What's the connection between red meat, dairy and cramping?
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.
What's the connection between red meat, dairy and cramping?
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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:
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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.
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.
"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.
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.
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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.
Starting Primal June 2012 at 148.5lbs, goal weight in November 2012.
Now 95lbs and holding.
Primal, minus eggs, dairy and a myriad of other allergens.
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.