Can food play a role in reducing inflammation?
Louise Blanchfield, aka 'the food physio', tells Lisa Salmon about the diet that helped her husband overcome painful inflammatory arthritis and bowel disease
It’s natural – and often sensible – to turn to medicine to help treat health problems, but have you considered the role food could play too?
Physiotherapist Louise Blanchfield was desperate to help improve her husband Richard’s health after he developed a form of inflammatory arthritis that led to him walking with a stick and being told by his doctor he’d eventually need to use a wheelchair.
He already had the inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis, so was faced with a lot of pain. Blanchfield began researching the links between inflammation in the body and diet and lifestyle.
She eventually devised a diet designed to reduce inflammation and promote gut health. Although sceptical at first, within weeks, Richard had started noticing improvements, and over the following year or so slowly got better and better.
“His joint pain cleared, movement got easier and function improved,” says Blanchfield. “Little did we know that what we did was going to actually reverse his symptoms.”
These improvements were shown in a colonoscopy the following year too; Richard’s bowel looked normal and the scarring from previous ulcerative colitis attacks had repaired.
Louise (45) was so impressed that she trained as a nutritional therapist and is now known as ‘the food physio’. She and Richard (49) have also shared their recipe ideas in their book – Eating My Way Back To Health.
Blanchfield believes it could be beneficial for people suffering with a range of autoimmune diseases and inflammatory conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease and coeliac disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, vasculitis, lupus, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.
“Modern medicine had run out of answers, except take the tablet and get worse,” she says. “Believing the root cause to Richard’s problems was a damaged gut barrier, and a consequent overreaction of his immune system to food getting into his bloodstream that shouldn’t have been able to get through, we set about trying to eat to heal the damage, settle the immune system reaction and calm the inflammation.
“We did this by removing foods we believed may be causing the gut damage, eating foods which contain nutrients needed for the gut to repair itself, and eating foods which are anti-inflammatory in nature,” she adds. “Richard is now totally pain-free without any medication. I would never have dreamed this was possible. Our bodies are amazing and, given the right environment, it’s incredible what they can achieve. Richard is proof of that.”
Of course, it’s important to remember everybody is different, and our health and dietary needs aren’t always the same. It’s never advisable to make any changes to your treatment regime, or any big diet changes without consulting your doctor.
“Our guts are as individual as our hair and our eye colour – what one person can eat and thrive on just doesn’t work for someone else. It’s about finding what works for you,” says Blanchfield.
These dietary changes worked for Richard…
Read Can food play a role in reducing inflammation? by Lisa Salmon.