What I was doing wasn’t working

IMG_9110When I was diagnosed, I welcomed conventional medicine. I had heard good things about biologics and I was looking forward to finally having a medicine to help me control my disease.

When I started treatment, the first month, I did not feel any difference (as expected) and then after couple months into treatment, I started to feel better. Wow, great I thought. I had all these plans…Then, unfortunately I started to decline in health again and could no longer take biologics.

I tried other meds and rode that rollar coster for a while and then I got to the point where I had to accept that my body was not responding well and I had to stop medication. I developed anemia, shingles, lost over 25 lbs, went days with out food, had severe muscle spasms, actually lost mobility in my ankles and wrists. Visited the ER at least 5 times in a year.. Everyone reacts differently. I have friends that have been on biologics for 5-10 years and it helped them substantially, sadly though, treatment only helps 1/3 of sufferers and then 2/3’s of us are left seeking alternative measures because our body’s reject medicine :(

IMG_4102I think it is important to note that nutrition can fix and prevent a lot disease but not all. For instance, I have  Hashimoto’s, meaning my thyroid does not work properly so I have to take medicine to correct it. Also my mom is an insulin dependent diabetic, she is not obese, she is actually at perfect weight, her pancreas just does not work, hasn’t the past 25 years. She is on the same diet that I am on, and while her overall health has improved, but she still needs her insulin pump. Nutrition can change your life, but do not rule out medicine when it is necessary.

In an ideal word, RA meds would work for all of us and we can pair those with eating healthy but sadly some people like myself have very sensitive bodys that reject medicine and we have to seek relief from adopting an anti-inflammatory diet.

So, I made the brave decision to pursue a ‘diet controlled RA management’ way of life. What I was doing wasn’t working so I needed to explore different options. And since I’ve made these changes, I’m in remission, no longer have that ‘bone pain’ and the deviation in my hands has stopped progressing.


I also want to note that changing my diet was not the only change that helped me. It is a collective effort with diet change, intensive physical therapy to regain range of motion/strength and counseling to deal with the trauma of this disease/stress better.  – So if you are looking for that one ‘quick fix’, you wont find it. –

And I’m not telling you to get off your meds,

I am telling you to start looking at your diet as another way to fight this disease.

I am telling you to start moving with physical therapy as another way to fight this disease.

I am telling you to go to counseling to deal with the emotional implications of this disease, to get back the confidence that this disease stripped you of as another way to fight this disease.

Do what you need to do to get better.

 First, before I eliminated anything from my diet, I started making changes by supplementing with digestive enzymes (3 before every meal) and drinking 1 tablespoon of  chia seeds a day. 

Digestive Enzymes are what allow our body to digest, absorb and convert food into energy. They drive the chemical reaction that is needed for a particular action or nutrient.  Enzymes are the building blocks, as well as being the life force itself, of all things living. Involved in all systems of the human body, enzymes assist in the healing of tissues, detoxify major organs as well as the building of body mass as well as the regulation of the thousands of biochemical functions in our body, from thought to growth, our immune systems to hormone regulation and from the reparation of organs, tissues and glands to cellular growth. Chis seeds are rich in Omega-3s, protein, fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals.

Then, I changed my diet by cutting out certain foods in my diet, gluten and processed sugar.

The reason that I cut out gluten was because gluten is a complex protein created when gliadin and glutenin — two proteins found in several flours that are hydrated and mixed. Some gluten has higher ratios of gliadin and vice versa depending on the structural matrix.

This one studies celiac and non-celiac and it concludes that ” Based on our results, we concluded that gliadin activates zonulin signaling irrespective of the genetic expression of autoimmunity, leading to increased intestinal permeability to macromolecules.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16635908

And I was reading in this one as well, “The data obtained in this pilot study support the hypothesis that gluten elicits its harmful effect, throughout an IL15 innate immune response, on all the individuals.”http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1954879/

This suggests that Celiac disease is actually triggered in healthy people due to the gliadinhttp://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(08)00459-9/abstract

 and it increases the body’s immune response to the body. Being that I have an autoimmune disease, it made sense to cut gluten because it was causing my already weakened immune system more distress, which resulted in my body (mainly hand joints) to become inflamed.

So, when you consume gluten with an autoimmune disease, think of it as, your body is in a constant state of irritation, ready to lash out if anything disrupts it (like stress).

The reason that I cut out sugar (though I do give myself an occasional cheat day, I am human) is because sugar, or foods with a high glycemic index increase cortisol levels. Cortisol is an important hormone in the body that is involved in the function of your glucose metabolism, insulin release for blood sugar maintenance, regulating blood pressure, inflammatory responses and it is the body’s hormone response to stress.

