Certain foods and chemical additives disguised as food can aggravate or cause muscle and joint pain associated with arthritis, gout and fibromyalgia. Avoiding these foods can pave the way for reduced inflammation, stiffness and pain – setting the stage for ongoing relief, with increased mobility and a better mental attitude. Although it may be a challenge to avoid well-loved foods, keep in mind that many of those foods are causing widespread systemic problems that result in debilitating pain, so they are not your friends.
The nightshade vegetables are lesser-known offenders; however, for some people, eating any nightshade can cause excruciating pain and disability. This small family of vegetables contains a natural substance called solanine; when consumed, it can produce severe pain in the joints and the soft tissue, giving rise to arthritis and fibromyalgia flare-ups. The nightshades include tomatoes, peppers, white potatoes, eggplant and tobacco. Because several of these vegetables are included in so many recipes, special attention must be given to eliminating them from the diet. Smokers suffering from arthritis might view the possible cause and effect relationship of tobacco on their condition.
Purines are the byproduct of protein digestion, and they break down into uric acid, the main cause of gout. All proteins produce some purines; however, eating certain types of protein is more likely to create a gout flare. Red meats, organ meats and shellfish are considered particularly harmful. Some people are more sensitive to one protein, so each should be monitored for its effects on the disease. Vegetable-based proteins, lean organic poultry and fresh fish are excellent substitutes for those foods eliminated.
Wheat and Gluten
Wheat and wheat gluten are implicated in several diseases, including certain types of arthritis, fibromyalgia, and digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s and celiac disease. Wheat and gluten are especially harmful to the body when highly processed, as in white flour where nutrients are completely stripped from the grain. Less sensitive people are able to eat sprouted wheat products without negative effects; however, eating a gluten-free diet may help reduce most painful joint symptoms.
Research has shown that eating trans fats can contribute to musculoskeletal pain and aggravate gout, arthritis and a host of other conditions. A diet including regular consumption of fat-laden proteins found in most fast foods may aggravate or cause pain for many people with these conditions. Replace bad fats with healthy fats found in avocados, olives, coconuts, flax seeds and their oils.
MSG and Artificial Sweeteners
Food additives and preservatives and artificial sweeteners are used in almost all packaged products; and they can cause a wide range of mental and physical symptoms including joint and muscle pain. MSG — in all of its disguises — is known to create a multiplicity of symptoms, especially in those who are sensitive to this chemical. Severe joint and body pain, cognitive dysfunction, dizziness and headaches are just a few of the side effects. Artificial sweeteners stimulate the pancreas causing an imbalance in insulin and blood sugar levels and can produce body aches and pains as well as severe digestive disorders and cancers. Replace MSG with spices to flavor foods and use natural foods like raw honey and stevia as sweeteners.
Most people should experience a reduction in their muscle and joint pain and an overall improvement in their conditions after a period of avoiding these offending foods. Always consult a health practitioner before making any major changes in your diet.
Harvard School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source — Fats and Cholesterol
Hospital for Special Surgery: Eating Right with Arthritis: Arthritis Nutrition FAQs
University of Washington Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine: About Diet and Arthritis
Harvard Health Publications-Harvard Medical School: Arthritis–Keeping Your Joints Healthy
University of Michigan Health System: Gout
University of Maryland Medical Center: Gout — Lifestyle Changes
(Photo credit: NY Times Public Domain)
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