Tomatoes and Joint Pain

The past couple months I’ve been experiencing some joint issues that have made me worried. Mostly stiffness and popping joints, but also knee and elbow pain.

It crept up on me so until I really thought about it, it seemed like ones of those symptoms that had “always been there.”

But then, I tried to start running again and my knees just about gave out on me. Intense pain and stiffness after doing only a few miles.

It was time to investigate.

I had written an article about nightshades and joint pain for Living Well Daily and I had tried cutting out nightshades before with no real noticeable difference. However, I wasn’t super strict as I found it extremely hard to avoid peppers in seasonings due to eating out frequently.

Then I read/heard on a podcast (they all blend together sometimes) about how tomatoes especially can aggravate joints.

I took a look at my diet and realized I had been eating tomatoes every day for the past several months, and almost every day for the past year or so. My lunch was typically chicken/tuna/salmon mixed with avocado and tomato.

So what the heck, I figured I’d cut them out again along with all nightshades  and see what happened.

I was doing good for a week and then came across an extended list of nightshades that had one on it I hadn’t seen before- goji berry.

And of course, I had just started taking an all-natural vitamin C supplement that was made from berries- including goji berry.

So I cut that out too.

It’s been about three weeks now and my joint issues are incredibly improved. I still may be consuming some chili pepper spices here or there, but I think cutting out the tomatoes and the goji berry are making a huge difference. My knees feel a lot better, I’m 80-90% less stiff, and the popping is much improved.

As far as why tomatoes and nightshades can aggravate joints, I won’t go into much detail right now. You can check out the article I wrote here for a bit of the science, but mainly, it has to do with a leaky gut.

And my gut is basically a sieve.

I’ve been experiencing increasing symptoms of leaky gut and reacting to foods I’ve tolerated in the past.

So it’s about time to really start diving into a leaky gut healing plan.

Glutamine has made it’s way back into my daily supplement regime, and I’m researching the best ways to heal my intestinal permeability, including the autoimmune paleo protocol.

My SIBO has also flared up again and I know that can greatly contribute to a leaky gut. I had some Candibactin AR and BR left over from when I did the Johns Hopkins herbal antibiotic protocol, so I figured I’d finish off those bottles and see if it helped at all, while I pay down my credit card enough to have some money to go see a SIBO specialist.

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Paleo Vegan Carrot Cakes (Pinterest Win(?))

Tonight I am getting together with three other couples for a game night. It was supposed to be four other couples, but unfortunately our friend Marsha, her husband Bryan, and their baby boy Camden all came down with the flu. And Camden is teething. Not a fun time.

Of course, she’s the one who lives a couple hours away so we had been planning this get together for awhile and all really looking forward to it. So that is a big bummer.

Anyway, for this get together we all decided we would each bring a healthy dish and do a potluck. We are all trying to eat healthy and many of us have special diet restrictions. Marsha is dairy free, I’m grain free/dairy free/legume free and Shannon is a type one diabetic.

Marsha said no one could bring just plain veggies so I decided to skip from my norm of bringing a salad or veggies with dip, and bring a healthy dessert recipe that I had found on Pinterest months ago.

Presenting: grain free, dairy free, paleo, vegan, raw (mini) carrot cakes!

I’ve always loved carrot cakes so I instantly gravitated towards this.

The only ingredients are:

  • shredded carrot
  • dates
  • nuts (I used walnuts and almonds because I ran out of walnuts)
  • shredded coconut
  • coconut cream
  • a touch of honey
  • and spices

Perfect.

I technically shouldn’t be eating nuts right now because I am trying to do the autoimmune paleo protocol, but I figured one little treat really wouldn’t set me back any further than the alcohol I knew I was going to drink tonight.  

Before I go any further, I readily admit: I am NOT a baker and I’m not a great cook.

I tend to improvise (see almonds above) and follow recipes loosely, something that is not that good of an idea for baking.

(I once made brownies and realized I didn’t have eggs. So I thought I had recalled reading that I could replace eggs with applesauce. Nope, that’s an oil replacement. So the brownies turned out more of a chocolate cake-pudding, needing a spoon to eat, but they were still quite tasty.)

Many times, my foods turn out tasting pretty decent but looking terrible. Or, I just burn the heck out of them (i.e zucchini chips).

So, because this recipe called for no actual cooking or baking I thought it was worth a shot. And according to the directions it was an “easy” level recipe.

