Below is a recent success story from a Paleo Diet fan:
Thank you for answering questions I’ve had for the past 15 years about why this diet makes my RA better. I just wish you could get the point across to all the rheumatologists out there!
I have had RA for 35 years…. first onset 1978 at age 37, finally diagnosed as adult onset Still’s Disease in 1983. My rheumatologist had me on just about every high powered RA drug available for the next 20 years. I was truly blessed by having side-effects to most of them and that kept me from taking them long enough to really shatter my health.
About 1997 or ’98 I decided I really needed to lose weight. I felt I was already doing about all I could for the RA with medication and just getting rid of the excess pounds would at least make me feel better about myself.
I chose my own modified version of the Atkins diet. I didn’t want to do ketosis so left meat and fat levels at the same moderate amounts I’d been eating and just left out all the starches (grains & white potatoes), sugars and fruit juices, legumes and milk products he recommended. I did lose weight, but in the process noticed my RA was much better except when we would eat out or celebrate a birthday and I momentarily fell off the diet.
I asked my rheumatologist why this diet affected me like that but he had no answers. At least he said, “If it works, go for it.” So I have been on-again/ off-again with this diet since that time. Anytime my RA flares, the diet works much better even than any of the new biologic drugs (such as Humira, Enbrel, etc).
Through the years I have read everything that has come my way looking for the reason this diet has this effect on me. In the past year I began to notice more and more references to the Paleo Diet and decided it sounded like the diet I’ve been using. I looked it up on your website and bought your Paleo Answer book and IT IS THE SAME ! And then I found your research articles Modulation of immune function by dietary lectins in rheumatoid arthritis and in particular.
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! for making them available on your website! I printed those and gave them to my rheumatologist in July. I will be interested in hearing his opinion at my next visit. If this information had been available when I first came down with RA, I can only imagine the pain and suffering I would have been spared (plus 2 artificial knees, 2 artificial hips, and reconstructive surgery on both wrists).
If I had known about lectins, saponins, etc. 15 years ago, perhaps I would have also avoided the on-again/off-again use of the diet. Or maybe this on-again/off-again pattern was the necessary proof that it really is the diet that is working! (I’m thinking the healing of my body, because of the diet, is what allowed me to drift off the diet for extended periods of time.) One thing I have found is that when initially beginning the Paleo Diet, depending on the degree of pain and inflammation, it may take 4 to 6 weeks for the symptoms to really clear. And it is most important to not forget about the legumes and milk products….. I was concentrating on starches and sugars and I had a tendency to forget them for a while until I read your research.
I am trying to spread the word about this diet to my many friends and acquaintances with RA as well as those with other medical conditions. Sad to say, many of them feel they must rely only on what their doctor recommends…. after all the doctor is the “expert”.
What can be done (what can I do) to re-educate these “experts”? Will you be having any seminars in the Austin, TX area in the near future that I can recommend to my doctors? What can I tell them to spark their interest? Do you have any new research coming up on this topic?
Dr. Cordain, thank you again for your research and for making it available. I will be “on-again” forever thanks to you.