Friday, July 30, 2010

In a nutshell: My raw food journey

July 29th, 2010
Burlington, VT

Bon jour!

Greetings from Burlington, VT. I love this town. I'm writing from the City Market Onion-River Food Co-op.
82 South Winooski Ave.
Burlington, VT 05401

Great stuff here. They've got locally-brewed kombucha on tap (a real steal at only $2.69 per lb!)... awesome organic and local produce selection...
...affordable salad bar at $6.49/lb...
...and nice folks all around. I am currently savoring a salad I threw together in their cafe/seating area, which includes some ingredients from their produce section: local organic baby beet greens, local organic sunflower sprouts, organic yellow onion, local fresh sliced okra, Flack Family Farm organic cultured raw vegetables (best cultured veggies ever!), dried dill weed, organic apple cider vinegar, organic tahini, kelp powder, and black pepper. Yummmmmm. Yum, yum, yum. 
And my stainless steel water bottle is filled with local ginger kombucha provided by Aqua Vitea Kombucha. I couldn't be happier. 
I recently decided to start keeping a daily log of our explorations abroad so I could more easily remember what we do day-to-day, rather than base my blog entries solely on the photos I've collected along the way (and my horrible, horrible memory). 

When I sat down yesterday to begin catching up on the past few days we spent traveling out of Canada, I started writing and I couldn't stop. Not because our visit to Quebec was anything short of spectacular, but because I went off on a tangent talking about my current food preferences, my diet of choice, and the problems I've dealt with and am dealing with as a raw foodist. I feel like the material I've explained in the following paragraphs is appropriate to post immediately rather than withholding it until I finally get around to posting the entries of all the towns/cities/countries we've visited between Texas and Quebec. I hope you find this information helpful and insightful.


I'm writing today to bring you all up-to-date on my current health issues. Part of the reason why I'm keeping a blog, is to share my experiences with others so that if you've recently taken the plunge into the world of raw, are only interested in getting your feet wet, or have been going at it for a long time, but still aren't quite getting the results you've heard so much about (e.g. "the raw glow", increased energy, optimum health, vibrancy, better digestion, longevity, increased athletic performance, weight loss/gain, etc), you will be better equipped to navigate the potentially treacherous waters that lie ahead. It's not all smooth sailing all of the time and raw foodism, while extremely beneficial and life-enhancing in many cases, is not the end-all answer for everybody. Health issues come up, life issues come up, stress is a huge factor, internal imbalances - these all need to be addressed when you are left floundering in the middle of the ocean with no lifejacket. Allow me to throw you some floaties. 

My raw journey began back in August 2008. I was living in Los Angeles working a 9 AM - 6 PM music industry job at a band management company called 10th Street Entertainment. I had already been vegan for several months and I had experimented with various forms of vegetarian (pescetarian/lacto-ovo/vegan/ayurvedic) diets for 15 years prior to that. Nutrition, fitness, and overall health and wellness has always been a part of my life and a passionate hobby of mine. Why I went to music school instead of pursuing a job in the health field is still a question I'm trying to answer. (It was not in vain, Mom and Dad)

My greatest health concerns at that time had to do with my immune system and premature aging. I felt very weak, malnourished, and frequently came down with sore throats and coughs/colds. At one point I got the flu twice in one month! One day I looked in the mirror and didn't recognize myself. I was pale, dry, and sickly. I didn't think I would have to worry about wrinkles until my 30s. I was only 23. Did I really have to resort to botox at this age?  

I knew I was doing something wrong and considered adding fish and dairy back into my diet in hopes of boosting my immune system. However, I was aware that I didn't digest dairy very well and the idea of eating fish all the time didn't appeal to me either. Besides that, supporting the dairy industry went against my morals of being vegan in the first place. I was at a loss.

