Diet

The Diet of an Ankylosing Spondylitis Champion

24 Comments 26 October 2010

The Diet of an Ankylosing Spondylitis Champion

The diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis presents many questions. The most common seems to be what we can do to help relieve some pain. As I am sure many fellow AS’ers also do, I head to the web to see what I can research on this confusing disease. There is some mixed feelings on whether the diet you have plays a role in the encouragement of flares. I can’t speak for all AS’ers but, I know for me, changing my diet definitely effects my pain.

Carbs Controversy

One of the first things my doctor suggested to me as far as a lifestyle change with AS was to cut down on my carbohydrates. Me, being a huge pasta and potato person found this one tremendous challenge. I did follow the doctor’s orders and cut down and to my sad surprise, I felt a difference. My doctor said carbs can cause inflammation. I still “sneak” some carbs but I do pay for it later. In fact, I just over-carbed last week and can I just say the past few days are reminding me why I tried to cut them out! Some professionals say that the no-carbohydrate diet doesn’t work but that it’s this, that, or the other food that plays a role in the inflammation. I will stick with what I know works for me, and that unfortunately means less Italian for this woman.

Can We Eat Anything?

AS’ers we are told to reintroduce ourselves to food. We are being stripped of our energy, mobility, mental well-being and now our food…what else will AS try to take? It is recommended to eat more fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and dairy; and less bread, rice, pasta, cakes, chips and potatoes. It is also clear that fried, fatty, and sugary foods also need to be removed from your ankylosing spondylitis diet. This will help reduce your body’s unhealthy immune response. So these are all reasonable but what this list leaves out is that even the “allowed” foods on the list are not always good. Dairy for example effects many AS’ers because of GI problems many of us have associated with our AS. I am a huge fan of fruits and veggies but even then our list gets cut down some more since some of those can hurt us. So although I am aware that what professionals may mean is that we need, like in all diets, to eat the “bad” AS foods in moderation, I selfishly admit that this is a HUGE problem for me. I miss my pasta, potato and green pepper life and wish that things could be easier.

Share With Me

Have you modified your diet? What works? What doesn’t?

Your Comments

24 Comments so far

  1. Jenna says:

    Hi Meloni!
    This is a wonderful site for AS information. I’ve been somewhat successful going gluten free and I know that it makes a difference. However, I must admit to cheating occasionally. I look at all of the things that could possibly make me feel better and I do as many as them as possible – it’s all incremental, right? I’ll be following your blog. Thanks again! – Jenna

  2. Sandra says:

    Like Jenna, I have found that going gluten free has made a big difference. I have GI problems with my AS and have found casein (milk protein) to also be a problem. I now use almond, hazelnut and rice milks and Earth Balance soy free “buttery” spread. I have learned to recreate many of the things I love using sweet sorghum, rice, and tapioca flour combinations. Tinkyada rice pastas are delicious so I can get my Italian fix! I am gluten/casein/soy free now and I don’t miss any of them other than the convenience factor of eating out or buying premade items. There are so many more gf/cf/sf foods coming on the market every day though.

    Another huge diet change is decreasing coffee. I have a few cups a week here or there but no longer have coffee daily. I’ve also reduced my alcohol and cut way back on sugar.

    • admin says:

      Sandra-I’ve never heard of tinkyada rice pastas…I love pasta and miss it so much so I am definitely going to have to look into that!! I have not been able to break my coffee habit! I just set a new goal for myself…cut down on coffee…ha ha! Glad to hear you are having some good results when it comes to the diet.

  3. Jenna's husband says:

    A note to Sandra: Jenna and I found that P.F. Changs restaurant chain has a nice gluten free menu. I’m sure there are others, or will be as restaurateurs learn there’s a market.

  4. Kelly says:

    about 3 months ago my hubby and I (I have AS, not him) decided to eat as healthy as possible.. we cut out every and anything that was processed, eating only whole, natural foods… it was difficult, BUT… boy oh boy did I notice a difference in my flare ups!! not to mention I lost 20lbs, and he lost 40… we have been bad lately and not eating as healthy… and I am paying the price… definitely going back on the diet… I think if I allow myself to “cheat” once in a while, I’ll survive… but only once in a while.

  5. Marilyn Kamna says:

    In my opinion/I believe, that diet and nutrition as well as exercise and “do no harm” pharmaceuticals, are all important facets to a holistic approach to living with AS.

  6. hydropsyche says:

    I just discovered this site. Nice work on putting all this together. For me, diet has no effect on my AS at all. I think people should do whatever works for them, but I get tired of people constantly telling me that if I try this or that I will feel better. Not for me.

    • Caroline says:

      I agree with you 100%. I have had Ulcerative Colitis for 35 years and have AS. I know others mean well and just want there to be an answer and for you to be better but don’t understand that chronic incurable diseases are just that. I find stress worsens my situation, but people telling me to stop stressing or change my diet doesn’t help as it just makes me feel they are saying I am to blame for my illness, which logically I know I am not. In my experience I believe that the disease makes your bowel inflammed which makes it difficult to digest certain types of foods and it is not the food that causes the inflammation. I do think watching your diet generally helps you feel better as it keeps your weight in check thus putting less strain on your joints and reducing the pain.

