Eggshells – a cheap non-dairy source of calcium

If you are going to adhere to a dairy free diet, you are going to need to find another source of calcium. Humans require calcium for muscle contraction, blood clotting, normal heart rhythm, as well as nerve functions. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium is around 1000mg per day. The RDA is elevated to 1,300 milligrams per day during adolescence because this is the life stage with accelerated bone growth.

For women above age fifty and men older than seventy-one, the RDAs are also a bit higher for several reasons including that as we age, calcium absorption in the gut decreases, vitamin D3 activation is reduced, and maintaining adequate blood levels of calcium is important to prevent an acceleration of bone tissue loss (especially during menopause). Results of some large trials found that higher calcium intakes (usually achieved with a supplement) was associated with improved bone density and slightly lower risk of hip fractures.

Now in regards to eggshells – most people probably don’t eat them, but eggshells are an excellent source of calcium. Eggshells are also a natural source of other elements such as strontium and fluorine. Approximately half an eggshell from a 42g egg would provide 750 mg of calcium, which is 75% of the daily recommended value of 1000mg. Clinical and experimental studies showed that eggshell powder has positive effects on bone and cartilage and that it is suitable in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

How can you eat an eggshell though?

My process is simple – I often eat boiled eggs for breakfast in the morning. Once I peel the egg, I am left with an eggshell that has already been sanitized by boiling (it’s important to sanitize the eggshells due to the possibility of the Salmonella bacteria being on the shell). I then bake the eggshells at a low temperature of 225F in order to dry them. After they cool down, I simply grind the shells into fine powder using a coffee grinder. The powder can be consumed with a spoon, added to smoothies, oatmeal, dough, etc.

Celiac disease and dairy proteins – summarization of articles

I want to address the issue of whether dairy could be an issue for those with celiac disease. I don’t think that I will be able to arrive at an exact answer with this post, but I do wish to summarize existing articles and evidence on this topic. From my personal experience, I get all the same symptoms from dairy products as from foods containing gluten. The symptoms include pains in the lower abdomen, bloating, constipation, fatigue, inflammation of the eyelids, as well as psychiatric symptoms including panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. Gathering anecdotal evidence by speaking to reddit users in the gluten-free subreddit, multiple individuals have also expressed the same experience with dairy causing similar symptoms to gluten. Also these individuals noticed that the same symptoms were caused by lactose-free products, therefore likely the culprit is not the sugar (lactose), but the proteins in dairy (casein). Below I will summarize several articles addressing the consumption of casein by individuals with celiac disease.

The first study that I found looking at the correlation between gluten and casein is from 2007, Mucosal reactivity to cow’s milk protein in coeliac disease. This article discusses the fact that some celiac patients on a gluten-free diet still experience gastrointestinal symptoms. The authors then examine whether these patients have an inflammatory immune response to the protein in cow’s milk. The results of this study indicated that in fact in a fraction of celiac patients did experience a similar reaction to the milk protein as to gluten. As usual, I used python to create article summaries, including this one.

Summary:
On clinical grounds cow’s milk (CM) protein sensitivity may be suspected. Here, using rectal protein challenge, we investigated the local inflammatory reaction to gluten and CM protein in adult patients with CD in remission.
In 18 of 20 patients gluten challenge induced neutrophil activation defined as increased MPO release and increased NO synthesis.
A mucosal inflammatory response similar to that elicited by gluten was produced by CM protein in about 50% of the patients with coeliac disease.

