Diseases of the muscles and bones are among the most common of all human afflictions, affecting all ages, but becoming more prevalent with years. The regions of the body most affected are the neck, lower back, hip and shoulder, but also hands, fingers, knees and feet are often hurting. Arthritis means inflammation of a joint. The fact that a person has arthritis tells nothing about the cause or the cure.
This inflammation can often be stopped with a change in diet and the swelling, pain, and stiffness can be relieved.
As recently as 1957, no case of rheumatoid arthritis could be found in Africa. That was a time when people in Africa followed diets based on grains and vegetables.
The largest amount of lymphoid tissue in the body is associated with the gut. This tissue protects the body from antigens that do get through the intestinal barrier. Unfortunately, an unhealthy diet–too high in fat, cholesterol, and animal protein–can compromise the capacities of the lymphoid tissue to destroy invading antigens that make it through the intestional wall.
Fasting is known to decrease intestinal permeability, thus making the gut “less leaky.” This may be one of the reasons fasting has been shown to dramatically benefit patients with rheumatoid arthritis. A vegan diet (one with no animal products) has been found to change the fecal microbial flora in rheumatoid arthritis patients, and these changes in the fecal flora are associated with improvement in the arthritis activity.
A healthy diet allows the defense systems to work to its full capacity removing antigens that enter the system and removing immune-complexes from the blood. Vegetable oils, including those of the omega-3 and omega-6 variety, are particularly strong suppressors of the immune system. This immune suppressing quality of oils (for example, fish oil and primrose oil) has been used to suppress the pain and inflammation of arthritis, but like too many drug therapies the ultimate outcome may not be best for the patient. Suppression of the immune system prevents it from doing its work of removing invading foreign proteins. Low-fat diets have been shown to retard the development of autoimmune diseases, similar to lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, in experimental animals.
Treatment of arthritis with diet became fashionable in the 1920s and many studies over the last 20 years have shown a healthy diet, one very different from the typical American diet, can be a very effective treatment of inflammatory arthritis for many people.
The importance of the overall diet cannot be overemphasized. Proper foods keep the intestinal barriers strong and the immune system in a fighting condition. Those foods are whole starches, vegetable, and fruits. In addition to being free of animal products, the diet must be low in fat of all kinds–vegetable oil (even olive oil, corn, safflower, and flaxseed oil) and animal fat. When it comes to blaming individual foods, dairy products seem to be the most troublesome foods, causing the most common and severe reactions. Many reports indicate grains, such as corn and wheat can also aggravate of symptoms. The truth seems to be almost any food can cause trouble, but few people react to vegetable foods. You need to figure out for yourself which foods your body reacts to.