Written by: Tiffany Francis
“Look Doctor, I know I shouldn’t quit taking medications without consulting you, but it’s been kind of difficult to remember to take my Rheumatoid Arthritis meds, when I’m no longer having any Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms…”
Prior to beginning the Paleo lifestyle in November 2011, I hadn’t had a single pain-free day in over 2 years. I had only been diagnosed about 18 months earlier because before that, I spent a good 6 months just scratching my head and wondering why, at 26 years old, I was limping every morning when I got out of bed, had frequent TMJ (lockjaw) and couldn’t even operate a computer mouse most days without cringing in pain.
Even after beginning treatment, I saw little improvement. I was taking “black label warning” drugs that are known to cause cirrhosis of the liver as well as several other complications (including death…) with very little reduction in pain, but a notable increase in depression, lethargy, and weight. Within only a few months I had gotten up to 170 pounds and over 50% body fat on my 5’2” frame. Not that I was in ideal physical shape to begin with, but this was a weight that I had been at before and had sworn I would never get back to.
At the time, I was living with a friend, a yoga instructor and natural-birth advocate, who had begun experimenting with the Paleo Diet. She kept sending me articles she’d run across about how gluten-sensitivity could cause autoimmune diseases such as RA and lupus. (Did I mention that my lab results technically showed positive for systemic lupus too? But since I didn’t display classic outward symptoms, at least not yet, my Rheumatologist only officially diagnosed the RA.) My roommate also read a quote or two from this book she had been obsessing over. You guessed it… The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. She read to me about the author’s belief that most people who had gallbladder removal were almost assuredly, undiagnosed-celiac. So I guess it’s also worth mentioning that in 2008, at only 24 years old, I had to undergo a cholecystectomy, not due to gall stones, but months of illness due to “chronic inflammation” of the gallbladder.
Yet, despite the fact that I obviously fit the profile of the people Robb Wolf described, who were being made very sick by the Standard American Diet, I must confess, I received my roommate’s helpful tips and advice with a bit of annoyance. I mean really…who gives up ALL grains? And cheeeeese? Could life even be worth living without cupcakes and Gruyere? I had no interest. I had already tried every other “fad” diet out there from Weight Watchers to Vegan with little success, and no sustainable weight loss, and I really didn’t believe that this one would turn out any differently. I would just have to “learn to have a little willpower” and subsist on portion controlled frozen dinners once again.
Health-wise, I had already resigned myself to the fact that I couldn’t handle the pain of wearing sexy high heels or deal with the impact from intense exercise. And I recognized that I would one day very soon, be installing special lever-handles throughout my house to accommodate my stiffening hands’ inability to grip and turn standard door knobs. Those were just the genetic cards that I had been dealt and I had accepted them. At least I got an excuse to wear comfortable sneakers at work, despite how tacky they looked with my business-casual attire, right?
But thank God… vanity made me give the Paleo lifestyle a second look. I was desperate to lose some weight after a doctor from the hospital where I work asked me, without flinching, if I was pregnant. I most definitely wasn’t… So it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Any person who is even mildly aware of social behavior knows that you NEVER ask a woman if she’s pregnant unless you already KNOW the answer is yes. Yet a highly educated medical professional was asking me if my ever-growing stomach pooch was a baby-bump, so I knew I needed to do something about my weight. My roommate’s already-slender yogi build hadn’t sold me on Paleo’s claims of helping me shed pounds, but when I ran into another friend of ours, a busy mother of two young children, I was stunned by the transformation I saw in her. “What did you DO?” I asked, hoping for some miraculous inspiration for myself. When she said, “I’ve just been eating Paleo,” my jaw dropped… And I downloaded Robb’s book on my iPad that afternoon.
So Robb, after all of the well-supported scientific evidence and research you put into the book, it turns out that all you really needed to do to get me on board was put “Look Better Naked” in a bold font on the cover and I would have given it a chance. But in the end, I did read the book—all of it. My mind was blown… and my life was changed.
After only 3 days of eating delicious grilled salmon, spinach salads, tender sirloin steak, crisp asparagus, and BACON, my stomach deflated very noticeably. Within about 6 weeks, I had dropped from a size 14 to a size 8—even though I never felt deprived or hungry, which is something that years of yo-yo dieting on standard low-fat/high-carb plans had convinced me was an integral and unavoidable part of weight loss.
It was during this time that I also started forgetting to take my RA meds. Without that throbbing pain to keep the pill-popping on my list of priorities, it just became inconsistent until I noticed weeks had gone by since I’d last taken them, yet symptoms hadn’t resurfaced.
And they didn’t resurface… until I decided to take a vacation from Paleo while my boyfriend was visiting from overseas. Within hours after eating my first fast-food sandwich in 2 months, my hands stiffened back up. It took mere minutes after I began eating that meal for my stomach to begin cramping and bloating up like someone had pulled the cord on an inflatable raft inside my stomach. I was miserable, and utterly shocked by the way my body was reacting to this food that I was essentially raised on and had never suspected, my entire life.
Luckily though, I know better now. I went back to Paleo eating after that, and now I don’t think I could ever look back. In less than 6 months, I am down by about 20 pounds and have reduced my body fat by nearly 10%.I still have a long way to go, but after previously believing I would never be able to handle a “real workout” again, I’ve been able to begin a high-intensity-interval-training program, which is giving me some amazing results in muscle definition and strength gains after just 1 month.
The dramatic differences I could see in myself were astounding and undeniable, yet I was still pretty nervous when I went in for the standing 4-month checkup with my Rheumatologist to tell him that I had taken myself off of both the Methotrexate and NSAID therapy. I expected to get a lecture about how dangerous it is to discontinue treatments without physician supervision, and like so many stories I had heard, I expected him to dismiss my results with the Paleo Diet as either coincidence or placebo effect. To my surprise however, he listened intently as I told him about how great I’ve been feeling and about the significant changes I had made.
On his own, having never read up on the Paleo lifestyle, he began reasoning how, of any of the popular “diets” on the market, this one that I described made the most common sense to him. He began talking about how, what we consider “natural” foods today, like whole grains, aren’t necessarily that “natural” as part of the human diet since they are relatively new to us on an evolutionary timeline. He also spoke of how, in recent years, the medical community has been discovering more and more people with a clear gluten intolerance, despite the fact that they don’t test positive for Celiac, and so on and so on… “Yep, I already know all this, “ I thought as I smiled and nodded. Right there, during our consultation, he began downloading books on the Paleo lifestyle to his iPhone to research it further. Not only was I not getting the lecture I expected, but my Rheumatologist was excited and in his words, “inspired” by my transformation. Now, I can only hope that my experience will lead him to educate his other patients about this life changing option. This stuff really does save lives!
Amazing story, so glad your health is improving. Paleo works.
Thanks for sharing! And kudos to your doctor too… I love a critically thinking doctor who seizes an opportunity to help people. Very inspiring…
John Harris says
Awesome story! Thanks for posting.
Crunchy Pickle says
Yes, I love that doctor too. They don’t need to know EVERYTHING already – the greatest gift they give is being willing to truly listen and consider atypical options. Great stuff! And, glad you feel so much better!!
great story! you have an awesome dr!
interesting article on prescription drug use in America:
Monica Korba says
Thank you so much for your story! I was recently diagnosed with RA and have been really on the cusp of going gluten free. I like to say that I am almost paleo except for that darn cheese. Your blog has inspired me to give it a real test and see how my body reacts. Thank you again;)
ra too says
Cheese and dairy is the worst for me!
I am similar weight and bodyfat % and have Fibromyalgia. I keep skipping around the paleo diet, going on and off it all the time. but I’m in pain every day. Thanks for this article, I hope to kick my inflammation like you’ve kicked yours.
Kamal Patel says
Having done some pretty lengthy reviews of fibro treatments, may I rattle off some random stuff?
D-Ribose, trigger point massage, low lectin/nightshade diet, cranioelectrical stimulation, topical amitryptaline mixes, blah blah blah.
Sorry to jump in, but this is part of my PhD thesis, and I love to spew in comments!
Great story! Thanks for sharing.
I have had RA for over eight years. Within a year of diagnosis I started working with a naturopath and eliminated gluten, dairy and sugar. I had a two year remission and reduced drugs to their minimums. I did try a two year drug free life and it wasn’t good. I have been paleo for almost two years (finally eliminated all grains) and back on drugs. While paleo has helped with some digestive issues and overall inflammation, I haven’t been able to cut the meds. I tried but it wasn’t good. I don’t want to be pessimistic, but I do wonder if the remission that folks experience on a paleo diet is long term. I am definitely keeping my mind in that direction, but since I have been “medically confirmed” as being in remission myself and now am out of it again, I have to wonder how long it lasts. Is there is long term evidence that a paleo diet keeps a person in remission. I am of course going to keep going down this path as I firmly believe in the diet, but just wonder.
I’m wondering if you need to heal & seal your gut in order to get a permanent recovery. I would look into the GAPS diet protocol. It is similar to Paleo but teaches healing of gut in the beginning.
Cathy-I have experienced just about the same in the last 10 years. Recently I traveled to Phoenix to see a MD that believes in treatment with antibiotics long term. He also has his PhD in microbiology. We didn’t go thru extensive blood work yet. He wanted me to try the antibiotic minocycline 100mg twice per day first. I have tried everything, diet wise, and nothing seams to work consistently. It’s not the gluten or the sugar. 4 years ago I completed a 21 day water fast. The theory is I have some sort of parasite that is causing the immune response. Lyme’s is a possibility. Its not the first time I have come across this theory. Return in 2 months for extensive blood work if symptoms don’t improve. Investigate Dr. Thomas McPherson Brown and his book “The Road Back”. I just ordered it, so no comment. And the doc in Phoenix is Dr. Stephen Fry. I just have to believe it’s more than just diet. At least in my case of RA. March on!!
How did the antibiotics work for your RA?
kea king says
2 and half years ago, I was on heavy drugs for my RA, over weight, no energy, depressed,sick all the time, I spent my days on the couch, and still in pain. I went to a naturalistic doctors. She gave me a list of food to stop eating and list of good food to start eating and start the paleo diet. I went off the drugs as they were doing more harm than good. Within 2 weeks I started to feel better the weight just dropped off. I lost 50 lbs .The pain disappeared for 2 and half years, total pain free. Then out of the blue I hot sick with the flu, every joint in my body hurt. I got over the flu, but now my hip joints were in extreme pain that was hard to walk. The pain soon spread to my knees they become so swollen that I can bend them,it spread to my arms and to my hands. I wake up every day in pain and I don’t understand I am still only eating healthy, no grains, no dairy, no sugar. So RA can come back and sometimes the 2 ND time around is worse! I refuse to go back on the drugs .
Michelle Powers says
How are you feeling now? I have just been diagnosed with RA and would like to try the homeopathic route first and heal my gut. I’ve cut nearly everything out and I’m following the Paleo AIP diet. I’m just wondering if you have tried this approach and if you are still feeling bad?
Awesome story – I have been trying this going on my second week. Your story has inspired me to continue on..
you story has got me interested, I have had active RA for years and on some many meds including Hurima injections which arn’t working as I had hoped. I’m going to download the book.. but whcih one is best suited to a person with RA?
