Archive for arthritis

“No food that causes me to be ill is worth it”

By: Robyn Grow

I’d like to share what I have learned through my experience with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Several years ago I began having soreness in my inner-thigh area. At first I thought that I had somehow pulled a muscle because I had been squatting down a lot as I was working with the first-graders that I teach. I decided that I was out of shape and that I should workout more to get rid of the soreness. The pain progressed to the extent that I had sharp pain radiating down my leg, sometimes both legs. I could not stand on one leg (like when I was putting on a shoe). I went to my regular physician’s assistant and was told that nothing was wrong and that people have aches and pains.

Later I noticed that my hands and feet began to feel as if they had been slammed in a door. I went to a rheumatologist and found that I had both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. The x-rays also concluded that I had osteitis pubis (a side effect of RA and osteo attacking my pubic joint). I began needing to use a cane to walk on most days because the pain seemed to be weight bearing. I felt like I was walking around with some kind of fracture (or sciatic nerve down both legs). I had the pain all of the time. I could no longer teach, and I began to feel like my quality of life was slipping away from me. I began visiting an endless succession of doctors and enduring the usual required MRI, X-rays and CAT scans. All the experts agreed that I had a problem, but they didn’t have any healing solutions for me. Instead, they only offered me drugs, mostly biologics (which is mild form chemo) like Methotrexate and steroid injections. Since I am in my early 50’s, these drugs were scary for me because of the long-term dangers associated with them. I chose to take a daily antibiotic (hydroxichloriquin) that kept the rheumatoid under better control and gave me more energy to focus on walking normally again.

I spoke with a physiologist, and she told me that every pound that I lose would take 6-8 pounds of pressure off of my joints. I thought to myself, “That sounds like an easy way to lift some of the immense pain that I am feeling.” So, I began a journey to feel better by losing 30 pounds. Losing 30 pounds is equivalent to 180 pounds of pressure off of my aching joints. The weight-loss did lift some of the pain, however I was still in jeopardy of losing my ability to walk as the pain was still there every time I stood, walked or tried to lift anything.

I went the full route in using homeopathic remedies. Each time I tried a new combination, I stuck to it for 2-3 months. I never really felt like there was any cure or relief in using any of them. I also used several of the miracle cures, drinks, and concoctions. Most didn’t help, and some of them even made me very ill. Through research I learned that if you have a serious condition, some homeopathics can actually block your prescribed medications, so natural remedies should be run by the prescribing doctor first. After about a year and a half of this, the only natural remedies that proved helpful to me were turmeric and ginger.

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“God answers our prayers in his time and not ours”

Alicia JackmanBy: Alicia Jackman

I have always thought of myself as being a healthy person. I enjoy exercising a little each day and eating healthy foods. In 2007, after having my second child, I was having weird bowel issues and was surprised when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Doctors told me that it happens to some people and might not be a big deal throughout my life. I was prescribed four gigantic pills daily, which the doctor intended for me to take the rest of my life, and I came to terms that this was a disease I had. I took these pills daily and the disease didn’t seem to be bother me after that for years.

Six months after having my third child and being called as the ward organist, my fingers and hands started to swell and be hot. My fingers gradually got so swollen and stiff that it was too hard to keep playing the organ. Eventually I had to ask to be released from this calling, which really saddened me. I couldn’t open jars or button buttons. My knees and hips hurt so bad I couldn’t get on the floor to play with my kids, and I would cry in pain and frustration daily. I also started falling asleep for hours at a time. This scared me as I was home with three little children. When I was awake, I felt like an 80-year-old lady, when I was only in my early 30’s.

Alicia Jackman-Husband's Ring Doesn't Fit

Husband’s wedding ring doesn’t fit, and I can’t wear my wedding ring for over 9 months

I finally saw my family doctor, then specialists, and it took months for them to figure out what was wrong. In 2010 I was diagnosed with a type of rheumatoid arthritis that the doctors determined must be related to my ulcerative colitis. Doctors told me that I had an autoimmune disease and that my body would continue to attack itself in my joints, then could move to other organs, which would eventually kill me. My doctors prescribed medication to suppress my immune system which they said was the only way to lessen these attacks.

