Mikhaila and Scarlett Peterson
On this episode of the Health and Wellness Show, we interview Mikhaila Peterson, daughter of Psychologist Jordan Peterson, about her truly amazing recovery from serious health issues. Since she was a very young girl, Mikhaila was plagued by rheumatoid arthritis, severe depression and chronic fatigue among other health issues. She was on a cocktail of medications, including antidepressants, immune suppressants and amphetamines, to address her multiple conditions.

But through diligent research and sheer will, she was able to get her health condition under control through the implementation of a strict elimination diet. After having success in this experiment, she put both her father and husband on the same diet, who similarly suffered from health issues, repeating the success. Now she inspires many others to regain their health through her informative blog "Don't Eat That" at mikhailapeterson.com.

Join us for this episode of the Health and Wellness Show as Mikhaila shares her inspirational story of regaining her health through strategic dietary experimentation.

Running Time: 01:09:02

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Here's the transcript of the show:

Doug: Hello and welcome to the Health and Wellness Show on the SOTT Radio Network. I am your host Doug. With me today is Gaby.

Gaby: Hello.

Doug: And we have a very special interview today. Certainly any readers of SOTT will be familiar with Jordan Peterson. It seems like pretty much every 10th article on SOTT these days is about Jordan Peterson. Today we have Jordan Peterson's daughter Mikhaila Peterson with us. She's going to be talking to us about things that she has done with the diet to take care of many issues that she's had. So welcome Mikhaila.

Mikhaila: Hi. Thanks for having me.

Doug: Yeah, thanks for coming on. That's great! And listeners can probably hear Mikhaila's daughter Scarlett in the background who will also be joining us today. Maybe to start off you can give us some of your story. It's a pretty amazing story. I know you've been troubled by a lot of health issues since you were very young. Maybe you can fill us in on a bit of the history.

Mikhaila: Okay. It's been a rough go for a while. I started exhibiting symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis when I was two when I was walking around. Sso dad would put me on his shoulders. It was just little things. He'd put me on his shoulders and when he put me back down I'd cry and sit down. Looking back on it, he just stopped putting me on his shoulders. That was how to solve that problem, but it turned out it was hip pain.

So I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was seven and at the same time we have moved cities from Boston to Toronto and I started getting tired and cranky I guess, for a kid. It turns out that I'd also inherited this familial, horrible depression that's been passed down. That kind of hit around the same time as I was diagnosed with arthritis. The arthritis was bad enough that I was put on immune suppressants and by the age of 17 I ended up with a hip and ankle replacement.

Doug: Wow!

Mikhaila: Yeah, my 17th year was not a good year. Let's see, what else? What other health problems have I experienced? When I was 14 I started getting tired so I started sleeping more and more and I was just exhausted all the time. At first I thought it was teenagers sleep in, but it didn't go away and just got worse and by the time I was 19 or 20 I was just sleeping whenever I could so it ended up being 17-ish hours a day. It was a lot of sleep.

Doug: Wow!

Mikhaila: So I was missing out and even when I was awake I was exhausted. Then when I was 19 or 20-ish I started getting rashes and skin problems. I just got worse. I was quite thin after having a hip and ankle replacement because of the surgeries. I moved to Montreal to go to university and I went from 118, which was pretty skinny for me, to 148 in a year-and-a-half. I guess I was 20-to-21. I was like "Well okay, I'll go to the gym more". So started going to the gym but it wasn't working. I was exhausted. My mood just got worse and worse and worse. I'd been taking antidepressants since I was 12 and my dad has gotten some flak online for it, like "How dare you medicate a child?!" But I was so unhappy and antidepressants helped me so much.

But by the time I was 21 they weren't doing enough. I tried switching different types and it wasn't working. So by the time I was 22 I was in rough shape. I was very unhappy. The arthritis was relatively well-managed. Well no, not exactly. It was relatively well-managed with the immune suppressants and Tylenol 3. But I was in rough shape when I was 22.

When I was 22 I had a rough break up but it was probably rough because my mood was so terrible and I was in rough shape. So I ended up moving back to Toronto and then my skin issues started getting worse and I was like, "Okay, I have arthritis, I'm miserably depressed, I'm exhausted all the time and now I actually have to deal with my skin being a problem?! I can't. I can't. That's too many things." At that point I was on a plethora of medications. I started taking Aderol for chronic fatigue which was great for chronic fatigue but just horrible for living.

I started doing research and I researched for eight months. I had no idea where to start. I finally found this rash you can get from gluten, online and I was like "Oh my god! That's my rash. I've been going to dermatologists and they've been saying pretty much 'stop doing this to yourself' or 'stop being itchy'," I don't know.

Doug: Telling you to just by will get rid of it?

Mikhaila: Oh, the amount of times I've been told by doctors it's in my head even though I've had joint replacements! It's shocking and I've talked to people who are chronically ill and they all get it. It's all "Oh well it sounds like this is caused by your anxiety". But anyway, I found a picture of this rash and so I cut out gluten immediately. It was associated with celiac disease and I thought "People with celiac disease can get really sick and can have autoimmune disorders other than celiac disease. So maybe that's my problem. Maybe the arthritis was a celiac disease problem."

So I cut out gluten and it helped a little bit but not enough to make a difference. But by that time I had started to lose weight a little bit. It turns out the reason I had gained weight so much is because I had moved to university and survived off of pirogies and noodles.

Doug: I think they call it the freshman fifteen.

