Healing Rheumatoid Arthritis with Diet

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Amy Fewel plant based diet for arthritis

By Amy Fewel

The beginning stages of rheumatoid arthritis

The first sign that something was very wrong with my body was that I couldn’t lift my son out of his crib in the mornings, because my fingers were stiff and painful.

Next, my feet and knees started aching all the time. There were many days when it was difficult for me to get out of bed, because I was so fatigued.

I was concerned about the symptoms I was having and went to see my doctor who referred me to a rheumatologist. After that visit, I was told that I had RArheumatoid arthritis.

Worry set in that my diagnosis would mean a bleak future for me and my family. I pictured myself becoming disabled, unhealthy, and reliant on others to function.

The doctor prescribed methotrexate, and I was desperate to take anything that could help me feel better and stop the disease from destroying my joints.

Living with an autoimmune disease

As the next few years passed, my symptoms would come and go. The methotrexate caused all sorts of side effects, because it suppressed my immune system.

It made me nauseous, and I lost some of my hair. The medicine also caused me to contract viruses easily, and I constantly had cold sores in my mouth.

I read articles about this chronic, incurable disease. Things like that, my life span would be cut short by 10 years. I was two times more likely to die of heart disease, and I had a greater risk of getting cancer.

I tried to stay positive, but there was always a part of me that worried about how the rheumatoid arthritis was hampering my body and my future.

I decided to go back to work after staying home to raise my two boys and tried my best to overcome the disease. I was thrilled to accept a job as the director of a preschool, because I had the opportunity to do what I love, which is working with young children and their families.

Unfortunately, as time went on, it became harder and harder for me to go to work each day. My rheumatoid arthritis progressed rapidly, and I wasn’t able to function well enough to work.

I had to quit my job because my joints were so inflamed that it was difficult and exhausting to move.

After leaving my job, I spent most of my time on the couch due to the pain and fatigue caused by this disease.

Fortunately, my husband was incredibly helpful and supportive. He really held our family together, because I didn’t have the energy to do so. I continued to feel worse and worse.

At the next check-up with my rheumatologist, she said that she had never seen my joints so inflamed and recommended a stronger set of prescription drugs for me to take. I asked her to give me some time to think it over.

With this new class of medications, one of the side effects was an even higher risk of developing cancer. Although I didn’t want to go take the risk, I didn’t feel I had any other options.

I had been dealing with this debilitating disease for eight years and it was getting worse. Something needed to change.

Curing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms with a plant-based diet

I was desperate to find something else that might work, and that’s when I came across Dr. John McDougall’s website. He believes that a plant-based, whole foods, low fat diet is the way to lead the healthiest life.

I emailed Dr. McDougall to ask what he would recommend for me, and he quickly got back to me. He advised me to start the McDougall program diet and avoid gluten and soy as well. I ordered his book The Starch Solution and started following the diet immediately.

Within two days, I could feel a huge difference. The fatigue and pain that had been part of my daily life for the last eight years disappeared. The next week I went off of the methotrexate.

I went to an appointment with my rheumatologist later that month, and she went through and checked each of my joints, which had been so swollen and tender just a short time before.

She had tears in her eyes as she told me that I had no inflammation in any of my joints. She said that she had never seen anything like the change that had occurred within my body.

Life after resolving rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

It has now been over five years since I started a plant-based diet, as well as being gluten and soy-free. I have more energy and continue to feel great.

My husband also jumped on board and went vegan to support me and to better his health.

plant based diet amy fewel and husand

I am working again and love my job.  I’ve been doing all sorts of projects around my house that I didn’t have the energy to do before.

I’m able to exercise daily without the fear of pain and fatigue. I have the energy to be the kind of mom, wife, friend, and person I want to be. I no longer feel concerned about my future and being a burden to others.

In fact, I’m excited to see what life has in store for me!

I am so proud to say that I have healed myself of rheumatoid arthritis by following a plant-based diet. I cured myself by changing the way I eat. I’m living proof that a plant-based diet really can really work!

plant based diet family for health

Our plant-based starter kits are a great way to begin this new healthy lifestyle because they include a book, a set of DVD lectures from Dr. Neal Barnard, and a folder full of helpful literature from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Other Helpful Articles

Want more amazing encouragement? Check out these other Whole Food Plant-Based Diet (WFPB) Success Stories.

Why Do Plant-Based Diets Help Rheumatoid Arthritis?

NutritionFacts.org short video

Q&A: Diet, Arthritis, & Autoimmune Diseases by Dr. Michael Klaper is another great piece that has a list of common trigger foods for autoimmune diseases.

the starch solution book
The Starch Solution Diet by Dr. John McDougall. Click to view on amazon. Affiliate link.


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  1. Amy,
    Thank you for sharing your story, I have begun to feel some symptoms here and there. Im not sure that is what it is so I have gone and done some bloodwork to assess this. But it is painful at night. Always at night my joints /hands begin to hurt. I will certainly begin to striclty follow a plant based diet.
    Can you offer some words of encouragement for me? I am feeling very fearful, anxious about the future.
    Thanks..Virginia Blain

  2. Amy,
    Thank you for sharing your story! I also have been battling R.A. for 10 years. I keep telling people, i know there is a better way to deal with this disease! You inspired me to keep going on a plant based lifestyle! I pray that you continue with your relief, i hope eventually i will also feel as well as you do! Kelly

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