Fortunately for me, I was in the presence of wisdom. My roommate at the time had a friend who was a nutritionist specializing in the raw food diet. I asked her what she would recommend to help boost my immune system. She suggested a few things - a B12 supplement, avoiding tofu and other processed foods like bagels, and she mentioned the concept of food combining. She also told me about a book by David Wolfe called The Sunfood Diet Success System. This book has become my bible. It has completely changed my life. I've since read it front to back several times over and it's in the van right now just in case I need a little inspiration. Therein began my raw food journey.

When I started out, I transitioned slowly. I increased the amount of raw foods I consumed and gradually weaned myself off of cooked food. It was a very natural process; I didn't feel any pressure or restriction or like I was forcing myself off of cooked food. There was really no sense of deprivation either. It was a choice I was making for myself and my body naturally started craving and preferring raw foods over cooked. 

I'd begin the day with a green smoothie in the morning, a salad for lunch with a couple of pieces of Ezekiel sprouted-grain bread, and a burrito with black beans and fresh vegetables or some type of vegan cooked-food dinner. Eventually, my smoothies got larger, my salads got bigger, and the sprouted grain bread went form two slices to one slice to raw flax and sprouted-seed crackers. I ate energy bars labeled "raw" like lara bars and Organic Food Bars

I remember about a month after I started consciously eating more raw foods, I had this urge to clean out my closet. I went through and took out the clothes I didn't wear, got rid of things I didn't use or need. I felt that my living space needed a detox, a de-cluttering, a cleanse. I also had a moment of clarity one afternoon at work. I was outside on my break, the sun was setting (it was winter and it got dark around 4 PM). I asked myself why I was there, living in LA. I was working as a receptionist at the time. I thought to myself - I could be a receptionist anywhere. I wanted to write music. I wasn't writing music anymore and I wasn't particularly happy with where I was in my life and where it was going in the foreseeable future. Call it a quarter-life crisis. Call it depression. Call it what you will. I decided to leave.

Two months later, I moved out of my apartment. I studied at the Living Light Culinary Institute in Fort Bragg, CA, which specializes in raw vegan, gourmet cuisine (read more about my experience at Living Light here). My one cooked meal a day turned into a raw gourmet dinner - spiralized zucchini/carrot/beet pasta with raw spaghetti sauce or an almond-based alfredo sauce, collard wraps with zucchini hummus, sprouts, avocado, and other vegetables; raw nachos with cashew cheese and raw corn chips; raw lasagna, and maybe a raw dessert of raw carrot cake or cashew cheesecake with cherries or raw goji-cacao treats. Soon I was eating nearly 100% raw every day. My mindset went something like "as long as it's considered 'raw', it's good for me". I started feeling more in tune with my body and my environment. I felt spiritual for the first time in my life. I felt like I could pick up on people's energies more easily. I felt like I had more control over how I viewed the world. I felt more calm and stable and grounded than ever before. And I was 10 lbs lighter! It was an amazing transformation.

So after nine months of living with this mentality and feeling great, I finally hit a plateau. I couldn't figure out what was going on. Suddenly, I didn't have as much energy. I was having digestive issues. I was gassy and bloated and constantly hungry. I had unexplained emotional ups and downs; mild anxiety, depression, and irritability. The raw diet didn't seem to be giving me the results I had heard so much about on the websites, books, and resources I'd been buried in since September 2008. I believed (or desperately wanted to believe) in the raw lifestyle because intuitively it made sense. Why wouldn't raw foods be the ultimate food for human consumption? It's as clean as you can get - unprocessed, unadulterated, high-vibrational foods bursting with enzymes, vitamins, and nutrients. I knew my body was trying to tell my something, but I didn't know what and I didn't know where to go to figure it out. By this time I was living in Portland, Oregon.

