We discuss in this interview:

  • The first appearance of symptoms and Brenda’s heavy Western diet
  • How she has become pain-free using the Paddison Program for RA
  • How she is now able to stay off Humira without any pain
  • Leflunomide and its side effects
  • The effects of Methotrexate on Brenda’s health, despite her plant-based diet
  • Dr. Klaper’s interview on blood tests and white cell count
  • The effects of medications on blood levels and immune system
  • Brenda’s daily routine for stress reduction
  • Coffee consumption and RA development
  • Pain of discipline vs. pain of regret

Clint – Welcome back to www.RheumatoidSolutions.com, where we interview people who’ve had tremendous success with their lifestyle interventions, with their inflammatory arthritis. We discuss ways in which you too might be able to improve your approach and work with your doctor, with others inside our support group, with your family, and how you can transform your body to get better health and less symptoms. Today’s guest is Brenda, she’s in Memphis, Tennessee, and she’s going to talk about how she has made tremendous improvements by going cold Turkey off of the previous way she used to eat and now being in a position of vastly improved state with her inflammatory arthritis. Brenda, welcome to this episode.

Brenda – All right. Great. Thank you. Good to be here.

Clint – It’s wonderful to be able to share and we’ve been having a laugh about Memphis and people when they’re coming to visit your city, to celebrate Elvis’s birthday and so on. But we’re going to talk about your health today. Can you tell us what was sort of the before state where you had symptoms and how are your symptoms right now?

Brenda – The before state, I was really tired all the time. I had pain in my finger joints, my wrist, my ankles, my knees and oftentimes somewhat my back. But just the over arching heaviness and the pain of my joints, sometimes it was just difficult to get through a day. I started doing yoga because of it, and I can remember times when I just had to crawl to the television just to put the yoga DVD in, just to try to get some kind of relief. I mean, I literally couldn’t get up to walk, that’s just how excruciating the pain was. However, before the Paddison Program I was eating everything, I was a coffeeholic, I loved coffee. When I started drinking coffee it was so thin you could see through it. And over the years it just looked like motor oil, I mean, I could just drink it. Then of course, sugar and then lots of dairies. I had no idea I mean, I just didn’t have any idea what those type of foods was contributing to my pain. So I went to see my back doctor, actually, and he took blood work. And he’s like, You know, your inflammation factor is pretty high, I want you to see another doctor. I had no clue just and I went to see a rheumatologist, and he said, Yeah, you have rheumatoid arthritis.

Brenda – I think the hardest part for me at that point was number 1, accepting that I had it. That was like major, and it seemed like it just spiraled me even deeper into a depression because I’m like, Oh my God, what is this? How do I treat it? What do I need to do? It just made me even all the more painful, I just went into a depression. My joints seem to hurt even worse. And then my brother actually stumbled across your website and he sent me an email and he’s like, Hey, you know, I think this guy might be able to help you. And that’s how I found the Paddison Program. I clicked on it, I signed up for the program, and when I read about the coffee, I went cold turkey on coffee. I mean, the way you explain it, as far as you know, just what coffee actually does to you. And I thought, Oh my God, you know? I’ve been drinking coffee for, I don’t know, 20 years. Not to mention, I was a Splenda-holic, so I’m just pouring Splenda Oh, it was just so destructive. Once I read your book and I was like, You know what? That’s it. I cut everything out. Prior to that, the doctor put me on hydroxychloroquine, right? Well, first he started with Leflunomide.

Clint – Can you just tell us how you are now compared to before?

Brenda – Oh now, I took my last dose of rheumatoid arthritis medicine Humira, on September the 9th. And I had to have a bone biopsy because we thought, what’s wrong with my my white blood cell count was decreasing my red blood cell count, I was anemic all of that, and we thought it was coming from the medication. So that was the last dose I went to see the, you know, got the bone density, and after that, the Rumi said you’re doing fine, your levels are low, you don’t have any joint pain, I didn’t have any swelling. And he’s like, Overall, how are you feeling? I said, I feel great, I really feel much better without the drugs. And so he said, Well, whatever you’re doing is working, so I don’t need to see you for six months. So I don’t see him until sometime in June. I mean, I literally today I have no pain, none. I just don’t have any pain. And I thought I would never see this day, I literally thought Oh, my God. Will I ever just feel even better where my my pain is tolerable? Today, it’s just fantastic, it’s amazing, I never thought I would feel this good.

