Jo Bellas is a mother of 3 children who works with her husband George in the family company based in Skipton which supplies all the essentials required in an office. In her early years she lived in Australia and was very active, playing lots of sports, enjoying life in the outdoors. A few years ago she noticed some pain in her knee. This got progressively worse with severe swelling and eventually reached the point where it was absolute agony to walk. After doing the usual rounds with the NHS she decide to consult a private specialist who told her that there was damage to one of the ligaments plus general “wear and tear”.
He suggested that an operation might be possible but this was not a particularly attractive option. The consultant could do the operation but it would not fix what he then believed to be a rheumatology issue, and Jo would need to get that under control before any operation. Consequently Jo consulted a rheumatologist who diagnosed inflammatory arthritis. The prognosis was that it was not curable, that it would get worse and the best hope was to “manage” the condition using drugs to address the symptoms to help Jo live a “normal” life.
This led to a succession of treatments with a variety of drugs which were designed to suppress the immune system. Some of these apparently worked for a while and then a different one would be tried. But there were side effects which included “brain fog”, fatigue, headaches and a general feeling of being “fed up”. In addition Jo was taking “loads of painkillers”. There was certainly no improvement in her state of health, rather the reverse as her elbows and shoulders became stiff and sore.
For a person on the right side of 40, the prospects looked pretty grim. In desperation, Jo got onto the internet and started doing research to see if there were any other possible options. She discovered the work of Dr Amy Myers, who is a trained MD, and has specialised in complementary medicine or what the Americans call “functional” medicine. As a student Dr Myers had suffered from Graves’ Disease, which is an overactive thyroid. She tried various alternative methods including Chinese Medicine and powdered herbs which tasted awful. When this did not work, she resorted to conventional medicine. This culminated in a procedure called “ablation” in which some or all of the thyroid function is destroyed using radioactive iodine. Eventually Dr Myers discovered complementary treatments which proved to be effective. This was so successful, she continued to develop her interests and expertise in functional medicine. She has established a very successful practice in Texas. Further information is available on her website (1).
Among other activities she had written a book entitled “The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases”. Jo purchased this book and followed the advice presented which has been used by many patients to cure or alleviate a whole range of auto-immune diseases which include allergies, Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Disease and asthma. To begin with Dr Myers recommends drastic changes to the typical American or British diet for a period of 30 days. The purpose of this protocol is to enable the body to recover and repair the damage which has occurred. Those who follow it must exclude the following from their diet:
For Jo this meant making wholesale changes to her regular diet. In order to provide moral support her husband George volunteered to do exactly the same.
The beginning was not easy because she suffered severe caffeine and sugar withdrawal symptoms because her body was screaming out for carbohydrates. The good news is that after a few days the worst was over and then she started to improve. Within a very short time she felt very much better and was able to come off all the drugs with the exception of painkillers, which had been reduced substantially. This article is being written just before the end of the 30-day period. All the aches and pains have gone. All the issues with her stomach have disappeared. She used to have problems with acne but her skin has improved significantly. Various supplements are being taken which should help to repair any damage to the gut. Jo is sleeping much better.
It has not been straight forward to prepare the meals, because of the restrictions. There are also difficulties because the book has been written for an American audience. She spent a lot of time on “googling” the English names for many of the foods recommended. It turns out that many of the speciality vegetables and squashes which are common place in the US just do not exist here in the UK. A good example is Spaghetti Squash which can be used as a suitable substitute for traditional pasta.
The key ingredients which are allowed include:
- All meat, ideally from grass-fed animals. Sausages are fine provided they are gluten-free. Fish is recommended.
- Leafy green vegetables, especially those from the cabbage family, preferably organic. Legumes are not allowed.
- Butter is banned because it is dairy but olive oil and coconut oil are absolutely fine. Avocadoes are another good source of fats.
For breakfast, Jo and George usually have burgers made from turkey or chicken mince or sausages fried in coconut oil. Although carbohydrate-containing foods such as rice and pasta are not allowed, a good substitute can be prepared from cauliflower. Sweet potatoes are one of the staples which are allowed so chips can be made using coconut oil. For a special dessert coconut milk can be whipped and flavoured with cinnamon and used to pour over berries. The spices which can be used include:
Sea salt and black pepper are also allowed.
They usually prepare double rations so save on preparation time.
Because Jo is so much better as she approaches the end of the initial 30-day period, she will be able to introduce some of the “banned” foods into her diet to see if she can cope with some of these such as eggs. However she considers herself to be relatively lucky to have made such excellent progress so quickly. Dr Myers emphasises that this must not be attempted until a complete recovery has been achieved, which may actually take many months. She also insists that gluten and dairy must be ruled out totally.
There is no question that in Jo’s case this has worked and she is very confident that it will continue to be effective in the long term. In fact her brother (in Australia) who has severe IBS felt better immediately after cutting out dairy and gluten. He no longer has stomach problems and his skin is healing very well. Jo’s mother who has several problems including diverticulitis also found a huge improvement in her health by making similar changes to her diet.
Jo’s comments below provide some valuable insight into her experience in recent years:
“Two years ago I tried both Gluten Free and Dairy Free as I had heard that this could help. However Dairy Free only lasted about a week because I liked the sweet things in life too much! Gluten Free lasted about 4-6 weeks (my stomach did feel better whilst doing this although the rheumatoid arthritis symptoms were still there). My mistake was to substitute my unusual “unhealthy” diet for Gluten Free “unhealthy” options – thus completely ignoring anything to do with my gut which is where I KNOW now the healing process needs to start. Because I was only tackling one of the many different problems, the improvement was minimal.
I am now only too well aware that I have a full blown auto-immune disease. This means that I had to do a complete overhaul of my diet…..no sugar, no gluten, no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no alcohol, no caffeine!! I needed to make fundamental changes in my approach to food. I had to be prepared for a rough few weeks and give my gut time to start healing itself. It was necessary to provide my body with all the essential nutrients which would help me recover and cut out everything that I now believe caused this disease in the first place. I can say this now because OMG within 24 hours of starting I couldn’t quite believe how much better I was feeling! Honestly, no word of a lie, it was almost instant! As soon as I stopped eating all those “nasties” and started giving my body what it needed (and giving it a helping hand with the recommended natural supplements that Dr Amy Myers recommends) my body started to respond…at last in a positive way! Then within 3-4 days I found (unbeknown to me at the time) that I had stopped limping. I walked down the stairs like a normal human being. I was dumbfounded and my family could not believe the difference either. I felt better than I had done in years. At that point I stopped taking all my immune suppressant tablets and felt well enough to not have my biological injections. Happy just does not quite explain it enough. My head is clear. I feel great. Yes I will sometimes sniff my colleagues caramel shortbread but that is as near as I’ll get from now on, although I am hoping to have a successful reintroduction of a few foods (fingers crossed!)…mmm…. Eggs…mmmm….Potatoes. But even if I cannot manage to re-introduce these foods successfully at the moment perhaps I can try again a bit later when I hope my gut has fully healed. The important point is that I am in control. It is my choice and my decision. So I am sure that between me and my body we will find our way to the other side!
I consider myself to be lucky to be where I am now, but I think I had to be at my lowest possible place both mentally and physically before I was ready to commit to this fully. I was depressed, grumpy, fed up, I could no longer play certain games with my children. I could not even lift my youngest up anymore. I barely had the energy to get through my working day let alone go out and socialise. In short, I was at my lowest point imaginable and I could see no way out. I knew that unless I tried to do something myself things would only get worse. I was not willing to give up on enjoying my life without a fight! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy but if a sugar and carbohydrate lover like myself can do it, believe me ANYBODY can. I consider myself lucky, because I have found what seems to be the answer my body has been looking for, and also I am so lucky because I saw the results so quickly it gave me the encouragement and will-power to continue. The results speak for themselves no-one can argue with that!”
This is a heart-warming story, which Jo is very keen to share with others in the hope that it will inspire some of them to follow suit and achieve similar success.
Many scientists will discount this case history on the grounds that it is “anecdotal”. In their view it does not comply with the standards of a formal Randomised Controlled Trial. If there were just a few individuals involved then I would have sympathy with the critics but when the approach works very effectively with a large number of people, then that cannot be brushed aside. The fact that the dietary changes are producing positive results when the conventional treatments using various drugs have failed so abysmally simply cannot be ignored. It is scandalous that this knowledge is not being shared with those who suffer from these conditions. At the very least, patients should be given the option so that they can try it for themselves. Even if it only works for some, they will benefit by significantly improving their own personal health and the demands on a hard pressed NHS will be reduced.