It took me about a year to come to any conclusions. I read books, I asked questions on forums, I troubleshot and experimented with different foods. In the process, I tried several different version of the raw diet: The Raw Revolution gourmet raw diet (Cherie Seroria), the Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine (Gabriel Cousens), and the 80-10-10 low fat, raw vegan lifestyle (Douglas Graham). None of them worked for me in the long run. I also went through two months of cleansing and juice fasting with the help of the book Juicing, Fasting, and Detoxing For Life by Cherie Calbom. That experience is a - let me abbreviate: Yet Another Blog post (YABpo) - in itself, but here's the short of it:

I read through the book Juicing, Fasting, and Detoxing For Life back in September 2009 and based on my symptoms, I decided that my organs needed a makeover.
Juicing, Fasting, and Detoxing for Life: Unleash the Healing Power of Fresh Juices and Cleansing Diets
This book contains juice fasts for all your major organs - kidneys, liver, gallbladder, colon, thyroid as well as acidic conditions like candida. It comes complete with menus, recipes, and easy-to-read explanations. I started at the beginning with the intention of doing cleanse after cleanse after cleanse working my way through the book in its entirety. 

I began with a preliminary three-day juice fast to get my body primed. A week later I did a seven-day colon cleanse, which entailed juices, smoothies, and a colon cleansing "shake" of various powders - charcoal, ground flax seed, and psyllium husk among other ingredients. My detox symptoms included sinus congestion, nasal drip as well as a 24-hour, low-grade fever of 99ºF-100ºF. Then two weeks after that I started a 15-day liver cleanse of vegetable juices, smoothies, a blended soup of steamed vegetables, and herbal supplements like milk thistle. During the liver cleanse, I had experienced more sinus issues, lethargy, mood swings, and cravings. At the end of the liver cleanse there was an optional gallbladder flush in which you drink vegetable juice in the morning, water all afternoon, and then at night you drink a concoction of warm apple juice and olive oil. If all goes well, the next morning you should release gallstones or "sand" in your urine. 

The day following the gallbladder flush, I came down with a 104ºF fever that lasted four days. I had no symptoms of the flu - I wasn't achy, I didn't have a cold or a cough, no congestion. I was just extremely hot with a severe headache. I remember Evan going out to buy a thermometer and when I finally took my temperature, I was astonished that it was over 103ºF. I didn't feel that sick. I still had an appetite and a sense of humor - I was smiling and laughing and eating bananas. I remember thinking that maybe the thermometer was broken so he actually went out and bought another one just to confirm, but sure enough it came up with the same results. My body was cookin'. 

I went to the naturopath and she basically called my condition a "toxic fever" resulting from the massive influx of toxins in my bloodstream. Your liver is your primary processing plant for toxins and they build up over time if you don't allow it to cleanse and detox. Anything from pesticide sprays, pollution, mercury, alcohol, and other toxins get filtered through the liver. The naturopath told me to stop juice fasting immediately and to wait until the spring - the best time of year to cleanse your liver - to continue any type of fast. The whole ordeal with my liver pretty much deterred me from attempting any other cleanse for a long time. In fact, the next time I did a liquid fast or detox was eight months later in Hanover, NH when I completed a seven-day Master Cleanse (more on that in a future post).

If I couldn't actively cleanse my organs, I looked for other ways to deal with my less-than-optimal health. Essentially, I've deduced or self-diagnosed (Evan thinks I'm a hypochondriac and he's probably right) that I suffer from candida. Now, let me be frank here, this is not because my cooter itches and smells like fish with a cottage cheese-like discharge. No, sir. I have none of those symptoms. This is candida, an overgrowth of "bad" bacteria (yeast) that lives in my gut and possibly my bloodstream spreading to other areas of my body. This candida is concentrated in my intestinal tract and it's feeding off the sugars I ingest. It's crowding out the good, micro-flora and beneficial bacteria, in turn, making it more difficult for my body to digest and absorb the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals it needs in order to function optimally (I say this while I'm snacking on a non-raw, nut and carob "energy" bar - Nobody's perfect). 

Through my friends on the raw food site,, I was turned on to the Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine method of eating as taught by Gabriel Cousens. He founded the Tree of Life Rejuvination Center in Patagonia, AZ that Evan and I visited back in March 2010 (See more about our experience at the Tree of Life here). I experimented with the Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine in January, which is based on principles of low-to-no fruit sugar of any kind, high fat with plenty of nuts, seeds, vegetables, leafy greens, and coconut products. I felt incredibly sluggish and lethargic on this diet from all the fat, which, in retrospect may have been a reaction to the candida die-off. I only continued on it for 30 days. 