Clint – The magic of the right food, the right approach, the feeling of support, because you’re inside our support group and we are there for you. If you ask questions and you can find resources, one very important resource that we’re going to talk about as we go through your journey here. A video from one of our doctors that was on one of the live calls, which was transformative for you to watch that and we’ll talk about that when it comes to white cell count in a minute. So firstly, well done, Brenda, I mean, what an extraordinary place to be in. As you said, the biologic drug is well out of your system, so you’re not having any long-tail effects from the drug. You’ve got no symptoms, you have rheumatoid arthritis, you previously had it in fingers, wrists, knees, and more. It just goes to show what is possible. Of course everyone’s different, we all have come into this with different sort of starting points, but that is extraordinary.

Clint – In this discussion, why don’t we talk about some of the challenges that you faced before you’ve gotten to where you are now? You explained before we hit record that you’ve you went through Plaquenil, Methotrexate, then Humira. I want to hear about your experience going through that journey, starting with the Plaquenil or hydroxychloroquine. And then what was the decision points were to change medications? Because a lot has happened in maybe a year and a half there with the drugs.

Brenda – Well, and I didn’t mention that like I was about to mention that I started with Leflunomide. And yeah, the very first medication the doctor put me on with Leflunomide and I was supposed to take them twice a day. So the first dose that I took was I thought I’d better take this on a Saturday just to kind of see, I didn’t want to be at work with it. They know how it’s going to affect me, and literally, I ended up in the E.R. I start having heart palpitations, I pressured speech. I was shaking. So I ended up in the emergency room and just had a really bad reaction. From that, we went to the hydroxychloroquine and I was just ecstatic about that because as soon as I took it, I felt so much better.

Clint – Did you have to do a cleanse to get off the Leflunomide? Was there a cleanse that you had to do to clear your body from after taking the drug?

Brenda – No, they just told me I would have to. Well, they had me on an IV, so I guess they kind of flushed, if you will, while I was in the E.R. But other than that, no, they said, we’re just going to have to let the rest of it take its course, and that was it. I came home, the next morning I pulled up Dr. McDougal’s website and I went through my kitchen, I threw out the sugar, I threw out everything and I just stopped right then, and I got on your plan. Like I said, I quit the cold coffee, the coffee, cold turkey. I quit the meat, I quit the dairy, I ran out, got the cucumbers and the celery, which is gold, then oh my God, that is I think the highlight of every day is the celery and cucumber juice. That is amazing that I just, yeah, I can’t say that enough that’s amazing. So then we went from hydroxychloroquine because my Labs at first, so he thought were normal, but I couldn’t take the leflunomide, I went to the hydroxychloroquine. I quit eating meat, I quit eating all of the junk, and then my lab start to go the other way. My white blood cells started to decrease, my red blood cells was decreasing, I was anemic, you know, these type of things. At that point, he wanted to take me completely off of the Plaquenil because we thought that’s what was causing it because those drugs do cause those things. So we went from that to the methotrexate. Well, mind you, I’m still eating Whole Foods plant-based now. So I’m going to Methotrexate, I get there and that just makes me feel, Oh my god 10 times worse, the fatigue was almost unbearable. I just remember, how am I going to get through this, you know? So I told him, it’s like I just he said, So let’s try the Humira. then we went to the Humira. Mind you, my white blood cell count is still on the decrease and everything. So then I get the bone density to see if there are any other blood cancers that might be pulling my cell count down. And because when I went to get that done, he said, I’m going to take you off everything until we get those results back. So he did so no Humira, that was my last dose was September the 9th and got the bone density done. I was feeling better, everything was just like, Oh my God, I hope he doesn’t put me back on another drug because I’m feeling so much better. And so I go back and he says, Well, your lab work looks really good, but I had kind of started eating like some turkey here and there. And so I remember Dr. Klaper and you know, your interview and I thought, it’s not that my blood work is better it’s or worse. It’s actually getting better because I don’t have all those toxins from eating meat and all that other garbage.

Clint – Let me stop you there because this is where it gets a little bit, what? So what we’ll do now is I’m going to insert the piece of information that we had on the live call with Dr. Michael Klaper, and you and I will continue our conversation. But let’s just insert this so that we can share with our audience here and they can keep up with our train of thought here.

Clint – Let’s talk about if you don’t mind. Let’s talk about blood tests, first of all, one question just to kick us off that I am not able to answer terribly well. How does the white cell count play as a sort of indicator of health and what’s going on? So let’s talk about white cell counts and so forth, please.

Dr. Klaper – Well in the blood, this amazing red liquid that floats flows through our body, there are three main kinds of cells red blood cells around things carry oxygen. The little platelets clot our blood, they seal leaks in the blood vessels when they occur. And the third type of cells are the white blood cells Leukocytes. They, in turn, come in several different flavors. When the white blood cell count is up, there might be several different reasons why, and they will all raise the total white count. The white blood cells, known as neutrophils, are usually directed against bacterial infections. If you had a skin abscess or a dental infection, you might find your neutrophil count would go up. Let me turn the other way around your total white count, which is normally should be 5000, although vegetarians are drift down to 2500 – 3000, absolutely normal. 5000, 7000, those are normal white blood cell counts. But if you have a bacterial infection, your total white count may go up to 12000, and among that, only about 50% should be neutrophils. You’d find 80-90% would be neutrophils of your white count of seventeen thousand clearly, there’s a bacterial infection, appendicitis, things like that will cause that. But that’s not what happens in rheumatoid arthritis, there’s a different type of cell. These are usually called these are lymphocytes and they can go up in response to viral infections, they have a cousin type of white cell called monocytes. And the lymphocytes and monocytes, they can go up in response to immune reactions and viral infections, which gets us more towards what rheumatoid arthritis is. And occasionally, during an acute phase, when someone first comes down with a rip-roaring hot case of rheumatoid arthritis, they get a rise in elevation of their white blood cell count can go up to 8, 10, 12000 and most of them are lymphocytes or monocytes, a sign that the immune system is very upset about something. Those are the common types of white cell elevations that we see, but again, that usually with the acute inflamed episodes. But as we all know, rheumatoid arthritis can be this low-grade chronic percolating discomfort in the background, By the time the condition settles into that phase, the white blood cells have kind of made a little bit of peace with it, and their numbers settle back down to the quote normal range of 4000, 5000, 6-7000. And so the folks with the chronic, long-standing rheumatoid arthritis commonly have normal white blood cell count. In the case of this particular condition implies an acute flare-up, but it’s not a good index as far as the chronic severity, how severe the disease really is. Whether it’s causing much damage, you’re not going to see that reflected in the white blood cell count per se.

Clint – Okay. What about if we just take a case of low white blood cell count? What might that be?

Dr. Klaper – Right. This is a fascinating subject because came to my attention. Oh, 25 years ago, when I first started caring for people who were on purely plant-based diets, I was taking care of a lot of vegan patients. Once or twice a year I still get a call from a patient or a doctor or family doctor about this patient where who’s got impending bone marrow failure because their white blood cell count has fallen down to 2000, clearly, there’s something terrible happening in the bone marrow, and I initially got alarmed. But in recent years, it’s become very clear there’s nothing wrong with these people at all, and there’s a number of lessons that I think are very instructive, there are two-fold lessons. One having to do with the actual cause Of the white blood cell count Elevation, as well as as how we interpret it as normal. So as far as what’s really going on, what is happening is this. All it’s important for people to understand is that when they look at their blood test results and they get their complete blood count, their CBC back. And they look over in the right hand column, they’re going to see the head of the complex range of normal values, there’s two numbers with the connected by a dash, the lower limit, and the upper limit and the normal and we accept, okay, that’s normal. But it’s very important for your listeners to understand that the population of folks from which those blood tubes are drawn are standard Western American folks who are eating the standard Western diet, and that includes eating a piece of meat basically with every meal 3 times a day, bacon, eggs for breakfast or a cheeseburger for lunch or chicken for dinner. And 3 times a day, animal muscle is disappearing down their throat. Well, if you drill down in that, you understand that this meat all meat comes from the slaughterhouse, obviously even organic meat. Because the animals, whether they’re cows or pigs or chickens or veal calves, whatever they are, are eviscerated, their intestinal tracts are removed or taken out. And in the doing of that act, the intestinal bacteria slop all over the cutting surfaces of the slaughterhouse, and all the slaughterhouse surfaces have a thin film of bacteria from the animal’s intestines. These bacteria inevitably coat every piece of meat that comes out of the slaughterhouse. You can culture these intestinal bacteria on the surface of the chicken breast or the steak. Why am I saying this? Because when these red, when these bacteria from the animal’s intestines, when they die, when they break apart their cell walls, the outer boundary of the cells. As that structure breaks apart, it produces molecules called endotoxin, Ooh, this is nasty stuff. Endotoxin will injure your gut wall, it makes it gut leaky, it sets off inflammatory reactions and it raises your white blood cell count.

