Lemons 'n Lyme

When life gives you lemons, use them to beat Lyme


Leave a comment

Buckwheat Bread Part 1 (Paleo, Vegan, Nightshade free)

Okay okay, buckwheat, is it paleo or not? Maybe. I know I’ve talked about this before. Buckwheat is technically a seed, not a grain. In the paleo world, it’s considered a pseudo-grain. I handle buckwheat fine on occasion and really enjoy it’s mild, earthy taste.

Lately, I’ve been missing bread dearly from my pre-paleo days. I had to figure out some way to make an egg-free, not packed with almond flour bread. HELLO BUCKWHEAT FLOUR! So versatile and easy to bake with. This bread has been hitting the spot for me, slathered with some almond butter or even just coconut oil. I’ve made two versions of this so stay tuned for next week’s part 2 that adds a protein punch and is nut free!

This bread doesn’t rise like normal bread since there is no yeast and it is a little denser. I consider breads like this more of a snack bread then a sandwich bread but it certainly can work for open faced sandwiches.

Also, ps, I moved and I’m about to start grad school (cue the shock). It’s terrifying and new and I’m still sick. If you all would like a complete update on what is going on and where I am health/treatment wise, let me know!

IMG_1262

Buckwheat Bread

Ingredients:

1 cup buckwheat flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. pink himalayan sea salt

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup dairy-free milk of choice (if you want your bread sweeter, use 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup coconut water or the liquid underneath the cream in a can of coconut milk)

1 tbs. honey or maple syrup

Preheat your oven to 350 F

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

Add the apple cider vinegar and mix slightly.

Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix until combined, do not over mix. Let sit while you line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Scoop the mixture into your loaf pan, it should be pretty thick and not pourable, and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting  into it.

Stores well in the fridge for up to 5 days or sliced and stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.

IMG_1274IMG_1267

IMG_1261

What’s your favorite bread recipe? Remember to stay tuned for a second version of this next week.


5 Comments

Why I DON’T Eat Bone Broth to Heal my Gut

I don’t eat bone broth, fermented foods, collagen, or take glutamine or folate/5-MTHF supplements. WHAT?! Many of you may be surprised given that bone broth, fermented foods, and glutamine are very popular in both the gut healing arena and chronic illness world. Folate (or 5-MTHF, methylfolate supplement) has also been hyped up a lot recently as a helpful supplement to combat mutations on the MTHFR gene and it’s sister genes.

I’ve never liked bone broth or fermented foods and both have always bothered my stomach rather then helped it. I kept trying to eat those foods because everyone said I should to heal my gut. I’d force bone broth down and attempt bites at sauerkraut on occasion. I then started added hydrolyzed collagen to my smoothies, baked goods, or tea. It never felt right and it certainly didn’t make me feel good.

Then, the other week, I had my genetics properly and thoroughly analyzed by a nutrigenomics specialist and some serious light was shed! I should always know to go with my gut because it has yet to let me down…

IMG_1287

Woah woah woah, let’s back up a little, shall we? Let me drop some knowledge. This is about to get a bit scientific, but I’m going to try and keep it as simple and straightforward as I can. There are four similar sounding words I need you to keep straight first. They are:

Glutamine

Glutamate

Glutamic acid

Glutathione

Glutamate is essentially the same thing as glutamic acid, for your reference and the purpose of this post, so in this post I’ll just be using the word glutamate. Glutamine is a PRE-CURSOR to glutamate. Let’s just worry about remembering those two for now, glutamine vs glutamate, okay? And glutathione is an anti-oxidant that helps with detoxification and inflammation. Many of you probably already know what glutathione is.

Glutamate is a neurotransmitter. An excitatory one. It’s VERY important for proper brain function and isn’t something to hate on… unless in excess. Glutamate is also praised for it’s ability to help with healing in the body, including the gut. Glutamate is the pre-cursor to GABA which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. GABA can then be recycled to glutamate. Essentially, glutamate and GABA balance each other out (one excites, one calms). Imbalances in the body (due to many things, which we will get into in a moment) can cause imbalances in glutamate vs. GABA, leading to high glutamate levels.

High glutamate levels can cause a number of issues from neurological disorders, aversions to certain clothing (fabrics and feels), paranoia, chronic fatigue, and more. Although glutamine helps produce glutathione, increased glutamate can put a demand on glutathione, reducing glutathione levels in the body which in turn increases inflammation. Sounds fun, huh?

Ever heard of glutamate? Probably, it’s a supplement, it’s found in foods, and it’s the component of MSG. MSG= monosodium GLUTAMATE. Many processed foods contain free glutamate. Many health foods contain bound glutamate because it is an essential amino acid. We do need it for our health! Bound glutamate tends to be good because your body is able to digest it slowly and use it properly. We need all 20 amino acids (proteins) in our diet and in meals (meat contains all 20, vegans need to eat rice WITH beans to get them all at once), but consuming just one, and in excess, can cause a lot of issues. Gluten and casein also contain high levels of glutamate, another reason to cut gluten and dairy from your diet.

No Msg-stamp

Well, glutamine is a pre-cursor to glutamate, like we mentioned above. We all know how bad MSG and other processed foods are (is it now making sense why MSG has been linked to neurological disorders?). But, you probably didn’t know glutamine supplements and natural, even healthy, foods high in glutamine or glutamate can cause issues. So what foods are high in glutamine? Bone broth, fermented foods, collagen supplements… 3 foods that are all the rage in the paleo and gut healing community! Many doctors also prescribe glutamine supplements on top of all that for gut healing, not surprisingly given what I said above about it’s ability to convert to glutamate and accelerate healing. I AM NOT SAYING THESE FOODS ARE BAD! But in excess and for those susceptible to glutamate issues, they are. My genetics make me highly susceptible to glutamate uptake and not recycling it into GABA properly.

Like I said, glutamine rich foods and supplements are popular in the gut healing community, but if you have leaky gut then this allows glutamine to leak into the blood stream, cross the blood-brain barrier, and turn into glutamate… uhh?! You’re essentially just dumping this excitatory neurotransmitter into your poor little brain and it soon becomes toxic leading to all the negative consequences I mentioned above. That’s a real problem isn’t it?

FullSizeRender

So how does folate fit into this mix? Folate, also known as B-9, can increase glutamate and it also helps convert another amino acid into glutamate. So, you’re taking a folate or 5-MTHF supplement to help with your MTHFR mutation, you’re downing bone broth and fermented foods to help heal your gut, and maybe you added a glutamine supplement to it all, as well. All of this increases the pool of FREE GLUTAMATE in your body. Ay carumba! Are you feeling like crap yet?

One more thing about folate and glutamate, both stimulate mTOR. mTOR is the process in your body that creates new cells while autophagy is the cleaning up of old, dead or bad cells (including viral cells, bad bacteria, etc). These phases can’t be on at the same time. Either mTOR is on or autophagy is on. If mTOR is constantly on, then your body isn’t cleaning up any of the bad guys and your left with all those viral, bacterial, and dead cells sitting in your system! Talk about NOT healing…

LEM1608mTOR-PATHWAY700

Are you taking all the steps you think you’re supposed to be taking to help heal your gut and body yet still feeling bad or even worse? This could be why. Especially the folate supplementation issue. Many doctors see MTHFR, MTRR or another sister mutation and immediately think METHYLFOLATE SUPPLEMENT NOW! Without looking at or knowing about other genetic issues a person may have that don’t allow them to use folate properly. That’s my issue, but I’m not going to get into all the genetic mutation issues related to folate in this post. I’m just going to leave things where they are for now and hopefully you’ll take my word on it (I mean don’t, do your research, but for now know that I have ;)). And don’t blame your doctor right away, genetics are very complicated and much of this is just coming to light.

I think this is a very important topic to share about given the popularity of the foods and supplements mentioned in this post and the lengths many of us go to find healing. Healing, especially for those chronically ill with something like Lyme disease, can be EXTREMELY complex. I know I just added another layer to the onion, but your genetics play a paramount role in both your illness and health. They aren’t something to be ignored. Yes, we can actually alter gene expression but you need to know what genetic issues your dealing with first to either have your genes express in a positive manner or know how to compensate for the bad ones.

Be sure to talk with your doctor or a trained genetic specialist (I suggest a nutrigenomics specialist who understands all the genes related to gut and detox) to find out what genetic issues you may be having and how to address them. Remember, I am not a doctor. I am simply sharing my experience and knowledge that I gain along my healing journey.

 

 

Sources

My knowledge from biochemistry classes in college

My nutrigenomics specialist

http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/2882673.pdf?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12481981

https://metabolichealing.com/glutamate-excitotoxicity-the-brain-the-nervous-system-nutritional-solutions/

https://chriskresser.com/beyond-msg-could-hidden-sources-of-glutamate-be-harming-your-health/

https://www.healthrising.org/blog/2013/02/15/glutamate-one-more-piece-in-the-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-mecfs-puzzle-the-neuroinflammatory-series-pt-ii/

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/276/5319/1699

http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/oa_theses/388/

 

 


3 Comments

Picc Line vs. Port-a-Cath

I get loads of questions asking me about picc lines and port-a-caths so I decided to just make a video talking all about them! I discuss what they’re for, the differences, how to prepare and recovery from the placement procedure of each, long term care tips, and just some overall tips & tricks.

I hope this video is helpful for some of you!


4 Comments

Beet & Cucumber Salad (Paleo, Low FODMAP, Nightshade Free)

Summer= Salads! But lettuce based salads can get boring. I love salads that are “different” or based not around lettuce. This one is super yummy, light yet filling.  The  beets are a great source of vitamin C and folate, they help with phase 2 detoxification and can help reduce inflammation. Cucumber is a great hydrator on these hot summer days and walnuts are a great source of healthy fat providing vitamin E and omega-3’s.

Cooking beets can be a real pain since they take a while to roast in the oven. Although I think they taste better freshly cooked, for convenience sake it’s been nice to buy pre-cooked beets in the store. Many stores, not just Whole Foods, are now selling packaged, pre-cooked and peeled organic beets with no additives!

IMG_0914

These make life easier, but feel free to roast your own beets to use in this recipe!

IMG_0935

Beet & Cucumber Salad

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

1 package of pre-cooked beets (or about 1/2 lbs. cooked, peeled, and cooled beets)

1 cucumber

2 tbs. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1/8 tsp. salt

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Chop the beets and cucumber into rounds then fourths (or whatever size chunks you want) and place in a bowl.

Mix the balsamic and apple cider vinegars together and pour over the veggies. Sprinkle in the salt and stir to combine.

Mix in the chopped walnuts. Serve or let marinate in the fridge.

Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge.

IMG_0937IMG_0923IMG_0920


Leave a comment

Guest Post: Managing Graduate School with a Chronic Illness

A couple of weeks ago I read an article on Thought Catalog written by a girl named Dani. She also has Chronic Lyme disease. We connected on Instagram (@dani_fusaro) and I discovered she was just finishing up her doctorate in physical therapy… just as I’m about to start mine this fall. Of course, I had to reach out to her because 1) #LymiesUnite! and 2) She had managed to get through the graduate program I was about to dive into, while being sick!

We’ve ended up becoming friends and she was kind enough to share all her top tips for managing graduate school while dealing with a chronic illness. She then agreed we could make the tips into a post for my blog. Although her tips are from the perspective of a physical therapy student, I think they are quite applicable for most graduate students and even undergrad. I hope to write a follow up post with any additional tips once I get through the program in a few years and you all are calling me Dr. Victoria :).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tips for Managing Graduate School while Dealing with a Chronic Illness 

Dani Fusaro

FullSizeRender 3

No matter what, you and your symptoms ALWAYS come first. You have to prioritize your schedule to suit your needs. Everything from meal prep, resting, studying, etc. I did the majority of studying from my bed because making it through class was just about all I had energy for. If you can’t take care of your health, you won’t be able to do anything else.

1) First thing – and worst thing – if you got into PT school, that means you’re a great student and are used to doing well in school. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to adjust your expectations. You most likely will not be a 4.0 or even 3.5 GPA student. It’s too hard to balance symptoms and be able to do that well. It takes time to get used to it, but you have to adjust to the fact that you just won’t do as well as you probably have done in the past. You have to do what you need to do to pass your classes and maintain the minimum GPA to stay in your program.

You have to figure out which information is the most important to know and which information you don’t need to know right now. Essentially, you have to prioritize your studying so that you learn what you need to do well enough on an exam and nothing more than that. Otherwise you’ll get too tired and you won’t remember anything. This takes some time to figure out and, of course, it varies by professor, but it’s a very important skill to have.

2) This may or may not work for some, depending on the program, but figure out early on which classes you can get away with skipping if needed. my PT program had 61 students so it was fairly easy to miss a lecture here and there when I needed to rest instead. Do your best to never miss labs, though.  That’s the practical stuff so you shouldn’t miss it. It’s much harder to learn afterwards if you aren’t there for your professors to teach you.

3) Don’t be afraid to contact your professors and inform them of your situation. Explain what you have, how it effects you, and what you’re doing about it or what you would like/need from them. I basically gave them an overview of my biggest symptoms, I told them that sometimes I won’t be able to make it to class or assignments could be late because symptoms can change within the hour. And at the end of it, I said that I was going to do my best to do as well as possible in the class and I would make up any missed material / attend office hours if I had to miss class. This was honestly the best thing I ever did. My professors wouldn’t mark me down for participation when I needed to miss class, and it took away a lot of the stress and guilt for doing so. Professors in PT (and most health programs) are naturally going to be more compassionate, so I think that definitely helps. I’d talk to them during really tough times and they’d help me manage things so I could be as successful as possible. Also, I made sure they never thought I would take advantage of their kindness. They often offered to let me take an exam late, send in an assignment late, etc. but I rarely did that. Getting the offers is also really nice for stress levels when studying.

