The answer you get when you pose the question is there really a connection between your diet and arthritis depends on whom you ask. Most medical doctors including the rheumatologist will say no. Credible scientific research in the field says otherwise. Even the Arthritis Foundation whose stance in the past has been that diet does not play a role is beginning to hedge. Their stance although conservative is that the pain caused by arthritis may be related to the quality of the diet, which reflects the person’s overall health.

Most clinical nutritionists agree a clean diet is a start but believe there’s more to it.

The nightshade plants (Solanaceae) and their products have long been suspect in human nutrition. Some are highly poisonous while some in minute amounts have provided emergency life saving medicinal drugs such as belladonna, atropine and scopolamine. The nightshade family of plants in question are- white potato, tomato, eggplant, peppers including pimentos, paprika, cayenne, chili peppers and tobacco.

Solanine, a naturally occurring toxin found in the skins of these plants is a non-water soluble chemical that is not destroyed by cooking. It is a stable, powerful cholinesterase inhibitor, an enzyme, which afford agility of muscle movement. Solanine can cause muscle pain and spasms, joint pain and swelling, gastrointestinal disturbances, anorexia, nausea, vomiting and feelings of nervousness.

Not everyone is helped by avoiding the family of nightshade plants but one study showed 75% of those suffering arthritis symptoms experienced relief to remission on the nightshade free diet. Response time varied depending on the severity of disease symptoms, joint, tendon and connective tissue damage. Since solanine is a stable non-water soluble chemical it can take months for your body to rid itself of this toxic substance.

The potato is usually the hardest to give up, we’re all so hooked. If I’m talking to you remember the solanine is found in the skin so be sure and peel plenty off. Store your potatoes in the frig or in a dark cool place. Bright light causes the potato to develop those green patches that have the highest concentrations of solanine.

Synthetic iron is another culprit thought to cause the symptoms of pain, swelling and joint destruction that accompanies arthritis. Use natural forms of iron including beet, spinach, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, fish limas and peas.

Dairy and milk consumption is always in question because it is so difficult for the body to process. It is loaded with a synthetic form of vitamin D. This fat-soluble vitamin used in excess has been known to cause joint pain. Ten minutes of sun light daily six months of the year will give you plenty of vitamin D naturally.

Vegetable juicing is a wonderful food tool to relieve the symptoms of arthritis. I particularly like celery. The naturally occurring sodium-potassium balance in this juice alleviates muscle cramping, fatigue and achy sore swollen feeling joints. Unlike the sodium found in other kinds of foods the sodium in balance with potassium will not cause water retention. If anything, it relieves it. Carrot is wonderful as well that could be a whole column on it’s own.

Food and diet is one more tool you can add to help relieve your arthritic symptoms. When changing your diet go slowly and be sure to journal.

Till next time, Rebecca