So I feel great still. It’s been almost a year since I started only eating beef, and things have been consistently improving. I’m still trying to solve the mystery behind my food problems so I’ve written out as much as I can to give myself clues (and anyone else who is also suffering mysteriously). This is a long one, but if people are interested here it is:
Initial symptoms in 2015 prior to dietary changes:
- Idiopathic arthritis – Severe. Not the type that just “goes into remission”. That’s more likely to occur during puberty, and it’s extremely unlikely with arthritis that causes joint deterioration and a need for multiple replacements as a teenager. In 2015 it was in my right wrist, both shoulders, right knee, right big toe, both thumbs, both sides of my jaw, some finger joints, both elbows, lower back, and occasionally other areas. I was worried I was headed for a wrist replacement. Medicated with Enbrel and Methotrexate and Tylenol 3.
- Idiopathic hypersomnia (chronic fatigue) – Severe and debilitating. Slept for approximately 18 hours a day if unmedicated. Medicated with Adderall.
- Itching skin – Severe. Particularly itchy on the legs but also everywhere else a bit. Wore fake nails so that I wouldn’t scratch my legs until I bled in my sleep.
- Mouth ulcers – Came and went.
- Floaters – Constant. Not particularly severe compared to everything else.
- Cold sores – Occasional. Medicated with Valacyclovir quite effectively.
- Skin rashes – Severe. Blistering rashes that came and went on my bum, shoulders, chest, legs, face. Medicated with Dapsone.
- Cystic acne – Could have been worse but felt pretty severe. Medicated with Dapsone.
- Dishydrotic Eczema – Came and went. On fingers and if it got really bad, also on toes, elbows, and knees.
- Restless leg syndrome – Came and went but was always there a bit. Severe enough to stop me from sleeping. Medicated with Gravol (over the counter).
- Depression/Anxiety – Rare hypomanic episodes as well. Constant. Severe. Debilitating without medication. Medicated with Cipralex.
- Breaking nails – Minor, but my nails wouldn’t grow. Extremely weak and peeling.
- Dry skin – Wasn’t much of a concern.
- Oily hair – Wasn’t much of a concern.
- Pale – I was incredibly pale and couldn’t tan. Wasn’t much of a concern but I did wonder why I was too pale for makeup.
- Constipation – Wasn’t really aware of this until it went away.
- Bloating – Constant. Worse after meals.
- Blood work – Pretty normal, elevated white blood cell count, low vitamin D3, low zinc. No rheumatoid markers.
- Stool test – A less diverse microbiome than I should have, signs of Strep and Candida. Ignored these results initially because I didn’t understand the validity of the information I was getting.
- Lyme test – Negative, going to repeat
- medication through the medical system for 15 years – biologics, immunotherapy, amphetamines, pain killers, SSRI’s, SNRI’s, mood stabilizers, antibiotics, surgery
- high dose vitamin D3 therapy
- probiotics along with probiotic friendly food in small quantities to build a tolerance – didn’t work
- Candida diet, sugar free diet, low carb diet, keto diet, SCD, GAPS
1992 – born via c-section
1993 – Strep infection, given antibiotics and suffered from a bad candida infection after
1994 – show signs of arthritis
1999 – show signs of depression and get diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
2000 – start Enbrel and Methotrexate and Naproxen and have cortisone injections
2002 – start antidepressants (Prozac)
2003 – take antibiotics 2 times for bronchitis. It doesn’t work and eventually takes antibiotics intravenously for pneumonia. More cortisone injections.
2004 – take antibiotics for bronchitis. Switch to Celexa from Prozac
2005 – take antibiotics for bronchitis
2006 – take antibiotics for bronchitis
2007 – take antibiotics for bronchitis
2008 – take antibiotics for bronchitis. Start birth control. Cortisone injections.
2009 – take antibiotics 2 times for bronchitis. Turns into pneumonia. Get hip and ankle replaced. Start taking Wellbutrin and increase Celexa dosage.
2012 – Increase Wellbutrin. Have a seizure from increased Wellbutrin dosage. Go on an antibiotic (minocycline and vitamin d3) regimen for autoimmune disorders for months. Get strep throat and take more antibiotics.
2012-2013 – Gain weight and feel miserable in every way worsening quickly in university. Try and adjust antidepressants with no success. JRA re-diagnosed as JIA (juvenile idiopathic arthritis as I have no blood markers of disease). Mental health worst it’s ever been.
2014 – Start getting skin problems.
November 2014 – Antibiotics again and I tried probiotics and had severe abdominal pain and almost threw up. Decided probiotics were not for me for years.
