Many of you know I embarked on the keto way of eating about 1.5 years ago... at the time I was healing from a total hip replacement and excited to be coming off a daily NSAID prescription for the associated inflammation. I had been on this particular prescription (diclofenac) since I was around 29 years old. However once weaning off the NSAID my entire body, every joint, with the exception of the new titanium one... started to ache! I had not realized at the time but by taking the NSAID not only was I dampening the pain of the injured joint but all my joints! Not healing them but MASKING. I actually had total body inflammation.
To say I was discouraged would be a massive understatement. Fortunately one of my best friends had been keto for several years by this time and kept gently recommending I try it for the anti-inflammatory benefits. Of course I was stubborn and resistant to walk away from a lifetime addiction to carbs and processed foods. I was defensive of these foods exactly because they were my addiction, though at the time I did not realize it! My routine glass of chocolate milk, evening cookies, daily orange juice, granola bars, cliff bars, and on and on and on. Of course I thought most of this food was healthy- "Got Milk?" "Heart healthy whole grains" "fruit juice" the food pyramid....the industry funded messages had been pounded into my head all my life.
So with on other options in front of me I finally decided to give the keto way of eating a try. It was difficult at first for two reasons. #1 I had so much to learn... particularly with tracking daily macros. I honestly didn't even know what macros were despite over 90 college credits in biology, chemistry and physiology. And- #2 I had to break the carb addiction. An addict cannot even comprehend a day without their drug... much less a life without it.
So I loaded a macro tracking app on my phone and went to work. My initial goal was to keep under 20g of daily carbs... it was a bitch! Not only because of my addiction but also because carbs are hidden in almost every product of the processed food industry. I recall once early in this journey when I added some artificial creamer to my coffee in a hotel lobby... after drinking it I realized I had better check that label! I was so discouraged to find I had blown my daily carb allowance in that moment! Those first few weeks were tough, I had a constant feeling in my mouth I can only describe as a sort of "thirst"... at the time I didn't realize it but that was my body asking for additional electrolytes. On a high carb diet your body is forced to retain massive quantities of water...once you go keto this flushes (leading to a massive weight loss initially)... unfortunately along with this water you lose a lot of electrolytes- sodium, potassium and magnesium. For some this electrolyte loss leads to the onset of temporary symptoms called the "keto flu", for me it never got that bad but I would have been well served to increase my salt intake those first few weeks. It certainly would have made the transition more comfortable.
After about 3 weeks my carb cravings began to subside... but not completely. That took many months. My inflammation also began to turn off... but again SLOWLY. The reduction in inflammation was so slow I didn't really notice until about 3-4 months in... I found I just didn't ache. My movements were fluid, natural and body aches were just not there... they had been my constant companion. Of course I can still ache... if I run bleachers for 30 mins or do crazy shit of course I will be sore. But the all over inflammation all the time... that is gone!
Along with the turn off of arthritis came another benefit... no burping, heartburn, acid indigestion and barely any farting! These, like inflammation, were a constant daily companion of mine. I thought this was normal and a part of the aging process. In my travel bag, in my bedroom and my vehicle glove compartment I kept a "heartburn kit"... a combination of tums, prilosec, rolaids, etc. I never went anywhere without them. Again I thought this was normal. NOW I HAVE NOT TAKEN ANY OF THESE FOR 18 MONTHS! THOSE DRUGS ARE NOT NORMAL!!!!
In fact for the past 18 months I have taken no prescription drugs or any over the counter meds for that matter. I have lost my "heartburn kits"... I probably threw most of it away. I travel with my dental & basic hygiene items... no meds.
Along with the aforementioned benefits came a corresponding improvement in my mental clarity and overall mood. On a carb focused diet I would have daily up and down cycles and most days a mid afternoon "crash". Anxiety too would rear its head occasionally and worrisome thoughts were again what I assumed was a normal part of living. The improvement in my mental game provided a multitude of daily life improvements. Obviously your state of mind effects everything you do, every decision, every thought and every cell in your body. The sugar brain I used to have was like some sort of crazy "monkey brain". The downgrading of fear, worry and anxiety has been well... mind altering. This greatly reduces impulsivity, poor decision making and overall stress.
Many of you have followed my progress and I have counseled quite a few of you directly to get you started on the keto way of eating. I plan to put together a keto page here on my website for anyone to check out. This will save me time and provide the information in one place for anyone to check out. My plans are to share basic keto information and then also some tips/hacks/products which have served me well.
For now let me just say that being sick is not your natural state, you were not created to be inflamed, pre-diabetic, hypertensive, fearful, or substance addicted. You were created to flourish... for yourself and loved ones... not for the big food and pharma industry. There is a big difference.