Alicia Jackman-Feet

Weird hives/rash on feet

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“All these amazing physical blessings began to unfold”

Erik and Wendy Jensen Before and AfterBy: Erik Jensen

Three years ago I was feeling that my health was beginning to slowly decline. I was not happy with the way I felt but accepted that it was probably part of growing older and that there was probably nothing that could be done. I was 60 lbs overweight, cholesterol was about 220, blood pressure 140/90, and I was taking drugs for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. My feet developed neuropathy, painful arthritis was spreading in my fingers, and I had restless leg syndrome for years (about every 15 seconds during sleep my leg would twitch). I also had an autoimmune disease in my eye that would flair up regularly, my knees and ankles would begin to hurt if I ran or hiked regularly, and every morning I woke up exhausted. I had a scary episode hiking in the Sierras when my body just quit.

My wife Wendy has suffered for years with fibromyalgia symptoms. She also suffered with terrible acid reflux, diverticulosis, kidney stones, and allergies. The only way she could control the acid reflux was to take a calcium blocker that would eventually weaken her bones. Her blood sugar was at pre-diabetic level, and she had difficulty with exercise and knee problems.

We were discussing the new stage of life we were entering as our children are growing up and will soon be on their own. We began to include in our prayers our desires to prepare ourselves spiritually, financially, and physically so that we could serve missions and be useful as we enter into the last third of our lives. The answer to our prayers for physical preparation began at Costco one day as we were looking at a product called a Nutribullet. A lady next to us remarked that her brother had bought one and had been able to lose a lot of weight. We bought it and for the next few weeks it sat on our kitchen floor unopened until two of our sons decided to unpack it and see how it worked. We read the smoothie recipes and started to have them for breakfast. Our energy levels increased, we lost a little weight and found that our appetites were somewhat decreased during the morning. I continued to occasionally read about nutrition on the Internet, but it was difficult to figure out what to do since there are so many opinions.

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“I am finally happy with my weight!”

Margie Burton Before and After
By: Margie Burton

I’ve had weight and health issues most of my life. As a child I was known as “thunderthighs” among the taunting peers. I had an emergency appendectomy the last day of elementary school, and that was the first of many surgeries yet to come. At the age of 13, a fall off my beloved horse broke my tailbone and began a series of issues with my lower back that has continued through adulthood.

I was bedridden due to my back the latter part of my senior year, and during that time I gained about 40 pounds. I never realized it since I never got up to dress or go to the bathroom. I tried dieting on and off with some success here and there. I lost 30 pounds in college during a month-long survival course traveling 250 miles on foot and living off the land. That life-changing experience shocked my internal system to change moving my bowels from once-a-week to a daily event. I went on to my first back surgery during college.

I married and had continued health problems during pregnancies. I was bedridden again during my second pregnancy when a disc in my lower back became herniated. I gained 45 pounds with each pregnancy but deliveries were successful. I was plagued with cluster migraine headaches, some of which lasted weeks. I tried every diet that came along: the grapefruit diet, Atkins, Weight-Watchers, Nutrisystem, SlimFast, and many I can’t even remember. I was successful in losing weight with most of them, but the pounds would creep back. I spent hours running at the school track, pushing the stroller and carefully watching my other children on the football field as I ran laps.

My health issues continued as I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, trigeminal neuralgia, rheumatoid arthritis, myofascial pain syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and degenerative disc disease. I took medication every day to help prevent the migraine clusters that still came if I forgot to take the meds. Many of the side effects of the medications included weight gain, so I had my excuse.

My two daughters developed eating disorders in their teenage years. I tried to convince myself that I had not caused them, but with mom dieting her way through life, the emphasis was definitely there. We shared Weight Watcher meetings together and celebrated successes at losing a few pounds. The girls threw themselves into exercising. I would convince myself that my poor health would not let me run anymore so my life became sedentary. I was tall, so I could carry many extra pounds without looking fat. It was my grandson who asked me one day why I was so fat.

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“Our life will never be the same again!”

Markus and Caroline GappmaierBy: Caroline Gappmaier

I always thought we ate fairly healthy. Baking our own bread from grains I milled, eating only a little meat, and then basically no red meat, no drinking of soft drinks, etc. Of course, I did have a sweet tooth and liked cheese very much (you know, I’m Swiss, and those of you who have tasted our cheese and chocolate will understand!). Then, our family experienced an extended period of existential stress which brought me health-wise to a point where I hardly could eat anything anymore. I had suffered from severe rheumatism before, with chronic pain mainly in my shoulders, but with all the other joints suffering also (which meant never being without pain day and night). But now with this added stress, my skin had turned so yellowish that even strangers would address me about it. Around my eyes were deep, dark circles. I kept losing weight. I had random itches all over my body all the time. I started feeling as if my body could stop working at any given moment. My thighs had white marble lines on them and going to the toilet smelled like walking into some of those old folks’ rest rooms. I had to leave early for everything because hurrying was too much and got me out of breath. All the while I had no strength to deal with any kind of extra stress. I felt depressed constantly instead of being happy and easygoing, as would reflect my personality. I was always worried and feeling bad. It was miserable!

