It’s Monday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

I am so excited to share my story with you, and I hope you enjoy reading it! I have always been the health researcher, fitness enthusiast and nutrition-focused one in my family. My whole life I followed the “healthy diet”—low fat, whole grain, lots of fruit, etc. I did research in nutrition as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, and published a paper in dental school on the dangers of BPA. I have always been investigative and wanting to know the truth behind what is told.

It was during my second year in dental school when my good friend and colleague, Jake, introduced me to CrossFit and the paleo lifestyle. After a workout he said, “OK I’m off to eat half a dozen eggs!” He recalls the look I shot him was one of disbelief and disgust. Shocked was an understatement. “EAT SIX EGG YOLKS!?!?! Have you lost your mind, Jake, seriously, all that cholesterol!” I am sure he tried to reason with me, but I was so skeptical. So that night, I’m sitting in my apartment studying, and Jake sends me a link to www.marksdailyapple.com. It was the first paleo blog I ever read, and is still my go-to today. I remember that I got so caught up reading that I got less studying done, but it was one of those monumental life shifts for which I will always be grateful.

However, I did not immediately jump to 100% strict paleo in 2010. I chose to eat mostly whole foods, but would eat gluten and wheat a few times a week, which I considered balanced. I had graduated from dental school, and I was practicing dentistry in a small boutique, traditional dental office. I was placing and removing significant amounts of amalgam fillings. I had also gotten married, moved in with my husband, and we had bought a house. The emotional, financial, and physical stress I could handle had surpassed my threshold, and in 2015 I became very sick.

After months of bloody stools, running to the bathroom for the tenth time in one day, I finally got over my denial and went to a GI doctor. A colonoscopy confirmed that at age 27, I had ulcerative colitis. My doctor proceeded to recommend that I start six medications. One of them had a chance of landing me in the hospital for months from internal organ swelling. He also said that I had an 80% chance of needing surgery in my lifetime. I looked at him, and said, “Well, wait, what if I change my diet?” His response, “No, changing your diet won’t do anything. All your large intestine does is reabsorb water.” I just stared at him in disbelief. I worked at the opposite end of the body, but even I knew that your gut housed your immune system, and did WAY more than just absorb water!

I refused to let a bunch of drugs and surgery be my fate. I was not going to let anybody put me in a box. I was determined to find another way. And I did. I went 100% paleo, even focused on AIP for a few months. Within 2 weeks of transitioning to a whole-food, gluten-free diet, I came out of my terrible flare and have not had one since.

Getting a grip on my UC symptoms was a miracle, but I still had a long way to go with my healing. I was still sick, malnourished, fatigued all the time, had amenorrhea, couldn’t exercise, always wanted to rest, became socially anxious, etc. I saw multiple doctors from 2015-2016, even getting into National Institute for Health in Bethesda, MD. The top endocrinologists and fertility specialists in the world looked at tens of thousands of dollars of tests, and told me I was the “healthiest unhealthy person we have ever met” and “they didn’t know what was wrong with me” and to “just go back on birth control to make sure you don’t develop osteoporosis.” I refused. I was determined to get to the root cause of my health problems.

I finally found Jessica Flanigan. I did not understand why my Candida antibodies were so high, since I was not eating sugar. I asked Jessica this during one of our appointments, and she said, “Well you know, Mercury feeds off of Candida.” The lectures at dental school had reported that amalgam was safe, and that the mercury becomes “inactivated” once you burnish it. Jessica proceeded to give me information on biologic dentistry through the IAOMT and IABDM. I felt like a precious secret had just been revealed to me, one that I knew was going to change my life forever. I discovered that conventional dentistry was not safe. In fact, mercury is one of the most dangerous neurotoxins on this planet. I still wonder if mercury was the environmental trigger for the UC diagnosis. On Mark’s Daily Apple, you talk about the dangers of amalgam fillings. My functional medicine doctor, as well as Chris Shade from Quicksilver Scientific, confirmed my mercury poisoning. In addition, my functional doctor diagnosed hypothyroidism, HPA-axis dysfunction, vitamin deficiencies, chronic infection, certain genetic snps, and more.

I felt terribly guilty that I had placed amalgam and unsafely removed amalgam fillings in patients. As a doctor you take an oath to do no harm. It was impossible for me to continue working in a conventional office after seeing how damaging mercury was to my health and to my patients’ health. As quickly as possible, I moved from a conventional office to a biologic dental office. In 2016 I pursued additional degrees, graduating from American College of Integrative Medicine and Dentistry with certifications in Integrative Biologic Dental Medicine (IBDM), and as a naturopathic physician (NMD) in 2017. Since working with my functional practitioners, and getting into a safer working environment I am well on my way to being healed from a long list of diagnoses.

I have been so moved and transformed by my journey, that I am launching my business as a functional dental and holistic health practitioner consulting with patients who have not been able to find healing through conventional medicine. I focus on using the latest research and scientific protocols to help my clients heal autoimmune conditions, adrenal dysfunction, diving in deep to the microbiome, and the oral-systemic connection at www.beyondpearlywhites.com. The gut is the largest organ with multiple common insults that can lead to dysfunction. Normalization of the gut results in the most effective clinical outcomes across all disease states, which is why I am focusing on the gut, head to tail. Focusing on my gut health has transformed my life, and I am back to my energetic bubbly self, sharing my knowledge, helping my friends and family, exercising, socializing, and enjoying every moment of our beautiful world.

I often think back to that day that Jake introduced me to paleo, and how God blessed me with information on where to go for the truth. My sickness and my journey have been an absolute gift, for I would not be where I am without these difficult experiences. My mission is to help as many people as possible overcome what appears to be impossible, as I have overcome it. Thank you, Mark and Mark’s Daily Apple for being a cornerstone in my journey, providing life-saving information, and for creating delicious whole food products that keep us all living, loving, and enjoying life. I am so hopeful and excited to see what our futures hold in shaping the lives of our readers!

The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

The post Focusing On My Gut Health Has Transformed My Life appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Monday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

My first MDA Success Story was published in June 2016. Towards the end I said “My story isn’t over. It is just beginning.”

Those words couldn’t be more true.

That success story was about overcoming decades of chronic cystic acne, along with digestive issues and anxiety.

And the Primal lifestyle truly helped me to accomplish all of that. After decades as a vegetarian, pescetarian, and sometimes raw vegan, making a gradual transition to a Primal diet really changed my life.

The big thing for me was the acne. It’s painful enough to grow up with it, but for me it never really went away, despite every prescription drug in the book. There were even three rounds of Accutane along with some horrible side effects. Removing grains and dairy and adding animal protein and fat back into my diet reduced the inflammation very quickly, and within about a month my skin looked dramatically different.

At the same time my skin was miraculously clearing up, my sometimes debilitating digestive issues and anxiety quietly left the room.

And if my story ended there, it would have been a happy ending.

But things just keep getting better.

At the age of 51, my energy levels have increased and I have better body composition than ever. But it’s so much more than that. I’m more adventurous, confident, creative and intuitive.

Since my last success story was published, I’ve gradually transitioned to a keto lifestyle. I refer to it as “borderline keto” since I do not track or measure anything. I know that works great for some people, I just don’t care for it. But by increasing the healthy fats and moderating the protein I feel even more focused and energetic. Even though I had already made the switch, reading The Keto Reset Diet was helpful, and I’ve recommended it to so many people.

