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Help! I'm feeling worse.

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  • Help! I'm feeling worse.

    Hello all,

    I'm new to the forum and am hoping all of you with more experience can help me out. I've been actively lurking around MDA for a while now. I found the site in the process of general searching for info on diet and nutrition as I've always enjoyed food and learning more about it. All aspects of it, growing, raising, harvesting, canning, fermenting, freezing, drying, cooking, baking, and eating.

    A lot of things made sense to me right from the start. Like IF, which I'd been doing for years just because I was too lazy to make time for breakfast or too busy to eat for long periods and why I now can go for long (usually 10 days if I care to) periods of time without food and still feel good, remain active, and have plenty of energy. Or why I was relatively thin despite eating much more fat than almost anyone I know. Eating whole foods was already normal as I thankfully grew up on a farmet where we raised or grew most things we consumed and my parents never really let us eat processed foods. I did think some of the advice seemed to go a little beyond what was really necessary for me however. No wheat at all? Come on, I'd baked bread from scratch starting with grinding the grain since I was a little girl and how could a whole food like that be so bad? And I have always been active and thin so I wasn't worried about my weight at all. When I was young, my grandmother actually accused my parents of starving us because they wouldn't let use eat all the soda and candy she brought and all of us kids were skinny. (I promise, we were indeed allowed to eat plenty of food.)

    But I listened to Wheat Belly while driving cross country last spring, and some things that related to me started to click in my mind. So I started trying to avoid wheat. I haven't been perfect, but that wasn't really that hard. I already ate rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, squash, etc as a lot of my carbs and never really craved bread or most desserts.

    Then a little over two months ago I started seeing a great holistic doctor looking for some help with severe menstrual cramps. It seemed to me that if I was otherwise pretty strong and healthy and rarely caught any illness going around, cramps that put me in bed, made me vomit, or nearly caused me to pass out were are problem with some underlying cause that should be remedied. We're still working on that issue with some gradual improvement. He recommended avoiding all dairy and try to get more of my protein from legumes, fish, and poultry to avoid a lot of red meat. I'd know since I was little that I couldn't drink milk without throwing up, even having had access to fresh raw goats milk, but butter, cream, well aged cheeses, and keifer or yogurt never seemed to bother me so I ate a lot of all of them. (Remember, I've almost always eaten a lot of fat.) Ok, so now I'm avoiding wheat, all dairy, trying not to eat tons of read meat, and this is a little harder.

    Fast forward to today. I'm seeing some improvement in cramping. I weigh almost 20 pounds less than I did 8 months ago (I'm 5'8", 130 lbs and a size 2 most of the time now), probably partially due to diet changes, and partially due to taking up crossfit 2x a week. (Since I'm not working physically demanding jobs at the moment, I felt like I needed something else in between hiking and skiing. And my best friend is now a crossfit coach, and I can trade the gym owner meals for classes, and it's generally convenient.) I did not start out to try to loose weight at all. This is all great however except for one thing.

    I've had eczema since I was an infant. My parents made me wear mittens to bed because in my sleep I would scratch my skin till it was bleeding. The last several years my skin has been much better which I attributed to having cut out most chemicals in my laundry and personal care items, more sun exposure, and maybe outgrowing it? But since getting rid of wheat and especially now dairy, my skin is much worse again. Like now I feel like I could just scratch all of it off and it would feel great. It's not only itchy, I've got little bumpy rashes and odd acne bumps popping up. It has not felt this bad since at least my early teens. (I'm 26 now.)

    After reading a bunch of Tara Grant's stuff that Mark linked to recently, I started wandering about my skin troubles maybe including more than just eczema and being rooted in an auto immune dysfunction. My parents thought my skin reactions started after getting some of my first vaccinations as a child (the link between vaccinations and all kinds of things including auto immune disorders was something I'd already looked into a lot, and I know that topic is super controversial) and they did not give me any more. Nor were any of my six younger sibling ever vaccinated, and incidentally none of them have eczema or the allergies that I've had. Those allergies mostly disappeared when I moved from PA to WY 6 years ago, I think just due to the change of climate, and my skin cleared up substantially as well.

    So now with all my old skin issues coming back with a vengeance, I started looking at primal auto immune protocols. And almost all the foods you are supposed to avoid when dealing with auto immunity are foods I've been consuming a lot more of since avoiding wheat and dairy. It's been more challenging to not be hungry with less carbs and fats to choose from and so I've eaten a lot of eggs, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, mangos, pineapples, sauerkraut, gogi berries, quinoa, rice, corn, legumes, coconut oil, coconut, chocolate, and avocado. All things that depending which list of trigger foods you read, someone with an auto immune issue should avoid. At least for a while.

    So now I feel like between trying to avoid wheat for my general health, all dairy and much red meat for my periods, and the whole list of possible auto immune triggers, I can really only eat fish and kale. (Yes, I know that's a bit of an exaggeration.) But seriously, my skin feels so bad now, that I'd say I felt overall better before trying the primal idea at all.

    Sure I have a much leaner body, but while that is probably good, I didn't feel bad about my weight before. And I'm seeing some improvement in my cramping, but it's still minimal. So I'm a bit discouraged. Ok, probably a lot discouraged. I've seen so many success stories, so many people have had excellent results, the reasoning behind most of the primal recommendations makes a lot of sense, and I really want this to work. But overall, I feel worse. Should I keep going? What should I eat if I do? Will this get better? How long before it does? Will I scratch all my skin off first? Should I just go back to eating meat, veggies, pasta, and dairy? In many ways I felt better then. Any and all advice would be much appreciated.

    "To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine

  • #2
    What's the connection between red meat, dairy and cramping? - Gaming, Food Reviews and Life in Singapore


    • #3
      It does sound like you are in a quandary. I guess if I was in your shoes, I would give the autoimmune protocol a shot, at least for a month or two. I have heard some people say that they can slowly reintroduce foods on a case-by-case basis, so while it might seem really restrictive at first, it could become less so over time. I have never done it myself because it does seem daunting. I have some niggling skin issues (I think it's seborrheic dermatitis) that I feel might be improved by removing certain things from my diet.

      Here are some auto-immune sites that I have come across (in case you haven't already) They both have auto-immune cookbooks:
      The Paleo Mom » The Paleo Mom is a scientist turned stay-at-home mom who shares recipes, explains the science behind the paleo diet and its modifications, and blogs about the challenges of raising a paleo family.
      Autoimmune Paleo |


      • #4
        For me cramp reduced by quitting dairy, just as peoble NM s with my lungs and sinusses. I believe it is because the mucous membrane of my uterus, nose and lungs get irritated by the dairy. I still eat lots of red meat.
        I hope you will find out fast what is causing your problem. Is coconut oil a new introduction in your primal diet? Some people are allergic to it.


        • #5
          Originally posted by AMonkey View Post
          What's the connection between red meat, dairy and cramping?
          You can look up more detail, but what my doctor explained to me was along these lines.

          "Red Meat
          Red meat contains substances known as arachadonic acids. According to an article on the "Fitness Magazine" website, arachadonic acids have been linked to the stimulation of prostaglandins, the chemicals that cause menstrual cramps.

          Milk, cheese, yogurt and butter should be used sparingly if you are trying to get rid of your menstrual cramps. These products also contain the cramp-inducing arachadonic acids.

          Read more: Foods That Are Bad For Menstrual Cramps | LIVESTRONG.COM

          So it seems that if you're a woman who's body is out of whack and already producing too much prostaglandins, dairy and red meat can exacerbate the problem.

          "To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine


          • #6
            "Here are some auto-immune sites that I have come across (in case you haven't already) They both have auto-immune cookbooks:"

            Thanks, I have looked at both of their sites but not had the money to buy new cookbooks yet.


            "To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine


            • #7
              Originally posted by paleodutch View Post
              Is coconut oil a new introduction in your primal diet? Some people are allergic to it.
              No, it's not new, but the amount I am consuming is new as I've replaced all the butter I was eating with coconut oil.


              "To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine


              • #8
                Have you given this enough time? If your eczema and menstrual cramps have any kind of link to gluten or autoimmunity then it will take time to resolve. And if dry air makes your eczema worse, winter might be making your eczema worse temporarily.
                Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.


                • #9
                  My guess is you are still eating something that you are really allergic to. I suggest you get a food panel done through your Naturopath. I have had eczema since I was a child. Now it is mainly dry skin with outbreaks of KP. It has dramatically improved removing my allergens. Egg is a biggie for me. I had no idea. As is quite a few other foods but the biggest being egg, dairy and gluten. Allergies cause systemic inflammation for me and finding and removing those foods have made a big difference.

