“Ouch! My aching joints!” Is my lunch the cause?

Being an acupuncturist, I have many people coming to me in search of quick relief from various joint pains…back, knees, hips – you name it. While I do like to help them get immediate relief, I am never completely satisfied with temporary pain relief. I always prefer to find the true source of the pain so that it does not reoccur. For many, daily food choices may be one of the causes. I know you may be hesitant to face the possibility that your cherished morning bagel could cause you harm, but for some, this could be the case.

More and more, science is finding correlations between health issues and the relative health of our digestive tracts. Current research is focused on what is termed the “micro biome” – the inner ecology of your digestive tract. Recent thinking is that a large component of autoimmune disease has an unbalanced micro biome and subsequent digestive weakness at its source. When the micro biome becomes compromised, the permeability of the intestinal lining can increase, allowing larger food molecules to pass into the body’s circulation. As the body reacts to these molecules it now views as foreign, the immune system is activated and creates an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response can then affect our whole body and specifically our joints. Note that most of chronic disease is driven by uncontrolled or even low levels of inflammation in the body. A study in 2008 examined patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The study found that many of the participants had immune reactions related to specific foods including gliadin (a protein found in wheat that is related to gluten). I mention wheat specifically, because it is such a big part of the American diet. When I test patients and find that they are sensitive to wheat and more specifically gluten, I encourage them to remove these from their diet for a period of time to see if they notice a difference in their symptoms. Very frequently I see tremendous improvement in their health, including a reduction or elimination of pain and inflammation.

If you are suffering from chronic inflammation and more specifically autoimmune disease, it is very important to check your vitamin D levels and to test for gluten–associated antibodies and foods that are cross reactive (such as other grains and dairy to name a few) since they play a large role in inflammatory and autoimmune processes.


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