Mikhaila: Oh yeah, it was not 15 for me but that's what happened. So I cut out gluten and that helped marginally. And then my mom who had always been bringing me to naturopaths and they hadn't worked, no alternative medicine had done anything, took me to a naturopath again, mostly to make her happy and they said "Do an elimination diet" and they gave me this sheet of paper with foods I could eat. I looked at it and I thought "This doesn't make any sense. I can't eat oranges but I can eat lemons." I just didn't understand some things.

So I decided "Okay, well I'll really give it a go because if gluten is a problem, maybe something else is a problem. So I cut out some foods and nothing seemed to change so I made myself banana and almond gluten-free muffins and I ate a whole bunch of those and the next day my arthritis was so bad that I couldn't walk. It was a couple of days later it hit my knees and I thought "This doesn't happen! Wow!!"

So then I really cut down. I was eating carrots, some green vegetables like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, chicken and beef and I did that for a month and my skin got better. All my skin problems went away and my arthritis cleared up.

Doug: Wow!

Mikhaila: And I thought "This is crazy!" Oh, the other thing I forgot to mention, when I realized that gluten might have been an issue, in order to test to see if my arthritis would go away I stopped taking my medication, otherwise I didn't think I would know if the arthritis had gone away. So my arthritis went away and it went away fast, like a month after having it for 20 years isn't long.

Doug: That's amazing.

Mikhaila: I was still taking antidepressants at this point, but I tried to reintroduce some things. I tried to reintroduce cheese and it just went horribly. I tried to reintroduce this was before I really knew a lot about diet, so I tried reintroducing Sour Patch candy. "There's no gluten, there's no soy. How bad can it be?" Obviously that didn't go well. Almonds didn't go well. I was strict, other than the Sour Patch candy. By December after just tinkering around my depression went away. So I started taking less and less antidepressants and I had tried doing this before from side effects and it had never gone well. But this was November 2014 and I cut them down slowly and I just felt better and better. Normally some people who are depressed tend to get more depressed around Christmas when light goes away so November isn't generally a good time to taper down.

Anyway, I'd never experienced that kind of not being depressed before. So I told dad because dad has the same depression I have and I said "This isn't a fluke. This has never gone away, what's going on. You have to try this diet." He was typical skeptical. I never thought the diet would do anything for the depression. I just thought I was stuck with that. I thought maybe arthritis but not depression.

Anyway, I was still wary. I thought it wouldn't have just gone away but maybe it just went away for some reason. In December I reintroduced soy because that was one of my favorite foods and I went into one of the worst depressive periods the next day, that I had been in ever and it wasn't just a psychological response. I made my own miso soup and had bought gluten-free everything so it was just reintroducing soy. It was an excellent soup but it really upset my digestion about half an hour after. And then about four hours later my whole body got itchy and then the next morning the depression came back and it came back the worst that I've had it, compounded by the fact I wasn't taking antidepressants. That didn't help but it was worse than that and it lasted for three-and-a-half weeks.

Doug: Ohh!

Mikhaila: Yeah. And then it went away and I thought "Okay, that was weird." So for the next year I kept trying to reintroduce foods and I didn't really know what I was doing for a long time so I tried reintroducing whey protein powder. That went terribly and I had the same deep depression and then a few weeks later it goes away. It came with other problems. My arthritis would flare. I would get itchy. My gums would bleed. It seems like some sort of reaction.

So meanwhile dad is on this diet and I didn't know when I had put him on it that when the depressive episodes come back that they become worse. I didn't know that. So he had just a miserable time that year, but he lost weight like crazy. He was 215 or 218 when he started that Christmas and he went down to 180 in the first year.

Doug: Wow! Yeah.

Mikhaila: He wasn't doing it as carefully as I was so for the first three or four months he was still drinking diet Coke. But he was doing 99%. He wasn't eating gluten, soy, any sugar. He just cut out everything but he was eating enough of something wrong that it wasn't helping his mood. So he was losing weight. His physical symptoms were going away. He had a bit of psoriasis, minor psoriasis. That cleared up. He had gum problems which he actually mentioned to me the other day, that those are gone. He had receding gums and they'd bleed and he used a waterpik all the time just to keep everything healthy. They were sore. That stopped. Oh, he had GERDS (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and that went away. So he used to cough a lot and that went away.

So his physical symptoms went away but it didn't help is mental health. So what happened? They took a long time and it was rough for the first year. He didn't really start feeling better until this year when I told him "You mess up a little bit and you're screwed for a month".

Doug: Yeah.

Mikhaila: So now he's off of antidepressants as well and he had been on them for a solid 15 years and a high dose. He's off of them and he doesn't nap anymore. He used to have a two-hour nap after work and I used to as well after school. The napping is gone. It is difficult to keep the mood as high as we would like to keep it, but compared to being depressed all the time, it's just changed our lives. We never thought that it could be food. You're always kind of insulted when someone says "Oh you're depressed. Well eat better and exercise." It's like "Oh, this is something I'm doing wrong. Thanks."

So I always had that kind of association with people who say "Why don't you look at your diet?" But it turns out that the diet factor or whatever is going on is so complicated that it wasn't just cut down on calories or stop eating potato chips.

Doug: Right.

Mikhaila: It was...

Gaby: It was a radical change of diet.

Mikhaila: Yeah! And we don't eat out anymore. Well a lot has changed but for the better. I can think. I did a couple of TVO (TV Ontario), that's in Canada which is a local TV network. I did a couple of episodes on that with dad. I did one before the diet and one when I was just getting started and the difference between me when I wasn't on the diet and when I was just getting started is drastic. And then the difference between when I was just getting started and now is drastic. I just look way healthier than I did when I was 20 and I'm older. But it's been a whirlwind.

Doug: I've seen those TVO clips and the difference is huge. It's like looking at two different people basically.

