“I said there was no way that food could be causing this,” were Margaret’s words. “But I was wrong.” And indeed she was.
In my last post, Autoimmune, I explained how autoimmune diseases happen. I promised to share the experiences of people who have accomplished autoimmune remission through diet.
Over the last several months I have collected these stories from an autoimmune forum; many books, articles, and research papers; and hundreds of people on various diabetic Facebook pages. Diabetics are almost always plagued with autoimmune conditions.
So let’s start with Margaret’s story. All of the names in these stories are fictitious but the people are real.
At the ripe old age of 21, Margaret was plagued with severe inflammation. A light rash turned into psoriasis all over her body. She had stomach pain, swelled up all over and couldn’t walk, had severe joint pain and couldn’t close her hands. For almost three years she went from specialist to specialist and had some 15 – 20 prescription pills. Finally diagnosed with lupus, no doctor could help her. Between doctor appointments she made multiple trips to the ER for steroid shots.
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems — including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.
When she was 24 she miraculously came across an ad for Dr. Amy Myer’s book, The Autoimmune Solution, bought it on-line, read it, and did exactly as it instructed. In 20 days her symptoms started going away, 30 – 45 days she had no trace of her former problems.
And what foods were the causes? Gluten and dairy.
Mary had arthritic eye flairs and was in mortal fear of going blind. Did you know arthritis could attack the eyes? Her condition, ankylosing spondylitis, is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that over time can cause some of the vertebrae in your spine to fuse.
The inflammation also can occur in other parts of your body, most commonly your eyes. This happened to Mary. About four times a year she would make a fast trip to the doctor for steroid injections in her eyes. (I shudder to think about it.) In her case, the condition was a reaction to a protein in all grains, including corn. She removed those from her diet and has not had an autoimmune flair since.
Janet went on vacation with a severe urinary tract infection for which she was given an antibiotic but not a probiotic. Antibiotics kills all gut bacteria, including the good bacteria, so probiotics are needed to rebuilt the good bacteria.
All of a sudden Janet had all these gut related symptoms, bloating, diarrhea, constipation followed later by severe fatigue, trembling hands, strange headaches where she lost half her vision, memory loss, and heart palpitations.. Her doctor said she had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Then she lost sensation in her ribs.
Eventually she saw a neurologist who found a lesion on her brain. While she was in the hospital her teenage son relapsed with MS. And it turned out she had MS as well. She said she might have ignored the problems for herself but was really motivated to help her son.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the brain and central nervous system. The immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body. Signs and symptoms of MS vary widely and depend on the amount of nerve damage and which nerves are affected.
Janet did her own research, finding a functional medicine doctor who led her to eliminate gluten, dairy, and night shade vegetables (tomatoes. potatoes, peppers, eggplant) from her diet. In 6 months the difference was so marked that her son agreed to do the diet as well. Her memory came back and she hasn’t had a relapse in over three years.
Different diagnoses, same causes
It is not happenstance that grain and dairy are involved in these three examples. So far we have lupus, MS, and ankylosing spondylitis as diagnosed conditions, all caused by reactions to the same foods. You will find that pattern continues with regularity.
Some people need the help of functional medicine or homeopathic doctors. Some do a search and figure it out on their own. But in every case the fix begins with figuring out and eliminating the offending foods. Illness can be avoided and miracles can be wrought through diet.
Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All About the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Pat is a resident of Montgomery County, AR, president of Ouachita Village, Inc .board of directors (Montgomery County Food Pantry), chairman of the Tasty Acre project, and member of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors.