Why did I start this blog? I have been having episodes of inflammation in my hands and fingers, feet and toes, and joints for some time now. I’ve consulted the doctor and have had tests done. It’s not rheumatoid arthritis and my uric acid is normal (tho at times borderline normal). In an effort to determine which food triggers the inflammation, I have been systematically eliminating certain foods from my diet and then bringing them back. After several years, I have now come to the conclusion that I seem to be reacting to animal protein in general (like some sort of allergic reaction). Different animal proteins affect me to different degrees; some cause inflammation faster than others. So I have decided to reduce my intake of meat. No, I am not going vegetarian; maybe semi-vegetarian if there is such a thing. I will be adding interesting and not too difficult recipes here as I find them. I will also include arthritis management tips that have worked for me.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tips on How to Manage Arthritis

Arthritis is a joint disorder featuring inflammation. Arthritis literally means inflammation of one or more joints. There are many types of arthritis; over 100 have been identified and the number is still growing. I suffer from inflammations in my joints. Depending on which joints are affected, there can be some pain or none at all. Even with no pain, however, there is still some discomfort, a certain heaviness and stiffness which limits my range of motion.

I’ve been doing some reading about how to manage arthritis and I’d like to share some of the information with you. Studies have shown that exercise and a good diet can help you better manage arthritis. Eating a diet that is low in saturated fats will not only help you shed pounds and therefore take the stress off your joints, it will also reduce the body's production of prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that contribute to inflammation. A study revealed that people who stopped eating full-fat dairy products and high-fat meats showed a dramatic improvement in their arthritis symptoms within one month. Eating fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and tuna) two or three times a week will also help reduce the production of inflammation-causing prostaglandins in the body. Some nutrition experts advise going with a vegetarian diet which is naturally low in saturated fat.

It has been reported, however, that for some arthritis sufferers, wheat, corn, nuts and food from the “nightshade” family can cause flare-ups of symptoms. “Nightshade” vegetables include potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, tamarios, pepinos, pimentos, paprika, and cayenne. These vegetables contain tiny amounts of solanine, an alkaloid, that may compromise joint function in some people. Individuals vary in their sensitivity to alkaloids so that highly sensitive individuals may do well to avoid this category of food altogether, while non-sensitive individuals may be able to eat these foods, especially in cooked form, without problem. The decision to avoid or include certain foods really depends on the individual’s experience with these foods. According to the University of Washington website, "No foods have been definitively shown to cause or exacerbate arthritis in most individuals.”

My personal experience is that animal proteins can cause me to flare-up so that I have reduced my intake of animal products. I still have them once in a while tho and in less amounts. I try to avoid beef and pork; I eat some chicken (skinless breast), fish and eggs. I also have to limit my intake of dairy products, especially cheese. I have no problem with any type of plant product.

There is also the issue of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. Glucosamine and chondroitin are two cartilage-building compounds that have been shown, in certain studies, to relieve pain with few side effects. I used to suffer from some knee problems and was prescribed by my doctor to take glucosamine-chondroitin supplements. After taking these supplements daily for about a month, the pain in my knees disappeared altogether. I still take the supplements three times a week and so far my knee problem has not returned.

It took me several years of observing how my body was reacting to the different food products that I was consuming. I think I have finally figured out how to best manage my particular condition. There is so much information out there that sometimes it can get confusing. My advice is, find out as much as you can but also pay attention to your body. What works for someone may not work for you; each of us responds in our own unique way.

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