Awakening from the Detox
We didn’t exactly wake up one morning and decide to not follow the “Vitamin A Detox“ anymore. It was a very gradual process that happened.
But one day I turned to my boyfriend and said, “Huh, I think I’m going to have pasta with tomato sauce today”…
Even though everyone’s body is so different, there are a few things we have learned about our relationship with food and our bodies over the last few years.
Your body is constantly providing feedback.
But, are you listening?
Yup, you read that right. Your body is AMAZING. It is the machine that runs your life. Our bodies are sacred and they know what they need. Our bodies physically told us to start eating a greater variety of Vitamin A foods again, which is why we did.
It’s easy to get so caught up in trying to eat “right” that we stop eating in a way that’s right for US. Part of the problem lies in the fact that there’s an overwhelming surplus of conflicting information about just what “clean”, “healthy” eating really means (if you’ve spent any time researching nutrition, or eating to build a better body, you know exactly what we are talking about). This information overload can leave us feeling confused, helpless, and completely out of touch with what’s actually good for our own bodies.
While the phrase “listen to your body” can feel a bit cliche, your body is constantly trying to tell you what it needs, if only you learn to listen to it.
Humans can be absurd in their dietary beliefs. Every other animal eats due to necessity and availability. Our relative luxury has afforded us the opportunity to partake in eating plans that thwart basic biological needs. Some plans seem to make sense until science steps in.
The Vitamin A Detox
We had been almost a year on the Vitamin A Detox / Depletion diet with stunning improvements in our health.
All of us experienced the greatest relief from almost every physical symptom we were experiencing over our lifetime. Symptoms that we didn’t even realize were a problem disappeared. You just get used to conditions so quickly.
Keep in mind that all we are sharing with you today are some things we personally experienced, or what our family members and friends reported who have transitioned into the diet too. By no means is this meant as medical or nutritional advice. We simply want to share our experiences and ease your mind if you might be into your own journey and have been wondering about the physical changes you’ve experienced.
Here are just some things that have improved.
Graying of the hair
We will report on all these things in detail on another blog post as things deserve to be talked about in every detail that happened. But let’s briefly describe some of them here.
Irregular heart beat
Tidji, one of the co founders from iheal.me, had extra systoles (a heartbeat outside the normal rhythm) since childhood. Anyone who’s had this before knows how unpleasant it is. The heart is literally bouncing, has small interruptions and beats irregularly. After half a year on the Vitamin A Detox he finally got relief from it, while no doctor could ever help him before.
After the last time of taking oral contraceptives seven years ago my emotions were all over the place and if that was not enough I also lost my perfect menstrual cycle and my sex drive. Side effects like mood swings, as well as headaches, and irregular bleeding should subside after a few weeks of being off oral contraceptives. For me and many other women it never resolved. It is known that Vitamin A blood levels significant increase in women taking oral contraceptives.
This led me to all my physical and psychological health problems.
After only half a year of reducing foods high in Vitamin A, my normal 28-day cycle returned, which I had lost seven years ago.
Food can be both our most powerful medicine and the sole reason for our sickness. Your body relies on a wide variety of nutrients that can be gained from eating a range of whole, clean food sources. But what happens when you’re already eating a clean diet and still suffering from debilitating symptoms? Well, that was me braking out in skin rashes around my liver until I eliminated high Vitamin A foods from my diet. I can eat everything I want now and I won’t get any rash on my belly. Important to mention that I did not focus on probiotics, gut biome or a gut healing protocol. I simply reduced the Vitamin A intake.
It’s normal to lose hair throughout the day. Most people lose about 50 to 100 strands each day, and for every follicle shed, the same amount regrows. But if you wash your hair and find yourself holding a bunch of hair in your hand you instinctively know that you are dealing with some kind of hair loss. This happened to me while on a Vitamin A supplement, but as soon as I stopped taking them and being on the Vitamin A Detox my hair stopped falling out.
My mum had thinning of the hair, which was greatly improved by the Vitamin A Detox. Her hair is now again strong and full, which can be clearly seen in before and after pictures. Her gray hair disappears more and more, and she gets back her dark colored hair (she is over 70 years!). Also, her pubic hair, which had almost disappeared, has grown back.
Hungry for Vitamin A... The turning point
Totally convinced we will eat a very low “Vitamin A” diet for the rest of our lives, and that this is the cause of the ever growing inflammation and lifestyle disease’s, did it now gradually come to a turning point.
Dawn would soon break across the horizon on this side of the world.
Around month eight on the Vitamin A Detox we started craving fish. In specific, it was Tuna. “Dirty” canned Tuna. The worst of all fish when speaking about Heavy Metals.
