Anyone who has been to a restaurant with me can tell you my diet is plain obnoxious. I’m vegan (don’t roll your eyes yet… there’s more). I don’t eat gluten. And not just gluten; I don’t eat any refined or processed grains*. I don’t eat sugar or sweeteners, artificial or otherwise. Obviously the veganism would cover dairy, but it bears repeating that I don’t eat any dairy. At least, I find myself repeating that to certain family members. And, all of this restriction is purely voluntary. I have not been diagnosed with lactose intolerance. I have been tested, and I definitely don’t have celiac disease. And, before you ask, I am not “orthorexic.**”
So why bother with such a restrictive diet? To maintain a reign of dominance over my friends and family with a Kobayashi Maru-like set of nutritional demands? As much as that may appeal to some, it’s not the (primary) motivation for me. After years of chronic pain in my knees, I rehabbed them with DDP Yoga, only to find out that my body is primed to attack itself and destroy all my connective tissue, which would put me back at square one with chronic knee pain. I have high Anti-RNP antibodies (normal folks have none), and I have low C3 and C4 complement protein levels (you want them high; low indicates they are being used up in autoimmune attacks). Coupled with a family history of autoimmune disorders, this could be worrisome. Nevertheless, I don’t have any symptoms or diagnosis of autoimmune disorders, but given the horrific side-effects associated with their treatment, I would rather avoid developing any. To do that, I went all-out on clean eating. I was already vegan and gluten-free, but so are Justin’s peanut butter cups.
My allopathic rheumatologist (surprisingly) confirmed that clean eating -including a gluten-free diet- will help reduce or prevent symptoms. Together with Haydn Walden, I once and for all quit sugar between my first set of blood work and my recent set.
So, did it work? Check it out. I graphed the data, yo.
My Anti-RNP antibodies went from 6.4 to 5.4. The normal range is less than 0.1, so I still have fifty-four times the level of the general population, but it’s moving in the right direction.
My C3 and C4 are also improving. Again, I am below the lower limit of normal, but I am getting closer. Qualitatively, I haven’t had any symptoms, and I have been working out with weights for 10 – 12 hours a week, so I have had plenty of chances to notice if any of my joints were operating at suboptimal efficiency.
Clean eating is definitely worth it when you consider the symptoms of autoimmune disease, and the side-effects of glucocorticoids. It is worth mentioning that some people will never avoid autoimmune disease, no matter how clean their diet; I do not condone blaming patient-blaming. It also goes without saying that unless you have access to parallel universes, it’s impossible to know if I ever would have developed an autoimmune condition if I hadn’t taken such drastic measures with my diet. But it’s a game of odds. I would liken it to wearing a seat-belt. Some people who don’t wear seat-belts will survive well into their 90s. Some people who do wear seat-belts will die in car crashes before they reach life-expectancy. But they are outliers, and when you look at the data across millions of people, you see that the behavior of seat-belt wearing is demonstrably safer.
So is clean eating.
For added accountability, I have made my food diary fully viewable to friends on MyFitnessPal (username: myDDPyogajourney)! I’m amazed at how I consistently fall below the recommended daily sugar intake. Before this challenge, I was always 75 – 100 grams OVER!
*Or refined/processed foods for that matter.
**We’ve been through this; there’s no such thing