Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Three years? Time flies

It's been three years since my last colonoscopy, and three years since my last post. Reading that post feels like reading a note in a time capsule; so much has changed since then. My wife and I bought and fixed up a house, had a baby, both had work changes (she moved schools, I got promoted) and have had some wonderful and trying times. Stress out the wazoo.

But one thing hasn't changed: I'm still symptom free. More on that in a bit.

Diet-wise the only hard rule left is "no gluten", which in pragmatic terms translates into "no regular, large starch piles". However, I do eat potatoes with regularity, and have ventured into the dark lands of gluten free pizza a few times (with predictable results). Overall, my diet remains centered around meat, eggs and cheese, with fruit (mostly "gross" bananas), vegetables and starchy tubers rounding it out.

One negative health event was scoring high cholesterol for a physical two years ago. 290 total, I forget the exact splits. At the time, I was chugging milk and yogurt, so I stopped. A year later I was down to 204 and had an extremely positive Boston Heart panel. High HDL, the right LDL pattern, etc. The cardiologist was a little stunned by the turnaround and mentioned that it takes most people years to pull that off. Most people probably aren't drinking that much milk. I guess my phenotype doesn't respond well to a sustained dairy onslaught. Oh well. I've been making up the calories with a shake made from protein powder, super-ripe bananas and peanut butter, with no negative side effects.

On to the colonoscopy.

I switched gastros to one who had a facility a little closer to my new house. The prep they gave me was astonishingly inoffensive (suprep). I recall gagging and being almost unable to finish a similar prep (fleet phosphosoda or something like that), but this one was so mild it was no big deal. Only complaint about the procedure itself was that instead of giving me the relaxant a few minutes ahead of time, they just knocked me out - come on guys, I crapped my brains out for twelve hours, I think I deserve a little legal high time.

Woke up and the doctor told me everything looked fine. No polyps, no inflammation, no visual signs of disease. Come back in two weeks for follow up.

When I went to my follow up appointment, he said that I didn't look like I had Crohn's. He had me go through my history just to make sure that my diagnosis seemed sound, and I don't think there's any doubt that I do in fact have the disease. He said that it's so thoroughly in remission it's hard to tell. All of my biopsies were unremarkable except one which showed some signs of old inflammation, which wouldn't be enough to diagnose the disease if I was a brand new patient.

He grilled me about my diet for a bit and said that he's seen a few people like me, all with their own random diet stories. It's not possible to say if I actually induced remission with my year on meat, or just had a random remission start at the same time, but he said that given the individual nature of the disease and our lack of understanding of the microbiome, anything's possible. Maybe in ten or twenty years, we'll be able to sample your gut and say, "Eat like this and you'll be fine." The science just isn't there yet.

He said that given my results I probably shouldn't bother coming in for another colonoscopy unless I had symptoms, but he's obligated to recommend a follow up given that I have a history. Keep doing what I'm doing, and call him if anything changes, but otherwise my colon looks like any other 32 year old colon. Not bad.

So, maybe in another three years I'll go get scoped again. We'll see. For now, though, I'm fine.

Eight years ago I decided to eat nothing but meat for a year. Now I have a perfectly normal colon. If those two events are indeed correlated, and someone could figure out exactly how, a whole lot of people would be able to find relief from a terrible disease. I hope that in twenty years, I'll be able to shutter this blog with a post saying, "They figured it out, go eat X and Y." But for now, it's all up to you to find the diet that works best. My approach might not work for you, but I'm betting there is an approach that will. Don't give up!


  1. "The cardiologist was a little stunned by the turnaround and mentioned that it takes most people years to pull that off." You might find this of particular interest: https://proteinpower.com/drmike/2017/07/25/how-to-lower-your-cholesterol/

    Cheers, Amber

  2. Great blog. I only just discovered it via someone's post. I've also been ZC for about a year now, and it was a life saver from UC. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. Like your story. made aware of your post from Principiacarnivora Web site. I am presently on Humira for Crohn's and AS. So far 6 months ZC (or almost)... Thanks for sharing

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. I've been suffering with daily IBS-D symptoms for 20 years (though I never had a colonoscopy to confirm it wasn't something worse).

    I've been doing SCD (which you showed some interest in) for 1 year and it has helped a lot. I now only have diarrhea about once a week instead of multiple times daily. My diet has tended to get most of my calories from fatty meat. It is difficult to correlate symptoms to food, but it seems to be various plant material that leads to horrible gas and sometimes diarrhea.

    I don't know if the overall improvement has been because of microbiome changes (as per SCD theory) or just certain food triggers.

    In any case, your experience is very inspiring - especially that you were able to reintroduce plant foods after a year. Reading through your experience was very inspiring. I guess a year isn't really that long (out of a lifetime) to experiment with a major life-improving change.

    I plan to attempt a 3-month to 1-year experiment to see if it works, though I don't have a theory as solid as yours (other than hoping maybe it could give sufficient space to heal 20 years of gut damage and reduce unknown bad bacteria). I hope to successfully reintroduce plant foods at the end, though I see no reason not to eat a predominately meat diet forever.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. It sounds like, with your gut healed, you're able to eat whole healthy foods (meat, fruits, veggies, even potatoes) but still have to avoid most processed foods. That's pretty awesome it was enough to maintain remission and that even the occasional "cheat" didn't damage your gut/biome enough to cause major issues.

    You're not too dissimilar from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, and I believe Elaine permitted one to start doing "non SCD" foods after a year or two of healing. Technically a "meat only diet" is within the SCD framework too.

    I've been reading a lot about the damage caused by glysophate (highly present in the "evil" gluten/wheat foods) and it almost sounds possible the glysophate damages the gut to permit gluten to enter and set off the auto-immune response. Maybe meat-only allowed your gut the space to have nothing to react negatively too and close up to allow a permanent change. So awesome you kept this blog up all these years.

  6. I’m just starting and have tried everything for my UC for 6 years. Really hopeful!

  7. This is simply brilliant, and it should be read side by side with a post by someone who went into remission with a vegan diet. The simple lesson being that everyone is different and Crohn's is complicated. We are in the infancy of our knowledge of the possibly multiple causal and risk factors, the nature of the gut biome, and the inflammatory process. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  9. Hi! You've been inspiration for me. Such diet helped me tremendously. But I've noticed if I don't cook my meat enough leaving raw blood in it symptoms come back.
    The question: how do you cook meat and how did you cook it when you started?

    1. I cooked it rare or medium rare. Not blood-rare usually, although I did try to eat a few raw steaks over the course of the year, just to see what happened. I didn't notice any symptoms relating to how cooked the meat is, so I'm not much help there, sorry!

  10. Hi! I've some new questions if you don't mind)
    Do/did you use any probiotics? Do you salt food? Do you take any supplements like vitamin D?
    Do you try to get more fat/measure ketones?
    I am sorry for so many questions and thank you.

    1. 1. I tried probiotics in 2003/2004, but saw no difference in symptoms. Makes sense, because I didn't change my diet. The gut microbiome is very resilient.

      2. Salt, yep! Just to taste, and probably not all that much.

      3. Yes. Over the past 5 or so years I've taken vitamin D and over the past year or so I've experimented with K2. No noticeable differences in health.

      4. I don't measure ketones since ketosis isn't a goal of mine. If I want to lose weight, I make sure to stay low carb and measure my overall calorie intake until I can dial in portion sizes.

  11. Randomly came across your blog from a reddit link about leaky guy ;-)

    My story is similar to yours, but without the Crohns and digestion issues. I tested negative for Crohns using DNA testing. Not sure if that is valid though. I have no belly aches or poop issues ;-) Only some bloating from plant based food.

    Suffered from severe chronic fatigue syndrome for 14 years. Went on a diet of red meat and 3 bananas a day for a month, and started to get better. I just could not do 100% meat (and I love meat), so I chose one carb to avoid ketosis. After several more weeks all my symptoms were gone.

    Slowly tried introducing one food item at a time back into my diet after 6 months, and paid the price. Extreme fatigue, body aches, arthritis, old injuries would suddenly hurt again, etc.

    I can only eat red meat, bananas, avocado, coffee and coconut oil it seems. Im trying some potatoes now. Trying to expand my plate, but it seems everything fails. Cant eat any grains, eggs or dairy at all. Oatmeal kills me in just a few hours.

    The whole N=1 makes its so incredibly hard to decipher what is happening. But there is no doubt this is triggered by food. Ive gone from feeling super human on 100% meat+bananas, to in bed and debilitated, so many times now, its statistically significant.

    Now im starting to wonder if trying to force myself to be an omnivore is a good idea at all. Are we really sick?? Or are we simply humans near the tail end of the bell curve? There is no doubt in my mind that the human bell curve is incredibly wide.

    Maybe having issues with grains, veggies, and non-meat items is perfectly normal?? Maybe we are like the Fox, technically an omnivore, but only in a pinch as an evolutionary advantage? But we're optimized to eat mostly meat???

    This new isotope analysis method has recently shown (2019 reports) that neandrathals and early homo sapiens we're nearly carnivores.

    Maybe we should stop trying to force other food items and simply listen to our bodies? Could being 90-100% carnivore actually be perfectly normal for a human? Or even optimal??? My blood tests have never been better. My colonoscopy was so pristine, they told me not to come back for a decade. I feel super human when running on 90-95%+ meat.

    Just one article on this subject. I have read most of them that go into details about early homo sapiens. They scored as more carnivorous than the neadrthals! Food for thought.


  12. Hi I was wondering about your experience with milk and acne. Does it apply to cheese as well? And has it resolved? I want to go low starch but want to gain weight.
    Thanks so much