Mikhaila: Yeah, it's scary.

Gaby: When you would introduce something, for example the miso soup, the soy soup and it would trigger depression for three weeks, when you introduced it was just one single soup or you tried more?

Mikhaila: Well now I just try really tiny bits of things because now I know but then, that day, which also explains why it was probably the worst depression I'd experienced, I had soy in every form. I had miso soup with tofu and I had a bowl of edamame beans. Because I hadn't eaten soy in three months and I used to go out for Japanese food all the time, I was like "I'll just eat all the soy because just in case something bad happens it'll be a good way to go out." But I don't do that anymore.

Doug: It's funny because the conventional advice on this kind of stuff is when you're reintroducing a food you want to get a fairly good quantity of it to make sure that you can recognize that you've actually had some kind of reaction. But I think especially in your situation where the symptoms are so extreme, that's really bad advice. It kind of seems like you want to do just a little bit to test things and see how it goes.

Mikhaila: Yeah, and I didn't know that at the beginning obviously but I found that out after a year-and-a-half of pain and suffering. But it's been very shocking. We tried to look at food when I was little. I had a particularly bad arthritic flare when I was in grade 2 and my big toe swelled up and mom was like "What is going ON!?" We were staying with some of my dad's friends and they said "Well did you introduce anything into her diet?". I had been eating great bowls of Clementines (hybrid between Mandarin and sweet orange). We went to the doctor. Mum cut those out of my diet right away and then my toe got better and by the time we got to the doctor they were like "Well first of all it can't be food and second of all there's nothing wrong with the toe anymore".

I avoided oranges. I didn't drink orange juice because they used to give me a flare. So I avoided oranges but for some reason I didn't look into other foods. I don't know why. It's complicated when you're sick and it seems unbelievable.

Doug: Well totally. I think that's just the thing. The conventional perspective on these things is that food has absolutely nothing to do with these kind of things that you experience. I think it's a leap for people to make that connection, especially when doctors are telling you all the time "No, it's not food. It's not food."

Mikhaila: Oh yeah! My relationship with doctors since I found out it was food has not been good. I lost that. Hip replacements, for anybody listening, they're not so bad. They really improved my life. But ankle replacements?!? That gives me trouble every day. They're not set up very well. I guess the change in diet was so weird and random that it's understandable, I guess, that the medical community doesn't look at food. Kind of. I don't know how I feel about that. I've tried to mention it to my rheumatologist and said "I think sugar is bothering me" or something like that, and it's like he's been studying arthritis for so long that he can't hear that and it's sad because a lot of people with autoimmune disorders and things have got a whole plethora of other symptoms; it's not just joint pain, it's fatigue, weight gain, skin problems. Something is going on and instead they're just put on immune suppressants which are not fun to be on.

Doug: No.

Gaby: And your rheumatologist will not even recognize your improvement?

Mikhaila: Oh yeah! But he thinks I've just gone into remission. And the thing is, I have flare-ups if I introduce something wrong, but I don't go back. I can't make an appointment with him fast enough to go back. We did discuss it last time. He said "I'd like to see one of those reactions", but it's a month [before I can get an appointment] and it doesn't just come with arthritis. It comes with the mood. If the mood wasn't a problem then I might be able to test myself out for him but the mood is too much.

Doug: I can imagine. You don't want to put yourself through that torture just to prove your point.

Mikhaila: Yeah. We'll see how future Mikhaila feels because it is sad when I go. There are so many other people that need help and there's so little risk of just looking at diet.

Gaby: So you haven't found any conventional mainstream doctors who would be open-minded to the approach that you took?

Mikhaila: I found that there are online people generally who've been themselves doctors, that do look at food, the paleo diet or the keto diet. So there are doctors online for that but I haven't been able to go to one and most functional doctors who look at diet, at least in Toronto, are booked solid and they're not taking any new patients, which is interesting.

Doug: Yeah that is interesting. You've been telling your story on your blog which for our listeners is just mikhailapeterson.com. One of the things that I found really valuable about your blog is that you're documenting step-by-step what the process is, how you eliminate the foods. You even give a list of the foods that are the safe foods and you document how you're going through it and how you're reintroducing and what's causing you problems and what isn't and you're talking about what your dad's going through, you're talking about what your husband's going through. I think that you're actually doing a really good service to people out there because when you talk about an elimination diet, people get a list and then you're on your own. I think that it's very valuable to be able to see the ups and downs, what's involved, how much work it actually is.

Mikhaila: Yeah. I'd like to invest more time in it. I started working for dad because he's been overwhelmed and man, that's a lot of work! And then I slipped and fractured my wrist so typing has been a pain but I am trying to update that as much as possible. I guess it's different because dad could bring a lot of new people to the site that have problems but initially most of the people who went to the site had already figured out diet, what was causing some problems for them, so they were having an easier time. I don't even know if I would have Googled diet and depression or diet and arthritis before I had gone through the steps that I went through. I don't think that was on my radar at all.

Doug: I think you were going to ask a question Gaby. So why don't you go ahead.

Gaby: Were there any surprises in terms of healthy foods that in the end you were not able to tolerate, that you would not even suspect even remotely?

Mikhaila: Oh yeah! Definitely! When I first started I also didn't know what qualified as a healthy food really. I was always eating cheese as a kid because it was full of protein and I used to get angry when I didn't eat, so it was like "Have a piece of cheese" or "Have a glass of milk" or something. So I thought that that qualified as healthy food. So I really didn't know where to start. What surprised me. I don't know if you guys have heard of them but there are these things called food sensitivity tests...