But that day we could not think of anything else that we were hungry for. Feeling awesome was the sole side effect of eating Tuna.
So once in a while we had fatty fish like mackerel, trout and Tuna. We always felt great and satisfied after eating some fish. It was not the case that we now began to eat vast amounts of fish. We ate moderate amounts with our otherwise very low Vitamin A Foods.
The beginning of the end
Time passed and more and more often we noticed how we got hungry for different foods, which was not the case during a long time on the Vitamin A Detox.
EVERY STORY HAS AN ENDING, BUT IN LIVE, EVERY ENDING IS A NEW BEGINNING
We tried to ignore our strange hungers for more Vitamin A Foods, but our bodies didn’t care about those diet rules.
When one day we tried to figure out what to eat for dinner we finally gave in. We ate what we were hungry for.
A moment later, we found ourselves in front of a big bowl of pasta with tomato sauce and broccoli. We swallowed it down, and we couldn’t help but admit it was the tastiest and most satisfying meal we had in a long time…
A year on the low Vitamin A diet and all of a sudden our bodies were hungry for foods that are definitely on the “Avoid“ side of the Vitamin A Food lists.
But if we think back to the beginning, then this was only planned as a temporary diet. Being strict only until the body recovered from the Vitamin A overload. But no one knew exactly when this would happen. No one except our bodies which sent us clear signals
Don’t food-shame yourself
Listen to your intuition. It's on your side!
Interestingly we both craved the same foods around almost the same time, even that we both had a different low Vitamin A diet (not eating the same foods) and a different level of activity.
We went ahead and allowed ourselves to occasionally add more foods. It was scary to let go of control and trust the process without knowing the outcome.
This wasn’t anything near binge eating or giving in some random cravings. We followed the “Vitamin A Detox” with no great effort or the feeling of missing something out or feeling full of sorrow because we couldn’t have some foods. NO, this was our body talking to us after a year of eliminating a great variety of foods.
Eating without restriction is not mindless, wild bingeing. It’s the opposite.
We did not eat all this at once. It started with a yogurt in the summer and recently we had some pasta with tomato sauce, olives and also an egg once in a while.
These are the foods we added back in.
Yogurt (real fermented organic yogurt from grass-fed cows with different strains)
Cheeses (Gorgonzola, Parmesan, Brie…)
Greater variety of vegetables (no sweet potatoes and pumpkins tough)
Greater variety of fruits
Instead of feeling awful from all these foods we felt even better than during our best times on the detox. We were literally waiting for symptoms to pop up again. We still wait…
It's not all about Vitamin A
We would like to emphasize that what we eat is always organic quality of the highest standard. We can trace the origin of most of the food we consume. We hardly ever eat and drink conventionally grown food and when we are on the road we take our own food with us. We eat seasonal. Drinking means water, tea and juices for us and not Red Bull and Coca Cola as for some others (who do the detox). You have to differentiate and question why you are not doing well with your current situation. Not everything is due to Vitamin A.
Some might say that we can have all these foods because we live in Germany and that our food is much better than in the US. Yes, that is probably true. It is definitely easier to get clean foods here. But we had been in the US several times, and we could find very good organic foods at Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market, Erewhon Market and small local farms or shops all over the country. Usually they had been much fresher than the foods we get in the organic food stores here in Germany. The freshness of foods in those US markets are as fresh as the foods we get when we buy at local organic farms.
If Cinderella’s shoe fit perfectly, then why did it fall off?
Many questions arose.
This whole process of suddenly craving foods that are “high“ in Vitamin A ( they are not the highest though) made us research a lot. We wanted to understand the mechanisms of the Vitamin A metabolism in a deeper way.
We don’t want to badmouth the “Vitamin A Detox” by any means. For that it has helped us in too many ways. We just want to bring awareness to the things we might not understand yet. Acute and chronic “Hypervitaminosis A” is well established in veterinary medicine, but not as much in human medicine.
Chronic “Hypervitaminosis A” AND “Vitamin A Deficiency “seem to be a wide spread and underestimated problem these days. It seems that they both can exist at the same time, because the very delicate metabolism can break on multiple points. The circumstances and compounds that disrupt this mechanism are not unknown. It is even known that a broken Vitamin A metabolism can cause autoimmunity.
Vitamin A Toxicity
It’s true, Vitamin A can be toxic and this can become disastrous for our bodies, but so does a deficiency. Vitamin A is not a toxin in general, but it gets toxic when it’s metabolism breaks down.
