Chapter OneKey #1
Eat to Live
One of the great stories in Scripture happened when Moses,
perched on a nearby hill, watched Joshua lead the nation of
Israel against the Amalekites in battle. The Bible records that as
long as Moses held up a rod in his hands, Israel was winning
the battle. When he rested his arms at his sides, the soldiers of
Amalek were winning.
Here's how Exodus 17:12-13 (NLT) describes what happened
Moses' arms finally became too tired to hold up the staff any
longer. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on.
Then they stood on each side, holding up his hands until sunset.
As a result, Joshua and his troops were able to crush the
army of Amalek.
Centuries later, it's fun to speculate that God's chosen leader
couldn't hold up the heavy bar because his shoulders suffered
from osteoarthritis pain. Perhaps he should have asked Aaron to
run down to the corner drugstore to pick up a tube of Bengay
to ensure Joshua and his troops' glorious victory.
I'm teasing, of course, because the Old Testament informs us
that when Moses died at the age of 120, his eyesight was perfect
and he was strong as a young man (Deut. 34:7). Moses and the
millions who followed him into the wilderness weren't racked by
arthritic knees, crooked backs, and sore hands during the time
of the Exodus. The psalmist declared that there wasn't one
"feeble among His tribes" (Ps. 105:37 NKJV).
I'm reasonably confident that Moses and the Hebrews were in
excellent shape from their natural and healthy diet as well as their
physical labors, so they didn't have excess pounds increasing stress
on their weight-bearing joints. Their lean bodies subsisted on a
nutritious diet comprised of a wondrous array of natural fruits
and vegetables and grass-fed beef and lamb. Scripture also tells us
what the Israelites didn't eat, which was unclean and "detestable"
meats such as pork, shellfish, and certain birds like vultures.
While I'm not prepared to say that Moses and the Hebrews were
arthritis-free since they ate so healthily, the following question is
relevant today: Can the foods you eat cause arthritis?
The Arthritis Foundation states that this is one of the most
common questions asked by people with arthritis. People naturally
wonder if their chronic joint pain is the result of eating
something they shouldn't have since the symptoms of arthritis
often change from one day to the next. Those having a "bad
day" question whether their arthritis pain was caused by something
they chewed and swallowed hours earlier.
I believe arthritis can be affected by what you've dined on
lately, but it's more likely caused by the cumulative effect of your
lifelong diet. Just ask Doris Bailey. This fifty-six-year-old mother
of two heard me speak at Calvary Temple Worship Center in
Modesto, California, where I had been invited to share a message
during the Sunday morning services about presenting our
bodies as living sacrifices.
I challenged those in the congregation that morning: "Can
you say, `This is the best I have, and I'm giving it to the Lord'?
Are you an example of God's best? Can others see your vitality?
Wouldn't it be awesome if God's people were so full of good
health, so vibrant, that others would notice us from ten or
twenty feet away?"
Doris didn't want to be noticed because of her weight. At 330
pounds, she knew her health was far from vibrant. Decades of
trolling country buffets and feasting on fried foods, jelly-filled
doughnuts, and half gallons of ice cream in one sitting had taken
their toll. Her knees were shot from osteoarthritis: the only way
she could walk was with the assistance of a cane or walker.
After hearing me speak, Doris jumped on the Great
Physician's bandwagon-well, jumped might not be the operative
word since her arthritic knees weren't up to the challenge, but she
wholeheartedly climbed aboard and completely changed her diet
and lifestyle. She said she started feeling much better a month or
two after following God's plan for healthy eating, which makes
sense to me. I'm confident that anyone with osteoarthritis can
benefit from eating whole, natural, and organic foods that are part
of the Great Physician's prescription.
A nutritional approach to arthritis will go a long way toward
controlling this disease. A University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill School of Medicine study suggested that those with
osteoarthritis can reduce the inevitable pain and restricted
movement by altering their diets. This North Carolina study
reported that beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and lycopene, which
are dietary carotenoids common in yellow and orange fruits and
vegetables, appeared to reduce the odds of osteoarthritis of the
knee by 30 to 40 percent, while diets heavy in soybean and other
oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids as much as doubled the risk of
"Dietary practices have a major impact on arthritis," agree
the authors of Arthritis: An Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide.
"In fact, if you eat the typical American diet, it could be making
your arthritis worse. Among the offenders are white flour
and sugar, conventionally raised red meat, chemical additives,
yeast, and conventional pasteurized and homogenized milk and
dairy products. These foods can increase inflammation, invoke
allergies, and interfere with hormone production, cellular
integrity, and the function and mobility of the joints."