Doug: Yes.

Mikhaila: ...which I had done as a kid and pretty much everything had shown up as a sensitivity so we just threw it away. It turns out that those tests, at least for our depression, have really been useful. There were some random foods on that that I'll have really terrible reactions to that don't make any sense. Kelp noodles, which I literally bought at a health food organic store, I had a terrible reaction to those and they don't taste good, so it wasn't worth it. What else? A lot of fruit. It turns out, at least for me, that sugar isn't good in any form, so carbier vegetables or fruit. So there were a lot of fruits that I thought were healthy that I can't tolerate.

What was the weirdest one? I don't know if they still do it but lots of people say that soy is a healthy form of protein.

Doug: Yeah.

Mikhaila: And man, that was the worst. Everything's been a surprise, even the fact that food has anything to do with it was a surprise.

Doug: I think years and years of programming by the food pyramid and government recommendations have really twisted what people perceive to be a healthy food. They say "make sure you get your five servings of fruits and vegetables and drink your milk and eat your cheese" and all that kind of stuff and it's the complete opposite of what people should be doing.

Mikhaila: Yeah, it's terrible! It's really awful that people are being told that. I got a lot of flak from people during the pregnancy for not drinking milk. I had one person tell me I wouldn't produce breast milk if I didn't drink milk.

Doug: Oh my god!

Mikhaila: That makes no sense but people aren't happy when you take away their foods. And I can remember people telling me to look at diet and that made me mad. But it was also in a condescending kind of way like "You're doing something wrong".

Doug: It's funny because on your blog in one of your posts you were talking about that, that if you're doing this diet you might actually get some hostility from people. You said "People are very attached to their foods even if someone else is changing their diet" which I've experienced as well. It's so bizarre.

Mikhaila: Yeah, it's really strange. "I'm not eating this anymore" and then they get mad at you.

Doug: Yeah. "I find that this diet is really helping me" and they're kind of like "Well, it's not the diet. It's obviously something else."

Mikhaila: Fortunately or unfortunately, I was considered sick enough that when I say something like "My arthritis is gone", people are pretty much like "Oh, wow!!" My husband who would have been considered a healthy person but he had some serious mood problems and a little bit of weight, but not really, pretty healthy. He got a lot of flak for cutting things out. People said "Oh you're just doing what Mikhaila's doing". But it affects him too. He was an around healthy person. And dad's symptoms, when he ends up introducing a food that goes badly are so bad that no one's been giving him flak too, especially because he didn't want to cut out any foods and he used to eat out all the time. And he doesn't like talking about it. He's talking about it more now though. I think he mentioned something on Joe Rogan which was nice.

Doug: Yeah.

Mikhaila: So he is talking about it. It helps that it has improved his mood now. For the first year-and-a-half his physical symptoms went away but his mood didn't and so that wasn't very encouraging.

Doug: It is kind of funny, the reaction that people get. It's almost like you're threatening their diet, even though you're only doing it for yourself and you're not telling them to do it, they feel that "Well you're suggesting that I'm doing something wrong". "Well no, I'm just helping myself."

Mikhaila: Yeah. Now I'm kind of vocal. I've done quite a bit of looking into gluten and grains for people's health and the more I read about that - and there are papers out and actual evidence that stuff like that isn't good for people - so I've started to become more annoying about telling people about diet. At the beginning I was like "You do you but this is working for me". But now I think I've become slightly more annoying. But I also feel bad if I don't say anything too.

Doug: Yeah.

Mikhaila: Well what if I don't say anything and something bad happens?

Doug: And has anybody been responsive to it? Have any of your friends or acquaintances taken it up?

Mikhaila: Oh yeah. My aunt and uncle just started doing mostly meat and vegetables. Well my parents obviously. One of my good friends is on the same diet. My husband. And then my best friend has cut out dairy. She tried cutting out gluten. I guess seeing the change in me has been really useful because I was barely holding on there for a while and now I'm awake and everything. Probably me being awake has been the biggest change for people. So yeah, people are open, especially if they see what a positive difference it has made for you.

Doug: It's like being the example. If they don't want to listen to what you have to say just by being the example a lot of times, it's enough to convince people.

Mikhaila: Yeah.

Gaby: The difficult part is when friends and family are against it. "No don't do that! It's too restrictive."

Mikhaila: Well there's a definite portion of people who have not made things easy about that, shockingly. With people who actually knew me, it's been positive.

Doug: That's good. One other thing you talked about on your blog that I thought was important because it's something that we've noticed, all the different people on our forum who have been experimenting with this diet, is food withdrawal because it seems to be something that a lot of people don't really recognize. It almost doesn't make sense. "Why is cutting out cheese suddenly making me almost have these drug withdrawal symptoms?" Did you find that you had that?

Mikhaila: I think if I hadn't been on so much medication when I had started I would have noticed that more. I was still taking Aderol, Tylenol 3 and birth control. There were some other ones, something to sleep and antidepressants when I started on the diet. And the Aderol actually just kills your appetite so a lot of the things people experience when they cut out a food is severe cravings, so I didn't actually experience that because I had no appetite. So that was good I guess. But when my fatigue went away and I stopped taking Aderol and I started getting the cravings, yeah, some of those symptoms are intense.

Much later I cut out fruit. I had cut out gluten and I didn't reintroduce it back in. After I cut out dairy for good I didn't reintroduce it back in. But when I cut out fruit, the sugar cravings were so bad that about two weeks in I was like "You know what? This probably isn't the problem" and I had a whole bunch and it was the problem. But that was the first time I'd actually caved. So those cravings were crazy. I was just thinking about sugar all the time and that was just fruit sugar.

