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I grew up in a family hell-bent on avoiding traditional medicine. I took homeopathic remedies for whater came up, from aches and pains to colds. We were taught that we didn’t need chemicals to make our bodies work correctly. So it was no surprise that when I started having chronic digestive problems in my senior year of high school, my mother shuffled me off to a naturopath.

The natural doctor gave me acupuncture, tested me for food intolerances and ultimately ordained that I should cut our wheat, soy, sugar, dairy, raw vegetables, fruit, and artificial sweeteners. After weeks of eating only rice, meat, and steamed vegetables and still having stomach pain and diarrhea, we concluded that it was time to visit a traditional doctor.

He said it sounded like I had Ulcerative Colitis, and then formally diagnosed me after confirming his suspicions with a colonoscopy. Ulcerative Colitis is basically severe inflamation of my digestive tract that causes everything from crams to indegestion and ridiculous stomach pain. At seventeen, he told me that this was a chronic condition that I may have for the rest of my life. He told me that if I had it for ten years, it would significantly increase my chance of getting colon cancer and he also told me that there was no cure. Then, he said that it didn’t matter what I ate. That the problem with my digestive system had nothing to do with the food I was putting into my body.

For a year I accepted this. I took medication and hoped that the disease that the doctor couldn’t explain the cause of would disappear as suddenly as it had come. Then, on one random night, my fiance looked me and asked when I had stopped being vegetarian, a choice I had mde a year and a half earlier. I, puzzled, told him that it had been the previous January. Then, he asked when the Ulcerative Colitis had set on. I told him that it was around the previous March. As I said this, I realized the connection he was making. Was it possible that my 20 year old, non-medically-educated counterpart had figured out what an allopath could not? So, I stopped eating meat. I also stopped taking the prednazone and sulfasalazine that I had been prescribed.

That was over two years ago. I now have no problem with my digestive system, and have been without the excruciating pain and bloating that had accompanied my disorder. It turns out that all I needed was to reverse a change that I had made in my diet. But, as people reliant on a medical system obsessed with prescription drugs, we don’t think about this. We don’t listen to our bodies. One of the most essential components of our health is the fuel that we put into our bodies, and the vast majority of the time changes in what we eat can make huge differences in our overall health.