How Diet Helps Arthritis Sufferers
Dr Vernon Coleman
In the UK, the Government has told arthritis sufferers that they wonít be given painkillers. So, itís vital for those with arthritis to deal with their pain themselves.
Numerous claims have made about the importance of diet to arthritis sufferers but I believe that there are only two important dietary factors which influence arthritis (though there are some special dietary restrictions associated with gout).
First, you will be more likely to suffer from arthritis Ė and more likely to suffer from it badly Ė if you are overweight. If you carry too much weight then your joints will be constantly under unnecessary pressure. This is particularly true of your weight bearing joints Ė hips, knees, ankles and spine. The more excess fat you carry the worse the problem will be. Losing weight, and staying slim, is essential if you are to protect your joints.
Second, you will also reduce the risk of developing arthritis if you eat a vegetarian diet and avoid meat completely. A vegetarian diet will also help to control and minimise your symptoms if you are an arthritis sufferer. Research showed that patients with rheumatoid arthritis who followed a vegetarian diet enjoyed a significant reduction in the amount of pain they suffered, in the number of tender and swollen joints they had and in the amount of stiffness they had to endure in the morning. Blood tests also showed that the disease had been brought under better control by the vegetarian diet. Most of us are brought up to regard meat as the central part of any main meal and as a result we feel slightly Ďlostí and uncomfortable when we try to think of menus that donít include any meat. If you donít spend a little time preparing yourself for vegetarianism you will probably end up eating a constant diet of cheese sandwiches and cheese omelettes. If you do this, you will probably make yourself ill. Most cheeses contain quite a lot of fat and you could easily end up eating more fat than you were doing when you were eating meat. (Incidentally, Iíve been campaigning on animal issues for nearly 60 years and promoting vegetarian eating for 35 years. I gave up eating meat because I love animals and donít want to eat them. But there are huge health advantages. My book `Meat Causes Cancerí contains tasty vegetarian recipes to help you give up meat. You donít have to eat the laboratory made junk food promoted by the promoters of the Great Reset. Garden vegetables are much better for you.)
Ten questions about becoming a vegetarian Ė and the answers!
Is a vegetarian diet safe? I always thought that meat was essential for good health. Wonít I be short of essential vitamins and minerals if I stop eating meat?
A vegetarian diet will provide you with all the essential nutrients that your body needs.
But what about iron? I thought that iron was only available in meat. And surely iron is essential for the production of healthy blood cells.
Iron is essential for the production of healthy blood cells. But you donít need to eat meat to get a good intake of iron. Dark green vegetables such as cabbage, spinach and kale, peas and beans and dried fruit are among the vegetarian foods which are rich in iron. Moreover, a vegetarian diet will probably increase your bodyís capacity to absorb iron. Vitamin C Ė present in large quantities in fruit and vegetables Ė will help you to absorb iron. Ironically, meat eaters are often more likely to develop iron deficiency anaemia than are vegetarians.
Wonít a vegetarian diet be short on essential proteins? I thought that there were some types of protein that were ONLY available in meat.
It is true that most of us get the majority of our protein from meat but that is purely as a result of eating habits rather than anything else. Animal products are, pound for pound, only a very slightly better source of protein than nuts or seeds and no better than things like soya beans. You can get all the protein you need from a vegetarian diet.
If I stop eating meat wonít I become weak and easily tired?
No. Some of the worldís strongest animals Ė elephants, gorillas, bulls and horses Ė are vegetarian. Vegetarians have won Olympic medals in strength and endurance events and triathlon championships are regularly won by vegetarians.
Apart from helping my arthritis will becoming a vegetarian have any other good effects on my health?
Almost certainly. A vegetarian diet will almost certainly include less fat than a diet that includes meat (unless you eat too many dairy foods). You will, therefore, be less likely to suffer from a wide range of disorders known to be associated with a high fat consumption. Atherosclerosis (clogged up arteries), heart disease and high blood pressure are all associated with a high fat diet. Doctors now estimate that between one third and one half of all cancers are associated with the food we eat and meat and fat are believed to be two of the types of food which cause cancer. In addition there is now evidence to show that many other disorders are made worse by a diet that includes meat Ė and better by a vegetarian diet. If you suffer from constipation, for example, you will probably find that eating more fresh fruit and vegetables (and therefore more fibre) will solve your problem permanently. It is also worth remembering that as a non-meat eater you will be far less likely to suffer from food poisoning Ė over 90% of food poisoning cases are due to infected meat.
Will a vegetarian diet help me to lose weight?
Yes, you should be able to lose weight more readily if you switch to a vegetarian diet. This will not be because meat is fattening but because by changing your eating habits you will have a chance to get rid of all the old, bad habits that helped to make you fat and to replace them with better, new habits that will help you get slim and stay slim. When you become a vegetarian you can change the way you think about food and you can more easily get into the healthy, new habit of eating only when you are hungry.
Will a vegetarian diet be more expensive than an ordinary diet that includes meat?
No. On the contrary a vegetarian diet will probably be cheaper than a diet that includes meat. Meat (and meat products) are expensive to buy. And whereas you can grow some (or all) of your own vegetables you will probably be unable to be able to grow your own meat.
Wonít I find a vegetarian diet extremely boring? I donít think I could live on a diet of lettuce and cabbage.
I donít think anyone could live on a diet of lettuce and cabbage. But if you think of a vegetarian diet as being inevitably dull that must be because you have been brought up to think of meat as an essential centre-point to every meal. The truth is, however, that vegetables, fruits, pulses and cereals can make an attractive and exciting diet. These days more and more top rank cooks are writing cookery books devoted exclusively to vegetarian recipes.
Wonít I find it difficult to eat out if I become a vegetarian? What will I do when Iím travelling or away on holiday?
If you are booking an airline ticket or a hotel simply tell the booking clerk that you are vegetarian. If you are booking a table at a restaurant make sure that they serve vegetarian food. You will have some excellent meals, some quite good meals and some appalling meals. But the rise in popularity of vegetarianism means that it is getting easier and easier to eat out without eating meat. It is usually quite easy to have an excellent vegetarian meal in an Indian restaurant.
What can I eat if I donít eat meat?
Many people are put off becoming vegetarian because they canít think what they will be able to eat if they donít eat meat. A quick trip to your local supermarket will, however, show that there are not only many different fruits and vegetables available but that because vegetarianism is growing rapidly there are many ready-made vegetarian meals on sale.
Taken from `How to Conquer Arthritisí by Vernon Coleman
`How to conquer arthritisí is available as a hard cover, paperback and an eBook
Copyright Vernon Colema
n May 2022