                  Have you ever tried taking Evening Primrose oil? I found that taking that every day stopped my cramping.
                  Started Primal June 2012 at 148.5lbs, and 5' 1", reached goal weight in 5 months.
                  Lowest weight 93lbs - too thin. Now stable at around 100lbs much better weight for me at my age.
                  Primal, minus eggs, dairy and a myriad of other allergens.


                  • #10
                    Have you looked at your water quality? My wife gets skin rashes from overly processed water here in the states. Different locations have different levels of bad. The days right after they treat the water seem to be worse. The water in London was fine, as her rashes went away during her semester abroad. We got a filter for the shower, which seems to have helped.

                    I just wonder if the water treatment process where you live has changed recently, causing a resurgence of reaction to something your body doesn't like.


                    • #11
                      First off, some people have illnesses. Not are being made ill by their food, but have actual illnesses that food adjustments might help, but won't resolve. So if you are that itchy, why not see a doctor? And you are newly going to a gym- sure you didn't pick up a skin infection there? It happens.

                      You are cutting dairy. As you may know, there is very good research on calcium levels and menstrual cramps. Though calcium supplements are a little looked down on because of their correlation with heart issues, a serving of Tums raises blood calcium levels no more than a glass of milk does. You may want to try it.

                      And yes, winter. I have three big psoriasis spots right now after having none for about a year and I totally blame winter.
                      “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” W. Edwards Deming
                      Blogging at


                      • #12
                        I think it's important to get the timeline straight. When did the skin issues start? How long have you been wheat and dairy free?
                        Some of you may die, but that is a risk I'm willing to take.


                        • #13
                          Have you had your vitamin D checked? I have found that if I skimp on vitamin D, I get eczema flares. When I completely cut out wheat and dairy last year, my skin cleared up. After 7 months of Primal, I ended up with fatigue and it was a combination of issues, including low vitamin D (in spite of daily 1-hour sun exposure). I began taking 10,000 IU daily. When my blood was tested this summer, my level was 40 ng/ml, improved, but still below the 50 ng/ml level that my doc wanted me to be at. I had run out of the high-dose vit D and thought that I could take 2,000 IU/day. It was a mistake. I immediately got rashes on my arms. So I went back to 10,000 IU/ day and my skin cleared up, but it took about 8 weeks. The state of my skin is what motivates me to stay strict with Primal eating.
                          As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again.


                          • #14

                            I agree with the vitamin D3. At home blood testing your D3 levels. They should be 70 to 80 ng/ml per Dr. Davis & Dr. Kruse

                            I also agree with eliminating all wheat product:

                            I agree with distilled water. We distill all of the water we drink to eliminate the toxins of Fluoride & chemicals. Fluoride will cause skin problems & severe problems with the thyroid & female organs, because it imitates iodine and will displace iodine in the thyroid & female organs:
                            Iodine deficiencies & dosages

                            What most women are not aware of is that Iodine is required by the female organs for optimal health. There is a national iodine deficiency that causes multiple female problems, including Fibrocystic Breast Disease, Ovary Cysts, Severe uterus problems, cold hands - cold feet (hypothyroid), and brain fog.

                            Here is a neat quiz to see if you are iodine deficient:
                            Where Severe menstrual cramps, & Heavy menstrual bleeding are listed symptoms:
                            Thyroid & Iodine Deficiency

                            Read this book, "The Iodine Crises," by Lynne Farrow:
                            The Iodine Crisis: What You Don't Know About Iodine Can Wreck Your Life: Lynne Farrow, David Brownstein MD: 9780986032004: Books

                            Additional excellent books on this subject:

                            Also see the following links:



                            • #15
                              Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
                              Have you given this enough time? If your eczema and menstrual cramps have any kind of link to gluten or autoimmunity then it will take time to resolve. And if dry air makes your eczema worse, winter might be making your eczema worse temporarily.
                              No there has probably not been enough time to see a lot of improvement. But what has been concerning to me is the worsening of the skin problem. Maybe the dry air alone is to blame, I do live in Jackson, WY, a pretty cold and dry place, but my skin has consistently improved in the last 7 years that I've lived here, and even in the winters was much better than when I lived in Pennsylvania. Until the last three weeks or so as I've tried to change my diet.


                              "To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine