Okay now that I’ve expressed the way I feel, I’ll explain why.
If you visit any rheumatoid arthritis related pharmaceutical, clinical or medical website or any mainstream RA charity or support website, forum, or other information resource (including mainstream media outlets), you will almost always see one or more of the following statements.
- “There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis.”
- “The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown.”
- “No one knows exactly why some people develop rheumatoid arthritis.”
- “The body’s immune system gets confused.”
- “We need more research.”
- “Rheumatoid arthritis is a lifelong condition.”
- “Give us money.”
And so on… i.e. “We don’t know the cause, we don’t know how to cure it, it’s a lifelong disease, it might be something to do with smoking or genetics maybe – rolling out the same old message of doom and gloom – but drugs tho!” And; “Donate money so that we can do more research, to find new drug targets, to develop new drugs, to continue suppressing the symptoms.” I’ve spent almost forty years of my life researching and studying rheumatoid arthritis and in all that time the statements above haven’t changed at all, and many of the treatments for RA are still the same as they were forty years ago too.
Many of these mainstream sites and resources consistently fail to mention the seriousness and the prevalence of the side effects of standard RA treatments. They also fail to mention that none of the treatments address the actual cause of the disease. No matter how many research papers/drug trials that I read (and have read), all of the standard therapies (old and new) involve the interruption of the immune system’s inflammatory processes and the suppression of symptoms (including vagus nerve stimulation).
We Know the Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis!
The causes of rheumatoid arthritis are long-term poor diet and lifestyle choices. There are many additional factors that can have an influence on the likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis, but if the causes are not present or are removed, these additional factors are not enough in themselves to cause the disease.
Poor diet and lifestyle choices (and over-prescribed medications such as antibiotics) physically damage the gut and also cause dysbiosis within the gut’s micro-biome. Since the gut is where up to 80% of the body’s immune system resides, any damage to the gut compromises the immune system. When this happens over many years or even decades, the immune system becomes less and less capable of coping with additional stresses and triggers such as viruses, bacteria and gut permeability etc.
Poor diet and lifestyle choices also impair circulation (affecting tissue oxygenation, nutrient supply, and waste removal etc.) which is one of the main chronic causes of joint damage and dysfunction, not just in RA but also in osteoarthritis and back pain.
We Know How to Prevent, Treat and Often Cure Rheumatoid Arthritis
There is a known cure (permanent remission), there is a known and effective treatment, and there is a known method of prevention of rheumatoid arthritis (and other chronic diseases). It’s called a health promoting diet and lifestyle! It’s simple, relatively straightforward to follow, and it’s accessible and affordable. It consists of a tailored whole food plant-based diet, consistent and adequate sleep, sufficient water consumption, fifteen or twenty minutes of sunshine exposure per day, stress management techniques and aerobic exercise. That’s it, these few diet and lifestyle changes have been shown to prevent, treat and often cure this hideous disease called rheumatoid arthritis.
Pride, Ignorance, Arrogance, Fear and Greed Cause Untold RA Suffering
In almost forty years of fighting rheumatoid arthritis I’ve interacted with numerous doctors and other medical professionals, and I’d like to say that it was always a productive experience but sadly that hasn’t been the case.
In all cases (as far as I can remember) – nurses, technicians and service staff were exceptional; being professional, efficient, supportive, approachable and human. However, I’ve only met two doctors where I could honestly apply the same description. Whilst interacting with dozens of other doctors including surgeons, GPs and specialist consultants over the years, I’ve had a variety of terrible experiences. Not a single one of these professionals discussed or even made me aware of the critical role that diet and lifestyle plays in the cause and development of rheumatoid arthritis.
I’ve experienced the dismissive pride of some doctors which blinded them to any information (e.g. dietary studies and other research papers) which I tried to offer up for consideration regarding my RA.
I once sat with a rheumatologist after an initial examination, and tried to explain and demonstrate my thoughts regarding RA and diet. He listened politely and then in a very condescending manner completely dismissed everything that I’d suggested with the following statement: “That’s all very interesting but if it really was effective for rheumatoid arthritis, I would have heard about it.” (Ignorance).
On another occasion (when I tried to discuss diet as a possible adjunct therapy) I was forcefully told to: “Get out of my office and stop wasting my time.” (Arrogance).
I remember a conversation a few years ago with my then GP where he was very sympathetic to my request to minimise my treatment to a handful of low-dose prednisone tablets to tide me over a flare coupled with my ongoing dietary experimentation. However, (apparently) due to practice (and NHS) guidelines and tangible peer pressure he still felt compelled to write me an additional prescription for strong painkillers and anti-inflammatories which I didn’t want and wouldn’t use. (Fear – of treatment omission?). Again, he had no knowledge or experience of using diet and lifestyle as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis other than for obese patients in order to lose weight.
On several occasions I’ve experienced the greed of medical practitioners. Doctors who’d strongly urged me to accept potentially dangerous treatments without a full examination and further tests, e.g. “If you don’t adopt this treatment you will probably be in a wheelchair within two years.”. And: “You do realise that rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t just affect your joints?”. I’m well aware of the meaning of that second statement. Yes rheumatoid arthritis sufferers appear to have an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, however based on my own research this is misleading. The real cause of the increased risk are the side-effects of the typical rheumatoid arthritis medications more than the disease itself. Either way, this information should not have been used to instil additional fear in a vulnerable patient (me) in order to pressure me into accepting potentially dangerous treatments without further investigation.
Without exception, every medical professional that I’ve consulted over the last forty years has categorically denied any link between diet and rheumatoid arthritis. This is completely unacceptable in the 21st-century. The trials, the studies, and the clinical results are all published and easily accessible to any physician or any member of a rheumatoid arthritis support organisation. A tailored whole food plant-based diet with a few other lifestyle changes can prevent rheumatoid arthritis from ever happening and it can effectively treat and often reverse the disease in sufferers.
When Will Lifestyle Medicine Be Adopted and Prioritised by Mainstream Medicine?
Millions of people around the world are needlessly suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and many other chronic diseases which can be prevented, treated, and often reversed with diet and lifestyle medicine. This has been thoroughly established, researched and proven beyond doubt at this point. Why then, in almost forty years of suffering with rheumatoid arthritis have I never been made aware of this treatment option by any of my ‘health care’ practitioners?
Whether a patient has rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes or any other chronic disease, the first thing any physician should do is to explain the overwhelming benefits of a whole food plant-based diet and other health promoting lifestyle changes. She or he should then encourage that patient to move in that direction. This, before any discussion of standard symptomatic treatments or other interventions. If physicians did this, it would drastically reduce suffering and the burden on the healthcare system. Diet and lifestyle changes are the number one most effective method to prevent, treat, and reverse almost all chronic diseases.
I believe that if rheumatoid arthritis sufferers were made aware of the power of a whole food plant-based diet by their physicians and/or RA support groups and charities, a large percentage of them would make the effort to adopt it. Empowering patients with this knowledge would put them in charge of their own health destinies and the ensuing beneficial results would provide huge emotional rewards and job satisfaction for the physicians involved.
To end on a more positive note, a few rheumatoid arthritis charities and online medical resources are finally beginning to acknowledge that diet can at least play a role in reducing the symptoms of RA. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before they all recommend a whole food plant-based diet and other health promoting lifestyle changes.
Teacher image is public domain