Dr. Klaper – Well, it turns out also that endotoxin molecules are heat stable, so cooking the burger does not destroy the endotoxin. So 3times a day are omnivorous friends, colleagues, and patients are eating endotoxin and giving their bone marrow a little shot of this molecule that sets off a molecular alarm that tells the bone marrow there’s infection loose in the bloodstream, send out your white blood cells, and the bone marrow obliges. As a result, people eating the standard meat-based diet are giving themselves a little jolt of endotoxin 3times a day. And as a result, their white blood cell count is elevated chronically, and this is taken as normal. But realize when you see the term range of normal values that is normal in the mathematical sense, the norm ask any mathematician. The norm is the midpoint of a span of numbers. That’s nothing to do with health, it’s just the midpoint of the span of numbers. And yes, that is the range of normals. That is their value is normal but does not equal healthy. And we have to realize that when people adopt a plant-based diet and they stop jolting their bone marrow from 3times a day. As the months and years go by, then the white blood cell count surge drifting downward to 2000, 2500 hundred and naturally normal. The immune system is not alarmed about anything that’s really what it’s supposed to be. But the family doctors are not aware of this phenomenon, they get all upset, they think the bone marrow is failing. No, actually, that’s what a normal plant-eating human being should run as a peripheral white count. It’s about 2000, 2500 that’s all they need. People living your kind of diet, they should not concern if their white count dipped below 3000 as long as there’s no infections or anything else happening in their body. So that’s why that lowest white count actually, it’s a good thing, it’s a sign of health as far as I’m concerned.

Clint – Okay, wonderful. Thank you. That was fantastic. All right. Ok, so now what Dr. Klaper is pointing mostly towards here is the white cell count, and that’s what he was talking about there. Was it the white cell count that was worrying your rheumatologist the most that was dropping? Because that’s the one where you normally get sent off to the hematologist and they want to run these bone biopsies to find out if your bones are producing the white cells. Do you recall if it was that primarily that was worrying your rheumatologist and how those levels now of your white cells, your red cells and platelets and so on?

Brenda – Well, what was worrying him was the decline over time of all 3. The fact that my anemic beak and the white blood cell and the red blood cell, because at first it was really just the red blood cell. Didn’t show any signs of anemia, but I was almost borderline. And then the next quarter he would do blood work and then he would see an additional decrease and say the red blood cell, and then we got to the white blood cell. So by the time we start seeing the decrease in the white blood cell, he said, the fact that all 3 of those over the period looking at the trend, all 3 of them are consistently decreasing on that an alarm. And so that is why we went to the hematologist, it wasn’t per se just the 1, it was all 3of them over the time frame of like would have been 6 months, I guess, the decline of all 3. Does that make sense?

Clint – It totally makes sense and I want to reassure people that rarely do we have the issue across the board of all 3 dietarily. Dr. Klaper in his video that we just played, he’s talking about white cell count, And he has since told us, my family, and I, because Melissa, after she had her COVID Vaccine, her white cell count dropped because of the vaccine. So my wife, Melissa, and I set up a telehealth appointment through plant-based telehealth with Dr. Klaper, and he actually gave us the same explanation as the video that we shared. In that explanation, he said that it is uncommon, he said, but maybe once or twice a year, someone comes to him and says that their doctor is really worried about someone coming to them and the doctor’s really worried because of the white cell count. That’s the way he described it to us and reassured Melissa that her white cell count would slowly restore after the vaccine response was slowly sort of being eliminated from her body. And sure enough, last two blood tests this she only had one the other day, and then she had one a few weeks ago. We’re watching it fairly closely, and it’s been 6months now, right? They’ve dropped for a long time, but hers now back up into normal range again, just as he predicted, and she hasn’t gone off and eaten any, I think, any other sort of different foods. Her Vaccine-associated, timing of the white cells dropping seems to have just been a slow sort of restoration from then. But look, her recommendation from her local primary doctor was to go to the hematologist, get a biopsy of the bone, all this stuff. And really, it’s just as as as the explanation exists.

