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4 Foods to Avoid Right Now if You Have Joint Pain

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 LIVE 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.

 

 

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Try Our Joint-Healthy, Body-Loving Winter Reboot Buddha Bowl

Now that the holidays are behind us, you might be feeling all the holiday cheer has left you feeling, well, a little less cheery. If you ate a little too much, if you drank a little more than usual, you might be experiencing bloating, headaches and even creaky joints. Not to worry! Here’s our nutritious, comforting Buddha Bowl to the rescue.

Chock full of wintery goodness, this recipe will not only soothe your soul, but will also leaving you feeling nurtured and full. What could be better on a cold wintery night?

One of my favorite things about this bowl is how adaptable it is. Add your favorite vegetables or beans. (I often add pre-cooked lentils that I find in the produce section of the grocery store. Super easy!) You might want to add some other toppings. Here are some of my favorites: hummus, cilantro chutney, avocado, microgreens. Yum!

While we’re on the topic of joint-healthy food … Save The Date!  Dr. Susan Blum, our pioneering Functional Medicine doctor and author of Healing Arthritis, will be leading a FREE 1-hour Masterclass: How to Heal Your Joint Pain in 3 Easy Steps on Tuesday, January 21st at 8pm. Join Now!

Buddha Bowl with Lemon Tahini Sauce (serves 6)

  • 2 cups of cubed winter squash
  • 1 pint mushrooms, washed and trimmed
  • 2 medium beets, peeled and cubed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1¾ cup water
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1½ Tbsp sesame seeds 
  • 12 Tbsp roasted walnuts 

Optional: sprouts, minced avocado, cilantro, toasted nori strips

Preheat oven to 375°F. 

  1. Toss the squash with 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper and lay out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with mushrooms and beets, keeping them separate. Roast in the oven until fork tender (time will vary for each vegetable). 
  2. Add the quinoa, water and a pinch of salt to a small pot. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for about 12-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. When the quinoa is done, fluff with a fork and recover for 10-15 minutes. 

While the quinoa is cooking, heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat and add the onions. Without stirring, let the onions brown or caramelize. Stir the onions and continue to cook on a low heat, about 10 minutes. 

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together Lemon Tahini Sauce (recipe follows) ingredients. 
  2. To serve, place ½ cup quinoa in a bowl and add the onions as well as each vegetable around the quinoa. Garnish with your desired toppings and drizzle the tahini sauce on top. 

Lemon Tahini Sauce (makes 1 ½ cups)

  • ¾ cup hot water 
  • ½ cup tahini 
  • ¼ cup lemon juice 
  • 2 tsp grated ginger 
  • 2 tsp honey 
  • ¼ tsp salt  
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the water. Add the tahini, lemon, ginger, honey and salt, and whisk until smooth and pourable. 

If you want to start the new decade (Yikes! 2020!) taking control of your arthritis to live a pain-free life, attend Dr. Blum’s FREE 1-hour Masterclass: How to Heal Your Joint Pain in 3 Easy Steps on Tuesday, January 21st at 8pm. It is the only time this year she will be leading this class.  Join Now!

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.

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Eat Your Greens Detox Soup

Calling all vegetable lovers! This detox soup is great if you want to keep your body in balance, especially during the holiday season!

It’s packed with detoxifying and immune-boosting ingredients like cruciferous and root vegetables that keep nutrition, fiber and flavor high on your list. Turmeric and ginger lend anti- inflammatory support, while seaweed tops this warming soup off with a dose of natural minerals.

Make ahead of time and consume for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s sure to keep healthy eating on track.

Eat Your Greens Detox Soup Ingredients

1 1/2 teaspoon coconut or olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups sliced cremini or white button mushrooms 1 cup chopped carrots

2 cups chopped broccoli florets
Fine grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1-3 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 cups vegetable broth
2 large nori seaweed sheets, cut into 1-inch strips
2 cups torn kale leaves
Fresh lemon juice, for serving

Directions

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the mushrooms, carrots and broccoli and stir to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes more.

Stir in the ginger, turmeric, cumin and cinnamon and sate for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the broth and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 1-2 minutes.

Just before serving, stir in the nori and kale and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

 

About Blum Center Chef Heidi Thweatt

Heidi Thweatt is a professional Chef with two Holistic Culinary Arts Degrees, one focusing on wellness and food as medicine received from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City, and the other in plant-based foods, obtained from Living Light International in California.  Heidi teaches that healthy eating is a lifestyle, and her recipes and menu plans embrace this energy. Her mantra has become No Deprivation! She is dedicated to infusing delicious with nutritious all while supporting each individuals lifestyle with food everyone can count on.  View Heidi’s upcoming classes at Blum Center or contact us about her menu planning services.
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Curcumin – the Anti-Inflammation Wonder Herb

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a culinary herb that is an amazing medicinal multi-tasker! It has a bright yellow/orange hue that gives curry its vibrant color. A member of the ginger family, turmeric contains many compounds including several in the curcumin family. Curcumins are known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer properties.

