Arthritis Alternatives

No flares, No fears, No Fatigue

The Arthritis Foundation: RA Can Be Caused By Food Allergies

By Denise Lynn Mann/Arthritis Foundation

 If you’ve thought your joints felt achy after a meal, only to doubt yourself after hearing that no evidence links food allergies and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you are not alone. Until now there has been little evidence of foods that cause inflammation. Evidence suggests it may be time to consider a rheumatoid arthritis diet.

Most studies have focused on antibodies (proteins that attack and destroy foreign substances) in the blood, but that focus may have been wrong. Food-related antibodies may show up in the gut – rather than the blood – of people with RA, and that’s just where researchers at the University of Oslo, Norway, looked in a 2006 study.
How to Identify Foods That Cause InflammationIt’s true there is no official rheumatoid arthritis diet. But if you think there are foods that cause inflammation for you, Dr. Brostoff suggests trying an elimination diet. “Try eating the so-called “stone age diet,” which includes only fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, for one month,” he says. Studies have shown that if a person is food-sensitive, this type of diet can help reduce morning stiffness and pain, improve range of motion and lower inflammatory mediators in the blood.In fact, Dr. Brostoff did an experiment and found that more than one-third of people with RA felt better and had less morning stiffness on this diet. “We had one or two patients who, after one or two months, were so much better they could go walking and do all the things they could do before,” he says.The next step is to reintroduce foods, one at a time. “The only way of knowing if you are sensitive to a food is to eliminate it and then add it back,” Dr. Brostoff says.

They found that, in test tubes at least, the intestinal fluid of people with RA had higher levels of antibodies to proteins from cow’s milk, cereal, hen’s eggs, codfish and pork than that of people without RA.

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Hereditary Rheumatoid Arthritis ?? Will We Pass It On?

One of the things we who are affected fear most is passing Rheumatoid Arthritis on to our children and grandchildren. So, exactly how frightened should we be?

I’ve told my daughter to quit worrying about her health inheritance for several reasons.

She’s seen me deal with the condition every day since she was 10, 17 years ago. She saw the early pain, swollen joints and fatigue. She attended doctors’ appointments with me when I was getting cortisone injections in my hands. She’s seen the worst but that was so long ago I don’t think she remembers much of it now. What she clearly remembers is the way I live today: taking care daily about what I eat and the fatigue that sets in if I cut too many corners.

She was an eye witness to the miraculous change in my life after I learned once and for all that Rheumatoid Arthritis was effectively a food allergy disease and very controllable.

She has been there as I worked (and played) every day. She and I have traveled extensively. She knows that, after the initial trauma of the diagnosis and despite the continuing upkeep, there has been no change whatever in my daily routine. And she knows deep down that she can handle her life, too.

In the ‘My Story’ articles posted here, I document my early ups and downs, my lack of confidence in the beginning for the solution I had found, and how I finally began living the right answer: diet modification.

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Controlling RA Inflammation: Some Lists to Get You Started

The real problem with Rheumatoid Arthritis is not the diagnosis and it’s not the condition itself inhabiting our bodies. Rheumatoid Arthritis is simply the name given to a condition of chronic inflammation where the immune system, designed to be one of our best friends, gets completely confused and turns against us.

It’s inflammation that has led researchers to say that the average work life after a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis is only ten years.

It’s inflammation that causes the degradation of the joints that can lead to disability.

It’s inflammation that makes us vulnerable to horrendously expensive and harmful toxins, known as biologics, that only, in the end, benefit the pharmaceutical company. Because our bodies will always, sooner or later, develop a tolerance to any drug that attempts to override its own programming, pharmaceuticals will never overcome the pain and destructive capacity of RA for long. Drugs, no matter how effective they seem at first, are never the long term solution to the problem.

The good news is that none of that matters because we can heal ourselves, permanently and cost free.

Once diagnosed with RA, our primary goal should be to learn how to disable the inflammatory response, which will eliminate the swelling, pain, fatigue and joint destruction – all the symptoms of RA.

Controlling run-amuck inflammation is the key to our entire future. And the way to control it is always the same: Figure out what is causing it and stop.

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Rheumatoid Nodules, Vasculitis: More of the Same

Strange and scary things can happen to the human body when it has Rheumatoid Arthritis, as though it has a secret mind of its own and it’s not sharing with you.

