Ankylosing Spondylitis: Suseptibility to Other Conditions Due to Medication Side Effects

An autoimmune disease & chronic inflammatory condition such as Ankylosing Spondylitis has its fair share of symptoms, so it’s incredibly discouraging to discover that AS sufferers are also susceptible to a multitude of other conditions. When you add incredibly strong medications to this equation, the potential for developing other chronic conditions increases considerably.  These are some of the other chronic conditions that Ankylosing Spondylitis patients who are taking Remicade, Humira, Enbrel, Fenofibrate, Polaramine, Oxycontin, Novorapid, Percocet, Levemir and Naprosyn most often developed while on the above meds:

Acute Pancreatitis (Inflammation of Pancreas)
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (NIDDM/Adult Onset Diabetes)
Diabetes mellitus (DM Covers many forms of Diabetes)
Peripheral vascular disorder (PVD)
Gastrooesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Autoimmune thyroiditis (Inflammation of the Thyroid)
Gastritis prophylaxis (Disease of the Stomach/Inflammation of Mucus Membrane)

When you open the informational packet which is usually enclosed with your meds, you read of the many potential side effects and most often discount the risks for experiencing them (or) side effects such as these aren’t included because many who develop these additional conditions feel that they are unique and independent of their meds, disease or condition, so connections aren’t made and often not reported.  These connections are also not made frequently by doctors. However, many AS patients who are on these medications have these conditions. This should be enough to point your doctor in the right direction, if you are experiencing related symptoms.

There really is no win/win when it comes to medications there are either numerous side effects or after becoming quite dependent upon them they simply cease to work, because as the body metabolizes these substances, it also builds up a tolerance.  However, knowing of these additional risks prior to taking medications is incredibly helpful, because it arms patients with the knowledge they need to better care for themselves. For example knowing that you are at a higher risk for diabetes might motivate you to exercise daily and eat healthier foods. Such as eliminating simple carbs, sugars and starches. This knowledge might also motivate others who are in the position do so, to manage their disease without the use of  the harsh medications, while also embracing the importance of a “whole body” approach. I was fortunate enough to have several years of experience with natural, more healthier options to manage my AS and my exposure to Naprosyn was limited, but that does not mean that I’ve come away completely unscathed, because often the side effects from these medications are irreversible. I discontinued Diclofenac (a form of Naprosyn) after experiencing Gastritis prophylaxis, as a result of H. Phylori, a stomach infection.  Accompanied by my frustration with dropping 30 lbs, a year with severe stomach pain, no diagnoses and the fact that several specialists had no clue as to why I was so sick. Well, it was quite easy for me to connect my new, debilitating symptoms to the medication.  I also have additional symptoms to manage now, that I did not have prior to taking this medicine for several years.

I respect the extensive knowledge and medical training of my Rheumatologist, and completely understand that his recommendations were “medically” based and as a result I was convinced like perhaps many AS sufferers, that it was impossible to manage this disease without meds.  However, I’m living proof that this is in fact not true at all. If we’re willing to step outside the “medicine box” we can find many natural solutions. Of course needs & results will vary from person to person, but I’ve done quite well with a healthy eating regimen (low-carb, low-starch, no-dairy, no-gluten), regular exercise and by controlling both my pain and inflammation with natural Cox 2 Inhibitors. Patients need to know that they have options, prior to subjecting their bodies to these numerous side effects, and this is precisely what motivated me to launch The Positive Pear.

Comfort Foods Fall/Winter & Holidays: Importance of Good Carbs

Happy October!  Summer is my absolute favorite time of year, but nothing compares to New England Fall foliage. The colorful leaves are nothing short of amazing and “may be even more attractive than the many beautiful flowers of Spring.” I hope you’re also enjoying all of the beauty that Fall has to offer. Here on the East Coast the weather is changing, the mornings, days and evenings are cooler forcing us to break out the Fall gear, including cute scarves and fashionable boots. This is also the time of year that we tend to gravitate toward heavier foods. Since we’re in the midst of a change in season, I thought it was a good time dust off the keyboard to discuss how we can adapt our healthy eating regimen to include foods that are currently in season. All of this made me think of carbohydrates and the excessive consumption that traditionally takes place over the next few months. Carbs can become a real issue for many during this time of year because as the temps drop and the holidays draw closer, many tend to turn to high calorie, high carbohydrate, comfort foods, such as breads, pizzas, pastas, baked goods and additional sugars. These types of foods can not only lead to excessive weight gain, but also the potential for exasperating symptoms of many chronic conditions such as asthma, eczema, diabetes, chronic pain & inflammatory conditions such as Ankylosing Spondylitis, chronic pain conditions such as Fibromyalgia and the numerous symptoms relating to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, among other conditions.