Brenda – And those tests are so expensive, too, they’re very expensive. I was glad that I could go, but that test it’s expensive. And it’s just one of those things where having the knowledge to know that this is what’s happening to my body versus another medication or all these added tests, I mean, that’s just golden for me. It was just golden for me because I’d rather give my body the food and the nutrients it needs, it’s doing what it’s supposed to do, my levels are good now, it was just golden for me.

Clint – It’s worrying though, isn’t it? You know, The doctor did the right thing, in my view. Just my humble opinion is when things are looking trending in the wrong direction, it’s best to pull pharmaceuticals out of the picture and just try and normalize things because nobody wants these plummeting blood results. And given that they’re normal now, it does sound like there was a contribution from the medications you were taking, it wasn’t just the white cell count. I was going to say that the platelets, the anemia, the red cell count, all of this stuff that’s not normal to change with the plant-based diet. As Dr. Klaper emphasizes, it’s only occasionally rarely does he also sees a white cell count that’s alarming a doctor and the doctor is very highly concerned. So anyway, well done, getting all that under control, it’s very worrying when you’re going through these things and you and doctor everyone doing the right thing, get tested, make changes. We don’t want numbers going down off the cliff, that’s dangerous and worrying, so well done for getting all the tests done. How were you feeling on the Humira? Did the Humira make you feel symptom-free?

Brenda – No. The methotrexate made me feel bad in a different kind of way than the Humira, but the Humira also made me feel bad. I would have shooting joint pains with the Humira. I mean, at random, It didn’t matter whether it was. I mean, I tried to follow the trend of what I was feeling like every day. The doctor asked me, it’s like, is it in the morning time that you get these shooting pains, is it in the evening, afternoon? It’s at random and it’s in random places, it might be my finger and then 15 minutes, it might be my knee. It might be my ankle, it might be my shoulder. But it was always in the joint and it was just like this out of nowhere, the stabbing, sharp pain, and in addition to that, I just overall felt bad. And so, I just can’t take it, I cannot take it. And at that time, we were scheduling with the hematologist anyway, and he really didn’t want as much as possible to have any drugs in my system just so we could get a good reading on what it was actually going on inside my bone marrow. So that is why we just discontinued the Humira.

Brenda – When I went back, he’s like, Yeah, well, you don’t have to go back on that. For one, it makes you feel too bad. Two, we don’t want you having sharp pains through your joints. As the hematologist told me, she said, when we start messing with your immune system, it doesn’t like it. And I said, you’re telling me and she said, Yeah, so you’re you know, you’re on these different drugs and he’s trying to find the one that works for you, but we’re messing with your immune system, so we’ve got to get it just right. And she was really gracious and giving me lots of information, but that Humaira, I just couldn’t It just made me feel bad in the worst kind of way. So the only drug that’s really made me feel better was the Plaquenil. Now even though I was feeling bad on the methotrexate and the Humira doesn’t mean that they did not have some benefit to them. I’m sure they were beneficial in some way, but my overall feeling and my joint pain and my swelling, it was still very, very prevalent.

Clint – Ok, let’s talk about what works for you. Tell us your routine that works best and tell us what you think is the highest. In order of priority, let’s say you want to build someone who’s in a bad way and you’re going to tell them this is what you should do. You mentioned the juices with emphasis earlier. Walk us through, you’ve got to do the juicing, is that some exercise? Do you have a daily routine with stress reduction? What’s your diet looked like in which foods do you find are most healthy and helpful for pain reduction? I want you to share this with our audience.

Brenda – Well, after reading your book and I keep it handy to refer to, the one thing that I had to first do is get my mind right. So your quote of and I’m probably I’m going to mess this up verbatim. But as far as the pain of the regret, discipline versus regret, once I read that every morning when I wake up, that’s the first thing I think about, the pain of discipline versus the pain of regret, you have a choice. And I just started telling myself that every day that’s what I would start with versus how was I thinking, what am I thinking about? What are my thoughts? From there, I would go straight to the kitchen and juice up some cucumber and celery juice. And actually, we have a yoga class that comes on our public broadcasting station early mornings, and I’ll start my day that way. Because I don’t really wake up with joint pain, I never really woke up with joint pain. And that’s always something that my doctor would ask me. You know, in the mornings when you get up, are you stiff? Do you have joint pain? No, my joint pain started after I got up and started moving, which was, I guess, not what most people experience, but I never woke up with joint pain. It was once I got moving, then my knees started hurting and my fingers and all of that. So I start with my cucumber, celery, yoga. The foods I eat are sweet potatoes are my best friend, sweet potatoes, and I just leafy greens. Kale is one of my favorites, and I eat vegetable soup every day, every day I have soup, and so I bought a Vitamix, you know, I got the Instant Pots and, you know, I watch chef AJ’s videos and I make my soup every day or it’ll last a few days. I bought some miso from Melissa’s on the Paddison Program, and I got the two different kinds, and I put that in there every day and I eat soup every day and I sat lots of leafy greens and salads.

