Diet for arthritis: 10 rules to follow
Do you have bran flakes for breakfast, wholemeal sandwiches or potatoes in their jackets for lunch, and chilli con carne in the evening?
Do you ache all over, and feel stiff when you wake up?
Are you waiting for a knee or hip replacement?
I wonder if it has occurred to you that there could be a connection?
Lego is the Latin word for I choose or I read. You can read from a lectern, select a piece of fruit in the shop, elect your MP, or play Lego, choosing what you want to build. There are lectins in foods, and they choose a particular sugar and bind tight to it. If that sugar is part of your body, they bind to your body, and cause trouble.
Unfortunately lectins are concentrated in the skins of seeds and tubers, and so whole grains, whole beans and lentils, and bran are involved in arthritis and gut problems.
It’s a pity, as these are sources of fibre and vitamins. Arthritics need to peel their potatoes and carrots, have lentils without skins, like red ones, and use only white flour, if any. Asian shops also have yellow mung and white lentils without skins.
In Paleolithic times, Stone Age people used to eat shellfish, fish, birds, animals, insects, leaves, fruits, tubers, or whatever else they could find. They wouldn’t have been eating whole grains or kidney beans.
Some people follow a modern version of a Paleo Diet today, eating meat, fish, leafy vegetables, and fruity vegetables like courgette, cucumber and butternut squash. Not cheap of course.
Wheat lectin is a particular problem, as it binds to a sugar called NAG. There is NAG in mushrooms, which is probably why mushrooms often make people feel better. The lectin can bind to the mushroom, instead of to you.
Some use only soured wheat, in sourdough bread, as the souring process seems to break down the wheat, making it more tolerable.
Fats and Inflammation
Arthritis involves inflammation, which is why anti-inflammatory drugs are used. However, the consequences of using them consistently are severe, and even life threatening. Isn’t there a better way?
The body needs inflammation to deal with infection and wounds, but we don’t want to be inflamed all the time.
We need a balance between the inflammatory fats in most nuts, seeds and vegetable oils, and the anti-inflammatory fats in fish. If you have an inflammatory condition, why not have fish about every other day, making sure some of it is fatty fish.
Do avoid tuna, as unfortunately industry has contaminated much of where it swims, and it is likely to have more than its share of toxins. Vegetarians would need a couple of dessertspoons of flax oil a day, perhaps in a banana and rice milk shake.
Epsom salt baths
Magnesium and sulphate are both anti-inflammatory. Magnesium comes in green vegetables, bananas and nuts and seeds. Red cabbage and buckwheat help you make sulphate.
Epsom salts is magnesium sulphate. To obtain both magnesium and sulphate, have a bath one day in three, and put a cupful of Epsom salts in it. It passes through the skin. It is relaxing, and so a good thing to do before bed.
Auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis appear to be caused by specific harmful bacteria in the gut.
You can take a good quality supplement of the beneficial bacteria, Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Bifido, in capsules, to provide some competition against the bad bacteria.
In rheumatoid arthritis, some of the antibodies the body makes are not made properly. This leaves NAG exposed. So when you eat wholemeal bread or a potato jacket, the lectin will bind to the antibody. The body will send another antibody to attack this antibody with wheat lectin stuck to it, and that will cause inflammation.
Food needs to be properly broken down, by chewing, and with the help of sulphate. Then the gut needs to be healthy.
If it is too leaky, fragments of food that are not properly broken down can pass through into the bloodstream, circulate around the body, and cause trouble. Foods that heal the gut are coconut or coconut oil, butter, and fish or fish oil. Epsom salts will help to heal it too.
If you let arthritis stop you exercising, you will only become more arthritic. Find something you like doing, perhaps walking in the countryside with friends, or playing an outdoor game that does not demand too much of your arthritic body.
In summer, expose your skin to the sun, without sun block, as your body will make vitamin D3, which switches the immune system away from producing unnecessary inflammation.
Don’t of course overexpose yourself to the sun, as sunburn is not good for you. If you are out in a hot sun for long, use long sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat. Expose yourself to a little sun for months, rather than intense sun just on holiday.
If you are unfortunate enough to have gout, make sure you have very little sugar, fruit or fruit juice, as the fructose in them increases uric acid. Also have wild salmon and white fish rather than mackerel or sardines. Have poultry or pork, rather than beef or lamb.
Avoid yeast spreads like Marmite. That will reduce your intake of purines, from which uric acid is made.
Don’t take a multivitamin. If you have gout, you need advice as to which vitamins to take, and which to avoid.
There is evidence that alcohol worsens arthritis, especially gout. So minimise your intake of alcohol.
Some people think taking boron should help with arthritis, but when it was tried in a small study, those who took it were not better off than those who didn’t. Boron reduces the body’s ability to make sulphate, and so it is not a good idea. It is best to minimise intake of high boron foods like tomatoes and peppers, peanuts, soya, and apples, if you are arthritic.
Diet for arthritis and fibromyalgia
How strict you are with yourself depends on how bad the arthritis or fibromyalgia is. Ideally eat fish, vegetables and meat. If you have wheat, just have a little sourdough bread. If you have pulses, stick to ones with the skins removed. Don’t expect diet to do it all. Keep active, in the sun when there is some, and have your Epsom salt baths.