Tiffany Francis says
Maisey, it honestly doesn’t matter which book you start with so long as you give the diet a strict 30 day try to see what it can do for you. The how-to is pretty simple and Robb Wolf gives you most of that info for free on the website and via his podcasts. That said, his book, the Paleo Solution is very informative about the physiological processes that occur in the body when we consume wheat & dairy and what that has to do with autoimmune disease. I did find that having a better understanding of why we avoid grains, etc. makes it easier to avoid temptation. At this point I’ve read a few other books as well. The Paleo Answer by Dr. Loren Cordain answers a lot of questions thoroughly. But honestly, the books are only necessary if you really want the “why” behind the “what” & “how.”
Tiffany — My father has severe RA (Rheumatoid Lung as well).
Is it more medically accurate to say that all the inflamation issues of the SAD diet are now gone but the RA Factor is still present — meaning it doesn’t cure RA Factor (which is tripped by diet) but it elliminates the side effect which is inflamation?
I’ve been Paleo for two weeks in the hope it will have a positive effect on my RA. Today I feel a little better. I started noticing slight improvement two days ago, but today it is quite noticeable. A friend of mine says it is because the low pressure weather system has passed, and not because of the Paleo. I guess time will tell. I’m not finding the Paleo eating difficult at all. I do miss bread and my favorite cupcakes at my local eatery, but they also serve green smoothies that are strictly Paleo, so I’m good. The hard part is feeding myself one way and my family the other. My husband and son are pretty self sufficient, but it is a little extra work. A perk: I’ve lost six pounds. That in itself is nice to see, but time will tell with that too. I’ve been losing the same six pounds for 10 years! I’ll celebrate a bit later … with a steak and baked summer squash.
Change the whole family’s diet Terri!! They will all get healthier!
Terry, I’ve had RA for 14 years, severe RA. I was on Remicade for 10 years, tried Humira (had a bad site reaction) currently on Enbrel. I started the GAPS diet about 4 weeks ago. I couldn’t find any more info than a list of foods you can and can’t eat. I did that for a few weeks, then found the Paleo books. I bought Everyday Paleo, read it and made a few recipes and then ordered another Paleo cook book. I find it much easier than any of the other life style changes I’ve made, and I too feel better. I had a sinus infection that turned into a double ear infection. (ended with my ear drum bursting) so I had to stop my Enbrel, well that was 4 weeks ago. I’ve never gone this long without DMARDS and felt this good. I’m going with it being the diet.. and hopefully it’s not a temporary remission. Now to work on the family..
Oh, am I glad to have found this website! I’m not alone (or crazy!)!!!! Hurrah!!! I’ve had RA for two years and am sick and tired of taking meds with serious side-effects and experiencing no relief. I stopped taking my meds once my rheumatologist wanted me to switch to yet another med (this time Humira). I’m well on my way already but needed fine tuning. Thanks to this site I feel great about moving forward with more direction. Thanks very much. Does anyone know of a FB group or support network/forum for folks with RA who are doing Paleo + the autoimmune component?
As a long-time distance runner I had to stop some years ago as my knees were so painful. I really believed that I was in line for knee replacements. Within two weeks of embracing paleo I woke up one day to find that my knees were totally pain-free, an ongoing,annoying skin condition inside my ear had cleared up and a scaly patch on my face had simply disappeared.
People who find it hard to give up particular foods will find that in time, there is room for creativity whist still sticking to the paleo principles. Yes, it’s a different way of eating, but then our standard convenience food is a different way of eating too! It’s all about choice and outcome.
This is great information. I’ve not heard of paleo but will check it out. I’ve had RA since 2008. Could not tolerate methotrexate but had great results with enbrel until recently. Now I am having a major flare. Feet, hands, wrists, elbows shoulders. I just relieved my first shipment of orencia. Has anyone tried it?
I’ve been taking Orencia for a year now. I worked at first but now having some flare ups…I’m a vegan but looking to try the Paleo diet…I’m up for trying anything..
How can Vegetarians with RA use the Paleo Diet?
Robb Wolf says
M- What type of vegetarian are we talking? Do you eat fish? Are you vegan? It appears grains, legumes and dairy are the big culprits in AI disease. We ahve had so damn much success with paleo and AI i’d recommend trying it, gettign healthy and then evaluating IF vegetarianism is really the right option for you.
Melanie K. says
I was diagnosed with RA about a year ago. The head of the rheumatology department where I am treated said I had one of the worst cases he’s ever seen just a few months ago. I have always thought that it was related to allergies in some way because I get itching and hives when I get flareups although they ruled out psoriatic arthritis. I had lupus symptoms originally including the mask and before my first really bad flareup I had a nonspecific rash that lasted for three months on my entire body. When the pain was really bad I ate whatever I wanted to including lots of carbs and processed food because of convenience and to keep my activity level low to let my muscles heal after severe effusion. I ended up on methotrexate, humira, nsaids, and prednisone every day to keep it under control and still had so much pain they added semi narcotics and I had to take additional otc pain meds. I used to wake up in the middle of the night when the meds wore off and wonder how much damage all the pills were doing and have to sit there in pain until it was time to take my meds. My worst fear was that I would end up on narcotics. I decided a couple weeks ago to only eat what my body craves and all I really want is red meat, nuts, produce and greens. I eat dried fruit when I get hungry between meals and am trying to cut out sugar and all processed food. In only two weeks I’ve only had pain in one joint that was bad enough to take prednisone and nsaids once. It was after I ate bread and that’s when I decided to research gluten sensitivity and paleo. I’m going to try a juice fast to cleanse my body faster and then listening to what my body is hungry for and praying for remission. I’ve actually been losing weight for the past year even tho some people gain on the RA meds. I noticed my stomach is smaller in just the last couple weeks too. If that’s another side effect that’s awesome too but I mainly just want to be pain-free and able to keep up with my three year old. Thanks for all the good info.
