This is rather interesting, at least it is if you are someone, or know someone, who has a fatigue or immune-system-broken condition (ME, CFS, CFSID, Fibro, Behcets, Lupus etc etc).
I started this year on a low-lectin diet. Lectins are the stuff produced by plants to put animals off eating them. They’re poisons, in other words. Some are mild irritants. Some are powerful enough to kill people. Ricin – that stuff used to assassinate the fellow who was stabbed with the umbrella – that’s a lectin, from the castor oil bean. Many beans we think of as quite familiar have to be prepared very carefully, or they’re quite poisonous.
The big culprits as far as lectins go are all grains – everything in the grass family – (yes, including quinoa, oats – ALL GRAINS, yo); the “nightshade family” – which is potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines; and beans. And dairy. Yeah.
What was striking was how successful this diet was. I felt quite different – not cured, certainly, but tons better, and free of the “hellbox” periods I am so accustomed to “normally”. Unfortunately I then got ill for other reasons, and when I’m ill, I have the most desperate need to eat carbohydrates. Carbs means grains. Guess the rest.
I wasn’t sure whether lectins were the problem. The thing is, the low-lectin diet is identical to the low-histamine diet (which to my mind suggests simply that lectins may trigger histamine production, which would make sense, but I’m probably wrong). I did have a problem with histamine, before adopting the diet.
But by dint of excluding the whole grass family from the diet, a low-lectin diet is also gluten-free. So was that really the reason I felt better?
However, it’s worth mentioning that – similar to Esther’s daughter’s story – the other thing that was cut out of my diet at that time was carbohydrates. I had no sugar. Of necessity: most carbs involve grains or beans or nightshades. And chocolate is a bean. *sobs*
I know that when I am well-ish, a very low carb / organic / no grasses or nightshades or beans / simple food lifestyle seems to perpetuate my remaining well, and that – external stressors aside (you know, life events, or catching an illness from someone etc), I can trundle along like that reasonably comfortably. It doesn’t make me WELL. It just reduces my likelihood of plunging into relapse.
Well, over the last few days, having slowly wormed my way out of relapse, I have gone back on my limited diet, and I am already feeling vastly improved. So [INSERT TRITE CONCLUSION].
Actually, I’m not going to draw a conclusion. I am eating this way. I feel better at the moment. There may or may not be a correlation. If I were not already feeling better, I would not be able to eat this way. So it’s almost like: if your health is already trending up, you can adopt habits which will assist you in trending further up. If your health is trending down, you cannot adopt those habits and the tendency is for you to adopt habits which cause you to trend further down.
In both cases, in my experience, the trigger isn’t the diet, but the pre-existing trend.
Even if there IS a correlation between a low carb / no grasses diet and improved health, I know that if something stresses me or if I become ill (getting upset about something, or catching a cold etc), I will go downhill again, and when that happens, I will come off this diet and go back on the carbs, gluten and lectins of sheer necessity. Perhaps if you have someone who can cook (and go out and buy) healthy food for you when you’re trending down, it wouldn’t end in relapse. I wouldn’t know. I do know full well that if you’re ill and having to look after yourself unassisted, there is no choice but carbs, when you can’t stand. That’s just how it goes. Sometimes dried goods are the only food you have left in the house. Sometimes the biggest effort you are capable of is opening a packet of something (ha ha – with scissors – because when you’re in relapse you can’t grip anything), and tipping the packet. But it’s not just about availability: there’s also a powerful biological requirement for carbs during a relapse. My body just can’t process anything more tiring than straight glucose. It wants simple sugars. That is all it wants.
I should perhaps go and get tested to see if I am “Coeliac”. But my experience of the medical profession is so relentlessly pointless that I don’t really see what’s to be gained. If they slap another label on me, what changes? Either I am well enough to provide myself with a decent diet, or I am not. If I am not, the last thing I need is a doctor beefing on at me about what I “should” be doing, when I’m hanging off the cliff face by my fingernails again.