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    • Andy
      Andy Williams

      I have osteoarthritis. Rampant, throughout my body. No, it's not Rheumatoid Arthritis, not Psoriatic Arhtritis, not some other auto-immune disease (I've had all the tests). Over the years, I've had to have my left hip and right knee replaced (both very successful surgeries!). But recently, in the past year or so, the pains from osteoarthritis became for me, critically debilitating. I would have level 9+ pain in my wrists, thumbs, hands, ankles, neck, knees, elbows, well, just about everywhere! Since RA and other auto-immune stuff was ruled out, the doctors (well-known-to-me orthopedic surgeons and a rheumatologist near me) could only prescribe prescription anti-inflammatory nsaids (think: super strong motrin), and topical gels. Long-term usage of such NSAIDs has a bad effect on liver, kidney, stomach, so that's no good. Occassional injections of steroids into a joint (left knee, the one that is not replaced already) or the artifical lubricant Synvisc) would bring immediate relief, but only last a few weeks, and so they are not a long term solution. I had nights where I'd wake up in tears from pain. I had mornings that I couldn't move. I had days where my hand became unusable.

      One of the worst feelings in the world is when your body just "won't do" something you automatically just "have done" for the past 40 or 50 years. Like putting on a belt. Snapping a snap. Removing a lid from a jar. Putting the gallon of water back in fridge. Going up or down a flight of stairs. Walking, sitting, sleeping. Professionally, for me: holding a camera.

      ENOUGH ALREADY!

      Enter my newest "Doctor" NancyRose. Nancy is my wife, trained chef and a Certified Culinary Nutrition Expert. She finally convinced me to do the one thing that all of the other doctors didn't ever tell me to do: get on an anti-inflammatory diet, right away.

      The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison. (Ann Wigmore, Holistic Health Pioneer).

      Nancy started me on Whole30 on March 1, 2018. It's not really a "diet", it's a "nutrition reset", with one of the big benefits being "balancing" your immune system and being extremely anti-inflammatory. Essentially it's this: NO: sugar, gluten, grains, dairy, legumes, or anything processed for 30 days. YES: lots of all kinds of vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, and sure if you want to use olive oil in your salad dressing, no problem. No butter, but Ghee (clarified butter) is just fine, cook your eggs in it, even!). There is no calorie counting.

      What magic-foo is this?

      Yeah, so, today is day 30! For the past 30 days I've eaten meals like this:

      Breakfast: fried or scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes and carrots, spinach, sausage, and fruit.

      Lunch: Soem tuna fish (yeah, mercury-free), or egg-salad, or roasted turkey or chicken, half-sour pickles, more veggies, a little fruit.

      Dinner: A juicy NY Strip Steak, or grilled shrimp, or salmon, or chicken, baked potato (with mustard, or some melted ghee butter!), or caulliflower rice, green beans, and a salad that could easilyy feed four people.

      Snacks: An apple. Some raw veggies. A Lara Bar (or other similar approved bars).

      Drinks: coffee, tea, sparkling water, plain water, any of these but no added sugar or artificial sugar. I put home-made cashew milk in my coffee and it tastes awesome (really!).

      What I didn't eat: Cheese, butter, peanuts, peanut butter, sugar of any kind, artificial sweeteners, milk or anything processed, dairy, gluten, grains, corn, corn oil, legumes (snow peas, green beans allowed, they are more "pod" than "bean"), alcohol (no problem there, it has been years since I've had any).

      OK, OK, so how'd it go?

      After 30 days: My joints feel better! Yes, indeed they do. I actually stopped taking the twice-daily prescription pain meds after 20 days (Etodolac, the NSAID), and I can definitely tell that my joints feel better than they did 30 days ago. There is little to no pain in the places that I used to notice it most. I'm moving better, sleeping better, generally all-around feeling better! My skin looks clearer and feels better (no dry skin). I feel like my energy level is higher, and my focus during the days is much, much, improved, because I'm not depressed from the constant arthritic pain.

      Oh, and I lost 13 pounds. Yeah, let that sink in, I lost weight eating as much really awesome food as I like (remember, juicy steak, grilled shrimp dipped in melted butter (ghee!), salads with actual, real, salad dressing, plenty of fruits and veggies). I could stand to lose some more weight, so this is a huge benefit to me, since weighing less will put less weight-stress on my joints.

      After the 30-days "reboot" you get to re-introduce some foods, carefully. I will be super cautious about this though, I want to continue to "de-inflame" my body and I'm guessing it's gonna take a long time! I spent a lifetime eating like a "teenager", but now I'm going to take control, instead of food taking control of me. I believe I continue to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, and continue to lose more weight, and get back to being healthy again.

      Would love to hear from others on this topic!

    • flei

      I had severe arthritis in both hips which I was not able to effectively manage the pain/inflammation of with typical "Western medicines". I went on an anti-inflammatory diet and it did help some, but with my lifestyle it was difficult for me to stick to it 100%. What seemed to help most was an herbal medication which I found after doing extensive internet research on the effectiveness of various arthritis treatments. It is called "SKI 306X" (which sounds stupid and did not inspire confidence in me) and it is a traditional Asian medicine (made from Clematis, Trichosanthes and Prunella). It is of course not available in the USA (thank you FDA and Big Pharma), but my acupuncturist/herbalist was able to make it for me. While after 3 years I had to discontinue it as it began to cause too much stomach upset (and then had successful surgery to replace both hips), it helped immensely until then and I recommend others with arthritis try it, although I do not promise you will necessarily find it as helpful as I did. If you are at all interested in this or other medications, do your research. Here is a link to one study of this medicine and its effectiveness: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11789591

    • Andy

      I forgot to mention that I am also helping things along by taking a Turmeric concentrate, and a 2x daily dose of Glucosamine / Chondroitin.

    • EllaS

      When CrossFit became popular I was surprised to see how many people developed arthritis in their 20s and 30s who looked amazing. We thought perhaps it had to do with CrossFit being so extreme. I am friends with trainers who are critical of the form they teach in CrossFit, so we thought that was it.

      That may not be the reason tho. The head doctor of Stanford's football team gave a talk a few years ago about how they reduced the injury rate on the team by almost 80%. Part of the solution was to stop training on machines and do more CrossFit-type exercises that build their fitness multi-dimensionally, so they have strength from side-to-side.

      One thing they did is remove all supplements, energy bars and processed food from the facilities and replace them with plant-based foods like apples. This is becoming a trend among even pro athletes. Some people say the downside of CrossFit is they endorsed the Paleo diet which got them eating crazy amounts of burgers and bacon.

      There don't seem to be definitive studies on arthritis and diet that I'm aware of, but I know of more than a few athletes who tell stories like this: https://www.forksoverknives.com/how-i-overcame-crippling-arthritis-and-returned-to-elite-level-fitness/#gs.WrOliUA

    • cvdavis

      I have never seen any scientific evidence for the idea of 'resetting' your immune system. Sounds like a load of baloney or pseudoscience to me. Eating a healthy and balanced diet though is a sound plan and could help you in numerous ways. To be honest your post sounds like a marketing or sales pitch if not yours then one that someone has 'sold' you on. I hope it's not. I'm sorry to hear about your health challenges. I hope your diet helps in some way.

      https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/inflammation-both-friend-and-foe/

    • Andy

      Hah. I don't think I'm making any scientific claims. No sales pitch, I don't care if you do it or don't do it. I'm just reporting my results. And I think that's the issue, there aren't enough real-world results out there. In my profession (pro photographer) I don't read or care about measurement sites/camera reviews at all. I try the camera, or the lens, and decide for myself. Same with this. My food-doctor wife has been trying to get me to do this for years, and I resisted.