In the meantime, I was reading the book 80-10-10 by Douglas Graham, the antithesis to the Gabriel Cousens teachings. Considering the way I was feeling on Cousen's approach, 80-10-10 seemed like the better option.
The 80/10/10 DietWith travels to Mexico in the near future, this diet seemed even more appealing. 80-10-10 is based on the principles of 80% carbohydrate (high fruit), 10% fat (low fat), and 10% protein. Basically, you should be eating a ton of fruit and greens and very little nuts and seeds, while also limiting high-fat fruits like avocados, coconuts, and olives (all oils are off-limits). I will admit, this diet made me feel the best out of all of them. Being in Mexico with the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables allowed this diet to be extremely easy and inexpensive, too, so it worked well for me the six weeks I was there. All the fruit sugar kept my energy high and my mind clear.

For the past several months I have continued with this way of eating. While I did notice a decrease in bloating when and only when I kept my fat very low on 80-10-10 (it was hard to avoid the avocados and coconuts), I experienced tooth & gum sensitivity, cravings for fatty foods and cooked foods, and an underlying feeling that I wasn't quite doing it right.
*Note: Doug Graham says this diet is not ideal for people with weak adrenals and/or thyroid issues.

Perhaps, these symptoms (bloating, tooth sensitivity, cravings) were simply a result of all the fruit sugar I was consuming or, perhaps, it was due to the fact that I was not keeping the fat low enough on most days to really thrive on this low-fat, raw-vegan lifestyle (learn more about 80-10-10 here). Either way, I was feeling like I needed to try something else. 

I had suspicions that maybe my thyroid was impaired. I had read that your thyroid needs iodine to function properly. I avoid iodized table salt for the most part and aside from some dulse flakes and other forms of sea vegetables here and there on occasion, I wasn't getting any iodine in my diet. Your thyroid is important in regulating metabolism and hormonal balance. I have gained weight over the past 12 months and I feel like hypothyroidism could be playing a role in that. It's not that I think I weigh too much, let me be clear. The trouble is that I feel puffy, bloated, and uncomfortable. And without much salt intake it is difficult for me to put my finger on exactly what is causing this discomfort.

Nourishing my thyroid became a priority before I was even sure there was a problem. I began eating more seaweed, kelp powder, parsley, chard, apricots, maca, and tahini while avoiding cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage because they are goitrogenicGoitrogenic foods impair thyroid function especially in people with hypothyroidism. Some experts believe the goitrogens are subdued or eliminated when these foods are cooked, but I'm not sure if that's proven, yet. Other goitrogenic foods include kale, unfermented soy products like tofu, and also some fruits like peaches. 

Seeking a change from the 80-10-10 lifestyle and running on the assumption that my thyroid function was failing, I added in foods that would help support my thyroid  while slowly filtering out sweet fruits to transition back to a lower fruit sugar, higher fat way of eating. I began eliminating the sweetest fruits from my diet first - dried fruits like figs and dates and then bananas, which for a long period of time were the staple of my diet. I would eat upwards of 10 bananas a day and sometimes more. Of course I had cravings when I made the switch initially, but I tried to transition slowly by replacing the dried fruits and bananas with less carbohydrate-dense fruits like berries, apples, and cherries. Even with these replacement foods, I felt like crap coming down from all that sugar - light-headedness, brain fog, lethargy, and drowsiness were some of the side-effects I experienced. These symptoms continued for a few days until I finally got a bit of my clarity back. I upped my fat-intake during this time as well by including more nuts and seeds, nut and seed butters, coconut oil, and this amazingly rich treat I created - Chia Seed Porridge. If you don't know about the omega 3-packed chia seed superfood, learn more about them here.  
1/4 cup chia seeds
1.5 (or more) cups water 
1 tblsp tahini
1 tblsp coconut butter
and optional - a few drops of stevia 
Instructions: Let chia seeds soak in water for at least 10 minutes before mixing in the other ingredients. 

In fact, I probably went a little overboard (or a lot overboard) on my fat intake, but that's just the way it goes for me. I gave myself a little breathing room to explore and I conquered the entire bulk bin aisle - brazil nuts by the handful, sunflower seeds, tahini, almond butter. I really let myself go. The bloating dissipated, however, which was one of my main reasons for making this change. Additionally, I started to get into an exercise routine jogging every day and doing lunges, squats, sit-ups, push-ups, and inversions. It should be noted, too, that I did notice an increase in acne, which I attributed to the dramatic change in fat intake. And I have found that when I eat meals higher in fat, I immediately want to take a nap. Instead of a catnap, I call it my "fatnap".

As of late, my diet has looked something like this: I've been eating a lot of apples, cherries, and berries for breakfast and lunch. I snack on celery sticks with almond butter or other nut/seed butters. Dinner is a big salad with greens, vegetables, apple cider vinegar, tahini, seaweeds and/or dulse flakes and kelp powder. I ran out of my Vitamineral Green powder over a month ago (a good source of iodine from the inclusion of seaweeds and algaes) and recently bought some Hawaiian spirulina that I've been mixing with unsweetened almond or rice milk on a daily basis. The blender broke awhile back, too, so I haven't been getting my green smoothies.This has lead me to feel a bit malnourished lately. I'm missing my greens!

My health is failing and I'm still not sure what's wrong. It could be my thyroid. It could be a parasite of some kind. It could be that I am just not exercising enough. But above all, I'm convinced that the problem lies in my gut: candida.

What lead me to this conclusion began months ago - about 12 months ago as you've been learning in the aforementioned recap. Basically, I have been experiencing all or several of these symptoms on a daily basis for the past year:

- I wake up bloated and heavy
- It doesn't matter what  or when I eat, I feel bloated. Even now that I'm conscious of proper food-combining (YABpo), I eat a banana, I feel bloated. I eat a salad, I feel  bloated. I eat a green smoothie, I feel bloated. I eat nuts, I feel bloated. I eat an apple, I feel bloated. It doesn't matter if I'm low-fat, high-fat, low-carb, high-carb, fruitarian or otherwise - When I eat, I get bloated. 
- I'm always hungry. I eat and eat and eat, but I still don't feel satiated even when my stomach is full. 
- I have acne/breakouts (this started soon after I went raw and hasn't stopped since)
- I have to pee ALL THE TIME - frequent urination (This is especially noticeable when you live in a van without a toilet)
- Unexplained irritability and mood swings after I eat or when I go too long without food.
- Unexplained weight gain (I thought this was impossible on a raw food diet. Not so).
- My memory is awful. I can't remember what I did last night, much less where we were last week.
- Dehydration! I experience dry "cottonmouth" regardless of how much water I drink.
- Cold hands and feet even when it's warm outside

There are probably other symptoms that I'm forgetting, but basically I don't feel at all awesome most of the time, which is what I thought a raw food diet was all about - feeling awesome and healthy and full of energy.

So how do I know for sure that I am suffering from candida and not something else? I don't. But I did take a test, a questionnaire that uses a point-system to rank the likelihood of a candida overgrowth. (Note: A certain amount of candida in your gut is normal and healthy, but you're looking for a balance of good bacteria to "bad" bacteria that's why I put "bad" in quotation marks. You need a balance). 

You can find that test here.

I scored a grand total of 209, soaring well above their projected 180-point ceiling that "yeast-connected health problems are almost certainly present".

