Dr. Alan Ebringer of King’s College in London discovered in the early 80′s that a bacteria called Klebsiella is the likely culprit in the ankylosing spondylitis mystery. I’d encourage you to read all of the scientific papers on this link before dismissing the idea that your massive pain is caused by a tiny bacterium.
I know, I know. Your doctor probably told you that you have an “incurable genetic disorder”, that’s the same thing mine told me and I was distraught upon hearing the news. Take a step back and think about things for a moment: the reason your doctor told you this is because there is no definitive, double-blind, scientific study saying with 100% certainty that Klebs (klebsiella) cause ankylosing spondylitis. Your doctor has the luxury of sitting back and waiting for such a study to appear before she takes the time to actually read all of the evidence accumulated across 10 countries over the last 30 years including documented successful treatment of AS in clinical setting using diet alone, before she includes diet and other strategies to reduce Klebs as part of her official treatment of ankylosing spondylitis. She also has to worry about medical malpractice lawsuits and so will be understandably reluctant to recommend a course of treatment that does not have the full backing of the established medical community. My question for you, the AS sufferer, is this: do you have the same luxury? Are you ok with waiting for the holy grail, a 100% irrefutable, double-blind, peer-reviewed study to appear and for the medical community to eventually slap their stamp of approval on the findings? You may be in for a long, painful wait.
The problem with such a wait-and-see strategy is that there is no such study in the works right now (as far as I know, please correct me if I’m wrong) and so your only option aside from waiting for results from a study which doesn’t currently exist is to continue to take your medications. And we all know that the medications used to treat AS have some massive side-effects. Yes, I’ll take the side effects of the meds any day when compared to the debilitating pain of AS. But what I’m saying is that this may be a false choice–waiting for a cure vs. continuing your current pharmaceutical regimen may not be your ONLY option. There are thousands of other people suffering from AS who have tried both the no-starch diet and antibiotics as treatments for their AS and who have had incredible success. I’m one of them.
See my post about Treating Ankylosing Spondylitis Using The London AS Diet here.
Klebsiella and AS
The theory put forth by Dr. Alan Ebringer is quite simple, and it also happens to have another well-established disease model as a basis for comparison: Rheumatic Fever. Klebsiella are bacteria that live in the human large intestine. They’re part of the normal gut flora in humans and typically are not a problem. Unfortunately, folks with ankylosing spondylitis typically test positive for the HLA-B27 gene. This presents a problem because the HLA-B27 gene codes for a surface cell structure in you and me that is quite similar to a cell marker on the Klebsiella bacteria. This becomes a real problem when your body decides that there are too many Klebs running around (I’m under attack! Infection!) and mounts an aggressive immune response to kill the Klebs. The genius behind the human immune system is that it can create weapons “on the fly” which are specifically designed to kill a pathogen (kleb) based on specific characteristics of that pathogen. Your immune system basically walks up to the germ and feels him up- gives him a good once over, a pat-down, so it can report back with that information and then create a weapon specifically designed to “fit” the nooks and crannies it felt on the surface of the bad guy.
When your immune system releases the weapons (antibodies) specifically made to fit the Klebs into your system, those same weapons also happen fit perfectly in the cells of some of your major joints including your spine, hips, etc (they fit because you and the Klebs both share a similar gene- HLA-B27- which codes for a surface structure on both you and the bacteria). And so your body is effectively fighting a pathogen (kleb) but it also happens to be attacking itself at the same time. This is the classic definition of an autoimmune disease.
Are you still skeptical? Good. Go back above and read the link to Rheumatic Fever. All I’m suggesting is that if your bullshit meter isn’t ringing right now, if after reading all the studies and examples of folks like me who have had success using diet to treat their AS you think it kind of sounds like a logical theory, then why not try it (after seeking your doctor’s approval of course)? Black Box it. Meaning: use your own life as a little self-contained experiment and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t then chuck it out and write me off. If it does….then you could be living pain-free within a few days or weeks. (see the medical disclaimer below…I’m not a doctor)
How Does The AS Diet Work?
The basic idea behind the AS diet is this: reduce the Klebs so that your body does not mount an immune response and you will avoid flares. A flare in this theory happens when your body attacks the Klebs and thus itself. Avoid flares, you avoid swelling. Avoid swelling and you avoid fusions. Avoid fusions…and what? Isn’t that effectively a cure? Call it what you want, but to my mind if you can avoid any FURTHER damage caused by fusions and you avoid the associated pain of the flares then you are cured of AS.
The diet works by denying the Klebs food. So they starve. What do Klebs eat? Like all bacteria they eat simple sugars. I mentioned earlier that Klebs live in your large intestines. Most of you know that simple sugars are digested and absorbed well before they reach your large intestines, right? Mostly right. Starches are basically really really long chains of sugars. Turns out that starches are the only sugars long enough to sometimes make it to the large intestine. So if you avoid starches in your diet then you deny the Klebs their source of food and they can’t eat and multiply.
I encourage comments or questions. If you’ve had success or failure with the AS diet please let me know. Honestly, it took me a couple of years of playing around with the diet to really, truly understand it and to understand all the places where starch is hiding in the modern diet.
The information provided on the SickOpportunity website is not to be construed as medical advice. In pregnancy, a low carbohydrate diet is potentially harmful to fetal development. Only your personal doctor can make the best suggestions about your health and treatment. Everyone needs a diet that meets their nutritional needs, if in doubt consult your doctor. SickOpportunity and its members are not legally liable for the content, information or opinions expressed therein.