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TOPIC: Newbie, similar story to Matthew Hogg

Newbie, similar story to Matthew Hogg 7 years 11 months ago #1

  • kinderkat
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I ran across Matthew's story this week & it closely parallels mine. I am glad to see there is a support forum available! I have had some recent success managing it & wanted to share my experience. So here's my story:

I had several surgeries before I turned 10, and ever since then, I was sick all the time. Matthew's Vice interview summed it up nicely: "pounding headaches, severe nausea, occasional vomiting, dehydration, dry mouth, cold sweats, and shaky hands". Constant fatigue, constant nausea, attention problems (intermittent ability to focus, terrible short-term memory, class performance got worse & worse). It got really bad around the time I turned 20, again, same story as Matthew - grades dropped, a simple fast food job was extremely difficult, everything was a barrier because I felt terrible in a low-level way & had no energy. I'm in my early 30's now.

About six years ago, I got serious about finding out what my problems were because my life was a mess. It has been a rollercoaster since then & I am now in a manageable position health-wise. It all boils down to food allergies, which unfortunately is more like reading tea leaves than fixing a broken bone. None of my allergies show up on any kind of test. It started with a dairy allergy diagnoses (all animal dairy products - cow/sheep/goat, and all parts of dairy - casein/whey/lactose). This was very difficult to deal with as I constantly craved milk & drank it more than water, and the individual ingredients of dairy are in seemingly everything. I was told that a dairy allergy is common after invasive surgery (I had trouble with a kidney as a child). This solved many, many problems for me: asthma, the constant nausea, constantly running (or stuffy) nose (always clearing my throat noticeably), migraines, and panic attacks.

A few years later, my life had improved quite a bit health & energy-wise, but I was still not 100%. I then discovered I had a gluten allergy. I was not Celiac (tested but was negative), but the doctor told me that only half of the people tested with IgE even got a positive reading for an intolerance anyway, so I was instructed to remove it from my diet for a few weeks. Within a week I was a new man. My brain fog was gone - I had tried therapists & medicine in the past for ADHD with no long-term luck, this was solved completely. My anxiety literally disappeared. My feet & hands were no longer cold, and I was no longer cold all the time. I was no longer exhausted all the time.

Exhaustion...that was one of the most horrible parts...no matter how much I slept, how many naps I took, I could never, EVER catch up on my sleep. It completely sucked the fun out of life. In addition, my restless leg syndrome (RLS) disappeared, I was able to fall asleep easily (within 15 minutes instead of constant insomnia), my night terrors went away (I had very lucid, negative dreams, but often wouldn't remember them - but would wake my wife up with them after I got married), and I was able to stay asleep the entire night.

On a quick tangent, one of the reasons I went looking for a "cure" was because sometimes I would have good days, particularly when I was too busy to eat (or too low energy to get food). I would have days when I could focus, when I wasn't really tired & felt like doing stuff without having to have some sort of strong motivation, and so on. But it was hit & miss and I had no idea that it could be food-related.

Anyway, I did very well off dairy & gluten. My "mental" problems were gone (panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia), but I learned I still had other issues - issues that became more apparent once the bigger ones were gone. In particular, I still had constant headaches & sinus pain & pressure, as well as what I would call "gravel stomach". Basically it would feel like someone had punched me in the face recently, like I had a bruise under my facial skin - top of cheeks, around nose, middle of the forehead - I'd get pain & headaches, and congestion. That turned out to be corn - the more processed, the worse the reaction. High fructose corn syrup was terrible, corn syrup was bad, etc. But anything with corn caused a reaction. This was the most difficult allergy to deal with because there are over 60 brand names for corn in food - citric acid (not "citris" like the fruit), ascorbic acid, and so many more.