My view of the relationship between osteoarthritis and diet
prompts me to make three points:
1. Diet can be extremely important for keeping
2. Eliminating processed foods and replacing them with
healthy whole and organic foods will improve your
overall health, which will improve your arthritic
3. Following the Great Physician's prescription, as Pat
McCleave and Doris Bailey discovered, often results in
significant weight loss, which will reduce undue strain on
the joints. A great deal of evidence shows that being
overweight increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis,
especially in the knees.
Changing your diet, as well as drinking a lot more water, will
work wonders for those aches and pains you may feel when you
get out of bed in the morning. For those reasons, The Great
Physician's Rx for Arthritis relies heavily on my first key, "Eat to
Live." You can change the way you eat by doing two things:
1. Eat what God created for food.
2. Eat food in a form that is healthy for the body.
Following these two vital concepts will give you a great shot
to beat arthritis and put you on the road toward living a healthy,
Back to the Source
Do you have to think hard to remember the last time you bit
into a fresh apple, scooped up a handful of raisins, or supped
on lentil soup? These foods are nutritional gold mines and contain
no refined or processed carbohydrates, no additives or
preservatives, and no artificial sweeteners. Since God has given
us a bountiful harvest of natural foods to eat, it would take
several pages to describe all the fantastic fruits and vibrant
vegetables available from His garden. A diet based on whole
and natural foods fits within the bull's-eye of eating foods that
God created in a form healthy for the body.
I believe God gave us physiologies that crave these foods in
their natural state because our bodies are genetically set for certain
nutritional requirements by our Creator. Our taste buds, however,
have been manipulated by major food conglomerates, restaurant
chains, and fast-food eateries that sweeten meats with secret sauces
and top everything in sight with melted cheese and bacon. The
strategy has worked: we've become a country that loves inexpensive,
deep-fried, greasy food that is high in calories, high in fat,
high in sugar, and-in most people's minds-high in taste.
Pat McCleave's story is all too common these days: every
weekday morning he sat down before a tray of McDonald's
bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits and a side of fried hash browns.
For him, taste trumped health, no matter how many calories or
grams of trans-fatty acids the fast-food breakfast fare contained.
This explains why drive-thru chains and sit-down restaurants
are purveyors of cheese-and-egg sandwiches, monster burgers,
buckets of fried chicken, and stuffed-crust pizza-foods not in
a form that God created.
Having an awareness of what you eat is an important first
step in dealing with arthritis. As we begin traveling down this
road together, I want to help you understand that everything
you eat is a protein, a fat, or a carbohydrate-nutrients that
keep the body running as best it can. Each of these nutrients
positively or negatively affects your weight and your health.
Let's take a closer look at these macronutrients.
The First Word on Protein
Proteins, one of the basic components of foods, are the essential
building blocks of the body. All proteins are combinations of
twenty-two amino acids, which build body organs, muscles, and
nerves, to name a few important duties. Among other things,
proteins provide for the transport of nutrients, oxygen, and waste
throughout the body and are required for the structure, function,
and regulation of the body's cells, tissues, and organs.
Our bodies, however, cannot produce all twenty-two amino
acids that we need to live a robust life. Scientists have discovered
that eight essential amino acids are missing, meaning that they
must come from other sources outside the body. It just so happens
that animal protein-chicken, beef, lamb, dairy, eggs, and
so on-is the only complete protein source providing the Big
Eight amino acids.
Yet the conventional wisdom among traditional and alternative
medicine is that animal protein contains large quantities of
fat, which raise levels of inflammatory compounds in the body
and increase arthritic symptoms. Trimming red meat from the
diet is often promoted as a strong first step to getting osteoarthritis
under control. Some folks in the alternative medicine world
counsel patients not to eat any animal protein at all, saying that
eating meat only worsens inflammation in the joints.
I'm not in favor of a vegetarian diet, however. While plant
foods are extremely beneficial for us, they do not contain all the
essential amino acids found in animal proteins, which play an
important part in retaining muscle strength and keeping the
immune system healthy. At the same time, I believe arthritis is a
condition where cutting back on commercially produced meat
consumption could work in your favor. The authors of Arthritis:
An Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide point out that commercially
produced, corn-fed meat is high in arachidonic acid,
which is converted by the body into powerful pro-inflammatory
compounds. Arachidonic acid is a fatty acid found primarily in
meat, poultry, and dairy products, and when your diet is tilted
too heavily toward these foods, arachidonic acids are stored in
cell membranes that instigate inflammation.
I'm confident that those battling arthritis have been eating
the wrong kinds of meat for many years, as well as too much of
it. For instance, hamburger is a high-fat meat found in every
main dish from backyard burgers to spaghetti and meatballs.
But in this country, the vast majority of hamburger is comprised
of ground chuck with added fat from hormone-injected cattle
eating pesticide-sprayed feed laced with antibiotics.
You would be much better eating hamburger-as well as other
cuts of beef-produced from range-fed and pasture-fed cows.
Natural beef is much healthier for you than assembly-line "production"
cuts filling our nation's supermarket meat cases. The best
and most healthy sources of meat come from organically raised
cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, and venison. Grass-fed beef is leaner
and lower in calories than grain-fed beef, and the flavor is tremendous.
Organic beef is higher in heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids
and important vitamins like [B.sub.12] and E. When they are eaten in
moderation, I don't believe lean red meats will exacerbate arthritic
For those seeking to reduce their consumption of red meat,
an excellent replacement is fish, which provide nutrients that
can benefit arthritis conditions. Salmon and other cold-water
fish contain high levels of beneficial essential fatty acids such as
omega-3s. When you eat a fresh filet of fish, omega-3 fatty acids
are converted into prostaglandins, which are hormone-like fatty
acids that bring on a multitude of biochemical reactions, including
the reduction of inflammation in the joints.
You should shop for fish with scales and fins caught in the wild
from oceans and rivers rather than "feedlot salmon" raised on fish
farms, which don't compare to their cold-water cousins in terms
of taste or nutritional value. While it's great to see more people
eating the tender pink meat of farm-raised Atlantic salmon, it's
never going to nutritionally match what comes from the wild. The
salmon from fish farms spend several years lazily circling concrete
tanks, fattening up on pellets of salmon chow, not streaking
through the ocean eating small marine life as they're supposed to.
The better alternative is to purchase fresh salmon and other
fish from your local fish market or health food store. Look for the
label "Alaskan" or wild-caught. Wild-caught fish is an absolutely
incredible food and should be consumed liberally. Supermarkets
and health food stores are stocking these types of foods in greater
quantities these days, and, of course, they are found in natural food
stores, fish markets, and specialty stores.
The Skinny on Fats
Since many people who suffer from osteoarthritis and gout are
overweight, they look to a low-fat, reduced-fat, or fat-free diet as a
panacea to lose weight and reduce the strain on their tender joints.
I don't blame anyone for thinking this way. For the last
decade or so, the mainstream media has been filled with stories
about how bad fat is for you. The underlying message of these
news features is if you want to lose weight, then eliminate foods
with fat. Best-selling books such as The Pritikin Principle by
Nathan Pritikin and The Ornish Diet by Dean Ornish, M.D.,
have preached the gospel of low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets.
About five years ago, we began seeing supermarket shelves filled
with convenience foods displaying the magic words fat-free orreduced fat on the packaging.
Young girls nagged their mothers to buy these low-fat foods,
believing they would be as thin as a Parisian supermodel if they
dipped low-fat cookies into no-fat (or skim) milk. Funny how
that didn't work.
What happened is that consuming low-fat blueberry muffins
and reduced-fat ice cream didn't help anyone lose weight, and
the case can be argued that the opposite happened because, statistically
speaking, we've become fatter as a nation since the mid-1990s.
The problem with snacking on reduced-fat potato chips
and fat-free yogurt is more than their poor taste: it turns out
that these convenience foods have nearly the same amount of
calories as the full-fat versions. Since people thought they were
consuming low-fat, healthy food, they ate with abandon, which
caused many to gain weight.
Generally speaking, low-fat diets have several things working
against them. First of all, most people cannot stay on a low-fat
regimen for any length of time. "Those who possessed enough
will power to remain fat-free for any length of time develop a variety
of health problems including low energy, difficulty in concentration,
depression, weight gain, and mineral deficiencies," wrote
Mary Enig, Ph.D., and Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions.
In my view, low-fat diets fail to distinguish between the
so-called good fats in food (including olive and flaxseed oils, tropical
oils such as coconut oil, and fish oils) and bad fats (hydrogenated
oils found in margarine and most packaged goods). We
need certain fats in our diet to provide a concentrated source of
energy and source material for cell membranes and various hormones.
Fats also provide satiety; without them, we would be
hungry within minutes of finishing a meal.
The so-called bad fats we don't need are mainly hydrogenated
and partially hydrogenated fats found in processed foods, which
fill cupboards and refrigerators in homes from Portland, Maine, to
Portland, Oregon. I'm talking about frosted flakes for breakfast, a
glazed doughnut at break time, fried corn chips and chocolate chip
cookies for lunch, and breaded fried chicken nuggets for dinner.
These types of fats aren't good if you're dealing with arthritis.
"The wrong kind of fats can increase inflammation in joints,
while the `good' fats will keep inflammation in check," say the
authors of Arthritis: An Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide.