How to Run a Half Marathon with Ankylosing Spondylitis PART 2

Back to the marathon day…

Had prepared my running gear and food the evening before, in the morning I made me a smoothie with celery, ginger, carrots and we drove to Duisburg.

Was very excited, we took some photos at the start line and then I left my girlfriend at the vegan cafe Krümmelküche so she did not freeze the whole time while I was running. It was not that cold but a windy day.
The Cafe was really a nice place that had a rustic old design and antic furniture, was also selling handmade jewelry and vegan clothing. Stayed a little there, ate a half cantaloupe and put my bib number on drove back to the Marathon starting point.
Parked the car ate some more cantaloupe and bananas and was really full, maybe not the best idea 1 hour before the half marathon but it was fruit and digested well enough, till the race started.
Eating raw at the race day was definitely not a bad idea for me. I was a little too full for the race but definitely had a lot of energy despite being outside, walking and riding the bike whole Saturday.

Before the race, I saw some runners with “Laufen Gegen Leiden” (run against suffering) jerseys. Did not know anything back then about the organization, saw just that also vegan was written and approached them to ask more what it was all about. As it turned out they do also running events every month at night: “Gute Nacht Lauf” (good night runs) in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and collect donations that go directly to NGOs that work against the suffering of animals. The guys were also definitely more experienced runners than me and I asked them about some running recommendations. We wanted to start together but they were running the 10k race and not the half marathon.

The starting time approached fast with all that excitement, placed my self at the starting point and then the starter pistol was fired and the race began.
As a rookie and first-timer at a “long” distance run; started slowly and let the other runners pass by then I found some runners that had a nice pace, and seemed to do the running thing a lot and enjoyed the run.

I run behind them less than an hour and then saw a guy slowly but steadily overtaking us and started following him. Nearing the 10k mark I had the feeling that he was getting faster and faster a little but constantly all the time. I tried to follow and even overtook him on the last km of the race.

Finishing the race was just fantastic and they got even free massage service after the race. Picked up my Girlfriend and drove with a very big smile on my face home

Overall it was a very nice first time experience.

How to Run a Half Marathon with Ankylosing Spondylitis PART 1

First of all, it was a wonderful day in Duisburg, not that hot and cold. This would be my first long distance run over 21 km.

Last summer, approximately the same date I was bedridden, was waking up like paralyzed because of the morning stiffness and it would take hours to rise up from my bed in the mornings to a full standing position.

A 500 m walk would take me 15 to 20 minutes. As my rheumatologist said, I had physical capabilities of a not so well maintained 80-year-old body.

How I managed to run a half marathon just after 1 year boils down to simple (but often not easy) life style changes:

The first pillar – diet.

Adjusting my diet, this step was and is crucial. To a certain point, you can thrive on a whole food, plant-based diet. But if you have a autoimmune condition that based on leaky gut and a lot of intolerances because of that you need to repair your gut permeability first. That you can achieve with
a plant-based elimination diet and this should be a top priority for you, if you want to get rid of the medicine and live pain free.
Just look up the web for the Paddison program and you will find a lot of resources for example on Dr. Klapper Page

The second pillar – Daily Exercise

Some of the things that I was able to do in the beginning without much pain were
Yoga: This is really essential for your joint mobility in time (3-6 months) I was more flexible than before my autoimmune disease.
Trampoline: This one activates your lymphatic system, like walking or running activities and you can do it indoors and we all know how you do not want to go out to the cold weather with inflamed and aching joints.
“As the field of lymphatic research progresses it is evident that the lymphatic system plays a major but under-recognized role in many diseases…”[1]

Third pillar – Stress Management

Breathing techniques like the one from the Wim Hof Method,
or yogic breathing or just this simple routine explained by Dr. Khan.
What helped me most was meditation and trying to concentrate just on my breath. This mundane and simple exercise can be very challenging but it gives over time o powerful tool to detect the stress-inducing stories that you are telling yourself in your head.

Our Depressed Brain – The Role of Our Immune System and Gut

Gastrointestinal depression is that even a thing?

Change or loss of mucosal tolerance causes an up or down regulation of key immune responses. These changes are related to problems with the gastrointestinal immune system. Proinflammatory chemicals are introduced into our body and result in the long term a chronic inflammatory conditions. This can cause autoimmune diseases, allergy, cancer, and depression.

Some depression types can be traced back to a set of symptoms caused by a hyperactive immune system’s inflammatory responses.


All the bacteria, viruses that cause an immunological stimulation in the gastrointestinal tract. This needs an ongoing requirement for a maintaining the consistency of our internal state in response to the alteration of the function of our biological systems, induced by external or internal stimuli.

Proinflammatory cytokines produced by our body may highly contribute to a risk of developing depression (symptoms).

Signals to the brain are sent via several mechanisms by cytokines from our body’s immune system. This can also cross the brain‐blood barrier via our bloodstream.

The cytokines activate our brain and induce behaviors of anxiety, depression, mood changes.

The Cause of Autoimmune Diseases are Unknown – Part 6

Seasonings and Good Fats

Photo by Joanna Kosinska

After you follow a strict diet and eat the foods we talked about in part 5 for a few months the inflammation in your body should have improved and seasonings can be introduced gradually, one at a time. And by now you should be enjoying the natural taste of vegetables, fresh fruits, and other whole foods. This is also a huge bonus of the elimination diet, to increase the taste bud sensitivity and decrease the amount of not so healthy seasonings like salt.

Let’s talk about Beneficial Fats and Their Role in our Diet

Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory for inflammation-based autoimmune diseases.

These fats are found for example in chia, hemp, and flax seeds and dark leafy greens.

Photo by Angelsover, Mimzy, Nayuta

This dark leafy greens should be consumed daily and one to two tablespoons of seeds can be introduced in the later phases of the diet.

