There are over 100 types of arthritis affecting Americans, causing pain and disability. Although numerous conventional medicines treat the symptoms of arthritis, and alternative medicine accounts for a growing number of patients seeking relief, a few simple changes in your diet may reduce your pain levels significantly.
Foods to Avoid
Certain foods may create problems for some people and not for others. It is important to know which foods commonly cause side effects, so if you eat something and end up aggravating your arthritis, you can later identify and eliminate it.
MSG is a known culprit and produces numerous side effects, including significant aching and pain in the joints and muscles. MSG, which is used as a flavor enhancer and preservative, can also trigger symptoms ranging from joint pain to headaches, cognitive problems and excessive sleepiness. Avoid Chinese and other Asian foods that use MSG extensively; stop eating in ethnic restaurants to avoid accidental doses of MSG; if you eat out, call ahead and confirm that the restaurant doesn’t use MSG; avoid using soy sauce unless it’s marked MSG FREE and always check labels on packaged goods. Learn to recognize MSG by its many pseudonyms.
Wheat and wheat gluten are also on the list of foods to avoid for those with arthritis. Wheat can cause arthritis to aggravate. In addition, there is a form of arthritis called sprue, whose symptoms develop as a result of wheat allergies.
Nightshade vegetables can produce joint and muscle pain for sensitive individuals for days after eating them. The nightshade family consists of white potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and tobacco. If you suspect you may have a problem with one or more of these foods, eliminate it from your diet to see how you feel. It may require that you stop smoking to see if you are reacting to the tobacco.
Medicinal Foods that Relieve Arthritis
Tart Cherries: Research indicates that consuming about 8 oz. of cherries daily or drinking two glasses of tart cherry juice may provide relief, reduce stiffness and lower levels of inflammation. Eating 1/2 lb. of cherries every day for several weeks should significantly relieve joint pain. 1/2 lb. is the equivalent to about 20 cherries. Any type of cherries will do– including canned — however, many people think that tart cherries work best. Cherry pie filling is not recommended because of high sugar content.
On the other hand, you may prefer drinking tart cherry juice to eating cherries. If so, use only unsweetened cherry juice or concentrate and mix it in a ratio of 1:1, cherry juice to water. Drink two glasses daily for pain relief and to reduce inflammation in the joints.
Pineapple: Add pineapples to your diet to benefit from the natural, anti-inflammatory enzyme, bromelain, found in the pineapple flesh. Bromelain reduces inflammation in the joints and relieves stiffness, swelling and pain. However, only fresh pineapples or fresh pineapple juice provides enough bromelain to alleviate arthritis. Canned and bottled versions are heated during manufacturing, damaging the enzymes, making them useless for this purpose. Bromelain is also available as a supplement. Take the supplements between meals to experience optimal benefit for your arthritis.
Lemon Juice and Baking Soda: Another dietary aid that reduces inflammation is a balanced pH drink made from lemon juice and baking soda. Pour 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice into a tall glass and add 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Allow the mixture to bubble and fizz until it is flat. Add 8 oz. of water and drink immediately. This drink is excellent for gout arthritis and other types of joint disease. Because the baking soda is neutralized, it is not as likely to raise your blood pressure. Substitute organic apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice for similar results.
“The pH Miracle”; Dr. Robert O. Young and Shelley Redford Young; 2003
“The People’s Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies”; Joe Graedon MS and Sifu Teresa Graedon; 2002
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