I’ve also completed my Primal Health Coach certification (even though I had another health coaching certification under my belt already.) I believe so strongly in the value of this lifestyle and want to learn everything I can, so I continue to educate myself by attending events like Paleo f(x) and reading everything I can get my hands on. I’m also taking my first digital cooking class, Paleo Cooking Bootcamp, and loving it.

When my last success story was published I had been writing a blog called “happy, healthy and hot” for about six months. It was mostly recipes and natural beauty tips presented in a playful, sassy style.

As I wanted to share my message with more people, I started posting on Instagram as well (@happyhealthyandhot_elizabeth), and eventually started sharing more of my lifestyle, including travel, fashion, personal development, and short videos showing easy workouts that I do at home (many times with a cameo appearance by my dog). I used to be a very private person, but I know that sharing these snapshots of my day to day life can show how easy it to live a healthy lifestyle.

I’ve also been featured on other health related websites and have been interviewed for podcasts, including the Primal Blueprint Podcast. Love sharing the happy, healthy and hot message with as many people as I can.

I truly believe that everyone deserves to look and feel amazing, and the Primal lifestyle is a great way to start. Living this way should be fun and easy…if it feels like a chore you’re not doing it right!

What started out as a little health blog is organically growing into a lifestyle brand with followers from all over the world.

Is my life perfect? Absolutely not. During this time I’ve dealt with some major personal challenges just like everyone else. But I’ve come out of them stronger than ever.

People are always asking me what I eat. Here’s a typical day… I start with lemon water and coffee. I always blend Collagen Peptides or Collagen Fuel (vanilla is my fave) into the coffee. There’s usually a blended green drink too…typically something like spinach or baby kale and fresh lemon.

A few hours later I get hungry for some real food, and might make eggs with leftover veggies, or just eat leftovers from the night before.

A second meal will be another form of protein…fish and beef are my favorites and a bunch of non starchy veggies. For example, today I had salmon, roasted brussels sprouts and avocado as a late lunch. Salmon or sardines make an appearance a few times a week…love what they do for my skin.

I’ve tried intermittent fasting but don’t do it on a regular basis. Instead, I just try to listen to my body and eat when I’m truly hungry. Lately I find myself eating two meals rather than three, and maybe having some small snacks.

Most days I’ll have a few squares of super dark chocolate or some type of Paleo “treat,” especially if I’m trying out a new recipe for happy, healthy and hot. Totally enjoy dry red wine from time to time too.

I’m not really into supplements, with the exception of using Collagen Peptides in some form every single day of my life. I’ve been doing this for years, and my skin is firmer now at the age of 51 than it was ten years ago. I also think the collagen keeps me from getting sore when I work out. Some nights I take a magnesium supplement before bed, and the only multi I will take is Primal Master Formula.

I don’t belong to a gym, although I have in the past. For now, I feel great doing some simple workouts at home (love my boss ball) and my dog forces me to get out and walk every single day. Working part time as a bartender is pretty physical too.

There are two things I plan to add this year to increase my fitness: sprinting and pull-ups. I learned so much about the value of sprinting in the Primal Health Coach course, but still haven’t made it part of my fitness routine. So this is the year! And right now I can’t do a pull up to save my life, but that’s going to change in 2018.

I’ve attached some pics from a recent trip to the Bahamas with my daughter, and one from a recipe I posted on my blog.

So I’ll say it again…my story is just beginning. Life is full of adventure and possibility. Can’t wait to see where the next few years take me. Thanks for reading!

The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

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The post Life Is Full of Adventure and Possibility appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Monday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

I was 13-years-old when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, I’m 31-years-old now. I was born and raised in a tiny northern California community, 75 miles from access to any specialist. Can you imagine my limitations to healthcare options?

It took the doctors 2 months to diagnose the disease, and by then I was extremely ill. Because of where I lived, I had to travel an hour and a half to see my Gastroenterologist. My GI doctor immediately put me on steroids and pharmaceuticals. The medications helped mask the symptoms, and I started feeling better.

I was eventually referred to a doctor in San Francisco who was up and coming with the latest medical research. That GI put me on a biologic drug called Remicade. For those of you who don’t know what biologics are, have you ever seen those TV commercials advertising for Humira or Remicade? Towards the end of the commercial the narrator spends about 2 minutes listing the scary possible side effects. Back then, there weren’t many of those commercials yet, at least not for this new type of medicine. In a moment of desperation, my parents agreed to give it a try. It would get my sick body into remission, right?

For a couple of years, every 6-8 weeks, I visited different hospitals and care facilities to get the drug. It’s given intravenously—through an IV—and it would take between 5 and 6 hours for the entire IV bag to drain into my blood vessels. It was painful and would sting. I was given Benadryl to knock me out (more drugs!), so I was able doze off uncomfortably while I waited for the medicine to finish draining.

Once I started college, I moved to another city and found a GI doctor there. I was in remission so my new GI took me off Remicade. Since the day I was diagnosed (up until 6 months ago), there have been certain medications I had never stopped taking. In the years to come, I battled with the disease. I would get sick, and my doctor would prescribe a new pharmaceutical or antibiotic for me to try or increase my dosages. Sometimes when I got well enough, I convinced my doctor to take me off the new meds and decrease my dosages. Throughout those years I was in-and-out of remission, and yet Crohn’s was always lingering like a computer virus waiting for its moment to attack.

I can’t tell you how often my family listened to my emotional pleas, crying and desperate for relief. It was messing with my mind and emotions. My moods were constantly up and down—tired, unmotivated, depressed…I had a mental fog hanging over me. And I was in physical pain. Have you ever had a constant pain that doesn’t go away? I was used to it, and I dealt with it, but I didn’t want to accept it. I frequently declined invitations to do things because I didn’t feel well. Furthermore, I was often physically incapable of doing what I desired and loved most: traveling. I worried in the back of my mind that I was becoming more and more socially isolated. Was this changing my friendly and outgoing personality? My mind craved to do things, but my body wouldn’t allow it.

Ever since I had been on medications, my liver showed early signs of sickness. During a check-up in college, a doctor found a nodule near my thyroid. A couple years ago, I suffered extreme headaches on either sides of my head. I had 3 surgeries in one year relating to Crohn’s. My wrist started squeaking and creaking one day, only to find out I had “arthritis.” I got a crazy rash attack on my face one summer. My hair and nails were fragile and weak, and my skin was dry. My weight was constantly up and down. And I was regularly sick with the common cold or flu. These were side effects and symptoms of imbalance in my body. My body was crying for help.

Eventually I got ill again, and the meds stopped working. My doctor’s only option was to put me on another biologic drug. I wasn’t going to allow that in my body again! So I became my own advocate. I found a Holistic Nutritionist, who I call my Angel. The minute I met her, I knew it felt right. After telling her my story, the first thing she said to me was, “I can help you.” I burst into tears. She was so positive of her abilities to help me, and I trusted her with my whole heart.

One year later, I’m happy to say I am in complete remission and off ALL pharmaceutical drugs! I’ve never in my life felt better—physically or mentally. I’m not going to lie and say it was a walk in the park. It took dedication, desire, and a strong will. But I did it—I dove head first into the Alternative World of Healing and haven’t looked back since. I absolutely love my new health protocol. And I feel GOOD about what I put into my body. I love the healthy food I eat, following a Paleo and Ketogenic diet. It has proven to work for me, without any terrible side effects. The only side effects I have are feeling better and better! And the side effects from the medications have since subsided and gone away. I took action, listened to my intuition and decided to do what felt right for me.