And then I guess the other one was dairy. That was a big craving and that's popped up after I tried whey protein powder. I had dairy cravings about a month after that and those are intense. It is surprising because some foods you can cut out for a while and you don't crave them. And some foods, dairy and sugar, you really do.

Doug: Yeah.

Mikhaila: And I guess you can tell by foods that I tried to reintroduce first when I first went on the diet, I tried cheese, I tried Sour Patch candy and I tried soy. So those were the ones that I was thinking about the most. I didn't recognize that as cravings exactly. Well, I recognized the soy as cravings, but I didn't realize that that was maybe not a good sign.

Doug: Right. The sugar thing is interesting too. The dairy thing is interesting because, the same as with gluten they have these opiate properties. People don't realize that they're medicating themselves with these foods a lot. But the sugar one is really interesting too - and you've talked about this on your blog as well - that it's the connection to the whole candida thing.

Mikhaila: Yeah! I've got a whole bunch of theories about what's going on because I'm sure there's some underlying cause, especially for people who are really affected by food. So one of the theories I had was that maybe this is a candida problem. And it makes sense in a lot of ways. You take antibiotics, you wipe out your microbiome and then you get a yeast overgrowth. That is what happens and yeast feeds off of sugar and then it can get you to crave sugar and that can give you a whole bunch of autoimmune symptoms. In mainstream medicine it's hard to test for these things which is really frustrating.

And then part of the problem, let's say you have a candida problem, it is rather difficult to solve. You can stop feeding it everything but it's pretty good at just lying dormant for a really long time. And then there's no way to actually test if that theory is right. So it's hard. That is a good theory for the sugar. You can have problems with your microbiome too that are getting you to crave sugar. Who knows? I know what not to eat to avoid whatever the problem is.

Gaby: There are many common themes of food intolerances within the family?

Mikhaila: Well yeah. I still think my brother shouldn't be eating gluten, period. But he's dodged this for the most part, for whatever reason. Thank god! Dad seems to have the worst mood-wise and now physical symptoms if he gets hit again. And then mom is the one with the celiac problem. She was actually the one who was into food for the longest and we were always like "Oh mom! Doing your health kick!"

Doug: I'm the one in my family who's like that actually.

Mikhaila: Oh yeah?

Doug: Yeah.

Mikhaila: It's good to have somebody thinking about it. It's just hard to imagine how much of an impact food can have. It's hard to fathom that, and if I had had periods of time in my life where I wasn't sick, then maybe I could have thought "Oh, I want to feel like that again." But because I got sick as such a young age I just thought that's what living was like. So I didn't have any baseline of "What does feeling better mean?" So then when I actually got rid of some things and felt better, I thought "Oh, I can feel like this all of the time?!" That's the difference.

So that made it easier to want to change. I usually tell people, especially the people who say "What you are doing is bad for your health and you're going to have vitamin deficiencies" and all these things - well I can get into that later - but I usually tell them "Try it for a month. That's all you need to do. You're not going to become vitamin deficient in a month. None of your concerns matter for the month of changing your diet."

Doug: Right.

Mikhaila: "And then decide what you think." That's the only way to change your mind, right? To see if it has an effect on you.

Doug: Yeah. You've actually gone so far as to be only on meat right now. Is that right?

Mikhaila: Yep. So what happened? I got pregnant last December and before that I was in the best shape I'd ever been; 10 out of 10 on mood, I was having a great time. I got pregnant and I started having not a great time, which happens during pregnancy, but my depression came back which also can happen during pregnancy. But I was like "Something's wrong. I know that this isn't right."

Anyway, I had a hard time getting the depression under control so I cut out fruit. That helped a lot. I wasn't able to tolerate what I had figured out I could tolerate. I used to be able to eat apples, pears, sweet potatoes, like carbier things and they wouldn't give me arthritis. Everything was fine. And then I lost that tolerance over the pregnancy. This is my latest theory that I also have no evidence for - yet - but it turns out you get microbiome changes during the pregnancy. So that's well documented, that your microbiome becomes less diverse. So it's possible I already have an underlying issue there and then with lack of diversity I stopped being able to tolerate some carby foods because your microbiome helps you digest the carby foods; carby like a sweet potato, not bad carby.

Doug: Right.

Mikhaila: So I had a baby and my mood didn't seem to get better. I was hoping it was hormones or something. My mood didn't seem to get better and I started getting twinges of arthritis again. I was like "What's happening? I haven't introduced anything. What's going on?" So I Googled out of frustration one day "Allergic to everything", like is that a possible thing, and I found this lady with Lyme disease who had been on an all-meat diet for 19 years and that was the only way to control her Lyme.

So my concern about going on an all-meat diet was "Am I going to die of a vitamin deficiency?"

Doug: Right.

Mikhaila: But finding that woman and thinking "Well if she can survive for 19 years she's probably fine." Then I found Shawn Baker on Joe Rogan who was also doing what's called the carnivore diet and I guess his theory is people should be just eating meat, which I don't think I agree with. I think maybe some people with really messed up microbiomes who are sick can't seem to tolerate things other than meat, but not that everyone should be doing that.

But anyway, I decided to give it a try and my arthritis went away and my mood improved. So I feel better again, but I'm not entirely sure what to do about this. I've tried probiotics but I don't tolerate them. What I'm hoping is I'll stick to this for a while and whatever my problem is will heal. Maybe it'll take five years but maybe that will heal and then I can start to put the probiotics in and reintroducing some other foods. But for now, this is what I'm doing.

