Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet options and Inflammatory Food Reactions, Are Oxalates or Allergies causing you to Flare.

Moderation is a place to start with diet change.
The mix of online diet choices make it hard to determine how to begin an anti-inflammatory diet. A few of the more popular diet plans that are supposed to help ease the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) are Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Paleo, Keto, Mediterranean, Acid Alkaline, and Low Oxalate. My experience is to not go cold turkey into a diet change but gradually remove or swap out foods. Technically you might not be able to eat "everything" but eating in moderation could help you not have an arthritis flare.

Fresh and organic, second place to start.
Many years ago I grew Swiss Chard in my garden. It was so delicious I cooked it for dinner several nights in a row, adding soy sauce, garlic, and sesame seeds. After a few days I started having constant burning agonizing mystery pain. After searching online for days, I discovered that high oxalate foods are not your friend! Oxalate's can cause kidney stones and we've all heard how painful that is, but it can also cause external pain. Fortunately, Calcium Citrate usually neutralizes oxalate but you will have to avoid loading up on high oxalate foods to prevent a recurrence. Swiss chard and sesame seed are very high in oxalates so I was overloading. In moderation, you can eat even high oxalate foods, but they can be acidic and inflammatory. Bad news for RA. So while I'm searching to avoid inflammatory foods, I have to remove high oxalate foods from any plan. You can neutralize some of the oxalate by adding calcium carbonate to greens that you boil to lower the oxalate content. Interestingly, I've never had any obvious reaction to Spinach or Sweet Potato but have to orange peel which are all very high oxalate foods. But, I've actually never thought of it causing my RA symptoms so this is definitely is on the top of my list to get serious about.

Yellow tom are less acidic than red!
Another easy rule is to avoid acidic, sour, and spicy foods all of which are known to be inflammatory. Of course some study is required to figure out what foods qualify as acidic. Low oxalate foods can be non-acidic so a list of how much oxalate in food is very helpful. This list is a little more sensible as far as food portions but oxalate levels can vary depending if the food is fresh, canned, raw or cooked. Also different manufacturer brands of the same food can have different oxalate levels and acidity. The Acid Alkaline Diet promotes alkaline balancing foods and maps out what to eat and not eat.

Pain diversion -- flowers and butterflies!
I experienced another weird food reaction when I volunteered to pour beer for the SPCA at a downtown music event. After pouring in the hot sun, we were given the opportunity to sample all the craft beers we were serving. I don't ever drink fresh locally crafted beer. The next day, half of my lip was swollen! This again happened when I ate a certain brand of bread. After googling, I figured out that I was having an allergic reaction to Barley Malt. If you start looking at bread labels, you will find it in just about every loaf on the shelf! I avoid barley malt especially if it is listed near the beginning on package labeling.

Glad we have lots of frogs, one of our fat Fowler Toads.
Most recently I picked up what I thought were chigger bites on my ankles while weeding very tall grass that was surrounding a few newly planted trees. I've never had such horrible itching, the only thing that made it somewhat tolerable was a homemade paste of baking soda and water. Even worse,  the very next weekend I ate Pork Barbecue. I generally am a vegetarian so I had not eaten any meat the week prior. I broke out in hives everywhere except for on my face and was deathly ill. I thought it was food poisoning and was so sick that I called the health department the next day! Six months later I again ate meat (a hamburger) and became deathly ill. Luckily on both occasions I took an antihistamine which I think kept me from going to the Emergency Room! After googling, I stumbled upon a tick borne meat allergy Alpha Gal, and my experience fit the mold perfectly. So I have to add no red meat to my plan, which is easy for me.

None of this for me, great place in Bristol, TN
These added complications have kept me from taking diet alteration seriously. It just became overwhelming. I also hate being restricted when I go out to eat. I refuse to make demands on the kitchen and be rigid for one meal out of my life! So for now, I'll be eating from home trying to figure out this inflammatory madness.

Just picking a plan when you have health complications and food allergies can be tricky. So for now I'm honing in on vegetarian, alkaline, and low oxalate food choices.


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