Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints in the body. It affects nearly 70 million adults in the United States. That is approximately 1 in 3 Americans. In recent data compiled by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. In 2001, 49 million Americans reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis and another 21 million reported having symptoms of arthritis.
The term arthritis refers to more than 100 different rheumatic diseases that affect joints, muscle, bone, and other tissues. Research has shown a connection between food, nutritional supplements, and the three major forms of arthritis: rheumatoid, osteoarthritis, and gouty arthritis.
Osteoarthritis affects approximately 20 million people in the United States. Scientists have not determined the cause of the disease; however, a combination of several factors such as joint injury, being overweight, the aging process, and “wear and tear” from stress may increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis. Although symptoms vary among individuals, they all stem from joint deterioration. In some, the disease may progress more rapidly than others. One of the most common symptoms of osteoarthritis is joint pain, which can be triggered by certain activities like running or jogging or when the body is at rest. Osteoarthritis affects more men under age 45 than women, and more women after the age of 45 than men.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the entire body that usually involves several synovial joints, typically in a symmetrical fashion (i.e. both feet, knees, ankles). Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune reaction where antibodies develop against components of joint tissue and begin to attack the joints within the body. Over time, cartilage that cushions joints wears down and the bones start rubbing against each other. X-rays usually show soft tissue swelling, erosion of cartilage, and narrowing of the space between joints. Later stages of rheumatoid arthritis may cause deformation of the joints. Twice as many women are affected with symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis as men. Symptoms usually develop between 30 and 50 years.
Gouty arthritis is the most painful chronic inflammatory arthritis. Gouty arthritis or gout is a metabolic disorder in which uric acid builds up forming crystals in the fluid that lubricates the joint. Uric acid, a result of broken down purines that are a part of all human tissue and found in many foods, is normally dissolved or passed through the kidneys and eliminated. When this process does not take place, it builds up in the blood (a condition called hyperuricemia) potentially leading to gouty arthritis or kidney stones. Patients with gouty arthritis complain of tenderness, redness, and warmth around swelling joints. Gout or gouty arthritis commonly affects the big toe but can also involve the heels, ankles, knees, wrists, elbows, and fingers. The symptoms develop quickly and usually occur at night. Gouty arthritis accounts for approximately 5% of all cases of arthritis. If you are suffering from gout, avoid foods high in purines and proteins such as beans and meats.
In general, people with arthritis should avoid red meats, tea, coffee, dairy products, fried foods, chocolate, preservatives, additives, and nightshade plants such as peppers, tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant and tobacco. Also, consuming acid-forming foods such as most high protein foods (meat, fish, poultry and eggs), nearly all carbohydrates (including grains, bread and pastas), and fats can create an imbalanced acidic internal environment known as acidosis.
An acidic internal environment increases calcium buildup in the arteries. With free calcium populations and channels disrupted, calcium may be leached from bone mass and teeth causing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, tooth loss and other degenerative diseases. Medical literature contains many documented cases that indicate how diet modification can improve inflammatory arthritis.
People with arthritis should consume fish or foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin E such as walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, linseeds and pumpkins seeds. Also try to include anti-inflammatory foods such turmeric, ginger, garlic and apples into your diet.