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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Reducing inflammation through diet

I just finished a ten-day juice fast last Saturday night. During those ten days I drank the juice of carrots, oranges, apples, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, pears, grapes, cabbage, grapefruit, lemons, ginger, tomatoes, garlic, and there may have been one or two other fruits or vegetables. At about day 6 I noticed that the sharp pains in my groin area that had become a regular thing had disappeared. More, I found less pain in general in my hip.

I looked up the list of "safe foods" in Neal Barnard's Foods that Fight Pain. This is a list of foods that do not cause inflammation in anyone. Here is that list:

Pain-Safe Foods

Pain-safe foods virtually never contribute to arthritis or other painful conditions. These include
  • Brown rice
  • Cooked or dried fruits: cherries, cranberries, pears, prunes (but not citrus fruits, bananas, peaches or tomatoes)
  • Cooked green, yellow, and orange vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, chard, collards, lettuce, spinach, string beans, summer or winter squash, sweet potatoes, tapioca, and taro (poi)
  • Water: plain water or carbonated forms, such as Perrier, are fine. Other beverages – even herbal teas – can be triggers.
  • Condiments: modest amounts of salt, maple syrup, and vanilla extract are usually well-tolerated.
I noticed that most of the foods I had been drinking were on this list. A few I drank are potential "triggers" - foods that, for some people, do cause inflammation. It occurred to me that these potential trigger foods are probably not triggers for me. And if so, the improvement in my pain levels may be attributed to what I was eating - drinking.

There are three parts to Barnard's plan for determining which foods cause arthritic pain in you:

1. Eat primarily the foods on the "safe list".
2. Do not eat any foods from the Major Arthritis Triggers list. Not even a tiny bit.
3. Eat other foods that are not on either list, but be sure that the great majority are from the safe list.

Avoid Major Arthritis Triggers

1. Dairy products*
2. Corn
3. Meats**
4. Wheat, oats, rye
5. Eggs
6. Citrus fruits
7. Potatoes
8. Tomatoes
9. Nuts
10. Coffee
*All dairy products should be avoided: skim or whole cow’s milk, goat’s milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.
**All meats should be avoided: beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, etc.
This plan is to be followed for four weeks. By that time pain should be reduced. In many persons the pain will go away sooner, but for some it takes up to four weeks to get their bodies to stop reacting. After four weeks, introduce trigger foods one at a time, eating them frequently, for two days each. Monitor the body's response. This way you find out which foods are triggers for you. Barnard advocates getting rid of meat and dairy products entirely regardless (there are many reasons).

So here I am, a few days post-juice. I intended to follow Barnard's plan but I have already slid. I have eaten oats, potatoes, tomatoes, and wheat. I feel safe in continuing to eat citrus fruits because I had so many of them while juicing. I'm feeling some hip pain today, which suggests that I may have eaten a food that is a trigger for me (or it may just mean that my hip has gone beyond much hope). I'm considering backing up, staying with the safe foods for a while, then later introducing the triggers corn, wheat, oats, rye, potatoes, tomatoes, and nuts. Oh, and coffee.

You can read more about arthritis and food at the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine site.

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