At this point, I had spent years seeing doctors, running tests, everything from blood tests to alternative doctors to mainstream practictioners for things like endoscopies. It was almost as if I were a hypochondriac. I spent so much money out-of-pocket & outside of insurance tracing this down, and ultimately the doctors did not prove to be much help - not that it's they're fault; the medical technology for diagnosing these things simply doesn't exist yet. It's mediocre at best for food allergies, unless you have something common like a peanut allergy, especially something that you can see a reaction to like anaphylaxis or a skin rash.

Ultimately, it turned out that I have an allergy to the entire grains family. This is known as the "Poaceae" family, also called the "Gramineae" or "true grasses". I always got a runny nose when I mowed the lawn & this is why. I never had horrible seasonal allergies, but sometimes they were bad. More information is available on Wikipedia:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poaceae

In particular, the primary things that are included in this allergy are:

1. Wheat (gluten), as well as the related ones like millet, barley, teff, sorghum, etc.
2. Corn
3. Rice
4. Oatmeal
5. Sugarcane

I can handle alternative sugars, provided they're not cross-contaminated with other things like corn (corn is in EVERYTHING, it's worse than gluten!). For granulated & powdered sugar, I use beet sugar (made from sugar beets) rather than refined sugar made from sugarcane. That's not to say I can handle an enormous amount of sugar (beet sugar, maple syrup, honey, or otherwise), but I tolerate it much better. So basically it's a combination of a grains allergy coupled with a dairy allergy for me. Each food item has it's own set of reactions, some of which overlap with the others & some which don't. For example, sugar gives me ringing of the ears (tinnitus) & causes the most pronounced energy crash effect, and is effectively like a fever - hours after passing out, I'll wake up with a kind of pop when my "fever" breaks, which is example like how Matthew described being hungover. I come from a religious background & never engaged in drinking of any kind (even to this day), but it sounds exactly the same. I did keep photo records as well and I do look like I've been drinking, so I'm glad that I'm not the only one!

This is not an allergy that can be learned overnight, in terms of how & what to eat. I still mess up & pay for it. Bloating, stomach pain, fatigue to the point of basically having to lay down to pass out for a nap at times, the whole bit. Matthew mentioned "bubbling of fermentation occurring in my lower abdomen" - yup! (googling that on WebMD etc. didn't get me many results in the past!) I have to be careful even of the absorption mats that they put meat on in the grocery store because that will upset my stomach (I thought I had a meat allergy! fortunately it turned out to be the mats). I cannot stress enough that if this is your root cause, it is not something that you can just lightly "go off of" and say you did it but it didn't work - EVERYTHING is a culprit & it requires, truthfully, years of practice & keeping notes on what is safe & not safe for you.

So many things have changed in my life since getting a clear picture of my condition. Panic attacks are the most horrible thing I have ever experience in my life - completely gone. I lived with anxiety 24/7 since I was 10 - completely gone. Being in public or in new places no longer bothers me. I struggled with severe ADHD - well, I'm still all over the place, but it's manageable now, haha. Depression is also manageable, provided I watch my sleep (getting enough sleep & a reasonably early bedtime) & my diet. My insomnia is COMPLETELY gone, which I would argue is more important than the rest because it seems that many of the problems I experienced were linked to a lack of consistent, quality sleep.

Physically, so many things as well. I lived with constant nausea all the time - always had an upset stomach. Leaning over & applying pressure to my stomach would have made it easy to throw up. Constant fatigue. As I cut through dairy & gluten at first, the constant fatigue disappeared, but the extreme fatigue after eating would still show up, especially with things like granola bars (oats) and any sugary treats. I did the diabetic testing strips for a long period of time with no results, which was really difficult because it didn't make sense that sugar(cane) made me crash so hard, but I wasn't any kind of diabetic (I or II). The random muscle aches & pains vanished. I wasn't moody anymore - nice solid chipper mood now. I would get very introverted & a bit snappy when I lost energy, and very upset with myself at my life's situation (especially when combined with the anxiety & other chemical disturbance garbage that went on with all this).