Like with every other mineral or vitamin overdose symptoms being similar to deficiency symptom is very common. Iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism… iodine excess can cause hypothyroidism. Similar things with zinc, selenium and other minerals and vitamins.
The assertion that Vitamin A is a poison might be oversimplified. Yes it can be a poison in certain contexts, but so can many other substances in the wrong context. People want simple answers to complicated issues.
For sure there will be different responses to Vitamin A rich foods. It is a powerful molecule wearing many many hats. There will be higher needs for some while others just need to go on the rice diet and give their livers a break. We know the rice diet is a very powerful tool and known in many cultures.
Intriguing in that subtracting substances we get healing.
Vitamin A - Toxicity and Deficiency
In the modern world we do nothing but constantly eat and sit on our arses.
We keep thinking we are deficient in a land of abundance. Perhaps it is more like too much of some substances and insufficiency of others, creating imbalances and toxicities. Vitamin A as a dietary supplement, especially in synthetic form, is certainly a disaster. Using Accutane and eating a piece of cheese is not the same. One is a pharmaceutical the other, a complete food with its synergistic co-nutrients.
How do we know whether we are lacking in a particular substance? And we are not talking about looking at a test. It may be lack of sunshine that is missing or lack of sleep or lack of exercise or lack of cofactors and synergistic molecules. Perhaps too much antagonist molecules. What exactly is the missing piece that brings our bodies into any possible state, deficiency or toxicity?
How can we lay blame on only one molecule when we need to consider the whole orchestra. What lifestyle, genetic polymorphisms, epigenetic and transgenerational variables contribute to the toxicity of Vitamin A?
This is also the reason why we stopped our supplements and instead started eating again. Eating in concordance to our own personal needs.
Supplementation for sure has helped us before in the state of toxicity. But how do we know that we are not driving ourselves constantly into misbalances. Going from Vitamin A overload to a lower toxic level while still taking zinc or any other supplement might be playing ping pong in terms of agonizing and antagonizing and driving us into the next health problem.
For now we will not go deeper into this topic, but sure will in future posts.
We found so many promising articles and studies that gave us a greater picture of the mechanisms behind “Vitamin A”. We will try our best to explain our new thoughts very soon, but this needs to be carefully written down. We truly hope that we can reach some of you and help us fill the gaps of what is behind all this. Food for thought. Nothing is written in stone.
We shouldn’t just believe randomly in theories. Yes, we have seen many studies showing how damaging retinoids can be. No doubt on that. They can.
But there are things that we need to look at more carefully, rather than just holding on to some animal studies (even though they can be helpful). Let us shed light on ALL aspects in future.
How do we know Vitamin A is not harming us?
Honestly, we don’t! But on the other hand, how do we know that a long term low Vitamin A intake is not harming us? We simply don’t know. Or do we?
We are convinced, that the “Vitamin A Detox” was absolutely right for us, for a certain amount of time. But what we don’t know is, what part of the metabolism was broken and how it got fixed. Does fasting might have the same effect? Fixing a broken “Vitamin A” metabolism?
Do we need to eliminate all Vitamin A foods? Or can things be fixed by simply getting the RIGHT amount of Vitamin A? Even if this might be a much smaller amount of what is recommended.
The Vitamin A Detox Diet
After about half a year with an extremely limited intake of Vitamin A, we felt about as good as we do now after increasing the intake.
Was that exactly the time at which we should have fed ourselves again with a greater variety of Vitamin A rich foods? Not only vitamin A, but also a number of other important nutrients might have been useful again. It cannot be the solution to omit one substance and then have to supplement another, as they are no longer present in the required quantities in once diet.
Was this the point where we had been close to the normal “Vitamin A” homeostasis and by staying on the low intake we pushed us towards a deficiency’s of all kinds of nutrients?
At least this had been the point where we started to develop new symptoms. We thought these are just more “detox” symptoms from Vitamin A leaving the body.
According to the theory, we should have felt even better afterwards. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case.
Let’s summarize the symptoms.
I had joint pain in my left elbow for several months.
Milia are tiny white bumps that appear under the surface of the skin.
This is another symptom I never had before and it really annoys me to have it now.
Bad wound healing
Our wounds take forever to heal. Even tiny ones last over weeks and scarring seems to be more.
They can be a sign of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. So instead of getting rid of them I saw developing more of them. We will lay out soon what Vitamin A deficiency has to do with the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Every single morning I woke up with a congested right nostril.
Tidji’s snoring was almost gone before but was building up again.
Sleepless nights came back on regular basis, with the typical pattern. No chance of falling asleep until 3 or 4 am.