Realizing things could not go on like that much longer, I adjusted my diet. I had already let go of all refined sugar products. When I realized that cheese caused feelings of anxiety, I stopped eating that, too. Finally, I started eating only the things I digested well and made me feel physically good afterwards: fresh produce (fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds). For one year, I ate nothing else. Fruits in the morning (usually a fruit smoothie with some flax seeds, brown millet and pure honey in it) and a mixed salad of vegetables and lettuce with some seeds and nuts in the afternoon. Today I think this saved my life. As I got better, I started to reintroduce other foods again. A few years later, as my husband, Markus, also struggled with his health, we felt we should change to a whole food, plant-based diet. Our health improved slowly, but surely. I was able to go back to a more normal life style in general again, feeling less depressed and having more physical energy and no pain. Happiness came back and in the (early!) morning I started to be fully awake again. No more lead in the bones or short breath.

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“The results were nearly miraculous”

Marc and Vicki SorensonBy: Marc Sorenson

Much of my youth was spent at our ranch/farm, located within one-half mile of the Nevada border in Utah’s west desert. We had no electricity and no indoor plumbing, necessitating old methods of cutting wood for the heater and carrying water in from the well for drinking and culinary purposes. It was a hard but good life, and we always had plenty to eat. We ate the typical cowboy fare, starting with bacon and eggs for breakfast, with an occasional bowl of cereal, and always a plethora of milk. I milked the cow, who was quite generous to us, providing not only milk, but cream and butter, which I often ate by the spoonful.

We did have some healthful foods, since my Dad loved fruit and often would buy cherries, apricots, peaches, watermelon, and apples, and we had some corn, peas and tomatoes from our garden or the gardens of our neighbors who sometimes had surplus.

Every meal contained meat and/or chicken, duck, turkey, fish or other animal food. I killed them, cut them up, put them in a cool area, and sometimes cooked some meals. When Mom was gone for a few weeks to keep her teaching certificate renewed (she taught school in the winter), Dad and I would eat as many as 16 eggs daily, he consuming about 8-10 and I another 6 or so. They were all sloshed liberally with bacon or other meat grease. I feel fortunate to have survived past my teenage years, considering the mountain of animal products along with their cholesterol and saturated fats that went through my digestive and circulatory systems! In spite of the hard ranch work my weight at one time was as high as 217 pounds at a height of 5’10 ½.” I now weigh about 178 pounds and am very muscular for a man of 72 years.

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“I am 81, and my wife is 79”

Cy and Pat WelchBy: Cy Welch

My name is Cy Welch. My wife is Pat Welch. I am 81, and my wife is 79.

When I read “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” by Jane Birch on Meridian Magazine, it rang a bell with me. I was struggling with the normal health problems of aging, such as lack of mobility, some arthritis, enlarged prostate (BPH), hypertension, hearing problems, and lack of strength. My wife is diabetic, arthritic, has fallen many times over the years, has hearing problems, and lots of migraine headaches, etc.

After I read a couple of the articles on “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” on the Internet, I bought the book and started the transition to a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) eating. It has been an interesting journey to say the least. I also bought and read The China Study as recommended by Jane. It connected the dots for me on health problems we were dealing with and just made sense. We went on a two-week vacation about this time while making the transition and found out just how difficult it can be to find food which supports the WFPB lifestyle on the fly so to speak. We did the best we could and are now about 90% changed over to WFPB.

One of the first benefits I noticed was my mobility began to return. I used to be fairly flexible, but I slowly lost my flexibility over the years. I am now flexible enough to get in and out of the van without bumping my head on the top of the door opening. I feel almost twenty years younger. I’m also slowly losing weight, although I wasn’t much over weight. I have much greater flexibility, strength and endurance.

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“My journey started before I joined the Church”

Warner Molema FamilyBy: Warner Molema

My journey towards a whole food, plant-based diet is a long one. It started before I joined the Church…

In my mid teens I remember reading that we become what we eat. The article was accompanied with a picture of a man with a pig’s snout. The article also mentioned that a diet of meat leads to increased anger and hostility. I did not want these traits and made up my mind to become vegetarian – no meat, but I still had dairy and eggs – ovo-lacto vegetarian. My mother supported me by preparing a separate vegetarian addition to the family meal. I was the only vegetarian in my family.

