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I Keep My Rheumatoid Arthritis in Check with Plants, Not Pills

Not wanting to go on medication indefinitely, Erika Cline decided to try a plant-based diet to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

In March 2016, when I was 28, I was diagnosed with a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis. Prior to that, I’d spent many years dealing with chronic fatigue, brain fog, numbness, dizziness, anemia, and the list goes on. It wasn’t until my fingers became very swollen and painful that I decided to see a doctor. My primary care physician referred me to a rheumatologist, who diagnosed my condition and told me that in 10 years I would probably be on disability.

I felt that my terrible lifestyle—living on fast food, drinking excessively, and running on high-stress levels—had triggered my body to respond this way. So instead of going down the path of taking various medications for the rest of my life, I embarked on a journey of healing through food. I was first put on a paleo diet by my naturopathic doctor, but after a year of trying that, my inflammation only got worse.

Finally, I was able to find answers. In January of 2017, I discovered the story of a man who was able to reverse his rheumatoid arthritis with a whole food, plant-based diet. I dove into the research and read many success stories about people going into remission or completely getting rid of their autoimmune diseases. I read T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study, Michael Greger’s How Not to Die, and Garth Davis and Howard Jacobson’s Proteinaholic, and I watched many plant-based documentaries. After that, the choice to change my diet was a no-brainer.

Turning Over a New Leaf
At first, I felt like I couldn’t eat anything, but I quickly realized that I could eat more than most people eat: There are more plant foods than animal products. Once my taste buds adjusted and I started to feel my body healing, I never wanted to look back.

Here I am, two years later, and my life has completely changed. Not only do I not suffer from crippling inflammation but also I’ve become mindful of my everyday choices. I now respect my body and appreciate all the beautiful and nourishing foods that I consume. My partner has gone plant-based, too, and it has opened our eyes to many other issues. We’ve realized that this way of eating is better for the environment and animal welfare.

I love creating new delicious and healthy plant-based recipes and having friends over for dinner. My social media channels are dedicated to inspiring others who have autoimmune diseases. I’ve made it my life’s mission to inform as many people as I can: Plant foods are healing!

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