Injuries (a.k.a. Unsolicited Medical Advice)

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4 thoughts on “Injuries (a.k.a. Unsolicited Medical Advice)

  1. Hi Carrie,

    I love your blog! I’m also a runner, vegan…and have had 7 knee surgeries (3 ACL reconstructions, fractured tibia, etc.). I’m curious if you’ve found any connection between various vegan foods and a reduction in knee inflammation in your studies/experience.

    My best,
    Chris

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    1. Hi Chris,

      I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my writing! It sounds like we have a lot in common–one of my reasons for exploring a plant-based diet had to do with healing a knee injury, which flares up from time to time.

      I think diet can play a crucial role in modulating inflammation. The good news is, a whole foods, plant-based diet is one of the best ways to start. By definition, a fruit- and vegetable-rich diet is alkalizing to the body’s tissues and fluids, and an alkaline internal environment is known to temper inflammation and promote healing and recovery, among other things.

      My #1 strategy for keeping my knee inflammation in check is to try and keep my diet as alkaline-forming as possible. The simplest way to do this is to make fruits and vegetables comprise the vast majority of my diet. I do also eat acid-forming foods, such as grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes, but in much smaller amounts. And on the rare occasions that I do eat very concentrated sources of protein (e.g. tempeh, seitan, tofu, etc.), I make sure I balance it out with alkaline-forming foods for the rest of the day.

      For the most part, this strategy has kept my knee inflammation at bay. However, I think it’s also worth experimenting with eliminating certain common trigger foods one at a time. When researching the subject of joint pain and food triggers, I was surprised to find that some of my favorite foods were on the list. Top culprits for generalized arthritis and joint inflammation include nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant), coffee, gluten, refined flours, refined sugars, and dairy. I have personally gone through each of these culprits systematically (except dairy, of course, which I haven’t eaten in years) and eliminated it from my diet for at least two weeks to see if I noticed a difference. It was definitely a worthwhile experiment (kicking coffee was tough though!).

      I think it’s also noteworthy that the evidence is mounting that gluten may play a significant role in imparting damage and inflammation to joints, both in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and asymptomatic individuals without RA. Studies have revealed anti-glutinin antibodies in the synovial membrane and joint fluid of people both with and without Coeliac Disease. Eliminating, or at least minimizing, gluten may be a good idea for all of us, regardless of whether or not we have been officially diagnosed with an autoimmune condition.

      I think the key is to really push fresh, raw (when possible) fruits and veggies due to their alkalizing and healing properties (e.g. bromelain in pineapple has effectively been shown to initiate repair in damaged joints); balance out acid-forming foods appropriately; and experiment with elimination diets to identify potential triggers.

      My apologies for the long-winded response, but I hope it helps some. Keep me posted on how you’re doing!

      Warm regards,
      Carrie

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  2. Can you link me to the evidence that foods (a) alkalinize tissues and (b) that an alkaline environment promotes healing? Typically the body’s pH is kept between 7.35-7.45 which is alkaline, and makes adjustments through manipulating the respiratory rate and the urinary secretion or retention of HCO3. I’ve heard a lot about alkalinizing foods but I’ve never seen any hard data or much physiological explanation to support its assertions.

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    1. Sure, the following resources highlight the clinically meaningful difference between “acidaemia” and “acidosis,” as well as optimal means for measuring transient effects of dietary load on serum characteristics.

      http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=7499708
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10923348
      http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10925&page=189

      It is important to note that in addition to possible small but clinically significant shifts in pH balance, fruits and vegetables themselves also provide a wealth of highly bioavailable, bone-building and muscle-repairing nutrients, phytochemicals and antioxidants which in and of themselves squelch inflammatory processes and speed recovery. Ultimately, optimal and fast recovery translates into decreased risk of injury and damage at both the cellular and the systems level. I hope this helps clarify the issue for you.

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