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What to Keep in Mind as Dan Reynolds Shares the Lifestyle Changes That Helped Him Achieve Remission

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Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Paige Wyant, The Mighty’s associate chronic illness editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.

Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds has never shied away from being open with fans about his struggles with various physical and mental health conditions. While he frequently addresses mental health, even breaking mid-song at a Madison Square Garden performance in June to talk honestly about depression, Reynolds has also spoken out about his two autoimmune diseases – ulcerative colitis and ankylosing spondylitis – and his efforts to manage them.

What is Ulcerative Colitis?

In April, he tweeted a message explaining his chronic conditions and told fans he planned to share the “way of life” that led to him being “relatively pain-free.” When he first got his diagnoses, he said he felt like his world was “caving in.” Reynolds thought he wouldn’t be able to do what he loves anymore, but with “discipline and sacrifice” he found a way of life that helps him.

“I’m going to start to share with you what I eat daily, the supplements I take, and my exercise routines. I do this so you can hopefully find the mental and physical relief that I am finding through years of trial and error,” Reynolds tweeted.

As someone who has lived with an autoimmune disease (among an assortment of other health conditions) for over two decades, I admit I was intrigued. Not necessarily because I want to copy Reynolds’ diet and exercise regimen – it was more out of sheer curiosity. I’ve been trying various diets, supplements, medications, treatment programs, alternative therapies and so on for years… What sorcery did this rockstar stumble upon that has allowed him to live “relatively pain-free?”

For weeks, I watched and waited, checking Reynold’s Twitter account regularly. Finally, at the start of July, Reynolds returned to the topic of managing his autoimmune diseases, sharing some rather steamy pics.

On Sunday, Reynolds tweeted, “I’ve spent a decade fighting an auto immune disease that inflamed my joints (AS). I now live pain free, am in full remission & am the healthiest I’ve ever been. I owe it to Brad Feinberg Correct diet, vitamins & exercise. I’ll share it all w u soon. It’s been life changing for me”

On Monday, he added, “just a few months of changing my lifestyle/diet/exercise and have overcome 2 diseases (UC and AS) that have haunted me for 10 years. No more pain. Sorry for the corny exercise posts but when you live in pain for a decade and someone fixes your body it’s nothing short of a miracle”

Clearly, Reynolds seems to be looking and feeling amazing. Kudos to him! If he is no longer experiencing pain, that is certainly something to be celebrated, and I am truly thrilled for him. If someone with an autoimmune disease is able to find a treatment program or set of lifestyle changes that puts them in remission, that is fantastic.

While we can be happy Reynolds’ health has improved, it’s understandable if you feel a bit discouraged or frustrated that your chronic illness hasn’t improved, despite any lifestyle changes you might have tried.

For those of you with mixed feelings, here are several things to keep in mind as Reynolds speaks out about the specific lifestyle changes that have helped him achieve remission.

1. There is no cure for autoimmune disease.

Reynolds said he has achieved full remission, not that he’s “been cured.” For those who aren’t as familiar with autoimmune disease, it’s important to differentiate between the two to raise awareness and help fight against common misconceptions. Currently, there is no cure for autoimmune disease. However, a person may experience a period of remission in which symptoms of their illness lessen or “go into hiding.” There is always the possibility though that the disease may return.

2. There is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment for autoimmune disease.

Every individual is unique, and though two people may share the same disease and symptoms, it doesn’t mean they will respond in the same way to certain medications, treatments, lifestyle changes, etc.

Reynolds said he owes his remission to correct diet, vitamins and exercise. While it can be interesting to learn what others are doing to manage their conditions, and perhaps help spark some ideas about potential treatments or lifestyle changes to discuss with your doctor, it doesn’t mean those things are going to work for everyone or provide pain relief across the board.

3. Celebrities tend to have access to more resources and treatment options.

It can be easy to feel discouraged when a celebrity finds a treatment regimen that works for them. Many of us, unfortunately, struggle to no avail trying to find the magic combination of treatments and lifestyle changes that will help us achieve remission.

It’s OK to feel happy for celebrities and simultaneously a bit exasperated with your own battle. It’s important to remember that they tend to lead very different lives than we do. They may be able to afford more expensive doctors, treatment options or medical equipment. They may also have access to luxuries such as a private chef, for when they don’t have the time or energy to cook, or personal trainers, who can modify a workout regimen according to their specific health needs. Going through an endless process of trial and error can often be part of the chronic life, but it may be more feasible for celebs who have more access to money and resources.

Overall, I think it’s wonderful that Reynolds is speaking out and sharing his journey with autoimmune disease. I hope he continues raising awareness, and is able to help others who are struggling through the information and personal experience he shares.

Right now, he seems to be celebrating his new pain-free life, and honestly, I don’t blame him. If I found the right combo of lifestyle changes that put me into remission, completely got rid of my pain and had me looking that good… I think I’d be raving about it and posting plenty of steamy pictures on Twitter, too!

But if seeing his posts about successfully achieving remission makes you feel a bit discouraged, you’re not alone. Even if the lifestyle changes that work for Dan Reynolds don’t work for everyone, hopefully, his advocacy and awareness efforts will help shine a light on autoimmune disease as well as the millions of people who struggle with it quietly every day.

Image via Creative Commons/Anna Hanks from Austin, Texas, USA

Originally published: July 2, 2018
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