That being said, dad isn't doing this. He doesn't seem to need to do this and my husband isn't. My husband's not quite as sensitive as dad and I, thank god. I don't know. I guess it depends on how damaged you are. I also think sometimes the carnivore diet works for people because they don't know which vegetables are actually the safer vegetables to eat.

Doug: Right.

Mikhaila: So they end up cutting out everything and feel better.

Gaby: And all the environmental triggers for delayed immune responses usually come from the vegetable kingdom so it makes sense.

Mikhaila: Yeah.

Doug: It's funny because the all meat diet or carnivore diet, however you want to say it, is controversial. Again, people are brainwashed with this food pyramid type idea that you need to have dairy products, you need to have grains, all these kinds of things and that you will suffer from deficiencies in some way. But there's so much historical precedence for it, the Inuit in Canada, in the Arctic of Russia there were people, the Masai in Africa. There are all these groups that were eating nothing but meat and they're fine. They weren't drinking milk but they were still able to produce breast milk. It's a miracle! But it just seems like people are very afraid of this kind of thing but if you really look at it and have a rational perspective on it, it seems like it isn't really that controversial. People have been doing this for millennia.

Mikhaila: Yeah. It's also not particularly dangerous. The standard American diet right now is pretty friggin' dangerous. But doing something like cutting out groups of food for a period of time, first of all if you have a vitamin deficiency, you're going to know. Those are serious. So it's not you're going to cut out a food and then you're going to die, which is a lot of what I've heard. "Aren't you worried you're going to die?" "I think I'll feel like I'm going to die for quite a while before that happens."

Doug: Exactly.

Mikhaila: So people are scared but I find it much scarier when people are eating foods that they don't know are really harming them. And you can just see when you go outside who's affected by this, or people who are trying to lose weight. That makes me sad. People are trying to lose weight and they're just working out all the time and trying as hard as they can and they're exhausted and it's not working and it's like "You're not doing anything wrong. You're having some reactions to some things you really can't be eating." And then they're getting blamed for being overweight. "Well everyone's telling me to eat milk and grain! So what do they expect?"

Doug: Yeah. And the concentration is all on calories and stuff like that and it's not the calories. People going down to 1,000 calories a day to try and lose weight is just crazy.

Mikhaila: Oh yeah! I know, it's horrible. Starve yourself and you'll lose weight. Yeah, I know, it's terrible. And it's really awful that you can't just go to a doctor and they say "We'll tinker around with your diet for a while and if that doesn't help we'll look at medications as well."

Doug: Yeah, exactly. One thing that Gaby and I have both written about extensively is the whole fats thing, the fact that fat is considered the enemy. People are starting to realize now and we're starting to see stuff in the mainstream press about fat not being bad. But people have been so thoroughly brainwashed with that one, the idea that if you have any fat at all - especially, god forbid, animal fats! - then you're just going to clog your arteries and your cholesterol's going to shoot up and you're just going to die.

Mikhaila: Yeah, I've been told that a lot since the whole meat diet.

Doug: Yeah, I'm sure.

Mikhaila: Or meat being carcinogenic.

Doug: Oh my god! That one's ridiculous!

Mikhaila: Yeah. I don't know what to say about that. I really don't know what to say about that. It's awful and there's a whole background of why, especially North Americans think that vegetable oil is good and it's all just the vegetable oil companies telling them that, which is just criminal.

Doug: I totally agree. And it's the same thing with the dairy industry, the vegetable oil industry. All these industries that have ties to government so then the government recommends it and it really is criminal. I agree.

Mikhaila: Yeah, and then that brings up another problem. Part of the reason I didn't take looking into food seriously was because I talked to people and they'd say "Oh my god! There's this sugar/dairy/wheat conspiracy" and I'd be like "Oh yeah, you're a crazy person." And now I'm one of those crazy people.

Doug: Yeah, exactly. It's true. You tell people the FDA is a totally corrupt institution, it's like "Okay, where's your tinfoil hat?"

Mikhaila: Yeah, one of those. It's sad. But hopefully I think it is spreading. But I Google this all the time so I'm also kind of assuming that my searches just show up for me. I'm not sure if it's spreading or if I'm just getting...

Doug: Hard to tell.

Mikhaila: But I think it might be. At least the gluten-free thing definitely is because there's gluten-free everything. I think it's going to be a while but it's definitely better than it was 15 years ago.

Doug: Absolutely. Somebody who had a gluten sensitivity which was relatively unheard of back in the day, they didn't really have any options. It was much more restrictive than now. But unfortunately the industry has grown up around that and it has become a new kind of thing where if something is labeled gluten-free but then you look at the ingredients, it's like "These are all crap ingredients anyway". You're not really doing yourself any favors by avoiding the gluten in this situation if it's got soy or a bunch of other harmful grains in it. It's really no better.

Mikhaila: I would say if it's the least you're going to do you could do that. At least you're getting rid of the gluten but it would be better if you just cut out foods that are like that. There are a lot of "replace pizza with this kind of like pizza thing" and it's just don't eat pizza.

Gaby: Yeah.

Mikhaila: But it's hard I guess to cut out people's favorite foods.

Gaby: I agree. I think there has been a lot of awareness into the cholesterol myth, gluten-free. Somehow people come to accept that but I think we're sorely lacking in food sensitivities, like the immune responses.

Mikhaila: Yeah!

Gaby: Like some people don't do well on the paleo diet.

