Once we switch to a healthy lifestyle, reducing drugs and reversing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can be a very fast and immediately rewarding process. We discuss in this interview:

  • 4 days on the Paddison Program for Rheumatoid Arthritis to become pain-free and wrestle with kids on the floor!
  • A healthy Thanksgiving
  • Possible triggers in the diet
  • Positive effects on the weight
  • Yoga and physical activities
  • Dealing with setbacks
  • Dealing with skeptical rheumatologists
  • Drugs tapering process
  • Optimal performance with a plant-based diet

Clint – Today, we’re going to learn from Nicholas on how he went from crippling rheumatoid arthritis to be able to come off two significant doses of significant drugs, and now to be managing his condition in a really, really good way on only methotrexate and using lifestyle changes after being completely uncontrolled on three drugs. So Nicholas, thanks for joining us all the way from Illinois, United States.

Nicholas – Yeah. Thanks for having me, Clint.

Clint – I’m excited to hear this story. Let’s start with what you were at your worst to how you’re living your life at the moment. And we’re talking not that far apart. These two examples here, we’re talking only, like, less than 12 months. Right. So how are things shaping up with that sort of before and after?

Nicholas – Yeah, sure. So, my worst wasn’t actually prior to diagnosis. My worst was back in September and October of this past year, um, after a cold and after, uh, a flu shot, my, um, immune response went crazy and RA started coming back, uh, like a big monster that it can be. And, um, I was anxious for my future, constantly distracted by the pain and the fear of losing all of my hobbies, my career as a nurse. And because of the fear and anxiety and the pain, I wasn’t the father I wanted to be, I wasn’t the husband I wanted to be. And as much as I move, uh, I’m a person with A.D.D., I don’t sit still long. Um, you know, having an ankle that can swell up to three times its normal size in a single night, or, uh, a shoulder where I can barely reach across my body to put on a seatbelt. My life had changed fundamentally, and, yeah, I just I needed something, uh, to improve.

Clint – And so what did you do next?

Nicholas – Well, I went and saw my rheumatologist and I was told I would be put on a fourth med, uh, a biologic, uh, Humira. And after looking up the, uh, side effects, I wasn’t terribly interested in doing that. Um, and I went on a family trip the weekend after seeing my rheumatologist, uh, to my dad’s house. He lives about two hours away. And during the drive there, I listened to your podcast for the first time. And was pretty intrigued, I randomly picked, uh, one of the podcasts, you know, from, I don’t know, 2018 or something. Um, and so I brought up the idea of a plant-based diet and how that might be able to help, talking with my father and my wife during that weekend. Uh, and my wife was on board. We lived a pescatarian life previously. Um, and my dad had actually done a whole food plant-based diet the year before, uh, to lower his cholesterol. And he had had phenomenal, um, bodily reaction. You know, his cholesterol dropped tremendously, he felt amazing, he lost a bunch of weight. And so I was pretty strong on the idea of trying it. On the way home, I listened to your podcast and specifically your story, um, along with a few other, um, of your podcasts. And I was completely sold. So the last, uh, animal product that I had was the morning, uh, before driving home, that was November 20th of 2023 I had some eggs with my breakfast. Um, and that night, I just had a salad. Uh, and then I fasted for the first two days of the diet. Um, I’d done intermittent fasting over the past four years, so it wasn’t anything crazy for me to try a fast. Um, but. Yeah. And so November 21st was the day I officially started the Paddison Program, which, if you guys are keeping track, that’s four days before America’s, um, Thanksgiving, which is a big deal in our family. We have 50 plus people come over.

Clint – Wow. That’s huge. 50 at your house.

Nicholas – It’s our big celebration in our family. Um, and we have just a smorgasbord of food every year. Uh, and while everybody else was just piling their plate and digging in, uh, I had a large serving bowl and ate my salad and grains and, uh, but honestly, I that was day four and day for 96 hours into the Paddison Program, I had zero pain, I had no swelling and no stiffness. And for it to be that night and day, um, because the previous weekend, I was already struggling with some stiffness and some swelling and pain. Um, but yeah, those four days, for that quickly to melt away, I knew that we were on the right track. And reading through all the material you provided really, you know, set me up to know that it was the right track. I just didn’t know it could be that fast. Um, I was off of methotrexate. Uh, day five. Since day four, I was without pain. I said, why am I taking this?

Clint – Hang on. Methotrexate or meloxicam?

Nicholas – Sorry. Meloxicam. Yeah. Wrong. Wrong medicine. Yeah. Um. But then I tapered my prednisone from 20mg a day and it took ten days, but tapered off of prednisone and I haven’t had to take it daily since. Um, you know, so I’ve used it prn a couple of times, but the night and day between, you know, November 18th, when I was told to go on Humira and probably December 1st or so when I was wrestling with my kids on the floor, which I hadn’t done in six months, uh, was pretty fantastic.

Clint – That really is extraordinary. What do you think in your diet was probably contributing the most to symptoms, because there’s two things going on when you start eating the way that we do inside the Paddison Program. One is that we’re eliminating a whole bunch of foods. So you’re down to a very small set, so any food triggers have been removed. And number two, it’s very rich in antioxidants and microbiome-friendly fibers. However, your results were exceptional and so it makes me think that there might have been a lot of oil in your diet or lots of cheese. Is there anything that comes to mind?

Nicholas – Uh, pretty much everything that we cut out. Uh, I was definitely eating a lot of cheese, cottage cheese is just one of my favorites. And so I was eating a bunch of that, um, I was eating all sorts of oils you know, I had a lot of peanut oil, a lot of, uh, canola, olive oil, uh, etc. All of those in there, um, and cooked everything in olive oil all the time or canola oil. Um, and then also I had a lot of sugar in my diet, my kids are candy fanatics, just like I am. Uh, or I was, I should say, um, and so we, you know, together as a, as a group, we, you know, eat a family pack of candy over a couple of days. Um, but honestly, I think maybe one of the biggest triggers, uh, was how much acid was in my diet. And I don’t say that on reflection of everything I cut out so much as how much my body craved acid during the ten days. Um, you know that that little bite in what you eat and that little flavor, I feel like I was alerted to just how acid heavy our diet here in the West is. Um. Yeah, because my body was just screaming for flavor and it just wanted more. Um, and that might be one of the coolest side effects of the Paddison Program I’ve noticed so far. I feel like my taste buds have realigned now that I’ve taken so much out. Right? And just an orange or not an orange sorry, a lemon tastes like candy. I mean, it’s not super sweet because obviously that’s just not the fruit. But you do taste the sweetness now and I, and I enjoy the sourness from it. Um, but flavor has just a whole new palette to me because of everything I cut out in the time I spent away from, uh, such heavily sugared items.

Clint – Yeah, that comes up all the time. The number of times I’ve heard people say, oh, my God, I ate a, like, watermelon or oh, my gosh, I just ate a peach. And the flavors just blew my mind, you know? Whereas for those of us or for those outside of this community, if you like, who eat those regularly, they’re just eating it and they’re just not even thinking about it because A, it’s not as sweet as the very next thing that they eat in their candy bar. And B, it’s just not valued at all because it’s, you know, you just got everything at your fingertips at all times. And we’re eating mindlessly, I think, a lot of the time. So that’s really exciting. So based on the before and after of your foods, we kind of have a proportional before and after of your symptoms. It’s nice, it’s neat and nice to look at and I, I’m really glad I asked a question about what you were eating before because you confirmed all of my suspicions with all of that oil-rich and processed, rich food. So, first of all, you’ve saved yourself a future of other diseases by doing that. What about now? Where are you up to in terms of the diversity of foods that you eat? And how is that going with your wife? And you mentioned you’re a father with your family and so on. Are you eating two meals or you’re all eating the same thing? Um, and how does food look in your family?

Nicholas – It depends on the night. Um, we are usually eating two meals. Uh, just because I do have five kiddos my oldest is ten, my youngest is five. Uh, my oldest is ten. My youngest is will turn two at the end of March. So, uh, they’re all about two years apart, and, uh, it’s a vibrant, loud household, but, uh, you know it. A lot of my children, uh, don’t have the issue my wife and I have of the weight gain just yet. They’re all just growing and, like, you know, beanpoles, uh, and so they’re skinny and they need the extra calories. So, uh, cutting down too much on what they’re eating. Um, seems a little problematic. Also, you know, randomly telling your whole family they’re going vegan because you are just didn’t feel quite like what I wanted to do.

Clint – I understand the bite-size chunks right? Bite sized chunks. Yeah.

Nicholas – One of the other things, though, that I have absolutely enjoyed is, prior to being diagnosed my weight just kept creeping up. And, uh, part of it was the extra comfort foods I was eating. I was exercising less because I was starting to notice swelling, um, and discomfort. But also, I think that my gut just wasn’t absorbing all the nutrients. I didn’t have nearly enough fiber in my diet. And so my body was just holding on to every calorie it was getting. And I was up to 262lbs last April. And yesterday I stood on the scale I was 225. Um, and so with some fasting and with, uh, you know, making sure I’m getting all my macros, but I’m still just at a slight calorie deficit at the moment. Um, I’ve dropped over 37lbs and, uh, just feel fantastic, like, I. I can’t say that enough I’m so much more active than I was prior to the program. Um, especially because I was wrongfully told by, um, some of my coworkers who have similar diseases, and my rheumatologist as well, that if I was swollen, I should rest it. And, uh, that, you know, the more I move when I’m swollen, I’m at risk of damaging my joints. But I’m just further crippling myself if I don’t move as I’ve learned, right? So yeah, I’m just I’m so much more active and, um, it’s pretty it’s pretty great. Yeah.

Clint – That just makes me so happy to hear that you’re sort of, uh, doing the right thing and not the silly common wisdom that is shared amongst not only colleagues but unfortunately amongst some of the medical professionals. So just so that this doesn’t appear like a Clintism. There are new lifestyle guidelines coming out from the American guidelines for rheumatology. And of the very, very highest tier of recommendations is exercise and physical therapy. So it is the highest possible recommendation amongst the collective wisdom of all the research that’s been put together for rheumatologists to advise their patients, that exercise is a absolutely essential activity for them to engage in. So it’s good to see that the research has filtered up to providing the guidelines for the rheumatologists. So, you know, just keep it up. Keep it up. So what I’m saying and again, there’s no upper limit like the fitter and stronger you are the less symptoms you have. It’s absolutely proportional.

Clint – So that’s all cool. So now what about in terms of exercise? What do you do? What does that look like?

Nicholas – So I found a, uh, YouTube channel, uh, guy and his significant other, um, provide, uh, yoga. And I’ve done yoga through the years, but for whatever reason, uh, his flow and the way that he talks about his mindset during it, it just clicks with me. Um, so I’ve been following him and trying to do it daily. I’m. I’m at best right now, about four times a week I need to get to at least I want to do it daily. You know? I want to do it seven times a week. Um, and that’s probably my main form of exercise at the moment. Like I said, I’m a pretty active person, I can’t sit still for very long. So, um, it’s the winter months here in the US. Uh, but it’s been a little warmer than normal, so I’ve been out chopping wood. Um, I’ve been doing what I can to get my garden ready for when I can start planting some stuff, um, and wrestling with the kids, running around with my kids. Um, you know, they keep me very busy as well.

Clint – What do you think’s been the best, uh, amongst all of the sort of improvements, changes everything. What’s the best thing to have come out of making these lifestyle changes do you feel?

Nicholas – Quantifying that might it’s kind of hard. The fact that with the Paddison program and with focusing on the gut microbiome, we are actually treating the root cause. I’m no longer just symptom managing and as a nurse, as someone who, you know, has devoted my life and career to helping people, it’s it’s very defeating to just treat the symptoms every time someone comes in. Um, and so for me, the realization of how many different diseases could be, um, completely stopped and never experienced at all if we just had a healthier gut microbiome across the nation or world. Sorry, but, um. You know. But then also when people do run into the issue that those of us with RA have run into or any other autoimmune disorder, um, knowing that we can truly treat the root cause and actually fix something that before. You know, we’re told when we go into the rheumatologist the first time that, hey, you have RA, uh, this is going to be lifelong, we’ll manage the symptoms as best we can with these different medications. But what we aren’t told is, you know, you’ll likely get remission here and there from a med, but then you’ll have to go on a new med. Some of the side effects will kick you to another new med and your life for the next, uh, remainder of your time here is going to be difficult, and it’s going to be hell at times. Um, you know, I feel like the Miranda rights that were read when we’re, when we’re told we have an autoimmune disorder don’t have to be the way they are. You know, it could be, there’s also this choice if you want to make the drastic diet change and you’re willing to exercise and you’re willing to meditate and reduce stress, then you could actually just treat the whole disease as it is. So for me, that’s the biggest thing.

Clint – I love it. So it’s that sense of being able to help to reverse the actual, um, driver of the disease. And therefore there’s a sense of empowerment.

Nicholas – Absolutely. Yeah.

Clint – Love it. Thank you. Okay, so, um, any setbacks that have happened since, uh, you’ve been down this journey, lessons you’ve learned.

Nicholas – My first lesson I learned was when I tried to add my second fruit, uh, back to my diet. My first fruit was an apple, and it worked fine, no problem. Uh, my my second fruit, I decided blueberries were going to be it, because it had been two days since I tried anything new, and my wife had bought like, 3lbs of blueberries for the kids. They’ll go through 3lbs in a day, so I figured I should eat, you know, my fill as well. Uh, I had about a pound of blueberries. And so my first lesson was moderation. Maybe when we’re reintroducing foods and looking for a trigger, we should, uh, you know, just have a handful at a time instead of a pound. Um, I had a little bit of swelling and achy day two of blueberries. So I have not had them since, uh, but I will reintroduce them in the future in moderation. Um, but, yeah, that was probably my first lesson. Uh, and then as far as my main setbacks, uh, you know, I’m currently today, uh, more swollen or more in more pain than I’ve been since I started the program. Uh, but that’s because I attempted, um, to use a food service, uh, to get what I needed for my weekend during work. Uh, for the convenience of not having to go grocery shopping and ensuring I had what I needed, um, for my weekends, uh, I went with this food service, and they delivered nice vegetables, holy vegan. However, there was a decent amount of added sugar to some of the food. Uh, and there were all sorts of exotic oils that I currently don’t have in my diet, I used in different preparations. And, uh, I had a meal on Friday. I worked night shifts, so I had a meal before I went into my night shift. Uh, and then I had another meal for my lunch that night. And by the time I ate my lunch that night, I could tell I was starting to swell. Um, by the time I got off work, I was having trouble making a fist with my left hand. And so I knew, um, especially because I was stretching my wrists the whole night. I was, you know, I was moving the whole night to make sure that I was giving myself a chance not to over swell. Um, I knew that I’d consumed some things I shouldn’t have. And so rather than continue to eat the rest of the stuff sent to me for the weekend, I said, uh, maybe we’ll just use the ingredients for the kids for dinner or for something. Uh, and I went back to my grains and salad and, uh, a little, a little more safer fare for the rest of the weekend. Um, and I’ve been fasting for the past, uh, day now to try to speed up the process of, uh, getting rid of the swelling.

Clint – Okay. So just literally right leading up to this, you’ve had your first setback, uh, since that blueberry incident. Well, the time, these things are good to share, aren’t they? These things are good to say. This isn’t just a, uh, a sore foot, this is like rheumatoid, this is hardcore and it’s reality. This is what we deal with because people listening are going to be like, I did that too. And. You know, we’re all vulnerable to this ability of having setbacks like I did 2017. I had this big oily burger and an oily fries and it was a it was a mess. Right. So yes, a little tip for you. Given your sensitivity, and this applies to everyone’s sensitivity with the oils, particularly the heated oils. What that is doing is providing a very, very high amount of free radicals to the body, because when we heat the oil, we’re creating what’s called advanced glycation end products, which are a type of free radical. And the more that oils are heated, the more substantial that oxidative potential is. And so what’s happening is that oil as it moves through our intestines, is stealing electrons from our epithelium, meaning that it becomes more permeable and allowing particles to enter our bloodstream, creating an immune response. Okay. So one of the areas that I’ve found, uh, in terms of a supplement for this that’s been very good, uh, is grape seed extract, which has outperformed things like l-glutamine turmeric for specifically lipid peroxidation, which is the oxidation of fats in our cell membranes. So it’s now part of the standard program, our materials have been updated. And whilst it may not be like a huge impact for everyone, I think that there are enough studies, uh, behind this because it’s way more effective at this specifically than things like, as I said, l-glutamine and turmeric and so on. So, anything that’s an antioxidant is our friend. Uh, when we’re vulnerable to oxidative stress, which comes not just from the disease itself, which creates free radicals, but from oils, because it’s just a sign that we’re low on our antioxidant defenses. That’s what that is. So all the leafy greens and then anything that’s a green juice or, you know, all fruits, all of these antioxidant-rich foods and our turmeric and our grape seed extract, um, even Chlorella is another great source of antioxidants. So, yeah, we just got to keep that hammering.

Nicholas – That makes so much sense because with, um, with the diet, I’ve noticed that my best days are when I have two big salads instead of just one. Um, so, so many more antioxidants. Uh, while preparing for, uh, to chat with you tonight, I was looking over some of, uh, your, like, you know, we’ll chat about this, we’ll chat about that. And one of the things you said is, um, you know, what’s the most important part of your routine at the moment? You know, is it your daily juice? And I said, daily juice. And I looked back and I said, oh, crap, I haven’t made my green juice since day four of the program. And like, that’s going to be added back in because there’s so many antioxidants that I don’t have, you know, on a daily basis that I’ve been missing. Um, so the possible healing that I could be doing, I’m missing out on that. So I’m definitely going to add that back in. Um, and then, uh, yeah. So the, the leafy greens, like I said, when I have more of them, I feel so much better. And then I’ll definitely be adding back in the green juice because I haven’t done that yet. Um, and I did go out and purchase an air fryer. Uh, I hadn’t had one prior to this, but being able to, you know, cook things and, and do so in a way where they come out the way I want them to and without using any oil, uh, has been invaluable. You know, it’s previously roasting in the oven. It was very lackluster without, um, without oil. But the air fryer seems to do it quite well.

Clint – Yeah. And the kids love it. If you fill that air fryer with potatoes and sweet potatoes, and we put a herb, a little herb mix over the top of it. So you’ve got sort of like, like, uh, different salty flavors over the top. The kids just go bonkers for that. And, um, if you can tolerate potatoes, if you can’t yet, you will um, then add is just feels like a family celebration.

Nicholas – We eat a lot of sweet potatoes. A lot of, uh, a lot of golden potatoes as well.

Clint – Awesome. What’s your goal? Let’s say, here we are February 2024. Where are you going to take this Nicolas? What are you determined to achieve with your health over the next 6 to 12 months?

Nicholas – Sure. Um, so my rheumatologist, uh, is cautiously optimistic about, um, my success so far. Uh, she said, you know, any, any time people can manage with less medicine, she’s fine with that. She doesn’t seem to completely buy into, uh, leaky gut and its connection. I know, right?

Clint – Are you kidding me?

Nicholas – Even with a perfect case sample in front of her, my SED rate was, uh, what was it, 64? Um, last, uh, April. And, uh, just 20 days after being on the Paddison program, I said rate was less than one. So obviously something’s working, right? And it wasn’t the methotrexate which you needed to add a medicine to previously. So. But anyway, she said she’s willing to help me taper, uh, and, you know, give me a taper for it in a year. Um, so my, my goal, um, is to get to an ideal disease state where hopefully I’ve gotten myself into basically remission, um, and start tapering in six months. If I need to find a new doctor, I will, um, because I don’t think I need to wait a year if all of my labs and my daily experience were telling me that I don’t. Obviously, if I have any indication that waiting a year is necessary, I will. Um, I’m a medical professional. I’m pretty good at listening to the doctors, but at the same time, I don’t want to waste another year taking methotrexate and feeling, you know, extra exhausted at times when I don’t need to, um, and such.

Clint – Awesome. All right. Let me chat a little bit about coming off methotrexate and also what you can do to become bulletproof so that you can start tapering methotrexate. Would that be of interest?

Nicholas – Absolutely.

Clint – So, coming off methotrexate and of course, there’s a video training on this inside members area for anyone who is currently a member. What we want to do is understand that as we start to peel back that inflammation management that is happening from the methotrexate, it reveals underneath more of the true state of disease activity. And so we want to do it incrementally. It’s like maybe take out um 2.5mg per week, one tablet for example. Or sometimes five milligrams per week, if you’re at 25, maybe drop to 20, for example. And of course, this is all to be done in discussions with your rheumatologist. But this is just like a generic speaking. And then we monitor for a couple of months and say, well, how do we respond at that level? And then if everything’s fine, especially the C-reactive protein and SED rate, physical examination, joints feel good, patients happy. Okay. Well let’s try again. And you go down and you repeat this process. So you take a step check in for a few months, everything good. Do it again and again. So that’s the process that we begun with my rheumatologist. It was going great until I actually forgot the drug, left it in the States, flew back to Australia, realized two weeks later I haven’t taken this thing by the time I got it, this is going back 11 years. By the time it arrived in the mail 11 years ago, from the US to here took 14 days or something, and it had been a month since I’d taken the drug. And I’m like, I feel actually better than ever. And so at that point, just in my unique circumstances, I didn’t take it anymore.

Clint – In terms of how to get to that point, we want to add more foods into the diet and be eating lots and lots of diversity and feel really, really good in the mornings when we’re waking up. So we’re not experiencing much if any, morning stiffness. And we want a state of feeling like we’ve got a great amount of confidence and control. And when we have that, we’re ready mentally and with the tools and skill set in our repertoire so that if we do begin the tapering process and some symptoms start to come back, we’re like, no problem, that’s fine, I know what to do. And then you bang, you get rid of them. So it really comes down to A, making sure you got lots and lots of diversity so that your microbiome has a diverse amount of cultures, B that you’re hitting all the key, uh, key strains of different types of fiber. That’s things like glutes, sorry. That’s things like oats to provide beta-glucans. That’s things like, uh, the fermented foods to provide, additional short chain fatty acids from a dietary point of view, it’s things like bananas for resistant starch and things like potatoes, which you’re already eating. It’s lots of leafy greens and fruits for the antioxidants. And combined with all this, you’re like, my gut is now robust. And then from that point of view, combined with the fittest, Nicholas, you can become so not just the yoga, but you also might want to do some strength training as well. Maybe once a week you might just want to burn yourself to the core with 30 minutes on a stationary bike or something.

Nicholas – Sure. Yeah. Well, and that’s, that’s what my chopping wood has been. There’s a Netflix documentary, uh, called, The game changers. I don’t know if you’ve seen it. It’s about diet and athletes. Yeah. Um, and it’s absolutely phenomenal at talking about, you know, why a plant-based diet is actually optimal compared to an omnivore diet. And I feel like they’re even overly kind to what the Western diet actually looks like and how it operates in your body. But anyway in that documentary, they talked about the endurance that, uh, our muscles are given from a plant based diet. Uh, and so previously chopping wood, half an hour would absolutely gas me. Right. Uh, so last week, I was out there chopping wood, and it was a nice day. It was about 40 degrees in the middle of January. So I said, of course I’m going to sit here and have some fun. Um, and I was out there for 2.5 hours, and I and I was, I was wrecked. My body was very tired at the end of it, but during it I felt fine. And I’ve never chopped wood for more than an hour. And I 2.5 hours, here I am just chopping away. I’ve got a ten foot tall pile of wood out there. So yeah, at least once a week I’m definitely working myself to where, you know, it’s almost bedtime when I’m done. But, uh, yeah, no, I agree.

