Since my diagnosis of RA in 1996, I have held out hope of finding a way to make it better or eliminate my symptoms without medications. Pretty quickly after my diagnosis, I started taking supplements, 16 of them if I remember correctly, and altered my diet to exclude meat and dairy products. After about 8 weeks or so (I can’t exactly remember), I got chicken pox and so ended that phase. I was not going to the store poxed. Instead, I ordered pizza for a week! The diet did seem to help, but not nearly enough.
I have read many books and articles about helping autoimmune diseases. Some have been scientific. Some have not. It’s hard to tell what is real and what is crazy. My favorite was advertisements for emu oil as a cure for RA. I think not. I really think anything that claims to cure it is likely a hoax.
Some common threads have stuck with me as possibly making some sense. One has been that RA is a disease of modern times, not ancient ones. Another of these has been “leaky gut syndrome.” The thought is that some foods and e-coli get through your intestinal wall when they shouldn’t. I’ve seen a couple of scientific articles that weren’t necessarily studying leaky gut syndrome, but supported it none-the-less. One, I seem to recall, said that people with RA have higher levels of e-coli in their joints than the general population. Leaky gut has made sense to me. I also developed a life threatening food allergy around the same time as my RA. That seemed strange to me. I’ve also had some serious issues with constipation on rare occasions, never having those issues before. Before Enbrel, the drug which I credit for making me the functional person I am today, I would fast on really bad RA days. I would typically feel much better after skipping some meals. I don’t know if this is crazy or not. I guess it’s just a few leaky gut things that line up in my head.
Long story short, after trying my own version of non-researched caveman diets (because I really don’t believe we ought to be eating so much sugar and flour), which typically involved cutting out sugar, wheat, and sometimes milk, my mother-in-law showed me an article about Paleo. For Christmas, she bought me 3 books about it. The books made sense and put a little science behind the leaky gut theory. The overall theory is taking us back to what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate for millions of years. Supposedly, our bodies and genetics have not yet adapted to our modern agriculture diet of the last 5-10,000 years. There were some interesting pieces of research behind the Paleo theory, but the diet itself does not appear to be put through good testing as of yet.
So, here I sit, the night before Paleo, January 8, 2012. I’ve read 1 book thoroughly and skimmed through the other two. My husband has agreed to support me on this, although he refuses to eat any eggs and may cheat on occasion. For 30 days, I plan on going full-out, no cheating with the auto-immune conditions. My rules as I understand them are: lots of lean meat, lots of vegetables and some fruits. For my first 30 days, I am also skipping out on eggs, nuts, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants (no loss on the eggplants for me) as this was recommended for people with autoimmune conditions. I may try to build them in, if the diet seems to help, at the end of 30 days. I am also taking Vitamin D (which I take anyway) and fish oil (to get my omega 3s up and in balance with my omega 6s).
We shopped for food this weekend, picking up some lean grass-fed ground beef, wild-caught salmon, 2 whole chickens (I would have preferred a turkey breast, but all the ones I found were quite processed or out of my price range), chicken breasts, vegetables, and fruits. Currently, I am making jerky in the dehydrator and 1 chicken in the crock pot. I ate a fair share of chocolate today… may as well get that out of my system. I guess I’m ready to go.
So, I can’t believe I’m going to put this out there for the world to see, but here it is. My name is Lori. I’m 39 years old. I’ve had asthma and allergies for 36 years, a food allergy and RA for 15 years, Grave’s Disease for 4 years, and thyroid eye disease for 9 months. I’m 173 pounds. I’ve been on Enbrel for 12 years. I’ve had prednisone for about 7 of the last 15 years, but not currently. My RA is currently under relatively good control. I’ve been doing pilates with an exercise rehabilitation specialist for the last 16 months. Let’s see what this Paleo does!