Tidji and our moms were all complaining about their vision.I started to get problems with dark adaption and bad night vision.
The regular menstrual cycle I just gained back, started to slowly fade again.
Loss of Appetite
I had been always a very good eater, and this was the first time in my life. I experienced a loss of appetite.
For Vitamin A to perform as a friend or a foe is a dose-Dependent issue
These had not been detox symptoms anymore. Something got out of balance, and we recognized it, because we listened to our bodies.
Here is a paper that says, “Yes, there is Retinoic Acid in the Casein“, but… the presence of it is what makes people “NOT“ reacting allergic to milk. If retinoic acid is absent (as it will be the case on industrial farming or non grass fed cows), it makes the people allergic to the milk protein.
That doesn’t mean we’ll eat everything in huge quantities. With today’s lifestyle, it is easy to eat yourself into a chronic Hypervitaminosis A. Not only foods high in vitamin A, but also skin care products, medications and xenobiotics make it relatively likely to slip into a chronic Vitamin A toxicity. So the problem remains. This makes it even more important to examine all areas of life for possible sources of poisoning.
We believe there is a very thin line between deficiency, homeostasis and overload of Vitamin A.
Going off our supplements had been helping in the end. Instead, we went trough phases of where we ate specific foods for a couple of weeks until we moved on to another food we were hungry for. Probably filling up nutrients this way.
The foods we chose over that period had always positive effects on the Vitamin A metabolism as we found out later. We will talk about this in the future.
Seasonal and local foods would probably, bring us into a normal cycle of depletion and replenishing of Vitamin A. This is another important part we have to have a closer look at as soon as possible.
It looks like we’re starting to get back to normal
Since we added foods with more Vitamin A we made great improvements in our recurring and new symptoms. Probably also because we ate a greater variety of nutrients again.
Feeling warm all the time
Very smooth, regular, calm heartbeat
Very healthy and good Appetite
Extraordinary gum improvements
People often turn a blind eye to joint pains considering them trivial or simply blaming „old“age. I am neither old nor considered them normal. The pain in my elbow is finally gone. It resolved pretty quick in less than a month.
Hello darkness my old friend.
Dead tired but can’t sleep? It used to be my nightmare. It resolved for some time on the low Vitamin A diet, but it has haunted me again and again. I never got complete relief from it. Always the same pattern. Dead tired around 10.00 /10.30 pm and no chance of falling asleep before 3.00/4.00 am.
It’s gone! Completely gone! I literally sleep like a baby. The sleep I have now is the best I had in years. Deeply and soundly. I even start to wake up early on my on own, ready to start the day.
The redness was all reduced within days. The dry and flaky red skin around my mouth and nose that has been bothering me for half a year is finally vanishing.
My boyfriends eczema of his hands is not flaring up even tough we reintroduced dairy foods. In the past going on a vegan diet has cleared up his eczema, but the vegan diet came with many other heatlh problems. Now he can safely eat good quality, gras fed, organic, fermented dairy products.
This one is huge. Finally my constipation is gone. Especially in the last month this was a big issue for me. I have never been a regular bathroom-goer. I can finally say I’m pretty consistent since adding more foods.
Sleeping next to someone who snores is horrible. Even the most patient among us will draw the line at sleep deprivation.
We have been sleeping in different rooms due to my boyfriends snoring problems since almost a year now. Guess what… we start to sleep in the same room again. His snoring is constantly going down.
A sluggish metabolism means a sluggish you. I think we are past that. Raking the fallen pears in the garden at eleven pm, going for long walks, enduring long work shifts, meeting friends, going to social events, starting new projects… All these things happen out of a new and long missed source of energy. We don’t have to force ourselves to do things, they just happen out of creative urge and abundance of energy.
Like so many aspects of health, we suspected with eye health and vision, that many parts of our modern lifestyle contribute to a more rapid decline than nature intended, but now vision got worse in such a short time. My poor night sight declined pretty fast by adding more foods. We will see how the others will do. At least one of them noticed better sight already.
Congestion of my right nostril every single morning is gone.
I breathe much deeper now. I didn’t recognize it before (until it got better now), but I had trouble breathing correct. Sometimes I needed to take an extra deep breath to get the feeling of getting the right amount of airflow.
I am curious about this one. I am through my first cycle and instead of a few days delay, my menstruation was just one day late. We do strongly believe that a woman’s menstrual cycle says a lot about her health. If the cycle is normal and regular, hormones are in balance, and we can take this as a pretty good sign. Bright red blood indicates a healthy and regular period. Of course, everybody’s “normal” will look different, but generally speaking, a consistently bright red flow is a signal that everything’s working as it should down there! Seeing this, instead of clotted blood gives me tremendous hope that we are on the right track.
This body odor I am talking about usually just comes up a few days before ovulation. For the past months it had been consistently. My boyfriend noticed that it’s gone and now again only appears with my hormonal change into ovulation.
Most of the depressions are self-created. A few people are pathologically ill (this can be due to a chronic Vitamin A toxicity). But almost everybody else can be driven to madness, because the line between sanity and insanity is quite thin.
The best thing that brought us back to reality was adding a great variety of foods back to our diet.
We now experience a state of mental calmness and clearness which seems to result from an overall balanced nutrition from ALL the nutrients. We find living to be a fascinating experience again and our perception is shifting from anxiety and stress into gratefulness and serenity. Music became a part of our life again. Reading books too. We pause for the things that happen around us and experiencing life instead of being a driven stress machine.
The only thing that’s constant is change
Change means growth. Rather than resist change, learn to be versatile such that you can make the best out of the changes that come.
Learn to interpret each event objectively. Focus on what you can learn from it so that you can apply the lessons moving forward.
As you might get by reading this, we are starting to feel awesome in our body and mind again. I had been like this many years ago before my health started to decline.
Are you reading this blog with a straight face? Smile and have fun. It won’t hurt you, it will just shift your thoughts a bit.
We should never forget
High-quality studies of dietary practices are incredibly hard to design. How do you make a placebo piece of steak for your control group? Studies on the effect of diet and lifestyle in large populations are no less difficult. They depend on recollection and self-reporting, notoriously unreliable data. And even if that data were accurate—well, just tweak an equation, exclude a set of data points, isolate a different factor, and suddenly vegetarianism goes from increasing longevity to decreasing bone density.
In dealing with these intractable problems of study design and analysis, nutrition scientists who study “ideal diets” have made surprisingly little progress since biblical days.
It’s impossible to distinguish between the actual power of vegetables and the effect of believing in the power of vegetables.
According to the Hebrew Bible, the prophet Daniel and his fellow Israelites were once held captive by the king of Babylon. Loyal to Moses’s dietary laws and afraid of defilement, Daniel requested what is almost certainly the first recorded trial of an elimination diet.
“Please test your servants for ten days,” Daniel said to his guard. “Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”
The guard agreed. At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his friends “looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.”
Pre-20th-century vegetarians once cited Daniel as evidence of their diet’s superiority. Nowadays they invoke people like Dr. Dean Ornish, a well-known advocate of veganism and meditation.
Ornish has published studies in prestigious medical journals on how his regimen prevents cancer and heart disease. News outlets and TV shows tout his approach as a scientifically proven way to “reverse aging.” They trust that his diet works, because unlike Daoist monks and biblical prophets, Ornish is a scientist and a doctor. But Ornish’s studies, despite their author’s pedigree, suffer from the same fundamental problems as Daniel’s study.
a lead investigator highly invested in the success of his experiment
the absence of a placebo control, and
lack of replication by other researchers
Time and time again, scientifically “proven” diets have proved false and foolish. At the turn of the 20th century, health guru Horace Fletcher popularized his theory of mastication, which argued that good health depended on a low-protein diet, chewed hundreds of times before swallowing. Obese at age forty, “the Great Masticator” told a compelling story of his own dramatic weight loss by means of mastication.
In addition to slimming down, he also became incredibly fit. To prove it, Fletcher submitted himself to tests of strength at Yale University, in which the 50-year-old supposedly bested college athletes. And as if that wasn’t enough, he mailed samples of his own stool to interested parties, the better to demonstrate the purity of his “digestive ash,” which was “no more offensive than moist clay” and had “no more odor than a hot biscuit.”
Nature will castigate those who don’t masticate, rhymed the eventual millionaire whose shit didn’t stink.
This advice sounds ridiculous today, but among those who followed it were John D. Rockefeller, Franz Kafka, and pioneer of empirical psychology William James.
You might think adherents of the latest dietary trend would learn from history and recognize that one day they could end up looking like disciples of the Great Masticator. But they don’t. Fletchers “chew-chew cult“ ended up in malnutrition from missing nutrients resulting in constant constipation.
Studies keep appearing, headlines keep hyperbolizing, diet books top best-seller lists, and our faith that the newest fad will prove true remains unshaken.
Eating in moderation has been the humdrum recommendation of common sense for thousands of years, and to that sage dietary advice, religion and science alike have added virtually nothing that stands up to rigorous scrutiny. People who tell you otherwise are, at best, exaggerating evidence—and remember, in science, exaggeration is a flat-out lie.