I’m from Stockholm, Sweden but have lived abroad for over half of my life. I moved to London in 1999 where I studied photography and subsequently worked as a freelance photographer for magazines and agencies until 2012 when I moved to Berlin.
After my own health troubles I realised what a massive effect a change in diet can have and my passion for nutrition flourished.
I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) in 2010 and was told it had to be managed with drugs, probably for the rest of my life. I had no idea that the inflammation in my back had anything to do with my stomach as I had never had any obvious gut problems (I’ve since learnt that having 2-3 bowel movements a week is not normal!).
Having done some research I found Carol Sinclair’s book about the Low starch diet for IBS and AS. I found it difficult and gave up after 6 days without any reduction in pain. I wasn’t ready to change at that point in my life. A few years later someone recommended the drug Humira to me. It’s a drug which suppresses the immune system, making you susceptible to every little bug going around and coming with side effects such as……….
The thought of it scared me but living every day in pain was not a future I could handle. The anti-inflammatory drugs (nsaids) I was taking just didn’t seem to help much anymore. Having just moved from London to Berlin, I booked an appointment with a new rheumatologist to discuss my options but had to wait 2 months to see him. I was limping and fed up with being in pain so I turned to Google and started researching the diet approach again. That’s when I came upon this famous Ted Talk by Dr Terry Wahls which gave me the push I needed!
I changed my diet and this time I stuck with it. After 6 weeks I noticed a major reduction in pain, a good indicator to keep on going. I could now easily get out of bed in the morning whereas previously I had often felt like a 90 year old woman, rolling out of bed and limping or crawling to the bathroom.
To keep motivated I read obsessively about nutrition and its connection to the immune system. My passion for the subject continued to grow and a year later I started a 3 year course in Nutritional Therapy at the renowned Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London from which I graduated with a wealth of knowledge in evidence based nutrition.
I now understand how my previous poorly executed vegetarian diet, high in refined carbs, combined with binge eating and a whole lot of antibiotics led me down the path towards a diagnosis of disease.
I do have the gene associated with AS, but genes only account for around 30% of our risk to develop a disease – as Dr Bert Griffith once said “Genes load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger”.
If the conditions in you life change, so may your condition.