This brings me to my newest endeavor: the Body Ecology Diet. This is a diet based around the premise of intestinal health - getting your digestion in tact so you can absorb foods for optimal nutrition and well-being. You do this by flooding the system with probiotics in the form of cultured vegetableskefirsmiso paste, and yogurt (or coconut yogurt in my case). Probiotics are the good bacteria, which literally means "pro-life", the opposite of antibiotics "anti-life". The Body Ecology Diet includes sour fruits (like berries, pomegranate, grapefruit, lemons/limes), fresh non-cruciferous vegetables (unless the cruciferous vegetables are fermented - think: sauerkraut and kim chi), and alkalizing grain-like seeds (quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and millet). I have been dabbling with this diet for the past few days and I've already noticed a difference. For example, I ate a granny smith apple this morning (the sour green apples often used in pies) and it tasted surprisingly sweet! Usually those apples are very tart and sour tasting in comparison to the sweet fruits I have opted for in the past. I'm less bloated as well and I find that I finally feel satiated and eat less frequently (3 meals a day versus snacking all day long). I also noticed today that I didn't feel that crash after eating my meals (and they were high-fat meals with tahini, and other nuts and seeds) This is a very exciting discovery.

I haven't yet read the The Body Ecology Diet book by Donna Gates, but I've put my order in at Waucoma Bookstore (owned and operated by my brother and sister-in-law, Muir and Jenny :) I should be picking it up in Detroit next week where I will be spending a few days with my folks, my grandma, and my mom's side of the family. 

I plan to officially begin this diet in the fall or winter months when local fruits are unavailable and my body will be craving those cooked grain-like seeds, steamed veggies, and soups. The Body Ecology method of eating is a great way to nourish the kidneys, adrenals, and thyroid, which I have suspected have been out of whack since I began investigating my symptoms last summer. This suspicion was confirmed when I went to the naturopath complaining of kidney pain earlier this month in PEI (Prince Edward Island, Canada). You'll hear more about this in a future blog post. She told me my adrenals were weak and that I have poor circulation (cold hands and feet), which negatively affects the thyroid and kidneys.

I've since made it a point to eat foods and herbs that will nourish my kidneys, adrenals, and thyroid. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, sugar, processed foods, meat and dairy is also recommended, but I do a good job of avoiding these foods already. One of the biggest factors in adrenal fatigue is stress. I could eat all the alkalizing foods and herbs in the world and stress would still prevail by creating an overall acidic environment in the body. An overly acidic environment in the body, also known as acidosis, leads to dis-ease. The body's acid-alkaline balance is a YABpo (yet Another Blog post) that I will elaborate on someday in the future, but here's the condensed version:

Your blood is slightly alkaline and needs to stay between a pH of 7.35 and 7.45 in order for you to exist in the world (stay alive). The more acidic your body is, the harder your body has to work to keep it alkaline. The harder your body works to keep it alkaline, the more free radicals get released and the more compromised your immune system becomes. 

Things like meat, pasteurized dairy products, processed foods, sugar, cooked grains, most nuts (except raw almonds), and stress are acidifying to the body. In order to counteract the acidic environment, your system seeks out alkaline minerals to help bring it back to center. For example, it takes calcium from your bones and teeth. This is why so many people deal with osteoperosis as they age. The body has been depleting calcium from the bones for years in order to keep the blood pH between that narrow range of alkalinity. And don't assume your calcium supplements are going to protect you. That's a YABpo I will discuss further concerning the toxins found in vitamin supplements, the effectiveness of isolated nutrients especially synthetic forms of those nutrients, and how you are more than likely doing harm to your body rather than helping it when you take standard vitamin supplements.

On top of that, it's quite the conundrum that the dairy industry promotes pasteurized dairy products to help build your bones when pasteurized dairy products are acidifying! Raw dairy products, however, are slightly alkalizing so if you're going to eat dairy - get the raw stuff, eh?

As a way to deal with stress, I've been implementing EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) also known as "tapping". EFT is, literally, tapping on meridian end points located on the hands, face, and chest while repeating affirmations or other concerns to help release stress, physical pain, worries, fears or whatever it is that is weighing you down. 
Chart taken from this site:

Why am I stressed? This lifestyle is very stressful for one. Living on the road, traveling non-stop, not having a real "home", limited space, working on the road, a constant change in scenery, new people all the time, new faces, new geography, new vibrations, etc. It may sound like "the life" to some people and, don't get me wrong, I am so, so, so, so happy to be doing what I'm doing and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but it does put a bit of stress on my virgoan body. Living in such close quarters with my partner is straining at times.