Why am I telling you my story? I want you to feel inspired, to take action and be your own health advocate! If you don’t like what your healthcare provider is telling you, get another opinion. Not all opinions are created equal. Not all health practitioners are created equal either. And not all practitioners listen and care about what you want. I want to stress this: IT IS IMPORTANT TO FIND A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER WHO MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD. Who listens to you. Who will work with you. Who will try what you want. It’s important to find the right balance for you. Finding my go-to person has been extremely rewarding because I trust her and I have a special bond with her. She’s proven to me (as my current health status shows), that by following her advice, my natural health protocol is working. I have the capacity/ability to continue getting healthier…it’s only a matter of time.

There is a ton of information out there, and it can be difficult to navigate through everything. Which brand do I use? Which technique is best? Which product do I choose? It can be overwhelming, all of the information we sift through daily. I’m not here to tell you what you should do. I believe each body is different, and what your body is asking for may be different than what my body needs. Since meeting my Holistic Nutritionist, I’ve found other inspirational health coaches who I follow and get information from—such as Mark’s Daily Apple. I believe he is a valuable and knowledgeable source, and has lots of information, advice and recipes, which have helped and guided me.

Seventeen years ago, Crohn’s Disease changed my life. But I’ve chosen to listen to my gut instincts (no pun intended) and do what is right for me.

The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

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The post The Only Side Effects I Have Are Feeling Better and Better! appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Primal eating was not a reality for me for a very long time, I did not even hear the words until I was 27. But flash back to when I was 12-years-old, and had just found out that I was 203.2lbs. I remember that number so clearly because of how hard I sobbed that day on the scale at the doctor’s office. When my 8th grade self saw that I had crossed in to 200+lbs, I immediately I lost any self worth. Media in the 90s made it clear that being fat was social destruction and meant that you were “less than.” Living in this culture of perfectionism, I continued to eat and cope with my “imperfections” with sugar addiction and exuberant amounts of terribly processed foods.

Upon entering adulthood, the word “nutrition” alone made me uncomfortable as I did not have any real understanding of what it meant. I was taught and believed that all fat was bad and grains were healthy for my heart, that carbs were evil but these “magical” grains were somehow exempt. When I moved out at 17, I weighed 300lbs and felt miserable. My diet consisted of lunchmeat sandwiches, egg salad, coffee and fast food. I hated my body and avoided mirrors.

I decided that I wanted to make a change. Over the next several years I took the “beat my body in to submission” approach and paired it with diet plan after diet plan. I even took diet pills (now recalled) until the side effects were too much to for me to excuse. I ended up losing 60lbs of weight but at the cost of my adrenal health. I traded in the sugar for coffee and was not sleeping nearly enough for how hard I was working and training.

In 2011, I met and married my wonderful husband. He had previously been a physical trainer, and he helped teach me a lot of what he knew. It helped a lot to understand what he shared with me, but we both still had questions about the science of nutrition and biology. Over the next 6 years, together we sought out the answer for our health and wellness concerns. One of the first sources we came across (after watching ALL the food documentaries ever) was your website. That year, I attended Paleocon online and felt like I was drinking from a firehose. We almost immediately became as primal as possible in our eating and also in our lifestyle and exercise. We both experienced the amazing results. Aside from losing weight and feeling stronger, we noticed our skin and digestive issues were much improved. We were also thinking more clearly, and our sleep was much improved.

In 2015, I gave birth to my son, and over the next year I gained back all of the weight I had lost. Postpartum depression and anxiety encompassed my every day, and I began to spiral in to unhealthy eating once again. By 2016, I was nearing 300lbs again and felt so ashamed of myself. I began to go to therapy regularly and was diagnosed with CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I began working diligently with my therapist to unpack the trauma and my body responded with anorexia nervosa, which can be a side effect of addressing trauma.

I did not have a dysmorphic issue, however. At the time, I was averted by any food and my throat would restrict if I attempted to swallow. After some time, I wasn’t able to to eat meat due to digestion. However, sticking to a primal way of eating at the time is what kept me out of the hospital when it was difficult to eat. I chose soft foods, and the blender was my bestie. My ability to eat improved, and my diet since then has mainly consisted of all organic Coconut Oil, Ghee, Avocados, Eggs & Sweet Potatoes and other vegetables and some fruits.

I have continued therapy and have stayed dedicated to the same diet with the occasional deviation from my favorite bakery that offers paleo/keto options. Over the past year, have watched my weight plummet (with my Dr.’s supervision) very quickly. I stand here now today 158lbs, and my mind is still catching up with the reality of my transformation. I lost over 100lbs this year.

The combination of therapy and sticking to a primal lifestyle has led me to where I am today. I am still getting to know the woman in the mirror, but I am thankful for where I am every single day. Thank you, Mark, for providing us with a launching pad for our primal journey and for being a constant resource of information and encouragement. You are a part of my success story.

The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

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The post My Mind Is Still Catching Up With the Reality Of My Transformation appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

I found Mark’s Daily Apple through a fortuitous and random conversation one morning with the guy I was seeing sometime around 2010. We were lying in bed, dreaming up delicious Sunday breakfast ideas and started talking about bacon, which then led to a heated argument about bacon, cardiovascular disease, dietary fat… oh boy! He name-dropped yours and MDA, and it made me step down from my high horse (I was a recent doctor of physical therapy graduate) and take a whole new look at nutrition that has- no exaggeration- completely changed my life.

Here is my story:

I had been swimming competitively since age 10, so I knew my body. I had always been tall, thin, and full of enthusiasm for whatever I pursued. Back in 2002, as a senior in high school, I started to feel something quite different. If I approached my physical limits, I would feel sluggish and weak and there was no way to push through. Each week, I swam slower. A few months later, I started noticing more and more of my hair falling in the shower drain and in my hair brush. As someone who had always been a night owl, I found it strange that even during matinee movies the second I sat down I would feel tired and fall asleep, like turning a switch. I could sleep ten to twelve hours and still would wake up exhausted. I even passed out a few times for no apparent reason. At this point I felt fatigued constantly, was having trouble finding enough energy to pay attention in class, and I knew something was wrong. I told my mom (a nurse), and we decided to wait out the end of the school semester. After graduation, I took a solid week off and basically slept and rested all day, after which I felt completely normal. I shrugged it off, and headed off to college a few months feeling healthy.

As a frame of reference, my diet at this time was atrocious. I didn’t like most meat, so I would eat processed meat approximately once a week. I hated eggs. I didn’t have much of a taste for any vegetables, so again, maybe once a week one would make it to my plate. I liked bananas, kiwis, and a few fruits. I loved processed food and would primarily eat cereal, bread, crackers, cookies, and pasta. I also struggled with having very little musculature on my body despite being active. At 5’10” my calves were so narrow that speciality narrow boots looked like fishermen’s boots on me! My abdomen fluctuated between being completely concave and sunken or distended to the extent that people would ask me if I was pregnant. My face had a constant red rash and break outs of both acne and rosacea. All of these things made me self-conscious.

When I went off to college, unexplained symptoms struck again. Except this time once I got to the point where I was passing out and fatigued, I kept going. My immune system went nuts. I acquired very bad strep throat, pink eye in both eyes, an ear infection, and a bad UTI all at once. Every week for the rest of the semester I felt worse despite several courses of antibiotics. Fast forward to end of semester: I finished finals, I rested for our 2 week holiday—100% better.