A few years before this time, while living in Cape Town South Africa, missionaries knocked on our door. I remember my parents purchasing a copy of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants… they had to be purchased in those days. I remember a few visits by the missionaries. I think my parents indicated that they appreciated their visits, however would not be joining the Church. During those early years of being a vegetarian, I remember browsing the burgundy covered Doctrine and Covenants and reading Section 89. I stopped drinking all hot drinks thereafter. I refused alcohol and did not partake in tobacco. Both my parents both smoked at the time.

After completing high school in Welkom, I attended university in Bloemfontein. I stayed on campus in the student housing – dormitories or in Afrikaans koshuisse. At meal times I would swap my meat for extra vegetables or dessert with fellow dorm dwellers. I held to my resolution to be a vegetarian and to refrain from hot drinks, alcohol, and tobacco.

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“I felt the Spirit guiding me and telling me things”

Gary Powell and Siew-LeeBy: Gary Powell

I was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1941. I have moved around the world a lot and have always tried hard to adapt to the local cultures. This has taken me to some out-of-the-way places. I have met some very interesting people and eaten some interesting food over the years, everything from exotic European cuisine to dog kidney stew in a Dyak village. I learned the truth of the saying “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.”

I did some time in the Australian army and learned to live off the land, eating what nature provided. While in the army I had an aboriginal tribal brother who taught me a whole lot about living in tune with nature. In 1965 I was badly injured. With broken vertebrae in the lower back and neck, I was in and out of the hospital for the next three years. The army “specialists” were contract people who didn’t seem to care much about soldiers in their care. After each session with these people I felt a lot worse. In three years no one ever had an X-ray of my back done.

After I was discharged, things got steadily worse. I went to a very expensive back specialist who got the X-rays done. He shocked us both when he said I had three split vertebrae in my lower back and another badly damaged one in my neck. The specialist put me in a cast for a month and assured me this would fix all the problems. It didn’t work. In fact I felt even worse.

At this stage I was suicidal. A hippie friend noticed my distress. He knew exactly how bad it was and saw I was about to take a jump off a high bridge. He said he knew someone who could help. I said I would never go to a medical specialist again because they had got me this way. My friend said, “This person isn’t a medical specialist. He is a chiropractor and naturopath. Come with me to see him, and if he gets you right you are in front. If he doesn’t you can still jump.”

Chiropractor? Naturopath? Was he talking Greek or Russian?

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“I’ve decided to stick with revelation on the subject of nutrition”

Barbara CramerBy: Barbara Cramer

I am 61 years old, and from the time I married at age 20, I have always been interested in health and nutrition. My parents were ahead of their time in that they believed in cracked wheat cereal, whole wheat bread, and eating lots of fruits, vegetables and salads every day; however, there was always plenty of meat on the menu, and drinking milk at every meal was gospel.

I have enjoyed good health most of my life, and through vigilance, never had a weight problem. However, about six years ago I started having severe knee pain and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. I visited an orthopedic doctor and was seriously considering surgery on my right knee. I had also had a couple of colonoscopies with several pre-cancerous polyps. My cholesterol levels were on the high side, although not dangerous. I was always constipated and also had rosacea, a skin condition.

My mother (now aged 92) has severe osteoporosis and arthritis, and my father (an amazing and active 94) has used statins and blood-thinners for years; both have had bouts with cancer (now seemingly in remission after surgeries and radiation). My husband’s father died at age 62 from heart disease, and his mother from stroke. With all this in the family, I became interested in finding ways to maximize our health possibilities.

About five years ago, I started making and drinking lots of green smoothies, per “Green Smoothie Girl.” This helped my digestion, but I continued to use lots of dairy every day, plus some meats and eggs. Then, three years ago, a friend recommended the book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. The next week, we had lunch with friends who told us they were on a vegan diet and that it had cured their migraine headaches and prostate cancer. Then yet another friend recommended the book The China Study by Colin Campbell. I wondered why I was suddenly having all these encounters with whole food, plant-based (WFPB) information, but I did the reading and became convinced that the science was reliable.

I decided I would try the diet for three months and see how I felt. I had read and studied a number of diets before, so it was like a light went on when I realized that the WFPB diet was really just the Word of Wisdom stated anew! Now when people present me with information that contradicts it, I just say that I’ve decided to stick with revelation on the subject. Otherwise, one month it’s this, and the next month, it’s that. Tossed to and fro . . . whom to believe? But with divine counsel, it’s easy. Why did it take me so long to come to this understanding? It seems so obvious now. But cultural influences are powerful and had prevented me from embracing it sooner.

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