You suffer from joint pain. You may have an official diagnosis of arthritis, or you may suspect you have arthritis. Either way, if you’ve visited your doctor for relief, you’ve likely been told to take anti-inflammatories and to “live with it.”
That’s exactly what happened to me when a sports medicine doctor diagnosed osteoarthritis in my left knee.
What most conventional doctors won’t tell you is: One of the most important influences on reducing pain is the food you eat.
Why don’t they address diet?
Research shows that conventionally trained doctors only receive 21 hours of nutrition in the required curricula of United States medical schools.
Here’s what Functional Medicine tells us: Arthritis — whether it’s autoimmune or osteoarthritis — is an inflammatory condition that can be treated through food, healing the gut, and mitigating the effects of stress.
That’s why Dr. Susan Blum wrote her bestselling book, Healing Arthritis. Since its release she has helped thousands of people learn that arthritis is NOT inevitable, and that by following her 3-step Arthritis Protocol, arthritis sufferers will be on the road to living a pain-free life.
The first step is to remove foods that cause arthritis pain and flares. Not all the foods on this list will cause you flares. But, by removing all of them at once at the start of the experiment, you can add them back one-by-one to learn which foods might be causing you pain. Our comprehensive elimination diets remove more foods than these 4, but we have found these are the worst offenders and so we suggest you start here. Remove these foods for 3 weeks before reintroducing them, to give the experiment time to work.
4 Foods to Avoid if you Have Joint Pain
Sugar — Research demonstrates that sugar is highly inflammatory, and is correlated with arthritis. And because it is in so many foods, and because you are exposed to it daily, you may not make the connection between your pain and this highly addictive substance. When your blood sugar is high, it directly causes inflammation by stimulating your immune cells to release inflammatory molecules that travel throughout your body, causing damage and irritation in your tissues and joints. To eat a low-sugar diet, eliminate all white flour and processed sugar from your diet, high sugar fruit, fruit juices and dried fruit. This is one of the most important steps you can take toward good health.
Eating this way should be a permanent change.
Nightshades — These contain a chemical called solanine, which can cause inflammation and joint pain in arthritis sufferers. Avoid tomatoes, white potatoes, all peppers, eggplants, paprika, salsa, chili peppers, cayenne, chili powder and goji berries.
Gluten — Found in everything from bread to pasta, gluten, (a protein found in wheat), is very hard to digest and can damage the gut lining leading to a “leaky gut”. When partially digested gluten particles get into your bloodstream through this leaky gut, you can develop an immune reaction that can cause vague symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, inflammation, and particularly relevant to you, achiness in muscles and joints. Some people also have more obvious digestive symptoms like gas and bloating. This is called gluten sensitivity and is different than celiac disease. Gluten reactions can also trigger autoimmunity in body.
Dairy — You may think we remove dairy because of lactose intolerance. However, food sensitivities are caused by the proteins in milk called casein and whey, not by lactose, which is the milk sugar that many people think is the primary cause of their stomach pain. Dairy causes other symptoms that go beyond the stomach — congestion, sinusitis, postnasal drip, and ear infections. Dairy also contributes to a general inflammatory response that can result in …. Joint pain.
In addition to these foods, some people are also sensitive to corn, soy, eggs, alcohol, caffeine, dyes and preservatives, or high histamine foods, such as shellfish and cured meats. Removing all of these as part of a comprehensive elimination diet would be the next step if removing sugar, gluten, dairy and night shades doesn’t help you feel better.
Rather than trying to figure it out by yourself, I highly recommend following Dr. Blum’s Leaky Gut Diet for Arthritis, which eliminates known arthritis triggers for a period of time, and then reintroduces them in a methodical way to create your personal nutrition plan. You can learn more about it in Healing Arthritis, or join us for the Healing Arthritis Challenge.
The good news is: There are also foods that help heal joint pain!
Your grocery cart should include:
- Antioxidant rich dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard; and deep, colorful berries like blackberries and blueberries.
- Make a habit of eating clean fish once or twice weekly, it’s full of inflammation-lowering omega 3 fatty acids. Buy high-quality, grass-fed, non-GMO animal products and eat them sparingly, perhaps once each week.
- Eat loads of healthy, high-quality oils and fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
- Fit lots of fiber onto your plate in the form of whole grains, legumes and veggies — to feed the good bacteria of the gut. (Avoid gluten if you know you are sensitive to it, or if you have an autoimmune disease).
- Spice your foods with turmeric, the bright yellow indian spice that’s not only delicious but also combats inflammation.
Wondering about the other two steps of Dr. Blum’s 3-Step Arthritis Protocol?
- Step 1 is all about the Leaky Gut Diet for Arthritis and very specific research-supported anti-arthritis supplements. This is all about quick pain reduction.
- Step 2 is healing the gut — there is documented connection between the digestive tract and joint pain. We heal the gut, further reduce inflammation and continue to decrease arthritis symptoms.
- And, Step 3 tackles the most overlooked source of joint pain: stress. Step 3 also helps you continue to heal long after the program is over. We call it “finish what you started”! Address all three and you’ll be well on your way to living pain-free again.
The great thing is you don’t have to do this alone!
If you want someone with you every step of the way, if you love the power of community, please consider joining me and Dr. Blum for the Healing Arthritis Challenge. Dr. Blum will teach you the exact 3-Step Protocol that we use with patients at Blum Center for Health. You will learn the best food plan for arthritis, the precise supplements and dosage we recommend for an arthritis-free life, how to build resiliency so that life’s stressors won’t affect your health, and what your gut has to do with your arthritis symptoms. In essence, Dr. Blum gives you all the tools you need to fix your gut and heal your arthritis. Show Me More
Oh, and what about my arthritis symptoms? The right food, the right supplements, the right type of movement, and continued stress management has me up and running (yes, literally running!) again.
Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.