Ann Fernholm

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The Best 5th Anniversary Present: Dietary Changes Helped Samuel Backman, Who Suffers From Chronic Inflammation, Complete a Half-Ironman

Today marks five years since the Dietary Science Foundation launched its site. We want to celebrate that with a fantastic story about what diet can achieve. 24-year-old Samuel Backman has succeeded in overcoming Bechterew’s disease, a chronic inflammation of his back and hips. A few years ago he was so impacted by this disease that he could barely walk. Now he has completed a Half-Ironman.

What could be more appropriate to celebrate the Foundation’s five-year anniversary than a story about a young person who, through dietary changes, has regained the hope of a healthy life? We wrote about Samuel Backman and his Bechterew’s disease a bit last year. At that time he had completed a Swedish national cycling contest with the Dietary Science on his chest.

– I wanted to cycle for the foundation because I am convinced that diet has a significant impact on how we feel.

The good news is that it has continued to go well for Samuel, since then! This summer he took on a new challenge and completed a Half-Ironman: 1.9 km swimming, 9 km cycling and 2.1 km running.

– I was very nervous. I only slept two hours the night before, he said.

Although it was only 15 degrees Celsius(59°F) in the water and his hip started to hurt after half of the running distance, he managed to get through the entire race.

– It meant a lot to me that I got to the finish line. Even though I had very sore calves, I felt surprisingly good the next day, said Samuel Backman.

The diet keeps the inflammation in check

We admire Samuel’s willpower. As previously mentioned, just a few years ago he was so ill that he could hardly walk (read more here). But thanks to diet alterations, in which he now eats primarily vegetables, root vegetables, brown rice, quinoa, eggs, fish and chicken, he has managed to minimize the pain in his hips and back. And training has become a tool that helps him stick to a diet that does his body good.

– I exercise probably ten times more now than before I got sick. It makes the mindset of eating healthy easier, “now I have to eat healthy because I have exercised”, or “today I have to exercise so then I need to eat healthy.

Some days though, temptations become too tempting to resist, but as soon as he eats the wrong things his stomach acts up, and the inflammation and pain return within a few hours. Then it lasts for three to four days.

– At those times it becomes easy to think -since I am already in pain now, then I might as well continue the neglect – and than you can end up in a bad spiral that is difficult to get out of, he says.

In order to keep up with the diet, he plans to continue exercising. He was also excited to announce that next year he has decided to carry an entire Ironman (!!!), again with the foundations logo on his chest. Thanks Samuel! If you want to follow Samuel’s adventure follow him on Instagram: @Sams_health_experiment.

The power of the diet needs to be evaluated by scientific methods

Samuel Backman’s story is fantastic and there are others who testify that a diet free of sugar, cereals, dairy products and sometimes red meat or eggs, has helped with everything from thyroid problems, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis. These are incredible stories. We would like to encourage doctors and researchers to investigate them using scientific methods. Can more people with autoimmune diseases be helped by diet? If so how many? Can food be more effective than medicine, as in the case of Samuel?

These questions are important to answer! The Dietary Science Foundation intends to continue working to support dietary science. Only when a dietary treatment rests on stable scientific data will the healing power of the diet begin to be used in mainstream healthcare.

Thank you Samuel and all of you who have supported us during our first five years! Together we make a difference.

Do you want to help the Dietary Science Foundation to prevent lifestyle diseases, so that fewer suffer from obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and dementia? Become a monthly donor, corporate partner or give a gift. You can follow our work on Facebook. Warm thanks!

Ann Fernholm is the author of several books in Sweden pertaining to health, food and children. She has also founded the Dietary Science Foundation (Kostfonden), a non-profit research fund with the goal of ensuring that food is used as medicine in healthcare.

The views in the chronicle are the writer’s own.

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