Now that I have shared why I think raw milk can be a great thing for many people, it’s time to finally explain why I am dairy free. I have referred to it several times, but never fully explained what test I took and why I think it’s accurate.
I’ve truthfully been kind of putting off the topic as I don’t fully understand this certain food intolerance test and knew I wouldn’t be able to explain it completely. But, although I don’t completely understand how the test works, I know that it was very accurate in pinpointing what food was bothering my system.
Let me back up a bit.
The Starting Point
After some very stressful years, my health took a rapid downturn after my daughter Elena was born. I was getting no sleep, having many, many infections, and burnt out my adrenals glands in the process. Because of all of the antibiotics I had because of the infections, my digestive system took a hit, and yeast became an issue for me.
The BED Diet and Dr. Zeff
I decided to go on the BED diet ( the Body Ecology Diet) and it dealt with the sugar cravings, and some of my yeast issues very quickly. However, something was still missing from the puzzle for me to regain my health. After talking to a lot of people about which naturopath they went too, what their results were, and asking God for wisdom, I decided to go to Dr. Zeff. I was attracted to him not only because he had so much experience but also because he was Nourishing Traditions friendly (he even sells it in his office). I knew that he would understand why I thought milk and meat and eggs were good things to eat and would only take me off one of them if they were really harmful for me personally.
One of the first things Dr. Zeff will do with you is a “food intolerance test” It’s not an allergy test.
“Food Intolerance Evaluation is not an allergy test. Currently, we are aware of several different kinds of reactivity to foods. Intolerance involves digestion and metabolism, and is an enzymatic phenomenon, genetically determined. Food intolerance is the inability of a particular body to easily digest or metabolize a particular food. As a consequence, mal-digestion occurs, and toxic metabolites are formed in the intestine and absorbed into the blood. These will affect or interfere with normal function of the body, and become part of the basis of chronic illness.”
When I took the test, it turned out that dairy and fruit and sugar together was what bothered me. When I was on the BED diet I had eliminated the fruit and sugar, but I was drinking plenty of kefir (a milk product). That may have been why I didn’t have as good of results as some do. But when I found out, I was upset. Milk is such a nutrient dense food, I didn’t want to eliminate it from my diet.
Going off of Dairy
Knowing my reluctance,Dr. Zeff told me to take it out for a month, and then test myself by eating some dairy products. He told me it should be obvious to me if it bothered me. So I went very strictly off of dairy and I almost immediately began to notice “die off” effects- some tummy pain, gas, that sort of thing.
Interestingly, I never noticed this when I’ve gone on gluten free diets. I had heard so much about gluten intolerance that I became convinced maybe that was my issue. In fact, it seemed like a fairly easy fix. You simply stop eating gluten and your health recovers! I can even say at certain points I wanted to be gluten intolerant! It would have been a relief to know what was keeping my health from improving. But when I went off of gluten, nothing happened. No “die off” symptoms, no real improvement in health (I was gluten free strictly for 6 weeks on the BED diet). When I added gluten back into my diet, there was absolutely no reaction to it. My body didn’t really seem to care whether I had gluten or not!
Not so with diary. From the beginning it was easy to tell that diary had been bothering me as my body went through adjusting to going without it. For example, I majorly craved it! I wanted dairy very badly. This is very common when you take something out of your diet that was creating toxins. Think of someone with a yeast infection. They will crave sugar, though it’s the worst thing for them. It was the same with me. But after a week or two, I got over that stage and my digestive system calmed down. But when about a month later I tried to add a bit of dairy in, it was bad news! My digestive system let me know it was not happy with that choice!
Dr. Zeff was right, my body let me know whether dairy was bothering me or not. Since I have now been off of dairy close to a year, my body has healed enough that I hardly react at all to dairy. I would be tempted to add in some raw milk at this point (raw milk really does seem much easier on my system), except that I can’t justify adding in something that my body has a hard time digesting until my health is more improved. While taking dairy out of my diet has helped improve my health, I’m still recovering in other ways. I am still on the journey to better health, which is why I became interested in the GAPS diet.
Our Experiment with the GAPS diet
Fast forward to our “experiment” with the GAPS diet. Being very impressed with some of the basic concepts of the GAPS diet, I decided to put both Elena and I on a modified GAPS diet for a week. You probably wouldn’t call it a “GAPS diet” because we were including sprouted grains in it which is a no-no on GAPS. But I was concentrating on the bone broths and the cultured vegetables, like the GAPS diet does. Elena had a small flare up of eczema on her arms (the first time she’s ever had that issue) and by doing the modified diet we saw a lot of improvements. In fact, it was almost gone within a day or two (it seems to be completely gone now, by the way).
So I thought, “Hey! We are mostly doing the diet anyways. Let’s try the whole diet and see what happens!”. While my digestive system improved and did very well for the first few days on it, Elena’s digestive system decided to stop working (as in, no poo’). Elena had that problem from day one on the intro diet, I started feeling that way about day four. This can be a sign that there isn’t proper amounts of probiotics in the system, or not enough fat, both of which are included in the GAPS diet. Truthfully, this also may have been because we did eat a LOT of meat on the diet. It was the only way we stayed full! But after realizing that some parents (probably not very many) did deal with this issue with their children long term on the GAPS diet, and also not having enough motivation to continue the diet (after all, wasn’t my modified diet working great for us?), I decided to stop it for the present time.
It was the right choice, as I realized how stressful the GAPS diet had been to do. You see Elena had a bad cold and was really grumpy. That made it really hard to tell whether she was having a die off effect, or was just simply not feeling well from having a nasty cold. I also was worried about her food intolerance. I didn’t want to put her on an extreme diet, only to be adding in a lot of food that could be her intolerance (like I did with the BED diet).
We decided to do the same test on Elena and see what her food intolerance was. With the advice of Dr. Zeff we are going to give her a whole month to heal, and then see where we are at. When we got her test results we found out that she was the same as me-no dairy, and no fruit and sugar together.
Dr. Zeff is hopeful that by simply removing her intolerance all of her digestive issues will resolve. So, we are waiting a month to see what happens. Meanwhile, I am going to read Gut and Psychology Syndrome and also read some of the forums discussing the GAPS diet so that I have more information if we were to choose to start it up again.
I think GAPS is a great diet, and really can help many, many people. So I encourage you to read up about it if you have any digestive issues in your family. I’ve always known it may not work as well for us as Elena is sensitive to eggs, nuts and maybe even legumes and the diet would be very limited without them included. I plan on continuing the high amounts of bone broths and cultured foods to keep boosting her digestive system as well as making sure I am careful about properly preparing her grains and legumes. If we need too, we can look into doing the full diet again, armed with hopefully more information about how to deal with any problems that could crop up.
So there you have it, our update on GAPS and why we are dairy free. As always, I welcome your thoughts.