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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Going Vegan and Gluten-Free (maybe)...

I was sick last week with some nasty illness that was going around my office. It caused severe fatigue, mild fever, and a VERY persistent cough. So persistent that my boss (who was sick the week before me) is STILL coughing... (I don't have the persistent cough, just an occasional one...)

When I got sick, the major symptoms lasted MAYBE 2 days... I have a theory on this (and it has yet to be corroborated, although it makes sense)... I think that when I got sick, my (sometimes overactive) immune system went into overdrive to fight it. Yay! But in doing so, it jump-started my autoimmune disease that had not been active for several years now. Sucky! I'm talking about my Rheumatoid Arthritis. Ever since last week, my joints have hurt a lot more than normal... Joints that haven't bothered me in the past... Before, it was really just my right knee (the one that gave me problems that resulted in my diagnosis) and sometimes my hips/low back area. Now, it's both my shoulders, both my hips, my low back, both my knees, my ankles, my elbows, and my thumbs. Don't get me wrong, I know that sounds like a lot, but I can still move around. At this point, I'm just in more overall pain than I was before. On a scale of 1-10, I'm at about a 2... But it's a constant 2...

I have been doing research on how diet affects disease, specifically autoimmune disease, for one of my classes at school. I've been researching diets for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, and several others. In addition, I've been looking into the potential causes of autoimmune disease to see if a crappy diet can contribute to the onset of autoimmune disease. Most of my sources believe that autoimmune diseases are triggered by an outside source (such as a virus, bacteria, allergen, etc), which leads me to believe that my RA is progressing.

So far, the most beneficial diet to RA sufferers is a gluten-free vegan diet. Studies have shown that patients with RA have seen a decrease in their symptoms and overall better health and weight loss after being on a gluten-free vegan diet, as opposed to, say, a vegetarian diet or a modified diet of meat/dairy/fruits/veggies that balances your food intake.

If my arthritis is progressing (as I suspect), I would like to do more to treat it than take prescriptions for the pain, or the immuno-suppressant drugs that leave you open to a "potentially fatal infection." I refuse to take any of that poison medicine. Right now, my doctor is on vacation. When she returns, I will be discussing my suspicions with her to see if it is possible that my RA is progressing. Then, I'll look at what it would mean for me to go vegan and gluten-free... I understand the health benefits I would get from it, but I don't know if I COULD go vegan and gluten-free... I like my animal products too much... I really like bread... Maybe I'll phase myself into a gluten-free diet to try things out, like substituting a gluten-free flour (like rice flour) in some of my recipes... We'll see. I wonder what my husband would think if I needed to go vegan and gluten-free... Would he support me by doing it with me, or would support me, but continue to eat what he currently does... Only time will tell, but it would probably be the latter...

In doing some research on what it means to be vegan, I have come to the conclusion that, if I must be on a vegan diet, it is strictly for health reasons. I believe that animals are part of the food chain and we can and should eat them. I see no problem with eating eggs. If I can have eggs, then I would be an ovo-vegitarian and not a vegan. Just like I don't "go green" for the sake of being green, I won't go vegan for the sake of being vegan.

2 comments:

Silvie said...

what a battle! Hope you find your way! Maybe something in the middle?

GeronimoDriver said...

You can cook with the alternate flour and stuff so we don't have two of everything, and I like salads and fruits, but I lime my dead cows and pigs too much to give them up, sorry.