Eating to Heal

Bryan and me in the Cinque Terre in Italy.

Bryan and me in the Cinque Terre in Italy.

I remember when the realization hit me, sitting on the couch one day.

My husband was actually complaining that his back was bothering him. He was diagnosed at 19 with Ankylosing Spondylitis, an auto-immune disease that causes inflammation between his spinal bones. But in all our time of being together, he rarely complained about it bothering him.

So when his back pain kept coming up, I knew. At 28 years old, he was getting worse.

That was several weeks before our first trip to Europe together in the fall of 2011. I was first worried that traveling and sleeping on hotel beds for two weeks would really be an issue for him.  Is taking this trip even a good idea?

Then, I was thinking long term. People that are diagnosed with this can end up walking completely hunched over, because their spine fuses.

What did this mean for Bryan? For us? For our (hopefully) future children?

Was it even that far down the road before these symptoms got worse than his occasional flare ups that laid him out for a couple of days?

I wondered if simply a change in diet might help. Bryan was already taking anti-inflammatory medication and a weekly shot called Enbrel in hopes to stop the progression of the disease. I looked up some info, and said to Bryan: “I have an idea. But you’re not going to like it.”

The idea: eating a gluten free. From what I read it seemed to help others with AS and other inflammatory issues. We spoke to a doctor and he said we should give it a try.

A week ago today, there was a collective jaw-drop in our family.

Some 10 years after being diagnosed and 16 months after sticking to a mostly gluten free diet, his rheumatologist took new x-rays and told Bryan something that seemed impossible.

“I don’t think you have Ankylosing Spondylitis anymore.”

Now I’m not trying to say that gluten free is the cure all, and everyone should do it. Without a doubt, you should talk to a doctor if you’re considering it for any reason.  I think it is a combination of the medicine Bryan is taking and paying closer attention to his diet. All that and my mother-in-law putting together what was happening and getting Bryan diagnosed at an early age.

But, this truly miraculous news brought home that what we eat matters. It doesn’t just matter as far as calories and our weight. It matters because the food we eat can either harm us or heal us. We should be paying attention.

This simple idea, that what we eat matters, is no small part in the motivation for me starting this blog. I’ve seen this idea reinforced so much in my own life that I want other people to see that if only we took the time to better understand our bodies, some of us don’t know how good we could truly feel.




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