We discuss in this interview:
- Melissa’s healing journey from a very aggressive onset to being almost drug-free
- How the Paddison Program for Rheumatoid Arthritis helped Melissa make progress
- RA and pregnancy
- Triggers for RA onset and genetic factors
- How to prepare buckwheat and quinoa
- Setting goals and defining the path to reach them
- The power of support
- Microbiome test
- How Melissa, sharing her experience on Instagram has built a local community
Clint – Welcome back to rheumatoid solutions! We just take so much pleasure in sharing your wonderful inspiring stories with us. Wherein, we listen to guests who are able to describe an improvement. From where they’ve been in the past with inflammatory arthritis to where they are today. Also, where they’re looking forward to getting to in the future. Today, we’ve got another guest who’s going to share her journey with us. It will also provide us with lots of useful and implementable tips that we can use to improve the ways. Wherein we are going to talk about our diet, exercise, mindset, and so on to continue or improve our health. The name’s Melissa and she’s from Stockholm in Sweden. She joins me now to go through this and help us by explaining what she’s been through. Also, what she’s managed to achieve and provide us with those tips that I mentioned. Good day, Melissa!
Melissa – Hi, Clint! It’s nice to meet you.
Clint – It’s nice to see you, too. Now you were diagnosed in 2016 and we’ll hear about your story in just a moment. I just always like to get a quick before and after situation. We can just the sort of level of transformation you’ve been able to achieve.
Melissa – My experience was I had a very aggressive onset. I basically went from having my initial symptoms to diagnoses within 10 weeks, which is quite unusual. When I was at my worst, I couldn’t lift my arms, I could barely walk, and I could not walk down any stairs. My hands were very swollen and I had that awful feeling of having glass underneath my feet. I also felt the general fatigue around my body. I had just also given birth to my son and it’s one of these classic postpartum onset autoimmunity issues. Today, I’m sitting here five years later and I never thought that I would be at this point on my healing journey. I’m down to almost being drug-free, as I mentioned to you earlier in our conversation. I’ve been on Plaquenil for the past 2 years and I’m down to eating one of those 200-milligram pills like once every 10 days or so. Then, I am in my best shape ever physically, which is so ironic. It’s due to taking this holistic approach where I’m not only am I looking over the food that I’ve been eating. It really is about, how am I looking after my body physically, am I getting proper exercise, and life-work balance. It’s ironic that I’m sitting here 5 years later saying that I feel happier and healthier than I ever have.
Clint – Congratulations! It’s so wonderful to hear you say that and it must feel almost like the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders. Also, given what you’ve been through in the past with awful inflammation points in your body and the prospect of where that could go to. I’m sure that the doctors and anyone who jumps on to Google, reinforces the severity of the diagnosis. We’re going to talk about each of those bullet points that you mentioned. We’ll talk about exercise today and we’ll talk about diet. You’ve got some fabulous and really detailed level insights to share with regards to the diet, which I’m looking forward to. We’re also going to talk about work and life balance, which you’ve mentioned earlier. I want to hear about the effect of moving out of a more stressful job into your new career and how that made you feel. Also, you’re helping people online and you’ve got an Instagram account in Sweden, which we’ll talk about that as well. Let’s get started with how this unfolded and can you walk us through 2016? You’ve had your baby and you’re trying to nurse, right? So as if life isn’t challenging enough as a mom and then you’re in agony. I mean, can you talk me through those days?
Melissa – I had just gone through a very easy pregnancy and delivery of my son. I’m in the midst of 3 months of becoming a mother and waking up every day with these new weird symptoms. As I mentioned in our earlier conversation, I’d had a little bit of a foot issue for the past 8 years prior to 2016. It is a condition called Morton’s Neuroma, which is apparently quite common amongst people that are later diagnosed with RA. In my case, this symptom kind of flared and this is where it started. I remember that I just flared and the pain kind of move from being in my toes to my entire foot. I was having pain in the heels of my feet. and I’ve described it previously as like walking on glass sensation. Then this kind of inflammation just started spreading from my hands and my feet. Then, it spread over to my shoulders, hips, ankles, and knees. Then suddenly I wasn’t able to wake up or I wasn’t able to lift my son in the middle of the night when he needed nursing. With that experience, it’s was a very emotional point to be in. Being a new mother and not being able to care for my son. I remember the tiny little buttons on his little body and whatever. All of my mobility just kind of dissipated within a few weeks. Also, the health care in Sweden is really good. I remember going to see my midwife and saying, I think there’s something going on here. I have a lot of inflammation in my body and a lot of pain. First, she put it down to the fact that I had just become a mother. Also, it’s not very uncommon to have sore or achy joints due to hormonal changes. But then very shortly after that, they got me in with a rheumatologist and it was quite easy to diagnose me. It is because I had all the markers for seropositive diagnosis, I had all the antibodies, and everything was positive. My inflammation levels were not that elevated and I think it was like maybe 4. It’s definitely elevated, but it’s not as bad as it could be.
Clint – Would that be 4 mg per deciliter?
Melissa – I suppose.
Clint – Yeah. Otherwise, 4 mg per liter is normal. But still, 4 is significantly high even if it were deciliter, which it sounds like it would be. For example, a friend of mine is in the Isle of Man. As another European reference point, it’s mg per deciliter in the Isle of Man. I don’t know if that gets us any closer to clarity. But yes, I suspect that’s what it would have been. Anyway, can you continue?
Melissa – I was fairly certain I had RA because obviously, I had consulted Dr. Google. I’ve been told that this is most likely what you’re struggling with. But still, it is such a heartbreaking moment when you’re sitting there in the office at the rheumatologists. I remember I had my son and my husband with me as support, and I’m grateful for that. It is because I don’t remember much that was being said and it was a shock. I should also mention that I came from a family with a lot of autoimmunities. My mother had MS (Multiple Sclerosis) since she was in her 30s and her brother has alopecia. I’ve always been familiar or slightly familiar with it and obviously with my mother. But I’ve never understood the world of autoimmunity. I think there’s an expression about like genes load the gun and the environment pulls the trigger, which is obviously the case for me. I should also mention that as a child in Sweden, we have an expression for this, that we’re an ear child. Basically means that you’re a child who suffers from chronic ear infections. With that, there was a lot of treatment with antibiotics. It really kind of like set the scene for what was to come and I guess the pregnancy just kind of triggered it.
Clint – Well, it’s interesting. You’ve hit 2 of the 3 most common anecdotal stories that I heard prior to the onset of RA. The 3 most common stories I hear are antibiotics as a child or teenager for acne, which was me when I was young. In your case, it was an ear infection or other complications. Secondly, having a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s prior, which seems to increase risk factors for developing RA. Lastly, the onset straight after childbirth with the precipitous change in hormonal readings. You’ve hit 2 of them because you’ve had the sort of post-childbirth story and also the childhood antibiotic component as well. You also mentioned Morton’s neuroma, whilst that isn’t an autoimmune disease. You also had something not quite right going on earlier that’s inflammatory. These antibiotics are just medications that harmed us and did bad things to our bodies. Anything we can do to not use them if we’re not putting anyone at risk, the better.
Melissa – I’ve become one of these crazy holistic people. For example, when my son has an earache, I just put a piece of garlic and olive oil in his ear. I just hope for the best and it has worked every single time. But I’m just like, I’m terrified that it could also happen with my son. I think that’s also what happens when you’re a parent and you get sick with a chronic disease. Wherein, there might be some kind of hereditary factor in play or the fear of passing on my genes.
Clint – Well, just a couple of things to add there and just out of interest. First of all, I’ve just recently learned from a microbiome researcher, her name’s Jenya and she has a last name that I cannot pronounce. Anyhow she’s a very high intellect researcher for the gut microbiome and stuff. I’ve got her appearing at my upcoming summit, which I haven’t talked about. But it’s about to be launched within the next sort of 6 weeks. When I spoke with her, she talked about how the gut microbiome is actually established fully by the age of three. When we are three years old, it resembles very much with an adult microbiome. In those first few years and if we’re getting antibiotics in those first few years of life. It really shapes what will become their consistent microbiome from three onwards. which I think is quite fascinating. You think of this child and it might be so different to us in those early antibiotics are crucial. You might know her and she is Katie, who often appears on our podcast. She had rheumatoid since she was a 1 year old and she had lots of antibiotics through her first year of life. Likewise, we’re just seeing this, this aha kind of thing going on with the antibiotics. Whilst they can be life-saving if they are used with caution. There was another point I was going to make and it’s just slipped my mind at the moment. I’ll hand the hand back over to you to continue with your really interesting story.
Melissa – Anyway, I’ve just been diagnosed and my doctor puts me on the standard treatment. This is the standard treatment in Sweden and it’s at least 25 milligrams of methotrexate. Together with the methotrexate, it is combined with cortisone. Then my rheumatologist put me on a high dose of cortisone and a low dose of methotrexate. Then he pulls down the cortisone as he increases the methotrexate. You do that for a course of 3 months or something until you’re no longer relying on the cortisone and it worked well. Meanwhile, I’m just one of these people, I guess that’s just how I am, that I had a hard time understanding why I had gotten sick. I just felt like there had to be a better way of treating this illness. While I was being in treatment, I was responding well to the treatment because I have a good experience with methotrexate. The only side effect I ever had during those years was the fact that I was getting sick quite often. I felt like my immune system was just not as strong as it should be. Bear in mind, I also had a young one and the germs that he brings home from daycare are quite potent as well. But I’m trying to kind of read up on as many different holistic treatment options that there are available. First, I think I went down with the autoimmune paleo track asked me to do. I had been a vegetarian for many years and that’s also ironic. It is because I considered myself being on the optimal diet when I got sick, which was also so mind-boggling. I was curious as to why I got sick because I do think that I had the best lifestyle ever. I started dabbling with the autoimmune paleo lifestyle and it just didn’t sit well with me. I’m sure that it might work really well for others. It didn’t sit well with me for many different reasons, but don’t let them get away with it. With that, it can work for some people for a while.
Clint – Yes, that is the truth and we’ll look at it in a minute. When we want to talk about cheating onto a high-fat western diet and stuff and I want to share some studies around that. You’re being very kind. Once we get rid of things like processed foods and we get rid of dairy products. A lot of people feel a lot better and that’s when they jump online. Then they write testimonials like, my pain’s dropped by like 80% in a week. It’s not because you’re eating grass-fed beef, but it’s because you’re no longer eating the worst foods possible for your digestive system. But you’re only halfway there and you can take this a lot further. I just want to remind you people that do not let that diet become sort of a celebration. It is because you are still at a halfway point of improvement, but it’s not the healthiest way forward.
Melissa – No. Then, I also started kind of thinking about people that live long lives and what kind of diet they eat. I was also looking maybe at Japan as a population and it just made sense from also an ancestral point of view, like maybe less is more. What I’m trying to say is like maybe the simpler the food, the better it is for us. Of course, what really changed everything around is when I found your fantastic TED talk. It was just such an eye opener for me and just kind of like opened up a whole different world. I remember watching your podcast or your TED talks. Then to find all the different podcasts that you’d made at that point and this was 5 years ago. Just like listening to them one after and one after videos. With that, I was taking notes, I purchased your book, then I joined your community, and that really just changed everything for me. This has been a very long process for me. It is because it has taken me 5 years and changing my diet was a big piece of the puzzle. It is probably the biggest piece of the puzzle, but I felt like my healing plateaued after about 2 years or so. I was just not making enough progress and it is also when my methotrexate stopped working. With that, I was suddenly getting a lot more inflammation and my doctor agreed he wanted to put me on biologics immediately. Then he agreed that we try Plaquenil first and that worked really well. This is about 2 years ago and this is also when I started making some really big life changes that we were on to earlier.
Clint – Let’s talk about the life changes in just a second one. I just have an observation that normally doctors won’t even entertain going from methotrexate to Plaquenil. It is because in terms of the hierarchy of effectiveness and if we speak in general terms. Methotrexate is normally more effective or powerful or just more effective than Plaquenil. It’s an interesting concession that your rheumatologist made to say, instead of increasing this sort of a treatment approach into a biologic world, let’s go almost backwards into Plaquenil. Then it actually worked really well for you, and I find that really interesting.
Melissa – It is interesting and it’s interesting with what you’re sharing. From my perspective, I believe that Plaquenil must be like the milder or the most mild version of treatment or option treatment option. But I think he’s kind of been waiting for the Plaquenil not to work. With that, he was able to put me in biologics. It is because they feel a responsibility to give you the most aggressive kind of treatment to ensure that you live a pain-free life. I don’t want to say healthy, but as pain-free as possible life. 2 years ago and that is when I started the Plaquenil. It is also when I left my managerial role at a big corporation and I started my own business together with a good friend of mine. I remember people saying that it was a crazy idea to leave a safe job or safe employment. It sounds really stressful and it also sounds really risky. They were asking me, are you sure you know what you’re doing? With that, I agreed and it’s a big responsibility to run your own business, but it’s a big leap of faith. It’s also given me so much more control over my life. I honestly feel that it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever done and it really has increased the quality of my life.
Clint – How quickly did you notice improvements to your health after you left the corporate job?
Melissa – Maybe 6 months in, I started noticing some improvements. Then the wonderful thing about this is the woman with whom I started, we had a little agency together. This woman that I started this agency with was really into pilates and she’s been doing Pilates for about 15 years. Here in Sweden, when we talk about Pilates, I imagine like this big Pilates ball or what everybody talks about and it’s a gentle exercise. I remember her saying, No and that’s not at all. If you would go to a proper Pilates studio with a trained professional Pilates instructor. They will whip you into shape in a fearful way. Now we go to pilates together 3 times a week and it has completely changed my body. I’ve always been a petite person, but now I have the strength and muscle. I find it as the optimal exercise for me because I did a lot of Bikram yoga. I was following your recommendation, but I find that it’s a big investment in terms of time. Unfortunately, I don’t have that time. Pilates for me is like 55 minutes of really good strengthening, stretching exercise, and focusing a lot on the core. If you find a good studio with a good instructor, I highly recommend it.
