The Low-Oxalate Paleo: Part One
I have Lichen Sclerosis, a very uncomfortable, painful and chronic disease that many women suffer from, and of which there is no real "cure". For some, topical corticosteroids in combination with estrogen cream help immensely. For me, it sometimes helps to control the itching, and helps the skin to heal when I have flare-ups, but it is no cure.
So, in an attempt to help myself I have done a lot of research. I have discovered two things which may (or may not) help me to control my disease. LS is believed to be an autoimmune disease. Many autoimmune diseases seem to be helped by following a Paleolithic diet. (For example, diabetes and rhuematoid arthritis.) So, it seems logical that a Paleo diet may help to improve my symptoms as well. Another therapy which has had great success among women with vulvodynia is the Low Oxalate Diet. The science behind it is a little sparse, mostly due to the fact that there has only been one study into the effects of the diet, and that study concluded that the diet had no particular effect. But, there are lots of women who apparently follow this diet with some success. At http://www.vulvodynia.com/ a site dedicated to women with vulvodynia, there is a guestbook in which many women have stated that the Low Oxalate Diet is helpful to them.
I have decided to combine the two diets in the hope that I will benefit from them over the next few months. My goal is to follow this diet for the next 100 days, and then re-evaluate my condition and see if it has helped in any way. Here is some information about each diet:
The Paleolithic Diet:
No one knows exactly what a "Paleolithic Diet" was like. But based on what we do know, and what we can observe by studying modern day hunter-gatherers, it most likely varied a great deal in the types of foods eaten depending on where you lived and what was available day to day and season to season. Most scientists agree that a true Paleo diet should consist of meat, poultry, seafood, fish, eggs, vegetables, nuts, seeds, tubers and fruit. Most scientists also agree that the Paleo diet did not include grains, beans, dairy products, and sugars (except as in fruit, and occasionally honey). The area of fat consumption and types of fat eaten is debated. Personally, I plan to eat Paleo foods and let the fat fall where it may. True, today's grain-fed and high-fat animals aren't the same as the wild game we evolved on, but today's high-sugar fruits and veggies aren't the same either.
The Low Oxalate Diet:
Traditionally, a Low Oxalate diet has been used to inhibit kidney stones. And lately has been a suggested therapy for sufferers of Vulvodynia as well. While following the diet it is recommended that you limit your Oxalate intake to 40-50 grams per day. Oxalates are present in many plants especially dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach. Here is a short list of items which, sadly, I eat regularly, that are very high in oxalates and must be avoided: Spinach, almonds, dark chocolate, blueberries, whole grains, and soy products. Strangely, these are also considered to be some of the healthiest foods there are. I fact, I have a Prevention article which touts them as some of the "top ten cancer fighting foods". I miss them already.
Here is a list of vegetables I like and can eat which are Paleo and also Low-Oxalate:
Cabbage, onions, mushrooms, peppers (except for green), radish, lettuce (including Romaine which is a dark leafy green, go figure...) broccoli, asparagus, snow peas, cauliflower, tomato (1/2 cup per day), summer squash, zucchini, eggplant(1/2 cup), celery root (1/2 cup per day), pumpkin, cucumber, scallions, artichoke (1/2 cup), brussels sprouts. (Note all the cruciferous vegetables!)
Here is a list of fruits I like and can eat which are Paleo and also Low-Oxalate:
Apple, avocado, apricots (1/2 cup) strawberries, raspberries (1/2 cup per day), grapes (except for concord), lemon, mango, melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon), cherries, papaya, pears, pineapple, plums (certain kinds limited to 1/2 cup), oranges (1/2 cup) and grapefruit (1/2 cup).
With these food choices, along with as much meat, seafood, and eggs as I wish to consume, I should be able to craft a healthy and tasty diet. Please stay with me as I use my cooking skills to make it through this very limited diet plan.