.

    I am particularly sick of the article that circulates on Facebook about someone’s MS being cured by cutting cola and artificial sweetners out of their diet. I am regularly sent it by people who genuinely seem to think they have solved all my problems despite the fact I rarely ever drank cola and cut all processed foods and caffeinated drinks out of my diet for more than two years with no sign of a cure. I would love the cure to be as simple as ‘change what you eat’ but sadly this disease is a little more complex than that.

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