This became the pattern. Three more semesters exactly like this. It started to take a toll on my endurance, and I could not even walk up the stairs to get to my classes without stopping and resting for several minutes. I was embarrassed to be in social situations because I couldn’t focus and didn’t feel like myself physically and mentally. I was struggling in my classes for the first time in my life. I decided that fall semester my junior year would be different: no matter how sick I felt, I would push even harder.

That didn’t go well. I crossed into the next threshold of bodily rebellion. I started feeling sharp abdominal pains as if I were being poisoned followed by bouts of vomiting after taking my birth control, drinking milk, eating anything fatty, taking even a sip of alcohol, and sometimes after indecipherable aggravations. I stopped getting my period. One morning I woke up and could barely open my eyes. I felt confused to the point where I was staring at people talking and pretending to understand what was going on. Morning classes were a blur, and as I sat in my French class, I somehow fell asleep in the front row. My professor woke me up—not too happy—and sent me to the school doctor. Even though there was an entire waiting room full of students, she took me right away. I didn’t question it, but the second she sat me down she explained why: I had yellow skin, yellow eyes, and that awful, unmistakable death-like look of jaundice. She diagnosed me with mono (many of the other times I had been to the health center they suspected mono but the test was always negative). I was put on immediate bed rest until my liver started to cooperate. I could barely stomach eating, so I would munch on saltine crackers and eat unseasoned ramen but little else. My liver enzymes actually tested worse and worse, despite the rest. I got to the point where I could barely eat anything, but then slowly, I started feeling better. Hallelujah.

Spoiler alert, that’s not the end of my story. The very next semester it started happening. Again. Despite being told that you could only get mono once. I was emotionally devastated, scared, and yet determined. I gathered all of my medical records and went to see a doctor off-campus. He was dismissive and cold and told me that I was a woman, and women get depressed. That was his medical advice. End stop.

I was embarrassed to the point I didn’t seek further medical attention and tried to make some changes on my own, this time being a bit kinder to my body. I cut my work hours to almost zero, my class schedule in half, my workouts out altogether, and I just tried to get by. I was able to finish my last few semesters of college with fatigue, constant infections, and poor mental clarity, but I finished! I started working as a physical therapy aid full-time and teaching swim lessons to make money before grad school, and suddenly I was thrown off balance again. I could feel my body crashing as it had before, and I ended up making the radical decision to take 3 months off before physical therapy school to convalesce. This seemed to work, because I made it through 3 years of graduate school with only occasional and much less dramatic periods of illness.

That brings me to 2010, lying in bed, chatting about bacon. This little argument inspired me to read from the amazing Michael Pollen and delve into the wonders of the MDA blog. Mark’s words hit home as I had already begun to understand the importance of rest and recovery, listening to my body instead of overriding its messages (a work in progress), and the way food could make me feel. I drank the kool aid. I was inspired by the large body of evidence in the primal diet and primal lifestyle. Little by little, I started learning how to love vegetables and to prepare them well, to embrace fats, to eliminate grains, and to enjoy delicious meat and eggs. I started eating real food. Relationships don’t change over-night, so neither did mine with food. I had a long way to go, but I could feel a difference in my digestion and my energy. My acne and rosacea disappeared completely, and I felt like I had at least some control in my health.

Unfortunately though, my health continued to decline. It was not exactly the same as it had been before. I was constantly fatigued, but rarely did I have the ear/eye/throat/bladder infection extravaganzas as I had in the past, nor would the symptoms go away anymore with a little extra rest for a week or two. Instead, I started having random, scary symptoms. Over the course of the next four years, several times I would develop excessive water retention, followed by coughing up liquid deep in my chest, followed by pneumonia, followed by waking up in the middle of the night barely able to breathe. I would prop myself up on four pillows so that I was almost sitting up so that I could breathe. I would have fevers in excess of 104 degrees sometimes every Friday after a long week of work and would lie in bed until Monday morning. One time I felt desperately thirsty and was drinking water by the liter until I collapsed with squeezing in my chest. My left arm would randomly swell up. I had strange ulcers in my mouth. Other times my right eye would randomly start dilating, once to the point where I could not see anything out of it for hours. I would have sharp abdominal pain every time I was on my period that caused me to double over. I could keep listing crazy symptoms all day. I lived in fear. In addition, the years of being ill had led to metabolic damage. I could barely eat 1000 calories a day without gaining weight, so I slowly started gaining more and more weight. I had prided myself on being fit, so this crushed my self-confidence.

Doctors led me down many rabbit holes. Some were dismissive, cold, and made me feel embarrassed or crazy for telling them what was happening. Others were compassionate and did what they could to help, but they could only put small pieces of the puzzle together. I tested positive for several antibodies that suggested autoimmune disease and was told it was likely lupus, and steroids seemed to help my “infections” better than antibiotics which was quite telling, but my symptoms never stopped recurring and every day was a struggle.

I also attempted to conquer my body by running marathons, hiking mountains, and portraying a life of a “healthy woman.” These outward goals always led to me being very sick, sometimes for months, but for some reason I continued to fight my body every step of the way. I climbed Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States (with a broken tailbone no-less). Two weeks later I came down with a kidney infection that wouldn’t respond to antibiotics or steroids and kept me in bed for 2 months with fever, fatigue, and brain fog as well a complete loss of appetite. I kept frozen salmon, avocado, fresh orange juice, and almond butter in my kitchen and if I ate ONE of those things each day, I felt accomplished. I became scared that I was losing too much weight, but surprisingly, I felt stronger each day. Slowly, my appetite returned.

Finally, two months later I felt completely healthy, and I decided to go out to celebrate my birthday. My first day out. My first day with food outside of my kitchen. I ate fried chicken, drank beer, and polished it off with a birthday cupcake.  The next morning I woke up with 104 fever, vomiting, the works. It started all over again, and I had an emotional break down.

All of these years I had tried to be patient and to trust my doctors, my body, God, and the universe to somehow fix this, but I could no longer handle living my life in constant fear and confusion, and I had reached a breaking point. The merry-go-round of looking for outside help, finding no clear solution, giving up, and then starting all over again was getting old. I truly believed I needed to accept that I  would never have the health and energy of a “healthy” person, so I should start adapting my life to live with my limitations as best as possible. I started tracking every symptom each day, I started dialing back my work hours, my social time, and my exercise, and this seemed to help. I started eating much cleaner according to the Primal Blueprint, maybe 90/10. I slept 10 hours every day. I felt “ok,” but I was depressed at the outlook of my future.

One fateful day, June 21, 2014, I decided to try keto, which I had recently read about on Mark’s blog. It was actually easy for me to get into ketosis for the first time, because my diet had been consistently clean for the six months preceding it. I woke up on day 3, and it was crazy. I could see clearly. I felt well-rested in a way that I didn’t remember existed. I felt boundless energy. I was strong. I could breathe better. I still remember that feeling so clearly. I actually feel healthy! Even when I felt “ok,” I didn’t realize I was never actually feeling well.  It had been so long. I peed on the stick, and it was purple: ketosis was achieved. After a week of eating keto, which I had never intended to maintain permanently, I decided that I would add one half piece of whole wheat pita bread to my diet (I know not primal at all but I feel lucky I made that random exception to my diet) every other week and to attempt to cycle into and out of ketosis. The next morning I woke up with mouth ulcers, a fever, brain fog, and the beginnings of a UTI.