Clint – Can you tell us what you put into your soup?

Brenda – Mostly leafy greens, but I have like two different types of kale in there, the regular curly leaf and the Jacinto kale. I put spinach in there, and then I have like green beans. I try to stay on the green side, everything that’s green cabbage, the greens I just throw in the pot. Sometimes I put a little bit of corn, just like I have a little bit of sweetness. One of the other major things that I did stop doing, I think that was a major asset was when I heard you say about salt, I try to follow the salt-free, oil-free, you know, sugar-free, dairy-free, all that. But the type of salt I quit buying regular salt and I used the Celtic salt, so I put a pinch of that in there. I try to stay away from the tomatoes, and that’s what I make. And just vegetables, green beans, lima beans, mostly cabbage, leafy greens, collard greens.

Clint – So your soup isn’t a vegetable soup, like having potato, like hearty root veggies with potatoes and pumpkins and carrots and onions and so on.

Brenda – Not much. No, I do put onions in there, but I don’t really. Potatoes don’t bother me, I never really had a problem with potatoes, but I just want those greens, and that’s a good way for me to get them in. Potatoes will kind of make me full and I don’t want to be too full that I don’t get those greens in. So it’s mostly the leafy greens, green beans, a little bit of corn, lima beans, a few peas, but mostly cabbage, spinach, and kale.

Clint – You mentioned coffee before and in the process of writing my book, I’ve spent far too long looking at scientific publications and research. But one that I wanted to bring to your attention and our audience’s attention is a study that was done in the year 2000. This study, which is called Coffee Consumption, Rheumatoid Factor, and the Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis. It was an epidemiological study which means it’s done over like a retrospective look at data that already exists. It doesn’t require people to do anything, working off of population data. A survey of actually 6,809 people showed that there was a positive correlation between the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and coffee consumption. So it is a risk factor in the same way that we know that smoking is a risk factor. I don’t have the data as to know which one is greater, but I would imagine smoking is greater, but still, that’s just my guess. But we know that coffee consumption is a risk factor, and so sometimes people will say, what about decaf coffee? Well, let me read from my book here. Decaffeinated coffee is also associated with rheumatoid arthritis development. A study showed women who drank 4 or more cups of decaffeinated coffee on a daily basis doubled their risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis compared to those who drink no coffee at all. And that is from a 2002 study called Coffee, Tea and Caffeine Consumption and Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis, results from the Iowa Women’s Health Study. So, it can be tempting because there are some popular plant-based social media people at the moment who are drinking coffee and they are on Instagram and other platforms saying, Look, the data on coffee is fairly good and I feel fine drinking coffee well I disagree. Like if there’s a risk factor for developing rheumatoid arthritis based on coffee consumption, why? Why would you add to the risk? If you don’t have rheumatoid arthritis, go and play your own game, but we’ve got studies associated with our condition and I care and my family I need to look after people with inflammatory arthritis? And so there’s a couple of studies there that are very important.

Clint – Did you notice that when you stopped the coffee you immediately felt better after a couple of days of caffeine withdrawal passed?