December 2014 – A skin rash on my face doesn’t heal for 5 weeks.
January 2015 – Stop taking Methotrexate (which I’d been on for 15 years) out of concern that some of my skin issues were side effects. See no improvement in skin issues but no change in arthritis.
May 2015 – Get entire extended family to do 23andme to see if I can find a genetic problem. No such luck. But I do find out I have the Celiac gene and start using Dapsone for skin issues. It works perfectly. Cut out gluten strictly after realizing my itchy rash might be a sign of Dermatitis Herpetiformis, and Celiac Disease (even though I don’t have any abdominal pain). See about a 20 percent reduction in skin rash and perhaps a mood boost but it’s hard to quantify. It’s summer and maybe I just feel a bit better anyway. Stop the Enbrel to monitor arthritic symptoms to see if maybe it was a gluten issue.
June 2015 – Diagnosed formally with Idiopathic Hypersomnia after seeing a sleep specialist.
September 2015 – Go to “low carb-ish”. All organic. Rice, sweet potatoes, carrots, salad greens, coconut oil, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, meat, fish, eggs. See a drastic reduction in symptoms within the first month. Skin heals. Lost weight and bloating is insanely reduced. Arthritis is greatly improved. Suddenly have a flat stomach. Constipation (which I didn’t realize I was suffering from) is gone.
October 2015 – Successfully reintroduce apples, pears, peaches, beet sugar, honey. Unsuccessfully try and reintroduce almonds and cheese and bananas. Suddenly lactose intolerant and allergic to nuts (tested by an immunologist), both of these are new.
November 2015 – After recovering from the cheese and almost introduction, wait a month and don’t reintroduce anything, depression lifts suddenly and itch disappears. Stop taking antidepressants (after 15 years of high dose SSRI).
December 2015 – Convince Dad to go low carb. Fatigue greatly improves. After serious soy cravings, try to reintroduce soy in massive quantities. Suffer from the worst depressive/anxious episode I’ve ever had, unmedicated. Symptoms last a month and include all of the symptoms mentioned above including a hallucination.
January 2016 – Recover from soy and stop taking Adderall and Tylenol 3 and birth control. Completely unmedicated. Try to get rid of all outside factors to see what the hell is going on. Have reactions to pumpkin and white sugar (makes me feel drunk). Stop eating rice after difficulty digesting and bloating afterward.
February 2016 – Accidentally have gluten and have a month-long reaction from that.
March 2016 – Notice nails are stronger.
April 2016 – Unsuccessfully try and reintroduce grapes. Get a feeling like I’ve had 4 alcoholic shots after introducing grapes. What on earth is that? Fermenting sugar somehow?
May 2016 – Unsuccessfully try and reintroduce casein and lactose-free whey.
June 2016 – Unsuccessfully try quinoa.
August 2016 – Unsuccessfully try kelp noodles (why do these even exist?)
September 2016 – Feel better than I’ve ever felt before. On the low carb diet seen here (except also including apples and pears).
October 2016 – Unsuccessfully try and reintroduce sauerkraut for probiotics. Begin a horrible autoimmune flare up and think “screw it, I’m not doing this horrible reaction again for the 10th time, I’ll just medicate”. Go back on antidepressants, and antibiotics, and T3’s.
November 2016 – Don’t get that much better after the sauerkraut reaction.
December 2016 – Pregnant. Don’t get better. React to sulfites.
January 2016 – Autoimmune symptoms and depression won’t go away. Pregnancy? Or from the last round of antibiotics? Skin randomly breaking out. Random itching. The face is very puffy. Random mouth ulcers.
February 2016 – Drop most fruit. Things minorly improve.
March 2016 – Drop sweet potatoes and carrots and apples. Have severe sugar cravings. Things minorly improve.
Things don’t really improve after that. Chronic fatigue is gone, depression is there but not crippling like before, arthritis is painful but manageable, itching is there, the face is puffy. Not nearly as sick as before but definitely sick, and definitely much sicker than when I first went low carb before the pregnancy and antibiotics.
December 2017 – Switch from eating all meats, fish, and salad greens to just eating meat. Stop after a week and go back to salad because of the “transition symptoms” (bloating, diarrhea, dizziness). Salad immediately improves digestion but I wake up the day after, itchy, depressed, and arthritic so I go back to all meat. Arthritis and itching improve in a week. I lose approximately 10 pounds of pregnancy weight in 10 days that I hadn’t been able to lose eating salad… And by a salad I mean organic olive oil, salt, pepper, organic apple cider vinegar, organic lettuce, sometimes organic arugula, organic olives. Pretty meager salad.
