Meat and Rheumatoid Arthritis
I am a previous sufferer of Rheumatoid Arthritis so I know how horrible the disease can be and how difficult life becomes during those terrible years. I explain in my natural cure for rheumatoid arthritis book how to go about eliminating the underlying cause of the disease by taking out of your diet the foods that are most offensive to the digestive system and overall inflammation in the body. One of the worst offenders is meat.
Most people love meat and consider it the main part of every meal. They also believe it is essential to the diet to be healthy and strong, providing beneficial protein, iron, energy and nutrients. The truth is, meat is not essential to human wellbeing whatsoever and any positive benefits it offers can be easily obtained from plant sources, without all the negative side effects that meat holds.
There are many downsides to meat from the point of view of an RA sufferer:
Meat, including fish, is very high in fat as a percentage of calories.
Animal meat contains no dietary fiber. Our healthy bacteria need to eat plant fiber, whilst unwanted pathogens thrive on animal waste. In addition, fiber is key for steady, regular stools that are easy to pass. I've found that it makes no sense to have a substantial part of my meal that contains no dietary fiber when I've found fiber such a key component to getting well.
Carbohydrates are easier to digest than meat, thus relieving workload off a stomach that is currently under stress.
Proteins are acid-forming since they are composed entirely of amino acids. (More on amino acids below). The most acidifying for the body are the sulfur-containing amino acids which break down to sulfuric acid. These sulfur-containing amino acids are most abundant in animal products like meat, chicken, fish and eggs. In fact, meat contains 4 times the amount of the highly acidifying sulfur-containing amino acids than any vegetable-based protein. You might remember from chemistry in school that to neutralize an acid you need a base. The body neutralizes the acids from these animal products using the most effective base that it has - calcium. The calcium gets withdrawn from the bones and is used to offset these acids. Through this process the bones are weakened, resulting in osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.
There are also several valid arguments put forward by others, which are non-specific to RA, but worth knowing also for your overall health and wellbeing:
Animal proteins (including all animal products like milk, cheese and all dairy products) are linked to other chronic diseases, including the top 3 killers of Heart Disease, Cancer and Diabetes. (By the way, the fourth biggest killer in the US behind these is prescription medicine, and that is taking the medicine as prescribed!) By eliminating all animal-based foods from his diet for 4 days my Dad was able to reduce his blood pressure from 160/110 to 127/78. This kind of express improvement is unheard of in Western medicine, yet entirely predictable and repeatable when you understand the effects of foods on the body. Why eat something that contributes to other diseases when you're already dealing with a damn tough condition already? Animal proteins develop fat cells on the body, by creating store houses for the over acidity that the body is trying to cope with. The fat you eat is fat you keep.
Animal foods are high in cholesterol. Nobody wants that in their bloodstream. There is zero cholesterol in plant-based foods.
Animal products contain uric acid, the excess of which is behind arthritic conditions like gout. There is an incredible testimonial in my book Natural Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis book about a man with gout who followed the program and eliminated all pain in 1 week.
Not eating animal foods is the single biggest thing that can be done to help the environment (a whole book called 'Diet for the New America' is all about this. It's got to do with the amount of land and resources required to produce animal food vs. the tiny fraction required to produce the equivalent calories via plant-based foods). If everyone only ate plant-based foods our world would be an extraordinarily different place.
A plant-based diet is non-violent, upholding the Commandment of 'thou shall not kill'.
Meat tastes bad. Seriously! Try eating it without ketchup, without mustard, without salt or any seasoning whatsoever. Just a plain bit of animal muscle without seasoning. Good luck.
It's worth noting that I have no pre-existing prejudice towards eating meat. I grew up on a farm where steak was on my plate at least once a day. In fact, I was very reluctant to stop eating meat and I only did so once I reviewed the truth about meat and observed the benefits that a meat-free diet had on my body.
Everyone is concerned about getting another source of protein. Westerners seem to have a love affair with protein that borders on obsession. The truth is, protein is just a combination of building blocks called 'Amino Acids' which combine together in various permutations to create various forms of proteins. Think of this in exactly the same way that all words in the English language are put together from various combinations of letters of the alphabet. There are 20 different amino acids that are the building blocks for protein. Plants (and some bacteria) can manufacture all of these amino acids and therefore make 'complete' proteins. However, humans can only manufacture 12 of the amino acids without food, so we require the other 8 in our diet. These 8 amino acids are called 'essential' amino acids, referring to 'essential to our diet'. Plants contain these 8 essential amino acids in abundance.
Obviously, feel free to keep eating meat if you want, I'm not your Mother. I can't tell you what to do, but the evidence is strong towards omitting it and I'd be omitting it soon. Does now sound like a good time? I don't expect you will cure yourself of Rheumatoid Arthritis if you keep meat in your diet. Nor, for that matter, dairy products...but that's another story (or Ezine Article!).