Well – i came down with RA hard while i was on the Paleo Diet. I started doing crossfit 2 months after I had my baby and was doing great. I could bench 165 lbs, i could do 20 rounds of “Cindy”… basically, I was doing great but still had a lot of baby weight to lose so i started eating “Paleo” and was pretty strict about it and even ordered my meals through a “paleo” kitchen that delivered to our local crossfit gym. i was doing that about a month… lost some weight, but came down with very rapid onset rheumatoid arthritis. it’s been about 8 months and i’m still in a bad way. i stuck to paleo for awhile, but felt like eating a high protein diet wasn’t helping my joints and pain. i’ve noticed that staying off gluten is helpful and that eating as vegan as i can is helpful. i want to be a believer that paleo can help me but since i got this dreaded disease while i was eating so well, it doesn’t seem likely. I am not sure paleo caused my RA but I have no family history of autoimmunity and was the strongest healthiest person my whole life before i started the diet. i have never liked eating a lot of meat, so i think there has to be a component of listening to your body. i am fairly “paleo” now except without the meat. i’m wondering if eating more shellfish and meat in general than usual might have helped trigger whatever response my body had. gluten free veganism has helped more than paleo.
Robb Wolf says
Tough to tell. this is the literally FIRST communication like this I’ve had in nearly 15 years. Would you mind sending me your RA diagnosis with blood titer of antigens, just black out your info of course?
I know I am very late chiming in and may not receive a reply, but I thought it was worth a shot. I, too, had a very similar response as Mary. I had been gluten free for almost 2 years with huge success in treating my RA. I was still on methotrexate and plaquinil. I did some research and thought Paleo would be a great way to help me get off of my meds. I started just eliminating refined sugar (remember, I was already gf) and grains. Then, two weeks later, I eliminated dairy. I added in bone broths, healthy meats even organ meats (I was not eating much meat before) and waited for the results. My results? Severe intestinal pain, gas, constipation, headache and 4 weeks in: joint pain. I decided to try the AIP version but 3 days into that I felt so horrible and had so much intestinal distress I couldn’t eat or sleep. I did a somewhat harsh colon cleanse to start from scratch, continued with the bone broth and lots of fermented foods but did not go back to eating as much meat. I added back in yogurt and started eating more fruit (I think I gave up at this point). 3 weeks later (after stopping strict paleo) I am better, but not back to where I was when I was only gluten free. I have done the research and Paleo makes so much sense on paper. Where did I go wrong??
It’s hard to say without all of the details. How much meat were you eating? What vegetables and other foods were you eating? Were they well cooked? Were you taking any digestive support, etc? If there’s gas, constipation, and other digestive issues then usually the diet can be tweaked to help, as well as some smart supplementation. I would recommend talking to Amy Kubal or a good health practitioner who is knowledgeable in all of this stuff. You might be interested in checking out Chris Kresser’s book Your Personal Paleo Code as well.
I had same issue as Mary. I went gluten-free. As I have no issues with dairy, so didn’t go paleo. I lost 15 lbs. and felt awesome until 2-3 weeks ago when my joints became stiff and painful. I saw a rheumatologist and waiting for test results on RA and lupus. He is very confident on the RA. Why now when I am healthier than ever? I suddenly feel like I falling apart.
Have you tried the autoimmune protocol of Paleo. It limits more foods but I’m thinking I’m starting to have results after 5 weeks.
paleo hasnot helped my RA either. but vastly improved the brain fog. i was diagnosed in late december 2012 and after 5 days on paleo saw great results in terms of clarity and proper memory function. but joints continued to get worse…now seeing a nutritionist had me on 7 day liquid diet and followed with day 3 of steamed dark veggies, limited salads and veggie broth. my lab flora showed no growth of good bifid or lacto and and overgrowth of bad alpha strep and gamma strep. doc has not prescribed probiotics until my gut settles down ??? but i never had any symptoms like constipation, bloating, diareaha, so confusing.
R. A. Too! says
I’m so sorry to hear about you coming down with RA! I’m sure you have probably studied this by now but there are many occurences of people’s RA going completely haywire and EXtreme after they give birth. Many, many occurences! In addition, alot of times an RA woman is pregnant she will go into remission during her pregnancy so much so that I heard that RA women would try to get pregnant just to experience the temporary relief from their RA. Maybe there is a hormonal component also. I have high prolactin and I am working with my Dr. to see if managing this hormone will be helpful in managing my symptoms. I am at the beginning of all my treatments! Oh, and I have been playing with my diet and although I have not done a true disciplined elimination diet, I noticed that when I ate a wheat bread sandwich with processed turkey after I had not eaten it for a while, I felt very sick for the entire day. A turkey sandwich, with no cheese was usual fare for me if I wanted a sandwich but I won’t do it again. Like I said, I was just playing around with my diet and I wasn’t strict. I don’t know if it was a reaction to the nitrates in the meat or the gluten in the wheat. I think it may have been the wheat since it was so foreign to everything else I was putting in my body. Well, off to the allergist next week and have a good day!
I know this is an old post but I am interested to know if you figured out if all the red meat and protein was not helpful….or if it was nightshades etc.
Curious because I was very healthy and then suddenly developed RA in a very strong way. I am nervous about eating too much red meat. I have been without gluten for awhile but lately have been eating gf bread which is probably not good.
