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Author Archives: Alyssa Luck

Hi! My name is Alyssa, and I’m an undergrad at UNC Chapel Hill majoring in Nutrition. I enjoy learning about the principles of ancestral health, as well as the food and nutrition policies that shape our healthcare and food systems.

Adult Palate Expansion Diary #1

Confession: The first few installments were not written in realtime, because I started this process last year and I’ve only just decided to document it on the blog. So. Bear with me and the potentially awkward changing of verb tenses throughout this series of posts.

2015 – 2017

During this time, I had constant background stress about my teeth. That sounds so dumb, I know. Of all things to be chronically stressed about! But I had just gotten my second round of braces off, and already it was clear that the results weren’t going to last.

I was beginning to wise up to the real problem, and the real solution: expanding my palate. But at the time, that seemed like an impossible task. Almost everyone, online and in person, said it was impossible. My Googling didn’t turn up any dentists or orthodontists doing this kind of work. The only decent online resource I found was mostly hidden behind a paywall*, and everything else was just incomplete anecdotal evidence scattered across various online forums.

Even my awesome holistic dentist, who I LOVE, didn’t have much to offer in the way of advice or support. (I legit cried after that appointment. No joke.) I felt like I had absolutely no recourse, except perhaps jaw surgery, which I wanted to avoid for obvious reasons.

Read more →

Adult Palate Expansion Diary: Introduction

Hey friends! I have sorely neglected poor Truthbutter recently, as I’ve been focusing my energies on getting my shit together (figuratively and literally). Also because I have grand plans for a new and improved website that will be my namesake, where I will write extensively on IBD, the gut-brain-microbiota connection, and why extraction/retraction orthodontics need to go ahead and GTFO. Also probably food and travel and dog training, because hey – it’s my website.

But as I’ve begun my third round of orthodontia, I’ve run into several instances where I become so infuriated with the orthodontic injustice in the world that the only apparent viable solution is to once again shout my fury into the void of the internet. And since Truthbutter’s hosting doesn’t expire until later this year…I mean, might as well, right?

Also, there’s still SO LITTLE info on this topic online that I feel like my experience could be helpful to some people. Hopefully. (Please let me know if these posts are helpful to you!)

SO. Here I will be chronicling my self-directed orthodontic journey of palate-expanding, bite-correcting, smile-widening, and hopefully face-beautifying discovery. Later (on the aforementioned fictional future website) I will write about this topic in a more formal educational way. But for now, feel free to follow along as I document my progress, post pictures, and rant at length from my soapbox about how people with degrees I don’t have should do their jobs.

If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, do not fret. All will become clear in due time, young grasshopper.

To set the stage for where I’m at now, here’s a recap of my lengthy orthodontic journey thus far.

 

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Mt. Tamalpais – Matt Davis/Steep Ravine Loop

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Today’s hike was pretty spectacular. This loop was recommended by a website I’ve been using to choose from the seemingly endless hiking trails in the Bay Area, and it was definitely a great choice!

It had a little of everything – winding, shaded trails lined with ferns and moss-covered trees, cute wooden bridges over creeks that tumble down into waterfalls, exposed trails over grassy hilltops with views to the ocean, scrubby coastal plants, savory-smelling bay groves, and even towering redwoods. It felt like someone had sliced up all the hikes I’ve done so far on this trip, picked the best bits of each, and shoved them together into a seamless 7.3 mile, 3.5 hour hike. Read more →

Point Reyes National Seashore – Alamere Falls

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Here’s another hiking update for you! And by “you,” I probably mean me, several years later, when I want to remember cool things I’ve done. And probably my family. (Hi mom!)

Yesterday, a friend and I did the Palomarin to Alamere Falls hike at Point Reyes National Seashore, and it was amazing and exhausting. Alamere Falls is a waterfall that flows into the ocean, and it was an incredible destination. It took us about 5.5 hours (with a decent stop for lunch once we got to the falls), and the route we took was about 10 miles.  Read more →

Muir Woods – Bootjack/TCC/Ben Johnson Loop

IMG_1771I just wanted to share a quick post about an amazing hike I accidentally went on last week! The hike is at Muir Woods National Monument, which is an extremely popular destination in Marin county for seeing redwoods. First, I must tell you the the story of how I mistakenly went on one of the best hikes in the region, but afterwards I promise I’ll tell you about the hike itself. I even drew you a map. So bear with me.

