3 powerful anti-inflammatory cures to try for joint pain & clear skin

Happy 2020!

A new decade is here. It’s time to think about fresh starts — fresh food in particular.

Inflammatory or autoimmune diseases are on the rise. Our environment is as stressed out as we are. Industrial food will kill us and our planet if we don’t fight back and stop consuming addictive, fake food.

Being bombarded by heavily processed foods is making us fat and unhealthy. Try to buy foods in their pure state — not in a box or a bag — by shopping at your local farmers market in season and the perimeter of the grocery store year-round. You’ll save money and curb your addiction to sugar, which is pretty much in all processed foods and is the number one culprit for inflammation.

bag of produce from the winter farmer's market

Pure foods: Eat food in its natural state, like these goodies from our local winter farmer’s market.

1) Try an anti-inflammatory diet

I’m now in my fifth year of eating a gluten-free diet, and I can feel the difference. My weight has stabilized and I don’t feel the need to “diet” anymore, which is an unsustainable state of being. I’m also no longer struck by debilitating waves of nighttime nausea. My energy level stays steady throughout the day: I’m not famished and cranky at 3 p.m. I also don’t fight endless psychological battles about eating “just one bite” of that cookie/cake/pie/cannoli/croissant etc., because I just don’t eat them at all anymore. Give me straight up dark chocolate and a handful of almonds. Problem solved!

Giving up common inflammatory foods such as dairy, eggs, sugars, corn and wheat is a challenge, mainly because most processed foods contain them as ingredients, often all at once. But eating clean is worth it if you have inflammatory issues, because you will feel so much better, so much faster than you’d imagine.

Food allergies can be tough to identify. Experiment and see which foods bother you by eliminating one or two at a time from your diet for a week or so — or even for just 24-36 hours, as I did with nightshades (see below). Aim to eat foods in their simplest, purest form.

Breaking years-long food habits is possible if you take one day and one meal at a time.

I like to focus on all the things I can eat: fresh organic produce and meats, fish, rice, gluten-free pasta, pesto, oatmeal, soy, coconut and almond milks, ghee, nuts and nut butters, dark chocolate, olives, hummus, avocados, sweet potato fries… I never feel deprived, nor do I go hungry. There is still plenty out there to eat.

2) To alleviate joint pain, cancel nightshades

nightshade nightmare

Nightshade nightmare: Avoid foods like these if you suffer from joint pain and arthritis.

As I got older, into my late 40s and early 50s, my knees, hips and elbows started killing me. At first, I blamed it on too much exercise, or menopause. I started popping two Advils as soon as I woke up, and continued taking those little blue liver killers as the day wore on, but I could still barely walk or ride my bike without pain, especially first thing in the morning.

I went to the orthopedist, who found mild arthritis in my knees and tendonitis in my elbows. I had golfer’s elbow on one side, and tennis elbow on the other — even though I don’t play those sports. I did physical therapy, kept taking Advil, and iced my knees after exercising. Nothing helped until my Aunt Marie told me and my mom about nightshades. Arthritis runs in my family, and the three of us suffered from painful, inflamed joints.

The nightshade family of plants, which includes some poisonous species, also includes the following vegetables plus tobacco, which together I call the “dirty seven.”   Memorize and avoid them if you have any type of joint pain:

  1. Tomato
  2. Tomatillo
  3. Pepper (bell, chile, cayenne, jalapeño)
  4. Eggplant
  5. Potato (does not include sweet potato and yam – these are okay to eat)
  6. Paprika (also avoid red spices such as red curries)
  7. Tobacco

I resisted giving up nightshades at first, because they’d been such a fundamental part of my diet. I am Italian-American, and have consumed thousands of pounds of nightshades over the past 50 years. I’m not gonna lie: it totally sucks giving up red sauce, fresh salsa, hand cut french fries and Bloody Marys. But you know what? Within 24 hours of not eating nightshades, I was completely pain- and Advil-free. Yes. Go on and re-read that sentence, because it’s true!

Sometimes I “forget” and just eat nightshades anyway, like the last time I went to Mexico City, where it’s impossible to avoid peppers in all their forms, along with tomatoes and tomatillos. But within 2-3 days of being there, I was in agony and could barely move my legs! I love eating nightshades, especially my husband’s potato latkes, but I hate the white hot flames of pain shooting down my legs the hour or so after I consume them even more.

3) For clear skin, try the water cure (drum roll, please)…

I discovered the secret to clear skin by accident in my 30s. I was looking for natural ways to help alleviate symptoms from ulcerative colitis, when I turned to a naturopath for help. He recommended I try the water cure. After a couple of weeks of following this simple cure, I felt better and I looked better too: as an added bonus, my painful adult cystic acne was gone — forever. A miracle!

The magic recipe: Celtic sea salt and pure filtered water. Start with Celtic sea salt and pure water. You can order Celtic sea salt online or find it at your local health food store or Whole Foods. Do not use any other kind of salt. This is the stuff you want:

saltBe sure to use clean, filtered water. Multipure makes the best water filter out there. It’s an investment to get a good under-the-sink water filter, but it pays off quickly, and is better for the environment, because you’re not buying bottled water anymore.

Dissolve a quarter of a teaspoon (1.25 ml) of fine ground Celtic sea salt into 32 ounces of water (about 1 liter). Then aim to drink a total of half as much water a day in ounces as your body weight in pounds. So if you weigh 150 lbs (68 kilos) then you want to drink about 75 oz (or 2.2 liters) a day. It’s best to sip the first liter or so of warm salted water (warm water tastes less salty) within the first hour of getting up, which is when your body is most dehydrated.

What do you think? Have you tried an anti-inflammatory diet or the water cure, and did it work for you? Let me know in the comments below!