Hi Barb… I have found relief on a diet that is essentially “paleo” but cannot tolerate the meat. I supplement with turmeric fish oil and boswellia. I got much better but never 100% so I’m planning to start Enbrel if I flare after my current pregnancy (which is supposedly likely). Going to give the AIP a shot though
I was diagnosed with RA in January 2012. My symptoms were awful, absolutely unbearable, until I started an elimination diet in July 2012 (Meals That Heal Inflammation by Julie Daniluk). The elimination diet helped somewhat, but it was difficult to stick to it. In August 2012, I started Humira, and felt my life improve within days. Though I continued to eat “mindlessly” – mostly bread, cheese and chocolate. I decided to go grain-free and sugar-free on January 8, 2013. At the same time, I have reintroduced red meat (so far just pork and beef) into my diet, as well as other foods I have avoided in the past (ie. mushrooms). I feel absolutely amazing. So much so, that I stopped taking meloxicam (daily NSAID) on February 8, 2013. I have not missed it at all. I am still taking 8 tabs of MTX weekly and inject Humira every other week, but am hopeful that I will be able to reduce my dependence on these drugs as well.
In thinking about the person who was diagnosed with RA AFTER following a paleo diet, I wonder if it is possible that this was lurking in her system before going paleo (she had only been paleo 1-month when she experienced the first onset, and it can take awhile to rid our bodies of toxins). I also wonder about the connection with post-natal recovery (my second son was 11 months old when I was officially diagnosed – our bodies are going through tremendous change, including related to joint tissue during and afer pregnancy). I also wonder about stress levels, as stress is known to trigger inflammation. I don’t think the Paleo Diet is the One Solution To Rule Them All, but I do think it should be an essential part of the solution. Having recently read Wheat Belly, The Primal Blueprint, and The Perfect Health Diet, and knowing my own results “grain-free”, I am a staunch supporter. I also think it’s worthwhile to look into other nutritional deficiencies to see if that could also explain the RA/inflammation. The Perfect Health Diet has a lot of detailed information about supplementation.
Is arthritis affecting your life? says
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Ana @ gluten allergy symptoms says
A great story and its encouraging to see your doctor listens. I think this is a huge problem these days and the average persons knowledge of health issues grows while doctors are resigned to be legal drug pushers for pharmaceutical companies. Your story is very inspirational, congratulations.
Great story and so many responses 🙂 I have arthritis presuming RA since the doctors can’t seem to diagnose it! 15 months ago I got it at 29 weeks pregnant , after feeling wonderful and healthy I woke up one morning and couldn’t walk ??? It went from my lower back to shoulders, to my knees and feetoving around constantly. Has anyone else got it during pregnancy? I have done so much research and tried so many things but right now I’m seeing a natropath and trying to get this into remission! I refuse to be in pain for the rest of my life and truly believe we can heal ourselves.
I was on pred until my baby arrived and weined myself off it 3 months after 😉 I still limp around in the mornings, have terrible pain I’m my feet and ankle and my spine throughout the night mostly.
Even though I have improved over the past year, it’s still there… Hanging around 🙁
Hi all, love reading the success stories! Just wondering reading through all the posts: are those that have had no joy reducing their RA symptoms with Paleo been also following an AI protocol – that is, in addition to Paleo diet, also taking themselves off eggs, nuts, seeds and nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, chilli, eggplant)..?
I have RA and started the Paleo diet 4 days ago – apart from feeling a little nauseous on day 2 all is going well. I’m enjoying being full, properly full, from whole foods and not merely ‘fillers’. 🙂
I have had RA for years and over 6 traditional RA meds which have side effects like blood disorders, heart failure and death.no thanks
I had a friend get better from her AS while juicing strictly fruits and vegetables for a week. After I did the same thing my swollen joints became less swollen and then the nodules started to disappear. For me a horrible diet of junk food, dairy and grains really cause me a lot of pain and joint swelling.
If I can eat 90% fruits and veggies I am a different person. I think juicing gives the body a lot of nutrients we are lacking and heals our RA. The paleo probably does the same thing juicing has done for me.
The last sentence is interesting “This stuff really does save lives!”
What lives? For sure it kills many! If you advocate meat eating, at least say: Don’t buy factory farmed meat, buy grass fed. So selfish! I’m not gonna say (as a vegan) that it’s impossible to cure RA with PALEO diet, but I wonder what kind of diet was she eating when she was a vegan, was it proper, she doesn’t mention here anything about it, was she gorging with sugar?
Shawne Rayl says
Iwas dx’d with RA in 1986. Whew! What I went thru while “they” tried to figure out what was wrong. Been on methotrexate until this year; embrel, and more recently, ; plus various other meds along the way. Have been pretty blessed with the surgery route – only had b/l feet/toes done twice, ankle twice, both knees replaced and MP joint in right hand replaced. All those only cos I HAD to functionally. Bottom line, I have not always believed diet changes could be hugely helpful but I do now. I know sodium is an issue; fried foods; (too much-too often) pizza etc. But, I can’t roll with a flat, “just do not eat…” edict. Knowing how and why foods, drinks and snacks might affect my immune system has really made me eager to pay attention and make diet changes. Aside: I have a large family with several of us having RA, lupus, various forms of cancer. I’m the eldest but already lost three siblings to immune disease issues. Connection? You bet. All your comments are great, So glad I dropped in.
I really like your post. Some hit home more than others. Just wondering how you are doing and if we could chat more about what you know about diet changes. I was diagnosed with RA only about 8 months ago, but with pain for 2 1/2 years not knowing what it was. I’m having a hard time with the meds (bad side effects)and don’t know much about the diet changes. I’m 44 years old and have always eaten whatever I wanted.
Please email me biku13 @ rocketmail.com
Command a new article about Rheumatoid Arthritis
I have a question: how soon after switching to Paleo is th epain gone? Also, any vegetarians that switched to Paleo?
