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Tag: myjourneytorecovery

electromagnetic frequencies - EMFs - experiment

EMF Exposure Experiment

Exposure = Physical contact or interaction with device (interaction involving contact, so not watching computer or TV from a distance).

As you can see, I had some trouble on the bookends of this experiment with limiting my exposure. :/ Even then, however, my interaction with electronics was generally significantly less than what would be typical for me – even on the worst days of 6-7 hrs.! :O

In the Activities column, most or all of my “writing” occurred on paper rather than on the computer.

I think most of the symptoms/improvements were recorded in the order in which they showed up within a day. 🙂 Yeah…wasn’t quite as scientific as I wanted to be here. Also wish I’d defined “deep sleep” a little more. 😀 May not have recorded the hours totally accurately either, but they should be in roughly the correct ballpark – and the proportions of exposure between days should still be roughly correct.

Anyway, here’s the data. 🙂

Day Approx. hrs. Exposure Symptoms/ Improvements Other Activities/Changes (Some activities left out or not recorded).
Day #1 6-6.5 Scrambled, tight feeling in head. More energy, less dizziness, clearer head – less scrambled/tight. More tightness later. Slept deeply I think, but sleep was disturbed. Journaling, Writing, Watching YouTube videos on phone. Dishes. Piano. Watched video on Lyme disease (mostly at distance from computer). 
Day #2 5.5-6 hrs. Tight head later. Church, Dishes, Piano, Safeway, Weird car smell exposure.
Day #3 Approx. 3.5 hrs. Kidney pain (discovered this was likely from too much celery/blueberries and possibly blackberries – all high or moderately high in oxalates). Less head discomfort. Slept deeply. Earthing.
Day #4 1.5 hrs. A little more energy, some faintness, kidney pain gone. Some fatigue. Slept deeply. Dishes, Exercise, Earthing, Writing, Violin, Recording Music (didn’t interact with computer to record, brother did).
Day #5 1.5-2 hrs. Felt rested when getting out of bed. More energy, some faintness. Slept deeply. Writing, Dishes, Cooking/Baking, Earthing, Singing.
Day #6 2-2.5 hrs Some faintness, more energy. More balance later. Some tightness in neck/head. Exercise, Earthing, Writing, Dishes.
Day #7 Lost track of exposure. Probably 2.5-4 hrs.? (That might be low) Terrible migraine later. Social event/ceremony, exposure to fragrances, too much walking, loud noises, car fluid exposure (made migraine worse I think).
Day #8 6.5-7 (computer and phone) Migraine disappearing (eventually went away), some gut tenderness. More energy. Itching.  Earthing. Baking.

I do think that limiting EMFs in my environment made some difference in my overall wellbeing (energy, balance, sleep quality, perhaps aches and pains).

Earthing for even a very short time (perhaps a minute or less per day) also seemed to improve my overall “feeling of wellness” (definitely helped with mood, although I didn’t really think to record emotional changes/differences).

Although this experiment wasn’t conducted as neatly as I would have wished, the improvements I experienced while reducing environmental EMFs were significant enough – and the health ramifications of EMF exposure are also significant enough – that I hope, in the future, to find ways to reduce my interaction with electronic devices.

As a blogger, that is quite the challenge, but writing my thoughts on paper has saved me some time in idly thinking of what to write with a computer in my lap.

Have you taken measures to reduce EMFs in your environment? How? What are some tips you’ve picked up?

Have you noticed any improvements since making that change?

Please see Disclaimer.

health - natural remedies - nutrition - healing - my journey to recovery

My Journey to Recovery: A Few Updates AND Taking a Break

Some changes I’ve made lately:

Reintroduced zinc, in the form of zinc picolinate (see resources page for the specific brand I’m using). Quickly noticed significant increase in energy levels and sleep quality, although beginning my intense candida treatment seemed to put an end to that. 😀 I am now doing another round of homeopathic candida treatment. Hopefully the discomfort and weird symptoms are temporary, and a sign that a Herx or die-off reaction is happening (which can actually cause a temporary increase in symptoms associated with the infection).

Been reducing consumption of cherries. This has helped with energy levels (although again, the candida treatment – or something – seems to have since stolen that energy. 😛 ) I generally only eat cherries now if I’m in pain (see natural pain relievers), and/or if I particularly want to ensure that I sleep well. I pulled back on cherries to reduce sugar consumption – to help fight candida and also give my liver a break.

Tried reintroducing coconut oil.

Below is my recent health journal (Admittedly, this is not as scientific as it could be, as several variables are changing – sometimes at the same time or in rapid succession. However, when you’re desperate for nutrition, you might be more compelled to cut some corners, in terms of experimental/scientific purity. I really hate doing that, but have been a little desperate lately to try to discover more options. 🙂 As you can probably see, I’ve been a little lax and/or sloppy in recording things sometimes – I just copied/pasted this from my health journal, and have since edited it minimally. Also please note, I may have experienced other symptoms but not recorded them here if they were typical/routine symptoms for me):

04/22/2018 Coconut oil No new/exacerbated symptoms noticed
04/23/2018 Coconut oil Temporary slight pain in arch above right eye, near nose, lasting approx. one min.

Some stuffiness, but seems to be a continuation of previous allergies. Some throat congestion/dryness.

Foggy brain feeling builds.

Feeling clammy/cold/lethargic.

Experiencing brain fog.

As day progresses, continuing to feel worse. Head feeling “clogged up”, eyes heavy. Mild GI discomfort.

04/24/2018 Coconut oil Some continuation of weird head feeling (I think). Some dizziness.
04/25/2018 Coconut oil Diarrhea in morning (note: also morning after taking 9th vial of candida treatment). Mild GI discomfort. Itchy skin.
04/26/2018 Macadamia oil (took break from coconut oil) Tight head, ovary pain (at an abnormal time), neck pain and/or stiffness.
04/27/2018 Coconut oil Tight head, GI discomfort
04/28/2018 Coconut oil / macadamia oil Tight head, improved later


04/30/2018 Macadamia oil Seems to be okay
04/30/2018 Coconut oil Will require further testing at later date (perhaps after second round of candida treatment)
04/30/2018 Hemp seed Possibly some head tightness from eating too much? Few to no symptoms I think.
05/03/2018 Celery Some head tightness. Otherwise, few/no unusual symptoms so far.

As shown, I’ve also tried macadamia oil recently. It seems to be mostly or completely okay. So yay!!! Hopefully there won’t be any surprises or betrayals down the road. 😀 Sometimes, I am able to tolerate the fats/oils of a food that I can’t eat. (For example, I can do olive oil but not olives, and ghee but not milk or butter).

I’ve consumed hemp stuff fairly successfully in the past, as long as I haven’t eaten too much. So that was less of a surprise or even a true food reintroduction I guess.

I had tried celery perhaps a month or so ago, and was experiencing some GI symptom(s), but was unsure what was causing them (as the candida treatment could also have been implicated).

So I tried celery again yesterday. So far, I think it has caused, at most, one or possibly no symptoms. (As the head tightness seems to have shown up pretty frequently within the past several days, it’s unlikely that the celery is what’s causing it now. Might be the weather. And/or dehydration (…oops)).


I wanted to give you guys a heads-up that one of my next experiments will be to limit my electronics exposure for a while (possibly a week or two?) – specifically, exposure to my computer and phone.

While the results and analysis of this experiment certainly will not be entirely scientific or objective, they should give me at least a rough idea of just how much my interaction with these devices is impairing/affecting my health.

If I end up feeling significantly better while away from these devices, I might decide to rearrange my schedule so that I’m spending less time on the computer and phone each day, but allotting a certain (smaller) amount of time for computer work.

If limited electronics exposure actually correlates with improved cognitive function, then who knows? I might, in fact, become a better (more creative, articulate) blogger by actually spending less, not more time at the computer!

My goal is to record the approximate amount of time spent on electronics each day, and symptoms or improvements that I notice. I’ll probably have to be on the phone and/or computer to some degree most days, but I am planning to mostly take a break from blogging for a little while.

I’ve scheduled a few posts, but other than that, will probably be taking this time to accomplish stuff around the house, maybe exercise a little and (hopefully) regain some energy and balance, and give my violin, guitar, and piano some love. <3

And hopefully catch up on reading.

Which…will mean mostly reading real books.