Brenda – Yes. I think for 3 reasons. One, just to stop it. Two, to add the celery and cucumber juice, and 3 to be drinking more water because your joints need that water, so I was just chugging water. I mean, literally I was still crawling on the floor during those days. So anything I could do for some relief, so I would just chug water, chug, chug, chug water. I quit the coffee and I would chug the celery and cucumber and I would say around day 3 I could vastly tell the difference, vastly tell the difference. But not mind you, I was drinking a good pot of coffee a day, a big pot and it looked like motor oil so it was really, really strong. It was full of Splenda, It was full of dairy and it was full of cream. Yeah. It took a little while, but my body is so super sensitive to drugs and food, which is kind of a, it’s a curse, I think, and the blessing in the sense, because my body responds quickly. So it’s either going to respond bad or it’s going to respond good and it’s going to do it quickly. And so about the 3rd day, I was like, Oh my God, my joints just felt like they exhaled. But another one of your videos with another person in the community talked about her consumption of honey, and I went from sugar to honey. And I actually had just could not understand why I was still kind of joint pain crawling on the floor. So I typed in the chat for a simple message about my honey. And sure enough, I got a response from your assistant and she said, just back off the honey for a couple of days and see how you do. And thanks to that video with that young lady that’s in our community, I learned about honey. So I have not had honey in vast amounts since then, but I had no idea to even consider food sensitivities at that point. I just thought honey was going to be OK, I’m getting rid of the sugar but my body does not like large amounts of honey. I would not have known that had I not watched that video with the other young lady that’s in our community. So I’ve learned to really pay attention as it relates to food sensitivities along the way. So that’s another part of my routine when you’re asking about my routine every day. If I try something new, I’m monitoring and logging basically how I feel afterward because my body responds so quickly, it doesn’t take long for me. I’m either going to have a flare pretty soon, pretty quickly, or it’s going to be OK. And that’s just learning how my body reacts and the timing made a lot of difference for me.

Clint – If you do notice that something hasn’t worked for you when you’ve reintroduced it and there is something responding in your joints? What is your get out of jail quick strategy?

Brenda – I go straight back to the basic Paddison Program. I mean, literally, that’s my because that works and you talk about that in the book as well. And so I go straight back to the baseline and I just even chug more water. As I said, because my body responds really quickly to something, it doesn’t take long for those symptoms to subside. But I have to go back to the baseline and that’s what I do now. I think if I’m not mistaken, by the time you introduce the sweet potato soup, which has become one of my favorites, I love sweet potatoes, always have. I can just eat them plain, I can eat them cold. I can eat them raw, I just love sweet potatoes. So when I change up my soup, I’ll make a pot of the sweet potato soup, as well as the other soup just so I can have the go-to. I noticed that my gut likes how it feels when it gets sweet potatoes. When I take my pre and probiotics, I can tell how my gut feels, so again, back to the baseline, knowing what feels good in my gut because my gut will tell me, Hey, I didn’t like that, you’re going to have a flare for eating that. I feel it in my gut before I ever feel it in my joints, I really do.

Clint – God bless the sweet potato. There are communities in very primitive areas that still mostly just live on sweet potatoes. There are islands in the Pacific, some of which I’ve visited where people’s most of their diet is just a vast majority of sweet potatoes often different, just varieties of sweet potatoes. So these root vegetables can be extraordinarily sustaining. And Dr. McDougal talks about the white potato and how you can almost live off a white potato.

Brenda – Yes, he does.

Clint – A guy in Australia actually proved that by doing eating nothing but potatoes for a year. We don’t need to look too far to find healthy foods, they’re simple and affordable, and humble. So where does that leave you now? What are your plans now, Brenda, and what is your next goal? And what are you working towards here and the areas that you want to improve upon further?

Brenda – Well, I mainly want to stay off the drugs. I mean, I just want to not ever go back on them anymore. I have a standing order of prednisone, but I don’t take it. My roomie asked me, are you taking the prednisone? And I say no, and he’ll say, Well, why? And I say, Well, for one, my pain is not such that I need to take it and I don’t want to get hooked on it. So if I don’t need it, I mean, I appreciate that I have it. But again, the pain of discipline far outweighs the pain of regret. So I just don’t want to go there because I’ve been on both sides, I’ve been on that regret side and I don’t want to go back. So for me going forward, it’s to continue maybe testing other foods that I might be able to eat. Like I can remember where I just could not eat not even a slice of tomato. Well, now I can, you know, but I also know I can’t like, just go overboard with tomatoes or I know I’m going to have a flare. So just wanting to maintain where I’m at as far as no medication.

Clint – How were you with regards to fruits, when you said you had an issue with honey, the natural interpretation of that reaction is that it’s simple sugars because the honey is not bundled with fiber in a carbohydrate form, for example. So how are you, however, with fruits where you do have that natural bond between the sugars and the cellulose. Which means the body normally finds those foods okay even if simple sugars are a trigger?