Clint – You got this. If you can do that and you keep up, your yoga’s during the week, and you would only if you’re doing something like that once a week and maybe 2 or 3 yoga’s a week and not even having to exercise on the off days. You don’t have to exercise every day. If you’re capability is maintained at what you’ve just described, you don’t have to exercise every day, it’s overkill. And do everything I said, man, if I was a betting person, I’d, I’d put money on your ability to achieve your goals.

Nicholas – Awesome.

Clint – Yeah. Totally. Totally.

Nicholas – That’s really cool.

Clint – Totally. There’s nothing in your way. The things that get in the way. Uh, for some people are a dysfunctional living environment where they’re living, perhaps with an ex-wife or husband, and there’s friction, or they’ve got a tremendously unsupportive work environment where the culture is drinking and bad foods all the time, and there’s this social pressures or, and this is fascinating and maybe what I want to ask you, like, next as we come close to wrapping this up. But some people, it’s the work shifts like you’re on that mean that they can’t access the amount of quality sleep, uh, that they need to help restore health. So I was going to ask you this anyway, but how do you how do you manage that? Because you mentioned Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Uh, do you only work those three days during the week?

Nicholas – So because of 12 hour shifts? Yeah, 36 hours a week is all in contracted for. Um, however, I usually try to pick up one shift if it’s available, uh, just to try to float some extra savings. Uh, so it’s usually about 48 hours a week. Um, and in between shifts, I usually get about six, six hours of sleep, which is an honest blessing. Uh, previously in my, um, in my time as a night shift worker, which I’ve been working night shift since I was 22, I’m now 38. Um. Four hours, 4.5 hours was probably my average. And so getting six is fantastic. I honestly feel like, uh, I can function at four. Um, but at six, I can probably conquer the world, you know? So, uh, I feel like I’m getting great sleep in between my shifts. I haven’t had any coffee since starting the program, and the only, um, caffeine I get is a little bit in some tea. Just from the plant-based diet itself, the exercise being in better shape and, uh, less caffeine. I think my sleep has really improved, uh, tremendously. And so, uh, on my off nights, I usually average about 7 to 8 hours. Um, and yeah, I feel better rested. Well, surprisingly to me. But it shouldn’t be, I’m able to make it through my shifts with little to no lag. Um, on a regular basis, my coworkers are all going and taking a nap for their 30 minute lunch. Or, um, you know, they’re talking about how they’re just so exhausted and they’ve hit the wall. And that’s how I used to feel as well. But I get through my shifts and I get home and I’m ready for bed, but I’m not, like, falling asleep at the stoplight on my way home, like a lot of us are at times. Um, so, yeah, as far as sleep goes, I feel like I’m in a much better place today than I was, uh, three months ago.

Clint – Awesome.

Clint – Nicholas, I am super, super excited for your future. This is just as about as good as it gets. You’re on a drug that doesn’t cause a setback to your microbiome. Methotrexate, the studies are limited but supportive, right? There’s certainly nothing in the literature that says it worsens the gut. Nothing, not one study. It can hurt the liver, but not the gut. Okay. So, um, so from that point of view, fantastic. Physically active, supportive home environment, getting enough sleep, optimistic, educated, doing the right things with your diet. And a rheumatologist or an alternative rheumatologist that can support you with a sensible taper plan if you hit that point. And, um, you know, it’s all good. It’s all good, my friend. Yeah.

Nicholas – Yeah. Uh, speaking about educated. So, um, I’ve been reading a whole bunch. Uh, anything I can really put my hands on that has, uh, quality information in it. Um, have you read The gut mind connection or the mind-gut connection.

