Does eating certain foods help to cure arthritis?
Conversely, is the elimination of certain foods any help in controlling this debilitating and painful disease?
With over 100 different forms of arthritis and not a lot of research into its causes and cures, the debate rages on.
Because the symptoms of arthritis often seem to come and go without warning its hard to tell whether any sudden relief was due to a new diet or not.
It is important for the sufferer to be able to choose a new treatment because it makes him feel to some degree in control of his life and also gives hope, an important consideration.
Researchers have discovered that a diet including too many calories can actually aggravate RA, while 5% of sufferers in another study showed a flare-up of symptoms after drinking milk.
A reduction of fat, dairy and red meat was shown to relieve pain. In 1998, Finnish researchers found that the addition of lactobacillus improved symptoms of RA.
This was supported by animal experiments, where mice given lactobacillus were found to be less likely to develop the disease and their immune systems were more able to cope with it if they did.
One thing to remember when following any diet is that the nutrients lost through the elimination of any foods must be replaced by other means.
Certain foods or food groups often seem to cause a worsening of arthritis symptoms. In this case, an elimination diet could be helpful.
All suspected foods must be completely eliminated from the diet for several weeks, then reinstated one at a time over a period of several days.
If the symptoms of pain and inflammation re-occur after each food is eaten again, then it could be a culprit.
This should be done at least three times to determine that there were no other factors involved.
If an elimination diet is followed, it is wise to keep two diaries. One of the food eaten and at what times and dates, the other of the dates and times of pain flare-ups.
When the two are compared, it will be plain to see what was eaten that could have caused pain.
Some of the food groups that are suspected of causing pain are the nightshade group ie, white potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and bell peppers.
Others are red meat, lemons, grapefruit, corn, wheat, rye and milk, eggs coffee, sugar and cheese.
One of the main studies done way back in the 1950s has shown that fish oil has a very beneficial effect on arthritis pain.
Fish oil supplements are widely taken, but in some cases cause unwelcome side effects like a fishy after-taste, gas and an upset stomach.
Some researchers recommend simply adding omega 3s to the diet by eating cold-water fish like mackerel, herring, tuna, salmon, anchovies, bluefish and mullet.
Another study, researched and supported by the University of Manchester, discovered that people with high levels of beta-cryptoxanthin were 40% less likely to develop arthritis.
This is classed as a pro-vitamin A carotenoid which can be found in all yellow or orange- fleshed fruits and vegetables.
It enhances bone, skin and immune health. Pumpkin, winter squash and peppers are the vegetables with the highest levels of beta-cryptoxanthin, while tangerines, persimmons and papayas are the fruits with the highest levels.