How to deal with arthritis through the food you take

How to deal with arthritis through the food you take. Photo | Photosearch

What you need to know:

Gluten (found in wheat, rye, oats and barley) and casein (found in dairy) seem to be the worst offenders.

Rheumatoid arthritis runs in my family (my poor grandmother’s hands are completely disfigured), so when Mama Parmar noticed swelling in certain joints, she was keen to get it under control. 

For as long as I can remember Mama Parmar has always started her day with a bowl of cereal. By choosing a wholegrain version with no added sugar, she felt that she was getting in valuable fibre, while strengthening her bones with the calcium in the milk.  Unfortunately, because of her dormant condition, she was actually harming her health with this meal.

You see, rheumatoid arthritis is what’s known as an ‘autoimmune’ disease. This means that Mama Parmar’s immune system had begun to attack her joints, which had resulted in inflammation. Now the reason that food comes into this is because this ‘attack’ very often begins in the gut. The body mistakes undigested food particles as invaders, and then starts to attack them (this is why a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is often seen a few years prior that of arthritis). 

Why the body then starts to attack its own tissues as well isn’t quite understood. What we do know, is that gluten (found in wheat, rye, oats and barley) and casein (found in dairy) seem to be the worst offenders. This is something I’ve confirmed time and again at the clinic, where supposedly long-term, chronic conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis have gone into remission simply with a dietary overhaul.

So aside from the removal of gluten and dairy, I suggested that Mama Parmar cut down her intake of sugar and deep-fried food, since both prime the body for inflammation, while getting in eight glasses of water a day to keep her joints well-lubricated. The last big food change was to avoid members of the nightshade family of vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines), as these can trigger flare-ups.

When we first talked about her condition, Mama Parmar was keen to take glucosamine, a popular supplement for arthritis (works by building cartilage). However, as I explained to her, it’s actually a much better fit for osteoarthritis, since this is a condition where there is considerable wear and tear at the joints. Instead, I advised her to take fish oils, since omega-3 fatty acids are great at reducing inflammation (a supplement containing a minimum of 500-750mg of the active components EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

But getting back to breakfast, what should Mama Parmar be eating now that she’s ditched the cereal? Starchy root vegetables like sweet potato with a boiled egg are one option, but she actually prefers a bowl of millet porridge, with a little apple and cinnamon to sweeten it.