January 2018 – Drop chicken and turkey after experiencing dizziness and drunken feelings about 15 minutes after ingesting, and switch to only beef and salt and water (with the occasional bourbon/vodka which is somehow tolerated). Drop fish too just in case.
February 2018 – Unsuccessfully try to reintroduce organic olives (no added ingredients). Suffer from a 3-week long bout of depression and arthritis and skin issues, but with improved digestion (less diarrhea). The mood starts to recover about 3 weeks after the olive reintroduction at the end of February.
March 2018 – Asymptomatic, still cases of upset digestion. Less bloating after fattier foods. The mood was stable but not as positive as when first going very low carb.
May 2018 – Asymptomatic, still cases of upset digestion. Ability to digest fats slowly increasing still. Mood boost. Went from feeling pretty flat (but not depressed or anxious) to having some positive mood fluctuations.
June 2018 – food poisoning or something similar. Start small floor exercises for strength.
July 2018 – get a cold from Scarlett for the first time. Smoke some weed to help with the body ache. Have a flare-up afterward (body odor, arthritis, brain fog, anxiety). Caused by the cold or the weed. I’m thinking it was the cold because it’s repeated since then without weed.
August 2018 – Accidentally eat some pepper. Hardly any. Don’t suffer from a huge flare-up but definitely see a change. Arthritis (the same usual joints, right big toe, right wrist, jaw, shoulders, knees), body odor, and this time I get a rash I have gotten before around the bra strap area. Cut out salt at the end of August to see if it’ll resolve continual digestive upset (diarrhea).
September 2018 – digestion improved within 3 days of cutting salt but everything tastes like cardboard for the next 5 weeks.
October 2018 – Try to reintroduce salt 5-6 times. Digestion upset within 15 minutes of having ANY salt. Keep the salt out. Start going to the gym every two days. Definitely limited muscle pain and fast recovery. Strength increasing quickly and within 3 weeks I can start to see muscular improvements. Fat starts tasting like water instead of greasy. How strange is that!? The greasy taste is literally gone. Now it’s like water. So weird.
November 2018 – Okay we’re in the now, now. Digestion is still iffy. Diarrhea. Makes me think something is up (and it’s not due to the diet because Dad’s is fine).
- Inability to eat anything other than ruminant animals without having an autoimmune flare-up.
- Can still drink vodka and bourbon without having a flare-up.
- Susceptible to colds/flu while traveling. BUT they no longer turn into bronchitis and then pneumonia.
- Possibly suffering from more of a flat mood than when I originally went low carb. Very difficult to tell. I’m extremely stable and not depressed, and I’m happy but I think I was more elated when I first went low carb. I think I’m more stable now, but less excited.
- Stools are still loose. Something is up here.
- Minor skin breakouts somewhat randomly on my back.
- No arthritis, no anxiety, no brain fog, everything is gone.
Differences between this diet and low carb (when the low carb was working for me):
- I think I was more excited mood-wise on low carb
- More stable mood-wise on this diet
- Weigh more by 5 pounds, but less body fat
- Absolutely zero cravings. I had cravings on the low carb diet
- Less hungry. Can eat 1-2 times a day. Had to eat 2-3 times on low carb.
Why write this all out?
I’ve done this diet for almost a year and found great relief from it. The carnivore community has a belief that this is the way that people are meant to eat. I almost agree. I think that people should eat a lot of meat, and were built to eat mainly meat, but I’m not completely convinced that all plants are completely evil. I think it’s obvious that we should be able to tolerate at least some plants without suddenly having an autoimmune disorder. Maybe they should only be eaten if we run out of meat. But maybe not. I haven’t completely made up my mind. I think people would be healthier in general if they ate a high fat mainly meat diet. There’s evidence that this diet heals leaky gut which I’m sure I was suffering from. My guess would be I’m not anymore, but that hasn’t stopped my inability to even consume ridiculously small amounts of plant matter. So how do we fix the underlying problem?
- My WBC was high and now it isn’t (confirming on next blood test). Sign of infection?
- Whatever the underlying problem is, it’s clearly treatable with this diet.
- I can’t tolerate probiotics even in minute quantities.
- Whatever it is, the symptoms are worse in the morning when I do have a reaction.
- Previous Candida overgrowth is now resolved (confirmed through stool testing).
- Bacterial infections (like Lyme) can cause autoimmune symptoms and there are anecdotal reports that it’s treatable with an all-beef diet. So is it bacterial?
