Make Yourself Healthy Meetup Group: Report of First Meeting

The first meeting of the Make Yourself Healthy Meetup group happened last night in Berkeley. It went great. About 15 people attended. We heard four fascinating talks — five, if you count mine. About 10 people wanted to talk so there was far more material than time (the meeting lasted about 2 hours).

Here are brief recaps of the talks.

Me. I explained why I started the group. I described how I came to believe that non-experts  can discover important things about health that health experts, such as doctors, don’t know. These non-expert discoveries deserve more attention than they would get on a online forum (e.g., a MedHelp forum about acne). They can help people with other problems and can encourage people with other problems.

Katie Reid. After her youngest child was diagnosed with autism, she tried many things that didn’t work. She tried removing gluten from her daughter’s diet — a common treatment — and that made things somewhat better. The partial success encouraged her to look further at food. On someone’s blog, she came across the idea that MSG (monosodium glutamate) can cause autism symptoms. To her surprise, she learned that MSG is in many things, including toothpaste and juice, without explicit statement on the label. When she removed all MSG from her daughter’s diet, her daughter greatly improved and now, three years later, attends class with normal children. All of her autistic symptoms are gone. Katie herself felt much better when she stopped eating any MSG. She lost weight and a low-grade headache disappeared. She has a website and a video about this. Here is a video about this by someone else.

Anonymous. He is 29 years old and has struggled with depression, anxiety and lack of motivation. No long term progress in therapy. Yoga has helped. He found some benefits from meditation, but to get the benefits requires consistency and consistency requires hope, which I don’t always have. He started thinking critically about what he eats. Read Eat to Live by Furman and Disease-proof Your Child. Eating whole foods plant-based lowered his blood pressure to 90/60, His weight went from 170 to 155 and is now in low 160s. (It was 160 when he was 19.) He has food addiction and technology addictions, demons that he is battling. Other attendees suggested six things he might try, such as eating more animal fat.

Kylene Miller. She spoke about the value of anti-oxidants. She became a Type 1 diabetic at age 5 and has been sick a lot in her life. She met Dirk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, who told her to eat a lot of anti-oxidants. She started eating large amounts of Vitamins E and C. Then she started trying get her antioxidants from food. She discovered healthy chocolate — cold-pressed so that the anti-oxidants aren’t destroyed — made by the Xocai company. It has a huge ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) score. She had gastric paresis. Four years of throwing up first thing in the morning. She had stopped taking lots of antioxidants. After she started taking them again, her gastric paresis disappeared. She is a distributor for the chocolate. She passed out samples of the chocolate.

Janet. When she was 19 (she is now 22) she suddenly felt very tired most of the time, even though she was sleeping 12 hours per night. She decided what tests she wanted, but her doctor would not order them. After her doctor gave her the blood-test-order form to bring to the testing center, she checked the boxes for the tests she wanted. Three supplements have been especially helpful, including isocort and progesterone (both OTC, over the counter). You can listen to her talk here (thanks to Jane Cho).

I had worried that too few people would have stories to tell, but one attendee lived one block away She had high blood pressure and had lowered it without medicine. I wanted to videotape the talks but during the second one the camera battery died — and, anyway, I was doing it wrong, someone told me. I asked whether the next meeting should be in one month or two months and everyone voted for one month. We need a venue that permits longer meetings.





4 Replies to “Make Yourself Healthy Meetup Group: Report of First Meeting”

  1. Hi Seth– I’ve been reading your blog for years–was briefly a member of the SLD forums in about 2007–and appreciate the mindset of looking into things yourself rather than leaving it the hands of doctors. As my husband likes to say: No one will care about your money (or health, or time, etc.) as much as you do.

    Which is maybe why, when I was diagnosed with Hashimotos thyroiditis last fall, I started looking into alternatives. The standard medical prognosis is depressing–Hashis is an auto-immune condition, in which the immune system attacks the thyroid. Standard treatment is to give thyroid medicine to support the diminished organ. You feel better, then the immune system (which is trying to save your life, after all) mounts an even bigger attack. So they increase the dose–and so on until the thyroid gives out and you require thyroid hormone supplements for the rest of your life.

    I lived through one cycle of that, and it was miserable. Plus, once you have one auto-immune condition, you’re likely to develop others. So I started looking–and sure enough, there a group that believes auto-immune conditions start with a damaged gut, and if you heal the gut (and replace good bacteria) you can calm the auto-immune attack. I’m a member of a Facebook page called Hashimotos 411 that has more than 5000 members from all around the world, all following the protocol to some degree. i also help moderate a sub-group, the Elimination/Provocation Diet, which has about 1000 members. (Feel free to look us up!) Different things work for different people, but there are some large commonalities: often natural desiccated thyroid works better for people than synthetic medicine, and often people feel much better when they go on an elimination diet using the auto immune protocol (which removes common auto-immune triggering foods), to start pinpointing their food sensitivities. Certain supplements seem to work for a lot of people, and people seem to have common sensitivities.

    Anyway, the page is full of people who’ve been scoffed at by doctors–“There’s no such thing as adrenal fatigue” or “Natural thyroid hormone is impossible to dose and will give you heart attacks.” Meanwhile, people go on self-experimenting and sharing their findings. In my case, I started on the auto-immune protocol diet in November and by mid-February my blood tests were showing my auto-immune antibodies within normal range–so, for all practical purposes, the condition was in remission. And based on my labs, my doctor recommended that I step down my thyroid medication by 20%.

    I’m not out of the woods yet. I’ve spent the last three months fighting a distressing and completely unexplainable weight gain….until today I traced it (I think) to a probiotic which, it turns out, has dairy and soy. Those of us with damaged guts will often have out-of-proportion reactions to foods or chemicals…but they’re signs of what we should avoid.

    Anyway, thought you’d be interested to know about a large self-experimenting community that’s having a lot of success self-treating an otherwise untreatable auto-immune disease.


  2. Dear Kirsten,
    I am one of the practitioners who has seen the tremendous effect of which you speak: Many autoimmune conditions respond to healing and reconditioning the flora of the gut. I attended the event that Seth hosted last night, and am very inspired by people looking to heal themselves. I had to heal myself as well.
    I would love to get to know you better, as a colleague. Feel free to connect on LinkedIn (T. Bergenn) and/or Facebook (Ti Bergenn)

    Best to you with Hashimoto’s — we’ll keep learning and keep healing!
    T. Bergenn
    Longevity Advisor

  3. Seth and Katie Reid,

    Interesting. Aren’t there a lot of free glutamates in things like kelp and fermented foods? What are the implications of that vs. its use as an additive?

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