Preventing and Reversing Arthritis
Labeled the “nation’s primary crippler”, arthritis is defined as an inflammation of the joints. Its symptoms may include joint pain, stiffness, fatigue, swelling, redness and enlarged bones in the fingers.
Symptoms of Osteo arthritis
The most common type of arthritis is Osteoarthritis, a degenerative arthritis usually associated with poor nutrition and aging. Its primary symptoms include knee, back and hip pain, which can lead to surgical replacements. The hands, wrists and shoulders are also commonly affected. Most people over 60 in this country have some symptoms of osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis occurs as a result of inflammation and weakening of the joint capsule and cartilage lining the joints.
The Inside Story
Although excess weight can accelerate its progression, a chief factor in the development of osteoarthritis is poor circulation to the microscopic blood vessels that carry oxygen and other nutrients to the joints. The disease-causing Standard American Diet, which causes 50 percent of us to die of heart attacks and strokes, creates fatty streaks and plaques to occur in the blood vessels of American children by the tenth year of life. The impediment to blood flow caused by these microscopic changes to the interior of our blood vessels coupled with the sticking together of red blood cells which occurs after a rich fatty meal, results in decreased oxygenation of the joints. Our joints have a ‘sensitive’ blood supply, easily susceptible to early blood vessel disease and circulatory impairment. Reduced oxygenation of the joints interferes with the normal repair and remodeling of bone that is ongoing throughout life. Bone is living tissue that is continually breaking and rebuilding itself. When the bone tissue is unable to repair itself properly (in an environment of nutritional inadequacy) it develops tiny structural imperfections, which set the stage for joint degeneration and pain as we get older. The joint cartilage and articulating bone receive their nourishment and oxygen from both joint capsule fluid and small blood vessels. This delicate supply of blood can be easily impaired by smoking or a diet rich in saturated fat and deficient in micronutrients.
Dispelling the Myths
The same dietary indiscretions that allow both our brain and heart to age prematurely and that allow our blood pressure to rise with age, lead to the deterioration of our joints. These common diseases associated with aging are not actually caused by aging.
When the water running over a rock wears a large groove in that rock after 50,000 years, was it aging that wore the groove in the rock, or was it the water? Day in and day out, every week, every month, every year, little by little, the water running over the rock took its toll. Likewise your joints deteriorate little by little, over the years from the effects of eating a disease-causing diet.
Aging is not the cause of degenerative joint disease. Aging is not the cause of heart disease or high blood pressure, and it is not the cause of dementia. Rather, it is years of self-abuse from eating improperly that results in these diseases. Osteoarthritis is a disease that can be prevented and helped via nutritional excellence. Remember, diseases that appear later in life do not arise from what we do late in life; they are formed gradually over our entire lifespan. It is never too early to protect yourself with nutritional excellence. The adoption of dietary modifications and the judicious use of nutritional supplements, as described in my book, Eat to Live, can offer improvement in function, reduction in pain and even repair of damaged joints in those with osteoarthritis.
A Progressive Approach to Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is another form of arthritis, and not as common as osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that usually occurs in symmetrical parts of the body, such as hands, wrists, knees and feet. Morning stiffness, especially in the hands, is a hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis. The disease is diagnosed from these typical symptoms and by blood tests that demonstrate inflammation in the body.
It is not entirely understood why autoimmune diseases develop. A combination of factors such as bacterial overgrowth in the digestive tract, increased gut permeability, immune system hyper-reactivity and retention of toxic metabolites that stimulate the immune response. All play a role. The immune system, in an attempt to remove foreign or toxic substances, mistakenly attacks its own cells and, as a result, inflames the joints, causing arthritis pain. The term autoimmune disease was coined to reflect these bodily misinterpretations. Psoriatic arthritis, also classified among the autoimmune diseases, occurs when the misdirected immune response attacks the skin along with the joints.
Arthritis sufferers spend more than $1 billion annually on drug treatments. One million new cases are diagnosed every year, and the number is growing. Drugs and surgery are the standard treatments offered by the medical profession without attention to cause or nutrition. The Arthritis Foundation boldly declares in their literature that there is no special diet for arthritis and that food has nothing to do with causing it. Fortunately, there is solid evidence to refute this ill-informed and irresponsible opinion, including hundreds of scientific studies reported in medical journals.
As stated earlier, the traditional approach for treatment of arthritis revolves around medication. In autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, the typical medications utilized are considerably toxic and can result in serious disability. Steroids and chemotherapeutic agents such as methotrexate, Imuran®, Gold®, Plaquenil®, Arava® and Remicade® are the standard drugs used today.
My approach to treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis differs in that it incorporates dietary modifications and nutritional supplements, avoiding the use of toxic drugs in the vast majority of cases. The recommendations are customized to the needs and response of each patient to treatment and involve more than just putting them on a special diet. However, in most cases, dramatic improvement and even complete recoveries occur.
In spite of well, conducted scientific investigations and the clinical experience of many physicians, this effective nutritional treatment of autoimmune disease is generally ignored. I have seen scores of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia and connective tissue disease obtain complete recoveries through these natural interventions. Also, I have many patients who have made complete recoveries from allergies and asthma. Not every patient obtains a complete remission, but the majority is able to avoid the use of medication.
