#180 Check your allergies

To celebrate the first 6 months of the 365 pain-free days blog, I would like to share the story of how I overcame my Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Known to be chronic and incurable, Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto-immune disease that destroys your joints one by one. It is an excruciating and intractable chronic illness. I was diagnosed with RA at age 20, as it runs in my family on both sides it was no surprise to the doctors, but a huge shock for me.

My interests at the time were dancing ballet, horseback riding, rock climbing, sailing, painting and blacksmithing. I had an active life, and had no interest in spending time in hospitals and doctors offices, but after six months of RA pain the disease had taken over my entire life. I was hobbling on crutches to and from the rheumatology ward three times a week for examinations, tests, cortisone injections and physiotherapy. The physiotherapists were happy to inform me that I could have a wheelchair with a titanium frame, and that they were soooo much better than the old aluminum models. The doctors had me on cortisone and cell poisoning (methotrexate) - which were known as the best drugs for RA back then (early nineties).

Feeling certain that there was something I could do to get better, I tried every kind of self-help option, diet plan and alternative treatment available in search of my "magic healing key" with little effect. Vegan, macrobiotic, stoneage diets and blood type diets...no sugar, no coffee, no processed foods... I tried it all. Blood samples taken by my doctors had shown that I was on the borderline for gluten-allergy, but it wasn't till a year later that this information clicked into place.

Arthritis is an auto-immune disease. Anything that affects my immune system negatively is bound to provoke my RA.

When I broke my back in a bus accident I had to learn to walk again while suffering a violent RA flare, and the situation was desperate. My father came across an article by Ashton Embry linking auto-immune disease and food intolerance. I decided to try his advice (this research has now been expanded and is called the "Best Bet Diet") and went on a strict gluten free & dairy-free diet. I noticed results quickly, and after two weeks my RA symptoms halted - the disease stopped right in the middle of an active flare. It has never returned.

The rheumatologists told me it would come back, that this was just a freak occurrence or a fortunate but temporary remission. That was 15 years ago.

Sure, I still have muscle pain, tendinitis, occasional stiffness, swelling, muscle inflammation, fatigue and various other symptoms of RA, but the active inflammation is gone. My joints are not being destroyed, and as you can see from my "Try something new" post, it is really not holding me back from adventurous acrobatic pursuits. I stick to my gluten-free diet. I do the things I write about in this blog, and I am grateful every day for the fact that I dared to challenge the doctor's "incurability sentence".

I'm not saying that food allergy was the key to healing my RA, but it was definitely a big part of it. Dairy and wheat were a large part of my daily diet, and the mild allergic reaction was constantly provoking my RA. Removing that trigger calmed the disease. Maybe there are many of us who have allergies we don't know about that are provoking our health problems.

Wishing you all the best in finding your magical key...



  1. Hi Anna-

    I have had chronic pain/and or fibromyalgia for the past 10 years. I will be 29 in July. I have a nagging suspicion that I am allergic to wheat/gluten and possibly dairy. I don't want to be, as these things are a big part of my diet, especially the dairy. I have a hard time sticking with things, and a hard time getting myself to eat regular substantial meals. (I am underweight, but part of this is muscle wasting from inactivity.) I want to be brave and dedicated enough to make a change to my diet to see if it helps my pain and fatigue, but I am afraid to give up the foods I love, and concerned that I will have a hard time giving them up in the long term especially as my significant other eats wheat and dairy as do my family members that I am close to.
    Do you have any tips on making a change to one's diet and sticking with it?
    Thank you.

  2. Hi A.M!

    Wow... you've had fibro since age 19?! You are my hero! You know those nagging suspicions can be pretty good pointers, but I definitely find that there are good and bad ways to go about dietary changes.

    First of all, give up on the guilt for maybe eating foods that are bad for you. Instead; pat yourself on the back for all the good stuff you do for your health every day, give yourself credit! I mean literally... pat yourself on the back, look yourself in the mirror and be proud :)

    If you want to try the gluten & dairy-free diet, give yourself time to prepare, start researching alternatives for your favorite foods and set a time frame for your experiment. Be very clear that it is for a set amount of time, like maybe a month, and keep a log for that time that shows your pain levels, energy, stress levels and keep track of other influence on your health.

    To have good effect its important to be 100% when you first try it - to give your body a chance to adapt and react. Then, when you've tried for a month you don't have to stick with it if it doesn't work, right? But if it does work, that's great! Then you know that at least you have a choice. You can stay with your current diet, or change and have less pain. Just knowing that you have this power is really great, even if you can't always stick to it.

    That's just a starter... Good luck!!!