I am a Registered Massage Therapist and I have been for 8 years now. Halfway into my career, the nightmare that every therapist fears became a reality for me. This nightmare was arthritis. Every massage therapy student was made well aware of what arthritis was and what types existed. It was one of the many conditions we studied and treated. We were also made well aware that we had a greater chance of developing arthritis in this profession. It was just one of those things that you just foolishly assumed wouldn’t happen to you.
Well, here I was at the young age of 26 suffering with painful inflamed fingers. Every morning I would wake up and experience such restricted movement in my hands. My fingers and knuckles were so swollen that I could not make a fist. Hell, I had to run my hands under hot water for five minutes every morning to gain any flexibility back into my money makers. It was no surprise that going to work, massaging the day away only agonized my inflammatory condition. Living in Canada (especially in the city of Winnipeg) just added fuel to the fire. Our freezing temperatures over the winter season exacerbate arthritic symptoms faster than we can pour our pure Canadian maple syrup overtop a fresh stack of pancakes.
I had no plan B. I was a Registered Massage Therapist. That was my profession, my career. My arthritis haunted me. How long would I be able to practice under these circumstances? I was not ready nor was I prepared for such a curveball. I started taking these all natural anti-inflammatory vitamins. I popped them like candy. No changes. I would come home after work every single day and give my hands a paraffin wax treatment. It only offered temporary relief. No matter what I did the next day would always begin as a repeat of the previous morning- redness, swelling, pain, and restricted movement.
Aside from the inflammation in my hands, I also experienced swelling elsewhere. I had been suffering with painful and unexplained bloating for years. My digestion was extremely compromised and things were only getting worse as the years went by. It was at this time that I decided to take my digestive issues into my own hands as I was not making any progress with my medical doctor. I started to do research on digestion and conditions that affected the gut. I discovered that even though I had no idea what condition I was plagued with, they all had similarities. To my surprise I learned that our food choices could either build health or build disease. I found a repetitive pattern when it came to eating right for crohn's, colitis, IBS (Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome-all types), leaky gut, and even intestinal parasites. So that is where I started. I tackled the common foods that were recommended to avoid that I found compromised most of my diet.
The first food I braved cutting out was dairy. As soon as I cut out dairy I noticed that my skin cleared up immediately (I had always suffered with cystic acne). I noticed such an improvement with my gas and bloating. My digestion slowly started to get its gears moving (it was normal for me to not have a bowel movement for up to 3 days), and I had more energy.
Although these changes were miraculous, my body was still asking for more healing support. My next big move was giving gluten the boot. This step was unimaginably difficult for me. Going gluten free was one of the hardest things I have ever done but it turns out that it is also the best thing I have ever done. It increased clarity and eliminated that fogginess that my mind so heavily carried around. It further decreased my bloat and further stimulated my intestinal flow. I lost weight effortlessly and I slept better. More importantly, it introduced me to real whole foods. I learned to love and even crave vegetables. I realized what eating right really meant and I gained one of the most important life skills there is-knowing how to cook and bake from scratch. I adapted a whole new lifestyle and as a result this new passion of mine led me to create Nutty4Nutrition.
Of course I must mention one last life changing benefit that resulted from my changes. My hands. They were back to normal. No redness, no swelling, and no pain. I could make a fist and I was pleased to realize that it had been weeks since I had a flare up. I had no problems performing deep tissue massage treatments and my arthritic symptoms had completely subsided. It has since been 4 years and my arthritis has never returned.
All types of pain that we experience in our bodies are due to inflammation. The term "itis" means inflammation. Medically speaking, arthritis is literally inflammation of articulating joints. Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon. Colitis is inflammation of the colon. Catch my drift? Even skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis are all an inflammatory response. And whether we would like to admit it or not dairy and wheat (among other foods and food ingredients such as sugar, alcohol, and additives) do contain pro-inflammatory properties that can either mildly or severely effect certain individuals. I happen to react dramatically to the two whereas you might not. It did not help that the two together comprised most of my caloric intake. Since dairy products were "a great source of calcium and protein" I was fearlessly eating dairy products all day long. Whole wheat products were also advertised as saintly. I felt guilt free eating my "hearty grains packed with fibre". Whole wheat bread, wraps, and pasta could have all been eaten in one day. As you can see, I was overdosing on foods that caused me severe side effects which is why when I kicked them to the curb my body completely transformed from the inside out.
This blog post is not to advise you on what your diet should be. Every single body is different and everyone will react to different food choices in their own ways. At the end of the day we must always listen to our own bodies. They are always communicating with us. The message I do want to portray here is that food is medicine. What we choose to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner can either greatly support our wellbeing or slowly destroy it. Food is that powerful and every bite, every choice counts. It is never too late to embrace nature and what it has to offer our health. Today can be your day so take one step at a time and watch and learn as your body starts to thank you in unbelievable ways.
I would love to hear any remarkable ways your health has benefitted from eating a diet that is right for you. I am only one of many success stories and I will never tire from hearing of all the ways food can heal us.