Clint – With that, I’ve only heard good things about it. You might recall Ellen, who’s the administrator inside our support forum. She does Pilates and she mixes that up with some Bikram on alternate days. She said that Pilates has helped to build muscle and get stronger. Again, we mentioned Katie and I think she might have done a little bit of Pilates. It doesn’t come up as much as I really thought that it would and I don’t know why that is. I think there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be embraced with much more enthusiasm, certainly to give it a go. I love the concept of building the core and I was just doing planks myself upstairs. Before we begin this conversation, I do planks every night and my little 3-year-old sits on my back. It’s anything that builds the core, builds strength, and increases flexibility. I mean, this is sensational stuff. Did you have to make any modifications, certainly in the earlier stages for any joints that were hurting and the things that you had to sit out or avoid?
Melissa – Sometimes I could get a sore wrist from that exercise. I’ve been taking classes 3 times a week for the past 2 years and they were able to maintain being open during COVID. It is because Sweden had a very different approach to that. Also, the chronic foot pain that I’ve had for the past 10 or plus years has gone away because of being part of Pilates. I mean, you train every single joint of your entire body and including your feet.
Clint – I want to comment on this and this is just something really interesting that I’ve noticed. Keep in mind, I’ve had 15 years of rheumatoid and I was out of control for the first 3 or 4 years. I had major surgery within the first 4 years of diagnosis and my left knee was completely destroyed by that time. It is because my knee had no cartilage left and that was bad. My inflammation was completely uncontrolled, raging for years, and a lot of damage was done. My feet were affected during that time as well and it’s very hard to walk around. There’s a lot of damage to my feet, but I’m walking around barefoot a lot recently. But what I’ve found, we’re just talking about these planks, is that the feet feel fantastic when I consistently get into a plank position barefoot. My toes are bent upwards back towards the top of the foot because my toes are taking all of the bodyweight of the lower legs and the lower body. Obviously, the front part of the body is underneath your elbows, but that actually makes my feet feel fantastic when you do it consistently. It’s like a really deep stretch into the toes and I wonder if that also helps your feet.
Melissa – I think it has helped my feet a lot. Also, another thing you mentioned is you were walking a lot barefoot at home. Initially, when I got sick, my doctors told me that it’s good to always wear Birkenstocks inside or whatever. I actually want to challenge that because I feel that you need to constantly work the muscles in your little toes and then your feet. By walking in with super ergonomic sneakers or Birkenstocks, you give your feet a break from that. I actually think that it might be contradicting on what you should be doing.
Clint – I do, too. My recommendations on this at the moment and I’m still holding steady to this. If your feet are inflamed, you shouldn’t walk on hard surfaces barefoot, right? However, this is a real subtlety in the line here is very fine. You should therapeutically walk barefoot on soft sand, on a beach, or something. With that, you get zero impact through the foot but you do get that flexibility in the toes and all those little joints in the feet. Everything does get a big range of motion movement and without the impact. My experiments on this over the years have made me certainly for my feet. I find that barefoot walking on soft sand is brilliant, therapeutic, and beneficial. But if you feed a tender, stay off the cold hard concrete or tiles. In my case, my feet have felt great ever since I’ve been doing these evening planks with my boy. I’m just really concluded that it’s been one of the best things for my feet in a very long time. It ties in with your Pilates and I really think it is. Do you do the class barefoot or you’ve got shoes on do you?
Melissa – No, you are barefoot with these little socks that have kind of like a sticky surface on the bottom.
Clint – Right! It’s very possible that what we’re talking about applies. It is because the shoes prevent that really deep end into the toes that we’re talking about. I must say when I first started doing this some months ago. If one side of the foot especially doesn’t move as much as the other, it can hurt a little when you come in body weight into those toes, but persevere with it. If you’re listening and curious, I’ve found it. We have Pilates, diet, changing your job, and all of these things coming together. When did you start moving your Plaquenil from 400 mg a day to 200 mg spread with nearly 10 days apart? I mean, how did that happen?
Melissa – I think it started about a year ago when I started spreading it out. It is because I was just in an absolutely completely pain-free place and I just started tapering it. Then, I kind of got to a point at the beginning of summer in May or in spring. I started having a plan for it and that’s when I started spreading out. I was taking one tablet of 200 mg every seven days. Now, I’m taking one of those every 10 days or so approximately.
Clint – Have you noticed anything at all in the change?
Melissa – No, that’s the strain. This is also why I’m so happy to be speaking with you. It is because my husband and I were having a conversation about this just last night. I feel like I am relying on it more emotionally than I am actually in terms of preventing inflammation from happening?
Clint – I like these discussions. This is right into my zone as to the sort of stuff that I like talking about, which is the force against certain decisions. Also, which strategy is going to ultimately satisfy your feeling for safety. Also, satisfying the relationship with your rheumatologist. Also, satisfying the need for us to have as low inflammation as possible at all times, managing side effects and all that sort of stuff. I don’t pretend to act as a rheumatologist and nor would I ever want to have that sit-back role. Also, I find the conundrums are very interesting. I can say that it is just sticking to the obvious or commonsensical response. It is if you’re on a daily tablet, it’s meant to be taken daily for its effectiveness. In your case, you’re taking it every 7 to 10 days. If you were to average that out over an equivalent daily dose, you’re on arguably an insignificant or a non-therapeutic dose of that drug. It also takes 2 to 3 months, commonly for that drug to actually work because you’ve got a drug that’s very slow-moving. In your case, you’re taking it very infrequently at a very low dose. Before we hit record here, I think you said you haven’t passed this on to your doctor yet. But he’s probably going to look at the situation and say, how is that doing anything right?
Melissa – Well, I think the answer is pretty clear. As I said, I’ve just been waiting for the other shoe to drop basically since summer. Now we’re coming to the end of September and I’ve been doing this since May. I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop and it’s not dropping. What might happen is that right before I get my period, there might be a little bit of swelling in my knuckle or something. But I did expect that and that’s like a small price to pay, right? I mean, my fear is the disease might come roaring back. I want to go back on Plaquenil and then suddenly it’s not going to be working anymore because I’ve developed antibodies. Then, my doctor is going to put me on the heavy stuff and that’s where I am.
Clint – It’s a fair concern and I’ve never heard anyone talk about developing antibodies to Plaquenil. This is where a rheumatologist is going to give you some really good insights. Ask your doctor and say, is what I’m doing associated with antibody development or am I taking a risk of some other thing happening that I’m completely unaware of? Then, you should see what he says. With that, knowing the pre-fame of entering the conversation is his responsibility to represent the rheumatology agreement. It is almost very aggressive with medical intervention to avoid joint damage. I don’t know what he’ll say because I’ve not been in this situation before. It’s an unusual combination of drug and dose, and I’ve not heard of it before. With that, can you let me know what he says?
Melissa – Okay, I’ll let you know.
Clint – Well, congratulations on all of that and you’ve done so well. You’re in a position where, like so many females, you get a little bit of inflammation right before your monthly cycle and this is common. We hear of it all the time inside our support forum. You just got to roll with the punches and then you know that it’s going to pass. We don’t do any food testing and so forth at that time. It is because it’s influenced by that moment in the 30 days. Therefore you’re getting false negatives, false positives, and so on. Other than that, you’re crushing it and you’re going so well. Let’s talk about some of the tips that you’ve got for people and let’s just put it at bullet points. For example, some of the strategies that you feel may be less obvious for people if they’re following the program already. If people are wondering what is this program we haven’t mentioned, it’s the Paddison Program for rheumatoid arthritis. Let’s talk about some of these nuances that you’ve applied to it.
Melissa – Yeah. The program is being a lifesaver and I have some notes here on the side. With that, I might be looking down to just make sure that I’m catching everything. I mean, RA for me is very much about digestion. It is to ensure that I’m doing everything to support my body to help it digest the food that I’m eating in the best way possible. When it comes to the diet that is prescribed and the program, which is obviously heavy on buckwheat and quinoa. I always make sure to soak everything for a really long time. I’m not talking for 2 hours because I usually soak it overnight. I soak the quinoa and the buckwheat always overnight, especially with the buckwheat. I think everybody knows or most people know that you need to first rinse it with hot water. At least that’s what I’ve been told or at least that’s what I’ve read. This is what I’ve been told, you’re meant to boil water and rinse the buckwheat in boiling water. With that, it releases this kind of pink color.
Clint – Yeah, it has that pink color.
Melissa – You want to get rid of that as much as possible. Then after I do that, I soak it in cold water and rinse it a few times before boiling it. I always soak it first in boiling water, then soak it in cold water, and then rinse it a few times. When it comes to quinoa, I always prefer the white quinoa because I believe that it’s easier to digest than the red or black. Even though the red and the black potentially might have more nutrients in them. But I do believe that it’s more difficult to digest for me at least. When it comes to beans and lentils, which I also rely on. I always soak it together with baking soda and it is a trick that I’ve learned. It breaks down the enzymes that potentially can irritate the gut lining. It’s a tip that I would like to share and that helped me immensely. I also soak the beans overnight or as long as possible. Sometimes I even soak the beans so long that they start sprouting, which is even better.
Clint – I just want to get the clarity on that. What you do is you rinse the beans, which are very hard. I’m thinking of black beans in my mind as I’m talking. You’ve rinsed them thoroughly and then you’ve actually added, how much baking soda do you add before you then leave them to soak?
Melissa – For 500 grams of dried black beans, I probably use a tablespoon of baking soda. Then I let that soak for 8 to 12 hours. Then I rinse and soak it a few more times because I want to make sure and I don’t know if this is even possible. Also, it’s just my general fear of messing things up. I don’t want the beans to reabsorb the liquid, and that’s why it’s also important to re-rinse and soak them a few times afterwards. But then I don’t normally add more baking soda, so I do that initially and I just rinse it a few times.
Clint – I would say that Melissa, my wife, does the exact same process. She soaks the beans overnight and rinses them thoroughly just without the baking soda. People are just worried about lectins, right? Every time I hear a plant-based medical doctor answer the question. It’s always along the same lines, lectins are harmless as long if you soak the foods that contain the lectins. With that, lectins can completely be disarmed and become irrelevant once we prepare our food. In the way that you have to actually eat it because you can’t actually eat raw beans. You just can’t, they’re too hard, and it’s not physically possible. You’re worrying about something that can be only negative for you by eating in a way that’s impossible for you. The lectin situation is kind of a moot point, but it does come up from what we talked about earlier. The AIP camps and stuff like that is one of the potential gotcha kind of ideas, but it’s not really much of an argument. Can you continue? These are fabulous little insights.
Melissa – Then it also supports my digestion and I started incorporating a lot of digestive enzymes. I know that’s also something that you recommend a lot on the forum and that also really has helped my healing process.
Clint – Are they proteolytic enzymes or broad-spectrum enzymes?
Melissa – I do believe it is the broad-spectrum enzyme. I’ve been mixing or depending on what I can get a hold of basically and it is some type of digestive enzyme that supports me.
Clint – This was something I did for years and I must have spent a lot on these. Enzymes also aren’t that expensive and they’re not too bad. I used to take amounts that would make people double like, what the heck is that guy doing? Sometimes like 6 or 7 capsules at a meal thinking that, maybe my whole digestive system is just not working. I basically have to replicate my own body with supplements. It’s one of these things that you never know if it’s doing anything, but I believe in it as a concept. I’m glad that you found it helpful to you also.
Melissa – I do take Vitamins D like a vegan multivitamin B12. With that, I’m making sure that I’m getting plenty of omega 3s and I get mine through, what are they called the little seeds? Not the yeah,
Clint – Flax seeds?
Melissa – Yes, which I put in my daily smoothie. The one big mindset that has helped me is letting go of the fear of messing things up. Because I think initially when I started your program and when I was sick, I was very afraid of messing things up. For example, accidentally eating foods that are not allowed to me. I was thinking that it would put me back or I could be starting all over again. With that, it created a lot of stress for me and I know that this is really difficult. It’s taken me a long time to get there. Just try to be relaxed or maybe not relaxed, but having faith in the process. You are knowing that you are doing as well as you can. Also, we are doing everything in our power to having this clear goal, but not being so hard on yourself. If things go, I don’t want to say wrong, but if life happens as well. I mean, this is also one of the things that makes us human beings. We have to a set plan and we also have to set a goal. My goal was obviously to get healthy and free of medication. But I wasn’t realizing that the path in getting there is not going to be straight. I mean, with everything that the whole world has gone through now with COVID and everything. I think it has been a very humbling experience. Also, being diagnosed with RA at the age of 34 and having just become a mother, that’s a very humbling experience. It’s been difficult to navigate, but I have a lot of faith in that process these days.
Clint – Yeah, I’m searching for the sort of appropriate metaphor. The one that comes to mind just off the top of my head. When we each get diagnosed, we can follow a plan that’s been put together for the best guidelines. Wherein, we can follow against what is a tremendously difficult opponent. Those guidelines can be like a coach and the coach is there to follow and to tell you the theory behind it all. But the first day you get diagnosed, you’re actually in a professional boxing match and you’ve got the guidelines from your coach. But you take punch after punch because you really don’t know how to make it your own. Also, you don’t know how to flow with the experience rather than just reading it and taking it in intellectually. We don’t know if we should be throwing the punches or against the ropes and stopping the punches. Also, should we save our energy or going out and attack. This metaphor has got its limitations, but basically like it’s a boxing match from day one and you’re going to get hit a lot. Also, you’re going to eventually work out your own style with the way that you approach it. It is different for everyone because it’s so individualized. Also, there are so many consistencies amongst us all and that’s how I felt when you were explaining your experience as well.
Melissa – It is also a really nice segue way too. Another thing that I’d like to mention is the power of support. I mean, being part of your community was so fantastic in every single way. Whenever I had a query, you would respond swiftly within just a few hours and sometimes minutes. Also, there could be somebody else that could help me. With that support, you know that you’re not alone. Also, knowing that there are other people that have gone through it or are going through it. It’s a beautiful thing and thank you so much for that.
Clint – Thank you. Yeah, it’s certainly one of the proudest things that I’ve put together. The content that’s in there now is just off the charts. I mean, it’s virtually like an encyclopedia of rheumatoid arthritis reversal, and it’s just unbelievable. It’s a shame that so much of it is obviously personal stories and it’s a confidential place. But if there was a way of making it withholding people’s private information and being able to share it broadly, there’d be such value in there. But we get the value out in other ways that enable the community to remain private. Also, we can still share the information out through conversations like what we’re having now. Hopefully, people are learning a lot from having our chat today. Is there anything else that is on your list that you’d like to add?
Melissa – One thing that I did that was interesting and I can recommend it is just quite costly. I had my poo tested and I forgot what it is called?
Clint – Microbiome (inaudible)?
Melissa – Yeah, exactly. It was to make sure that I had the proper kind of microbiome balance. It turns out I had absolutely zero Lactobacillus bacteria in my gut. It was not a huge surprise, but it was interesting. I was recommended a treatment for that and it’s was a Swedish brand of like hardcore probiotics. I did that and I think that might have helped quite a bit too, to be honest.
Clint – You are going through a phase at the moment, which is to recommend very high doses of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. If we think about trying to heal leaky gut, there are so many different approaches to it. Do you step back and try to eat infrequently, which allows long periods of time almost like mini fasting or intermittent fasting?
Melissa – Yeah, I do fasting.
Clint – Okay, so you’ve got that angle. Then you’ve got the angle of supplementation with things like quercetin, glutamine, and all of these other amino acids and various supplements that you can take. By the way, it got some reasonable scientific evidence behind their effectiveness at helping to improve tight junction integrity, mucosal formation and so on. But what comes up consistently and really reassuringly, is that our healthy species of microbes, specifically Lactobacillus and the bifidobacteria range of bacteria. These subspecies are included because they each have multiple numbers of subspecies below just within that genre of bacteria. It is just in their natural state of being in the mucus of your gut or exude a substance that heals the gut wall. It’s the best interest of the survival point of view for that bacteria to be able to continue to make the environment, which it lives to sustain itself. The bacteria enable the gut to be healthy by excreting a substance that keeps the tight junctions in place and feeds the cells in that epithelium. Consequently, they themselves have a safe and consistent place to live. You can put it this way, if I was only allowed to do one thing. It was fast or quercetin or L-glutamine or all these other things slippery (inaudible) or take high dose probiotics of Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. I would opt for the probiotics above all of the options on hand to heal leaky gut. Now that assumes if you’re eating consistently in each of those categories of the experiment. I think the bacteria are the most influential out of the groups of options that we have and that’s my feeling at the moment based on the science. What else is really interesting, I’ve had a number of people do microbiome samples and give me their results. I also have had one microbiome sample done and all of us are low on Lactobacillus.
Melissa – Yeah, it is interesting,
Clint – When I try and see this in the studies as well, it also shows up that it’s less common than what we expect as well. With this, I’d like to ask an expert on this. But I don’t think it’s terribly inconsistent of you to have low Lactobacillus and I don’t think it’s the plant-based diet as the cause. I just think it’s something else other than this. There’s something else that I do not quite understand what that is, but I’m glad you supplemented. I am glad that you think that it may have helped.
Melissa – Yeah, it may have helped. It’s one of those things were like, when you get the results and then you do something proactively to prevent it from happening again. There’s so much psychology to this process as well, isn’t there?
Clint – Yeah, it is. You build confidence in certain approaches. Even if you don’t know whether or not it’s that’s helping or not, the confidence that you get by thinking that it’s that actually helps you heal. It is because you feel like you’re getting better and you feel that you’ve got confidence in your therapy. With that, it probably does just as much as any of the things that you do. It’s a mind game and there’s no doubt about it. We’ve had a long conversation and we had a couple of other things to talk about and ine was cheating. With that, I want to sort of go over it briefly. We talked prior to this conversation and you were really honest with me. Then you said, sometimes I’m able to go out and I can have a meal at a restaurant, which that’s not as strict as what I do week to week. There is a little bit of oil and sometimes I eat off the program just a little bit, and I don’t have any consequences. With regards to that, I think that it shows how far you’ve come, you aren’t on the edge of health, you just had some buffer there.
