Saturday, February 27, 2010

OK beef, now its personal

This article caught my interest today: Alberta's high bowel disease rates studied

Why you may ask?

Because my little brother suffers from ulcerative colitis, which is an inflammatory bowel disease and more specifically, chronic inflammation of the large intestine.

Since his diagnoses about 5 years ago I have watched him relapse and then go into remission, go in and out of the hospital, meet with numerous doctors and specialist, and go on and off massive amounts of serious and hard drugs, all in an attempt to treat and manage his condition.

Recently he has started seeking out alternative methods of treatment, has been very diligent about his diet and has quit smoking and drinking (these are MASSIVE steps for him, I must point out).

When he first got sick, we didn't know what on earth was happening. Here was a healthy young guy in his 20's suddenly losing 20 lbs in a week, skin turning grey and ashen, with no appetite and massive, debilitating abdominal pains. The first thing the doctors told us was that it may be cancer ...

Thank god that was not the case, however it took over TWO YEARS to properly diagnose him and in that time I watched him go through hell. The drugs he was put on and then taken off had an unreal effect on him not only physically (bone density loss due to course after course of Predinosone treatments, along with massive weight gain followed by rapid loss, crazy and painful full body acne ... it was horrible), there were also constant bouts of emotional distress, anger and depression.

My heart broke to see him in such pain and discomfort, to see him shuffle back and forth to doctors offices, not knowing what was wrong or how to make it better.

And even now that we know what we are dealing with and he has started a new treatment that seems to be helping (Remicade, which again is not a life long treatment and has some very serious side effects and possible risks, but is something that is working for the time being), I still get very emotional thinking about it all.

I dread those emails from my Mother when I hear that he is having a bad day or is falling back into relapse. I want to hop on a plane, fly home and just hug the shit out of him and somehow make it all better.

I am and always be his big sister, and I will always worry about him. No matter how old we are.

So clearly, I have a vested interest in all things Crohn's and Colitis related. I am constantly seeking out more information on the disease, its causes and its treatments.

And it all get even more emotional and personal when I read things like this:

Researchers also want to look at whether there are lifestyle or environmental triggers. They will spend the next five years comparing 600 people with the diseases to 600 healthy patients to look for clues.

Panaccione wants to examine whether there is any link with a similar disease in cattle. He said no one has ever proven such a link, but in areas of India where they don't eat beef, the rates of bowel disease are very low.

My brain starts to go a mile a minute ... the fire in my belly confirms to me that my feelings that meat and animal products are BAD BAD BAD for us and in time, will hurt, if not kill us.

And its not the first time I have read this. Time and again I come across statements in regards to IBS, advising to reduce sulfur-containing foods in the diet, especially red meat.

Numerous studies link dairy consumption to increased IBS relapses.

This is taken from website

Here is a list of typical foods to eliminate from an Ulcerative Colitis diet:

Milk products. Saturated fats as found in animal products and dairy foods. Inflammatory foods such as alcohol, caffeine and refined sugars. Intestinal irritants like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and broccoli. Corn products. Foods containing gluten, which include foods produced from wheat, barley, triticale and oats. The usual allergenic suspects such as eggs, peanuts and soy. High-sugar fruits like watermelon, pineapple and grapes.

So basically, what I am saying is that when I read an article that states that instances of bowel disease are rare in those areas where local diets don't include the consumption of beef, it makes me think more and more about my lifestyle choices and what I can do, without being offensive or preachy to get others to think seriusley about theirs.

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