My family and I have been eating “mostly Paleo” for several years. I don’t remember when we decided to add Paleo to our clean eating habits, but it was sometime after we added the Low Oxalate protocols. The change was prompted when we noticed that some members of our family didn’t feel very well after eating rice or low oxalate legumes. We cut those two food items, and that led to eventually cutting out all grains *most* of the time. We still did the occasional rice dish, or the occasional corn tortilla at a restaurant. I continued to eat the croutons on store-bought salads, and I kept eating my once a week beef jerk and the chocolate my kids brought me.
Then, about 3 months ago I read two articles. One on Mercola.com, and the other on marksdailyapple.com. These articles caused me to wonder if cutting the few remaining sugar-containing items and cutting out the occasional grains would make a difference in my fasting blood sugar numbers, and my blood pressure numbers.
More than 5 years ago, blood sugar was high. If had gone to the doctor for testing, I would have been diagnosed with Diabetes 2, no doubt. I was seeing after meal numbers well near 280, and my random numbers were in the high 100s. Since I prefer to do things naturally, I set out to normalize my blood sugar numbers. And, for the most part, I did. I haven’t had a glucose reading over 180 in at least 4 years. When I’m tracking it, I take my blood glucose as many as 6 times a day. For the last 3 years, all my blood glucose numbers have been good. In fact they’ve been well within the “normal” range for a person without Diabetes 2. All except one. My fasting blood sugar has been consistently in the 105-115 range. Now, granted, those numbers are well within the acceptable range for diabetics, But, the non-diabetic fasting blood glucose range tops out at 100. My goal is to have good blood sugar for a non-diabetic person. So, by my evaluation I still had a little work to do.
As for my blood pressure, it has been high since my pregnancy with my youngest child. Before kid #4 came into being my blood pressure was always very close to the acceptable 120/80. But, when I became pregnant with my youngest my blood pressure skyrocketed. I had pre-eclampsia with her, and my obstetrician induced my labor about a month early because of it.
My blood pressure never normalized after that. The highest reading I’m aware of over the last 11 years was about 150/95. That reading scared me, so I took steps and started herbs to bring it down. And, that worked. Eventually my blood pressure, without herbs or supplements, dropped to a more reasonable 140/85 ish. But that wasn’t good enough. A healthy blood pressure is tops out at 120/80. No matter what I did I couldn’t get my blood pressure below about 125/80 without taking blood pressure lowing herbs and supplements.
So, then I read those two articles a few months ago and I decided it was worth it to go “full-on Primal.”
That meant skipping the croutons and salad dressing on my twice a week store-bought salad, skipping the weekly beef jerky, and stopping the two or three squares of chocolate a couple of times each week. And, of course it meant skipping the once a month trip to our favorite Mexican restaurant for enchiladas.
Now, before you tell me I must have been eating other things with sugar or grains in them, I will assure you I was not. My MS is kind of unforgiving to my food choices. If I eat the wrong thing, I suffer for it for days. I absolutely hate.. hate.. hate (actually, I can’t be strong enough here) putting up with MS symptoms that I can avoid through wise food choices. When MS symptoms are unavoidable, I can deal with that. But symptoms caused by my own choices make me upset. So, yes, those non-primal food choices I listed above really were all of it.
Anyway, I decided to give it 30 days, to see if cutting out those couple of foods would make any kind of difference in my blood sugar or blood pressure. I used the Primal Blueprint, and the guidelines for the 21 Day Challenge on Mark’s Daily Apple. I didn’t do the fitness part of the challenge, but I did make it a point to “move frequently at a slow pace,” and committed myself to 10,000 steps each day, no matter what.
After one week, my blood pressure numbers started to drop, and my non-fasting blood sugar numbers also dropped.
After two weeks, my fasting blood sugar levels came down a bit. They still weren’t within the “normal” range, but they were lower.
At the 30 day mark, I saw and FELT enough improvement in my blood sugar, blood pressure, and the way I felt that I decided to stick with the full Primal eating plan.
It’s been about 3 months now. I’m still not doing the entire fitness part of the Primal Blueprint, but I’m working on it. I do Sprints once every 7-10 days, and in between I try to make my 10,000 step count. Some days I don’t make that number, but my average low number is much higher than it was 3 months ago. I do body weight exercises when I remember, which might be once a week, instead of the recommended several times each week. But, I’m making progress. I’ve noticed I need my asthma inhaler a lot less. I’ve used it so infrequently that I actually forgot it when I left the house one day. That’s significant because I have carried a rescue inhaler with me everywhere since I was 15 years old. My asthma has improved greatly over the past 10 years, but I still have never forgotten it when leaving the house. For the first time since I was 15 years old I felt comfortable enough with my own breathing to not have my inhaler on me.
I’m losing weight. Granted, it’s a very slow weight loss. I lose 5 pounds, gain 3, then lose another 2, then gain another 3. But.. overall I’m losing the weight that I have been fighting with for 10 years.
I’ve lost about 2 inches off my waist, another inch or so from my hips and when I pull in my abdominal muscles, my tummy is much closer to flat than it has been 10 years.
I had my first NORMAL blood pressure in ten years. Last week, my morning blood pressure reading was 113/75. I was thrilled.
My sleep schedule has normalized. I no longer get insomnia, and I’m not tired in the mornings anymore. I wake up naturally as the sun comes up. It’s wonderful. I’ve always been a morning person, but the definition of “morning” has changed over the years from dawn to about 7am. I have always felt better when I wake up at dawn. But the MS made it hard to wake up on my own. For the past month I have woken up almost every morning before my 530am alarm goes off. I feel rested and rejuvenated and ready to get up and face my day.
I haven’t needed an afternoon nap in about 6 weeks.
It’s easier for me to get up off the floor. I sit on the floor most of the time. It helps maintain my flexibility and helps keep my muscles strong. About 2 months into the full Primal eating I no longer needed help to get up from the floor.
My stamina is improving. Before the full Primal, I could climb to the top of our local mountain and back down again without a problem. I was able to do the hike and continue with my day. Since the Primal, I can make the hike up the mountain and down, and then hike an additional 2 miles or so before I get too tired.
Sugar and chocolate cravings– GONE. Not kind of gone, not “still there, but I can control them,” actually, really seriously gone. For the first time in my life I don’t crave sugar or chocolate. Not even during PMS time. My husband put my favorite ice cream in front of me, and I wasn’t even tempted. Although, I did make a really good coconut milk, stevia and fruit sweetened, ice cream a few days later.
I’ve been so impressed with my results that I signed up for the Primal Blueprint Health Coach certification. I’m about 1/4 done with the class, and I’m loving it. The course explains the biological and hormonal reasons why this works. There’s a lot of scientific information to absorb, and the sources used in the course are excellent.
I’m not suggesting you take the class. Actually, unless you’re a health coach, ND, nurse, or dietitian there’s really no need. The website Mark’s Daily Apple does a great job of explaining the hows and whys to the Primal lifestyle for people not in the field.