It hit me. The writing had always been on the wall but I hadn’t I seen it. This was clear, objective measures I couldn’t ignore: Do I have celiac disease? I got back into ketosis over the next few days, and all of the symptoms cleared. Like magic. I grabbed a beer, walked down to my hot tub, and cracked it open. This would be my test (and with bittersweet sadness my final beer). As I enjoyed the crisp, cool refreshing beverage, all of the things I had been through over the past 12 years ran through my mind. Even if you reread my story, it seems so obvious once you know. All of that struggle and such a simple solution. Yes, the ulcers and the fever came back the next day. I did a week of completely primal, gluten free, but not keto to test out my theory. I remained healthy. (I have the genetic marker and antibody for celiac but am unable/unwilling to do a 12 week challenge).

Over the next four years, I gained muscle I never knew I could gain. I can wear narrow boots quite well now, and I have muscle in my core and arms. I live a completely normal life. I can run, jump, and play, so I do! I have slowly forgotten the feeling of that daily struggle and fear. I have continued to change my relationship with food. While I am always gluten-free, I am 90/10 with primal eating and cycle in and out of keto. I can finally say that when my body tells me something, I listen. Whether it’s to fully recover between workouts, to limit chronic cardio, to sleep, to get fresh air and daylight, to eat more, or to reach out and connect socially, I no longer try to fight those impulses for my own ego’s sake. I preach this to all of my patients and all of my friends.

Here is a picture of me on Halloween dressed as the iconic Leia finally with some lean muscle!

Most importantly, I have learned to open the discussion of this diet and lifestyle to people around me.  Not everyone has celiac disease, but 1% of the population does and most are not diagnosed. Many people have autoimmune conditions, and we have connected deeply on how similar food journeys have changed their lives. Many people simply have weight to lose and insulin resistance. My next goals in my personal journey are to gain a six pack (something that symbolizes both inner and physical strength to me) and to share this lifestyle with as many people as I can.  Keep spreading the light Mark!

– Maureen

 

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The post All Of That Struggle, and Such a Simple Solution appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

I’ve always had an interest in health. I entered college to become a nurse, but switched majors after marrying young and starting a family, ending up with a degree in education with an emphasis in health. My first love is my family, and it’s because of my responsibility for their well-being that healthy living continues to be a growing passion in my life.

In my twenties, breastfeeding babies and chasing toddlers kept me fit and thin, and I exercised when it fit my busy schedule. Low fat, high carb foods were the staples of our “healthy” diet, and I was just trying to figure out my way around the kitchen.

My cooking did evolve, and I continued to keep up with current health fads. But when my homeschooled sons hit elementary school and our grocery budget began to take a hit, I knew there had to be a better way to fill up their growing bellies. I devoted my time to research, and came to the conclusion that whole food was the way God intended us to eat.

Still mindful of the food pyramid, I began grinding wheat to make bread, and replaced all the “fake” foods in my home with homemade, healthier versions. I started a garden and slowly began sourcing raw milk for cream, yogurt and cheese, grass fed beef, pastured pork, chicken, and eggs. It worked. We were getting fuller, our budget was stretching, and I was developing a passion for cooking.

My thirties brought a little more freedom as my sons were getting older, so exercise became easier to fit into my homeschooling schedule. Though I was never overweight, my vanity would always have me desiring to be a bit leaner. I could never manage to drop those few extra aging pounds, despite my exercise habits. I rode my bike a hilly thirty miles a day (1.5 hours), six days a week. Though I experienced many benefits from biking, I was still unhappy with my body composition. Noting that runners tended to be thin—especially in their legs—I decided to reap this benefit and started spending more time with my husband by joining him in running. I routinely ran seven to eight miles a day, six days a week, always maintaining a chronic 7:15-7:30 pace.

I had been experiencing migraine headaches since the birth of my third son. I had a melanoma removed from my foot in my late thirties. Around the age of forty, I began to experience more negative changes in my body. I was gaining weight, always tired, and I was experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder. I just felt “off.” I didn’t have time for more exercise, and eating less would’ve been absurd. I was beginning to believe that I, too, would fall prey to being fat over forty, and all the other ailments of aging. I had never been on a diet in my life, and since we were eating whole foods, I didn’t see a need for change.

After attending a conference and listening to a health and fitness speaker, my husband gave up grains in an effort to lose the forty pounds he had gained, despite consistent exercise and my homemade cooking. He lost most of his weight and was feeling great. I was beginning to wonder if this might be part of my issues.

One night in March, while enjoying a meal with friends, someone suggested The Primal Blueprint, and it became, for me, one of those books that forever changes your life. Mark’s set of simple instructions was truth for my soul! It was the final piece of the health puzzle I had laboriously been working towards.

Within a week of implementing the tweaks to my diet, which included eliminating grains, eating more fat, and an overhaul of my exercise, I saw drastic improvements in my body composition and fitness level.

Now, I jog when I feel like it, but mostly take lots of walks with my husband, and sometimes with a weighted vest. I do weekly sprint sessions in my backyard, and a daily sprint to my mailbox and compost pile. I consistently lift heavy things—PEMs, haul firewood, or even a bit of “CrossFit” at home to mix it up a bit. I truly enjoy my exercise since it’s so easy to fit in anytime, anywhere.

Learning more about the importance of vitamin D for overall health and protection from cancers has freed me to enjoy the sunlight. Living in Nebraska means dark winters and minimal sunlight, so I supplement with vitamin D, and my SAD has improved tremendously.

My headaches are completely gone, and I’ve seen improvements in my skin, energy levels, and cravings. I can’t remember the last time I had to unbutton my pants after a meal! While I am perfectly content with my body composition, it’s funny; I hardly think about it anymore. My sons have experienced the benefits of reduced acne and mood swings, the need to “carb up” before or after ball games, and improved strength. I can’t even name a “family doctor” for any of us when asked—we just don’t need one.

Redeeming my time has been one of the greatest benefits of primal living. I’m learning to rest and play—as a type A “doer,” this is hard for me. We’ve been enjoying weekly backyard volleyball and Ultimate Frisbee games with our sons and friends, and I am spending time enjoying coffee on our front porch.

While Primal living is not a religion, it compliments my Christianity by allowing me to treat my body as a temple, nourishing it with the perfect menu God has given us to eat. It has taught me to carefully source and appreciate the food we eat, with no waste. It keeps my body “strong for my tasks” and it promotes Biblical values of community, rest, and play. It is a reminder that “everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about being successful at a given ‘task,’ it’s that you have to give “IT” its due time. And it starts with a plan. Having a plan gives purpose, and purpose empowers. Over the years, it has been my mission to inspire other women to flourish in their own lives by taking responsibility for what God has placed right in front of them—their jobs, parenting, relationships, and even laundry. Health is no different. Primal living offers simple, effective, and efficient principles for sustainable health that anyone can implement, and I naturally began to spread this message with the same passion.

When The Primal Health Expert Certification became available, I immediately enrolled. My busy life homeschooling high school boys, their sports, and serving as a media/communications director for our church and basketball team took a lot of my energy, so I went through the coursework slowly, at my own pace. During that time the course was changed to the Primal Health Coach Institute Certification, an idea that I, at first, dismissed due to the busyness of my life.

