Nutrition and Autoimmunity - help!
I have posted a few threads previously about my fiance currently dealing with autoimmune hepatitis. He refuses to believe that diet and lack of exercise are at the heart of his current health problems. He refuses to read all the anecdotal evidence of people reversing their autoimmune problems with the paleo diet and lifestyle changes. I asked him seriously if he really believes that all of these people who have turned their health around are just having placebo effects. He told me that he only trusts scientific, peer reviewed studies. Here's the thing, though. He hasn't even done his own research on his condition. I looked through my arsenal of bookmarked articles from the med literature, and I couldn't find any that talk of reversing or improving autoimmunity with diet. I do have a few Vit D plus autoimmune articles. Anyone have any that specifically study the effects of grain free, dairy free eating on autoimmunity? How do I deal with this?! What other resources can I use? He is totally averse to any mention of paleo/primal. ugh.
Unfortunately, in my experience, until he is open to it no amount of research will change his mind.
I've had psoriasis since I was 16. People told me way back then that if I cut out gluten it would really improve my skin.
I didn't believe them.
In fact, what I heard when they said that to me was, "Your skin condition is all your fault because you don't eat the right foods, and if you really wanted to have good skin, you'd do x, y, and z..." and I became defensive and shut down about it.
He may also be in denial about his whole condition completely, thus the not doing any research whatsoever.
I'm wondering if the better way to go would be to support him in his current decisions and keep the research articles on standby for the moment (if and when it happens) that he does open his mind to the possibilities.
Maybe you need to stop blaming him for his health issues. I have an autoimmune disorder too, it does NOT respond to dietary changes well enough to allow me to go off my medications, and if my significant other were always going on about how I could miraculously cure all my ills by doing what he thought I should be doing, I would show him the door pretty damn quick.
I'm sorry, but he's right to trust peer-reviewed research over anecdotes on the internet. Every quack weightloss program there is has a dozen testimonials. The internet is full of men who bench-press 400 pounds and 300-pound women who run seven miles a day, not to mention all the people who have been abducted by UFOs. Let's not even get started on all the anecodotal data about the Waters of Lourdes, available in fine crystal pendants for four easy payments of $29.99. I know eating primal has worked for me in a hundred ways large and small, but I don't expect anyone else to start eating primal just on my say-so.
If you can find peer-reviewed studies, show them to him and let him decide for himself, and then respect his decision. This is about his health, which is his to deal with, not about your beliefs carrying the day.
I would like to second Jenny on this. I, too, suffer from an autoimmune disorder and have been eating Primal for about 5 years, very strictly, and although my health is otherwise excellent, I am still dependent on Rx for my disorder. There is only so much that a good diet can heal. By the way, I didn't start eating this way for a 'cure.' I was just interested in preventing anything that could be prevented with healthy eating.
Eating a good diet may not necessarily reverse his condition (although it may--who knows? he certainly doesn't, until he tries it), but it will certainly improve his health in general, and thus make him feel better overall and help him bounce back more quickly both from the symptoms of his disease as well as any side effects from the medications he has to take for it.
Try to sell paleo to him that way, rather than pushing it as some kind of cure for his condition. Autoimmune disorders are poorly understood and for every person who managed to beat their disease through dietary changes, there's someone else for whom such changes made no difference at all. Most fall somewhere in the middle ground.
Your fiance does sound a little too passive though. This is his own health on the line, he's not being proactive about it at all? Not doing his own research, just swallowing whatever pills his doctor hands him? His faith in "scientific, peer reviewed studies" is cute but hopelessly naive given the current state of medical science.
You can tell him that first of all, it's nearly impossible to find a double-blind, controlled, rigorously designed, and peer-reviewed and reproduced study on the effects of different diets in general, let alone one as specific as one that examines diet and autoimmune disease. It's simply too impractical. What are you going to do, put a group of research subjects on strict paleo, and then monitor them for the next ten years using GPS technology and a squad of private detectives to ensure that you have solid data on cheat meals, smoking habits, exercise frequency, sleep quantity, and the thousand other potential confounding factors that you would need to properly control for in order to isolate the effects of the diet? Right, not gonna happen. There's a reason that nutrition science is so contentious and everyone constantly argues about ideal macro ratios, whether PUFA is really essential, whether fructose is really toxic, whether VLC is dangerous, etc. It's because studies on nutrition are incredibly difficult to design.
And second of all, well-designed research studies are expensive, and most funding comes from pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, medical device companies...notice a pattern? Such companies are, of course, mainly funding research on their own products. If there's something being sold and money to be made, you'll find yourself neck deep in prominent studies. Otherwise, good luck scrounging up a few small-scale papers from 20 years ago whose results no one else has even attempted to adequately reproduce in the intervening years. Pfizer can't make a profit from promoting a good diet for the improvement of human health, so they're naturally not going to pour any money into it. Not to mention that autoimmune diseases are comparatively one of the less-well researched areas, as diseases like cancer and diabetes receive much more money and attention.
Basically if your fiance has set the bar for making dietary changes so high that he refuses to take action until he sees a proper scientific peer-reviewed study, he's going to keel over from old age before he's forced to make any changes at all. Which would be foolish, because dietary adjustments have helped a lot of people, even if it's not a miracle cure for AI issues. He should be doing everything in his power to improve his own prognosis.
I understand your concern: how could he not want to try a healthy diet and exercise?? It's not like you're suggesting anything crazy, just real food and activity. He won't even try ??? Fiance, huh? I'd be seeing some red flags with regard to communication and open- mindedness. Not saying he has to do everything your way, but he sounds unwilling to help himself. Good luck.
Get a copy of The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballentyne. It is basically a textbook on autoimmunity and using diet to manage it. It is well researched with citations.
She also has a site called thepaleomom.com that is a good place to get started.
Ive been doing the autoimmune protocol since last Oct. It has changed my life. I'm not "cured" but I am able to function again without constant pain, and I am better physically and mentally. I was skeptical, it seemed too good to be true, but I began seeing positive results within a couple of weeks.
When I started I had basically hit rock bottom health wise and was facing the prospect of skin grafts over large areas, so I was highly motivated to do the research and follow through on the plan. The truth is, your fiance may not be at that point yet (which seems clear since he's not really doing research on his own). He may not be receptive until a major crisis hits. Its the same phenomenon as people who ignore their docs until they have a quadruple bypass.
It's really disheartening when you hear stories of people with XYZ medical condition who won't at least TRY to put down the Doritos and pill bottle and attempt something a little outside the box. It's not like you're trying to push him into taking MAGIK supplements that requite $100 up from and $98 to maintain. You're not trying to sell him anything. It's food. Granted, it's certain specific kinds of food, but those foods are meat, veggies and fat.
I have a skin-based autoimmune condition and have been able to put in to remission simply by avoiding all the anti-primal triggers as well as nightshades, eggs and nuts. Through tons of self experimentation one meal at a time, I know if I put THIS into my body, I will have THAT reaction. Still, it's just food! It's simply learning a different way of eating; one that promotes healing instead of whatever is the cheapest/fastest/most convenient/whatever his excuse to put in my mouth at any given moment.
Jesus I'm NOT blaming him for his health issues, but the fact that he doesn't even try to eat better and exercise.... that's what I'm getting at. It is frustratingly difficult to deal with someone who doesn't take charge of their health.
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