Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Test Results are in!

Good news... bad news... but mostly good news!

I've known that I have some inflammation due to some symptoms I've had with my bowel movements. So for the past ten days, I've been juicing, and have been anxious to get the test results so that I can assess what to do next.

I went in for tests on Thursday. Specifically, I wanted to know my sedimentation rate and hemoglobin. For some people a c-reactive protein test is an indicator of inflammation. However, for me, the sedimentation rate is more accurate from past tests. 

How the sedimentation (sed) rate works is when blood is placed in a tube, red blood cells settle to the bottom. Inflammation can cause the cells to stick together. Because clumps of cells are heavier than individual cells, they settle to the bottom more quickly. The more red cells that fall to the bottom of the test tube in one hour, the higher the sed rate. A sed rate of 0-20 is normal for a woman.

During flare-ups I've had sed rates of 85 upwards to over 100.  Once in the past I had a sed rate of 65 and was able to manage to get it back to normal without medication, but with some drastic dietary and other actions. 

Hemoglobin is the oxygen carrying protein inside red blood cells. Since oxygen is essential to healing, not having enough hemoglobin makes healing difficult. So a high sed rate and low hemoglobin makes healing very difficult indeed. Hemoblobin for a woman my age should be around 12 to 14 gm/dL. 

So I was hopeful to have a sed rate under 65 and normal hemoglobin. I really would like a sed rate of 0, but I knew that I had some level of enervation or inflammation due to my symptoms, and a sed rate under 65 would be good considering.

Well... I got the results late Friday.

Hemoglobin: normal at 12.4

Sediment Rate: 40.

I'm actually thrilled with these results. What this means to me is that I can simply stay on my "healing diet", get enough vitamin D by getting in the sun about 15 minutes every couple of days, and make sure that my nerve energy is ample for healing. I do this by getting ample rest, meditation and managing stress. By doing these things, I will likely resolve the mild inflammation without any drastic action or medication within a couple weeks:) Yay! 

Therefore, that's what I'll do until I have a full week of no symptoms. Then I can loosen my diet to what I refer to as my "post-healing diet". I've posted some details before about my healing diet, so I thought I'd post information about my post-healing diet, which is the diet I will transition to and should stay on to keep in remission without medication.

I posted four requirements of a healthy diet for Crohn's and colitis on my last blog. I've added a couple other important requirement here. I've learned that if I stick to these six rules, I don't get inflammation. When I deviate, I get symptoms that indicate my colon has been irritated or inflamed and that's what will lead to a flare up.

  1. Avoid foods that introduce harmful or toxic substances into the digestive system. 
  2. Eat and drink only easy to digest and assimilate things.
  3. Only eat foods that can be eaten in its natural state.
  4. Intake only those foods and drinks that contribute a broad range of nutrients.
  5. Eat predominantly alkaline-forming foods. 
  6. Avoid any food that is spicy hot.
1. Avoid Toxic Substances:  Foods that introduce harmful or toxic substances include the following, plus much more. Read the ingredients of everything you buy that is a packaged food and if it doesn't sound like a word that describes food, it is often toxic to some extent :
  • preservatives
  • artificial sweeteners or coloring
  • refined sugar or flour
  • msg
  • genetically modified organisms
  • fried oil (BHA/BHT)
  • caffeine
  • trans fat
  • pesticides
  • Olestra (fat substitute)
  • brominated vegetable oil or anything with bromate
Ultimately whole organic foods avoid any of these toxins so you can be certain you're good to go if you stick to plant based whole foods.

2. Foods Easy to Digest and Assimilate:  The easiest food on the digestive system is juice, because it is already digested and therefore is ready for immediate absorption and assimilation. Cold press juice is the best because it keeps most of the nutrients and food enzymes in tact. 

Fruit is the next easiest. It is considered partially digested in its raw ripe form, with exceptions. The skin of an apple for example, is difficult to digest, but the apple meat itself is in a state comparable to a partially digested vegetable. Melons are the easiest to digest. Speed of digestion, doesn't necessarily mean ease of digestion. For example, whole milk exits the abdomen in about two hours, which is the same as most seeds. However, due to casein and lactose in milk, most people cannot digest dairy products as easily as seeds. 