I’ve been dealing with RA for at least 5 years now. I switched to the Methotrexate injections 0.8 ml about a year or so ago which did help more that the pills. On Nov 15, 2013, I started the Paleo diet after watching the documentary “The Perfect Human Diet.” Since that time I have not taken any pain meds such as Prednisone and Artridol (from Mexico). My last dose of Methotrexate was on Dec 21, 2013. I haven’t felt this pain free in years. I’m gonna keep going and see what happens.
I will be starting Antibiotic Therapy for my Rheumatoid next week. Folks, we have Rheumatoid disease ..not Rheumatoid Arthritis. Please go take a look at Roadback.org website. Palo it a GREAT diet..but as with any diet, willpower is the key.
I have to add mine to some of the comments wondering whether paleo is the longterm answer for RA. I went paleo 3 years ago this month and it was a miracle for my RA swelling and pain. Literally went away within days. I became then and remain a huge fan of the basic concept of evolutionary and real food diets. But then about a year later and continuing until now, the pain and RA problems came back. After great blood tests since beginning paleo, I’m quite certain the one I just had will show an increased SED and crp. Disappointing. Haven’t have a drop of gluten (except accidentally) or legumes in all these years. Very rare dairy. I posted a similar comment on the Perfect Health Diet site recently and Paul Jaminet essentially said a diet like paleo seems to work very well initially as it starves out certain “bad” gut bacteria. But then as we continue removing foods (such as on the autoimmune protocol which I’ve also been on and off) we become essentially malnourished from lack of a wide variety of healthful foods and our gut bacteria get out of whack. He, like others, emphasizes healing the gut rather than continuing to remove foods (as I’ve been doing) looking for a trigger. Because it seems like the triggers morph and become more numerous when I’ve done that… Food for thought.
Susan have you managed to heal the gut like you say? This is very interesting to me.
Please let me know if you have and what you did.
OK – have to say straight off I was sceptical because I loved dairy and I’d read elsewhere that removing dairy can help with arthritis, but didn’t believe it. With a celiac in the family, I just decided that we’d do this for a month and see. it took three weeks to be pain free at night (that is I had previously had night pain in hand joints (bilateral middle joints) and thumb, elbows and hips). The day time stiffness went fairly quickly, in about two weeks. I’ve now noticed a real reduction in joint pain on squeezing (that means no pain or stiffness with use but pain on compressing the joint). this has been like a miracle (I hate that word). I’ve also had a huge leap in pain reduction from torn tendons that i’ve been rehabilitating for three years now. It’s getting easier to be creative with food, and I’ve had to add soy to my coffee and tea now and then, to be honest, in addition to having more peppermint teas and black coffee. Not strictly pale, but removing legumes, all grains and grasses, and dairy has been amazing. I have my hands back and no pain at night, no longer taking NSAIDS and paracetamol every day. Who would have thought. I must add here that I am a health professional and believed very strongly in a wholesome diet including grains and dairy. I’ve since realised you can have a healthy diet without. It does no harm to try, no harm at all. Oh, i have to soak nuts though, can’t digest them otherwise.
I am 25 and suffering from RA from last 8years, have underwent hip replacement as well.
can i include chickpea, rice and corn in my diet as they have been proven gluten free?
reply will appreciated, motivate me please.
If it were me I would try doing the paleo Autoimmune Protocol 100% until things were under control before I would mess with anything like that. Many people with autoimmune issues can have problems with grains like corn and rice, and legumes like chickpeas, even though they’re gluten free.
Sue F. says
I’ve been no grains, legumes, nightshades, dairy except for 1 tiny dairy exposure and 1 v8 juice (tomato). I have had a bit of dark chocolate and a few coffees (I always ate chocolate with no problem). My joints and tendons in my hands and wrists have gotten way worse on this diet in the over three weeks I have been on it. I think I have RA because of symptoms and I have some doc appts. coming up (but RA blood tests negative so far but have always had high sed). I expected relief and instead it is worse. Very dismayed and I miss going out to Asian restaurants a lot. What am I doing this for? Should I not have had a reduction is swelling by now?
What does a typical day of food look like for you?
Pat M. says
I also came down with RA after a year of western-style paleo (lots of veggies but also lots of meat, eggs, and butter). It started very suddenly. I suspect it was lurking in my body already, but the timing of its dramatic appearance suggests my new high-meat diet was the culprit because nothing else had changed. Since then I’ve kept a careful food diary and can say that for me the following has helped a lot (no more meds!):
1. Vastly reducing saturated animal fat and increasing fish oil and olive oil. This seems to have had the most effect. I’ve greatly reduced beef, eggs, butter, cheese, and milk. For example, instead of eggs scrambled in butter for breakfast, I have veggies stir-fried in olive oil. This has also nearly eliminated dairy from my diet, which might also be helping. It’s considered an “anti-inflammatory” diet by some.
2. Avoiding pork. To my surprise my food diary showed that I’m likely to have an increase in symptoms after eating pork. Research on the internet suggests that this is a common but little-recognized trigger.
I haven’t noticed a clear connection between wheat or nightshades and my symptoms, but I generally don’t eat a lot of them anyway.
I’m doing much better now on an Asian diet emphasizing vegetables (preferably cooked in olive oil), rice, small amounts of meat (usually chicken), and no dairy, with lots of fish oil. I’m trying to develop a taste for fish itself as well. So this is “paleo” in the sense that I’m avoiding most grains and processed foods, but it’s definitely not the steak-and-eggs version of paleo that I was on before.