*Note from Victoria- in undergrad I would let all my professors know about my situation at the beginning of the semester. This way they didn’t think I was slacking if I had to miss class or asked to turn in an assignment late last minute. Also, based on others I’ve talked to in PT and other graduate programs, professors want you to succeed. They know you came to graduate school on your own will to advance your career and life, so they want to work with you.

FullSizeRender 2

4) Friends are another key. One of my friends would take notes similarly to how I take them. He understood my illness and would send me the lecture notes any time I missed class. Friends are also great for study guides, ask them for them if they’re willing to help you. Basically, find at least one person in your class who you can trust and is willing to help you out.

5) I also suggest not participating in anything outside of graduate school. I didn’t work, I didn’t volunteer, I didn’t do anything besides go to class and go home. Go out and be social with friends when you can – you will be an insane person if you don’t, but try not to push yourself. On really sick days, ask a friend to help you get out of the house to perk you up or get some studying done. If you can find even just one friend who can help carry you through, it’ll help enormously.

IMG_0126

6) It can be hard to keep up with proper diet when school gets stressful because you’re just too tired to cook / any energy you have needs to go towards studying. To get around that, order food when needed and always keep your freezer/fridge/cupboards stocked in case of “emergencies”. There was this special vegan, gluten-free pizza I loved, so I always made sure I had at least two in the freezer. Batch cook so that you can keep leftovers in the freezer. I would also have some gluten-free frozen meals I could eat if necessary. I don’t like doing that but sometimes you just get too sick. There was also this restaurant near me that made amazing food completely on diet – so I’d order two or three things and not have to worry for a few days. Try and find a diet compliant restaurant near you that you can order from when necessary.

7) Detox is also very important, for your health and for sanity, while in graduate school. Take epsom salt baths or saunas. Bring your notes/flash cards into the tub to study while detoxing, if you can. Use things like aka-seltzer gold or binders (activated charcoal, chlorella) for herxes or bad days. Tinctures like burbur and pinella by nutramedix are also great for helping with detox. Detoxing can help keep you stable enough to study or clear some brain fog so that you can study.

Essentially the entire process is sorting out your priorities/schedule to exactly what you need at that time. You have to be selfish and always put yourself first. Taking care of yourself is the only way you’ll be able to manage school without completely destroying your body and be able to come out on the other side.


Leave a comment

Paleo Beef & Veggie Stir-Fry (AIP, Low-FODMAP reintro, Nightshade Free)

A couple weeks ago my chiropractor (who is also my applied kinesiologist) said I was clear of mold, heavy metals, and SIBO (woohoooooo!!!). For now, anyway. But I’ve been sticking to a paleo low-fodmap diet and it was getting boooorrring. I was excited to hear no SIBO because it meant I could start slowly trying to reintroduce higher FODMAP foods.

I started to crave a beef and broccoli stir fry but I didn’t want to eat just a bunch of broccoli given it’s FODMAP level so I incorporated it into a stir fry with lots of other veggies. This way I would be satisfied while only starting out with a little broccoli to test the waters. This recipe also has mushrooms which are considered medium FODMAP but I’ve handled them fine in the past, in moderation and on occasion. Just something to be aware of if you are following a low FODMAP diet.

IMG_0560

Beef & Veggie Stir-Fry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 tbs. toasted sesame oil

1 head of broccoli, chopped

3 cups of green beans, trimmed and cut in half

1 8-ounce can of water chestnuts

1 cup of sliced baby bella mushrooms

1/3 cup coconut aminos

1 heaping tbs. fresh grated ginger root

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1 lbs. stir-fry beef (I actually used stew meat and sliced it)

salt to taste

White sesame seeds (optional- omit if AIP)

Make sure your veggies are prepared before starting.

Heat the sesame oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add your broccoli and green beans and let cook for 5-7 min, until they become more colorful and slightly softer.

While your broccoli and green beans are cooking, mix your coconut aminos, ginger, and apple cider vinegar together.

Add your aminos mixture to the pan then add in the water chestnuts and cook for 5 min. Next add your mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the beef and salt to taste and mix well. Turn the heat up to medium high and cook for 10-15 minutes, mixing occasionally, until beef is done.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

IMG_0587IMG_0561IMG_0589


Leave a comment

Lyme Treatment and Supplement Update June 2017

I know I haven’t written a real blog post in a while. I’ve been much more active on Instagram and YouTube lately. I have a recipe coming soon for the blog, though, so don’t worry (too much)!

I posted a video earlier this week on my YouTube channel with a full treatment and supplement update for June 2017. Watch below if you are interested in what sorts of treatments I’m doing as of late.