Arthritis Foods - What Helps, and What to Avoid

What are some arthritis foods which worsen the condition, and, conversely, some which help alleviate it?

For many centuries, diet and arthritis have been intimately linked. Many variants of the “arthritis diet” have been proposed, and cookbooks, diet books and health books abound with recommendations.

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A note about Arthritis Foods - What Helps, and What to Avoid

In natural health and healing, we believe in holistic health and healing, as we realize that different parts of the human body are highly interlinked, often beyond Man's understanding. We also believe that the body has the ability to heal itself of any disease, even supposedly incurable diseases.

In order to do so, the body needs the support of some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, such as a full body detox and a proper understanding and application of nutrition. No matter how remote or unrelated a health condition may seem, these fundamental health steps will greatly magnify the effects and benefits of any of our health-promoting efforts, including the use of specific natural health remedies.

As with many conditions, the issue of diet comes down to the individual and what works for their particular condition. With the exception of gout, a disease hallmarked by elevated levels of uric acid in the bloodstream, no one diet works for all arthritic sufferers. However, some general suggestions can be put forth that will help to alleviate some of the symptoms inherent to the condition.

Diet affects one’s overall health, and plays a role in many disorders, including heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Recent findings have also begun to point to a definitive connection between diet and arthritis, but much remains to be investigated on arthritis foods.

Certain sufferers display a sensitive reaction to certain arthritis foods, in effect a kind of allergy, that triggers or worsens inflammatory symptoms. The complex inflammatory response can also be affected by foods high in saturated animal fats and certain vegetable oils, leading to joint and tissue inflammation. Poor diet in general can worsen other conditions like heart disease or diabetes, which in turn may worsen the body’s reaction to dealing with arthritis.

If you believe that you may have sensitivities to certain arthritis foods, begin to keep a food diary which will allow you to more accurately track your reactions and to notice a pattern in flare ups and remissions. Try one food at a time, eliminating it for two weeks, then reintroducing it to see the body’s reaction. If you do not find any specific allergic-like reactions, simply follow the type of diet recommended by the American Cancer Society or the American Heart Association, that is, one low in saturated fats and calories while rich in fruits, vegetables and grains.

A wide range of arthritis foods have been connected to rheumatoid arthritis flares, including dairy products, wheat, corn, beef, pork, peanuts, coffee, eggs and foods from the “nightshade” family. Some people also report sensitivity to MSG, nitrates or salt. Again, take reactions on a case by case basis, and listen to your own body and what its reactions are to specific arthritis foods.

Some research has shown conclusively that red meat and vegetable oils like corn, sunflower or safflower oils break down into arachidonic acids, which form the essential units for prostoglandins and leukotrienes that cause inflammation and pain.

Elimination diets, like the process described above with relation to food journaling, allow you to systematically move through a variety of arthritis foods to see whether any sensitivities exist. Some elimination diets begin with a fasting period, so that any remaining foods can be completely cycled out of the system (similar to a detox). After this period (during which some diets have the participant drink nothing but water and fruit juice), foods can be added back in one by one.

Nightshade free diets eliminate produces such as tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers (family Solanaceae). First introduced by a horticulturist, Dr. Norman F. Childers, who himself suffered from arthritis, this diet does appear to help some people with the condition, though not all.

Gout remains the only form of arthritis conclusively proven to respond to changes in specific aspects of diet. For centuries, it was considered the disease of the wealthy nobleman who indulged in rich foods, meat and alcoholic beverages.

Researchers now understand that gout occurs as a result of the body being unable to eliminate uric acid, or making too much uric acid. Uric acid forms as a result of break down of puric acid, which can be found in abundance in meats. In people with gout, uric acid forms sharp crystals that collect in the joints and soft tissues (especially the big toe), causing inflammation and excruciating pain. High levels of uric acid can also cause kidney stones.

Foods that have large quantities of purines, in addition to red meats, include certain types of fish like herring and sardines. Alcoholic beverages also increase uric acid in the system.

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