3.  Raw Food:  If you consider this 3rd criteria of eating foods that can be eaten in their natural form, this eliminates many foods.  Although a healthy person will synthesize hundreds of enzymes required for digestion and assimilation, the body is dependent upon the enzymes within the food for the most perfect digestion. Therefore, it is essential that our food have their enzymes intact and that occurs if it is eaten raw.

Cooking destroys not only the enzymes, but destroys almost all known food factors and makes a food’s nutrients mostly unusable.  Depending upon the extent in which the food has been cooked, it reduced to inorganic minerals, caramelized sugars and starches, coagulated proteins, poisonous fats, and it weakens the vitamins and other values. It not only loses most if not all of its nutritional value but what remains can become toxic debris in the body according to Dr. T. C. Fry, and believed by Dr. David Klein and Dr. Herbert M. Shelton to name a couple.

Most nutritionalists confirm that cooking changes the organic nature of the food and changes its nutritional content and our ability to assimilate the nutrients for the worse. There certainly is controversy to what extent cooking destroys nutritional value, but every source I could find with any credentialed nutritional expertise confirms that cooking kills the foods enzymes which the body relies upon to assist in digestion and reduces the nutritional value to some extent.

Therefore, since Crohn's and colitis creates digestion and absorption problems, it simply makes sense that those with the disease need the food enzymes and full nutrients of food, and hence, raw food is a recommended food state. This is one of the core beliefs of my holistic gastroenterologist, and has become one of my core beliefs based upon my personal experience as well.

4. Nutritional Food:  A very important factor about nutrition is that we must eat and drink in a manner that allows what we eat and drink to be digested and assimilated properly. Meaning, if we eat food that gives us all the nutrients we need, but we eat them in such a way that their value cannot be realized, then this is not healthy. Some foods require acid digestive enzymes and others alkaline, and some neutral. If we eat foods that require acid enzymes with food that requires alkaline enzymes, then the two enzymes cancel each other out and the digestive enzymes are significantly less effective.

Therefore, eating "mono" meals, or combining foods properly allows us to digest and assimilate food properly.

5.  Alkaline Forming Foods:  The human body must maintain its fluids at a slightly alkaline pH in order to survive. Neutral pH is 7.0; acid pH is below 7.0; alkaline pH is above 7.0. The bloodstream pH must be maintained within a pH range of 7.35 to 7.45; blood pH outside that range results in death.

Metabolic waste acids are produced in every cell.  Acidifying factors include acid-forming foods; exercise; and stress, mental and emotional. This requires a sufficient reserve of alkaline minerals in the body for their neutralization. Which is why eating predominantly alkaline forming foods is essential to our health. Under perfect conditions, acid wastes are minimal and easily neutralized and transported to the organs of elimination. However, a chronic acidic condition constantly stresses the body, resulting in physical and mental issues including big problems for Crohn's and colitis sufferers.

Excess alkaline minerals are now problem, however, as our kidneys are adept at eliminating them.

After foods are eaten they are oxidized in the body, resulting in the formation of a residue. If in this residue the minerals are sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, the food are alkaline forming. If the residue includes sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and un-combusted organic acid radicals, they are designated as acid forming  foods. You can see based upon the content of the residue that alkaline forming foods are better for us. Don't confuse the alkaline or acid residue with alkaline or acid enzymes. Enzymes are part of the digestive process and food residue is a result of digestion. That residue remaining in our digestive tract effects the PH balance and a chronic acid PH is problematic for most people and certainly for those of us with Crohn's or colitis.

6. Avoid Spicy Food:  If it is spicy hot to the mouth it will irritate your digestive system. You might like the taste of spicy foods, but your gut does not. Avoid them.

I admit that I don't stick to these six rules 100% of the time. But I do intend to following these requirements most of the time. And the times that I don't, need to be spaced a part so that I don't stress my colon for an extended period of time. These requirements are not only good for the colon, but for the stomach, small intestine and entire digestive tract.

I realize this is a lot of information so future blogs will break down the six requirements for remaining in remission in more detail. Stay tuned...

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