So, when we wake up, we have naturally high cortisol levels. This serves as our natural boost of energy to start our day. As we get up and the day progresses, our body [is supposed to] decrease cortisol levels and go into a “relaxed response”. Relaxed is when our body is balanced and performs its normal functions. A relaxed response is where we operate best.

Unfortunately, in our current high-stress society, the body’s stress response is activated so often that the body doesn’t always have a chance to return too normal. This keeps the body in a state of chronic stress and if you mix in eating sugar, it adds fuel to the fire, resulting in a state of chronically high cortisol. Some cortisol is good for us, but chronically high cortisol is extremely destructive to our body.

Stress = Increased cortisol.
Sugar= Increased cortisol
Chronic Stress & Sugar Combination= Chronically high cortisol
Chronically high cortisol= A magnitude of problems.

Here is a sample meal plan:

Breakfast:Angela Durazo Races for a Cure
3 Digestive Enzyme Pills
2 pieces of Gluten Free Bread (Made of rice and fruit Juice)
2 Hard-boiled eggs
2 tablespoon Chia Seeds mixed with Tart Black Cherry Juice

Post training Snack:
3  Digestive Enzyme Pills
1 pack energy mix in blender with 1 banana, 1 tablespoon of almond butter, ½ cup coconut shavings, 1 packet of powdered fruits/veggies, ice, water
Lara Bar (gluten Free)

3  Digestive Enzyme Pills
1 chicken breast (grilled)
Spinach salad with ½ avocado, 1/4 cup raw almonds, honey mustard dressing
½ cup rice/ sweet potato

3 Digestive Enzyme Pills
Celery with Almond butter
Cup of pineapple/berries

3 Digestive Enzyme Pills
1 chicken breast (grilled) or other protein
Spinach salad with ½ avocado, 1/4 cup raw almonds, honey mustard dressing, 1 cup of broccoli
2 tablespoon Chia Seeds mixed with Tart Black Cherry Juice

I do eat carbs and my carbs are from rice, sweet potatoes or gluten free bread. I eat a lot of carbs in the  morning and afternoon; it gives me my ‘fuel’ for the day. I typically do not eat any carbs after 4PM.

Any athletes reading this that have questions about my sport nutrition: During training I use Ignite Naturals IN Refresh (electrolytes), GSH Pro Series (carbo mix) and Reload (Gels). The reason I use ignite it is is 100% plant based, with no processed sugars.

Also, the veracity of my RA has been questioned, so I will remind everyone of some of the videos that I have posted over the past year, a couple in specific showing my hands. It does not bother me much about my hands being disfigured, all I am concerned with is if they function, and they do, pain free now. With RA remission, I will not have anymore disfigurement but I cannot undo the old disfigurement.

I filmed this when the worst flare that I have ever had hit me when I was on vacation in Florida: 

I filmed this after a swim when I was a week back into my training after a year from hell.:

I filmed this after a short run when I was first learning how to run again:

Here is a video about that time that I almost died from MRSA, (It was an audition video for an adventure race show, where I told my story. I filmed this about 3 months before I was diagnosed with RA):

4 thoughts on “What I was doing wasn’t working

  1. Thank you for sharing. My heart is with you. I have been there with crohns and r.a.
    I use medicine yet also have changed my diet and force myself to walk 2 miles everyday.
    You are doing great,
    In solidarity,

  2. I was diagnosed with RA Young,Then other diseases came about Raynaud’s,OP,OA,FM PA ,BLOOD CLOTS,,THIN SKIN AND BRITTLE BONE DISEASE…
    So many things to deal with and all the medications to go with each one..
    While reading & listening to you,you gave me a sense that even at 56yrs old I CAN do it too…maybe not be a trialthalon but get up and out!! Live some life…Pain is always going to be there (have shed many tears while in a flair) but I still try to get up and go…Thank You Angela,you have truly INSPIRED me to get on my GF life style(never call it a diet..lol) and also do the no sugar..it makes sense now to me..I think I will go visit the health food store tomorrow for the items you have suggested…even Dr Oz recommended them on TV one day!
    So THANK YOU!! You have given HOPE back to me..INSPIRATION !!!
    God Bless & best wishes on a pain free life ahead…will be following you on your journey!!
    Sincerely,from my heart,
    Cheryl Ann

  3. You might well be interested in the research results of the Ebringer working group from London. They have quite convincing data that enzymes from the bacterium Proteus mirabilis are the actual target of the “auto-antibodies” and advocate a no-sugar, low-starch diet so that Proteus concentration in the gut is reduced. I suspect that gluten is just the door-opener, not the direct offender.

    Just keep your eyes open and good luck on your dietary journey. Sugar and gluten are a good start on almost anything auto-immune. Other things to exclude are dairy and legumes. I think Robb Wolf has an auto-immune protocol of the Paleo diet.

    I wish my patients were all as clever as you. Most of them ask for the pills and rather accept the side effects than change their lifestyle and their diet.

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