Mikhaila: Yeah, yeah. Like lots of people can't tolerate almonds. That's a really bad reaction for me and that's considered a health food. I do get flak for suggesting food sensitivity testing. "Oh there's no evidence for that". But there is evidence for that. In one of my second year immunology textbooks they had "delayed reactions" called a delayed IgG reaction. And they talked about these reactions but only regards to bacteria or viruses. So they were saying "You can have these things. They take about 21 days or 7 days to peak and 21 days to go away-ish" and it's due to bacteria or viruses. And then you say "Okay, my body's producing the same reaction to foods" and they're like "Oh well that's protective." I'm like "What?!?"
So hopefully that will all spread. Thank god for the internet.

Doug: You talk a lot about the IgG tests and I do think it's a great thing for people to be doing. A number of people on our forum have tried those out. One of the things you mention on your blog is that there seems to be some things that show up for everybody and one of the big ones that we found was eggs. There was hardly anybody who didn't have eggs on theirs.

Gaby: I'm in the red for eggs.

Mikhaila: Yeah, I can't do egg whites. Dad can't do egg yolks or egg whites. Even people who are on the carnivore diet, a lot of the people still include dairy and eggs. Eggs don't work for a lot of people. That's a strange one, but what can you say? Milk shows up on most people's, eggs and a lot of the grains, especially wheat. You can take that as "Oh well if everyone is like that then maybe it doesn't matter."

Doug: Yeah.

Mikhaila: That's one of the arguments. Or maybe just no people should be eating it. Maybe that's not a people food.

Doug: Exactly. I was speculating about the eggs because I know eggs are one of the mediums that they use to grow things in for vaccines and then to have that go along with the virus or bacteria into the bloodstream directly. And maybe everybody's getting this immune reaction when they're an infant and then that's why you continue to react to that over time. I don't know if that's true but it was just something I was speculating about because there is a history.

Mikhaila: That's interesting.

Doug: Yeah, and it's just something...

Mikhaila: That's interesting.

Doug: Like I say, I don't know if it's true but it kind of makes sense. It's an introduction directly into the blood. It's not going through the digestive system so you're having these foreign proteins introduced at a very young age so it wouldn't surprise me. It would be interesting to see if the few people who don't seem to react to eggs were vaccinated in infancy because it might be related.

Mikhaila: Yeah! It's too bad we can't just do all these studies because that's actually a really interesting proposition.

Doug: You had a post on your blog where you were talking about the things, when you do introduce something and you have a reaction, there are certain things that you do to mitigate it, to try and deal with it. Maybe you can talk about some of those. One in particular that we've done some experimenting with is infrared saunas.

Mikhaila: Yes!! First, when I realize I'm having a reaction I generally cry. That's first. First I'm like "Oh no, not this again for this long!" Other than that, first step is I get in the sauna. So if I'm really not feeling good, the main symptom that is just horrible is this feeling of impending doom. It's like a cloud that envelopes you. My dad gets it. My husband gets it and I've read online about people who get it, although it's harder to find. But it's just this horrible doom. My parents have a sauna that my mom put into the basement and getting in that sauna for half an hour until you really want to get out, or maybe a little bit after you really want to get out, unless you're in really bad condition, that seems to get rid of the doom.

So if I'm really not feeling well I need to do that about twice a day when I'm really not good because it seems to build up again. So I'm assuming that's something in me that wants to get out and the sauna helps it get out. Infrared sauna-ing, if you're reintroducing a food and it doesn't go well and you feel like death, I figure that increases my mood by about 20% and dad feels the same way. So those are great.

The other thing I do, because these reactions last for so long, at least for me when I'm not feeling well, I'll circle a date on my calendar, about 24 days later and I'll say "I'm going to feel better here. Just wait until then to start freaking out" because it'll be two weeks after eating not very much of a food and I'll ask myself "So why am I still arthritic?". Sometimes symptoms crop up after two weeks. My arthritis seems to get worse towards the end of a reaction. So then I get all paranoid about having accidentally eaten something towards the end of the reaction so I look at my calendar and think "No, just stop worrying until that day." I don't know if that's helpful for people, but otherwise I just read way too far into everything.

Other than that, if I realize I've accidentally gotten poisoned with something I'll take activated charcoal. That seems to help my skin. When I get these reactions it hits my skin again and my skin seems to enjoy that. It doesn't seem to help very much with the mood but it's definitely not hurting. So I'll take activated charcoal as soon as I can and then I'll do that every night for four or five days just to help flush things out.

The infrared sauna definitely makes the most difference. The other interesting thing, and dad and I both noticed this, is when we're not feeling well, mood is down or reacting to something, you sweat a lot faster. So if I'm not feeling good I'll be in there for 6 or 7 minutes and start sweating and then when I'm feeling good it'll take 18 minutes. I guess that kind of makes sense because with some of these reactions I sweat at night or am just hot all the time. So I think it's my body trying to get rid of things. Is there anything else? I might have mentioned other things on the blog.

Doug: You mentioned 5-HTP for mood.

Mikhaila: Oh yeah!! So if you're horribly depressed 5-HTP probably isn't going to do a lot but now that I have these reactions I get miserably depressed but it's only from one thing I've eaten. 5-HTP makes quite a bit of difference and I generally take a pretty high dose split up throughout the day with food and that does help me. It helps dad. My husband takes it. I've heard some people who maybe the reason they get depressed isn't a serotonin problem so 5-HTP doesn't help or it makes them angry or something, so people are going to have to figure that out by themselves. But I would just say figure out how much you need and make sure you take it with food because if you take enough without food it can cause some really nasty nausea.

Honestly, this doesn't happen anymore because I'm just eating meat and I don't eat out so I'm just never going to be poisoned (knock on wood).

Doug: Right.