Anita K. says
I’ve had horrible pain the ball of both my feet (metatarsalgia) that I’ve been fighting for 2 years. A stress fracture just from walking on the treadmill, a completely dislocated toe just walking across a room (had to have surgery and a pin inserted), a hammer toe on the other foot, and now the constant pain of metatarsalgia. I have been relegated to orthopedic shoes with custom insoles, and a pair of crocs (my vanity is suffering greatly). Can’t walk barefoot at all – even suffer standing in the shower. After months of ruling things out, I’ve been diagnosed with R.A. which presents itself only in my feet at this point. Still in shock. Have started on prednisone for the last week but haven’t noticed much difference – and I think it should have kicked in by now. My daughter who is a nurse recommended I try the Paleo diet. What have a got to lose? I’m going to buy the book tonight and try my best to use it diligently to see if it works for me. I need to lose weight anyway, as my pain has caused inactivity and I’ve put on 30 pounds. I am soooo hoping that I get good results. I dread trying all these different meds I hear many of you speak of, along with their side effects. Will let you know how it goes. Glad I found this site.
Hi all. Just found this site and so excited (it is SO relieving to hear others in the same boat) to “talk” to you all. I was diagnosed in 2007 and have been on everything-Remicade, Rituxan, Humira, Orencia, Actemra, Methotrexate) and all worked to some degree but never remission of any sort until Xeljanz! I’ve been on this lovely pill twice a day for over a year now and it has worked the best! I still take methotrexate though. I’m not in total remission, but flare ups are greatly reduced and my “every day” life is a lot better. Not quite as tired, still have pain but it is manageable with Advil. Salt seems to be the big bad for me, as I wake up with really swollen hands after a salty dinner- any fast food, or high salt items- so I try to avoid that. The only bad thing with the Xeljanz is my cholesterol has gone way up and over the past several months, I’ve gained about 10 pounds. Menopause has jumped in here too, so that is part of the weight gain, but now I am looking at the variety of diet options you’ve all been talking about. I am not a cook and am too tired after working all day to even entertain the idea of putting a meal together, so I generally go for something quick like pasta, but I’m anxious for more relief and to lose some weight.
Thank you so much for all your sharing and information. I will be revisiting you often from now on. Good luck everyone and thank you!!!
Great discussion… I was diagnosed with RA in 2012 and have been treated by a rheumatologist with prednisone and methrotrexate. I recently saw a new doctor, who recommended the paleo with the RA protocol, and I am still doing some research. Do I really need to give up all dairy (including eggs)? Or can I start with just the regular paleo diet and go from there? I am afraid to get bored easily with the paleo version for RA (RA protocol) which is so restrictive. Thank you!
Yes, to do the autoimmune protocol you need to give up all dairy, eggs, nightshades, etc. Later on once you’re doing well you can try reintroducing certain foods like eggs and see how you handle them.
For some good ideas and help with autoimmune friendly recipes, I would recommend this book http://autoimmune-paleo.com/my-cookbooks/. She also has some recipes on her site as well.
My 4 year old daughter has been diagnosed with juvenile RA. She had a nasty fall, a big cut on her eyebrow, and a swollen wrist. 4 months later her ankles are swollen and her other wrist too, had cortisone shots, only to have the swelling return in less than 4 weeks. She is now in a lot of pain and can barely walk without limping. Please help on [email protected]
Susan F. says
I haven’t commented for almost a year. Paleo had not worked 1 mo., but I’m trying again but can’t seem to eliminate some rice as also have to cut out FODMAPS which is so hard to do. Doc thinks I may have RA as I have gotten worse and synovitis shows up in tendons and joints. I am starting to wonder if I should cut out most red meats. At some point would have to substitute legumes or nuts for that as elsewise too restricted, I’m getting a bit lost on this path but hope something will help. Devils claw I believe lowered a bit of inflammation as I could see on sed rate and cpr tests. Looking at white peony extract now. I hope docs don’t poopoo the diet and herbs and will agree to monitor me without drugs but that may be wishful thinking. Want to thank Robb Wolf for this site. Very good!
Doris Raecke says
After 8 years of often almost incapacitating joint pains, I started the diet. Two weeks I started feeling better. Now, over 3 months later, I feel wonderful, not only without pain but also lighter by 11 pounds, more enthusiastic and energetic. My self imposed “treatment” included daily intake of magnesium and selenium, as well as a return to thyroid complement (a very small amount, in my case). Perhaps I never had RA and was intoxicated by gluten, chemicals and other toxins!
Hello. I am the Mom of a daughter (17yo) suffering w/RA for over 3yrs now. She is an athlete and has just now told me she wants to try to go vegetarian to help w/pain. While I am happy that she has decided to change her eating habits and make a drastic change, I am concerned that she will not get the nutrients she needs. Because she struggled with anemia early on in her diagnosis, I had to reintroduce red meat. She does not eat it very often, maybe once a week. She eats a lot of chicken and is not a big vegetable lover. I make her egg whites about 4x a week w/oat nut bread. She drinks almond milk instead of regular milk. From what I read about eliminating eggs, does that mean she cannot eat egg whites? She is currently on prednisone and Rituxan, but she is not pain free. She eats a lot of processed foods (chips, cookies) and loves cheese w/chips. Until now, she refused to change her diet and now that she is a senior in HS and wants to go away to college and play ball, she has decided she wants to make this change. I am researching like crazy to help her and I came across this site. I think I will look into the Paleo
Autoimmune Protocol before we go the vegetarian route. Is gluten free part of this protocol?
I will keep you posted to let you know her progress.
Robb Wolf says
Gluten free is absolutely part of the AI protocol. I’d check out The Wahls Protocol.