Over the last few days, I've been taking probiotic supplements (by Dr. Ohhira) in the morning before I eat anything. I've also been taking an adrenal-kidney homeopathic that I got from the naturopath in PEI as well as a stress homeopathic. I've been sharing the stress homeopathic with Evan, too, and I've noticed a difference in both of our stress levels and ability to deal with day-to-day stressors. In addition, I picked up a green powder formula from the co-op here in Burlington. I can't find Vitamineral Green anywhere, but I found this and I think it's pretty good: Garden of Life Perfect Food Raw - Raw Organic Green Super Food.
Garden of Life - Perfect Food Raw Organic, 240 g powder
I've notice it gives me a little boost of energy and curbs cravings. It's similar to Vitamineral Green in the sense that it contains a combination of greens (barley grass, alfalfa, wheat grass) as well as probiotics and enzymes. It does not contain any seaweed or algaes, though. Learn more about Garden of Life Perfect Food RAW here. I've also been eating cultured vegetables with my salads and taking a hydrochloric acid tablet called Quantum Betaine HCL
after each meal to aid in digestion. I can tell my digestion has improved from taking these measures. There is definitely a noticeable difference.

Anyway, I've been meaning to give you all "the story" for a long time and I'm glad I finally sat down and barfed it out. I realize I didn't really address food-combining, but you can read more about that here. I will discuss it in a YABpo sometime down the road. 
Chart taken from the site:

I feel really confident about this new diet discovery, the Body Ecology Diet (BED). I think it's the key to curing my ailments and imbalances. One last thing I plan to do in the near future regarding my health is go to and order the "Comprehensive Wellness Profile". is an online labratory and dispensary. It's essentially a site that works like this:  You order a test or multiple tests, it gets sent to your home in the form of a kit,  you take it to one of 3,000 test centers nationwide, get your blood drawn, and then send the kit back and wait for them to send you your results via email (they claim within 24-48 hours). It's way cheaper than going to a doctor's office to get lab work done. Especially if you don't have health insurance (or a plan that will cover things like blood work). The CWP profile that I plan to order, includes the following:

Lipid panel: This is a group of simple blood tests that reveal important information about the types, amount and distribution of the various types of fats (lipids) in the bloodstream.

Complete Blood Count(CBC's): Used as a broad screening test to check for such disorders as anemia, infection, and many other diseases. It is actually a panel of tests that examines different parts of the blood.

Fluids and Electrolytes: Includes Chloride, Serum, Potassium, Sodium, Serum, and Carbon Dioxide

Thyroid Panel w/TSH: Includes T-3 Uptake, T4, T7, TSH

Liver Panel: Includes Albumin, Alkaline Phosphatase, Alanine Transaminase (ALT) (SGPT), Aspartate Transaminase (AST) (SGOT), Bilirubin, Total, Bilirubin, Direct, Protein, Total

Kidney Panel: Includes Albumin, Calcium, Carbon dioxide, Chloride, Creatinine, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, BUN

Glucose (Diabetes)

Mineral and Bone: Iron, Total, Calcium, and Phosphorus

I've been meaning to get my blood work done for awhile now in order to see the areas of health I need to really focus on and where my deficiencies/weakness are in terms of minerals, organ and hormonal function, and B12 levels, etc. 

Ok, my last words and then I'll shut up for awhile:
The raw food diet hasn't been a complete failure by a long shot. My digestion has suffered, yes. My acne has increased, yes. But I haven't gotten ill since I started this journey other than during times of cleansing and detox, which says A LOT in terms of my immune system. I didn't get a flu shot last year for the first time in probably ten years and I have had no issues - no cough or cold, no aches and pains (other than headaches during my "toxic fever" episode). So what does that tell you?

Check back soon to read about my progress with BED and my results from I'm hoping to get a travel post up next week detailing my trip back to Hood River, Oregon. 
Merci and au revoir!