      It was easy for me, I reached the maximum amount of pain I could tolerate. "Science and Medicine" that HAS backing/studies/results (and politics and $$$$$$ behind it!) has failed me (Pills, injections, etc). So it was stupid-easy for me to try this, there was/is zero risk and only something to gain, so I did try it. I'm glad I did.

    • Chris

      My understanding is there's pretty good data on which foods are inflammatory and not. There have been various indicators of inflammation but the one that seems to get talked about most is C-reactive protein, which comes from a blood test and it's complicated yada.

      This simple chart from Harvard is easy to remember but it's missing dairy & eggs, plus legumes.

      From all the legit research I've been able to find, it looks a lot like dairy & eggs are inflammatory and legumes are not. Legumes, surprisingly, seem to be the food group most associated with long life around the world. The surprising part is it seems like they shouldn't be ahead of vegetables, but UN consumption data seems to indicate that they are.

    • Chris

      I occasionally see the term used for research into autoimmune diseases or allergies. For example, the Imperial College of London has produced promising results for 'resetting' the immune system for treatment of Multiple Sclerosis.

    • SBean

      I've been meaning to respond to your post for a few days now, but haven't had the time due to Easter weekend.

      Preface: I could deep end on this type of conversation for days. Nutrition and its effects on our bodies has been a focus of mine for >15 years now. I'll do my best to keep things fairly brief. 

      First off, congratulations on the positive changes you have made to your diet and experienced physically. The point of any health intervention should be to help you feel better, and it sounds like you have certainly done that. Your wife was 100% correct when she told you that your diet can have a profound effect on your body's inflammatory responses. A shockingly large number of Americans struggle with chronic pain as a consequence of chronic inflammation, and this pain could be dramatically improved or even resolved if they made healthier dietary choices consistently. Sadly, very few MDs or DOs speak to their patients about the real life benefits of dietary change, likely because it's not something that most doctors receive much (or even any) training in. Not all of the blame can be laid at the feet of doctors, though. I have conversations about this literally every single day that I am in my office, but I've found that very few patients are interested in making substantive changes to their life, even in the face of severe health consequences. Instead, most people hope that they can just take a pill and make the problem go away. Alack, as you have already learned, medicines can be good band-aids, but they don't actually fix problems. But I digress… 

      A few specific responses to points you mentioned...
      - Kudos on the weight loss. More than anything, that amount of loss in 30 days highlights just how toxic your diet was previously. Unfortunately, this does not indicate that the diet you are currently following is the healthiest/sustainable/best/etc. More on that in a second...
      - Whole 30 has a number of positive things about it. Removing sugars, refined flours, and milk and cheese from your diet will lead to only positive outcomes, regardless of who you are. Unfortunately, that does not mean that you can eat an endless amount of eggs, butter (clarified or not) and meat without consequence. The consequences of eating these foods may develop more slowly while on a Whole 30-like diet than they did when you were eating butter, eggs, meat, sugar, refined flours, milk, cheese, fast food, etc, but they will still come. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. If you look at people across the face of the whole earth, anywhere you find populations who eat large quantities of butter (clarified or not), meat (excluding fish), refined sugars, refined flours, and other dairy products you will find the same problems you see in America: namely, high levels of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain, increased cancer rates, etc.
      - Be cautious about any type of dietary approach that is temporary. Temporary changes always yield temporary results. Always. This is true in every field of life, including relationships, finances, faith, and certainly weight. You mentioned that you were going to be "super cautious" about introducing foods back into your diet.  Caution is good, but if you go back to eating the same foods you were eating before, you will also go back to having the same problems you had before. If you want to make permanent changes to your physique/health/etc, then you need to make permanent changes to your diet.

    • Chris

      👆👆👆Physician. I have inside knowledge of his practice and he produces great results with his patients.

    • Andy

      Good stuff, Scott. And I agree and do understand about temp vs. long term changes. Good thing I married "up" just like you did ;) See you one day in the future and you won't recognize me!

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