Exposure to “real” books does sometimes make me sick, but I’m beginning to wonder if tangible books are actually as hazardous to my health as radio frequencies from reading Kindle books on my phone.

Similarly, I might try spending more time outdoors some days – reconnecting with the frequencies of the earth (or “earthing“), despite the fact that I am quite allergic to the outdoors. I’m also beginning to wonder if the improvements from a change in biological frequencies might outweigh the negative side effects of outdoor exposure. We shall see. 😀

But yeah, I’ve scheduled some posts – on this blog and my other blog. Kinda like pre-made frozen meals, I guess. 😀 Hopefully they are tasty. 😉

<3 Kate

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

My Journey to Recovery

raspberries - foods I can and can't eat #restricteddiet #glutenfree #food #nutrition

Foods I Can and Can’t Eat

Some of you guys have asked what foods I can or can’t eat.

This is sort of a reference post that I’m creating for those who are curious or who may have health issues similar to mine. I will probably link here from time to time, and I plan to update these lists as my diet gradually changes (once in a while I add or remove something), or as I remember items I forgot to list.

One request for my dear readers:

Please do not comment here or contact me to tell me why I really should be able to consume a certain food, drink, or supplement, without first asking and seeking to understand the reason(s) why I cannot. I have legit reasons for avoiding the foods that I do, which are based on personal experiences with foods, research I’ve done, and other information picked up along the way – much of which I’ve learned from my doctor. If you have relevant info regarding my particular genetic conditions or are aware of ways to mitigate the effects of broken biochemical pathways, I’m definitely interested in hearing about it. 🙂 Other advisory messages regarding food – well-meaning as they may be – will likely be a waste of your time as well as mine.

You are more than welcome to share your experience here with fighting/recovering from a food sensitivity/allergy or GI/autoimmune condition. And most other well-considered comments are welcome. 🙂

I reserve the right to delete any and all comments with or without reason and with or without notice, and to choose not to reply to any emails.

Thank you. <3

This request comes after multiple experiences of people essentially arguing/suggesting that my dietary restrictions aren’t necessary or that it shouldn’t be necessary to eliminate entire food groups from the diet or that I’m “just not getting enough nutrition” (and should therefore resume eating the foods I’m avoiding), or of receiving messages from others to the effect of “You look almost anorexic!” or “Do you need to talk to someone?”.

Please don’t be alarmed. I care a great deal about my health, as evidenced (I think) by my willingness to actually follow this non-toxic diet and feed my body only the cleanest foods which it is also capable of tolerating. And I’ve actually been gaining a bit of weight recently (actually, maybe a bit too much). :/

I may have originally chosen to start the elimination diet on my own, but my doctor agrees that it is necessary, and certainly discourages me from introducing harmful or potentially harmful food groups – such as dairy or wheat – that many people seem to label as “important food groups”. (Btw, you know how people suffering from anorexia are often advised to eat pizza or hamburgers? On so many fronts, this is not sound advice. 1) If you feed a starving person a hamburger, you could potentially kill them, 2) a person suffering from anorexia ultimately needs nutritious foods [especially as anorexia can lead to electrolyte deficiencies], not simply highly caloric foods, and 3) Wheat and dairy are two of the most common food allergies, and sometimes people fighting anorexia are also fighting other gastrointestinal disorders, which may be exacerbated by these foods.)

(In all likelihood, I’ll probably never add wheat or dairy back into my diet. At most, it’d probably be sheep dairy. Not even goat.)

And it’s not like I don’t miss eating some incredibly delicious foods! 🙁 But I definitely don’t miss the physiological and mental torment they gave me (many of these foods seriously impacted my nervous system). Following this relatively “ascetic” diet will always be worth the health benefits (and more importantly, worth the avoidance of health problems).

Foods, Drinks, and Supplements I Can’t Consume

  • Eggs (whites and yolks)
  • Cow, Goat, and Sheep Dairy (except grass-fed ghee) (Wanting to try camel dairy soon)
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Spelt
  • Anything containing gluten
  • Grains (rice, millet, oats, etc.) AND pseudograins (amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa)
  • Nuts (except macadamia nut oil)
  • Peanuts (listed separately because not technically a nut)
  • Coconut (including coconut oil)
  • Most legumes (beans, lentils, etc.)
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee (regular or decaf)
  • Food or drink containing caffeine or theobromine
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, red pepper, paprika, ashwagandha, eggplant, okra, etc.) (I am sensitive to solanine as well as likely some of the lectins and  the calcitriol [a powerful hormone which acts as a tissue calcifier/hardener in the human body])
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, etc.)
  • Most other vegetables (thankfully I have been able to reintroduce some recently! See below). Recently tried beets and those are still a no, except small amounts of beet juice for coloring in foods. My blood pressure got too low (accompanied by symptoms) when I consumed a low to moderate amount of beets recently.
  • Most leafy greens – including arugula, kale, and spinach. Hoping to try chard again soon.
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Olives
  • Mushrooms
  • Avocado
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Flax
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Most or all melons (definitely watermelon/cantaloupe)
  • Squash (including pumpkin)
  • Cucumber
  • Kiwi
  • Banana
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Most dried fruit
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Most fish
  • Farm-raised fish
  • Fermented foods
  • Vinegar (including apple cider vinegar)
  • Yeast
  • Cured meats
  • Chicken broth
  • Carageenan
  • Canola oil
  • Cottonseed oil (Honestly, no one should be consuming this [as of 2015, approximately 94% of U.S. cotton crops were genetically modified]. Cottonseed oil can be found in many snacks, such as roasted/salted almonds.)
  • Refined sugars
  • Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame or sucralose
  • Nutmeg
  • Curry
  • Chamomile
  • Spearmint
  • Peppermint
  • Wine (I’m sensitive to alcohol, as well as the glutamate in grapes and the sulfites in wine)
  • Beer
  • Unfiltered city water (by the way, some popular filters like Brita® don’t remove the fluoride [a neurotoxin and magnesium binder])
  • Grape Juice
  • Calcium Carbonate (found in many multivitamins)
  • Iron supplements
  • Copper supplements
  • Vitamin D
  • Chlorella
  • MSM
  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • Milk Thistle
  • Folic acid (my system cannot process this form of B9, due to MTHFR mutations)
  • Methyl-B12 (methylcobalamin) (Problematic because of CBS mutations)
  • Probiotics
  • Baking powder (I make my own with baking soda and cream of tartar)

Foods, Drinks, and Supplements I Can Consume! (Thankful It’s No Longer Only Five Foods)

  • Tiger nuts (these are root vegetables, not nuts)
  • Cacao butter, in moderation (bothers my stomach and head if I eat too much)
  • Ghee, in moderation
  • Olive oil
  • Macadamia oil (new food introduction!)
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Hemp oil
  • Turkey
  • Turkey broth
  • Wild-caught cod and salmon, in moderation (I typically use the fish from Orca Bay). Have had to avoid this lately, and it might be going on the “can’t eat” list soon. Thinking I might be allergic to fish….
  • Celery (reintroduced!!!)
  • Butter lettuce (probably) (reintroduced!!!)
  • Asparagus, in moderation (reintroduced!!!)
  • Cilantro (reintroduced!!!)
  • Parsley
  • Clementines
  • Limes
  • Lemons, in moderation
  • Cherries (note: helpful for reducing inflammation and relieving pain, but can feed candida infections)
  • Apples, in moderation
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries, in moderation
  • Raspberries, in moderation
  • Blackberries
  • Peaches
  • Dragon fruit
  • Tulsi / holy basil
  • Raw unfiltered or gently filtered honey
  • Monk fruit
  • Gluten-free vanilla extract
  • Ginger
  • Cinnamon, in moderation
  • Cloves, in moderation
  • Basil, lavender (used to not be able to tolerate this!), rosemary, thyme, and (I think) sage and oregano, in moderation
  • Cream of tartar
  • Baking soda
  • Rock rose
  • Stevia
  • Xanthan gum (reintroduced!!!)
  • Arrowroot
  • Spirulina, at least in very small amounts (for coloring)
  • Water, filtered (including fluoride-filtered)
  • Well water
  • Magnesium citrate/malate
  • Zinc Picolinate
  • Vitamin B6 (P5P form)
  • Silver
  • Activated Charcoal
  • Molybdenum
  • Boswellia
  • White Willow Bark

For more specs on the food and supplements I use, please see the Resources page.