- Epstein Barr Virus can cause autoimmune-like symptoms and seems to be treatable with an all-beef diet. So is it viral?
- Dad has a similar problem, at least in regard to the mental aspect. So does my Grandpa. Is that genetic? Is it a genetic susceptibility to certain infections? Is it an infection that’s somewhat infectious?
CURRENT BEST GUESS:
- I’ve had a number of guesses over the years, starting simply with gluten and Celiac Disease, then Candida overgrowth, then type III hypersensitivity reactions, MCAS, Lyme disease, leaky gut, SIBO, etc., there were more.
- I believe my microbiome is super messed up, although much less than before. A c-section birth, and then antibiotics before the age of 1 plus a possible genetic predisposition to be more sensitive immune-system-wise. I think antibiotics messed me up, plus anything else that provoked my immune system at a young age (vaccines? who knows?), and I went into hyperactive overdrive. I’ve been on antibiotics more than 20 times and for long stints of time. I’ve taken at least 5 different types.
- I believe eating gluten started the gut damage which led to leaky gut which led to food sensitivities from proteins leaking into my blood.
- I think antibody build-up from the food proteins (type III hypersensitivity reaction) was partly the cause of arthritis.
- I believe eating a high sugar diet caused gut dysbiosis including a Candida overgrowth and possibly SIBO. Candida may have been affecting me systemically.
- The high fat all beef, which has been shown to heal leaky gut, has resolved my (most likely) leaky gut, as well as the Candida overgrowth. It has also reduced other types of bacterial strains in my microbiome which has only led to better health for me. That’s not necessarily ideal, but it’s helped me.
- I believe I have some sort of underlying problem making my immune system super sensitive. Obviously. I haven’t gotten less sensitive on this diet (I don’t think). I don’t think it’s purely genetic because what’s the evolutionary benefit of being allergic to everything? My guess is it’s some sort of bacterial infection that’s not particularly easy to test for.
- Re-test for Lyme with a more up to date test (original test was from when I was 8)
- Test for EBV
- Do more in-depth stool testing.
- Fecal Matter Transplant – I’m going to figure out how to do this in the new year sometime after my ankle surgery (January). I think this is the fastest way to see if it’s a microbiome issue. They basically take donor poop and put it in you. The problem with probiotics (other than the fact they give me autoimmune symptoms), is that they don’t seem to alter microbiome if you stop taking them. They work transiently. If my problem is some sort of infection that we haven’t been able to find, that’s been put into remission with diet, and it affects the gut, FMT might be a fast way to find out without having to figure out exactly what the infection is. There’s evidence that it can help mood disorders and autoimmune disorders so it’s worth a shot I think.
- I am basically asymptomatic. The only symptom I have of anything wrong is very sensitive digestion. Diarrhea. Removing salt helped but it seems to be back. I have a pimple every now and again on my back… That’s it for symptoms. Arthritis is gone completely, the mood is stable completely, no itching, the face is clear, no bleeding gums, no mouth ulcers, no cold sores, no stuffy nose, no floaters, tons of energy, the skin isn’t as dry, nails are strong, no restless legs, no cramping muscles, etc.
- I’m thrilled that this all-beef diet has eliminated my symptoms. It’s way easier looking for answers when you’re not half-dead/dying.
- I could do this diet forever and be thrilled to be healthy. BUT, I do believe there’s an underlying problem, and I’m so sensitive I can’t eat out and I get paranoid if I’m in a kitchen I don’t know, and I end up getting hit with things every so often that are out of my control. I also get autoimmune symptoms when I get a cold and I can’t control that. It would be better if that were just gone.
- I don’t believe I will ever go back to eating “badly”. Grains will always be out, sugar will always be out, the fruit will always be limited, I’ll probably need to avoid high lectin foods. I just can’t quite understand why I was doing so well low carb, then took antibiotics, then had a pregnancy, and now I can’t do that anymore. Clearly, something changed.
- I need to figure out what’s wrong because Dad isn’t as careful as me and he keeps getting hit with things in restaurants (because he’s out so much). The diet isn’t as sustainable for him because he’s so sensitive. If he could tolerate little bits of things on his food he’d be fine. And even if we’re supposed to be mainly eating meat as a species, you shouldn’t be that ill if something just touches your meat. So there has to be another explanation.
Almost a year on all beef. Digestion still isn’t perfect. Still unbelievably sensitive to anything that isn’t a ruminant animal. Still believe this is the main diet people should resort to, especially if they’re suffering from mental or autoimmune disorders. Currently starting to look for the underlying cause more deeply. Bacterial and viral tests first.