But God had a different path for me, showing me those I could share my new wealth of information with: a group of moms implementing PEMs; a couple successfully completing the 21-Day Transformation; my son’s friend—eating and exercising with us, and losing 30 lbs to improve his basketball game; a dear friend with fibromyalgia; and my sister, who has PCOS and pre-diabetic symptoms.

Last year my youngest son graduated high school, and I graduated as a Primal Health Coach! It is the perfect time to start a new chapter in my life, so with the encouragement of my husband and sons, I opened my own coaching business, Primally Empowered. I followed the business model suggested by the PHCI program and built a website, registered on the Primal Health Coach Institute website, and implemented the forms and suggested coaching program. I began blogging, which is my least favorite part, but I’m finding a pattern of topic interests my clients prefer.

I’ve had the opportunity to coach over 10 people in the last year! I’ve been contacted via word of mouth, the PHCI website list, and just from talking with individuals I run into. I’m currently coaching a woman who intends to go on and become a Primal Health Coach.

I am finding my niche is people/couples in my age range who are realizing their weight and health are keeping them from the life they really want, and desire to live the rest of their lives well. It is so empowering and fulfilling to see people truly change their lives!

I’m not searching for a full time job, but I recently came across the opportunity to work for a functional medicine doctor who will be opening her own clinic and is swamped with ill patients. We will see where this journey takes me!

Though I discovered the Primal Blueprint only five years ago, my life has paralleled primal living in many ways. The Primal Health Coach Institute program has empowered me with the knowledge and the confidence to merge these two paths to help individuals address their health challenges by engaging them one-to-one as a personal coach.

– Monica Lambert

Monica’s listing in the Primal Health Coach Institute Directory

Website: primallyempowered.com

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The post My Family’s Primal Living Achievements Empowered Me appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

When I first started on a low-carb diet, I lost 35 lbs (16 kg) in five months. I had 24 conditions! But not all my ailments healed.

I went down the rabbit’s hole and was able to turn my health around and cure a myriad of health issues with some additional measures. This is what I did.

My story began in 2013, where I adopted an eating protocol via Dr. Mark Hyman’s Ultrametabolism, after discovering my cholesterol was high. Following that plan, I lost 35 pounds (16 kg) in five months and had more energy for a period of time. But I started getting tired, having palpitations, wake-ups at night where I couldn’t go back to sleep, and others. I had already, over my lifetime, been diagnosed with being overweight, high blood pressure, tachycardia, chronic migraines, lumbago, bulging disks, ADHD, generalized anxiety disorder, fibromyalgia, various nutrient and vitamin deficiencies, and others. I presented my issues to my doctor, whose only answer was the old, tired adage…”You are getting older, and this is what happens when you get older.”

I have autoimmune disease (discovered myself by literally forcing the conventional docs to test me for thyroid antibodies) based on my research of my symptoms from various functional medicine doctors whom I follow…so I began researching healing autoimmunity within functional medicine and Mark’s Daily Apple. I eliminated gluten, dairy and similar proteins completely from my diet. This includes all store-bought breads, pastries, pastas, and milk and milk products, and replaced them with my own, home-baked, (primarily coconut flour) products, and nut milks, primarily coconut milk. This is where my fibromyalgia, headaches and lower back pain went away for good, I hope indefinitely.

I gave up beans completely (too difficult to absorb, even when soaked), nuts (too much phytic acid in a healing gut). I gave up all processed/packaged foods, and bought and ate/eat only organic (unless ewg.org’s list says I can eat conventional). I consume pastured eggs only, grass-fed beef 1-2 times/week, wild-caught fish, and only hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken and turkey. I don’t use any conventional oils, only olive for my homemade salad dressings (your dressings are the only ones around with completely good for you ingredients, by the way!) , and coconut oil and grass-fed butter for higher-heat cooking. I eat an 80/20 raw diet. I have eliminated soy, and soy products, though I must admit, I still consume soy lecithin, as Chris Kresser, whom I admire, says it shouldn’t be problematic. I have an adoration of dark chocolate, you see… 😉 so it is unavoidable. I would make my own, but my time is limited, as I am a full-time nurse, wife and a mother as well.

I consume a lot of supplements. No drugs. I won’t elaborate on it too much, as that would be very long, but I will say that my Vitamin D, B12, all cholesterol and thyroid lab levels are now optimal by functional medicine standards. Mainstream labs are based on sick people’s labs, and I’m aiming to be and stay well, not to get sick until I exceed their ranges of “normal.” I am using additional supplements and probiotics to boost glutathione, immunity, gut repair and cellular metabolism. I use your collagen powders to keep my gut healed and sealed. I also do about 5 minutes of targeted muscle training a day 5 days a week, nominal running, walking and biking.

About six months later, after adopting the additional protocols outlined above, I felt great. I still do, another five years later. You wouldn’t guess to look at me that I’m 52. I feel better than I ever did in my life, and get around like a 20-year old. My only conditions remaining are some gas (from all the cruciferous veggies I eat every day in my salad), and thyroid antibody levels that have plateaued still outside of normal range. I surmise, accurately I am sure, that this is due to food sensitivities.  I have completed a food panel, and am working on the food sensitivities found there by eliminating them. I hope that this is successful, as I know these antibodies may continue to wear away at my thyroid over time, possibly resulting in a reversal of everything I have accomplished. Hopefully, as per Dr. Izabella Wentz (I am one of her recommended clinicians), my consumption of Thytrophin PMG will target the action of the antibodies as opposed to my thyroid, and then all will be right with the world!  Incidentally, I became so enamored with using food as medicine, that I went on to become a health coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and board certification through the AADP (the Association of Drugless Practitioners.  Now I help others realize their hopes and dreams the way I have!

It should be noted, that I underwent all the above, totally alone. No family or friend support. It was very hard, but I was determined to decipher how powerful the proper consumption of food is for myself. From what I have read over the past four years, the odds are extremely low for success while going it alone. I almost ended up in divorce from my husband, and estrangement from my daughter, as I tried to help them with their problematic behaviors before they became sick as well. Now, in order to keep the peace, I must continue to go it alone, and keep my mouth shut. So far it is working, but the clinician inside of me worries for them. I’m definitely not perfect, I do let out some thoughts once in awhile!

I would not change this way of eating for anything, and continue to advocate the same for anyone who will choose to listen to my story and other successes people have had that I have advised. Following this type of plan can and will indeed change lives.

Thank you for what you, and other functional medicine practitioners sharing of your wealth of knowledge has done for me,

Carol Rivers

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The post I Feel Better Than I Ever Did In My Life appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

I’m thrilled to share Cristina Curp’s success story today. You might know her as the creator (and chef) of The Castaway Kitchen. And she’s now the author of the brand new Made Whole Cookbook, just out this week—a book I was proud to write the foreword for. She’s got an inspiring Primal story to share as well as awesome recipe and generous giveaway today. Enjoy, everyone!

You’d think a foodie with restaurant chef experience would have their food situation down pat right? Well, this chef didn’t. While I have always loved fresh foods, veggies, cooking from scratch and more…I found myself about to turn thirty and pretty damn unhealthy. Living with what was probably leaky gut and definitely a predisposition to autoimmune disease as a kid, I was sick, a lot. Combined with being overweight for as long as I can remember and a diagnosis for Hidradenitis Suppurativa when I was 13. I settled into a subpar quality of life and just dealt with it.

A constant parade of binge eating and crash diets. The constant struggle to not only cope with my debilitating skin condition but hide it from others too. How I lived like that? The person I am today hardly knows. What I do know is that I was able to turn it all around.

