Sturm und drang. So throw me a donut.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Leaky Guts and Arthritis

In between grocery shopping and getting ready for the work week, I've been ignoring all the football crap and trolling online newspapers for interesting articles. I found one article, here in the New York Times, about a young boy who developed idiopathic arthritis and went through some pretty rough medical treatments before his parents found a better way to help him.

I perked up, sat up straight in my chair and read it carefully...my husband has psoriatic arthritis with no known cause. He has no genetic markers, no physical changes in the spine, and his sudden and severe onset was far from normal. We think that stress brought it on, although what could have been leading his body toward this arthritis is unknown...but maybe we have a partial answer now.

The article I read was about Leaky Gut Syndrome. Basically, the intestinal walls become "leaky" through repeated bouts of inflammation and start allowing toxins, undigested fats, bacteria, etc. to get into the body. The inflammation may be caused by gluten intolerance, or eating lots of refined foods and refined sugar. This "leakiness" eventually leads to the immune system getting out of control and attacking various parts of the body. The gut is the largest immune system organ, so if things are going wrong it seems to lead to serious illnesses. You can read more about it here. I am using this website as a base from which to compare other sources of information because there's nothing wacky on it. Just a few minutes with google, and I found all sorts of sites trying to sell me something. WebMD doesn't have much to say, since this is a "gray area."

Well, okay. Gray area it is. I'm going to move forward with the premise that gluten and sugar might be a problem for my husband. In the NYT article, when gluten, dairy, refined sugar and refined foods were removed from each child's diet, the arthritis went into remission or became controllable through diet alone.

My question is: Will a change in diet targeting possible allergy-causing foods help after having had arthritis for over a decade? We decided to take a measured approach and start cutting out the obvious sources of refined sugar and begin replacing gluten in our diets (it'll be a joint project because I'm not cooking special meals just for one person!). I bought probiotics and digestive enzymes at the store today. And he will chart his pain and inflammation as we make progress on changing what we eat.

Arthritis is such a bitch to deal with: Expensive medication, insurance companies digging in their heels and trying to find a way to get out of paying for it, and the anxiety over what activities will bring on too much pain are just a few things arthritis sufferers have to live with. Maybe using this theory of illness as our guide will help my husband change the way his immune system is attacking his body.

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