Despite that curcumin has been used medicinally in Ayurvedic medicine in India for centuries, it is only more recently that interest has caught on in the U.S. Luckily for all of us, the enormous potential of curcumin has resulted in a growing body of research to help us understand how it works and which scenarios it works best in. Currently there are ongoing studies looking at arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease treatment, colon cancer prevention, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, to name just a few.

Cooking with turmeric is an easy and healthy way to benefit from curcumins. It adds a delicious color and flavor to dishes. Turmeric tea is another excellent way to enjoy this powerful herb.  It does seem, however, that the doses needed to get full medicinal effect are much higher than one could ever get in a helping of your favorite curry. Although I always encourage people to get their nutrition from food before supplements, this is one case where taking a curcumin supplement does much more for you than simply cooking with it.

How to use Curcumin Medicinally

Arthritis

In the case of arthritis, curcumin works by neutralizing free radicals as well as by inhibiting pain and inflammation. In fact, it suppresses multiple inflammatory chemical messengers that the body makes.  It does this by inhibiting several enzymes along the inflammation cascade, the very same enzymes that ibuprofen and naproxen block.

And research supports this. A well designed study of 367 arthritis patients found it to be as effective as the traditional anti-inflammatory drug, ibuprofen with fewer side effects1.  Additionally, curcumin has been found to decrease substance P in nerve cells which is an additional way that in can improve pain in all kinds of arthritis.A typical dose would be 500mg taken 1-3 times a day.  

PMS

As a gynecologist I am always looking for ways to help women manage their period problems. For the same reason that curcumin helps arthritis, it is logical that it would be helpful for pain associated with menstrual cramps. One prospective randomized trial of 70 women with PMS showed that 100mg taken twice a day for 10 days starting one week before menses reduced PMS scores by 59% compared to just 14% in placebo group. Effects were seen for all three symptom categories: physical, behavioral, and emotional2. What’s nice about this study is that the authors used a relatively low dose compared to other applications. Lower doses mean fewer potential side effects.

Ulcerative Colitis

Curcumin’s powerful anti-inflammatory effects and limited absorption from the GI tract make it an excellent agent to treat inflammation in the gut. There are ongoing studies looking at curcumin as a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease. One such study of 89 people with ulcerative colitis found that when in remission, those who took 1,000mg curcumin twice a day for six months, along with their regular medicine, had lower relapse rates than those who took placebo.3

Cancer

From a cancer perspective, curcumin has the ability to alter gene transcription and actually stop cell growth, known as apoptosis. Its anti-cancer properties are also thought to come from anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It has been studied and used for prevention or treatment of colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, multiple myeloma, lung cancer.  Interestingly, there are also studies to suggest that whole turmeric has anti-cancer properties beyond curcumin extracts alone.4

Things to Know:

Because curcumin is not well absorbed by itself you will need to use a preparation that has been specially formulated so that your body can digest it. Many supplement preparations have black pepper, also known as bioperine, added to it which improves intestinal absorption by about 1000%. There is some concern that pepper is irritating to the GI lining which might be problematic. Alternatively, some brands have specially formulated the herb in a delivery system that optimizes absorption.

Dr. Blum’s non-GMO Super Curcumin, available in our online store, is formulated with super-absorbable sunflower lecithin so that you will reap the benefits of every milligram. See it Now

Who Should Not Take Curcumin

Curcumin is usually well tolerated but can lead to GI upset if taken in high doses and could cause an allergic reaction. People with gallbladder obstruction should avoid curcumin because it can cause the gallbladder to contract. This can be helpful for some kinds of digestion, but could make things worse if you have a gallstone blockage. Additionally, patients with gastric ulcers should avoid curcumin. Patients on blood thinners should be careful with curcumin. Always tell your healthcare provider if you are taking any herbs.  I don’t recommend curcumin supplements in pregnancy due to lack of safety data.

Do You Suffer With Arthritis?

Are you ready to live a pain-free life? Whether you suffer with an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s or arthritis, Dr. Blum can help you!

In her new book, Healing Arthritis, Dr. Blum presents 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. Get The Book Now

Resources:

  1.  Kuptniratsaikul V et al Clin Interv Aging. 2014 Mar 20;9:451-8. Efficacy and safety of curcum domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study.
  2.  Khayat S et al Complement Ther Med. 2015 Jun;23(3):318-24  Curcumin attenuates severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
  3. Hanai H, et al  Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Dec;4(12):1502-6   Curcumin maintenance therapy for ulcerative colitis: randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
  4.  Devassy JG, et al  Nutrition Reviews, Volume 73, Issue 3, 1 March 2015, Pages 155–165.  Curcumin and cancer: barriers to obtaining a health claim