Using diet for Auto-Immune Rheumatoid Arthritis
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client name and identifying information changed
Lucy came to me after she had struggled for years with the crippling pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Lucy was quite upset that she had been diagnosed with a condition in her 20’s that she thought was for the elderly. Now in her early 30’s Lucy was still suffering.
At first when she was diagnosed she was prescribed drugs that made all the pain go away and she was happy to live this way. But as the years went by, the drugs became less effective and she was given more and more drugs to suppress the increasing pain.
Lucy asked the specialists if there were any foods that she should or should not be eating to help her deteriorating condition. She was told that there was no evidence of any foods being an issue or support, and was told to have a good balanced diet, including a glass of red wine to help relax her at the end of the day. After some thought and research Lucy felt this wasn’t right and came to see me.
I recommended bowel tests and food intolerance tests as I knew there was a strong link of leaky gut/intestinal permeability and imbalances in gut microbes and food intolerances to the health of the immune system.
The tests results showed that she had leaky gut and was intolerant to gluten, not strongly, but enough for me to suggest going 100% gluten free. Her inflammation markers were strong so we set Lucy up with an anti-inflammatory diet with no grains, sugar or alcohol. We also included an 80% plant based diet with 20% good fats and proteins.
Within four weeks her residual pain was gone and she had lots more energy and all markers had improved. After another couple of months on this diet, Lucy decided to gradually wean herself off her drugs to see if the pain would come back. This was not my recommendation but her choice to do so. She was very surprised and relieved to discover that she had no pain.
Lucy was reluctant to re-visit her specialist as she didn’t want to receive a ‘lecture’. But I convinced her to go and get her antibodies tested so she could be certain whether her condition had healed, or if she was in remission, or there was a placebo effect.
All tests came back clear. Now she doesn’t know whether she really had Rheumatoid Arthritis. But it didn’t matter as she was finally pain free after 15 years on drugs that did little but suppress her symptoms.
Lucy also mentioned that if she accidentally eats gluten then she wakes with terrible pain in her fingers. It was enough for her to commit to a gluten-free lifestyle.