Friday, June 26, 2009


Array of processed foods, available to the modern day consumer, make it difficult to choose a diet that is considered healthy. In spite of universally accepted guidelines on daily diet for a healthy life available, lack of awareness and ease of convenience invariably drive the consumer to go for foods that suits his palates and satisfy his sensory desires. Progressive decline in consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, is a consequence of the growing influence of food processing industry which strives to add value to food raw materials through application of modern technologies. Classical examples are white rice devoid of the goodness of the bran, refined wheat flour sans the bran and the germ, peeled and dressed fruits and vegetables, refined edible oils, etc

Arthritis is a painful disorder which can make life miserable for those affected by it. Though the causative factors that precipitate the symptoms are not well understood, all treatment regimes are based on lessening the pain and allowing the patients to lead an almost normal life. Hip and knees, most affected can be surgically repaired for eliminating the problems associated with arthritis. Genetics, age, weight, previous injury, occupational hazards, some sports activities, illnesses and infections can cause symptoms of arthritis, the severity varying from person to person. The disease affects the musculoskeleton system, specifically the joints. Cartilage in the joints covers the bone surfaces to stop the ends of the bones rubbing directly against each other and prevent attrition causing wear and tear. Some of the direct causative factors include wearing out of the cartilage, lack of synovial fluid, autoimmunity, infection etc singly or in combination. According to medical science there are over 100 types of arthritis and treatment regime depends on precise diagnosis of the symptoms manifested in the affected persons. While rheumatic arthritis affect people between ages 20 and 45 yeas, osteoarthritis is more seen amongst old age population.

Different perceptions exist regarding the type of food one should avoid to pre-empt or reduce the impact and what can be consumed to ameliorate the symptoms of this disease. Sugar and fatty foods, red meat, cream, cheese, dairy products, caffeine containing beverages, tomato, peppers, chocolates, salt, etc are considered undesirable for arthritis affected persons. In gout arthritis alcohol and purine rich foods like meat worsens the misery. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and omega-3 fatty acid containing foods also are known to lessen the effect of arthritis in many people. Drinking one glass of freshly squeezed orange juice every day is supposed to cut the risk of developing inflammatory form of arthritis significantly. Not to be left behind, a group of scientists claim that, UCII, an undenatured type II collagen, extracted from chicken sternum cartilage, decreases arthritis pain by 33%, though exact mechanism is not still understood.

Dietary carotenoids like beta-cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin are reported to be effective in lowering the risk of developing arthritis while lutein and lycopene do not show any positive effect. Yellow and orange colored fruits, invariably are rich sources of cryptoxanthin and they include yellow apples, apricots, cantaloupes, yellow figs, grape fruit, orange, pineapple, pumpkin, yellow squash and sweet corn. Peppers contain 16876 microgram (ug) of this phytochemical per 200 kC serving while pumpkin has 16506 ug, winter squash 15583 ug, tangerine 2719 ug, papaya 3901 ug and persimmon 4135 ug. In general there is a belief that regular consumption of foods like corn, wheat, cow's milk, pork, oats, rye,eggs, beef, malt, cheese, tomato, peanuts and soybean. can precipitate arthritis in vulnerable people predisposed to this disease. Solanin present in tomato is a possible triggering agent for joint pains while potato, egg plant and pepper belonging to the solanum family can also exert same effect.

The classical studies in John Hopkins University have shown how phytochemicals derived from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli can control inflammation of the joints due to arthritis. Cells that line the blood vessels are stressed by liquid moving along their surface, called shear stress and it is found to be harmful to the joints as it causes increased COX-2 enzyme manifestation triggering inflammation and pain. Phase-2 enzyme activity is consequently suppressed causing death of chondrocytic cells. Healthy chondrcytes are responsible for smooth functioning of joints. When these cells die, the result is arthritis. The beneficial effect of vegetables and fruits is no more a conjecture and faster one switches over to a diet rich in assorted types of these health protecting natural foods, better will be the chances for survival against such deadly diseases like arthritis, asthma, cancer, CVD, viral diseases, GI related afflictions and other risks in day to day life. We can ignore this message at our own peril!


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