Please see disclaimer.

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

journey to health symbolized by journey through mountains

My Journey to Recovery: An Update

Hey guys! Just wanted to log a brief update on my health journey here.

I think I’m finally seeing a new wave of improvements!!

The past few days, I’ve generally had a little more energy and better balance (less dizziness). I’m sometimes feeling hot/overheated (rather than cold most of the time, though I am still sensitive to cold if I’m in a cold place). It also seems that I’m generally requiring a little less sleep.

My gut health and adrenal strength seem to be gradually improving.

So what’s working? What’s making the difference?

Turkey bone broth (instead of chicken broth)

I recently made this change (around Thanksgiving), and I’ve gotta say, turkey broth is working waaaay better than chicken broth ever did for me. It doesn’t give me the weird feeling in my head (pressure, tension) that I got with chicken broth.

Turkey broth doesn’t have the lectins that can be so harmful to those with type B blood (my blood type). I think chicken broth was causing about as many problems as it was solving (damaging the gut with lectins as fast as it was healing it with amino acids).

Some other foods I’ve introduced recently:

Cacao butter (But not cacao powder, as I am sensitive to the stimulants and intolerant of the sulfur in the cacao bean. But cacao fat [butter] – which is from the same plant, but chemically a “different animal” – works for me.)


Sprouted quinoa (I was eating quinoa, but not in sprouted form). Sprouting makes the nutrients of grains and pseudograins (like quinoa) more bioavailable. Quinoa is the only “grainy” thing I’m eating (I stopped eating amaranth because it was beginning to make me feel tired/sick. Again, probably because of the lectins. I am very lectin-sensitive, and this may be due to my homozygous (double, or from both parents) mutation on the CNR1 gene [rs1049353]).

And…*drum roll*…


Tiger Nuts

2017-11-30 13.58.37

Tiger nuts aren’t actually nuts, and tend to be safe for most people with nut allergies.

Tiger nuts (at least dried ones) look like mini, shriveled-up potatoes. Like potatoes, they are tubers, but the tiger nut boasts a much richer supply of healthy fats, with a fatty acid composition similar to that of olive oil.

Tiger nuts are rich in antioxidants and fiber, possess antibacterial properties, work as a prebiotic, help lower bad cholesterol (LDL), and may be beneficial for those suffering from diabetes.

For more info on tiger nuts, check out Tiger Nuts: Facts, Nutrition, Benefits, and Healthy Recipes from

They also appear to be a fairly decent source of magnesium! I’ve been able to get away with taking a little less magnesium lately (doing so would normally cause me to feel pretty crappy – muscle cramps, aches, fatigue), but I think tiger nuts (and possibly cacao butter, but I have yet to verify this) might be the reason for the decreased supplementation requirements.

Other Foods

Technically, the tiger nut probably counts as a vegetable, but other than that, I’m not eating any veggies.

As far as meat goes, I am eating turkey (in moderation) and occasionally some fish.

I am still avoiding or limiting high-sulfur foods.


Some vitamins that have been helping (besides B6, zinc, and magnesium):

Silver (for gut infection)

A supplement for candida (yeast) infection (containing undecylenic acid, caprylic acid, Cat’s Claw, Uva Ursi, and Pau D’Arco).

An essential oil combination (BFB-1), which I apply to my thumbs and big toes – to combat the biofilm in the gut (this was at my doctor’s recommendation, and it seems to be helping! He also recommended applying it to the earlobes, but I got the OK to avoid that because the smell is so strong).

Charcoal (from bamboo, not coconut) – this is an excellent binder, helping to flush ammonia and other toxins from the system. However, it is important to try to take it apart from food or other supplements, because it will also bind to those things, removing beneficial nutrients from the body!

The charcoal I use: Takesumi Supreme Capsules, 90 capsules

Additionally, I’ve noticed I generally feel better when I consume more:

  • salt (sodium)
  • olive oil*
  • cherries (within reason 🙂 )

I am so excited, you guys! 😀

We’ll see if these improvements continue. Stay tuned!

For previous logs on #myjourneytorecovery, check out these articles:

It’s All In Your Head

I Thought Avocado Was My Friend

When You Can Only Eat Five Foods

Also see:

Legit Excuses for Picky Eaters

Genetics: A Brief Glance

Adrenal Fatigue

Misconceptions about Optimal Health

What is Pyroluria, and Do You Have It?


Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. – Hippocrates

Food is medicine. We can actually change our gene expressions with the foods we eat. – David Perlmutter

Food Choices Change Our Gene Expression – David Perlmutter, MD

* I drink olive oil, which bothers my stomach temporarily, but also tends to give me more energy and help with digestion. Olive oil can also be an effective natural pain reliever for some.


For more info on the supplements I use, please see my Resources page.

© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

cutting board with potentially allergenic foods

Legit Excuses for Picky Eaters

Is your child a picky eater? Do they gag, eat slowly, or not want to finish their food? Have you been labeled a “picky eater”?

My Story

When I was a child, I vomited a lot and frequently suffered from diarrhea. I was also frequently the last one at the table, because I ate SO. SLOWLY. It was hard to digest much of anything, and many foods made me feel sick.

At that age, however, it was hard to know what was going on, or to realize that any of the food I was eating might not be healthy for me. I was about six at the time. I had no clue that I had food allergies and sensitivities or leaky gut. I didn’t know about genetically modified foods, or that they were being widely embraced by the food market in 1999 – just around the time my vomiting ramped up. Around the same time (age six), I also began suffering from migraines.

My parents tried to keep our (my siblings’ and my) diet pretty nutritious. Whatever they knew to include or avoid, they did. None of us realized we were guinea pigs for biotechnology. None of us knew much about lectins and solanine, or their potential impact on the thyroid and the nervous system, respectively.

None of us were aware that broccoli, kale, peas, garlic, onion, kidney beans, dried fruit, grapes, pineapple, watermelon, coconut, or chicken could be harmful for more than a small fraction of the population.

For additional background on my health journey, check out my posts, When You Can Only Eat Five Foods and It’s All In Your Head.

What’s the Deal?

You try your best to make sure your kid eats healthily, yet they still seem lethargic, rowdy, or depressed much of the time. While there could certainly be other (or additional) reasons for any of these symptoms – which is worth checking into – diet can play a major role in the manifestation of these signs.

If your child is expressing or indicating an aversion to certain foods, this may be a signal that there are substances in those foods which their body cannot tolerate, and the body is trying to give your child the message “stop putting that into me”.

I’ve noticed that many of the foods to which I’m sensitive or allergic have either been extremely addictive or extremely repulsive to me.

Your child’s nutritious meals may contain hidden enemies (e.g. antinutrients, indigestible sugars, neurotoxins) in surprising places. Foods like broccoli, banana, or tomato.

And if they’re affecting your child, it’s quite possible that they’re having an impact on you, too.

So what are some of these enemies?


Lectin sensitivity be can linked with autoimmune issues, and/or related to something as simple as your blood type. Different blood types are susceptible to agglutination by different food lectins.

According to Joseph Cohen at

You can identify lectin sensitivity by a combination of symptoms, blood tests, and genes. The more of these that you have, the surer you can be that you’re lectin sensitive and the more you’ll be affected by lectins.

I have a homozygous mutation on the “lectin sensitivity gene”: CNR1 (rs1049353).

I also have type B blood.

Chicken has bothered me for a long time, but the severity of my sensitivity has worsened in recent years. And sure enough, I learned not too long ago that chicken meat contains a lectin that can cause agglutination (blood cell clumping) in type B blood. At last! An explanation for why such a seemingly “harmless” meat makes me feel unwell.

Are You Lectin Sensitive? Using Genes, Symptoms and Blood Tests to Assess Lectin Sensitivity


If you’re sensitive to MSG (monosodium glutamate) [which is likely, if you suffer from migraines], then other foods containing glutamate (such as spinach, grapes, and gluten [gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, and spelt]) may be problematic for you.


Too much glutamate/excitation causes anxiety and sleeplessness, among other symptoms, depending on the person. Over time, excessive levels of glutamate cause neurological inflammation and damage.

Check out their website for a list of glutamate foods.


Solanine is a poisonous glycoalkaloid found in members of the nightshade family such as tomato, potato, eggplant, red and green peppers, paprika, tobacco, and ashwagandha. For a more comprehensive list of nightshades, click here.

