In January 2016 I was diagnosed with Cauda Equina Syndrome after suffering a massive central disc herniation at L5-S1. This is a rare syndrome caused by compression of the cauda equina which is the horse tail of nerves connected to the spinal cord in the lumbar spine. Prior to this event I suffered 2 years of severe back pain and headaches after being misdiagnosed and undergoing a very unnecessary spinal tap and subsequent blood patch for a CSF leak in 2014. Prior to this the only time I ever went to a Doctor was for a yearly check-up.
During this time I experienced a decline in my neurologic function from the waist down until I ultimately woke up one morning paralyzed from the waist down, unable to move my feet or legs and with complete loss of bladder control. I was also in suicidal level pain. Rather than go to the hospital network I was dealing with for 2 years, I had a friend drive me to another hospital Emergency Dept where I underwent an Emergency MRI, my first one and was transported to a state of the art spine center for emergency neurosurgery to decompress my cauda equina.
After surgery my pain and chronic 2 year headache was gone. I was left barely able to walk, my legs very weak and with right foot drop. I was unable to feel most of my right leg and right foot. My injury was incomplete and a combination of sensory and motor dysfunction. Although my neurosurgeon and the spine center were amazing and restored my faith in the Medical system, there was little research about Cauda Equina Syndrome, and they were not quite sure what to do with me.
Having a background in healthcare myself (I am a nurse and a pharmacist), I took massive drastic action because I had nothing to lose by trying. The first of which was getting myself discharged from the spine center with home services and this is where my experiment began.
My Full Recovery 2.5 years later:
After reading PubMed daily and over 500 papers and books during my 2 year recovery, I started implementing the science I was reading. I started a ketogenic diet 80/15/5, hydrating with a gallon of water a day so my discs were getting the raw materials they needed to heal via diffusion during restorative sleep. The next thing I did was start training everyday with the rehab exercises to correct my gait, muscle imbalances and build my endurance. Everyday I spent time visualizing my nerves regenerating and using what I learned about epigenetics from Bruce Lipton. I kept my mindset strong and positive at all times in a state of unwavering faith and determination.
The strange thing I noticed myself doing was intuitively gravitating towards eating a more meat based diet. The past 5 months my carbs have reduced dramatically and I have more carnivore days. I truly believe providing my nerves with an alternative fuel source in the form of ketones is the reason they recovered and for the full recovery I was fortunate to have. I also believe this way of eating generated the stem cells in my body I needed to repair L5-S1. My injury was a peripheral nerve injury which is more forgiving than a spinal cord injury. There is no way anyone can tell me that nerves can not regenerate or recover. It is possible and it is a slow process.
The final result of my recovery experiment:
20 pound maintained fat loss and overhaul of body composition.
Complete resolution of right foot drop
Complete return of motor and sensory function in my legs and feet minus 2 toes on my right foot (still have hope) and my saddle.
Complete return of bladder and resolution of saddle anesthesia.
Correction of gait and able to walk normal
Ran a 5k in under 35 minutes
Able to train like Arnold in the gym with weights again
More endurance in training
Return to my full-time pharmacy job
As a side benefit cured from PCOS, eczema resolved and glowing wrinkle free skin.
A spine that my neurosurgeon said looks better than the general population
Resolution of hypertrophy and inflammation at L5-S1 facet joint
Improved glute and core strength resulting in increased lumbar spine stabilization.
In the best shape of my life at 40 years old
I shared my story in the hope it will add value and be of help to someone dealing with a neurological condition. Don’t be afraid to empower yourself and work outside the healthcare system to find your cure. Thank you Dr Baker for the knowledge you have shared on your platforms and for your role in my continued recovery and health transformation.
I would like to make this short and simple since this diet is just that. Cutting out all carbohydrates has been the most profound thing I have done for my health. It’s been a phenomenal 3 months. The benefits of this diet are undeniable and obvious. I have experienced optimal health for the first time after a long journey of seeking it. I now know what it feels like to be nourished for the first time in my 32 years of life, even after vegan, paleo, Atkins.
I have to ask, why has this been hidden for so long? As an ICU nurse I care for a never-ending line of heart attack and stroke patients. They just never stop coming and its all day everyday, and everywhere.
Neuro: My mood is stable and peaceful all day, my mind is easily focused. No more need for coffee or caffeine intake. No more energy crashes after meals. Nagging back pain from a pinched nerve is gone.
Cardiopulmonary: A significant improvement in both short and long distance exercises. Recovery during exercise is much faster.
Gut health: NO more gas, bloating, hemorrhoids and painful bowel movements. There is very little stool output every 3-4 days. I used to eat 2-3 bananas a day just to keep everything regular and soft.
Losing weight is effortless: I lost 17 pounds of water and fat in 2 weeks (from 205-188). I’m leaner than I ever been. I eat beef, eggs, and lard. I’ve never been more satisfied and still get excited for every meal. I’m never hungry between meals, I can easily work a 12 hour shift without food or snacks. I stopped taking all my supplements: vitamins/minerals, fish oil, protein powders, pre-workouts. I no longer feel like I’m missing out on anything in my diet anymore. Sugar cravings no longer exist. The idea of something sweet is now repulsive to me.
Genitourinary: Kidneys still work just fine. Libido healthier than ever.
Musculoskeletal: I can see my abs again with relatively little work. I used to work out twice a day! Crossfit has been my life. After adopting this diet I no longer feel the need to exercise as much. (this is a huge benefit for me). If I miss a few days or even a week in the gym, it’s no big deal. I just feel so good and my joints are happier for it. This is the lowest percentage of body fat I’ve ever experienced.