Clint – I’m aware of what that is, and I’ve read studies about it, but I haven’t read a book on it. I’ve read the source, which is the medical publications around this topic.

Nicholas – So the doctor who wrote, uh, the gut mind connection, um, and it might be it might be mind gut connection. Anyway. Sorry. Um, he, he did this research going all the way back to the late 80s, early 90s. Um, and he started producing work to show that our microbiome in our diet in the West was so incredibly dwarfed compared to the gut microbiome of somebody who is living, you know, in the Amazon rainforest or down in Africa. Uh, and I think it was Tanzania. Um, and he talked about how human development is changed, you know, and so things like ADD and stuff like that can actually be because of a, uh, stunted microbiome. He talked about how, you know, autoimmune disorders, including high blood pressure and cardiac disease, which can actually very easily be linked to an autoimmune, autoimmune disorder. Um, and then depression, anxiety, etc., were also heavily, uh, afflicted. But the beauty of the book that he talks about is just, he hits and hits and hits on the diversity that’s needed in our diet. Right? And how the more things that we eat and the more, uh, the more from the earth, from outside that we eat, the better our gut microbiome is. And so I really encourage anyone to read that book because he does a fantastic job of just laying it out. Not always in the most plain English. He is a doctor, and he does use, uh, the specific, uh, bacteria names when he’s talking about what you need in your gut. But he does a good job of making it accessible. I feel like, uh, and then along with that, I read a book recently called Eating to Extinction. And it has far less to do with our gut microbiome, but far more to do with our actual agriculture system in the world and our food production system in the world, and how the diversity of what we are growing, and therefore the diversity of what we are eating, has shrunk by 80% over the past, uh, 75 years. And how, you know, bananas, for example, there’s really only two strains that are grown on a massive scale around the world and how both of those strains are under attack at the moment by rot and by bacteria. And we could lose our bananas because of this. Right. Uh, so he talks about food security and how important that is, but he also touches very, uh, gently on when we have these different things in our diet, and we are more diverse in our grains, more diverse in our, uh, apples, etc., our gut microbiome flourishes. And, uh, the way he talks in that short snippet is it just brought me right back to the mind-gut connection and how important these things and how intertwined they are.

Nicholas – So two really good reads, I encourage anybody to read those two. And then, uh, this whole journey for myself and, feeling like I was hit over the head with some, uh, astounding knowledge that everyone should know when I learned about leaky gut. Um, I’m a NICU nurse. Uh, and so I work with neonatal, um, babies who are, you know, pre-term or born with some issues at birth. And one of our biggest issues with babies that are born less than 32 weeks, uh, is called NEC, and it’s a gastro disease that the gut swells up and it becomes permeable, and a lot of these kids end up with terrible infections and sepsis. And so it’s a continued issue, it’s gotten better over the years. But our first line with children, uh, is to give them, uh, donor breast milk if mom does not have breast milk, well, the donor breast milk is pasteurized. So instead of giving this great culture of bacteria, we’re just giving them breast milk that is breast milk. There’s nothing beneficial to a pasteurized breast milk. Um, and if we don’t have donor breast milk, then we give them, uh, bovine based, um, formula. Yeah. And watching these poor little babies belly swell up, uh, really clued me in very quickly to how connected their little tiny intestinal tract is compared to ours. It’s so much more permeable at this stage.

Clint – Very exciting. Thanks, Nicholas. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having our conversation and it’s really cool to hear about these developments that you’ve got going on professionally. Obviously, the personal stuff is phenomenal. To come off the maximum dose of meloxicam 15mg a day and ten milligrams of steroids. All of that within 15 days. That’s phenomenal.

Nicholas – Absolutely.

Clint – Yeah. And so now the future looks bright. You’re doing everything right. Congratulations. And thanks for sharing.

Nicholas – Thank you. Man. Had a blast.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. As always very informative and encouraging And it’s heartening to know how so many people are doing so well and so am I on your diet advice and encouragement

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}