Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is an autoimmune arthritis condition that causes inflammation and in some cases, spinal fusion. The genetic marker for AS is the HLA-B27 gene. However, just because you have the genetic marker, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll develop the disease. Conversely, if you don’t have the gene, you can still have AS, although upwards of 90% of AS patients are indeed HLA-B27 positive.
AS tends to affect women differently than men. Statistically, men will experience symptoms primarily in their spine whereas women are prone to peripheral involvement (neck, shoulders, elbows, hands…) in addition to sacral-illiac (SI joint) and spine. AS also manifests differently from person to person in areas of pain, inflammation, fusion, affected areas of the body and degree of disability. So, try not to compare yourself to others.
AS can also affect the eyes and gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The eyes can be subject to uveitis – a painful inflammation of the eye. It’s not at all uncommon for AS patients to suffer from some sort of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as colitis, ulcerative colitis, crohns disease or even diverticulitis.
As with most autoimmune diseases, AS can be brought on by an environmental trigger such as a surgery, infection, traumatic life event (divorce, death of a loved one…), injury and so forth. Unfortunately, AS often goes un or misdiagnosed for years before receiving a correct interpretation of symptoms.
There is no cure for AS but the good news is that, in many cases, AS symptoms can be managed with nutrition and lifestyle interventions.
There is evidence that a low starch diet can help reduce the pain caused by AS and if there is GI involvement with diarrhea and stomach cramping/pain, eliminating starch greatly reduces these symptoms. This article may help you better understand the link between starch, AS and the klebsiella bacterium. The Great Starch Experiment may also help you understand how starch affects AS and other autoimmune conditions.
For me, eating a clean diet (modified autoimmune low starch paleo), energy conservation, stress management and good sleep are essential for keeping symptoms at bay. I will share my story in another post to help encourage you on your healing journey. Until then, stay the course and don’t grow weary in doing good. You can make a difference in your health and well-being!
Live well. Be well. Love abundantly!