Nutrition and Arthritis

“When Rebecca Soni won a gold medal in swimming, a reporter asked her what made a difference for her in this race. Her reply? She didn’t look at swimmers in other lanes. She focused on what she had to do. You have a race to complete too–it’s called your life. And you don’t have to be like anyone else. No one can do what you can do or change the world the way you can.”    Holley Gerth @

Along those lines, I have a voice. I’m not quite sure what it’s going to say here as I start this blog, but I guess time will tell!

I celebrated my 56th birthday this week. When my husband asked what I wanted to do that day (after work), I said, “Let’s go for a bike ride!” We did and had a blast.

Still celebrating my birthday on Saturday, we went to the Poconos area and hiked Mt. Tammany. We not only made it to the lookout, we made it back down without incident!

This may not seem like such a feat, but my knees have been sensitive since I was in my 20s and banged them up roller skating. As I’ve gotten older, they’ve only gotten worse. X-rays and MRIs have shown, well, really messed up knees. Sometimes I would even say, “Ow! Ow! Ow!” as I merely went down steps, let alone this rocky trail!

But this birthday, I felt good! Strong! Pain-free!


I want to share about this in case it might help anyone else.

Yes, I exercise. I try to do 1/2 hour on my stationary bike daily as well as a bit of Pilates for core work. And I’ve always noticed a difference for the better when I’ve been faithful to this regimen.

But a few months ago, I felt terrible and was so discouraged and tired of feeling pain. I was determined to try anything (short of drugs) to lessen my joint pain. You see, I had joint pain all over. Right shoulder, knees, wrists…I felt much older than 55. So I went online to find information about arthritis and stumbled across a book called, “Foods that Fight Pain,” by Dr. Neal Barnard. I went right to the library, took it out, and devoured the chapter on arthritis. He explained that in the early 1990s, the role of nutrition in arthritis was established beyond any reasonable doubt:

“In 1991, researchers in Oslo, Norway, reported in The Lancet a study in which they eliminated foods believed to be common arthritis triggers in a group of 26 arthritis patients. The average pain score fell from over five, on a scale from zero to ten, to under three. Joint stiffness, swelling, and tenderness diminished, and grip strength also improved. Most importantly, the benefits were sustained on reexamination a year later.

“Numerous studies have shown that, if testing is done with sufficient care, dietary sensitivities can be identified in 20-60 percent of subjects. Pure vegetarian (vegan) diets appear to benefit about half of arthritis patients, including some who have not identified a specific diet trigger.”

The foods he suggested be eliminated on a trial basis were:

Dairy products Citrus fruits
Corn Potatoes
Meats Tomatoes
Wheat, oats, rye Nuts
Eggs Coffee

So I eliminated them, and I lasted about two weeks! Of all of those foods, I wanted my tomatoes, dang it! But I felt better. I had less pain. So I very gradually reintroduced all of the above foods except for gluten-containing foods. I stayed off gluten for the next 3-4 months, which brings me to the present.

Prior to this elimination diet trial and the discovery that I’m evidently sensitive to gluten, I felt pretty hopeless about my future regarding joint pain. No one’s more amazed than I am that I have no pain now!

I could not sleep on my right side for about 8 months because I had so much shoulder pain. Now I can turn back and forth all I want, and it doesn’t wake me up. And I can be more active! When I tried riding my bike (regular bike) for about 5 miles a few months ago, my knees were inflamed for about a week. On my birthday, I rode for 7 miles with no repercussions!!!

I encourage you, if you have joint pain, even a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, you may want to try eliminating the above-mentioned foods for a short time. Gradually reintroduce one food at a time every 2 or 3 days to see if you react. You may find that your body is sensitive to one of these foods and your joints become inflamed as a reaction to ingestion of that food.

So my new adventure, once the weather is consistently cooler, will be learning to bake with gluten-free flours. In the meantime, I’m just grateful for all the foods I’m NOT sensitive to!

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One thought on “Nutrition and Arthritis

  1. Pingback: Pumpkin Oat Scones with Cranberries and Pecans | Enjoying Real Food

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