But, really no need be frightened by the unexpected doings of your body.

Eventually you’ll reach the point that you attribute any new symptom to the disorder and you’ll know instantly how to handle it without adjusting medication or getting cortisone shots. You’ll just check your journal for anything unusual you’ve eaten recently, you’ll eliminate it, wait a few days, and it goes away. For as long as you stay away from whatever food caused the complication, it won’t come back.

Cases in point are Rheumatoid nodules and vasculitis, both of which are fairly unusual side effects of RA caused by out of control inflammation.

Rheumatoid nodules are bumps under the skin that can appear at pressure points like the elbow. They can be annoying and occasionally painful but are not serious. They are more an indication that you should be doing more to help your immune system deal with the source of the problem: food. As you know from this blog, RA is the result of an immune system seriously annoyed by what you’ve been eating. All symptoms vanish once you learn how to work with it and stay away from foods that tick it off.

Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels and is well worth learning to avoid. While nodules can seem like a gentle reminder to eat differently, vasculitis can be regarded as a warning. It is a rare side effect of RA that affects blood vessels anywhere from the skin, where it can look like a rug burn, to the heart where it may show up as pericarditis, as pain in the arm, leg or anywhere else. If you have RA and unexplained pain that does not appear related to your joints, it may be vasculitis.

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“Food Fixes RA? Maybe for You But Not for Me.”

I thought I’d tell you a little about the reception this web site has had since I started posting about a year ago.

There have been some wonderful success stories where someone decided to look for a different answer than the one handed to them by physicians, and, rather than rely on a succession of lethal and ultimately ineffective drugs to handle Rheumatoid Arthritis, found permanent health by modifying their diet.

Like Jen, who had been suffering with RA for three years and, rather than begin a new biologic to replace the one she had been taking which had lost its effectiveness, she decided to take matters into her own hands and do some research.

She found us and others online who encouraged her to find her own way and assured her that she could indeed triumph over a dreaded disease by making different food choices.

Like all of us who have made the leap from flares, fear and fatigue to good health, Jen has to handle the ups and downs and complexities of learning to work with her immune system by finding the right changes to her diet.  As food growing and processing methods change, as well as our bodies over time, control can seem like an ongoing work in progress.

But the same is true of the deadly drugs that are the current medical alternative. After the immune system is disabled by biologics, it adapts to the circumstances in the body and comes roaring back again. The drug in use then becomes ineffective and we have to either increase the dose or find a new drug and start the process over again. That is why the users of pharmaceuticals have to change drugs so often.

There will never be a time when the user of a biologic can assume that a prescribed drug has solved the problem forever. That person will always, at some point, need a new drug. Big Pharma, as hard as it tries, can hardly keep up and new immune system supressors seem to show up daily.

Sooner or later the rope will run out and biologics will no longer be regarded as the solutiion so many today think they have found.

Not all of those who landed on this website have had the reaction that Jen did.

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Leaky Gut and Rheumatoid Arthritis

There is always mention of ‘leaky gut’ whenever there is a discussion of RA. According to most physicians it is strictly a theory and one that’s not very relevant at that. (You expected something else?)  But according to many with autoimmune disorders, it is a fact of life.

Who should we believe, how do we fix it, and what difference does it make?

The concept of ‘leaky gut’ is finally receiving attention from researchers as it becomes clear that every molecule in the body is related to every other in a dynamic balancing act. No part of our bodies functions in a vacuum and nothing about it is simple. The intestinal tract, it is now known, is not a disinterested bystander that stands back while nutrients  make a dash for the blood stream. Through a complex barrier mechanism, it controls the equilibrium in the gut. When this dance is disrupted in the genetically susceptible and large molecules reach the bloodstream before processing is completed in the gut, autoimmune disorders can occur or become worse – our immune system’s attempt to cope with the unexpected.

Leaky gut results from defects in the intestinal barrier which allow particles of food, medicine or bacteria to permeate the gut and move into the blood stream and surrounding tissue. It has been observed in a number of bowel disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and is now becoming evident in the pathology of gastrointestinal diseases, cardiovascular disease, and other acute and chronic diseases including RA.


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A Diet for Rheumatoid Arthritis: The 3-Day Phenomenon

As we struggle with swollen joints, fatigue, doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, and trying to process more information than we ever wanted about Rheumatoid Arthritis, it’s nearly impossible to believe that we can be well and healthy again in less than a week.

But it is true.

There is a huge amount of scientific evidence going back decades, as well as innumerable personal stories indicating that Rheumatoid Arthritis is linked directly to foods that our immune systems have come to believe are toxins.

Alas! Although dietary changes will eliminate all symptoms of RA, there is no magic bullet. Each person has to discover his or her own foods to avoid.

Every person’s life experiences and resulting physiology are individually unique, as are the dietary triggers for inflammation, which is what causes the pain, joint swelling and destruction of Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is also the underlying condition in many other disorders. Our immune systems are, for reasons yet unknown, miraculously exclusive to each of us and each person has to learn for him/her self what their own personal triggers are.

How to learn? That part is fairly simple.

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Herbs, Spices, Botanicals: Expect a Miracle

An article in Science Daily says that a derivative of the popular Middle Eastern spice turmeric, or curcumin, its active ingredient, shows promise for repairing damage due to stroke.

The medicinal properties of turmeric have been known since ancient times in Southeast Asia. It has been used as an antiseptic for cuts, burns and bruises, as an antibacterial agent and as an anti-inflammatory recommended for Rheumatoid Arthritis. It has also been used as a remedy for irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal conditions and is now being studied for possible use in cancer, Alzheimers, and AIDS in addition to stroke.

If it sounds like turmeric is a wonder drug, it is. And there are others just like it. The reason I include it on a site devoted to Rheumatoid Arthritis is that spices and other botanicals can be little miracles just waiting to be discovered.

My friend Maria had a chronic asthma-related cough for many years that numerous doctors had been unable to fix.  She called it her air pollution cough, since anything floating in the air, like cigarette smoke, diesel exhaust or perfume, set it off.  It was so constant and so intense that she thought she was headed to an early disability retirement. To control the severe hacking  she was taking theophylline, a prescription drug that comes with a warning of possible sudden death. It was only marginally useful for her cough.

On an extended car trip one day she took ginger to control motion sickness. The ginger worked the way it was supposed to and eliminated her nausea, but something else happened. To her stunned amazement, her cough vanished.

She and I combed the medical literature and searched for anecdotal evidence but could find no mention anywhere that ginger could affect an asthmatic, chronic cough. We began to think that Maria had found magic that was unique to herself.  But that wasn’t true.

Eventually we unearthed the rest of the story. In addition to its many well-known medicinal properties, including as an anti-inflammatory, ginger has another characteristic that is less known.  It is a powerful anti-spasmodic, which is why it calmed her cough. How many other spasm-related conditions could this simple spice, easily available and found in most kitchen pantries, cure if more people knew?

Strictly by accident, Maria had stumbled into her own personal miracle. And that is my point.  Expect a miracle.  You never know when one is waiting in plain sight for you to show up.

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Early Death and Rheumatoid Arthritis

TV personality Deborah Norville said that her mother died prematurely “from Rheumatoid Arthritis.”

With all due respect to Ms Norville, no one dies from RA.  Like osteoarthritis and many other non-fatal conditions among the genetically susceptible (e.g., Down’s Syndrome, mental illnesses), RA is more a disorder and less a disease.

All of us who live with the condition will die ‘with RA’ just as we will die ‘with a liver’, ‘with a brain’, ‘with fingernails.’ RA is not in the same mortality category as diabetes or stroke, leading causes of death listed on death certificates.

Nevertheless, Rheumatoid Arthritis can be a contributing factor to death from other causes, generally inflammation-related, but one is hard pressed to find any records listing RA as a cause of death by itself.  In this list of annual causes of mortality, RA is conspicuously absent.

Any number of studies have concluded that those of us with Rheumatoid Arthritis are doomed to die several years before we would otherwise, usually, they say, from cardiovascular disease (CVD). In vanishingly rare instances inflammation resulting from the disease attacks a vital organ like the heart and the patient may die.   Even then the cause of death is inflammation officially coded, for example, as ‘pericarditis,’ not Rheumatoid Arthritis.

It’s clear that a major problem is inflammation. But it’s not the only problem. The other big cause of death for us is the drugs we take, both over the counter and prescription.

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