Lastly, we need to advocate this diet to our friends and family. I know the majority of people will scoff at the idea of an all meat diet, but statistically speaking these are the same people who will eventually be rotating through emergency rooms, ICU’s, nursing homes, and morgues.
Cut out all plant food. Stay away from coffee and tea. Eat meat and drink water. Do this for a month and you’ll better understand that humans evolved to eat this way for a reason.
Diet: Standard American Diet
Weight: 230 lbs
Atherosclerotic coronary disease (CAC score: 99)
Gout: right great toe
Autoimmune Inflammatory conditions
Neuropathy due to peroneal nerve entrapment after left knee replacement
3 Anti-hypertension medications
1 thyroid medication
Limited ability to walk any distance due to arthritis.
Limited ability to stand longer than 5 minutes due to neuropathy.
I started my carnivore eating in the 90 day Carnivore Challenge in August 2017.
My weight after 90 days: 192 lbs
I have tried so many ways of eating. From Weight Watchers to Nutrisystem to Jenny Craig to Low Fat. I just got fatter and fatter. I was put on more and more blood pressure medication. I had more and more arthritis, swelling and pains. One knee joint was so bad, I had a knee replacement. That set off another series of inflammatory issues and more health issue. Sad indeed.
I followed the Autoimmune Protocol diet to resolve my AI Hepatitis after my knee replacement. I also tried the ketogenic way of eating, but it wasn’t until I only ate meat did my issues start to change. And wow, did they change dramatically! I am no longer on any antihypertensive medications. I take 1/2 of my thyroid medication every other day. No more joint pain in knees, fingers, hips, or great toe, so I am no longer take any anti-inflammatory medications. My anxiety dramatically improved. I can walk long distances again. My left lower leg no longer goes numb. I can actually stand without worrying of falling or stumbling when I walk. My post Carnivore 90 Day blood work showed some improvements in a few of the lipids.
7/17/2017 – 5.9
11/17/2017 – 5.1
I am no longer pre-diabetic. I am tracking the dyslipidemia and coronary calcification. I will have additional testing for both next August.
I will continue to eat meats, drink water, coffee and an occasional wine.
My health journey continues and I will keep you updated as to my cardiac improvements!
These are my health improvements after 1 year of cutting out all plants and dairy from my diet:
Healed knee: I had a bike accident as a kid and have always felt a slight pain in my knee since then. My knee is now completely healed. The healing process took 6 month and my body performed something akin to surgery on it self: my knee got really swollen during the healing process and I felt something (which I believe was a tiny piece of gravel left from the bike accident) was being pulled out of my knee.
No more back pain: I would wake up every morning with cramp in my back muscles. it’s all gone now.
No more stiff muscles: most of my muscles used to be really stiff.
Better bowel movements, no more diarrhea, no more bloody stool.
No more night sweats. I would occasionally wake up during the night and my pillow would be soaked in sweat. No more.
Not tired when I wake up in the morning. I’ve become a morning person.
Not tired after eating.
Better eyesight: everything is much sharper and colors are really vivid. I used to have to squint on sunny days before. Not anymore.
Ocular migraine is gone: I think this is due to quitting coffee.
Cleansed sinuses: my sinuses always used to be clogged up. now they have been cleansed. I have felt my pulse in my sinuses for the last 12 months.
Regained sense of smell: directly after starting zero carb I noticed that I could smell the perfume of people on the streets. This had never happened before.
No more anxiety: I used to get stressed out over stupid things. Now I’m the calmest I’ve ever been. I think this is due to quitting coffee.
Better cognitive functions.
Constantly high energy levels.
Better sleep and better dreams. I have not had a nightmare since I started with this diet.
No more dry skin.
No physical fatigue: I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt before.
No winter cold: this is the first year in +10 years that I haven’t had a cold.
No more nosebleed: I used to get nosebleeds on a regular basis. It’s all gone now.
Happier: I’ve never felt this happy in my life before. Now I get sudden bursts of euphoria from time to time. 🙂
Better fine motor skills: playing the piano has never been this easy.
No more red hands: my hands used to occasionally turn red. Not anymore.
No more white fingers (Raynaud syndrome): I think this is due to quitting coffee.
No cravings for food: I used to get cravings for e.g. ice cream and chocolate. Now I only feel hunger.
No more pain between toes (Morton’s neuroma).
Gaining weight: I’ve always been tall and skinny and has never been able to gain either muscle mass or body fat. Now I’m starting to gain weight as my body is absorbing the food I eat.
Quick recovery after physical exercise. I play squash, do TRX, and ride racing bike and recovery has never been this quick. Hardly any muscle soreness.
More stuff has happened that I cannot put into words: I just know that my body feels better and that something has healed that I don’t know what it is. I just feel that I have increased my life expectancy by many years.
All of this happened just because I stopped eating plants and dairy! Better yet, I haven’t paid a penny for it and haven’t been to an MD 🙂 The Internet has been my only resource.
That being said, the healing process was quite intense. I certainly got the keto flu and was many time questioning if I was doing the right thing. I want to thank everyone who has gone through this process and has shared their stories on the Internet. Without having access to all these personal stories I don’t think I would have continued all the way through. Heck, I wouldn’t have come across this diet to start with if it wasn’t for the Internet! This is why I want to share my experience with everyone.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not an MD and have no training or education in nutrition whatsoever. This is purely anecdotal information. As such, I do not give any dietary recommendations. You will have to decide yourself what diet you chose to have. I’m an engineer and academic researcher, and as such the only thing I recommend is that you experiment with different diets and listen to your own body and how it reacts to the food you eat.