Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune inflammatory condition affecting both the joints and skin. The specific cause of psoriatic arthritis is not fully known. The immune system begins throwing out inflammatory responses that result in pain and swelling in the joints and tendons. Sometimes, even skin plaques—raised patches of red skin that are thick, scaly, and itchy, plus loss of energy. People with Psoriatic arthritis often suffer from severe fatigue. Without proper treatment, psoriatic arthritis may produce psoriatic arthritis flare-ups. If not controlled, these can lead to permanent joint damage.
But there is good news! If you have been recently diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, you do not have to suffer the ravaging complications of psoriatic arthritis. You can be full of energy again! Meet Sara, who shares her story of psoriatic arthritis of how she got her life back by changing her diet and lifestyle:
At the end of 2019, I had a hand x-ray for finger pain. I had a fractured bone cyst, but I also had arthritic changes, which led to a referral to Ortho, a referral to Rheumatology, and Dr. Charles Mills. Eventually, I was given a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis and several medications. The medications helped with the swelling in my hands/fingers and knees but did not completely control it or the fatigue that plagued me. I fell asleep as soon as I sat down after getting home and had to sit down in the yard while gardening because I was just worn out. Health-wise, this was not how I expected my early 40s to be.
In early 2022 at a follow-up with Dr. Mills, he told me that some patients achieved complete remission through diet changes. I was interested in pursuing that. He referred me to Dana West at Abundant Health Wellness Center in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. I first met with her in April, and we made an eating plan that was drastically different from how I had been eating. Dana asked me how motivated I was to do this, and I said, “pretty motivated.” This was an understatement. The fatigue and joint pain had worn on me to the point that I was considering a career switch. My job is hard on the hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints, even if you don’t already have arthritis. I did not want to change jobs but feared I soon wouldn’t have a choice. Fear, pain, and fatigue were powerful motivators for me to stick with the plan.
The first month was hard
The first month was very hard. I drastically cut back on meat consumption and cut out dairy completely. Cheese was on my mind every single day. I struggled with cravings for sugar and junk food, but about three weeks into the plan, my swelling all but disappeared. I realized that while I had focused on the swelling in my hands and knees because that’s where the pain was the worst, I actually had swelling all over, from my jaw to my ankles. And it just went away. Cravings or no cravings, that was motivating.
The hunger and cravings lessened during the second month and now are completely gone. At the end of the second month, I noticed that my energy levels were higher than they had been in years. I can remember having this kind of energy only when I was doing high-intensity strength training and cardio workouts. Back then, when I tried to lose weight, I had to work out hard to drop very many pounds. Since starting this plan, I’ve only walked and gardened, but about 50 pounds have fallen off.
Learning to love new foods
I’ve always liked vegetables and loved fruit, but now I’m learning to love whole grains like quinoa and buckwheat. I’m eating more nuts, seeds, and beans than I ever have. I even ordered different varieties of organic heirloom dried beans online, so I didn’t get bored. Christmas lima beans are so delicious I decided to try growing my own. They are now growing up an arch on my front walkway. I’ve also come to love blender smoothies made of just water, fruit, and greens. New cravings, I crave those now instead of processed sweets.
I never dreamed I’d have results like this in a matter of months. I took the stairs at work several times this week. Two to three months ago, that was not an option. The swelling in my knees would have had me clinging to the railing, stepping sideways on each step, and then limping for a few days afterward when my swelling increased even more. I know this from the few times the elevator was down over the last year. The difference is amazing.
Is it sustainable
A coworker asked me if I really thought eating like this was sustainable. Can I eat mostly plant-based, little to no meat, no dairy, nothing processed, no refined sugar forever? Yes, yes, I really think I can. Because I also have no swelling, no fatigue, and little to no pain. I have my life back. I have more energy. No pork roast, a bowl of queso, or candy bar is worth giving up. I am incredibly grateful to both Dana and Dr. Mills for all their help and support.
If you would like to begin your journey to being full of energy again, contact Abundant Health Wellness Center at 479-363-6585, or email: [email protected]. Check out our website at https://www.abundanthealthwellnesscenter.org/.
Authors: Dana West, RD, LD, DIPACLM, and Sara Houser, RDMS