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Arthritis has been a problem in my family on both sides, one of my earliest memories is of my Grampy, whose hands were so deformed by it, he was scraping a new potato for his lunch using his finger nails because there was no way he could hold a knife. The thing I remember most about that incident though is him laughing while he was doing it, overjoyed at his ingenuity but I don’t think he realised that I saw him afterwards soaking it to try and get it clean and to ease the pain. I would also point out that the age of 4 at the time I was too young to offer to do it for him. So with a family background like this arthritis is something that I have always been aware of and occasionally do suffer from, although so far I have been lucky and have only suffered occasionally. When I first started to notice it, I bought this book ‘Eat to Beat Arthritis’ as I always prefer to try and control things through diet before resorting to doctors and pills.
Please note that I am certainly not recommending this book as an alternative to proper medical advice from a qualified professional and I myself have only suffered mild arthritis and it has worked for me but I can-not comment first hand on more severe arthritis.
Marguerite Patten, is a food writer, who has suffered severe arthritis which she controlled through diet. She is a member of the forum on Food and Health at the Royal Society of Medicine.
Jeannette Ewin is a biochemist and nutritionist; she studied at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine and the Harvard School of public health.
The book is divided into 2 parts and as with most books, is divided into chapters, the first is more of an introduction that doesn’t really say very much at all. So I will start with:
Chapter 2 This is entitled ‘Know your enemy’ and it goes into some detail on the various forms of arthritis: rheumatoid, osteoarthritis and gout which sounds particularly horrible.
Chapter 3 Combatting the Enemy, this chapter is actually very sensible it starts with a detox, of which I’m not a huge fan at best of times but needs must and then the diet follows a 7 week plan to see what works for you. The idea is the first couple of weeks you cut all foods that often cause food intolerances like gluten and alcohol are cut from the diet, usually by this point there has been some relief from the pain. Then in weeks 3 to 7 you gradually start to add them back in so you find out what exactly is causing your inflammation and pain. With me it tends to be orange juice and tomatoes two of my absolute favourite things.
Chapter 4 Lifestyle, this is looking beyond the arthritis and at your health and wellbeing in general. The 5 steps that they focus on are not rocket science, but are important things to consider in any health regime:
1. Control your weight 2. Enjoy gentle exercise 3. Get adequate sleep 4. Learn to relax 5. Have a good laugh
Goes into more detail about arthritis, and the diet also covering food types that harm and heal.
This finally is diet itself. The most useful part of the book, and possibly the only part I refer to regularly is here in a long list of foods that you can eat on the diet without worrying about the effects of arthritis. Along with a few that you can’t.
This is of course all the recipes, of which I have made, precisely none!
If at this point you have read my previous recipe book reviews you will know that all of my recipe books have to earn a place on my bookshelf so why has this one survived?
I have used this book, on a fairly regular basis, it has been borrowed by several of my adult piano students, many of whom were learning the piano as an aid to keep their fingers moving in the wake of arthritis. The recipes are not good, there is nothing in there that sparks my interest I can't even find anything mouth watering to mention it here, there are things like omlettes and grilled fish, nothing that you really need a book for and there are only a small number of colour pictures of them that I guess for financial reasons are all bunched together in the middle rather than next to their respective recipe. The food lists however are really good and very useful. The information on the disease itself is really good.
With my family history I can see this book becoming more valuable as I get older, but with my limited suffering so far making small changes when I have suffered has definitely made a difference. Also amongst my students who have borrowed the book, many of them have made changes to their diets as a result of the book and have also reported a difference.
I do believe the science and knowledge behind the book is good and will make a difference, it’s no miracle cure and I hope to goodness one day there will be, but in the mean time for mild arthritis it has worked for me, it's held it off, for now.
Currently available on Amazon for £5.39 with the usual second hand options.