Because I hate crowds, especially when I’m hiking, I opted to visit the park on a rainy weekday, and was intending to just amble around casually for a couple hours. I figured I’d check it out, look at the trails, bask in the redwoods, and then plan to come back for a proper hike at a later date when I was more prepared.

Well. I got a little lost. Read more →

Can L-Glutamine Cause Brain Fog? {Monday Musings}

Welcome to Monday Musings! I don’t expect this to be a weekly thing, but I wanted a nifty little label to slap on posts where I’m basically just thinking out loud. Wouldn’t want to delude anyone into thinking I have all the answers, now would I?
Thanks for being here!

L-glutamine, once a lowly amino acid vying for attention among 19 siblings, has become a darling of functional medicine for its role in gut health and intestinal permeability. L-glutamine is an important fuel source for enterocytes, which are the cells lining the intestines, and there’s pretty solid evidence that L-glutamine can help strengthen the intestinal barrier.

That all sounds fantastic, right? I sure thought so, and I supplemented accordingly, on and off, for several years. But recently, some self-experimentation has led me to suspect L-glutamine of being a contributor to some pretty intense brain fog and other mental symptoms I’ve been experiencing. L-glutamine was low on my list of suspects, because I had such positive expectations of it, so it took me a while to notice an association. But the timing was there, so I decided to investigate. Read more →

Instant Pot Sausage, Kale, and “Potato” Soup {AIP, Paleo}

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Now that it finally feels like fall in North Carolina (after having several 80-degree days in October), I’m totally in a soup mood. The classic sausage, kale, and potato soup sounded good, but potatoes are a no-go for me right now since I’m on the AIP. Luckily, I have a newly-discovered arsenal of starchy tubers at my disposal that I can use instead! I decided to use a yam for this recipe, mostly because I had it on hand, but also because I’ve used them in a stew before and it was fantastic.

Just FYI, yams are NOTHING like sweet potatoes, despite the fact that sweet potatoes are often colloquially called “yams.” And despite the fact that googling the word “yam” brings up tons of pictures of SWEET POTATOES. Argh. True yams are neutral-tasting, not sweet, white (not orange) on the inside, and are gigantic and hairy. I’ve bought them at my local Asian market (where they’re labeled “ñame”) and at Publix, surprisingly enough.  Read more →

Getting Enough Carbs on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)

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The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (or AIP) has become extremely popular recently as a dietary approach to manage autoimmune disease. I’ve been aware of the AIP for quite some time, but have been pretty turned off of very restrictive diets for the past few years based on my experiences with GAPS/SCD (and for other reasons as well). But after dealing with several back-to-back flare-ups related to recent treatments I’ve been exploring, I decided to give it a shot.

However, I was a little worried about getting enough carbs on the diet. Most common starchy foods (including potatoes and white rice, two of my staples) are on the “no” list, and AIP proponents usually recommend limiting fruit and sweeteners. That leaves sweet potatoes and plantains as the only familiar sources of dense carbohydrate, with things like squash and parsnips providing lesser (but respectable) amounts of non-starchy carbs. Read more →

What is a “whole food” diet, really?

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I started thinking about this question yesterday (in response to something I’ll share below) and had a bit of a “woah – paradigm shift!” moment, so I thought I’d share with you all! (Also, I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to have a picture of Inigo Montoya on my blog.)

In the realm of nutrition, the “whole food” diet reigns supreme. From the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans to your neighborhood Paleo blogger, almost everyone agrees that a healthy diet is a diet based on “whole foods.”

It’s quite interesting, then, that some of these “whole food” diets have very little in common with each other. It’s even more interesting that some of these “whole food” diets include recommendations to eat things that are definitely not “whole foods.”  Read more →

The gut bugs are controlling my brain

Sometimes, I just want to just rip the bacteria out of my gut, enlarge them so I can actually see them, and then yell at them for screwing with my head (and smack them around a little for good measure).

One of these days I’ll write a proper post about how your little gut monsters can make you stressed and anxious and pessimistic and just downright depressed, but for now, suffice it to say that they can. Oh, they can indeed.

You see, I’m typically a pretty happy, driven, focused individual. I’m optimistic about life, I know how to handle stress, and I know how to get sh*t done when it needs to get done.

But if I eat something I’m not supposed to, or don’t take probiotics for too long, or (god forbid) do anything to try and get rid of the little buggers who keep causing me digestive problems, BAM! All of a sudden I’m a mess. My brain just completely stops functioning properly. I suddenly feel like everything in my life sucks, even though nothing has changed. Read more →