There are many factors to consider with regards to arthritic diets and nutritional healing, and each factor may not apply to each individual. For example, certain people are allergic to specific foods, and these food allergies can indeed worsen arthritic conditions. Ingesting foods that contain sodium nitrate or tartrazine can inflame rheumatoid arthritis, while ingesting foods containing a substance called hydrazine can contribute to systemic lupus erythematosus, an arthritic condition connected to lupus.
There is a rare type of arthritis called Behcet’s Disease, and eating black walnuts can cause flare-ups in people with this rare condition. So as you see, there is a variety of arthritic conditions and along with them a variety of foods that may trigger them. The best way to approach the situation is to examine each arthritic condition and tailor ones approach based upon the specifics.
The term arthritis covers over 100 different diseases and conditions. Since it would be impossible to cover all of them in a work such as this, we will look at the most common conditions: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and gout.
There is a prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers that have an abnormally low blood zinc level. Several independent studies have been conducted where rheumatoid arthritis patients have been given increased doses of zinc and showed marginal improvement, yet the tests were not extensive enough to be conclusive.
The effects of copper on rheumatoid arthritis have been studied for a long time, and although results vary there seems to be some case for using copper to improve the condition, although this therapy has been dismissed by most of the medical profession as relatively ineffective.
Copper therapy is not discouraged however when approached from food sources, and may work on some individuals. It is suggested that if you do attempt copper therapy, that copper-rich foods are utilized instead of copper supplements, because copper supplements can cause side effects which include change in sense of taste and smell, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, abnormal blood clots, increased joint pain, chills, anemia and kidney problems, and excess copper can cause cirrhosis of the liver in patients prone to Wilsons Disease.
Check with your doctor to be sure you are not prone to storing excess copper in your body. There is an extensive choice of foods you can enjoy in order to increase your copper intake: lamb; pork; pheasant quail; duck; goose; squid; salmon; organ meats including liver, heart, kidney, brain; shellfish including oysters, scallops, shrimp, lobster, clams, and crab; meat gelatin; soy protein meat substitutes; tofu; nuts and seeds; chocolate milk; soy milk; cocoa are just a few of the foods that are rich in copper.
As for foods to avoid when suffering with rheumatoid arthritis, many nutritionists and naturopaths suggest avoiding dairy products all together, as they seem to exacerbate rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups. Because of the risk in overdosing, one should be discouraged from taking doses of vitamins that are higher than recommended without a physicians direction. Some vitamins and minerals can actually worsen certain conditions, and the concentration that can be attained through vitamins can be dangerous. It is much better to approach any desired increase in vitamin or mineral intake through food therapy.
There has been some success with the food supplements glucosamine and chondroitin in relieving symptoms of pain and stiffness for some persons with osteoarthritis. These supplements can be found in pharmacies and health food stores, however the purity of the products or the dose of the active ingredients cannot be specified because the FDA does not monitor these supplements.
The National Institutes of Health is studying glucosamine and chondroitin, so more should be known about the effectiveness of these products for osteoarthritis in the near future. Patients with osteoarthritis taking blood-thinners should be careful taking chondroitin as it can increase the blood-thinning and cause excessive bleeding.
Fish oil supplements have been shown to have some anti-inflammation properties and increasing the dietary fish intake and/or fish oil capsules (omega 3 capsules) can sometimes reduce inflammation of arthritis. With osteoarthritis there is also the concern with deterioration of cartilage; therefore those with osteoarthritis should avoid large doses of Vitamin-A, since there is some evidence that it contributes to cartilage deterioration.
In the case of fibromyalgia, although clinical proof is once again sparse, there is a great deal of personal experiences of improvement of this condition when certain dietary practices are followed. Eliminating wheat, dairy, citrus, sugar, Aspertame, alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco seem to be universal in those that have had success with treating the illness through dietary means.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, author of The Total Health Program, nine of ten sufferers of fibromyalgia are female, and 76% of those who followed suggested dietary rules experienced a significant reduction in pain. The thing to keep in mind with fibromyalgia is that, unlike the other common arthritis ailments, it is more of a syndrome than a disease, and much of it can be reversed. Making corrections to diet as well as reducing stress and getting plenty of rest can lead to a full recovery.