Diet and Nutrition
Excess body weight is associated with increased arthritis not only of the knees and hips but also the hands. Why? Because excess fat produces inflammatory molecules that help destroy joints, separate and apart from the effect that excess weight has in putting increased mechanical stress on your joints. Thus having a normal, not excessive body weight is the most important factor in diet and nutrition.
What you eat matters, but how much you eat matters far more. The most important advice in losing weight is simply to eat less until your BMI or body mass index is below 25. We can tell you how to calculate this.
Certain nutritional supplements have been scientifically shown to decrease inflammation in inflamed joints and tendons. You may purchase supplements that I have found to be effective in scientific studies by clicking on the “Purchase Supplements” tab on our website. When I see you in the office I will tell you which ones I recommend for you.
Patients often ask me if an anti-inflammatory diet exists. The answer is that we’re not sure. It is clear that for some people with some medical problems certain foods can worsen their condition. But we do not know if this hold true in general. Some general guidelines to follow, however, are as follows
- AVOID SUGARS AND STARCHES: not only do they promote obesity but there is evidence that in many people they promote inflammation.
- AVOID PROCESSED FOODS SUCH AS CURED MEATS. They have been associated with aggravation of diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and in causing cancer.
- EAT HEALTHY FATS: such as olive oil. “The Big Fat Surprise” is an excellent source of information on good and bad fats.
- EAT VEGETABLES AND LEGUMES: The so called “blue zone” regions of the world, such as Ikaria, Greece, featured by National Geographic, are noted for increased longevity and health and are characterized by a diet rich in vegetables and legumes.
- USE PROBIOTICS: Consuming a single serving of Fage yogurt each day provides healthy bacteria for your gut, i.e. probiotics, which are essential to health. Most yogurts have artificial additives or fillers. Fage yogurt has nothing artificial and is clearly the best available Greek yogurt in our opinion. It is also an excellent source of protein with few calories. Their zero sugar variety has 18 grams of protein and only 100 calories. Compare this to most yogurts which have far more calories and far less protein per serving. Read the labels in your food store and compare. It is also delicious plain, but can be eaten with fruit. Because it is naturally made it is not bitter and does not need sugary additives for good taste. If yogurt bothers you then take a daily probiotic supplement. A good one is provided at our “Purchase Supplements”
- LIMIT GLUTEN INTAKE: Some people are sensitive to gluten and should avoid it if they are. Excess gluten is also good to avoid to lose weight and avoid gaining weight.
- AVOID UNNECESSARY ANTIBIOTICS: While not strictly a dietary recommendation it is important for proper digestion. When necessary, antibiotics should be used. But much antibiotic use in the USA is unnecessary. Antibiotics decrease healthy gut bacteria. This has been linked to decreased immune system function, autoimmune problems such as asthma, and other health problems.
- READ “THE BIG FAT SURPRISE” A BOOK BY NINA TEICHOLZ: This NY Times Best Seller is an excellent source of information on diet and nutrition. I strongly recommend that all my patients buy it and read it.
- PROTEIN: Make sure you get an adequate intake of protein.
- EAT ORGANIC: The burden of toxins in our society is staggering. It is the likeliest cause for the increase in cancer and decrease in fertility that has occurred. Eating organic produce and meat that does not have antibiotics or steroids is very desirable. It is also expensive. But if food is eaten in limited portions, the cost is much less.
- COOK AT HOME, EAT OUT RARELY: Restaurant food is starchy, fattening, not organic and far less healthy than what you can make at home. It is also more expensive. And studies have shown that “fast” food is no faster than shopping and cooking at home when travel times to restaurants are calculated. Cooking is healthful and fun. Learn to embrace it as a hobby, and to keep you lean and healthy.