I believe it’s fairly common knowledge even among the healthiest of people, that an overindulgence in carbohydrates and processed foods can lead to health problems, so naturally this becomes more of a concern among the many people who battle chronic illnesses.  We are the group who should pay extra special attention to what we eat, how our bodies process these types of foods and how they affect our symptoms. Many people don’t want the burden of adjusting their diets.  After all, food not only provides sustenance, it’s a way of celebrating life, entertaining with family and friends and its also a means for socializing, so it’s no secret that eating your favorite foods offers a fair amount of enjoyment and emotional satisfaction, which is where the idea of “comfort food” stems.  However many who live with debilitating and painful conditions do not have this luxury.  We must be careful to avoid buying into the brain washing that many of us have fallen victim to at some point in our lives, and that’s the idea that medication is a “magic bullet” and it is all that we’ll ever need to fight our symptoms and keep ourselves healthy. If you are on medication your body is already working hard enough to break down and distribute this foreign substance, so its best to eat healing foods that will help strengthen your body, rather than filling your stomach with foods which force the body to work harder. All while taking the place of vital nutrients, that you are quite possibly loosing due to malabsorption issues associated with your chronic invisible illness.  “Food is very powerful. Consuming the right foods can be incredibly healing to our bodies, but eating too much of the wrong types of food can easily lead to our premature, yet slow and even painful demise.”  If you are a healthy person be grateful and don’t take it for granted, because it could  all change in an instant.  It’s been my job for so many years to educate people about food, healthy eating, the prevention of aging related diseases and most recently how to manage the symptoms of many chronic invisible illnesses naturally and holistically, so I direct this post to those who would like to take control of their health, by taking control of their diets, as apart of a “whole body” approach to living a healthy lifestyle.

Dangers of Overindulging in Simple Carbs, High Glycemic & High Starch Foods:

All carbohydrates are not bad. In fact, the quality of carbohydrates is actually what matters most. Carbohydrates are divided into two categories, simple carbs and complex carbs. Complex carbs are best and when eating simple carbs it must be done so in moderation, because overindulgence can wreak havoc on the body. Simple carbs consist of high glycemic foods which increase serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) a marker of systemic inflammation, which would naturally effect chronic inflammatory conditions such Ankylosing Spondylitis & other forms of autoimmune arthritis. These high glycemic foods also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and if you are obese or even simply overweight due to excessive simple carb consumption, you’re increasing these risk factors even more. Complex carbs or lower dietary glycemic foods provide more of a sustained blood glucose level and lower insulin demands on the pancreas. The pancreas aids in digestion and controls blood sugar.  If the pancreas and adrenal glands are constantly overworked due to consistent high glucose levels, this can not only contribute to adrenal fatigue & chronic fatigue in a healthy person, but it will without question exacerbate the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also known as Chronic Fatigue & Immune Dysfunction Syndrome  (CFS/CFIDS/ME) along with other conditions which cause fatigue, such as the many forms of autoimmune arthritis.  This can also lead to digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, while worsening symptoms of irritable Bowel Disease. Poor diet combined with regular medication usage significantly increase these risks. Good carbs or low-glycemic index foods delay the return of hunger, decrease subsequent food intake, and increases the sense of feeling full and as a result helps one to control their weight. Focusing on healing, whole foods and a diet which contains lower dietary glycemic foods and minimal amounts of sugar/starches will help to minimize symptoms of many chronic invisible illnesses, as well as preventable diseases such as Hypoglycemia, adult-onset Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, Obesity, Gallbladder disease to mention a few.

Steps Toward Success:

• Decreaes your consumption of starchy high-glycemic index foods like potatoes, white rice, and white bread
• Decrease your consumption of sugary foods like cookies, cakes, candy, and soft-drinks

•Increase your consumption of whole foods, real food in lieu of fast foods and eat balanced amouts of lean protein if you eat meat

Some Good Traditional Complex Carbs/Low-Gylcemic Index Foods for Healthy People:

whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables (no rice, corn, potatoes etc.)

