Wheat and joint pain

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

Information from Purity Laboratories, San Miguel de Proyectos Agropecuarios, Acadia Corporation, and Immunolabs

Short term fasting and vegetarian diets have been found to help some people with rheumatoid arthritis.

However such diets should always be closely supervised as there is a danger of nutritional deficiencies occurring.

Some practitioners attribute arthritis to sensitivity to foods from the nightshade family, eg, tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines (and tobacco). However there is no sound scientific research to back this up.

Other common food intolerances that are said to be a factor for some sufferers include wheat and dairy products. A physician may try to identify any food intolerances by putting you on an exclusion diet.

Bread, cereals and products made of corn or cereals may also increase inflammation, if they contain wheat. Wheat causes a special type of inflammation in the intestines called celiac disease in some individuals, but some feel wheat may also trigger inflammation of non-celiac type.

Kamut, also known as "Egyptian wheat," has been found sealed in graves in the pyramids. Although closely related to wheat, some people who react badly to that staple grain can still tolerate kamut. Kamut is nutritionally superior, and many people who try it think it has a better taste. Kamut does contain gluten, though, so it shouldn't be eaten by people with celiac disease (gluten intolerance).

Quinoa is another grain with flavor, has high protein content, and cooks easily in the microwave. Rich in vitamins, quinoa also provides a complete protein that contains all eight amino acids. Technically, quinoa is not a true grain: It's more closely related to beets and spinach. An important crop of the ancient Incas, it was mixed with fat to make "war balls," food used to sustain Incan armies during campaigns. It's known today as "little rice" in South America.

Another crop native to South America that isn't truly a grain, but is often used as a grain substitute, is amaranth. Amaranth was considered to have supernatural powers by the ancient Aztec civilization, where it was used to make figures of various gods, which were then eaten in religious ceremonies. The practice was banned by the Spanish conquistadors, who considered it a parody of the holy communion host.

Besides being a trendy food in the U.S., amaranth has been widely used in Mexico to combat malnutrition. "We believe that amaranth is an alternative crop of high potential, and have worked on the reintroduction of its cultivation throughout Mexico," says Diego Manrique de Lara, commercial director of a Mexican company, San Miguel de Proyectos Agropecuarios. de Lara adds that the company is concentrating on introducing the plant in small, rural communities. "It is a food that is easily reintroduced in the diet of the local population," says de Lara, "and its addition into the staple diet of Mexico provides a balanced nutritional profile, which corn and beans alone do not."

Amaranth, which has high protein content and, like quinoa, contains all eight amino acids, has environmental advantages, since it is significantly hardier and more drought-resistant than other staple crops. Advocates say that amaranth also requires significantly less pesticides and fertilizers, and it is usually grown without irrigation, making usable parcels of semi-arid land that would otherwise lie fallow or give very low yields of corn.

However, amaranth alone doesn't produce a consumer-acceptable bread because it doesn't have gluten, which provides strength and elasticity. In Mexico, amaranth is primarily mixed with non-gluten maize, resulting in tasty and allergy-resistant bread. Jorge Ortega, president of Acadia Corporation, which sells amaranth and other products, describes it as having a nutty taste, and a delicious aroma. "Bakery products with amaranth are gold colored and have a very nice texture," he says. "But you will have to mix amaranth with other ingredients, because it is very strong."

Another grain alternative that is increasingly popular in the U.S. is spelt, a relative of wheat that, like kamut, has been found in the tombs of ancient Egyptians. Don Stinchcomb, president of Purity Foods, says that his company became interested in marketing spelt after naturopathic physicians in the Detroit area began recommending it to their patients with chronic debilitative diseases such as cancer. Some, but not all, people who have wheat allergies can tolerate spelt. "The advantage of spelt is that it is easier to digest than virtually any other type of grain," Stinchcomb says. Recently, interest was also piqued by the publication of the book Cook Right for Your Blood Type, written by Peter D'Adamo. He recommends spelt for all blood types, and includes it in 22 of 25 bread recipes. D'Adamo believes spelt will be the next staple grain. "We've been getting a lot of telephone calls about spelt," he says.

Like the others, spelt contains all eight amino acids, and is high in complex carbohydrates. Stinchcomb says it is even more palatable than wheat, which allows it to be used in whole grain form in products such as pasta, which may not taste great when made from whole wheat. Other spelt advantages include a higher resistance to disease and pests than wheat, and the ability to be grown using a third less nitrogen fertilizer.

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