FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO DEVELOPMENT OF ARTHRITIS AND RHEUMATISM

•     Some people who are allergic to foods have arthritis as their main symptom. One US expert believes that as much as 80 per cent of arthritis pain is triggered by food or chemical allergy. He uses an elimination diet and then slowly adds foods until the arthritis pain returns. The commonest group of culprits he has found are the nightshades, which include potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, tobacco and peppers. According to a study done by Prevention Magazine in the US the arthritic symptoms of some 50 per cent of those who tried a nightshade-free diet diminished.

Gluten is also currently under suspicion. In 1964 a paper published in Medical World News blamed gluten-a protein present in wheat, oats and rye-as a culprit in arthritis. People who eat a lot of cereals (especially wheat) are more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis, according to the author, than those who live mainly on maize or rice. Two-thirds of his patients became symptom-free on a gluten-free diet. If you want to give a gluten-free diet a trial, talk to your doctor, who will be able to give you a diet sheet.

•     Vitamin Ñ is essential for the formation and health of connective tissues. Arthritis and rheumatism appear to be disorders that mainly affect connective tissue, a fact which has led various researchers to look at the role of this vitamin. A leading US expert who has studied this connection believes that in those who are vitamin C-deficient there is instability and fragility of bones, cartilage, muscles and vascular tissue, mainly as a result of the breakdown of an intercellular cement substance which, in turn, causes tissues to rupture easily. Two other researchers have correlated a shortage of vitamin Ñ with rheumatic disease. They found an impairment of the joints of animals artificially deprived of vitamin C. When the animals had any kind of infection the joint symptoms became worse. Those animals exposed to the same infection while on a diet rich in vitamin Ñ did not have arthritic symptoms. The same two researchers then looked at vitamin Ñ levels in arthritic patients and found them to be extremely low. One report found that rheumatoid arthritis patients who were receiving plenty of the vitamins in their diets excreted less of it than average, suggesting that perhaps the vitamin was being used faster than normal. Another researcher found that the bioflavonoids occurring naturally with vitamin Ñ had a favourable influence on the condition of blood vessels in infections. Perhaps these flavonoids (often known as vitamin P) act along with vitamin Ñ in a way which is more natural. After all, synthetic vitamin Ñ is to some extent ‘unnatural’.

To be sure of getting enough vitamin C, eat foods that are rich in it, stop smoking and take 1 g of synthetic vitamin Ñ a day.

•     One researcher in Florida analyzed the diets of arthritics and found that they were all very similar-full of refined foods and sugar, all of which are low in trace elements, minerals and vitamins. He postulated that sugar upsets the calcium-phosphorus balance in the body, resulting in extreme swings of these two vital minerals, and claims good results from eliminating all sugars and refined foods from the diet of arthritics.

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