Here’s Tim’s Story in his own words:
I was one of those persons who had ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and had no idea I had it. I always thought the stiffness in my back was from all the running I did when I was younger. I was always an avid runner during my 20’s and 30’s. I lived in Colorado from 1992 to 1998. While I was there I was always doing the 5Ks and the 10Ks. The funnest run I ever did was the Bolder Boulder 10K. It was more like a festival than a run.
The first problem I can remember with my back was in the thoracic region. I remember being awakened at night with stiffness and pain. Little did I know that the “unseen menace” had already fused my lower joints and was working it’s way up my spine. I moved to Dallas in 1998 and for a while my back was okay. A couple of years later my upper back started giving me problems so I went to a Chiropractor who had been highly recommended. He performed adjustments to the spine and gave me some stretching exercises to perform in order to loosen my back. He also took some x-rays because he was concerned about the lack of mobility in my spine.
After viewing the x-rays he suggested I see a Rheumatologist because he believed I had AS. I went to the Rheumy and he confirmed the diagnosis. I was told the standard info from my Rheumy that it was incurable and the only treatment was expensive biologics. I started on Remicade infusions and have been taking them for a couple of years. The drug effected my energy levels and sleep requirements. I had enough energy to still work full time but not enough for extra activities which are part of a normal life.
Now let’s get to the present day. I had an infusion treatment on the 14th of June and as usual went home to relax and check my email and my favorite blogs. For some reason that day I starting doing some research on AS on the web. Up to this point I had done very little research and had accepted what the doctors had told me. I went to a search engine and typed in AS. At this point in my life I had just accepted the fact that I was gonna have to take Remicade the rest of my life and I was tolerating the drug fairly well. But, I did not like the effect the drug had on me and being tethered to it for the rest of my life was not appealing. The drug was also very expensive.
One of the web sites that popped up that day was KickAS.org. I immediately loved the title. I started reading the material and the link about the London AS diet. I spent several hours on the site learning about the no starch diet and Dr. Ebringer’s research. After doing all the reading I made a decision to get rid of all starch in my life and go on a strict new food plan.
Up to this point my diet consisted ONLY of starch. I had cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and more starch for dinner. My favorite meal was chicken fried patties, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese. I rarely ate fruit or vegetables.
Now let me be very specific here, I bought an iodine bottle and tested EVERYTHING before I put it in my body. If it did not pass the test then I didn’t eat it. I tested my beef, any juice, vegetables, fruit, everything before I ate it. I also eliminated ALL dairy products and bananas. If I eat a Jalapeno I discard the center section because it has starch in it. I use Grey Poupon mustard and make my own salad dressing with extra virgin olive oil. I eat bell peppers raw or with a salad. The recommendations on KickAS.org where the new food plan is outlined is what I started with. I took the advice in the center column which is the strictest version of the diet. I also bought Carol Sinclair’s book and read it.
Now for the results, I felt a huge difference within two days of being on the new eating plan. The first thing I noticed was that I now only need 8 to 8.5 hours sleep every day. I remember waking up on the second day of the diet after 8 hours of sleep and going out to sit on the front porch. I could not believe that I just woke up and did not need an alarm clock to wake up. I started going for a walk every morning and feeling invigorated after the walk and full of energy. I also quit taking my Allegra because my allergies had significantly subsided. I live out in the country in East Texas and this is allergy central for many people because of all the greenery.
My Rhemy never mentioned anything about food. I would always joke with him and ask if he had discovered a cure for AS yet. The response was the same. Now, I do not recommend ignoring your doctor’s advice but also do the research yourself. Don’t believe everything a doctor says! All great medical discoveries at first were ridiculed and scoffed at until they were proven and accepted. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a perfect example of “convention wisdom” being completely wrong! Here’s an excellent excerpt from Wikipedia.org describing the discovery of this bacteria:
“Helicobacter pylori was first discovered in the stomachs of patients with gastritis and stomach ulcers in 1982 by Dr. Barry Marshall and Dr. Robin Warren of Perth, Western Australia. At the time, the conventional thinking was that no bacterium can live in the human stomach, as the stomach produced extensive amounts of acid of a strength similar to the acid found in a car battery. Marshall and Warren rewrote the textbooks with reference to what causes gastritis and gastric ulcers. In recognition of their discovery, they were awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.”
My advice to any Rheumy is to not discount the effect of food on this disease. I can take only food and nothing else and change a person’s health. I can make that person obese, I can give him type II diabetes, I can give him heart disease, and if they are allergic to peanuts then you can die from anaphylactic shock. The perfect example that showed the effect of food on the human body was Super Size Me, a documentary film by Morgan Spurlock. This guy tried to live on nothing but McDonald’s food for a whole month and it almost killed him. Now the question I have for any doctor is…….if food can kill you then why can’t it cure You?
Another reason to alter your food habits is to get away from the highly processed nature of everything we eat. I only eat food in it’s original state with little to no processing. I know that if I take an egg and cook it, then eat it; then I have consumed an egg which has gone through no processing. The opposite is to eat an omelette that was frozen and heated up. A lot of hotel chains serve these things for breakfast and they resemble eggs but have starch in them. Starch is used as a filler and and allows the person who made these things to use less eggs. Another point to ponder is, why take nutritional supplements when you can eat the food that they came from. You should eat fresh fruit and vegetables. When you cook a vegetable you destroy the enzymes and nutrients in it. Fruits and vegetables also contain the water you need for digestion to occur. If you’re having to drink a lot of liquids with your meals then you’re eating the wrong stuff.
The choice is ultimately up to you and not your doctor. Alter the way you view and eat food. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain!