Episode 43: Never Too Late! Healing Diets Over Age 60

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Reclaiming Health At Any Age

One of the tragedies of modern life is the belief that health is meant to decline as we age, and there’s nothing we can do about it. On today’s show, I have 3 guests proving otherwise. They all transitioned to a healing diet after the age of 60 and saw a dramatic improvement in their health. They hope to inspire others in their age group (or any age) to do the same!

Listen to the Show

Show Notes

  • Intro (0:00)
  • Thank You to our Podcast Sponsor – Paleo on the Go (1:11)
    • A frozen meal delivery service, they have a large menu of items for the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP).
    • Use the code PHOENIX for 10% off your first order.
  • Meet Gail Grasso (2:44)
    • Gail is 62 years old and went paleo to address arthritis and asthma. When her health was at its worst, she suffered from pain in her hands constantly, struggled to breathe on a daily basis, and felt exhausted all the time.
    • After 2 weeks on the paleo autoimmune protocol, her hand pain completely disappeared. Her energy slowly returned until she felt she had energy to burn. And her asthma went into remission – she no longer needs medication. She’s also not as sensitive to fragrance as she was in the past. As an added bonus, she lost 67 pounds.
    • Comparing the challenges and the benefits to starting a healing diet later in life: (1) The same stubbornness that makes you set in your ways can also inspire you to change. (2) She’s unaffected by other people’s opinions now. Peer pressure matters less when you’re older. (3) She didn’t have the energy to batch cook in the beginning, so she had to pace herself one meal at a time.
    • Her husband thought she was crazy at first, but when he saw the results he became 100% supportive. She has also inspired one of her friends to go AIP for rheumatoid arthritis. She gave her a copy of my book: A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol.
    • Gail was recently in a car accident and she’s temporarily in a wheelchair as her foot heals. She could have used that as an excuse to go off-diet, but she doesn’t want to go back to the pain, asthma and exhaustion she felt before. Here are some of the ways she adapted cooking to the wheelchair: (1) She uses the oven more than the stovetop now because it’s easier to reach. (2) She has a rolling cart where she’s put her appliances and a cutting board, so they are within reach from the wheelchair. (3) She has a small stool in the kitchen that she can sit on for short periods of time when she needs to reach something higher. (4) To make life a little easier, she’s buying her bone broth. Bonafide Provisions is a high-quality AIP-friendly brand.
    • The AIP is about lifestyle as well as diet. Gail focuses on sleep and sets herself a bedtime, getting 1-2 hours more sleep than she has in the past.
  • Meet Margaret Wendell (18:45)
    • Margaret is 69 years old and has suspected celiac disease. At age 22, she got mononucleosis and never fully recovered. For the next 30 years, she suffered from brain fog, chronic fatigue and debilitating migraines. Age age 54, she tried the Eat Right for Your Blood Type Diet with dramatically negative results. Her blood type is AB- , which recommends less meat and more grains (and gluten is allowed). She quickly developed anxiety so severe that she chose to remove all grains from her diet in response. Not only did the anxiety disappear, but so did all of the other symptoms she had suffered from for 30 years. So, while the blood type diet isn’t scientifically sound, the blessing in disguise was that her negative results led her to realize her health problems were food-based. After that, she experimented with a raw vegan diet, and the resulting low nutrient density combined with a high-stress job resulted in new symptoms – peripheral neuropathy in her arms so severe that she was in constant, burning pain. She couldn’t lift her arms above elbow height, couldn’t hug her grandchildren and couldn’t sleep more than an hour at a time. She was also on high doses of painkillers daily. In January 2016, she switched to the paleo autoimmune protocol. The burning sensation in her arms disappeared. She now has full range of motion and strength, with no need for painkillers, and her sleep is much improved. Her success led her to research the wide-ranging symptoms that are associated with celiac disease. She isn’t willing to do a gluten challenge, so can’t confirm she has it, but her body certainly responds very negatively to gluten, and does best on a paleo autoimmune diet. If you’d like to know more about celiac disease diagnosis, listen to Episode 32.
    • Comparing the challenges and benefits to starting a healing diet later in life: (1) You need to have an open mind, no matter what your age. (2) She already had strong home cooking skills, which are more common with her generation. She  just need to find new recipes. (3) As a retiree, she had time to do the research, to learn the protocol and to develop new recipes. Even then, it was overwhelming switching from vegan to paleo, but that’s true at any age. The weekly AIP Recipe Roundtable is very helpful with that transition.
    • Her husband and children have seen the dramatic improvements in her health and are therefore 100% supportive. Some of her friends don’t understand why she doesn’t want to go out to restaurants the way she used to, which can be frustrating. Resource: How To Get the Support of Family and Friends.
    • Margaret is the woman behind the former blog, Food to Heal Ourselves.
  • Meet Sunny Mills  (41:03)
    • Sunny is 76 years old and has Multiple Autoimmune Syndrome, including Hashimoto’s, celiac, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and polymalgia rheumatica (PMR). At her worst, her joints were so sore she couldn’t lift a teacup, take a shower or even comb her hair. She needed a riser chair to get off the toilet, and the IBD was causing diarrhea 18 times daily. She was going to the doctor twice/week, and she was exhausted. This low point occurred after following her naturopath’s advice to go off the paleo diet and follow a vegetarian diet instead. 6 months on a grain and legume-based vegetarian diet resulted in the worst autoimmune flare she ever experienced. After switching doctors and returning to the paleo autoimmune protocol, combined with low-dose naltrexone, her symptoms improved dramatically. Her energy has slowly returned. Her joint pain has disappeared. She only goes to the doctor occasionally now. And her IBD is improving.
    • She keeps a symptom journal to mark her improvements, so if she feels discouraged that she’s not 100% better, she can look back and see her progress.
    • She also focuses on the mindbody piece and was inspired by my podcast interview with Donna Jackson Nakazawa. Sunny has found the following books very helpful: The Last Best Cure, Childhood Disrupted, How to Be Sick, How to Wake Up, and Chronic Resilience.
    • Comparing the challenges and benefits to starting a healing diet later in life: (1) She had 50 years of routine to overcome. (2) She lives in a retirement residence with a dining hall, and unfortunately she’s learned through experience that if she eats there, she always gets gluten-ed. Even though they advertise a gluten-free option and she has tried to educate them, they don’t understand cross-contamination. Therefore, she needs to cook in her apartment instead. (3) She was accustomed to using food as comfort and had to find other ways to comfort herself. Now, she likes adult coloring books, knitting and going for walks. (4) On the plus side, it wasn’t until she was in her 70’s that she felt empowered enough to believe she could change her health and her life. Prior to that, she felt like a victim. She doesn’t feel like a victim any more.
    • Her family is very supportive. Her daughter had ulcerative colitis which she reversed through a combination of SCD/GAPS and Paleo. She was the one who recommended food as medicine to Sunny 5 years ago. Sunny’s other daughter is vegetarian but is supportive of Sunny doing whatever diet makes her feel her best. She also helped Sunny learn about fecal microbiota transplants a few years ago when a C.difficile infection wasn’t responding to antibiotics. And finally, Sunny’s husband is very supportive as well. They’ve been married for 53 years.
    • Her advice to anyone considering a healing diet? It’s never too late, and it’s worth it!
  • Outro (1:01:49)

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