As there is no cure for Arthritis, certain foods make a difference, both positively and negatively. This article lists some, along with explanations about why.
What is Arthritis?
The name comes from Greek arthroitis, which literally means joint inflammation. In plain English, Arthritis is damage to the joints. The exact cause appears to still be unknown but the symptoms are joint pain sometimes accompanied by swelling. In some cases fever, weight loss, tiredness and difficulty sleeping have also been known. The cure is also still not known, but anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation, (funny enough), in doing this also reduce pain. Physical therapy seems to help in many cases, as exercising the joint, not only decreases pain but also increases movement.
There are about 100 different types of arthritis and what may make one type worse, could cure another, so it is hard to generalise.
Bones and joints are mainly made up of calcium, so this is a substance you want to make sure you get in adequate quantities if you suffer from arthritis.
Food allergies are strongly associated with arthritis. Suffers of arthritis appear to either have a food allergy beforehand or to develop one while suffering from arthritis. Some experts go as far as to say arthritis is caused by food allergies, but as yet there is no proof of this.
This causes inflammation around joints, which in turn causes pain. The level of pain varies from case to case but can range from discomfort to the point where even getting up in the morning is a problem.
Most of arthritis suffers are treated with over the counter medicines. There are many alternative medicines around which are thought to help, reiki, magnotherapy are two examples, but as there is not enough scientific evidence to support the theory that these actually work, they are little used. They do however, have no harmful side effects, so trying them is no bad thing, although costs are sometimes prohibitive.
One of the problems in alleviating arthritic pain is that the disease itself tends to wax and vane, making it hard, if not impossible to tell in the relief is due to the “medicine” or simply a natural break in the pain cycle.
Food and Arthritis
Like most illnesses, the cure that works well for one person does nothing at all for the next, so if your eating habits can help, even slightly, then this is something to take seriously. There are conflicting views on what food works for relieving the symptoms of arthritis and what doesn’t, but it is a simple matter to try a few alternatives to see how they effect you. You must give them time – not least as already mentioned the pain comes and goes by itself, also as it may take some time for the food to work its way into or out of your system.
The best way is to be patient. Eliminate one food type from your diet for a period of approximately one month. Pay careful attention to see if your arthritic symptoms change during this time, and note it.
Bear in mind, phosphorus makes you loose more calcium, so limit your intake as much as possible. To absorb calcium your body needs Vitamin D.
Foods to Avoid
These may make your arthritic symptoms worse;
· Rhubarb, Spinach and Chocolate – these contain oxalic acid which prevents the body absorbing much needed calcium and iron
· Citrus Fruit and cranberries and plums – again they are too acidic
· Vegetables from the Nightshade family – potatoes, aubergine, peppers, (including chilli), and tomato. Some people believe it is sufficient to remove the outer peel only. You can try both. Note, tobacco is part of this group, sp try avoiding it too.
· Sugar – processed sugar is believed to weaken the immune system
· Red Meat – some studies appear to show this makes arthritis worse, but there is insufficient evidence (Why risk it? Cut down and see what difference you feel.)
· Offal – phosphoric acid
· Fizzy drinks or Soda – with roughly 11 teaspoons of sugar in each tin, this is high! These drinks also contain phosphoric acid, (this can take up to 100 mg of calcium from your body), present in the diet versions too.
· Caffeine – this causes minerals to be lost from your bones
· Salt - less salt, less calcium loss
Other factors which can influence how much you suffer are;
1. In some cases food allergies have been found to cause arthritis and eliminating this food can actually reverse the arthritis. The most common case of this type is an allergy to gluten, although others, such as dairy, have also been indicated as “triggers”.
2. Obese people tend to suffer more, so losing some weight should alleviate the symptoms. (Each pound you lose is 4 pounds less stress on parts of your body.)
3. antacids – many contain caffeine and a side effect of these is retaining less calcium
4. gluten – there are many conflicting opinions on this, but it worth a try
Foods that Help
· Uncooked fruit – it keeps more goodness “raw”, especially cherries
· Vegetables – any and all, (except those mentioned above)
· Grains – especially wholegrain
· Foods containing Omega 3 are thought to be anti-inflammatory, (fish, nuts and seeds contain this)
· Olive oil – contains antioxidants called polyphenols.
· vitamin C, selenium, carotenes, bioflavonoids – these are antioxidants. (Where there is inflammation, there are free radicals, and these damage cells. Antioxidants protect against free radicals, and are vital in an anti-inflammation diet.)
· ginger– spices are too often forgotten and this one is anti-inflammatory
Little known Facts
Arthritis was discovered in dinosaurs! (Not that that helps you.)
The earliest human discovered to have arthritis was from as long ago as 4500 BC.
There are around10 million arthritis sufferers in UK
In USA over 46 million people have arthritis
Slightly more women than men are effected by arthritis
Read the labels on food before buying. Often the ingredients contain something totally unexpected, for example in a “Chicken Thai Green Curry”, there are usually anchovies!
There is a home test for food allergies, called “the Pulse Test”, but only use it as a rough guideline. Before starting you need to measure your normal pulse rate. Put a food stuff in your mouth and hold it there for a few minutes, and with the food still in your mouth, measure your pulse to see if it has risen. If it has, you may be allergic to that substance.
Note, this is not a sure method of testing, more a bit of fun, but you can try it and see what happens.
Basically, eat a healthy diet and you will be taking care of any health problems.
Photo: thanks to Morgue File