Among other symptoms, there is believed to be a link between solanine and:

  • Joint pain, inflammation, swelling (arthritic symptoms)
  • Muscle aches, stiffness, weakness / Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Gout
  • Hypothyroid conditions (as solanine can disrupt the endocrine system)
  • Eczema and psoriasis
  • Migraines
  • Dizziness
  • Birth defects, such as spina bifida
  • Appendicitis

Of course, solanine may or may not be the cause of these symptoms for you or your child, but eliminating solanine from your diet is certainly an inexpensive place to start the diagnostic process.


According to

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols. These are a group of short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed. In people with gastrointestinal symptoms, a diet high in FODMAPs can induce diarrhoea and/or constipation, bloating, wind and abdominal pain.

FODMAPs are essentially fermentable carbs. If these carbohydrates make it past the small intestine unabsorbed, then they can be fermented by bacteria in the large intestine. This can cause symptoms like gas, bloating, stomach pain, and irritable bowel syndrome for some people.

Some major FODMAPs are:

  • Wheat
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Fruit (because of fructose)
  • Vegetables (due to the fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), fructose, mannitol, and sorbitol)
  • Legumes and Pulses
  • Sweeteners (such as agave nectar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, added polyols in sugar-free mints and chewing gums [check the labels for sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol or isomalt])
  • Other grains/pseudograins (such as amaranth, barley, and rye)
  • Dairy (especially foods like cottage cheese, cream cheese, milk, ricotta, and yoghurt)
  • Beverages, such as chai tea, chamomile tea, coconut water, dessert wine, and rum

You may find that you or your child can tolerate certain FODMAPs but not others (for example, fructose but not sorbitol).


Salicylates can be great for you, unless you are sensitive to them or can’t remove them from your system.

Salicylate sensitivity symptoms may include – but are not limited to:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Asthma
  • Bed wetting
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent cough
  • Psoriasis
  • Sleep disorders
  • Skin problems
  • Stomach irritation
  • Swelling of face, hands, and feet
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Bouts of excessive energy followed by fatigue
  • Distraction
  • Excessive or constant talking
  • Impatience
  • Mood swings
  • Nervousness
  • Visual disturbance

For a more complete list of salicylate sensitivity symptoms, check out this site.

If your body is unable to effectively eliminate salicylates, then these compounds can begin to irritate your skin. You’re sort of getting an internal acne “treatment” 24/7. Your skin gets pretty tired of this, and it’s possible for conditions like eczema or psoriasis to develop.

Low Salicylate Diet

Celiac and/or Gluten Sensitivity

If you or your child has celiac, then even a tiny amount of gluten exposure (such as cross-contamination of gluten-free foods with non-GF foods, counters, or utensils that are gluten-contaminated) could potentially elicit a reaction.

In individuals with celiac disease, gluten can actually damage the gut villi (villi are tiny projections/protrusions in the gut which increase the gut’s surface area, optimizing nutrient absorption). This can result in malabsorption of other beneficial nutrients, so it is not uncommon for those with celiac to also suffer from several nutritional deficiencies.

Additionally, gluten contains glutamate, which can cause MSG-type reactions in glutamate-sensitive people.

Individuals with mutations on the HLA-DQA1 or HLA-DQB1 genes have a genetic predisposition for developing celiac disease (but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will).

A blood test for gluten antibodies can be helpful. Just be aware that even if the test isn’t technically positive for celiac (doesn’t show a high enough concentration of antibodies for gluten), it’s still possible that you or your child may have celiac, especially if you’ve been off of gluten for a while.

This was the case for me. When I took the blood test earlier this year, my gluten antibody levels were pretty high, but not quite high enough to be positive for celiac. However, I had been avoiding gluten for some time at that point, so the fact that many antibodies were present at all was pretty suggestive of a gluten allergy (a couple doctors who saw these results believed that I likely have celiac, despite a “negative” result. I also have mutations on the HLA-DQA1 and HLA-DQB1 genes).

Protein Intolerance (can be related to pyroluria and/or sulfur intolerance [see more below])

Take an (unofficial) pyroluria test.

Heavy Metal Toxicity

Mercury poisoning from dental fillings, fish, and immunizations can cause serious problems for individuals whose detox and sulfur-processing (transsulfuration) pathways are broken (often due to MTHFR and CBS mutations). Eating fish may cause distress for someone who cannot remove mercury from their body. (There are, however, other reasons that you or your child might react to fish – including histamine intolerance and a true fish allergy.)


If your kid has an aversion to broccoli, brussels sprouts, or onions, it’s possible they have genetic mutations that can lead to sulfur intolerance.

An Incomprehensive List of High Sulfur Foods and Foods that CAN have sulfur additives:

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Other cruciferous vegetables (cruciferous vegetables also contain raffinose, an indigestible sugar)
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Wheat
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Legumes (Beans, Peas, etc.)
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruits
  • Wine and grape juice

Some fruits that are higher in sulfur:

  • Banana
  • Pineapple
  • Watermelon
  • Coconut
  • Avocado

You or your child may not have problems with all of these foods (although every single one of these is problematic for me).

But if you’ve noticed gastrointestinal discomfort, brain fog, skin itchiness or breakouts, nausea, headaches, or any other symptoms when you or your child consume any of these foods, then it’s worth skipping them for a while to see if you and/or your kid feel better. Of course, there are several other reasons that certain foods in this list could be bothering you. I’m not going to go into detail about each food here, but if you have questions, ask me in the comments! I’d be glad to help and provide more information where I can.

Additionally, there are some bacteria that feed off of sulfur, creating hydrogen sulfide. While a very small amount of hydrogen sulfide is actually beneficial for the body, too much can cause the liver to become overburdened, causing you to be poisoned.

If your gut is overtaken by bacterial colonies that feed off of sulfur, then this may be another reason sulfur is making you sick. The more sulfur you feed them, the more hydrogen sulfide that gets created.


Do you or your child hate vinegar, hot dogs, bananas, citrus fruits, tomatoes, avocado, or spinach? You might be suffering from histamine intolerance. This is often related to genetic mutation(s) on the MTHFR gene, and sometimes also mutation(s) on the DAO (diamine oxidase) gene. Diamine oxidase is one of the enzymes responsible for the processing of histamine, mainly in the gut.

Histamine can increase intestinal permeability, so if the body is unable to effectively remove histamine from the system, this can eventually lead to a lectin sensitivity or other food allergies.

Histamine intolerance works in a cumulative fashion.

Everyone needs (and produces) a little histamine. The body needs histamine to function properly.

However, we each have a histamine threshold. When that threshold is exceeded, symptoms begin to appear.

For undermethylators [people with MTHFR mutation(s)], that threshold is lower, because they do not effectively clear histamine from their bodies. So the histamine builds up, and can eventually and potentially lead to some heart problems.

Specific Macronutrient Aversions

Macronutrients are: Protein, Fats (Oils/Lipids), and Carbohydrates.

Most of us need a “normal” balance of all three of these.

Some people, however – due to genetics or other factors – may feel unwell when consuming one or more of these macronutrients at a “normal” or “average” level.

I feel sick if I eat very much protein (even a smaller amount than the average American woman might consume). I’ve noticed I have the least reaction to fats – especially certain medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), and generally process oils and certain healthy carbs better than I do most proteins.

Some people cannot process carbohydrates effectively. For example, if one has a harmful version of the APOE gene (specifically, APOE4 [vs. APOE2 or APOE3] from one or both parents), this can increase one’s risk for Alzheimer’s, and is linked with an earlier onset of the disease. Individuals with this genotype may benefit from a high-fat, low-carb diet (of course, do your research and consult with your doctor before taking any action. As with nearly any medical topic, there are certainly dissenting opinions regarding the best diet and course of action for individuals with this genetic variation).

Pyrolurics and those with sulfur intolerance may find it difficult to digest protein.

However, the symptoms of pyroluria can often be mitigated.

If protein intolerance persists, sulfur intolerance may be the culprit, or at least co-implicated with another condition.

Other Food Allergies

You can develop an allergy to just about anything – especially if you have a leaky gut.

With leaky gut, undigested food particles can “fall through” the gut lining and into the blood, triggering an immune response. Antibodies are then created to tackle this “foreign” substance (i.e. your undigested food). So the next time the food is consumed, your body is ready to attack with antibodies, creating the miserable allergic reactions we recognize as rash, itchiness, hives, brain fog, gastrointestinal discomfort, increase in pulse, and just about any other symptom you can imagine.

Wrapping It Up

As a child, I had no clue that I was dealing with lectin sensitivity (leading to thyroid problems), celiac and other gluten sensitivity (leading to a damaged gut), glutamate and solanine sensitivity (leading to neurological issues), heavy metal poisoning (creating autoimmune problems), sulfur intolerance (leading to liver toxicity), histamine intolerance (leading to heart problems), and other food allergies. I just thought I was a picky eater because I hated some foods or they didn’t settle well with me.

It is sometimes difficult for very young kids to express or even know what type of discomfort they are feeling when eating certain foods. Additionally, they may assume that everyone feels the way they feel, and it’s just normal to feel yucky. I did.

If your child is indicating a disinterest in consuming a certain food, try to ascertain the reason. Ask if they have stomach bubbles or pain, are feeling nauseated, or are experiencing muscle pain or dizziness. Watch for rashes (these won’t appear for every child with food allergies or sensitivities, but if they do, that’s a pretty good sign that there’s a food issue).

Watch for migraines, diarrhea, vomiting, anxiety, depression, mood swings, and insomnia.

If your child is struggling with school, this also could be a sign of a food intolerance or allergy. However, other links could include bullying, unfair academic expectations from teachers, relationship issues, or depression (which can be food-related or not).

I struggled through many years of school (especially as a little kid), and looking back, I can see that some of my most challenging years academically were those in which I ate a lot of foods that were especially troublesome for me, or when I consumed foods with lots of artificial additives.

Diagnosing Food Allergies and Sensitivities

It can be difficult to diagnose a food allergy or food sensitivity, especially if multiple offending foods are present in the diet.

If you eliminate one problematic food (while you are, in fact, suffering from multiple sensitivities or allergies), you may not feel much better, and therefore decide to reintroduce that food. It is possible, however, that another food was responsible for the continuation of your symptoms after you eliminated the other food from your diet.

In order to effectively identify problem foods, your body must be a “clean slate”. This will require the removal of most foods from your diet for a period of time. Work with your doctor on this. Everyone has individual dietary needs. (See disclaimer at the bottom.) You may not be able follow a strict bone broth or soup cleanse before reintroducing foods. However, if you can do this, you’re likely to identify problematic foods more accurately.

In general, I’d recommend eliminating all grains, nuts, coconut, legumes/beans, beef, lamb, and chicken (except chicken broth, though I’d recommend using homemade turkey broth instead, if possible – especially if you have type B or AB blood).

Additionally, I’d recommend avoiding all cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, arugula, mustard greens…click here for a more complete list), as well as spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, and all peppers (except white and black pepper).

If possible, skip fruit for a day or two as well. If you are FODMAPS sensitive, some or all fruits may be a problem for you.

After following this cleanse for a while (there are differing opinions on how long – it really just depends on your gut health), slowly reintroduce foods, one at a time. I’d suggest introducing no more than one new food every other day, but approaching the reintroduction more gradually than this is advisable (one food a week is great, as sometimes it can take a week to fully recover from a previous food reaction).

One caveat: It may be tempting to think that the reason for a reaction upon reintroducing a food is that the body is trying to “break out of starvation mode” and it’s “just normal to feel sick while adjusting to eating ‘real’ food again”. This can be the case, but if you’re experiencing a headache, irritability, sensitivity to smells, anxiety, mood swings, pain, stiffness, insomnia, difficulty breathing, brain fog, fatigue, a rash, a rapid pulse, or much gastrointestinal discomfort when you reintroduce a food, you can be pretty sure you’ve got a food allergy or sensitivity, so don’t ignore that. <3

Again, run all of this by your doctor before trying it. This information should not be treated as medical advice.

Food Allergies vs. Food Intolerance

What is the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance, anyway? It is a common misconception that a food allergy always manifests as anaphylactic shock or severe, instantaneous symptoms.

For some people, an allergic reaction to a particular food may be uncomfortable but not severe. For other people, an allergic food reaction can be frightening and even life-threatening. Food allergy symptoms usually develop within a few minutes to two hours after eating the offending food.

My gluten allergy has escalated to the point where I feel sick if I’m in a high-gluten area, or close to people who are consuming gluten. My head will almost immediately begin to feel light and/or tight, and I sometimes develop a headache shortly after. It’s not a life-threatening thing, but it can be very debilitating.

How do I know this is an allergy?

My body contains gluten antibodies which respond at the smallest amount of gluten. The presence of these antibodies is indicative of an immune response. Immune responses to food are typically linked with food allergies.

A food allergy, then, is typically present when a food elicits a reaction from the immune system.

A food intolerance typically involves an enzymatic or other digestive deficiency of some kind, which impairs one’s ability to adequately process that food.

Lactose intolerance is an apt example. While some people have true allergies to milk (often the protein casein), lactose intolerance tends to involve a deficiency in the enzyme lactase. People who don’t have enough lactase can’t process lactose, hence lactose intolerance.

I am sensitive to or intolerant of* the glutamate in gluten. I cannot adequately process this substance in large amounts. The glutamate I get from food often doesn’t convert to GABA for me to the degree that it should, resulting in neuroexcitotoxic symptoms (my nervous system goes haywire). So I am both allergic to gluten, and gluten-sensitive/intolerant.

<3 <3 Fun fact: Envelopes contain gluten, so don’t lick them, and wash your hands after using them. 🙂 <3 <3

What to Do

I would highly recommend testing your genetic profile (the test offers is pretty popular, though I should mention that they’ve been cutting back recently on the amount of genetic data they provide. You can also check out other DNA testing companies. Just double-check to make sure the company will provide you with raw genetic data). Then upload your raw data to a site like to interpret your results (I think they charge $20 or so). I like Livewello because they offer this thing called the “SNP Sandbox”, where you can look up a lot of specific genes and run them against your genetic profile to see if you have any mutations for those genes.

There’s way more here than I could elaborate on in this article. If you have any questions for me, please let me know in the comments! I’d be happy to offer what help, information, or resources I can. And some of your questions just might turn into future posts! 🙂

To you and your family’s health. <3

* One school of thought identifies food intolerance and food sensitivity as separate entities.




For more related and supporting links, check out the resources page.

© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

Person standing on edge of dark cave, looking out at ocean

The Hardest Thing About Being Chronically Ill

It’s not the sickness.

It’s not the pain or the fatigue.

It’s not the challenge of solving a problem or trying to figure out how to get well. (For me, that’s actually fun…most of the time.)

Getting really vulnerable here….

Over a month ago, I wrote about my journey to wellness.

I must clarify an impression that you, my reader, may have taken from that initial post, by adding that I still have a long road ahead of me. How long, I don’t know. The struggle could very well be lifelong.

While I have seen improvements in my health over the past few months, the journey is definitely a roller coaster, with constant ups and downs. The progress is slow. And it seems that I am constantly discovering additional causal factors implicated in my sickness, and new diseases that I may have to deal with.

My health has not been – and likely will not be – transformed after a week of following some popular or highly-radical diet (although it could be argued that my current diet is pretty “radical” 😛), though I have seen significant improvements over the course of the year, for certain.

The hardest thing about being chronically ill is the nagging feeling, the merciless, unrelenting whisper in your head that says:

“You are a disappointment.”

It’s seeing the pain that your family and friends feel for you.

It’s looking into their eyes and souls and sensing great fear.

Fear that you’ll never know what it is to really live (by a certain measure of “really living”). Fear that you’ll never be free to fully enjoy life.

Fear that you’ll never marry.

Fear that you won’t be able to provide for yourself when they (especially parents) are gone.

Fear that they (again, especially parents) messed something up or are responsible for your pain, and that they won’t be able to fix it.

And potentially, fear that the hopes – the castles – that they (family or friends) built with their hearts for you – or to involve you – will come crashing to the ground, because your body didn’t get the memo.

And all you can do is sense their fear, and try with all your might to block it out of your head. Try to keep pressing forward, and not to let the outworkings of their fear get to you.

A parent’s emotional breakdowns. The moments when they’re just “Done with it all.” Because they feel your pain as if it were their own, and feel guilty – perhaps even angry – that there’s absolutely nothing more they can do to fix anything.

Your loved ones’ frequently asked questions, “So [your name], what’s the next step (meaning, next step to getting well or moving forward in life)?” and “Figuring out more foods you can eat?”

And all you can answer internally – or verbally, if you dare – is “I’m trying. I’m doing the best I can. The only solution is to give it time. To give my body time to heal. To keep doing what I am doing, and to keep researching. If I knew of something else to do, I’d be doing it. It may take months or years. And I may never be completely healed. But that’s okay.”

And you know that is definitely NOT what they want to hear.

The hardest thing is thinking about all the things you ought to be, ought to have accomplished, all the milestones you ought to have reached by now, but aren’t and haven’t.

The hardest thing is the social isolation and feelings of shame that can come from living a life utterly different from everyone around you, and thinking that most people must either judge or pity you.

And so you judge and pity yourself, so they won’t be the first ones to do it. If you hurt yourself enough first, then no one else can hurt you.

You begin to see some friends pull away, and that just reinforces all the negative messages and depressing thoughts you’re replaying in your head.

It’s true, then. You are a failure. Evidently some of your friends are beginning to see that. And why shouldn’t they pull away?

You are a disappointment.

Again, and again, and again, that message – that condemning voice – plays mercilessly through your head like a solemn durge on a broken record.

I still have moments when I get really down. When I’m just so weary of all of this. I don’t understand why it has to happen to me, when I’m only 24, and there’s so much I wanted (and want) to do with my life. Why couldn’t this happen to somebody who doesn’t give a s**t about how they spend their time or their life? Somebody who would waste their time – in sickness and in health? Why me?

Only very recently have I come to accept the reality – initially with resignation, but now with an inexplicable glee – that I may never be “well”, in the sense that most people experience wellness.

Finally, I am beginning to see this as a gift.

You see, were I not in this place of extreme illness, I would never have ventured through certain doors. I would never have permitted myself to try certain things.

Things like, starting my own business online.

Reading, writing, and learning like it’s my full-time job, or college. (Although learning is something we are always [hopefully] doing anyway, even if that learning doesn’t involve literature.)

Trying the stuff that everyone ridicules. The things they say can’t make money (but, in fact, can be financially profitable – given smart [as well as hard] work, persistence, and patience). Trying the things that are not supposed to be successful, by a certain definition of success.

I am doing those things. (I was going to say I am trying those things, but there is no try, there is only do. [I <3 Yoda :)])

I am doing those things, because I don’t have a choice anymore.

The bridge has been burned, so to speak. Not by my hand (I certainly wouldn’t have chosen this situation) but, I believe, by God’s hand.

I’m in no place to be working in a brick-and-mortar building anytime soon (I’m extremely sensitive to toxic chemicals, even things like perchloroethylene (a dry cleaning chemical), materials used in building remodeling, and new flooring or carpet. I feel sick if I’m around other people who are eating gluten, even if there’s no gluten on my plate. Breathing in a few air particles – or even the vapors or smell – is enough to give me head pressure and make me feel unwell for at least the rest of the day.

I have no choice but to work from home.

I cannot afford to get completely wiped out and burned out again.

I still have days when I can barely move (though this is less frequently the case now).

I used to think that I could never be an entrepreneur. I had ideas, but didn’t know how I would implement them.

I didn’t think I could be successful at a business venture.

I figured nearly any business venture would require a significant financial investment upfront.

But I learned that that’s not true for all businesses. It depends on what product or service or commodity you’re offering.

If that commodity is information or creative content, the initial investment can be pretty small (save the substantial investment of time and mind-grease).

So here I am, doing things I’ve dreamed of for a long time, but never actually allowed myself to try. Or had the time to try.

Well, now I have the time, because my body won’t permit me to do much else.


I will plant flowers in this prison.

I will roar from my cage.

I will paint a picture behind this wall of glass, to reach people in places that I never could have touched with my physical presence.

I will sing a song in this lonely, dark cave, and trust that there is another soul in this same cave of whom I am unaware, hearing the echoes of my music – my joyful songs and laments – and being comforted with the knowledge that they are not alone.

Girl standing in cave, near spot where sunlight is shining through

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

YOU are not alone.

I hear you. I feel your pain.

Perhaps there is something going on in your life right now, that you feel no one can understand.

You think everyone thinks you’re crazy, lazy, insane, dumb, lost, confused, deluded. Everyone is worried about you. Or no one is.

I see you.

I see the picture you’re painting, because you cannot speak with words.

I see the beauty that you are creating in your prison.

Don’t stop. Don’t give up.

Don’t ever for a moment believe that because your path is different, you are lost.

person on path in sunlight

Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash



sunlight shining on lonely path

Photo by Cerys Lowe on Unsplash


Pain is not all loss. Pain is the price we pay for life’s greatest lessons and most precious gems.


What’s something you’ve learned or gained through chronic illness? I want to hear your story! <3


person walking on forest path in sunlight

Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash


© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

It’s All In Your Head

You’re Losing Your Mind!

Ever had symptoms that your doctor didn’t believe were real or truly present, or that he/she diagnosed as primarily neurological?

Ever been told that your intense pain, headaches, or fatigue are just hypersensitivity, angry neurons, or laziness?

Suffer no longer. There is an explanation for your “craziness”. And chances are, it involves your genetics.

My Story

In 2014, for my symptoms of two periods a month, significant weight loss, chronic fatigue, weakness, and faintness, I was told by an OB-GYN physician to go on the pill. That would fix all my problems.

An NP told me that I had hormonal imbalance (she was partially right, but that was not the root cause. Hormonal imbalance was just one of the symptoms).

Convinced that neither the pill nor other hormone therapy qualified as an optimal solution – and both sounded like bandages (harmful ones, no less) to my problems, I declined to take the pill or pursue hormone therapy, and instead focused on trying to heal myself of adrenal fatigue, which I suspected at the time was my main issue (again, this was part of the problem, but not exactly the root cause of my symptoms. The home remedies did help to an extent, though.).

Little did I know that I was being poisoned.

poison bottle

How My Job Destroyed My Health

For about two and a half years, I worked at a large retail company. Only recently (long after leaving) did I learn that this particular company was one of the worst places I could have worked (my current doctor said as much!).

According to my physician, certain retail stores and the mall are typically drenched in formaldehyde. So basically, I was slowly being killed each time I clocked in.

I remember that there were odd smells – probably from weird additives – emanating from the deli lunch meat that would pass through the checkout, and there was at least one cleaning powder we would use on the floor that would make me extremely sick (and since it was powder, it was pretty easy to breathe in).

The problem is, once I’m exposed to harmful chemicals and toxins, I have a very hard time detoxing from them, due to genetic mutations on the MTHFR and CBS genes.

After about nine months of working there, I had to take a leave of absence. I was frequently feeling dizzy and faint, and bleeding twice a month (and my “main” period was getting heavier, more painful, and longer). I was unable to properly function on the job.

I had no idea at the time what was happening.

No one did. Not even the multiple health professionals I visited (though one natural-solution-minded professional was able to recommend some supplements that were at least partially helpful).

After around 6-8 weeks of LOA, I returned to work, but I still didn’t feel completely well.

Around 1.5 years later, I left this workplace for a different job at a medical imaging facility, and experienced a considerable health improvement with this change.

But the poisoning from that prolonged exposure eventually caught up with me. Even the exposure to patients in poor health and to gluten-contaminated hospital food at my new workplace added to the pile of toxic overload.

And eventually – not long after leaving this workplace – I reached a point where I could barely function at all.

I had met my poison threshold.

The Science Behind “Neurological”, “Mental”, and Invisible Diseases

MTHFR. CBS. NBPF3. These are the names of just a few genes that are frequently implicated in modern day’s invisible and autoimmune diseases.

In this article, I will be focusing primarily on MTHFR and CBS. Learn more about pyroluria (gene NBPF3) here.


cute fluffy dog

Photo credit:


Are you allergic to everything? Plants, mold, pets, dust? Foods like tomato, spinach, oranges, and avocado?

If you answered “yes”, then you are likely an undermethylator.

This means you have at least one mutated allele on the MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) gene (it’s possible to have several mutated alleles – in different locations on this gene (MTHFR) alone. I have at least 13.)

