Hold the Sauerkraut–Clues and Investigation


My Food Diary

First clue: An afternoon headache — I never get those.

Second clue: Several days of increased thumb swelling and generalized achiness in my hands, beginning the morning after the headache.

Investigation: Using my food diary, an essential tool in my healing process, I started a probe into the reaction (aka “setback”) I was having.

I asked myself: Could the reaction be due to grain exposure from feeding our chickens while my spouse was out of town? (We throw cracked corn to lure our eight chickens back into their enclosure for predator-free overnighting after they spend the day grazing freely. Since they have not yet been transitioned to paleo, feeding them involved reaching my hand and arm into a feed sack to scoop their gluten-laden treat and tossing it into their pen, which often results in a puff of grain dust rising up from the ground.) Did I get that headache before or after feeding them?… I can’t be sure–that detail was not noted in my food diary.

What was noted though, was that shortly before that headache, I had sampled homemade sauerkraut for the first time. And that I had eaten some at lunch for the next two days. Hmmm… Time to reach for another essential tool in my healing process: the internet. A search on “homemade sauerkraut” and “headache” and “joint pain” returned a possible piece of the puzzle: that I could have histamine intolerance (HIT).

It is a complicated subject and there are ample resources out there to explain the science behind it, so I won’t venture into explaining it. [The above link is a good starting point for an explanation.]

I will note, though, that many of the recommended foods for Paleo/AIP are high histamine foods, including:

  • smoked and cured meats: bacon
  • bone broth
  • sauerkraut
  • fish (including sardines)
  • citrus (the lime part of bacon and lime)
  • aged meats
  • spinach
  • avocados

to name just a few. And leftovers.

I am going to pay attention to this, but I am not sure yet about my approach. Have things now become more challenging?… When I first started writing this post I thought they had. But then I checked in with The Paleo Mom, Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, whose Autoimmune Protocol I am following, and I read her encouraging words on the subject and decided to not get all crazy and more restrictive with my intake just now.

One very helpful quote from her post is: “…often health doesn’t come from what you take away, but rather what you add.” So while I will probably scale back my consumption of sauerkraut for the time being, I am going to continue drinking bone broth and eating avocados for awhile. Bacon though? Oh, I hope so!

Another possible cause of the reaction to eating homemade sauerkraut is bacteria die off from the probiotics. Another possibility to explore.


Report: Six-Weeks on AIP–Part 1


Things that are worse:

  • Right hand thumb pain and swelling, with some days better than others. Currently I am improving from a peak thumb pain setback a couple of weeks ago, but overall the right thumb swelling and range of motion limitation is worse than when I started the Paleo Approach (AIP). Sometimes I wonder if I might have “texting thumb,” tendonosis issues unrelated to RA. Not that I use my phone that much, but I wonder if it could also correlate with trackpad use–repetitive stress injury.
2014-10-03 22.02.32

Right thumb a week ago (10/6), some swelling and reduced capacity to flex (bend) at the knuckle nearest the tip of my thumb.

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Right thumb today. More swelling, more limited range of motion.

Things that are about the same:

  • Sleep quality and duration, usually great

Things that are somewhat improved:

  • Foot pain and swelling diminished. Pain/swelling is still mildly bothersome, but I can bear weight on both feet, even barefoot for short periods, without wincing
  • Dry skin diminished
  • Morning red, dry & glassy eyes diminished (possible Sjögren’s?)

Things that are much better:

  • Fatigue gone
  • Morning headaches gone
  • Periodic episodes of muscular weakness gone
  • Periodic shortness of breath gone
  • Energy level more consistently good
  • Parched mouth, excessive thirst cleared up (possible Sjögren’s?)
  • Cracked lip corners & sores gone (possible Sjögren’s?)
  • Dry lips diminished. (For years I have applied lip balm multiple times a day, now I only occasionally apply a touch of pure shea butter, maybe once every three days)
  • Successful reduction of thyroid medication from 90mg/day to 60mg/day

Cauliflower “Rice”


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First time making cauliflower “rice” today. And it won’t be the last. Loved it. Lots of potential… I look forward to trying it with gravies. For lunch today I was in a little bit of a hunger hurry so I served it with avocado and drizzled olive oil on it.

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Served again later with paleo tacos. The cauli-rice actually fooled a rice-loving family member who thought there was rice in the dish.