I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease, two years ago. My immune system for some reason has decided each of my joints are foreign, and attacks them and leaves them inflamed, swollen and extremely painful. When I was first diagnosed, I was in so much pain I couldn't work, wash my own hair, or get dressed without help. My disease also leaves me extremely fatigued most of the time-in the early months I had to come home and take a nap every day after working to even function. Two years later, with the help of modern medicine, eating clean, and being active, I live a relatively pain free life, and I have the energy to workout, run, hold down two jobs, and enjoy life.
The best thing I've done for myself though is learned how to care for my body besides just with medication. Although I still have to give myself a shot once a week, I have gone from being on three medications including Methotrexate which is a low-dose chemotherapy dose to just one. Because of the changes I've made to my diet and lifestyle, I experience very few flares and have more energy than ever. Here is a few ways I manage my autoimmune disease:
1. Clean Diet
I've completely overhauled my diet. I've discovered some foods that trigger my flares, including gluten and dairy products. I strive to eat a very clean, natural diet with as little perservatives/chemicals as possible. I am not perfect, and still allow myself an occasional Chick FilA meal or a bowl of ice cream, but I try and limit these and stick to food that came from the ground or was living like chicken, turkey, etc. I also limit my red meat intake as too much can also cause me to experience more inflammation than normal.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Did you know that many foods are natural anti-inflammatorys? I try to incorporate foods that are on the anti-inflammatory scale as much as possible. I eat a LOT of broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach, pineapples, blueberries and raspberries. All of these foods naturally reduce inflammation, which is crucial for managing my RA. My favorite way to incorporate these foods is in a morning smoothie full of the anti-inflammatory fruits.
Recently, I discovered an all natural powder by Aloha that can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, juices, etc. that has some amazing health benefits. The Aloha Blend Box of Daily Good Greens is a 100% natural, vegan whole-food product which in turn energizes, hydrates, and cleanses. The blend box packets are each 2 servings of fruits and veggies in a packet with whole-food vitamin D. There are zero artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, animal products, fillers, or chemicals, and I knew that it was the perfect addition to my smoothies.
Aloha has an amazing free trial offer so I signed up and quickly received a package with three different blends - Original, Berry, and Chocolate. I immediately added the berry one to my usual smoothie of spinach, pineapples, blueberries and raspberries and it was AMAZING. I also made a smoothie with almond milk, coco powder, a banana, and the Chocolate packet and it tasted like a yummy milk shake.
I loved how convenient it was to add a packet full of goodness to my morning routine. You can't go wrong with two additional servings of fruit and veggies, ever! After a few days of using the Daily Greens I was feeling more energetic and clear headed than ever. It is something I am definitely going to continue to use in my journey to manage my auto-immune disease because of how great I felt when I was adding it in to my diet. If you're on a fitness or health journey, you can sign up for a Free Trial that comes with 6 daily green powders in all three flavors to try. The trial is 14 days with the benefits of becoming auto enrolled into the monthly subscription.
3. Regular Exercise
Another important component in managing my auto immune disease and feeling my best is regular exercise. Even though the last thing I want to do when my body is hurting and my joints are inflamed is get up and exercise, it really loosens up the stiffness and helps ease the aches I feel. Its not uncommon for people with rheumatoid arthritis to wake up in the mornings feeling really stiff and sore, but after getting your body moving, usually is subsides. Not everyone with RA has the ability to workout though, so I thank God daily that I do and I try to remember that when I feel like skipping my workout. Lately my workout routine has shifted from mostly running, to shorter runs and weight lifting. I am feeling better than ever and think its so important for me personally because not only does it make me feel better physically, but it does wonders for me mentally as well.
4. Rest & Relaxation
Rest isn't always easy to come by for me, and I imagine its not for you either. Our to-do list is endless, and for me, between working two jobs, working out, managing a home, and trying to spend time with friends and family, it seems like rest can easily get pushed to the bottom of your priority list. After a few days of non-stop activity, I start to feel the effects and get extremely fatigued. I try to regularly have a day of no plans or commitments so I can rest, relax, and recharge. Its imperative for me to stay healthy and feel my best!