What Causes Arthritis?

What causes arthritis, gouty arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis? Is arthritis pain food related? Are there foods to avoid with arthritis? What about nutritional supplements for arthritis? Is there a link between arthritis, obesity and diabetes?

I believe that we are what we eat. Our eating habits and excesses have caused our diseases. By changing our habits we can change our results and reverse the causes of arthritis and other diseases. I believe that most diseases are diet related. Certainly, diet can cause arthritis symptoms to get better or worse. In contrast, the experts at the arthritis foundation say the cause of arthritis is unknown.

Arthritis and Inflammation

Arthritis like gout is an inflammatory disease. The word arthritis means inflammation of the joint. Inflammation is the bodies natural response to an injury. Bump a joint and heat and swelling can occur. Those with high levels of antioxidants will recover faster from an inflammatory response than those who do not. This is why the foods we eat are so important to our health.

Arthritis and Diabetes

52% of Diabetics also have arthritis according to the C.D.C. Is this just a coincidence or could it be that the root causes of arthritis and diabetes are similar? Arthritis strikes both old and young diabetics. Those with low physical activity levels are more susceptible to arthritis.

Arthritis and Obesity

Obesity or being overweight can aggravate problems with arthritis. Arthritis will occur in the weight bearing joints. Those who have suffered sports or other joint injuries may find that being overweight can hasten and aggravate arthritis.

Foods Good for Arthritis

Alkaline Water - Like those with gout and diabetes, arthritic’s systems are too acid from eating the wrong foods. Drinking Alkaline Water can help with acidity. You would do well to review which types of foods cause an acid ph and which foods can help you to stay more alkaline.

Apple Cider Vinegar - Apple Cider Vinegar has been used by many who say it helps their gout and arthritis. Buy only, organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar from a health food store. 2 teaspoons in pure water a couple times a day may be useful. Some report relief in a short time.

Black Cherry Juice - Pure organic black cherry juice has been used by those who suffer with gout. It may also be helpful to those with Arthritis. Black cherry juice has anthocyanins, and lots of antioxidants which may lessen inflammation. There are no studies to support this. There is only comments from those who have used it.

Good Fats - There are essential fatty acids our body requires for joint health. Fruits like avocados are full of healthy fats and they help lower cholesterol. Among these are omega 3’s and 6’s. See our notes under supplements below. Fats from raw nuts, and seeds are also good fats, and highly beneficial.

Healthy Oils - Our bodies burn fats for energy. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a beneficial fat to substitute for Hydrogenated Coconut Oils, (not to be confused with Pure Coconut Oil) Cottonseed Oil, Palm Kernel Oil and Lard.

Vegetables and Fruits - We need 5-7 servings a day ideally slanted toward vegetables. 2 of the servings may be fruits. The majority of these should be eaten raw if possible. If you eat canned fruits, do not eat the sugary juice.

Whole Foods - We need to consume whole foods as much as possible. This would include vegetables, fruits and whole grains like brown rice. Those who regularly eat whole grains are more likely to weigh less than those who do not. Processed foods have many of the beneficial fats and fibers our joints need. These are removed during processing to make products have a longer shelf life..

See our related article Best Foods for Diabetics.

Foods to avoid with Arthritis

Red Chili Peppers or Cayenne pepper was found to be an inflammation and arthritis causing food recently. Harvard Medical School found that the capsaicinoids in these hot peppers was responsible for the burning pain found in inflammation and arthritis. Cappsaicin is a strong irritant which explains the burning sensations when eating hot peppers.

Some in the past have applied hot pepper juices to their skin thinking it took away arthritis pain. It did so by sending a false signal to the brain as the damage was still being done. Cayenne peppers in foods may not always listed on the food label. The label could say other spices, natural seasonings, or flavorings.

Animal Protein - This could include dairy products, beef, pork, wheat, eggs and others. Their have been people who had arthritis go away after giving up dairy. For some it is because of a milk allergy. We need to cut down our meat consumption to smaller portions. Meat from grain fed animals is high in arachidonic acid which will cause joint inflammation. Occasionally, substitute vegetarian protein foods like beans in place of meat for the main course of lunch or dinner.

Bad Fats - Bad Fats for arthritics and all others to avoid would be trans fats and saturated fats. This includes margarine and vegetable spreads as well as foods with partially hydrogenated and hyrogenated fats and oils.

Nightshade Plants - Some with arthritis have a sensitivity to plants in the nightshade family. These include peppers, tomatoes, egg plant and potatoes. If your arthritis takes a spell for the worse, you should look at what foods were recently ingested.

Coffee and Tea - Coffee and Tea are acidic. The exception would be green tea and herbal teas.

The best way to determine if a particular food is problematic for you is to keep a daily food diary of what you eat.

Nutritional Supplements for Arthritis:

There are some supplements we need more of with Arthritis, Diabetes, and Gout.

Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplements - Omega 3 essential fatty acids may help reduce morning arthritis stiffness and pain. I learned this myself a few months ago. Upon awakening I was having intense pain in my shoulder joints and some in my elbows.

I had a friend who thought omega 3 fish oil supplements could help. I was afraid that my pain would eventually get so bad I couldn’t work, so there was nothing to lose for me. It took 2 months, but one day I realized all the pain was gone.

We in America get too many omega 6 essential fatty acids from meat, fried, and baked foods. To restore our omega 3 and 6 ratio to a proper balance we need to supplement with omega 3 fish oils. For more info on omega 3’ see our Omega 3 page here. For arthritis sufferers omega 3’s are a Godsend.

Vitamin C - Whole vitamin C is good because of it’s antioxidant capabilities. Usually, you can get enough from orange juice, broccoli green peppers, strawberries, and blueberries. Do not take Synthetic Vitamins like ascorbic acid which is sold as a vitamin C supplement.

Vitamin D Those who live in sunny climates need not worry about a vitamin D deficiency, if we get out for a walk a few times a week. Vitamin D supplements are recommended for those in northern climates, during the winter.

In summation, while we do not know exactly what causes arthritis. We do know that eating the wrong foods can aggravate arthritis. Some have had their symptoms of arthritis go away by eating better, and removing inflammatory foods from their diets.

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What Causes Arthritis Updated 12/11/2010

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