Clint – I just wanted to share a study and anticipation for that section of our conversation just to warn people. I’ll do a full podcast on this episode, but I’ll just share my screen. You should be able to see that on the screen now. If anyone wants to navigate on the internet through this journal, you can Google the title Negative Effects of a High Fat Diet on Intestinal Permeability a review and this is a review paper. What these do is if someone sits down and spends weeks just looking at every single paper related to this particular topic. Then they compile a summary of all of the information they could find. Then, put it together in tables and say on this study, this study says, and so on. These are really helpful because it saves us from being caught up on a single study, which might be biased or it might be of a small sample size. For example, it might or it could be done on rodents. Anyways, these types of papers are really effective. This was from 2019 and what I love about this particular study. It basically lists approximately 9 reasons why a high-fat diet is awful for creating more intestinal permeability. I did highlight some of this and then I restarted my computer, so I don’t know whether or not my highlights are going to show up. Let’s have a look and If not I’m just going to read from the conclusions here. We’ve got one aspect of the conclusion or it is the take-home message as they put it colloquially. This review should bring greater awareness of the impacts of diet on intestinal physiology. Also, how this may contribute to the etiology of diseases. In addition to potentially providing an alternative supplement to treating existing GI pathologies and that wasn’t the sentence I needed. Here we discuss how dietary fats disrupt every aspect of the intestinal barrier system. Also, how this may manifest clinically. What they do is they have subheadings throughout and each subheading is in a different way. In which, the dietary fats associated with the high-fat diet negatively impacts all aspects of a healthy gut environment. One of my favorite topics oxidative stress and we just scrolled over mucus disrupts the intestinal epithelial shedding properly. There are just things that I can’t even pronounce. But it makes for very compelling evidence and if anyone wants to go through it, and you can check out that study. It’s hard to think that it’s a good idea to cheat often. If we can get away with it from time to time and that is good, but just be careful. I always come back to the life of PI, wherein we’re living with this wild animal. It’s taken you up, Melissa for 5 years to get to where you are today. It can be undone by stirring up that wild animal and it comes back. It comes back like it was born as a wild animal and it wants to tear you apart. With that, you can take a very long time to get it back under control again. If we’re going to poke the lion, just poke it a tiny little bit. Just don’t go poking it with a huge stick too often. Because it’ll be like, I’m sick of being tame and I want to go crazy again. Thanks for letting me go off to my little ranch there and I like my studies.
Clint – Thank you, Melissa! I really appreciate you coming on, sharing your story, inspiring us all, and showing us what’s possible. It’s like the four minute mile, right? The first time that Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile, no one thought that it was possible. They felt that it was impossible, right? For me when I read Dr. Mcdougall saying, he had patients who he had been able to get off his medications. Also, get rid of their joint pain back in 2007 when I read one of his books. I found online he’d had some testimonials and that for me was the four-minute Mile. I thought someone has actually gotten improvements against this disease. Then I thought, if they can do it and I can do it also. Now many years later, here we are having the conversation and you’re telling me that you’ve done the Four-Minute Mile. It just makes me very happy and it’s very inspiring. After these conversations, I always go and talk to my Melissa and tell her about how another person. This time it is about a lovely woman in Stockholm or in the other side of the world, who is having a better life and it’s just so good to hear.
Melissa – Thank you so much for all your wonderful work, Clint. I wouldn’t be sitting here if it weren’t for you.
Clint – Thank you, Melissa! Thank you for implementing it. It’s the implementation and coming back to our boxing metaphor. It’s making it your own and on all those modifications that you’ve made to make it work for you. For example, leaving your job, starting your own entrepreneurial efforts, and all these things were needed to make it work. You certainly have worked a lot of things out. and well done. You’ve got a group of people that you connect with during normal non-COVID times. Can you tell us about that?
Melissa – Yeah. Obviously, living this way or having this lifestyle is something that people take notice of. A lot of my friends are asking me, why don’t you start an Instagram account? Wherein, you can share your journey and inspire others? With that, I did make an Instagram account and the account is called healingyumyum. It’s not a lot of people, but a lot of Swedish people follow me. It’s like a community basically where we can connect and sometimes even meet up in person. But with the COVID situation, it is different. For me, it’s been tremendously wonderful. I mean, this is how I’ve met a lot of fantastic people. We are supporting each other and inspire each other along the way. Also, we are not just talking about RA because there are so many people that are suffering from weird symptoms or other autoimmune diseases. I mean, we’re living in a time, place, and world where taking your health for granted is not something easily done.
Clint – Exactly. We should head over and I’ll follow you as well over at healingyumyum over on Instagram. We’ll do follow you and we can keep in touch there. I look forward to seeing some updates and seeing some pictures. Also, maybe a shot of you sweating after pilates and who knows what we’re going to see?
Clint – Well, thanks once again.
Melissa – Thank you so much and take care.