A Thanksgiving Lesson in Diet and Nutrition
Thanksgiving with my family was a glut of gluten, dairy and sugar. “Patty, you bring the vegetables, because you’re the only one who will eat them anyway,” my cousin said. So I cooked up some organic Brussels Sprouts and green beans. Llouise, our wonderful DDR newsletter designer provided me with a new quick and delicious recipe for the mini-cabbages. I cut them thinly and sautéed them in a bit of oil with lots of garlic until they were bright green, added some organic chicken broth and let them simmer for about 5 minutes. A little lemon juice, and voila: delicious! The green beans went into the steamer and were topped with toasted almonds.
You can guess the rest of the dinner: a golden brown Butterball turkey complete with pop-up button, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and stuffing. I cringed at the origins of each, which were confirmed by the jars, cans and wrappers on the kitchen counter.
The next day, a visiting relative complained about her chronic arthritis for which she had received several cortisone shots, and was taking a strong prescription pain killer. I asked if she would consider some dietary changes that could possibly relieve her pain. I reminded her that several years ago when she was experiencing digestive problems that a wheat-free diet had not only fixed her tummy issues, but had resulted in considerable weight loss. She had stopped it “because it was too hard!” Now that she was in pain, she was willing to try again.
I took a more complete history this time. Knowing that she ate a daily salad for lunch I asked her what was in it, and if she ate it EVERY single day. Yes, she did, and it included tomatoes, green, yellow and red peppers, topped with green olives stuffed with pimentos, and accompanied by potato chips. I related that these ingredients are all members of the nightshade family, and cousins to belladonna or the deadly nightshade, a plant whose leaves, berries and roots contain atropine, a poison that can kill those who consume it. Also interesting is that tobacco is another member of the nightshade family, and the relative in my case study smoked for many years. Did one addiction lead to another?
If nightshades don’t kill you, they can make you hurt. How? By causing inflammation. Some other known side effects are vision problems, confusion, and yes…sore joints. According to the Arthritis Nightshades Research Foundation (www.noarthritis.com) both scientific research and anecdotal evidence support nightshade avoidance.
My relative is now nightshade- and wheat-free for two weeks. Her results are extremely encouraging. On a scale of 0-10, she rated her pain without medication a 9 during Thanksgiving. She now estimates her pain at a 1, and is medication-free, hurting only slightly in one hip when descending stairs. A bonus is that she has lost 10 pounds! She is also taking some vitamin supplements and natural anti-inflammatories.
Bottom line: Approaches we have found helpful in autism and related disorders also work for other health issues. Before reaching for prescription medications:
- Investigate possible causes and eliminate exposures
- Reduce inflammation with natural anti-inflammatories
Will keep you posted.