Photo by Delphine Hourlay, Bruno Scramgnon, cheifyc

A small handful of walnuts, either as whole nuts or mixed as dressings and sauces can also be used as a source of Omega-3.

Also, DHA/EPA supplements derived from algae, not fish oil that’s probably contaminated with heavy metals like mercury are a good source at the beginning of our elimination diet when seeds and nuts are most problematic for our gut.

Gamma (GLA) and Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) black currant seed is anOmega-6 fatty acid from which the body makes a potent, natural anti-inflammatory substance called prostaglandin E-1. This substance complements the Omega-3 and can be very beneficial for our inflammatory autoimmune disease. ALA and GLA can be taken as pills or natural from black currant seed oil.

Gut Stress – Infection or Loss of Ecological Balance

How is it possible that our gut gets into stress?

Our gut can be under stress from infections or a loss of ecological balance for example as a side effect of using antibiotics. Our body will try to restore the balance by decreasing tryptophan. Tryptophan is also a precursor to serotonin a neurotransmitter that makes us “feel good”. Tryptophan is ingested as food by some bacteria in our gut.

In order our body can restore its gut balance it activates the enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase and degrades serotonin and tryptophan. So no more food for bacteria that uses them. This can potentially cause depression and anxiety in us, degrade our memory – brain fog, disturbances in cognition, appetite, sleep and body temperature disturbances like cold extremities or fevers.

Psychological and emotional stress can also trigger inflammation in our gut and brain. That’s why mind-body exercises for managing stress are fundamental if we want to to get rid of inflammation and heal our gut.
Without this, the healing won’t last or wouldn’t even take place in the first place. If you have a high-stress life or dealing with past/present traumas you should take extra care of your gut.



Who is Controlling Who – The Gut Brain Axis

The puppet master(s)?

The gut-brain axis is the biochemical signaling taking place between the gastrointestinal tract and the nervous system. Most of the times the signaling comes from the intestinal microbiota, which has an important role in healthy brain functions. The gut-brain axis details how the gut and brain communicate back and forth, and how the health of each influences the other.

When the balance of good) and potentially harmful microbes are compromised and inflammation in the gut starts the inflammatory signaling molecules called cytokines are delivered to the brain by immune tissue in the gut.

Most immune responses produce their initial effects at some part of the body at different rates but information regarding immune challenges are almost immediately signaled to the brain like our senses would do it. This results in an immediate inflammatory impact on the brain from the immune reaction in the gut to substances like protein/molecule parts from food or to chemical compounds such as the pesticide glyphosate.

Part 2 in this series will be about Gut Stress

The Cause of Autoimmune Diseases are Unknown – Part 5

Heal your gut with these foods

It’s important to heal our gut as fast as possible and the solution to that is to reduce gut damaging medication and consume foods that are easy on the digestion and promote gut health.

Some of this foods are:

Cabbage & Cabbage juice.

Pseudo Grains like Amaranth, Quinoa, Buckwheat.
Sweet Potato, Carrots, Onion, Garlic, Ginger
Celery Sticks, Cucumber, and juices of them.
All leafy grains like Kale, Lettuce, Rocket, Swish chard and so on.

After your gut starts to heal you can introduce more foods like Basmati rice, Pumpkin, Millet, Cauliflower, Zucchini  Cantaloupe, Okra and so on.

And a lot more foods based on your gut health level and elimination diet progress. Check out it out for more information here.

Also be careful with seasoning your food, keep it to a minimum, as some spices like cayenne can promote inflammatory reactions.

A pinch of salt, really not a spoon full a few crumbles

to your vegetables is fine will help you to make delicious meals with the baseline foods mentioned above. A word of caution high-salt diets can turn on genes that promote autoimmune processes in our body.

What are the next steps after our inflammation has improved? We discuss that in part 6 of our series.


Try out new things to get better, If it does not Work, It is not a Failure

Not trying is a failure

If you tried something out and did not get the results you wanted, it’s definitely not a failure. You learned something new and can now try other things.

For example, you changed something in your autoimmune diet that created flare-ups. Congratulations for having the courage to try something out new. Now you know one more troublemaker and can avoid it for a certain time, till your gut is strong enough.

Or you exercised too hard and now are too inflamed and your immune system is acting up. Not a problem, you learned your current limit and should avoid to exceed it until you get a little healthier.

Your new autoimmune medication is damaging your gut and you are not on the right track for healing yourself. Talk to your doctor and change your medication and start your lifestyle change, so you wont need any medication after a certain time.

Trying new things is absolutely ok, even if they don’t work for you. Not trying anything, not trying to get to the cause of your autoimmune disease and not changing bad habits that caused the disease in the first place are a failure.

Try out new stuff, change your lifestyle and get rid of your autoimmune illness.

The Cause of Autoimmune Diseases are Unknown – Part 4

Here are some of the bad boys that cause inflammation.

While any protein food “parts” can leak into the bloodstream and cause inflammation in the joints, there are some foods you should definitely avoid while beginning your gut repair.

Red meat should be avoided and especially pork meat.

Chicken protein and eggs.

Wheat protein from wheat cereals, pizza, pasta, bread,…

Soy products like tempeh, soy-meat, tofu and so on…

Milk proteins from dairy products like yogurt, ice cream, cheese, chocolate,…

Avoid all fats from animal products (highly saturated) and oils (olive oil, palm oil, etc.) except Omega 3 from plant sources like algae.

Sometimes also nightshade vegetables like potatoes (sweet potato is not a nightshade and causes no inflammation), tomatoes, eggplants, peppers,…

After a few months of gut healing, the nightshade vegetables can be introduced one sort at a time.

And what are foods to begin with for our gut healing? We will discuss that in part 5 of this series.


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