Obese, pre-diabetic with chronic fatigue and inflammation. Two years post-partum, depressed and about to thirty, things felt dire. Dire enough for me to stop playing the ol’ “but I eat healthy enough” excuses in my head. So I began to research alternative remedies for my skin condition, and I found a post on Robb Wolf’s website, and then a book titled The Hidden Plague by Tara Grant. There it was, in black and white. FOOD AS MEDICINE. DIET TO REMISSION.

Down the ancestral health rabbit hole I went. Sort of like the Goldilocks of elimination diets and healing protocols. I tried them all. Whole30®, Paleo, Primal, Autoimmune Protocol, Specific Carbohydrate Diet. With each passing month, I got better. What one approach didn’t do for me another did. I saw enough improvement to know that I didn’t want to give up.

I had a newfound love for moving my body, lifting things and connecting with nature. This crazy venture of mine had become a full-fledged lifestyle.

All of my N=1 experiments pointed to keto. However, there weren’t many keto resources two years ago that spoke to my ancestral health roots. So, I did the Primal Blueprint Program! From there I tweaked my macros, lowered carbs, kept out the foods I learned were inflammatory to me via the autoimmune protocol. 

I became fat adapted. I had energy. Visceral fat melted off of my body. Brain fog lifted. I had boundless energy. It was the missing piece to my puzzle.

This AIP-Paleo-Keto mashup I call life has been liberating and empowering. Most of all the major commitment to my health and to myself has been cathartic!  I have found remission, I love my body and I’m living the life I always wanted.

Made Whole is my gift to this amazing community that helped me heal. A book to empower, inspire and guide others. A book full of amazing recipes so you enjoy every bite of your own journey.

Salmon Salad Avocado Boats

Made Whole Cookbook by Cristina Curp | @thecastawaykitchen | thecastawaykitchen.com

No-cook meals don’t have to be boring. These delicious avocado boats come together in minutes. Canned wild-caught salmon is a fantastic affordable option that delivers omega-3 fats and protein. I always opt for the boneless, skinless version. Mixed with crunchy and spicy radishes, sweet and juicy blueberries, and creamy mayo, it makes this seafood salad absolutely stunning. So many textures, flavors and colors packed in to one easy meal.

Makes 2 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 medium hass avocado
  • ¼ cup fresh blueberries
  • ¼ cup sliced radishes
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 (6-ounce) can wild- caught salmon
  • 3 tablespoons homemade mayo (or Primal Kitchen® Mayo!)
  • Pinch of fine Himalayan salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Squeeze of lemon (optional)
  • ¼ cup Pickled Red Onions (also in the book, page 88), for serving

Instructions

• Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Cut a ¼-inch grid pattern in to each avocado half with a paring knife. Use a spoon to scoop out the few squares of avocado where the pit used o be and surrounding area. You want to make space for the salad.

• Place the scooped-out avocado in a small bowl. Add the blueberries, sliced radishes and parsley. Drain the salmon and use a fork to flake it into the bowl.

• Add the mayo, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined. Then spoon half of the mixture into one avocado boat and the rest into the second. Give them a squeeze of lemon (if desired) and serve with pickled onions on the side.

Substitutions:

  • To make this egg free use Primal Kitchen Vegan Ranch or AIP compliant mayo.
  • If you don’t like radishes you may use cucumber or celery instead.

Per Serving: Calories 450, Fat 36.9, Carbs 13g, Fiber 7.5g, Protein 19.1g

Now For a Giveaway!

Enter HERE to win one of three signed copies of The Made Whole Cookbook. And for good measure, we’re throwing in the entire line of Primal Kitchen® Avocado Oils, Condiments, Dressings and Marinades for each winner. Winners will be chosen at random on 7/25.

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The post The Missing Piece To My Puzzle (Plus a Recipe—and a Giveaway) appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Today I’d like to give my own introduction for our success story. She’s a former Mark’s Daily Apple success story (you can read her original story here). But she’s also a successful entrepreneur within the natural food and paleo space. I’m happy she’s shared an update to her personal journey and her business venture, and I’m excited that she’s also offering a giveaway for our community. Thanks for stopping by today, everybody. Enjoy!

My conscious-food lifestyle continues to be the backbone of my life (see my original post for more details about my journey to get here). After being in an ill-state of health until I was 21, I became passionate about healing my body, mind and spirit through food. What started off as a commitment to being gluten-free eventually evolved into me adopting the primal, paleo-inspired lifestyle around the age of 23. I experienced such a dramatic transformation in my health as a result of my dietary changes that everything in my life shifted. I was pursuing teaching yoga professionally, and as a result of my health transformation, my career ambitions pivoted and led me to open my own business, Picnik, in 2013.

Picnik was (and continues to be) a passion project for me to bring real food to the masses. I opened my first location in a reclaimed shipping container in Austin, TX. The original name, Pressed & Squeezed, transformed into Picnik when I’d show friends the location I found for our trailer. We were perched on the top of a giant, grassy hill in the middle of a bustling street called South Lamar. Every time I’d show friends and family the location, they would declare “this is the perfect place for a picnic.” To me, I considered that a divine sign and took the initiative to change the name. Hallelujah for that, because it has shaped our vibe and our culture tremendously over the years.

Building Picnik was no easy feat. In 2013, when we opened our doors, the consciousness around the paleo and high-fat movement was minimal. We had grab and go lunch items, breakfast pastries and a delicious coffee menu, but we made every item on our menu with a unique, health-promoting flare. Our coffee menu was incredibly innovative. We used coffee as the backbone for a specialty drinks menu that had a base of high-quality fats, conscious proteins and superfood add-in’s that amplified the nutrition. We wanted these drinks to taste just like what you would expect from a traditional coffee shop, just made with better ingredients. We had a very unique position in the marketplace for many reasons, but our drinks became a standout, as they functioned like a protein shake, an energy drink and a latte in one.

Convincing customers to try our coffee was challenging in the beginning. For the first year of business, I’d stand behind the cash register every day giving away free drinks and begging customers to ‘just give it a try.’ Although it wasn’t easy, I was able to get many people to approach our menu with an open mind, and many of the customers I helped transition to Picnik’s coffee during that time remain our regulars to this day. Once people would try what we had to offer, we’d often see them every morning. It was inspiring to see how people related to our products and how we were making a palpable difference in the way our customers felt every day.

At the start of 2014, things started to really heat up for Picnik.  The awareness and acceptance around high-quality fats shifted (Hello! Butter was on the cover of Time Magazine). As a result, customers began coming to Picnik with enthusiasm and an open mind. Our traffic was so heavy that we eventually opened a new, larger infrastructure on South Lamar in 2016 and, shortly thereafter, a full-service, all-day concept in our first brick and mortar location on Burnet Road in August 2016. All the while, we had been working on how to package our coffee since 2014 because it had become so high in demand. We knew how great it made our customers feel, and we wanted to reach the hands (and mouths) of our customers outside of Austin. Although it took three years of development work, in 2017 we launched our first three ready-to-drink coffees for grocery. Our first production run of our Cappuccino, Dirty Chai and Mocha was in February of 2017. By May, three months later, we were being sold in all Whole Foods Market’s nationwide.  Talk about 0-100!

