Decades ago when I was diagnosed with MS, they saw the pattern of living further away from the equator increased the incidence of MS. They thought however, it might have something to do with getting ill more often and being exposed to a particular viral agent (the mystery trigger for MS). That may still be a part of it, but the following study, Vitamin D Supplements Reduce Relapses in Multiple Sclerosis, illustrates that Vitamin D plays a huge role. When I first saw my functional medicine MD, my level was 41.6 ng/ml. I still take 5000 IU daily.
In a previous post I spoke of my aunt, my mother’s sister, being diagnosed with RA. Her daughter, my cousin, was also diagnosed with RA last month. This in turn led to long discussions about family history and I found out the following:
• both my maternal great-grandparents had RA
• of their 6 children only one seemed to present with RA (not my grandmother)
• of my grandmother’s 5 children, 3 presented with RA (my mother, and a younger sister and brother)
• the next generation would be mine where I and my cousin have both been diagnosed
• my cousin has two young daughters—I think we could make an educated guess about their fate, unfortunately
It’s yet another one of those days when I try not to scream when I look at the news. I was glad that the New York Times seemed to be interested in printing information on the gluten-free lifestyle until I read the articles. The first article this week, A Big Bet on Gluten-Free, was mildly interesting from a business perspective, but it remained insulting with quotes like the following:
• “Look, the thing here, in my opinion, is that there is a small number of people who have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant,” Mr. Hajarnavis said. “But there is a growing population of people who have somehow heard that gluten-free is healthier or think of it as fashionable, and when they remove gluten from their diet, they’re inadvertently taking out a lot of processed foods and are really feeling the benefits of eating healthier foods.”
I watched a webinar last night by Dr. Terry Wahls. If you don’t recall, she’s the woman, a physician, who has cured her progressive MS with diet. She has an amazing TED talk which I previously posted in this blog post.
I came away with several things about her that I did not previously know:
• She said when she read Cordain’s book on paleo, it made scientific sense to her which is why she decided to go paleo.
• When she initially went paleo in 2002, it was mostly taking wheat and dairy out of her diet. She’s been a vegetarian for a long time, so she found the conversion to eating meat very difficult. She did a lot of meat broths to try to get used to the idea and didn’t initially consume meat as she now does (grass-fed beef, organ meats, fish). You might say that in the beginning, she went gently into paleo. I believe that might be true for many people.
• The answer to her remarkable recovery from the disease state of MS is paleo plus functional medicine.
• It was difficult for her to align her thinking as a traditionally-trained MD with the idea that diet has this much of an impact on our health.
I endeavor not saying, “MY” MS or “MY” RA. I always felt it gave too much power to the disease. I was somehow relinquishing control as if that’s WHO I was—THE disease. The solution for me was to name them. At that time my neurologist was female and my rheumatologist was male. I decided to name the MS, Lucy, and the RA, Ricky. Yes, a reference to Ricky and Lucy Ricardo. One must find amusement where they may. I look at Ricky and Lucy as a part of life. I recognize them, am aware of them, but they don’t control me or what I do. Of course, I have limitations. We all do no matter the age—disease or no disease. They, however, do not define me.
Since last November, I occasionally experience the following sensation—a sudden clearing of my nasal airways almost like I am breathing very cold air or sucking on a mentholated cough drop. It is a slight burning and even feels itchy in my nose. The back of my throat is slightly itchy, as well. I feel as if I can’t take a deep breath—almost like I am going to have an asthma attack.
I’ve tried eliminating different foods although my diet has remained constant throughout this period. I have been unable to pinpoint the source of my discomfort though I have done MANY experiments.
During the recent past it has finally been accepted, for the most part, that gut flora plays a huge part in our general health. More and more scientists and physicians are taking seriously the gut’s role.
I have fungal dysbiosis. In other words, my gut flora was very messed up from years of antibiotics, steroids etc. not to mention eating gluten and causing leaky gut and a plethora of food allergies. It’s not surprising that remedying that situation was part of my functional medicine MD’s plan.
Methotrexate is the “gold standard” of RA treatment—or so said my rheumatologist back when I was initially diagnosed. He worked hard trying to get me to start taking it by telling me of its huge success rate, how it was well-tolerated, easy to take, and just really “no big deal”. It’s not that I believe he did not have my best interest at heart. He believes in what he does and is very good at it. He didn’t want to see me crippled with RA and the quickest way to avoid that, or so he was taught by the ivory towers of traditional medicine and, therefore, believes, was to get me started on Methotrexate.
In the fall of 2009, we started P90X. Being the over-achiever that I am, I enjoyed it immensely. Yes, it’s hard and takes 90 days…but it’s intense, and you see results. I like intense. I didn’t just do it once. I did it four times in a row before I slacked off to a maintenance schedule. None of that, however, is the point. The point is that while I thought I was getting fit and healthy, I was drinking smoothies with bananas, dairy, and whey protein and consuming a workout recovery drink with whey protein. My low-carbohydrate meals included tons of vegetables and meat but also the occasional potato (saponin treasure chest) or worse yet, pasta (my mortal enemy—gluten). Yes, I built a lot of muscle, but little did I know that I was also making my gut more permeable than ever with the gluten (leaky gut) and keeping my body in a full state of inflammation with the sugar (bananas) and allergens I was ingesting (dairy, eggs, gluten). My genetics held the secret I, at that time, had not yet discovered. I didn’t do myself any favors, and worse, set myself up for even more problems which were realized in 2012 with the RA diagnosis.