In this post I want to explain in more detail what led me to the design of a diet which eliminated all the symptoms of my RA effectively ‘curing’ it (as long as I stuck to the diet).
There are thousands of often confusing and contradictory books and articles written about rheumatoid arthritis, both medical and complementary.
I have read hundreds of books relating to RA and thousands of articles and papers over the years. This is how in my case, I separated fact from fiction, followed clues, uncovered and tested the evidence in a massive effort to find the true cause(s) of my RA.
I eventually collected around 600 books (a small selection shown in the photo above) covering subjects from anatomy to herbalism trying to learn everything I could about the human body and how it responds to disease; and how nutrition, stress, sleep and exercise affect its health. My collection spans over 1600 years of health related information and tradition.
Eliminating the Cause of My RA – Following The Trail of Clues…
What causes the pain and inflammation in a person suffering from rheumatoid arthritis? I’ve been studying this question for around twenty eight years, trying to find the answer, trying to find a solution. I’m still searching for a definitive answer, but I have at least found a solution which works for me and I believe it will work for many other people too.
I tried two main approaches over this period; I consulted various medical specialists, had lots of tests, and also read a huge amount of research material; and I studied alternative and complementary treatments and therapies.
The medical route always seemed to lead to a dead end but I did learn a great deal about the symptoms of RA, the various medical treatments (of the symptoms), and the rather archaic technology (from an engineer’s point of view) for slowing down the assumed inevitable joint destruction and loss of mobility (e.g. wearing hand-braces every night).
The medical profession’s job is to try to minimise the pain and deformation caused by rheumatoid arthritis; unfortunately it appears to be unable to explain or treat the causes. This is not just my opinion, this is my personal experience; despite massive efforts on my part for almost three decades, I have never received any medical explanation as to the actual causes of RA (actual causes – not hypotheses).
This is perhaps one of the worst aspects of RA, the lack of reason and control. With many other illnesses and diseases, a doctor can provide some explanation as to causes, provide some advice, and give some control over the outcome to the patient; diabetes, certain heart problems, and high blood pressure for example. In these cases and many others, the patient can influence their quality of life, the extent of the damage, and control or even prevent symptoms (with exercise, diet etc.).
With RA you feel helpless, you are almost completely reliant on medical treatment. You receive the knowledge that there is little you can do for yourself other than try to minimise or slow down the damage. I am thankful that in my case, in terms of treatment, I was very fortunate to have two extremely skillful specialists; they gave me the time I needed to eventually understand the ‘general’ cause of my own arthritis, and develop a solution before too much damage was done, and I am very grateful to them for this.
These days with expert guidance both in treatment and general health care, the physical pain, inflammation and many other symptoms can be controlled and minimised for a price. However, the psychological effects of RA still remain; hope is hard to come by, depression is like a shadow, talking about many hobbies and outdoor activities is painful, there’s a lack of enthusiasm about the future and so on…
The alternative and complementary route also offers little in the way of concrete explanation of the causes of RA. There are thousands of books and articles written by therapists, practitioners and individuals like me :-) offering a multitude of theories, therapies, treatments and personal experiences. I’ve literally (pardon the pun) read hundreds of them, I bought almost every book I could find on the subject, some over a hundred years old.
Most of these authors/writers are genuinely trying to help and they, like me, are trying to hunt down the pain and inflammation gang, and put them out of business :-) We are all detectives; the medical researchers and drug companies look for clues to help find more effective and profitable treatments, alternative and complementary researchers try various traditional and newly invented treatments, and then look for evidence of their effectiveness. Individuals like me, look into our own history and experiences and try to work out how and why the pain and inflammation gang broke into our immune systems, then corrupted and vandalised everything.
For the rest of this post, I want to concentrate on the alternative and complementary resources. Each time I read a new book or article my spirits would lift and I would begin to hope again; “I will try this, it sounds so logical, so probable.”.
Unfortunately, after trying dozens of ideas, therapies, treatments and diets over decades, nothing ever really worked for me. Each of these potential solutions always seemed to suffer from one of three main drawbacks which made them difficult or impossible to pursue effectively.
- They were too harsh, too extreme, too difficult to incorporate into the real world. Stress, pressure, time and location restraints made them impractical.
- They were too complicated and unrealistic for an RA sufferer to follow, involving too many tests, too much travelling or too many ingredients which were hard to obtain (or just too expensive).
- Finally, many of them were aimed mainly at alleviating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis rather than offering anything in the way of a permanent solution. Whilst this is laudable, and useful, it wasn’t what I was looking for and I found the often repeated phrases; “How to cope with RA.”, “How to manage your arthritis.” or “Living with rheumatoid arthritis.”, to be demoralising and depressing. I wanted answers and a solution!
However, while reading through the hundreds of articles and books over the years, I did begin to see a pattern emerging and aspects of this pattern helped me to arrive at my own solution.
I realise now that many of the observations and conclusions made in these real life detective stories were partially true. For example, there are many books which are based on the idea that eating a largely fish based diet is beneficial for arthritis sufferers. There are also books which promote the benefits of eating raw food, avoiding processed food, or becoming vegetarian or vegan.
The list goes on… Some recommend a largely juice based diet, or an ‘avoid all fruit’ diet. Then there is food preparation and consumption; leave the skins on veg and fruit, eat organic, don’t mix starch and proteins (food combination – a huge subject in itself).
For me there was a small piece of the puzzle’s solution in each of these ideas. Here’s a quick summary of some of those pieces.
- Avoid all processed, fast, so called convenience foods.
- Steam, dry bake or boil food; never fry, bake or grill in oil.
- Avoid all meats except fish (semi-vegetarian).
- Don’t eat any fat that has been chemically – partially (this produces ‘Trans-Fats’) or fully hydrogenated.
- Avoid all fruit except bananas, at least initially (more about this in a future post).
- Eat mostly vegetables (leave the skins on where possible) and fish.
- Use only cold-pressed olive oil – no other oils initially (again, more about this in a future post).
- Most vegetables and fish go well together and digest easily, so no problems with combining them.
- Juices help, they provide a welcome variation and nutrient absorption is more complete. Carrot juice or carrot juice with a little beetroot is good.
The combination of clues from all this detective work carried out by all these wonderful and dedicated researchers, helped me to design a ‘cure’ for my own arthritis. However, there was one more detective which provided the most convincing evidence – the last piece of a possible solution for me; Max Bircher-Benner.
When Max was ill with a liver problem he found that he could not digest foods, almost everything was impossible to tolerate. His wife gave him a piece of apple to try, and was surprised to find it perfectly digestible. He continued to eat only apples for a few days and became well again.
It was a light bulb moment for me! I had long realised, ‘deduced’, that food was causing most if not all my problems with RA. I discovered this (like a proper sleuth) by the process of elimination; in fact by eliminating everything. Periodically I carried out fasts where I would consume nothing but filtered or mineral water, sometimes for several days. Each time, all my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms gradually disappeared.
Unfortunately, I had to commence eating again in order to survive, and almost immediately, my symptoms would return again. However, armed with the additional clue provided by Max, I reasoned (like Sherlock Holmes) that if I could design the simplest possible diet, which would allow me to survive yet eliminate as many ‘trigger’ foods as possible, I might be able to prolong or sustain the beneficial effects of a fast.
I chose to eat potatoes and only potatoes for a week, along with filtered water. It worked! Most of my symptoms disappeared. The following week I added carrots and so on until I developed the diet which became my solution to this ‘crime’. I no longer suffer from arthritis, the pain and inflammation gang were arrested, and I’ve installed an amazing firewall to prevent any further corruption or vandalism.
There is more good news which came to light later on in this story, and I will discuss this in another post shortly.