  7. Julie Evans says:

    I am on a doctor supervised lower carb, no sugar and no bread or pasta. I feel so much better and do notice when sugar or pasta come into play. I need to lose quite a bit of weight and this is going great with the new diet.
    Hope everyone is succeeding with their treatments. It is a struggle. To say the least.
    take care all

    • admin says:

      I definitely noticed weight loss when I changed up to limiting my carbs. In fact I dropped the weight pretty quick. Wishing you all the best!

  8. jane says:

    I am glad the gluten free has helped so many people. my daughter had to go gluten free and it has helped a lot. I went gluten free for 7 weeks and it made my symptoms worse. I think it is an individual thing, sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn’t. there is another website kickass.org that is really good too. glad to have found this website.

  9. I had difficulty with so much inflammation until I was recommended by a friend to take Juice Plus. It is whole food based nutritional supplement. It has made a difference in my health. I don’t know how it will affect others. I feel that if you feed your body good nutrition, it will know what it needs to do to take care of it.

  10. Sandy Bates says:

    Greetings! I am not familiar with how to find what foods have gluten. Please help.

    • Kate says:

      Hi Sandy, the internet is a great place to start for basic information on how to begin eating gluten-free. I found a site here which may help you:

      http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/whatisceliacdisease/Celiac_Disease_Basic_Facts.htm

      But I would also recommend general Google searches.

      ~As for diet and AS, I have felt an enormous change cutting out all grains, not just the gluten-containing ones. I have read from a few sources that people with autoimmune diseases have trouble digesting grains, which leads to inflammation build up and the often accompanying GI issues.

      Eating gluten-free/grain-free can seem restrictive at first, but there are actually some wonderful ingredients from seeds and nuts which are high protein and taste good! I’ve started a blog with healthy grain-free recipes (including cupcakes and Italian food!), so if anybody is interested, let me know :) (I’m not sure if it is okay to post the link straight to it on this site:))

  11. Travis says:

    I have a different problem with the diet. I have AS, Crohns, and Cystinuria which is where I produce kidney stones quite often. Each has different dietary needs. If I followed the diet for all of them I would not be able to eat anything pretty much. So I have not changed my diet at all. Does anyone else here have the same problem. I was told by my doc that they all three are related.

  12. Damian says:

    Hi Travis and every body else just stop eating starch as a part of your diet .
    This is copy and pasted from kickAS.org and it’s very reliable and constant I have tried this with great success :-)

    Summary The majority of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) patients not only possess HLA-B27, but during active phases of the disease have elevated levels of total serum IgA, suggesting that a microbe from the bowel flora is acting across the gut mucosa.
    Biochemical studies have revealed that Klebsiella bacteria, not only possess 2 molecules carrying sequences resembling HLA-B27 but increased quantities of such microbes are found in fecal samples obtained from AS patients and such patients have Crohn’s like lesions in the ileo-caecal regions of the gut. Furthermore AS patients from 10 different countries have been found to have elevated levels of specific antibodies against Klebsiella bacteria. It has been suggested that these Klebsiella microbes, found in the bowel flora, might be the trigger factors in this disease and therefore reduction in the size of the bowel flora could be of benefit in the treatment of AS patients.
    Microbes from the bowel flora depend on dietary starch for their growth and therefore a reduction in starch intake might be beneficial in AS patients. A “low starch diet” involving a reduced intake of “bread, potatoes, cakes and pasta” has been devised and tested in healthy control subjects and AS patients. The “low starch diet” leads to a reduction of total serum IgA in both healthy controls as well as patients, and furthermore to a decrease in inflammation and symptoms in the AS patients.
    The role of a “low starch diet” in the management of AS requires further evaluation.

  13. Meghan says:

    So happy to have stumbled upon your blog. I have started writing about my experiences with AS and having to cope with dietary changes. Can be so frustrating and so rewarding at the same time. On the positive side, I am no longer on anti-inflammatory medications and coping with the pain. It is such a challenge to maintain this lifestyle, but I always advocate to go natural if you can.

    Thanks for posting :)

  14. Scotty says:

    Hello,I was diagnosed with Ank spond when I was 13,and am now 44.Everyone tries to cure me,including myself,but at this advanced stage it’s not a cure I’m after but a state of mind that isn’t affected by the physical symptoms,which in turn has a biologically calming impression.Yes,I am affected by foods such as potatoes,pasta,sugar but these affects are relatively mild in comparison to anger,hatred and depression.It’s curbing these inflammatory processes that I have found most soothing.A disciplined exercise routine is not something I have a choice about.When i couldn’t do martial arts anymore i took up yoga,but I’ve had to give that up since my hip replacement.So I replaced yoga with weight training.But really for me it’s been the exercise in mental training that keeps my head above the water and for this I have a daily meditation practice focusing on the natural in breath and outbreath and just accepting whatever arises in the body,pleasure or pain.In the end we all will have to let go of this body and with meditation experience you will already know.Good luck everyone….Scotty


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