Brenda – For me, the only fruit that if I eat it in large consumption, will give me an issue is a pineapple. I can eat papaya till it comes out of my ears, I can eat Mandarin oranges, I can eat just about any fruit, I love papaya Oh my god, I love papaya. So when it’s in the season I’ll get it and I put it on my salad, I’ll eat it by itself, it’s just the best. But I noticed like I was making a fruit smoothie in the morning. So I was like, OK, I’m feeling that feeling again like I do when I consume the honey. What is it? And it was the pineapple, so I can have pineapple, I just have to really be conservative with it. But any other fruit? I have no problem with any other fruits.

Clint – That’s so many different types of fruits, all of which have so many health benefits, and it’s easy, therefore, to also get our large diversity of different types of fiber into our diet because you can literally just have a blueberry, a strawberry, a blackberry. And each of the fibers are slightly different, aiding to diversify the microbiome. So it’s really, really great that you’re able to expand out into the fruit world, pineapple neither here nor there. This is fantastic, I think maybe my last question for you is not to stereotype, but Memphis isn’t known for its plant-based restaurants and plant-based mentality. How are you fitting in with your community, your friends, your family now that you’ve become plant-based? And is there some friction there to people with regards to eating with you? Or have there been some people who’ve been inspired by you and are thinking about change too?

Brenda – I would say, believe it or not, more so the latter. We do have a community of vegans here. There are going to be 2 vegan festivals this summer. We have a large vegan community, we have a restaurant called Raw Girls, I think they’re sisters. They decided that they wanted to do a restaurant with just good Whole Foods and vegan, there are some vegan foods in there as well. And so they have three locations. So the community is getting there, I attended the vegan festival last year I think it was in June or July downtown, it was fabulous. We had lots of vendors, so it’s catching on. I was surprised and I mean, it’s definitely wanted and it’s here, so I’m thankful for that. As far as my family and friends, they’re very supportive. My brother, who found your link and emailed it to me, he does not live here. He’s been an avid follower of Dr. McDougall for 20 something years, so he lives in Illinois. And so he and I exchanged recipes, Chef AJ we’re probably one of her biggest fans and we trade her recipes. I have support from my family in that regard. My friends, some of them are, they’re just very supportive and they’re trying themselves to kind of get on this wagon. I think the testimony of seeing or the testament of seeing me go through, I think it’s inspiring to them. Because they’ve seen me and I tell them they just can’t believe that I feel so much better. And I’m like, it’s because of what I’m eating. There’s nothing else to say about it. And we have the Whole Foods here, we have two locations and it is amazing. We have a Trader Joe’s as well that is catching on. People are buying organic, people are buying more fruits and vegetables. We’re in the south so we do have a lot of areas even towards the state of Mississippi, where there are farms. People are getting into growing whole food, agriculture versus making sure the soil is ready and not contaminated so it’s catching on. Yeah. So I have a lot of support, and even when I go shopping, I wanted to mention this to about my food cherries I found my joints love cherries, and I know you had your experience with unwashed cherries before. But the darker cherries, I can just eat them just like popcorn. I mean, I literally can just eat a bowl and my joints love it when I eat cherries.

Clint – Fantastic and because of that belief that I also had is why I was eating so many of them and stuffing myself with them. It wasn’t the cherries, of course, it was the pesticides on them that gave me the poison. We recently and this will be probably the final thing before we wrap up. My family and I went out to my sister’s house in orange here, which is about a four-hour drive from our house. It’s a little country town and it’s got lots of cherry farms around it, and we went cherry-picking. That was only a couple of months ago and yeah, we loaded up on cherries and our kids love them just as much as I do and my wife. They’re just brilliant food so if anyone’s been a while since they’ve had a cherry go out and grab some cherries, they are absolutely delicious and so good for you. Well, Brenda, thank you so much, what a pleasure to chat with you today. Thank you for sharing. Congratulations on how far you’ve come with your health. And I will also envision and picture the outcome that you are aiming for and work with you in our support group to make sure you have every possible chance of staying just as well as you are for the months and years ahead.

Brenda – Well, thank you. It’s been a pleasure. And you have so many resources, I go there to find answers to my questions, and I’ve just kind of navigated my way through those resources and they’ve been so beneficial for me. As well as just reading and watching the testaments of other people in the community has been just beneficial. So I appreciate, I appreciate you too.

Clint Paddison

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