The Dietary Equation
The key to treating autoimmune illnesses is to obey the H = N/C formula. Only then can the immune system begin to normalize its haywire circuitry. H = N/C means Health is proportional to the Nutrient per Calorie density of your diet. This formula is always considered in my nutritional recommendations and forms the foundation of my nutritional medicine practice. Research confirms the effectiveness of this approach for rheumatoid arthritis.
Since we are primates, designed best for a plant predominant diet, many people have a limited capacity to digest animal proteins efficiently. When we eat a diet rich in animal protein, our ability to efficiently cleave all the amino acid bonds may be limited. All the protein may not be totally broken down into its amino acid building blocks. There is evidence that when animal peptides (pieces of partially broken-down proteins) are absorbed. They can lead to the formation of antibodies against themselves. Our immune system will not only attack these foreign proteins, but it can also cross-react, attacking human proteins in the body that resemble the amino acid sequences found on dietary animal proteins.
In other words, because animal proteins closely resemble the amino acid sequences of human body proteins, our own reaction (antibodies) against inadequately broken down proteins (peptides) can also attack our own tissues. Plant proteins are less likely to cause this reaction, even if their peptides pass into the bloodstream, because they bear little resemblance to human proteins. Because we cannot efficiently dissolve animal proteins in the digestive tract and, frequently, consumption exceeds the digestive capacity, more incompletely digested peptides are apt to be absorbed. These peptides also results in the stimulation of unhealthy bacterial flora and the absorption of toxic bacterial by-products, which can create an inflammatory environment and, hence, immune dysfunction.
When patients with rheumatoid arthritis adopt a diet that is lower in animal protein and higher in vegetable protein, they typically feel better. Certain foods such as wheat and citrus fruit, as well as others, can also occasionally play a role.
A large percentage of my patients who follow my nutritional recommendations for rheumatoid arthritis see dramatic improvement. A certain percentage of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers see a tremendous improvement with high-dose fish oil. It is worth a trial.
Working with dietary modifications that target the individual’s unique sensitivities, in conjunction with the judicious use of nutritional supplements that are helpful, and an occasional fast, the recommendations can be modified to help even the patient with a more severe case of rheumatoid arthritis. Of course, the biggest likelihood of complete remission and recovery is in the earlier stages or milder cases of the disease.
Fasting and Rheumatoid Arthritis
A recent meta–analysis of available scientific reports on fasting followed by a vegetarian diet in patients with rheumatoid arthritis reviewed thirty-one studies and concluded that fasting, followed by a vegetarian diet, is useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Not all patients need to fast to resolve their symptoms, but it is helpful for some. For many, dietary modifications and the judicious use of appropriate nutritional supplements can eliminate pain and induce a remission. My experience of monitoring over 500 fasts in a variety of clinical conditions has allowed me to observe that fasting, followed by a vegan diet, can offer both reduction in pain and lower inflammatory markers in patients with autoimmune illnesses. In addition, if the fasting period is extended long enough, a substantial number of patients actually experience total remission of autoimmune symptoms that do not return with re-feeding in about half the time. A series of my illustrative cases, were published in the medical journal: Alternative Therapies 2001;8(4):1-3.
A Few of Many Arthritis Success Stories
Late in 1992, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. The rheumatologist, who I was seeing, prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and when my condition worsened he recommended Methotrexate®. After reading about the dangerous side effects of this and other potent drugs being used for rheumatoid arthritis, I began looking for other options. I was lucky enough to hear about Dr. Fuhrman, and in March of 1993, I began his Arthritis Reversal Diet. I started to improve immediately and gradually stopped taking NSAIDs. I have switched to his recommended nutritional supplements instead. Now, I have no stiffness or pain, and my sedimentation rate, an indicator of inflammation, has gone from the 50’s to 11. I have progressed from being barely able to climb stairs to working out regularly at a gym, and I don’t have to worry about the side effects of drugs that can be worse than the disease itself. I am very grateful to Dr. Fuhrman and his staff for their patience and their professionalism. They have helped me back to health on the “Road Less Traveled”. -- M. McColgan
Two years ago, I started getting a lot of pain in my right wrist, and no one knew why. I had been to eight doctors, and I thought that there was no hope for me until I found Dr. Fuhrman. I had been on heavy medication such as Methotrexate®, Oraval®, Voltarin® and others. I had an MRI, many X-rays and a bone scan to try to find out what was wrong. I was given the diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. Each drug had a different side effect, and even with all of this going on, I still wasn’t getting better. Iin just a few short months, Dr. Fuhrman not only eliminated the pain in my wrist, but my blood pressure went down. Furthermore, I lost 60 pounds and have remained healthy. I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me. I have kept the weight and pain away. I feel great and owe it all to you! I can’t thank you enough. -- M. Graciano
I have cared for hundreds of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, connective tissue disease, systemic lupus, fibromyalgia and other painful disorders. The vast majority of all these patients have been able to achieve complete remission or significant reduction in pain and need for medications. The majority of patients did not need to fast, but the most stubborn cases have found that periodic fasting was helpful for achieving long-term remission. For those interested in a complete primer on this approach to treating autoimmune diseases please read my book, Fasting and Eating for Health, St. Martin’s Press, New York.
This information is intended to encourage you to strive for excellent health with the understanding that the human body, under the appropriate circumstances, can heal itself. Please contact me should you be interested in pursuing a nutritional road to wellness. Phone consultations are available for those who require individualized advice and for those on medication requiring personalized nutritional management and gradual medication reduction. If you are one of those with the motivation and desire to improve and even resolve your arthritic condition, I look forward to hearing from you.