MCTD Can't Be Cured - It Is Not A Lifestyle Disease
Even though I talk on this website extensively, about how important the connection between mixed connective tissue disease and the food we eat is, it is important to understand that MCTD can't be cured by diet and lifestyle changes. In fact, as of current medical technology, medication and research, MCTD can't be cured at all. It is important to understand that I am not suggesting that food and lifestyle changes will cure you of your symptoms...in fact I am not claiming anything at all. I am merely telling you what worked for me to help reduce my most severe symptoms from MCTD.
Unfortunately I can't explain to you why I feel better once I am 30 days free from all forms of wheat and gluten. I can only tell you that all of the doctors that I was seeing were not able to help with my troubling throat symptoms. It was out of desperation more than anything else that I went gluten free. My doctors did not mention anything about gluten to me at all until I told them that not eating it has helped me. At this point they all were in agreement to not eat gluten anymore. I understand that there is not sufficient evidence to support a direct connection between MCTD and why gluten causes some of us to react so poorly. It appears that the connection might relate to one of the leading theories for causes or contributing factors to MCTD, which is leaky gut syndrome.
Do your own research. Talk to your own doctors. I can only tell you what I know to be true. Eating wheat or gluten makes me sick - or at least sicker. If I had listened to others I might not have tried stopping. It's not like quitting gluten and wheat with 100% commitment is easy and I have read many people say that there is no connection between wheat and MCTD flares. And maybe there isn't. Maybe my situation is unique, or perhaps there is a more complicated mechanism happening that I am not able to fully appreciate...all of these things are possibilities. All I can say is there comes a point where a person can not take any more pain, or more discomfort, and if you find yourself in an unfortunate position like this in life then you must try something, anything, else. This is how I quit eating gluten. I was NOT convinced in the slightest that it would help me. I was wrong, and I am so, so, happy that I was.
Have You Tried Being Healthier?
If you are unaware, it is actually a faux-pas to tell someone with mixed connective tissue disease to eat better. Or exercise. Yes, of course, these things have benefits for pretty much every living creature. You need to understand that telling someone with MCTD to exercise or how eating healthy can be beneficial, can be construed as a slight against their current lifestyle potentially being responsible for their situation. It's not. This tends to be a sore spot for people with MCTD because implying that eating healthy or exercising will make them better often comes across as though we are responsible for our own condition from diet and lifestyle choices...and this is not the case.
While it is not clear what precisely causes MCTD, poor eating habits and lack of exercise will not do it. Likewise, improving eating habits and exercising regularly will not cure you of it either. Through my personal toil with MCTD and my journey from a fat, lazy, smoker, to a respectably healthy living person, what I have learned is that lifestyle and diet can improve your quality of life living with MCTD. I think, at least for myself, my diet was exasperating an already bad situation. Changing the way I eat, and most specifically eliminating wheat and gluten, provided me relief from symptoms that had my life on hold for over a calendar year. I still have all of the same symptoms as before, but now they feel less strong. If I eat wheat, within 24 hours the symptoms are all bad again.
When it comes to exercise I found that my body was resistant to it. I had been in so much pain, for so many years, that everything was just rigid and stiff like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz. There were times that I was too sore, or too stiff, to even come close to exercising. But the more I made time for stretching, the more resilient I felt my body become. The only exercise I did was walking. Nothing fancy at all. I could only walk perhaps 500m before it would result in severe pain over the following days or triggering a full-on flare up of my immune system response to start attacking me.
By doing one hour per day of stretching, and walking as much as my body would allow, I was able to recover my stamina and flexibility, and while the pain from various parts of my body still exists, I find that I am able to deal with it, for the most part. After a year of religiously maintaining my diet and commitment to stretching and walking, I am now able to walk in excess of 20km in a single stretch. Yes I am sore after this, and not every day can be a 20km day, but the point is that I was able to improve. Pushing through the pain is not the secret. Persistence is the secret. You do not want to hurt yourself or push your body too far when you have MCTD, but strength of the mind most certainly is the secret sauce in changing your diet and lifestyle in attempt to minimize your MCTD symptoms.
My uneducated, but first hand view of the situation, is that you can not cure yourself with diet and exercise if you have MCTD. I do however think that you can potentially reduce the severity of your symptoms by deciding to be healthful with the foods you decide to put in your body, as well as giving your body every opportunity to be as limber and pain free as possible by being active, stretching regularly, and constantly trying to improve your state of being.
Change comes quickly - Very quickly your tastes in food will change, and exercise no longer is the bane of your existence. There comes a point, much sooner than you would expect, where the opportunity to exercise becomes the highlight of your day, and missing a day of exercise will greatly affect your mood in a negative way. Eating healthy and exercising are habitual things that you will grow accustomed to faster in the body than you will likely be able to reconcile in your mind. Stop limiting your potential ability for your body to recover by letting the stubbornness of your mind get in the way! You might not be able to find a cure but you can still strive to feel as good as you possibly can.
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About the author - Steve Goodale is a blogger and technical specialist from Ontario Canada, winner of the 2018 Industry Leadership Award, who reaches over three million readers per year with his popular pool and spa blog. Steve started the www.CookForMeBaby.com blog about healthy eating after being diagnosed with a rare and incurable autoimmune disease. You can read more on his story about life with MCTD here. For more healthy cooking inspiration check out his other delicious recipes.