MTHFR, when working properly, is responsible for the synthesis of the MTHFR compound – a methylation chemical that is responsible for detoxing the body. If part of your MTHFR code is mutated, however, your ability to create this chemical will likely be impaired. The tweaking of even one chemical in the entire MTHFR DNA sequence (say, guanine replaces adenine in one spot in the DNA code) will give you a mutation that could impair your ability to produce MTHFR by approximately 30%. If you got this DNA tweak from both parents though, your ability to create this chemical can be impaired by 70%.

What does this mean for your health? It means that, because you’re not making (or making enough of) the methyl donors (methylation compounds like MTHFR), your body will be extremely challenged to remove heavy metals, fluoride, other pollutants, and histamine from your body.

Histamine buildup means inflammation buildup.

I’m 24, and my doctor says my symptoms indicate that I have heart issues (even though I strive to maintain a pristine, non-toxic, highly-nutritious diet). Why, at age 24, when maintaining a healthy lifestyle, do I have heart issues?

The answer largely lies with MTHFR. Even the air I breathe (high-pollen) is enough to cause histamine (an inflammatory substance) to accumulate in my body. I cannot easily eliminate the histamine from my system, so that inflammation builds up and affects my heart.

Histamine is also a neurotransmitter, so when it accumulates, it can throw off the neurotransmitter balance in the brain and gut (which is the “big brain”). Depression and anxiety are frequently correlated with neurotransmitter imbalance.

Cleaners, heavy metals like aluminum and mercury (which my doctor found to still be significantly present in my system from immunizations that I had as a child), and poisoned water (rich in fluoride and heavy metals) all make me sick – more than they would someone who doesn’t have any MTHFR mutations.


CBS stands for cystathionine beta-synthase, an enzyme responsible for ensuring the proper processing of sulfur in the body.

When one has a mutation on the CBS gene, it is actually an upregulation, which means that the CBS enzyme works too fast, getting used up too quickly.

When there is not enough CBS enzyme left to process sulfur, high-sulfur foods and drugs are processed incorrectly, resulting in harmful byproducts. Compounds such as ammonia (not a sulfur compound, but highly caustic) are created, and the sulfur element itself often ends up as excess taurine (an amino acid) or sulfites (other toxic compounds).

The ammonia can make its way to the brain, burning neurons (brain cells). This causes brain fog. Another possible side effect of CBS mutations is itchy skin. When I stopped eating high-sulfur foods, this symptom improved significantly for me.

How I’m Recovering from Poisoning

I am avoiding shopping at most large retail stores and the mall. As long as I expose myself to extremely toxic environments, it will be very difficult for me to heal (my detox process is so slow that any small amount of toxic exposure could be enough to undo the work of several months). So I’m very careful what places I go.

I avoid foods that I know might have slightly higher amounts of mercury, like tuna fish or farmed fish. I avoid city water (too much fluoride [often] and heavy metals). I am fortunate to have access to well water, but if that weren’t the case, then I’d want to purchase a quality water filter.

I also have an air filter in my bedroom.

I threw away my few drycleaned items (which were likely cleaned with perchloroethylene (perc), a highly toxic compound).

Perc has been linked to:

  • an increased risk of bladder, esophogeal, and cervical cancer
  • eye, nose, throat, and skin irritations
  • reduced fertility

Perc also breaks down into other harmful compounds in the ground, polluting groundwater and air.

Additionally, I am limiting my exposure to books (sadness 🙁 …guess I’ll just have to become a Kindle person again), exposure to pollen (as this increases inflammation which can affect my heart), and most foods. I am only putting into my system things that I believe will aid more than harm (or, ideally, only aid) me in my recovery process. Except…when I mistake a problem food for a healthy one….

I am also taking up yoga, which has significantly improved my blood circulation and has helped me to relax and enjoy somewhat improved energy levels.

Meanwhile, I am working very hard to build an online business which I can maintain from home or take anywhere with me, so that I can be more free to cook healthy food, manage my circadian rhythm, and have less exposure to toxins as I attempt to repair my body (and encounter less toxic exposure long-term).


More Steps in My Recovery

A few months ago, I started seriously consuming bone broth every or nearly every day. I even took a three-day “bone broth fast”, where I consumed only bone broth, ghee, and licorice supplements (note: if you try this, be prepared to be out of commission for the duration of the fast).

After this fast, I noticed a slight improvement in my gut health. I was able to reintroduce some foods back into my diet.

bowl of pretty, dewy cherries

Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash


To learn more about my health journey, check out my post When You Can Only Eat Five Foods.

Disclaimer: I am not a physician, just someone who’s read a lot on health, medicine, and home remedies, and conducted many personal health experiments. Please do not treat this information as medical advice. Consult your physician regarding any health concerns.


© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved


avocado sliced in half

I Thought Avocado Was My Friend

In my post, When You Can Only Eat Five Foods, I recently updated the part where I said I couldn’t eat avocado, stating that I now can.

Well, that’s changed again.

For the past few weeks, I was consuming avocado on a pretty regular basis, because I noticed no immediate or obvious side effects initially when reintroducing it into my diet.

However, as the weeks progressed, I began to develop terrible skin issues (itchiness everywhere and cystic acne on the jawline). My faintness and labored breathing returned. I began shedding more hair. I started noticing a metallic/sick taste in my mouth. I was again experiencing deep, heavy fatigue.

I couldn’t understand what was going on. Avocado was the only food that I’d recently introduced and kept in my diet. There was no other variable or diet alteration that I could consider primarily culpable.

But if avocado was the problem, why didn’t the symptoms show up right away?

Little did I know that avocado is rich in glutathione, a sulfur-based chelator/methyl donor/detox agent/antioxidant that has the power to really heal or really hurt you, depending on your genetics.

I stumbled on this information as I was researching the sulfur content of strawberries. I ended up reading about other high-sulfur fruits during my search, which led me to the avocado thing.

(Sure enough, the high-sulfur fruits mentioned are all ones that I’ve found problematic. Definitely pineapple, watermelon, and grapefruit. Another site mentioned coconut, which I also cannot tolerate.)

Pineapple, watermelon, grapefruit…

And avocado.

There was my answer.

Sulfur symptoms often manifest after a certain tolerance threshold is met. So they may not show up right away (or at all, if your intake is low enough and tolerance is high enough).

The itchy skin, acne, and potentially all of the other symptoms I was (and am) experiencing would fit with the symptoms of a sulfur reaction. I’ve experienced all of these symptoms in the past, especially before beginning a low-sulfur diet.

I didn’t reach my sulfur tolerance threshold until a few weeks in of moderate sulfur intake (from the glutathione in the avocado). Or, I may have unwittingly reached the threshold sooner than that, but the symptoms themselves just required time to manifest or were showing up very gradually.

If I hadn’t been avoiding many other high-sulfur foods, the symptoms would have presented a lot faster.

It takes a while to recover from sulfur toxicity, if you’re sulfur-sensitive like I am (due to CBS and probably SUOX mutations – genetic variants which hamper sulfur metabolic pathways).

For many people, sulfur and glutathione are invaluable in the prevention of cancer, promotion of weight-loss, and as aids in detoxification. That’s largely why foods like broccoli, kale, garlic, and onion are generally considered to be so good for you.

However, certain genetic variants can cause these same substances to actually be extremely harmful to the liver, because toxins get created instead of healthy compounds, when there is a broken sulfur-processing gene (like CBS).

As long as I don’t surpass my personal glutathione tolerance threshold (the small amount of glutathione [and sulfur] that I have enough enzymes to process), I seem to do okay with some other foods containing glutathione, such as bone broth and apples (to a certain degree). Carrots (high in glutathione and consequently high-sulfur) are starting to bother me.

The Aftermath of Sulfur Toxicity

At this point, I’ve been avoiding avocado for about three days.

Currently, I am experiencing head pressure/aches that differ from the headaches I usually experience.

My “normal” headaches involve pounding, congested, swollen, or tight sensations.

With these headaches, however, it feels as though my head is being stretched out, and there’s this magnetic pull inside my brain.

I suspect that the pain is resulting from nervous system damage as sulfur binds to the mercury in my tissues and redistributes the metal throughout my brain.

Some doctors would say this pain is just a symptom of detoxification, but in fact, I am only being poisoned more.

If the sulfur chelation (a process often transpiring when you consume sulfur) were working – and I was therefore detoxing – then my nervous system would have been detoxed a long time ago, as I’ve eaten high-sulfur foods and/or taken high-sulfur supplements for most of my life.

There would be little to no metals left to detox.