Fast forward to this point, June 2018, we now have four locations. We have two food trucks and one restaurant in Austin, TX, as well as our first coffee and beverage kiosk in Whole Foods Market 365 in Upland, CA. In addition, we have four products being sold nationwide in independent retailers and grocery, with many more products on the way. It’s been an incredible ride, and I know it is just getting started.

As I’ve settled into a conscious-food lifestyle, I’ve continued to refine and identify what works for me. My GI problems have dramatically improved as a result of a relatively consistent healthy lifestyle combined with high doses of Magnesium and Probiotics. I did, however, continue to experience histamine reactions and skin problems, even on a paleo-inspired diet. As a result, I explored several adjustments to my lifestyle over the last few years. When I was in the thick of my healing, I was committed to the GAPS diet, essentially a healing protocol that aligns with the primal lifestyle, but it omits all starches, sugars (besides honey), legumes and some forms of dairy. It is a strict elimination protocol that focuses on bone broth and really transformed my health.  As an ex-vegan, however, I sometimes became overwhelmed on GAPS with the quantity of meat I was consuming, so I pivoted and explored a more plant-based healing protocol that focused on high-quantities of fruit as well as eliminated certain inflammatory foods.

After pursuing GAPS and my plant-based, fruit-heavy diet, I ended up feeling strong and stable with my health and I began reacting less and less to food. This stability allowed me some more food-freedom and gave me the opportunity to re-experience eating foods that I had 100% eliminated in the past. As someone who had been gluten-free for over 10 years, I was able to final enjoy croissants, my favorite food, without reaction, as long as I consumed them in moderation. Moderation, however, is the key word. I definitely went off the handle a bit during this time, loving my new food-freedom, and ended up on a glorious grain and gluten-bender, regularly re-exploring a food group that had been abolished for me for so long. Although I am very happy with my progress, I still have to remain diligent and careful. If I eat grains and other starches regularly, I end up with histamine problems, brain fog, weight gain and inflammation.

In the end, I’ve re-settled back into a GAPS and primal inspired diet that focuses on meats, fish, fruits, low starch vegetables, nuts, seeds and full-fat dairy. This is my default ‘zero’ and allows me to stay in a stable place physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m happy in life, work and business, and I love knowing that healing food, for me, is always the answer to a stable and fulfilling life.

All the best,

Naomi Seifter, Picnik

Now For the Giveaway…

WIN A MONTH OF BUTTER COFFEE!

We’ll pick 3 winners to receive:

A one-month supply of butter coffee, which would include the following for three winners:
(1) 6-pack of Cappuccino Butter Coffee
(1) 6-pack of Mocha Butter Coffee
(1) 6-pack of Dirty Chai Butter Coffee
(1) 32 fl oz Butter Coffee Creamer

Just visit the Mark’s Daily Apple Instagram page for more info on how to enter and win!

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The post Healing Food, For Me, Is the Answer To a Stable and Fulfilling Life appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Six years ago, I was a freshman at Kalamazoo College, majoring in biology and tentatively planning to go to vet school. I was known for my ability to pack away refined junk food and not gain a single pound. I was a two-sport collegiate athlete, starting goalkeeper for the soccer team, acing my classes, and working in a research lab. By all measures, my life was wonderful. That is, except for my eczema.

I’d had it for as long as I could remember. As a baby, it was on my cheeks. Through middle school, it was the inside creases of my elbows and the backs of my knees. In high school, it was cracked, dry eyelids and painful, scaly skin around my mouth.  In college, it also began to show up on my hands. I hated it with a vengeance. I’d tried all kinds of steroid creams and seen dermatologists, pediatricians, and allergists to no avail. I basically assumed I would be stuck with eczema for life.

faceIn summer 2013, my sister sent me a few articles on the connection between eczema and food intolerances. At this point in my life, I was a full-blown sugar addict, and my definition of a vegetable was Ragu sauce or corn.  I was skinny and fit, so clearly my diet was fine, right?

I was skeptical that changing my diet would do anything for my skin, to say the least. But I was desperate. I was sick of being asked things like “Is that paint on your hands?” (in neurobiology lab) or “Are you wearing pink eyeshadow?” (one of my relatives at Thanksgiving).

So, I began to slowly cut out grains, refined sugar, and dairy, replacing them with whole foods. I found Mark’s Daily Apple and ChrisKresser.com and spent nearly all my free time poring through evidence-based articles and research studies related to nutrition. I quickly transitioned to full paleo and found that eating a diet of fresh, whole foods from quality sources made all the difference in the world.

soccerNot only was my eczema disappearing rapidly, but I had increased energy, less joint pain, and faster recovery from workouts. I slept better, got sick less frequently, and generally felt great throughout the day. It was almost as if I hadn’t fully lived the first seventeen years of my life, and was finally experiencing how great I could feel once the heavy fog of chronic inflammation had lifted.

I became a true believer in this new healthy lifestyle and dove further into research. I learned about the connection between the microbiota, leaky gut, and autoimmune diseases like eczema. And it made a lot of sense; I had experienced many of the environmental triggers known to cause microbial dysbiosis and leaky gut: repeated antibiotic use, heavy consumption of processed foods, etc. After eighteen-some years, I had finally found some answers as to why I had this awful chronic skin condition. And more importantly, some hope that it could be reversed.

My eczema improved significantly on paleo, but it didn’t go away completely. After many more hours poring through articles, I decided to try the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP). Thanks to a few hiccups along the way (i.e. don’t eat a full forkful of raw sauerkraut if you’ve never tried it and have histamine intolerance), it was a slow process. I was full AIP for about seven months, and AIP/low-histamine for the last three before the last of my eczema cleared up. But hey, a year and a half is pretty good to undo the damage of eating nothing but junk food for 17 years! And I had the best soccer season of my career, even earning Academic All-American status, while on low-histamine AIP.

It soon became obvious to me that nutrition, gut health, and ancestral medicine was something I was truly passionate about, and that I should pursue it as a career. I switched from pre-vet to pre-med, got involved with research on the gut microbiome, and started looking into dual degree M.D./Ph.D. programs.

Today, I’m still eczema-free and am in the third year of my Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois. My research focuses on the effects of diet and exercise on the gut microbiota and gut barrier function, and how this impacts health. (Our latest study was recently featured in the NYT.) I’m also a part-time research assistant for Chris Kresser.

I will be starting the M.D. portion of my training in the spring of 2019, after which I plan to practice functional and integrative medicine. It’s going to be tough to navigate four years of conventional medical school, but I hope that having the credentials and background of a traditional degree will allow me to be at the forefront of the movement towards a new and improved healthcare system—one that recognizes the power of diet and lifestyle to combat chronic disease and brings together the best of functional and conventional medicine. I also hope to perform clinical research that provides evidence for the ancestral approach.

with husbandIn the meantime, I’ve started a blog at NGmedicine.com to help others discover the power of nutrition and optimal health. I am incredibly grateful to Mark and all of the other people who helped me on my journey, because I not only found my health—I found my purpose in life.

P.S. As for my diet nowadays, I successfully transitioned off AIP/low-histamine to full paleo and now hover in what Mark calls “the keto zone”—dipping seamlessly in and out of ketosis. I love the mental clarity, sustained energy, and improved management of my lingering SIBO. You can read more about my personal experience with a ketogenic diet here.

P.P.S. My husband also experienced major improvements in his health thanks to a paleo-type/primal diet. I may have to convince him to write his own success story some day!

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The post I Found My Health—and My Purpose In Life appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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