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.
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!