Stop arthritis pain with the right diet
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client name and identifying information changed
Mary came to me with multiple joint pains, but the pain was mainly in her fingers, wrists, elbows and shoulders, plus some in her neck and knees. She played a lot of tennis when younger, so she wasn’t surprised which joints were affected.
Her doctor offered her pain relief but she wanted to see if there was anything else she could do to help prevent the situation from getting worse, as she had witnessed her grandmother with crippling arthritis to the point where she couldn’t use her hands and was on lots of sedative drugs.
As a retired woman on a pension, Mary couldn’t afford fish oil and green lipped muscle extracts and other supplements often used to support osteoarthritis naturally. She asked if her diet could be altered to help.
Mary’s diet consisted of a good core of veggies, especially greens and also lots of tomatoes, some fruit and a quality muesli with nuts and seeds to provide good omega fats.
She had a sweet tooth and loved coffee with biscuits, cakes or chocolate daily. She also drank three glasses of red wine each night, which she thought was good for her. She accompanied every meal with either toast or bread and ‘loved’ cheese.
So the first thing we talked about was her high acid diet with the bread, sugar and processed foods. We also spoke about how wine could be a factor and even how tomatoes are a potential problem for some people with arthritis – although more so with Rheumatoid Arthritis – but it was worth a shot to see if she could improve by being off them.
I suggested it would be beneficial to do a dietary detox by removing the high acid foods and wine and see how her body responded. Then later, if she had less pain and inflammation, we could re-introduce some of the foods back into her diet to see what she could tolerate or what upset her system or brought back the pain.
She agreed and went on a 12-week gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, nightshade family free (tomatoes, eggplant, capsicum, potato), alcohol and caffeine free diet. Mary kept her core clean diet and added in some more fish meals, and soaked her nuts and seeds to ‘activate’ them so there were easier to digest. She drank peppermint and dandelion teas and the occasional water filtered organic decaff coffee (once a week with her weekly meetings with friends).
Mary came back to see me one month into the diet and said she had never felt better, had minimal pain, more energy and vitality and her friends said her skin looked better. She looked younger.
She was very pleased with the results and wanted to re-introduce some foods, but because she still had some remaining low-level pain, I suggested waiting longer. She agreed, but a month later at a follow-up appointment, she said that she had been ‘naughty’.
She told me that after another two weeks on the clean diet, she had no pain at all, so she took it upon herself to trial some foods and drinks, but got a bit carried away and put everything back that she stopped eating and drinking. Within two days all pain was back. Fortunately, she went back to the clean diet and it only took three days for things to settle again.
After another month, we re-introduced foods slowly and found that she was fine with the tomatoes and other nightshades, and coffee was ok if she only had a cup once every two to three days (which produced little tingles in her fingers).
But every time she put any starchy or sugary foods back into her body her joints would strongly react. She was happy that she could still have some low sugar, dairy free chocolate occasionally and the occasional coffee.
Overall, she was delighted to find a balance she could live with and still have something ‘naughty’ now and then (isn’t it funny how we think we are being ‘naughty’ if we eat something that doesn’t agree with us).