Mikhaila: Sometimes my husband eats out for business meetings and when I used to do that, if I had a really horrible depressive episode that I knew was going to last for a couple of weeks and I was below what I call a 5, so we rate our mood so that you can monitor it. If I got below a 5 for long enough I'd go back on my antidepressants because I knew I would be able to stop and it was too horrible to deal with.

Doug: Right.

Mikhaila: I haven't done that for quite a while but if there are people in really rough mental shape there's no reason to not be taking the medication until you're out of that.

Doug: Yeah, I think that's true.

Mikhaila: So luckily I can avoid it now because I don't enjoy taking antidepressants but if the alternative is you're in hell, then there is no alternative.

Doug: Yeah. There is a stigma against antidepressants. They probably are overprescribed but I think in a situation like yours it definitely makes sense, just to get you out of that mindset.

Mikhaila: Yeah, it depends how desperate you are, right?

Doug: Yeah.

Mikhaila: It would be better if doctors just looked at diet first, but that's not going to happen for a while, especially if this food sensitivity testing doesn't catch on for a while. I'm sure eventually it'll happen.

Doug: I certainly hope so.

Mikhaila: Yeah, me too.

Doug: Did you have any other questions Gaby?

Gaby: Actually we covered everything I wanted to ask.

Doug: Yeah, me too and we're over an hour right now. Actually before we leave, this isn't really related to diet, but I did just want to ask you, how do you feel about your dad's huge rise recently? How is that affecting you? Is it still kind of like he's the same old dad at home and everything's normal or is everything crazy?

Mikhaila: Everything is crazy since about 15 months. He got weirdly what we thought was 15 minutes of fame and then it just expanded and now it's just expanding like crazy and no, we all don't know how to deal with it. It's crazy. He's gone from I guess an normal person to I've had to be like "Dad, you can't give your email out to people anymore". Or "You can't have a cell phone number listed online".

Doug: Right.

Mikhaila: And it's things and he's like "Well then how are people going to get hold of me?" "You're in a different category now" and it's really hard to fathom. I guess I didn't really understand until I started trying to help him out and looking at media requests and it's constant, especially since the book release. There was one day he flew to New York and he had events from 3:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Gaby: Wow!!

Doug: Oh my god!

Mikhaila: Well we cancelled a bunch of those. I said "You can't handle this!! You still have to live." It's been "When are you going to sleep and eat?" It's annoying because he can't just eat on the run. My mom is always with him to make sure he doesn't mess up, otherwise he's out for a month. So it's complicated. It's fun and he's having a good time but we don't see him as much and when he's around, there's a lot on his mind. I'm hoping that it's getting a little more organized now and he's not going to be so swamped but it's hard to believe.

Doug: Yeah, especially being in the situation that he's in with the food sensitivities. I guess he's really lucky to have your mom with him to watch his back in that sense so he doesn't get poisoned.

Mikhaila: Yeah, that's the other thing. People who have food sensitivities this badly, it's a group effort. If he eats one thing wrong every 20 days then he's screwed. So yeah with mom he's incredibly lucky and she's very good at looking at ingredients and making sure he's okay. If he does eat out they talk to the chef and then she'll say "Okay, what's that? We didn't order that." Or they put seasoning on your steak. It's ridiculous. It made him really uncomfortable. It made me uncomfortable too in the beginning eating out because I used to be the type of person who'd say "Oh, you gave me the wrong dish but I'll just eat it anyway. Don't worry about it." And now it's like "Oh, you put the wrong type of dressing on my salad. I have to send it back." It's still engrained in me that that's rude. And it's ingrained in him that that's rude so luckily my mom is around to have his back.

Doug: I think it's partly because we're polite Canadians because I've gone through that as well. It's kind of like "You sent me the wrong thing". Normally I would just eat it and suck it up, but "I have to send this back."

Mikhaila: Maybe it is a Canadian thing. My husband was born in Russia. He doesn't have any qualms. He'll say "Well it's your job as the waiter to get my order right and you didn't get my order right and I'm paying you so why shouldn't I say something?" I'm like, okay, well that's fair enough.

Doug: Yeah.

Mikhaila: So luckily he covers for me when I'm out. So I'll be like "I don't want to do this. You order for me." And mom will cover for dad. Maybe we're just wimpy, I don't know.

Gaby: It's very good to hear that you both have a network of support. We can learn that from the Russians?

Mikhaila: Yeah.

Doug: Yeah, exactly. The stuff that your dad is talking about, is that something that you're onboard with or is it something that he's still dad and that's his thing and you don't really pay much attention to it? Just out of curiosity.

Mikhaila: Let me think. There's a lot that comes up, so I follow some of it. I usually avoid the more negative articles because they make me angry. There was a lot published at the beginning about things he said that he hadn't actually said, which was concerning because I used to read newspapers all the time or online news and just believe what newspapers said about people. Then hearing stuff like that it was like "Oh, I can't trust news networks anymore. That's cool."

Doug: Yeah.

Mikhaila: So I think my brother might watch more of the podcasts and everything than I do. It's strange. It's been a whirlwind. It's a crazy experience.

Doug: Okay, I guess that is our show for today. So thanks everybody for listening. Don't forget to tune into the SOTT Radio Network show on Sunday, that's at 12:00 eastern time. I almost forgot, if you want to keep up with Mikhaila online her blog is at mikhailapeterson.com and she also has a patreon going so you can support her blog and what she's doing. That's patreon.com/mikhailapeterson. So thanks very much for joining us again Mikhaila. Your story is pretty incredible and I think very inspirational.

Gaby: It's amazing. Thank you Mikhaila.

Mikhaila: Thanks for having me. It was fun.

Doug: Okay, bye everybody.

Gaby: Bye.