But according to my physician, the neurotoxic metals are still present – to a serious degree.

That’s the thing with CBS mutations. Because the liver is so shot – so overburdened – it is unable to handle any extra poisoning of the bloodstream and body tissues caused by chelation. Thus, the toxins that are bound to the sulfur just recirculate throughout the body – inflicting damage as they go, and settling somewhere new, because the liver has no capacity to handle the toxins.

In fact, chelation only broadens the extent of tissue damage, because the toxins (such as mercury) can get redistributed in the brain.

While I’m recovering and letting the sulfur slowly exit my system, I am avoiding turkey (a food with low to moderate amounts of sulfur, due to the protein). Turkey is the only meat I eat besides fish (wild-caught cod and salmon, though I’m thinking about transitioning to just salmon). If I were consuming beef or lamb, I’d want to cut those out completely, as they contain higher amounts of sulfur.

Somehow, avocado wormed its way into my diet, disguised as an ally. But it slowly turned sour on me, revealing its true colors. Sneaky thing. 😛

However, if you can tolerate avocado, by all means include more in your diet! The powerful green fruit offers myriad health benefits.



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Disclaimer: I am not a physician, just someone who’s read a lot on health, medicine, and home remedies, and conducted many personal health experiments. Please do not treat this information as medical advice. Consult your physician regarding any health concerns.


© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved


When You Can Only Eat Five Foods

Yes, you read that right. Earlier this summer, my diet was reduced to about 5-10 “staples”. Chicken broth, apples, turkey, carrots, olive oil….

This diet was not a doctor’s order. But it was my last stab at trying to feel better.

Migraines, cluster headaches, brain fog, chronic fatigue, persistent infection, excessive hair loss, dizziness, low/high blood pressure, unstable blood sugar levels, chronic acne and skin issues resembling rosacea/psoriasis, extreme depression and anxiety, hormonal imbalances, neurotransmitter deficiencies, and widespread, chronic aches. And…allergies.

Any of this sound familiar? Read on.


Over the years, I have developed sensitivities and allergies to every food on the planet. (Sound like leaky gut?) While leaky gut was certainly a factor in my rapidly declining health, there were definitely more bugs crawling beneath the carpet.

If I were to tell you that approximately 50% of the population has a gene variant associated with impaired detoxification abilities, would that surprise you?

The gene is appropriately abbreviated MTHFR. Which actually stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. Chances are (50/50), you have at least one mutation on this gene. About fifty percent of us are waltzing (or stumbling, fumbling, bumbling) through life un-detoxed.

When one has an MTHFR mutation, the ability to produce MTHFR – the detox chemical – is severely impaired (by at least 30%) However, if you got this mutation from both Mom and Dad, production impairment can reach 70%.

Upon taking a genetic test, I learned that I have at least thirteen broken (disadvantageously mutated) MTHFR alleles. My ability to remove toxins (heavy metals, fluoride, excess histamine) from my system is essentially nonexistent. I am an undermethylator.

Undermethylators frequently suffer from histamine intolerance. They may react to foods such as avocado, tomatoes, bananas, and spinach. Other possible food intolerances include citrus, berries, nuts, cured meats, and fermented foods.

Well, if detoxing is the issue, there are solutions for that. Chelation, sulfur, garlic, lots of cruciferous vegetables…. Right?

Alas, if only the solution were that straightforward.

CBS Gene

The catch-22 is that I also have variations on the CBS (cystathionine-beta-synthase) gene, which cause me to react strongly to sulfur, chelation, and cruciferous vegetables. Not only do these substances cause reactions, but their detoxification properties actually don’t even work on me. In fact, consuming these sulfur-based foods and medicines increases toxic buildup for me, by promoting extra production of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide in the system.

All this toxic overload creates a massive burden on the liver. When the liver struggles to filter out toxins – because there is too much junk (ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, histamine) to handle – the toxins spill into the bloodstream and take a ride all the way to the brain. As the blood-brain barrier is very weak when it comes to ammonia, this caustic substance easily accesses brain cells and burns them. This is why people with CBS mutations frequently experience brain fog.

To make matters worse, those who have been poisoned by mercury (which, these days, would be most of us) AND who have CBS mutations suffer more intensely when sulfur is consumed. The sulfur (in the form of cruciferous vegetables, chelation, MSM, and other foods/supplements) binds to the mercury and drags it along throughout the body, but DOES NOT eliminate it. The mercury stays in the system of a CBS sufferer, after it has inflicted much damage to cells by binding to the sulfur and being pulled around everywhere.

So. No broccoli, kale, garlic, onion, cabbage, cauliflower, egg, dairy, wheat, beans, or nuts for me (there are also additional health reasons I avoid some of these, but I won’t get into that now). I also have to limit my intake of high-protein foods, as complete proteins contain the sulfur-based amino acid cysteine. When I do consume heavy amounts of protein, I try to take claycharcoal, L-Ornithine, yucca root, and/or magnesium (magnesium is important for SO many chemical reactions in the body). These protect the body and brain from ammonia.

I reached a point where I could barely function. My skin was itchy all the time, and my brain also felt “itchy”. It was just constantly tired and irritated. As if it were on fire.

Well, once I started avoiding all things sulfur, these symptoms went away. My skin began to clear up, and itched much less. My foul-smelling flatulence also disappeared. 🙂

The Next Step in My Recovery

However, I still felt pretty crappy overall (very tired and sluggish, blood sugar would drop, pain in the gut). And I was continuing to develop or notice more food sensitivities.

To balance my blood sugar, I had to cut out all grains. (I was still consuming rice and rice products at the time.)

I realized that if I was going to avoid developing allergies to the precious few foods I could still eat, I would have to heal my leaky gut.

So I took a three day “fast”, during which I consumed only homemade broth (rich in gut-healing properties, especially if you keep the fat), ghee, and licorice pills (no candy). 🙂

It made a difference. After this fast, I was able to reintroduce a few foods into my diet (including wild caught cod/salmon, cherries, and some berries, and eventually amaranth flour, which is now my baking flour of choice). [UPDATE: This has changed. I had to remove amaranth from my diet. I suspect the lectins were affecting me. However, I’ve been able to use quinoa flour in moderation, and lots of tiger nut flour! See My Journey to Recovery: An Update.] I also noticed that some smells (eggs, laundry detergent) bothered me somewhat less than they used to. I still have food sensitivities though. Pumpkin is a no-no.


Once I was able to add some nutrition back into my diet, I began to feel a little better, but my emotions were noticeably off. While taking some informal neurotransmitter deficiency tests online, I came across a test for pyroluria. Based on my indicative results, I decided to research this condition further.

I learned that pyroluria is a genetic condition, estimated to be present in 10-11 % of the population. It is not recognized by much of the medical community (I have cynical theories as to why), and it is one of the most common undiagnosed conditions.

Symptoms of pyroluria can include anxiety, depression, poor gut health, and skin problems. I think pyroluria deserves its own post, so I’ll leave it here and just say that taking vitamin B6 (in the enzymatic, P5P form), and zinc has made a phenomenal difference for me here. My energy and outlook have significantly improved, and I can tolerate protein slightly better (though I still have to be careful).

I’ve also been experimenting with the ketogenic diet. When going keto, I notice significantly improved physical energy and mental clarity.

Equal, or perhaps second-best (for me) to the keto diet, is a high-fat, med-carb (mostly fruit), low-protein diet. Kinda counterintuitive, but the foods that make me feel the healthiest are not meat and veggies, but rather (healthy) fats, fruit, and salt. YesLots of salt. Makes the adrenal glands happy. High salt consumption has also stabilized my blood pressure! (You also need to replenish electrolytes more when on the keto diet.)

I still consume homemade broth nearly every day, to continue the process of healing my gut.

2-3 months ago, I feared that at 24, I had a life of chronic illness ahead of me. But I finally believe that I’m getting my life back.

So many of these topics deserve their own post(s). So I will wrap it up here for now.

Have you dealt with chronic illness? Did some of the symptoms or solutions I mentioned resonate with your own experiences? Let me know in the comments below!

Disclaimer: Each individual is, well, individual. Different genetic combination. Different environmental and life factors. Consequently, appropriate treatment will, no doubt, vary from person to person. I am not a doctor, just someone who has studied genetics a lot, has some “interesting” genetics, and has experimented on herself because of that. Please do not treat this information as medical advice.

© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

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