Arthritis is a condition causing inflammation of the joints, the symptoms of which are pain and swelling, causing stiffness and limited movement. One of the major problems with a dietary approach to the condition is the fact that the progress of the disease can vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. In many types, symptoms come and go of their own record, and it is easy to assume that the dietary changes you have adopted are the reason for the improvement. Many doctors believe that dietary changes have no role to play in controlling the symptoms of arthritis, while others believe that food intolerance is a common contributory factor.
Cause Of Arthritis
The underlying causes of arthritis are not generally understood. Conventional treatment may be unavoidable, but it acts to surpress symptoms rather than treating the root causes, which may or may not include food intolerance.
Use your food, mood, and symptom diary to detect eh non food causes of joint pain, so that you can take steps to avoid them. They include:
- Inhaled allergens. These are uncommon in hot, dry climates, so if your symptoms improve when you take a vacation in a warm place, house dust mites or mold spores may be responsible. If you are always better away from home, in any climate, it may be the pets or chemicals that you have left behind that are causing the problem.
- Alcoholic drinks. If your joints are worse after drinking beer, wine, or hard cider, you may be intolerant of yeast or have a Candida problem. Spirits are less likely to cause symptoms, unless you are intolerant of a component, such as a grain or potatoes, or added sugar or syrup.
- Cigarette smoke. Tobacco comes from the nightshade family and can cause symptoms if you are intolerant of members of that family. If you are a smoker, you may find that giving up is easier when you exclude foods from the family from your diet.
- Food additives. These are excluded in the mini elimination diet, stage one.
What You Can Do
- Start a food, mood, symptom diary, because joint pain can have so many causes, include a column to note the weather, where you were, and what you were doing.
- Improve your nutrition and eat a diet that is low in saturated fat, sugar and salt. Make sure that you obtain sufficient essential fatty acids, copper, and zinc. Extra pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) can be helpful in rheumatoid arthritis and vitamin E in ankylosing spondulitis, but it is best to discuss taking these with your doctor first. Do not smoke or drink excessive alcohol.
- If you have osteoarthritis of the weight bearing joints, especially of the hips and knees, your joints are likely to benefit if you lose any extra weight.
- Take gentle exercise, but with care. Exercise often relieves stiffness and keeps the joints moving fully. However, it is best to avoid running or walking, which may stress your weight bearing joints, particularly if you have osteoarthritis of the hips, knees or ankles, swimming and cycling are better. Acutely inflamed joints in rheumatoid arthritis should be moved only very gently. If in dount, seek individual advice from either your doctor or a physiotherapist.
- Consider food intolerance. Start by excluding the most common culprits, dairy products, grains, coffee, buts, fruits with small seeds, and the nightshade family. If this does not help, follow the diet plan. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may be able to save time by going directly to the elimination diet, as improvements can be slow and are difficult to assesses on the other diets.
- Helpful alternative therapies include homeopathy, herbalism, massage, yoga, acupunture, hydrotherapy and hypnotherapy.