Summary using LexRank (graph-based method for computing relative importance of sentences):

Mean rectal ΔMPO was 303 ± 27 µg/l after casein challenge and 16 ± 27 µg/l after challenge with α-lactalbumin.
Compared to healthy controls, patients with CD showed significant increases in rectal NO and MPO concentrations measured 15 h after challenge with both CM and gluten (P < 0·001), while ECP was increased to a similar extent in the two groups ( ).
The major finding in this study is that rectal challenge with CM protein frequently induced a local inflammatory mucosal reaction in patients with CD but not in healthy controls.
Our patients with CD had normal serum levels of IgA, IgG and IgE against casein and α-lactalbumin, which might be explained by the fact that they were on a gluten-free diet and therefore had improved the mucosal integrity.
Our finding that, in a fraction of coeliac patients, CM protein challenge may induce an inflammatory reaction of the same magnitude, as did gluten challenge, may also suggest an innate as well as adaptive immune response to CM, and casein in particular.

There were several other studies on the topic of gluten-free and casein-diet, but they all investigated whether this diet would help patients on the autism spectrum, which is not the topic of my post. I did find another short article on gluten-free and casein-free diet helping with psychotic symptoms. Personally I have a similar experience, as consuming any gluten or dairy increases my paranoia, panic attacks, and intrusive thoughts. The authors claim that there is a following mechanism for psychosis:

“In autism and schizophrenia, incomplete digestion of certain proteins, gluten and casein, cause an autoimmune response as indicated by elevated levels of IgA and IgG antibodies. This intestinal malabsorption also causes pathogenic elements (peptide fractions), which bind to opioid receptors by crossing the blood-brain barrier. This releases exorphins (opiate-like substances, similar to certain drugs) that cause psychotic symptoms.”

Evidence-Based Practice: Introduction of a Gluten-Free and Casein-Free Diet to Alleviate Psychotic Symptoms
A case review of a young boy yielded an unexpected resolution of psychotic symptoms after the introduction of a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet.
The purpose of this paper is to show that health care professionals may use a gluten-free and casein-free diet (GFCF) as an additional element to standard treatment methods, to alleviate psychotic symptoms.
Additionally noted were similarities between autism and schizophrenia.
Introduction of a GFCF diet helps reduce psychotic symptoms, and gives another option for patients resistant to traditional treatment methods, especially adolescents and young adults.
Keywords: autism, gluten-free, casein-free diet (GFCF), psychosis, schizophrenia

My previous mistake when going on a dairy-free diet: too many food restrictions and not enough calcium

I want to describe my mistakes with my previous attempt at going dairy-free. A bit of background – I started experiencing severe abdominal cramps in my 20s, then also I started to have panic attacks, fatigue, and swollen eyelids. I had problems waking up in the morning. I ended up being referred to a psychiatrist, but the medications did not help. Finally an endocrinologist checked my antibodies and found that I had very high levels of thyroid antibodies, so my immune system was attacking and damaging my thyroid. I was put on thyroid medication. I also was referred to a neurologist who then diagnosed me with autoimmune encephalitis (brain inflammation), and I was treated with intravenous steroids (for immunosuppression). At the same time I started reading online a lot about autoimmune diseases and I came across articles about the AIP diet. I was feeling to unwell, so I decided that I had to change my lifestyle, and I started following the AIP diet strictly – no dairy, no gluten, no soy, no grains, no legumes, no nuts, no chocolate, no alcohol. There were a lot of restrictions! You can google this diet, if you are curious.

After the corticosteroid treatment and the diet change, I did start feeling better, I l also lost 20kg, but I still experienced a lot of symptoms such as irritability, leg spasms, feeling of numbness in my fingers, and insomnia. I ended up deciding that there was no scientific evidence for my dietary restrictions, and at some point I went back to eating dairy and gluten, as well as the rest of the foods. I ended up gaining 30kg, and starting to again experiencing paranoia, panic attacks, nightmares, and fatigue.

I recently decided to look into my diet again and instead of going into the extremes – such as the very strict AIP diet, I started with excluding dairy. I also realized that when I was dairy-free the first time, I did not consume any foods with calcium, and that could have been the cause of my muscle cramps and numbness in my hands. This time I looked into non-dairy sources of calcium and calculated how much of those foods I would need to be eating. I have now been dairy free since February, I also went gluten-free and soy-free, as I noticed through multiple observations, that those foods were also causing symptoms for me. I now no longer have any pains in the lower abdomen, I have more energy and was able to attend yoga classes. I have no symptoms of low calcium this time, as I eat canned sardines, canned salmon with bones, and powdered egg shells. I am feeling much better, and I have lost around 22 pounds since February.

Simple gluten-free and dairy free breakfast

I have decided to go not only dairy-free, which I have been doing for a while, but also gluten-free again. This has led me to re-planning my meals. When I previously followed a dairy-free and gluten-free diet during 2016-2018, I was able to loose a lot of weight. I can’t be certain that it was specifically the avoidance of gluten and dairy, as I was also taking Cytomel (a synthetic version of the T3 thyroid hormone), and Cytomel is known to possible lead to significant weight loss. I started eating gluten again three years ago, as I was not convinced that there is such a condition as gluten intolerance (without having celiac disease). I am still not convinced that I have gluten intolerance, but being currently quite overweight, and not being able to lose the extra weight, I decided to try the gluten-free diet again. I don’t think that I will miss out on any vitamins by giving up gluten, as my diet is varied enough in order to obtain all the essentials. In any case, I can always return to eating gluten if I will not observe any effects of a gluten-free diet on my weight.

I have been already eating healthy, in my opinion, but now my meals required some re-planning. It’s no longer possible to eat a rye toast with hummus in the morning, or a smoked salmon whole-wheat sandwich for lunch. I also don’t really enjoy cooking and would like this process to be as simple as possible. In the morning I have a small gap of time between the time that the nanny arrives and the time at which I have to start work. Therefore, breakfast preparation has to be especially quick. Below is my idea for a breakfast meal that requires very little cooking or waiting. It also does not contain any refined carbohydrates.

Meal: boiled eggs, a gluten-free tortilla with hummus, oatmeal with coconut milk and berries

Main protein: one or two boiled eggs (depending on how hungry you are)
Start cooking the eggs as the first step, as other items will take a shorter time to prepare.
One egg contains about 7 grams of protein and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, eggs do no contain carbohydrates. One egg has about 0.6 micrograms of B12, which is 25% of the daily value. Therefore by eating two eggs in the morning, I can obtain 50% of my DV of B12! Eggs also contain folate, riboflavin, iodine, and selenium.

Additional protein: hummus with a gluten-free tortilla or toast
Hummus is made out of chickpeas and tahini, chickpeas are relatively high in protein and folate, also B6 and magnesium. I used sweet potato tortillas, which were OK, but any other gluten-free tortillas or bread would do:
https://www.bfreefoods.com/us/products/sweet-potato-wraps/

Starch / carbohydrates: quick steel cut oats
I stumbled upon these oats on Amazon and I found this product pretty useful. The oats can be prepared in a microwave in 2.5 minutes. I mix them with coconut milk power before microwaving.
https://www.amazon.ca/Post-Original-Instant-Oatmeal-Flaxseeds/dp/B08X8HLXSP

Oats are known to contain beta-glucan soluble fiber, which contributes to gut health. Beta-glucan fiber may also prevent sharp increases in blood sugar after meals. Oats are also a source of thiamine, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorous.

Fat: coconut milk powder
Coconut milk contains a type of fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs could potentially aid in weight loss and increase insulin sensitivity. Also it is creamy! And since this breakfast idea is dairy free, coconut milk is what makes the oatmeal taste better.

Additional items: add any berries, nuts, dark chocolate chips to your oatmeal
I added strawberries. Strawberries contain high amount of vitamin C and also contain folate and manganese.
Still hungry? Slowly eat a whole celery stick. It is low in calories but can help you feel full. It’s difficult to eat celery quickly, and eating slowly can help pass the time, until your brain finally signals that you are satiated.

Drink: tea or coffee
I do not drink any juices, as most juices have a very high glycemic index.