I was diagnosed with RA and have had my knees aspirated at least 18 times. I was told I had osteoporosis(from prednisone) & I have tried almost all the RA meds they have to offer. Changing my diet has had the best effect on my swollen joints and my labwork. Both have improved a lot and I have had joint repair themselves after not being able to move a frozen joint for over a year. Cutting out sugars, grains, dairy was key for me. I am sensitive to nightshades too. I cried so many morning and it hurt to move any part of my body. My mornings have gotten better thanks to changing my diet. I think juicing fresh juice is very important. High dose vitamin c and flax seed oil are two things that help me too. Thanks for your story!
I have hashimoto’s disease and just recently was diagnosed with RA after giving birth. Yes, the stress of both and pregnancy can trigger RA in your body as well as any other auto immune disease. It stinks but it happens all the time apparently. My pain from the RA has left me no choice , but to start Mtx right now. I start it today, praying I don’t get any of the side affects. In fact I am scared to death of them! I was doing the Paleo diet with the exception of cheese prior to pregnancy and it was helping my hashimoto’s symptoms. Dealing with the RA pain has inspired a whole new level of dedication of the diet that I have never had. The pain is so awful, specially at night when I am trying to take care of my new baby girl that I just want to curl up and cry. I pray that the Paleo diet allows me to eventually get off the meds for good. I am actually one step upping the diet and lowering the animal content of it to help reduce even more inflammation as well as doing horrible tasting green smoothies everyday. I have a good recipe but I am doing smoothies for inflammation that I found and they taste awful. Well worth it if they help!
My 10 year old daughter was diagnosed with RA just about 3 months ago. We started her with GAPS, then started moving towards Wahls, and finally to AIP. We have just completed the first 30 days and have started our first reintroduction. She is fairly stabilized right now, without a great deal of pain, but has nodules on her knuckles which have actually grown. I am so worried about her growth, which has been delayed, and also the proper development of her hands, which are very frail with slight curving on a couple of the fingers. Is there anything that is specially needed for a growing child? I have little desire to take her to a specialist who does not believe that diet is a factor! We do have a family doctor who is supportive, but not that informed herself. Do you have any advice??
Research some of the #LCHF and #banting diet choices – very good nutritionally without carbs.
Adding good fats like pate, coconut oil, muesli made with nuts and seeds. Try goats / sheeps milk instead of cows.
Research also resistant starch and pro-biotics – RA is a disease of failure to present proteins as foreign antigens correctly (presentation is informed by making a good gut balance).
If you can introduce – rice / potatoes occasionally but minimally. I make a pastry with rice flour / almond and 1 egg and water. Then make quiches.
Hey, I read your post and once sat in the same valley of decision that you now sit…only for myself. I saw that your daughter’s fingers have a slight curvature and I remembered when my disease first started and I started noticing the slight “changes” to my hands and I fiercely battled with myself over taking the drugs. I read the warnings and possible side effects and I abhorred my choices. I was a very holistic person who was not into Big Pharma’s drugs. But I did take them and am so far glad I did. If I didn’t I would probably have very noticeably deformed hands right now. Maybe you could consider a drug for a temporary basis to buy yourself some time and halt the progression of the disease while you find something you are more comfortable with. RA can be quite aggressive, even early! No pain doesn’t necessarily mean no joint destruction. But it is pretty nice, isnt it? But thats just me and my opinion and you and your daughter live with whatever decision that you two make, not me, I realize that! I personally adhere to some of the Paleo tenets and couldn’t live w/o them. I do take enbrel though. But if I eat the wrong thing, it will eat right through my enbrel as if it were nothing! I would like to be off of it but I always inadvertently contaminate myself with soy bean oil. I have a mild peanut allergy so I suspect some type of cross reactivity being that soy and peanuts are both legumes. When I finish nursing my baby I am going to try the road back org which treats RA as an infectious disease. That could be an option for you, you may not need a script from a Rheum and the antibiotics are usually considered safer drugs. God bless and I pray you are led to make the right decisions for both you and your daughter.
I am hoping to just start to give this new diet a try as I’m struggling with rheumatiod arthritis. So it has to be worth a go,
Thanks for sharing your story. I have RA and have some success with paleo. I also find I have trigger foods like potatoes so perhaps people who go paleo might find they also have paleo trigger foods and therefore still needing medications. Also dairy and nuts are a trigger food also. I’m just sharing since it may help someone else.
I was diagnosed with RA at age 50. Now I’m 55 and I was in pain constantly, not to mention the intense fatigue. I was on Remicade, Arava, folic acid, and Percocet. It started in my neck and spread to both hips, hands, feet, back and just in the last two months, to my knees. I purchased RA herbal remedies online from a great herbal home called GOOD HEALTH HERBS HOME,I only used the herbal remedy for 5 weeks, my RA disappeared.pleases anyone out there going through RA pain don’t hesitate to purchased RA herbal remedy from GOOD HEALTH HERBS HOME,contact details wwwgoodhealthherbshome .com . I am so grateful i find a miracle cure. I feel like i am 30 years old now,am so strong and healthy ..
How are you doing these days? Are you still in remission and off meds for R.A.? I can’t seem to be able to find the website you suggested.
Mildred (Benni) Chisholm says
Ten years ago I was on methotrexate. I
got off it with the help of flaxseed (omega 3), vitamin supplements, minimal dairy, and gluten-free foods. Last Christmas, I pigged out on chocolate and sourdough bread. Gradually, a few RA symptoms resurfaced. I have returned to gluten-free and chocolate free (darn) foods. The pains in my hips, upper arms and thighs are lessening. My diet is basically paleo.
I found this site today and am hopeful that the advice and comments will put me on the road to remission. I am 63 years old, over weight, from years of RA meds, and progressive debilitation. Suffering from depression now. Not sure if it is due to the meds or just the ups and downs of this disease.