Getting up was hard; I was constantly groggy, and often groggy for a long time. Provided I could get myself into the shower, sometimes it would be a 30-minute shower because it was too exhausting to move. Sometimes showers sapped my energy. Sometimes I'd get so sensitive that any kind of temperature difference or body in/out difference would affect how I feel - I'd sometimes be so tweaked out that even urinating would make me feel better physically overall. Hard to explain unless you've been there, just a lot of useless little niggly stuff like that, very irritating. Everything was irritating, haha. Plus just the mentally "caveman" mode I'd go into, alongside the having my energy levels tank - one of the reasons I decided to seek out this website is because of this bit Matthew said in the Vice interview:

"These periods of intoxication always followed a meal, and after a few hours—which is a typical time period for digestion and absorption—the effects would wear off and I would feel normal consciousness return.

My overriding memory of this time is feeling frustrated that my brain wasn't functioning at the level I was used to. I looked at equations in my favorite science classes and knew I should have no problem understanding and solving them, but they now looked like gibberish."


Yes, EXACTLY! And because your ability to think clearly, to experience brain fog, comes & goes, you could never put a finger on it! I would study one day, take excellent notes, and thoroughly understand a topic, unwittingly eat an allergen trigger, and then the next day it was all greek to me! Nothing sunk it, it was as good as chicken scratches to me.

Despite managing this condition quite well through diet (and sleep, and exercise) for the past year, it has still bothered me that it's just general "grass family allergy" that has never shown up on any sort of test that I've done (which have been many, and which have been expensive - still paying them off!). One thing specifically is that I often cheat - not with the really serious ones like gluten or dairy, but with some of the lesser ones that don't hit me so hard if I only do them once a week or so. But if I eat too much or have it a second day in a row, I'm fried. Guaranteed hangover. Sugar coma.

One of the things I immediately identified with is what Matthew was talking about with the lower intestine. My working theory was that there was a tollboth in my intenstinal track: when "flagged" foods hit the tollbooth, they were kind of put into a sealed-off waiting area in my stomach. In that area, they would generate gas (burping & farting, pardon the language), and that gas would seep into my intenstinal track's walls, which would require 98% of my body's energy to deal with & manage. So basically I would eat, and within hours I would tank. My body's "CPU" would be maxed out dealing with the incompatible foods and I would not get relief until they had passed out of me, into the toilet. And even that wasn't a guarantee, since sometimes it takes a day or two (or three) to truly clear out of my body, and of course, the joys of IBS & all that.

So I still cheat once in awhile because I am weak, haha. It's equivalent to eating a pint of ice cream - you know it's going to make you feel crummy, but you accept the consequences because you really want the payoff right NOW. I do almost perfect when I'm totally clean. So speaking of diet, I have found two diets that work well for me:

1. Bodybuilder's diet (similar to Paleo)
2. High-carb raw vegan (basically "Fruitarian")

Over the last 10 years or so, I have tried out a huge variety of diets. Especially since my self-diagnoses with the general "grains" allergy, I have been able to tweak & manipulate my diet to the point where I consistently feel good & do not have a screwed-up gut, low energy, and all of the myriad of other side effects we're all familiar with.

The first one I have had success with is basically a bodybuilding diet - again, similar to what Matthew has mentioned, smaller meals more frequently. Most people snack inbetween meals anyway, so it's not like it's a radically new concept to do - you're just replacing a junk food item with a healthier one. So bodybuilding food basically means lean meats, good carbs, and good fats. I would primarily split my meals into meat (turkey, chicken, lean beef) and veggies (mixed veggies, broccoli, sweet potatoes, green beans etc.). Good fats would mainly come from olive oil, nuts, and avocados.

The second one I have had success with is what is known as HCRV, or high-carb, raw vegan (it started as the 80-10-10 diet, aka 80% carbs, 10% protein, 10% fat). This takes raw vegan (no cooked food + no animal products) a step further, with a focus on eating fruit. I won't explain the feasibility of a fruitarian dietary approach here (note that fruitarian is not 100% fruit because you would die, it includes leafy greens, vegetables, seeds, and nuts to a lesser extent - but all uncooked), suffice it to say that yes, it does work fine. Basically you eat an enormous amount of carbs, calories, and sugar, but they're combined with a large amount of fruit fiber, which is why it works. You have a bowel movement daily, sometimes more than once, as well.

The HCRV diet is what dialed me into the "tollbooth in my stomach" working theory - fruit digests in your stomach in a mere 20 minutes, as compared to 2 hours for cooked food, and with the consistent bowel movements, things never have a chance to get backed up in your stomach - and again, despite the high carb aspect, it's packed with fruit, so things move along just fine. I have had very good success with this diet, as well as with the "bodybuilding" diet consisting of meat & vegetables, and alternate between them depending on the week or month.

If I am very careful to cut out wheat & other grains, corn, oats, sugarcane, rice, and all of their byproducts, then I do very, VERY well. It requires a tremendous amount of knowledge & practice to successfully do this (not impossible, but don't expect to learn it overnight & be instantly successful if this is in fact your root cause), however, since some of the product names are hidden in the ingredients list under disguised names, and some of the ingredients aren't actually listed since they are considered manufacturing additives & are not an "ingredient" in the final food. For example, I have a very bad reaction to raisins due to the corn-based chemical drying agent they use, but no reaction if I dehydrate them myself (let me tell you how much fun that isn't, haha).

So that's my story. Amazing that there's someone else like me out there. It has taken me six years to track this all down, document it (with mush-for-brains, which wasn't easy at times), figure out what it was, and learn how to manage it. When I'm serious about it (i.e. no cheat meals) I do great. Sometimes I say screw it & just deal with passing out & feeling weird for awhile, but I always regret it at least a little bit haha. I would definitely like to learn more about the yeast & bacteria in the lower abdomen track because that sounds like exactly what happened to me - had surgery, lots of antibiotics, probably killed off the upper ones, now I'm all screwed up and my life was a mess for a long time. This is the first good year health-wise I've had since I was a little kid. I go out & do things, I don't get exhausted from simple things like short walks, I don't feel hungover all the time, I can think clearly, on & on & on. So I don't know if this will help anyone because I'm sure there's a lot of reasons why people experience these types of symptoms, but for me I've narrowed it down to grains specifically (and dairy). I can still do non-grains just fine...buckwheat & quinoa (seeds) are pretty decent, coconut flour works, and some other alternative type of flours & whatnot.

Man. Incredible that I'm not alone in this. Thank you to Matthew for being willing to share your story publicly...everyone always thinks you're nuts when you start talking about it, so kudos for not keeping it all inside!
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Newbie, similar story to Matthew Hogg 7 years 11 months ago #2

  • kinderkat
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So since I'm just digging into this site, I was wondering if anyone could answer this question: since this whole auto-brewery deal is linked to the blood alcohol level stuff, would buying one of those $99 Breathalyzer devices & using it half an hour or so after eating show me an increased BAL? I'm wondering if that's kind of the "test" for this particular set of issues. I'd be willing to buy one if that would confirm it.
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Newbie, similar story to Matthew Hogg 7 years 11 months ago #3

  • Jodie
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Clever idea re the breathalyser ! why not buy one, try it, if it registers nothing when you think it should send it back & get a refund as it's obviously not going to help.
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Newbie, similar story to Matthew Hogg 7 years 11 months ago #4

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I was curious as to what was available so had a look - this one is so cheap - £5 - it wouldn't matter if it didn't work. It also detects at a lower level than most - 0.5 ..

www.amazon.co.uk/Alcosense-ALCNFTWIN-Fre...rds=alcohol+detector
Last Edit: 7 years 11 months ago by Jodie.
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