Feb 28, 2018

Rheumatoid arthritis and diet

When I was first diagnosed  years ago, I was not put on any specific diet and started right away with Plaquinal. I will not  be talking about the various treatments I have had, as those who suffer from it, know them by heart. The treatments given across countries is almost the same and except for Humira, I tried the rest and finally gave up.

When these medications were working no more, my husband was like...where you have dedicated 3 years of your life to this treatment, why don't you give Ayurvedic treatment a chance. So that we know we have tried everything that's out there and nothing worked. Whenever I even mentioned Ayurveda treatment, my Doctor would just snap and say that line of medicine is all hocus pocus and don't even mention it here in my office.


I don't see the hatred here. My life in 3 years was non existent. I wasn't able to walk. I broke up with every friend because I as angry. Angry with my disease, angry with my life, Angry with God. I was angry, depressed and  I could barely move, I just wanted to die. That could not be called living. That felt like wrath.....


Moving on, I went to India , consulted an ayurvedic doctor. She explained there is no treatment to stop or end this disease but we can slow down and with proper strict diet, maybe you could salvage a few joints and prevent further damage. Again I will not be discussing the medications, as its best inspected and treated by one. Some places they will try to loot you, some places they will just give you the medications.


The most important  thing about ayurvedic treatment is the diet. She told me if i abide by the strict diet , I could help in reducing the symptoms. She told me it will take a year to actually work but since there are no side effects to it or not as much as western medications.....


The first thing to stop is Yogurt / curds. She said any yogurt products like in the middle east we have Laban, and greek yogurt and lassi and what not...she said just stop it. She said I could drink only butter milk. When they churn to make butter, the liquid that's left when making the butter... that has superb cooling effects and that I could drink that as much as I wanted. But no whey , no lassi.


The thing with yogurt is, and this is not a scientific explanation, yogurt is very cooling. Plus with the prebiotics, its one healthy natural dosage of nature you can eat to add to your health. Ayurvedic medications are heaty. As in they make the body warm inside....and like me if you live in a country where 55 Celsius is the normal temperature... you are literally being cooked inside and out. Buttermilk is not available outside Asia I think. AT least in the middle east, its not available.


Second thing she asked me to cut out from my diet was red meat. I'm guessing it includes lamb, mutton, beef ,organ meat,etc etc. She was like it would help you immensely if you quit this totally. But just in case, you dont have the power of will, you can have just a small portion once a week. Now with RA, most become anemic. I'm anemic too. Iron deficiency Anemia. Even though I have been taking folic acid with iron mix, I'm forever anemic. I'm in my menopause right now and still am anemic. Red meat provides that yummy portion of Iron but she was like look for vegetarian substitutes as well or just pop a pill to make up for it. We cant have it all right ! So now I eat meat once in  weeks or when I feel the Vampire in me will turn me and force me to feed on someone. Also....it all comes with experience. Like I might have to indulge in a few brands and have flares before I realize I cannot eat that brand anymore. As in frozen chicken or sometimes even fresh meat or chicken. I'm guessing it has to do with the feed. Sometimes I don't have flare ups at all. and sometimes, just one bite will lead to me blowing up like an air balloon.  This goes for chicken too. She asked me to eat just a portion of chicken as well. And the same math applies with chicken. Some brands I can eat without an issue and some I just cant.


Now She asked me to strictly rule out canned and preserved stuff. No spam , no sausages or links, no hams or mortadella, nothing smoked, nothing cured. She told me that this I had to give up. Luckily I had this one spam I liked and wasn't eating the other things at all. SO giving up on that one product was easy for me. Sometimes, I do feel this urge to eat a bite of sausage or a rasher ...but then the pain has always been unbearable. No canned fruits or lets simply put it...if its in a can..its a no no.


NOW lets come to the part that shocked me She said should cut cheeses and dairy products. She said go for skimmed milk, which I presume she said looking at my curves ahem ahem......But she asked me to skip cheeses. I eat a bit of cream cheese in my breakfast and right now slice cheese once a week. 


Vegetables that are gassy... there was a list alright... I don't remember half of it...But it was any kind of beans. Kidney beans, chick peas, garbanzo beans mean the same, green beans,yard long beans....All these beans are gassy. Anything that's gassy should be avoided and not eaten. Even lentils like urad dal , chana dal should be avoided. But since I already follow a list of food that includes nothing, I do eat a few dals that I truly love like mung beans or moong dal, horse gram, and masoor dal or pink dal as I call it. When I prepare tempering for these dals I include - Ajwain or caraway seeds( this I boil with the dal) , Cumin seeds or jeera seeds , black mustard seeds or rai, And among a few other things Hing or Asafoetida. These  3 things will get rid of the gassiness within you when you eat these things.  I even add jeera or cumin seeds in my boiling rice water and you can munch on fennel seeds or saunf or drink ajwain  or caraway seeds steeped in hot water. It will help in easing up the gas issues.


Of course, i9t goes without saying, that any kind of soft drinks like Pepsi and the likes of it... should be completely avoided. Even if you don't have RA, its not a healthy drink anyways. But if you are addicted to having those, cut them down slowly... like you would taper your prednisolone doses. Once in a blue moon ok....but cut down on junk food and other things. 


This advice I follow as strictly as my mind allows. Sometimes I indulge. I'm a human being after all and being a foodie doesn't help even a bit. But I don't deny myself anything. Once in 4 or 6 months, I will eat KFC. Or maybe a burger instead. So I try to buy things by reading their ingredients. Thanks to Oprah, in one of her episodes, she mentioned things you should simply not buy. Look for those few ingredient names like hydrogenated anything or artificial flavourings or fake butter or what not, I read my ingredient list and buy products which don't have them. even the burgers that I buy , I make sure have only natural spices and stuff and without preservatives. Again...I have tried quite a few brands before I declared these are RA friendly for me.


Its not the end of the world, and my heart goes out for those who are going through severe symptoms. i have been there like I mentioned initially. To the point of wanting to commit suicide to end it all and Im the kind of person who can take a lot of pain. Im not the kind who will easily complain of illness even to my husband so skip out on chores. This ayurvedic treatment start actually producing results after a year and half. I have to get these medications from India on regular basis which is pretty difficult for me but Thankfully being an Indian helps. My wonderful friends always get me my supply when they visit. This way I can take them regularly. There are more syrups or kashayams as they say it to be taken, but there is a limit to how much medications can be brought in your luggage here. So I stick to the 3 meds which I take without fail. 


After a year and half, I finally started walking again. I finally could eat with my right hand regularly, my mouth could open wide enough. Im thankful to God, Alhamdullilah, for being there for me when I lost all hope. Im even thankful for my wonderful husband, Mehmood. The man has been my rock. He never ever complained when I lay immobile for months. he supported me and loved me without bias through it all. He is always checking my shopping cart and making sure I dont buy junk. He makes sure I go all vegan when I have my flares. He cut down on meat and stuff so that I wouldn't lose control. 

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