Some Good Low-Starch, Non-GMO, Whole Food, Real Food & SuperFood Options & Substitutes for those with AS, CFS, Fibro & IBS:

• Try Sprouted Ezekiel Bread in place of white bread

• Try zucchini strands in place of pasta

• Add lots of low-starch, nutrient dense, organic vegetables in place of large amounts of starchy high-glycemic index foods, such as: Romaine Lettuce, Radishes, Avocado, Sprouts, Napa Cabbage, Kale, Spinach, Chard, Bok Choy, Snow Pea Pods, Green Beans, Leeks, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Asparagus, Summer squash, Red, Green & Yellow Bell Peppers, Artichokes, etc.

• Make good use of fresh herbs,  flavorful ingredients & seasonings such as: Lemon, Lime, Garlic, Ginger, Onions, Cilantro, Parsley, Basil, Thyme, Scallions, Organic Balsamic Vinegar, Brown Mustard, Fresh Salsa. etc.

• Drink water, coconut water, fresh fruit smoothies, freshly squeezed juices and herbal teas in place of soft drinks and other high calorie drinks

• Eat fresh & dehydrated fruit such as; oranges, plums, berries, pears, apples, grapes etc., in place of cakes, cookies, ice cream and candy. You must still be mindful of eating sweets in moderation, just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean it’s ok to in excess. Remember balance is key.

• Eat healthy snacks dried or roasted seaweed snacks, almonds, seeds, chia, raw caco, dried mulberries, etc.

• Cook at home, prepare meals in advance and get creative! By eating at home you are automatically reducing your daily sodium consumption and daily calorie intake.

MythBusters:

“Eating this way will not fill me up” When taking on this lifestyle change, take baby steps. Start by reducing, then replacing NOT immediately eliminating. For example reduce the number of meals each day that contain simple carbs, if you have a high carb breakfast do no repeat this for lunch & dinner. When you get to the “replacement” stage, you could replace your white bread with Ezekiel bread (made from sprouted grains), replace butter with Organic Cold Pressed Olive Oil, replace pasta with zucchini strands and make your own salad dressings from scratch. Start your day with fruit and eat several small meals each day. Eat several small meals and be sure that you do not reduce your calorie intake below 1200 calories a day, 1500 if you’re very active.  Yes, you’ll count calories for a few days, but you’ll eventually have the feel for how much food you’ll need to consume to stay full and remain healthy.  At dinner make sure your plate has far more veggies than meat and when eating meat, make sure its lean and antibiotic free. If you have Ankylosing Spondylitis or FIbro & CFS which can react adversely carbohydrates, you might need to also reduce intake of even certain types of complex carbs such as grains, thus gravitating toward more of a low-starch eating regimen. Give it time, both your mind and body will adjust. Also exercise and drink lots of water. Get plenty of rest and supplement when needed. In addition, when you’re eating whole foods, you’ll find that you’ll have less cravings, because you’re body’s nutrient requirements are actually being met.

“Eating this way will not cure my disease so why bother?” Diets, foods and drinks don’t cure disease, especially autoimmune diseases, but when eating the right foods you can prevent the onset of certain types of disease especially those that are age related. In addition, eating healthier can also help to reduce certain symptoms of many chronic conditions.

“In order to eat low-carb or low-starch, I have to eat excessive amounts of meat.” No, not at all and in fact most Americans eat far more protein than their bodies truly need. Protein consumption will vary from person to person based upon their weight and level of daily activity. A 130 lb woman who engages in moderate daily exercise would require only 88 grams of protein daily and that’s divided over several meals. A 160 lb man who exercises regularly, including strength training would require only 108 grams of protein daily. Someone who does not engage in regular exercise would have less protein demands.

low-carb and low-starch are the basis of many fad “diets” however, that does not invalidate the effectiveness of this way of eating. That’s because there are many conditions that benefit from a reduction of simple carbs and even some complex carbs. I do not endorse or promote fad “diets” or a book written by some guru. I do however recommend a lifestyle change to my clients based on their specific needs.  Diets fail, but lifestyle changes that include a healthy eating regimen, exercise and whole body wellness are incredibly effective with the ability to last indefinitely.  Feel free to use this post a guide  and whatever dietary changes you decide to make, be sure that its healthy and that you’re taking in the proper amounts of daily calories, also that you’re getting all of your required vitamins and minerals. Balance out your healthy eating regimen with exercise and most importantly maintain a positive mental attitude!

Here’s to living Chronically, happy, healthy fit & fab!!