I suppose that’s true…if you have the right equipment.

Another issue I have is I tend to not actually read the directions until I’m ready to go. I bought all my supplies yesterday, but didn’t read the directions until I went at it.

The recipe needs a food processor. It says you can use a blender, but maybe you need a Blendtec or Vitamix. My $20 blender definitely did not work.

So, first you shred the carrot and then add the dates, walnuts, coconut and spices to the food processor and pulse it.

I ended up having to chop up the dates by hand (awful). I then tried to blend everything in the blender but it all just stuck to the sides while the blades whirled into air.

Then I remembered I had bought a hand-held food processor thingy from a yard sale last year.

I whipped out that bad boy and dumped all the ingredients into it. I cranked away at it for about five minutes and finally ended up with something that was semi-blended.

Then I looked for my tins to press them into mini carrot cake shapes.

They were gone.

No idea where the could have gone but I swear I had muffin tins at once point.

But alas, they could not be found so I decided I would just hand shape these babies.

Into balls.

Raw carrot cake balls.

Lovely.

So you can imagine already this recipe is not going to turn out like the picture.

Then it was time to make the glaze.

I hand blended the coconut cream, spices and honey.

And for whatever reason, it came out very lumpy.

Tasty, but lumpy.

So now I have raw vegan carrot cake balls with lumpy cream on top.

Gingerly, I put one on a plate and asked Alex to try it.

“I just eat this whole things at once?” He asked.

“Yup.” I said.

He hesitantly put it into his mouth and made a few interesting facial expressions while he chewed.  

“How is it?” I asked.

“Actually, it’s not bad. It wasn’t very sweet at first but then it got sweeter as I chewed.”

“Would you eat another one?”

“I would.”

Now, granted, this boy knows my baking skills and he also knows better than to say it’s awful.

But I tasted one: I did like it! They are not pretty, no, and you have to like coconut and you also have to be ready to chew a little but, and you also have to be ready for the fact that they contain little sugar.

But after all that they are actually pretty good.

I may make them again for Thanksgiving at my parents. With their food processor. And muffin tins.

Here’s what I tried to make. Click on the photo for the link to the recipe.

carrot

And here are mine:

my carrot

That’ll do, Jasmine. That’ll do.

Sugar, Leaky Gut and Heart Disease

I just listened to a really interesting Robb Wolf podcast where he had Dr. Rhonda Patrick on his show.

She outlined some very interesting research that simply explained how sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to endothelial inflammation and subsequent heart disease.

Here goes.

We know that sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to both intestinal permeability and elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

But the mechanism of how hasn’t quite been figured out.

Dr. Patrick found new research that shows not only can insulin resistance occur in muscles and tissues, but it can also occur in the gut cells.

Therefore, if we eat too much sugar and refined carbohydrates, this can lead to insulin resistance in the gut cells. Then, as the gut cells are not able to get the energy they need, they experience mitochondrial dysfunction and eventually die.

As gut cells die off, intestinal permeability results.

(Remember, there is only a single layer of cells the separates the contents of our intestines from our bloodstream.)

As gaps in the intestinal lining happen, bacteria that reside in the gut are able to make their way into the bloodstream.

Gram-negative bacteria  are surrounded by an endotoxin (also called lipopolysacchrides). When in the gut, the endotoxins aren’t necessarily harmful to us as other bacteria in the gut keep these endotoxins in check.

But once they get into the bloodstream, bad things start to happen.

One is that the immune system can react directly against the endotoxin, creating an inflammatory response.

Another much worse scenario is that the endotoxin binds to a receptor on a VLDL particle.

(A VLDL particle is a smaller denser LDL particle that has just dropped off its cholesterol load to the cells that needed it, and is headed back to the liver to be recycled.)

Now that the endotoxin is bound to the VLDL, its can no longer be recycled by the liver.

And the immune system, flagging the endotoxin, initiates an inflammatory response against the particle, creating a foam cell.

This traps the particle against the endothelial wall and unleashes an inflammatory cascade that can lead to plaque formation.

Boom.

This just makes so much sense and it really ties the whole picture together.

Robb Wolf and Dr. Patrick both recommend getting a particle count done when you have blood work. This will measure to total number of VLDL particles. The more VLDL, the greater the risk of heart disease. Just getting a total cholesterol count and HDL/LDL numbers will not show the whole picture. CRP is a good inflammatory marker to get as well though it’s not a sensitive as they would prefer.