Is It Really Arthritis? The Inflammation-Food Connection

This article appeared as my Holistic Outlook column in The Times Herald Record.

I was shocked to wake up one recent morning with achy hips. Two of them. Ouch. That’s not normal for me, at all. I immediately ran through everything I ate the day before. AHA! The culprit was a peanut butter protein bar when I was running late and didn’t have time for lunch.  I don’t have peanut butter (or skip lunch) often, and don’t usually have a reaction, but this time I’d had a very clear inflammatory response, and I promise you: it will be a long time before I have it again. I did some detox, and some yoga, and my hips felt fine again.

But what if it were someone else? Maybe you? Perhaps it wasn’t peanut butter, but something else, like gluten, dairy, corn, soy, or nightshades (see below).  And what if you ate it regularly? You probably can’t pinpoint when you started feeling achy. Maybe it comes and goes. You tell yourself “I’m getting older. It’s normal to have aches and pains.” You take some ibuprofin, grimace a little, cut back on your activities, and try to shrug it off. Maybe you mention it to your doctor, who confirms: Sure, what do you expect at your age? and you sigh and try to adjust to your new reality.

So here’s the thing. The level of inflammation in your body isn’t static.  What and how you eat changes it all the time, as do sleep, movement, and even stress. All of those not only have a dramatic impact on how you feel, but will even be reflected in lab work.

Chronic inflammation is an extremely significant issue. Along with insulin resistance, and micro-circulation, it is one of the key factors in health and aging, not only in all forms of arthritis, but in heart disease, cancer, diabetes, auto-immune disease, and obesity.

And here’s some important  news: I have had many hundreds of clients diagnosed with all sorts of arthritis, including MRI verified “bone on bone”, and they recovered completely by making diet and lifestyle changes.

Here are some suggestions, but keep in mind that everyone is different. These are generalizations from over 2 decades of practice, and are many of them may apply to you, although not all.

Anti-Inflammatory foods:
Healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, extra virgin olive oil (used cold, not for cooking)
Products from grass fed, pastured, free range animals
Clean, wild-caught fatty fish, like sardines, herring, salmon and mackerel. Avoid farmed fish, which is fed grain and soy, and has NO healthy fats to impart, and large fish like swordfish and tuna, which have a higher risk of contamination.
Brightly colored fruits and veggies, like dark leafy greens, pomegranates, berries, beets, carrots and winter squash.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts
Spices like ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric.
Green tea. Organic only, please.

Inflammatory foods:
Foods from factory farmed animals, including meat, fish, and dairy
Sugars, whether white, brown, or organic
Unhealthy fats like margerine, trans fats, and many common cooking oils including corn, safflower, and soy
Most grains, including corn, and even whole wheat and organic
For many people (not all, but I’m one of them), legumes, including peanuts. Peanuts are a legume, not a true nut, and also tend to carry a lot of mold.
For some, the nightshades (tomato, potato, eggplant, peppers)
Alcohol. yeah. sorry. don’t shoot the messenger. Alcohol is a gut irritant, so inflammation is a natural response to it. Also metabolized as sugar.
Soy. Usually a highly processed food, soy can be suppressive to the thyroid as well.
Artificial sweeteners; additives like MSG

If you’re not sure if a particular food or class of foods is effecting you, take it out of your diet 100% for 3 weeks, then try it again. It will usually be clear if it is inflammatory for you. Feeling great is so worth it!

(Of course, another alternative would be to schedule an appointment with me, and I’ll identify your individual food sensitivities that are contributing to your inflammation, and help you heal it faster than you can do by trial and error, or elimination alone!)

%d bloggers like this: