Monday, February 1, 2010

Is Your Gut Making You Sick?

This morning on Facebook, Donna Gates from Body Ecology Diet posted an article titled Is Your Gut Making You Sick? 5 Simple Steps To Gain Energy and Lose Weight. Again this reminded me of how important it is to heal my body as a whole before I can expect the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis to disappear. Here are a few interesting tidbits from the Body Ecology Diet (BED) article:

*Your gut is connected to everything that happens in your body!
*Digestive problems can lead to allergies, autoimmune diseases, mood disorders and cancers.
*Your body and entire immune system are protected from all the nasty chemicals and toxins we ingest by a super-thin lining in your gut. If that barrier is damaged, your immune system can flare up and cause inflammation.
*The bad bacteria in your gut thrive off of sugar. So take away its food source by removing sugars from you diet.
*Undetected gluten intolerance puts you at risk.

One of my strengths in fighting rheumatoid arthritis has always been my ability to listen to my body. When I am experiencing a flare up, I look at what is happening with my diet, stress levels, schedule, and other life happenings to see if there is a pattern. Since reading about BED and following their philosophy for eating, I have become even better at listening to my body. I have found that on days I feel pretty good that my digestion, mood and complexion are also good. On the days my joints don't feel well, my digestion, mood, and complexion are also off. Isn't that an interesting connection? I am looking forward to finding more connections and understanding how those connections relate to my RA.

Following a diet outside of mainstream America is not easy. There is gluten in a high percentage of the foods prepared for us and when you are trying to repair your gut, even a small amount can reverse the healing your gut has made which makes many people who have tried gluten free diets think they don't work. It takes sticking to it strictly for a lengthy amount of time. Removing sugar is near to impossible if you don't make your own food. Once you start looking at labels you realize sugar has been added to almost everything which is scary when you consider the havoc it plays on our bodies.

When I follow a diet that I believe we were really meant to follow, my brain feels clear, my energy improves, my digestion improves, my skin looks awesome and I have more days that my joints feel good. In fact, I was talking to Steve the other night about a few bad days I had last week and over the weekend and he shared how he sees the situation. He said he feels like on an everyday basis I am improving. (My family always says I am happier when I feel better so that is a good sign.) He also said that even though the bad days are awful, how extreme they get has changed for the better. Except for one evening last week that was truly awful and scared the pants off me, I have to agree with him. It was good to hear his perspective. I need to be reminded sometimes of the improvement that I am making. Oh, another good thing - even when my knee was at its worse last week, the swelling has never returned to where it was before starting the diet. Yippee!!!

For now, I know that I still have lots of work ahead of me. But, with each day of the diet, it feels more like me which means it will be easier to maintain long term. I like feeling like I am working to control what happens to my body. When rheumatoid arthritis already has so much control over me, this is a good feeling.