How My Anti-Inflammatory Diet Helped Me Heal from Autoimmune Disease
Updated: Jul 30, 2019
On June 3, 2012, I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called dermatomyositis (DM), an inflammatory condition characterized by severe muscle inflammation, progressive muscle weakness, chronic fatigue and skin rash. This debilitating condition hindered my ability to perform day-to-day functions such as getting out of the bed on my own, bathing and dressing myself, styling my hair, walking up and down the stairs, rising from a seated position, holding my neck up and even swallowing.
I was prescribed two medications after my diagnosis — a steroid called prednisone and another immunosuppressive drug called Imuran®. While both would help decrease the inflammation in my body, they also came with common side effects including diarrhea, vomiting, hair loss, weight gain and kidney infection. And since DM is classified as a chronic illness (meaning there is no proven medical cure), there was a strong chance I could be dependent on these drugs for the rest of my life. Rather than choose to accept this as my fate, I decided to take back control of my life little by little, starting with my diet.
I began looking at my situation from a more logical standpoint. Instead of viewing it as me having this life-altering disease, I simply viewed it as me having a ton of inflammation in my body that I needed to get rid of. Once I grasped this mindset, the solution became more and more clear to me. I figured if the root of my problem was inflammation, it could be reversed by: 1) implementing foods that fight against inflammation into my diet and 2) eliminating foods that trigger inflammation. And that's exactly what I did.
Anti-inflammatory foods I adopted:
Ginger root (drank it as tea)
Fruit smoothies and salads
Green, leafy vegetables (spinach and kale)
Juiced carrots, celery and apple
Inflammatory foods I eliminated during my illness:
Once I made a change in my diet, I began seeing a significant improvement in my health. Within six months of being diagnosed, I had weened off all of my medication. For the last seven years since then, I have been completely symptom- and medication-free. My doctor was amazed by how quickly I recovered, but for me, it was simply about having the faith, self-discipline and determination to get well and stay well.
And I know that if it happened for me, it can happen for anyone.