Almost immediately after beginning a WFPB lifestyle, I was able to stop all of my pain relief medications.
I’ve struggled with joint pain for over 20 years and was diagnosed with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) 2 years ago. As a nurse, I was taught to help patients learn to manage their chronic conditions, but as a patient, I wanted to know what I could do to stop the disease in its tracks.
While reading nutrition research articles, I learned that some foods cause inflammation and that inflammation may lead to disease. The foods I was eating may have affected my condition more than I realized. As I learned about the connection between food and inflammation, I wanted to try a whole foods plant-based (WFPB) approach.
Eating WFPB means eating only foods that come from plants. A WFPB lifestyle also means choosing plant-based foods that are as close to the original as possible. So, instead of sweet potato chips, I eat sweet potatoes. Instead of whole-grain bread, I eat cooked grains, like oat or buckwheat groats.
Veganism seemed like a good choice at first, but animal products are the only foods that vegans consider off-limits. A vegan can eat processed food for every meal and still be on plan. Since my goal was to eliminate any foods that cause inflammation, processed foods were a no-go.
My husband was 100% on board with the WFPB lifestyle. Earlier this year, he suggested we stop waiting for the right time to change what we eat and just jump right in.
Although I knew it would be hard, I agreed. We took about 2 months to cut back on how many animal products we ate. Then we stopped eating any and all animal products. No cheese. No milk. No eggs. No meat.
The effect of a WFPB lifestyle on my PsA pain was nothing short of miraculous.
When I worked as a case manager a few years ago, I was required to contact clients all day long and document everything on a computer. This meant typing for 8-plus hours a day, 5 days a week. My joints hurt all the time. I was taking Meloxicam, a prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and using CBD and NSAID creams on my joints almost daily, trying anything to relieve the pain.
Almost immediately after beginning a WFPB lifestyle, I was able to stop all of my pain relief medications. The pain in my joints basically disappeared.
I still type a lot because I’m a health writer and website developer. But I’ve found that as long as I’m eating a diet of vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, I rarely have joint pain. I haven’t had a major flare since I started eating WFPB.
Another perk of this lifestyle? My psoriasis symptoms have cleared up. I still have thickened skin on my fingers but no scales or itchy blisters.
I’ve learned a lot about how food feeds gut bacteria called the microbiome. Fiber, found only in plants, is a prebiotic food that doesn’t get absorbed through the lining of the intestine. This means it travels all the way to the lower part of the bowel, called the colon.
Making sure you have enough fiber is important because the good bacteria in the colon need fiber to survive. These bacteria break down fiber into short-chain fatty acids, a nutrient that has been shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent chronic disease.
A diet rich in processed foods, meat, oils, and sugar doesn’t have enough fiber to feed those bacteria, so they die off. But a diet rich in vegetables (especially cruciferous veggies), fruit, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds provide enough fiber to keep the inflammation-fighting bacteria happy and healthy.
Another benefit of fiber and plenty of good gut bacteria? Normal poops. Goodbye constipation!
How do I know a WFPB diet is directly responsible for my pain-free joints, clear skin, and easy poops? Because when I eat animal foods (including dairy), processed foods, or processed sugar, I experience joint pain, psoriatic skin flare-ups, and constipation.
Once I learned to listen to my body, it was easy to trace joint pain or skin issues to foods I had eaten within the previous 24 hours.
I’m not perfect. I still have eggs occasionally. Every month or so, I’ll cook some meat that my husband and I put in the deep freezer before we changed our lifestyle, but once the meat is gone, we won’t be buying more.
I don’t crave meat anymore. And I cook with very little oil, using vegetable broth or water instead.
I practice intermittent fasting most days, eating within about an 8- to 10-hour window. My first meal is usually sauteed shallots, garlic, mushrooms, kale, spinach, and white beans. I’ll roast or saute green plantains or sweet potatoes, toast a slice of whole-grain toast, and maybe scramble a block of tofu.
An afternoon snack might be reheated whole grains (usually buckwheat or oat groats) topped with berries, ground flaxseed, and either a teaspoon of honey or date syrup.
For dinner, I’ll cook one of the many whole foods plant-based recipes found online or in my growing library of WFPB cookbooks. Some of my favorite meals:
I use my Instant Pot to make bulk batches of beans, grains, and veggie broth to store in the freezer. Having these foods on hand makes my life easier.
Eating just plants may seem like a sacrifice, but it’s not.
I really, really like feeling good in my body. My body no longer betrays me with sudden onset all-over joint pain that sends me straight to bed with four ibuprofen. I no longer have to hide my inflamed hands. I no longer need creams or pills to manage the pain.
I’m free to be me! I’m free to walk, hike, bike, swim, and enjoy my life. Feeling held captive by my body is a thing of the past. My load is lightened. I chose to eat to live instead of living to eat.
Medically reviewed on October 20, 2022
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