Diet Pain & Inflammation - Series 1.
Dietary Mofications to help with small joint inflammation of the hand or foot.
Many of the population will experience inflammatory periods or conditions of the joints of the hands and less so the foot at some point, usually after age 40. The conditions range from degenerative joint disease often known as Osteoarthritis, where there is wear and tear of the joint, inflammatory joint conditions and autoimmune conditions which result in inflamation of the joints of the hands and feet such as Rhematoid, psoariatic arthritis or gout. Research now strongly supports a change in diet as a key treatment approach in these conditions, with stronger results with inflammatory arthritis and gout.
Our joints are affected by chemicals in our body, foods are broken down into basic chemicals and some of these are aggravators, i.e. they create inflammation or exacerbate inflammation. Not all of us break down foods into the same chemicals, some people find it hard to break down certain foods and the result can be the production “rogue” chemicals i.e. chemicals that aggravate joints, produce inflammation and result in pain and swelling of the small joints of the hands and feet.
Today we will start by discussing GOUT.
Gout is a painful form of arthritis that can affect toe, foot, ankle, knee, hand and elbow joints. Symptoms include pain, swelling and shiny redness over the affected joints. Treatment of acute gout attacks is designed to relieve pain and inflammation, primarily through medication. Diet and other lifestyle changes can help prevent future attacks.
Gout is a painful form of arthritis (inflammation of the joints) and is sometimes referred to as gouty arthritis. The most common place for gout to develop is the ball of the big toe but other joints can be affected. It is unusual for gout to affect more than one or two joints at a time.
Gout is common in New Zealand, with an estimated prevalence of 2.7% for the overall population and a prevalence of 3.75% in people aged 20 years or older.
Gout most commonly affects adult men (particularly after age 40) and is uncommon in women until after menopause. It is estimated to affect adult men 3.5-times more than women and is more common in people of Maori and Pacific Island descent and is less common in Asians.
Left untreated over time gout can lead to joint and kidney damage and, in conjunction with other risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes, can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
Gout is caused by raised levels of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricaemia). Uric acid is produced naturally in the body. Normally it stays dissolved in the blood and is excreted by the kidneys as a component of urine.
Under-excretion or over-production of uric acid by the body can cause levels in the blood to be raised. When this occurs, crystals of uric acid can form and deposit in the joints causing gout. However, not all people with raised uric acid levels in their blood will develop gout.
A number of risk factors are related to the development of gout. These include:
- High alcohol intake
- A genetic predisposition
- High intake of foods rich in purines (eg: some seafoods and meats)
- Certain medicines eg: diuretics (fluid tablets)
- Injury to a joint
- Long-standing kidney disease.
Dietary modifications – changes in diet are aimed at restricting or avoiding foods high in purines. Purines are substances found in some foods and produce uric acid when broken down by the body. Foods that are high in purines should be removed from the diet and these include:
- Shellfish (pipis, paua, oysters, mussels) and fish roe
- Offal foods (brains, liver, kidney, tripe)
- Red meat (beef, pork/bacon, lamb)
- Yeast extracts (Marmite, Vegemite)
- Foods containing yeast (bread, beer)
- Oily fish (sardines, herrings, and anchovies).
Chages to your Diet will assist in fast recovery and reduce incidence of further epidodes.
Limiting alcohol intake – is also important. Alcohol causes the body to lose fluid (by increasing urine output and drawing water from the blood), thus increasing the uric acid concentrations in the blood. Beer is rich in purines so should be avoided.
Drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluids – especially water (eight to 10 glasses a day) is recommended. This will help to flush the uric acid crystals out of the body. Drinks sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose) are best avoided.
Maintaining a healthy body weight – will help to reduce stress on affected joints and decrease the likelihood of developing gout.
Remove foods containing Gluten and Wheat.
Research shows that these foods are highly inflammatory to joints, when consumed over the long term. You will not experience a sudden pain or increase in symptoms when you eat these foods, as the issue is your guts ability to break them down into the right chemicals and then remove those from your body. So when you remove wheat, and gluten and other hard to break down proteins prevalent in food, it will take time to remove these chemicals from your body and so it takes time for a response to be felt. Often 3-6 months. The great news is that these foods create system body inflammation so you will find when removed for 3-6 months your whole body will feel better not just your hands. We want instant results I understand but you really have to work on staying with this program for 6 months to really feel the benefit. Many people try these new diet changes and when they don’t see a change in 3-4 weeks drop it, which is such a shame as it is at this point that things start to change. It also takes a lot of learning and at that point you are really just in the early stages.
I have produced a “Anti-inflammaory diet sheet” it is located on my website at
www.gentle-chiropractic.co.nz , go to the Menu button, then scroll to the “Food and Thinks “ page it is right at the top. Or ask me for a paper copy on your next visit.
These changes are hard to implement but I can tell you from experience, there was a time when I thought I would have to give up my profession due to joint pain in my hands and also in my spine. I do not experience any hand pain at all now, and generalised spinal pain has also disappeared. Diet is very powerful and we are fortunate to live in a time when research on diet and effect of dietary chemicals is being done. Consider that it is also free to try, and free to continue with, unlike paying and taking harmful pain killers and antiinflammatories.
Natural Powerful Anti-inflammatories.
Recent research on a chemical called Curcumin which is derived from Tumeric Root, is showing excellent results without harmful damage to the gut which occurs when taking ibuprofen/ voltarin. Sadly just eating a little tumeric root, which is very good for you will not contain bioceutical levels to show decreases in inflammation or create pain relief, certainly include this in your diet, but if you are in an inflammatory phase of joint pain, with swelling or pain, you will get results from a bioceutical with the correct doses of this chemical. Feel free to talk to me about this in clinic, by email/ facebook messenger , and I can guide you as to if this may be valuable for you along side the above dietry changes.
Well all from me on this topic today, there is a great deal more to say so stay up to date with the blog for more information. If you would enjoy coming to a talk on this topic or any other rasied in the blog let me know, I am happy to run one locally.
On the trail to better health small changes to make big impacts, start small and just keep taking small steps up the hill, in time the new views will be astonishing.