Knee Pain – Food Makes a Difference

March 18, 2017

Have you ever slowed down to consider how the foods you eat can either increase joint pain or decrease joint pain? We’re sharing our BIG 3 foods that could be causing your achy knees. Listen in and learn how to find relief.

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CAROLYN: I'm Carolyn Hudson, registered dietitian and today's host of Dishing Up Nutrition. This show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. A company providing life changing nutrition education and life changing nutrition counseling.

KARA: Good morning listeners. I'm Kara Carper, licensed nutritionist and I'll be today's co-host of Dishing Up Nutrition. And it's great to be here with you today Carolyn, I don't get to see you very often. So today we're going to be talking about how the foods you eat can either help to increase joint pain or decrease joint pain.

CAROLYN: So if you've just tuned in were discussing how foods affect your joint pain. I think that's probably a new thought for a lot of people. So for all you ex-football players we understand your knee pain may be from an old football injury, but of course not all of our listeners are ex-football players. I'm certainly not. And if your joint pain is not from an injury, what do you think the cause really is? Are you aware that certain foods can damage your joints?

KARA: Yes. There are foods that can damage your joints and cause pain.

CAROLYN: So as nutritionists we know that sugar is a food that is really bad for your joints.

KARA: I actually have a great example about this. It's from an uncle who loves to hunt. So I don't know if my uncle's listening but Uncle Richard if you are listening you might be saying to yourself “Kara do you mean that foods that I could be eating are affecting my joint pain?” or my uncle might be thinking to himself. “Well you know my knee pain is always worse after I stop at my favorite small town bakery and I pick up a couple of those chocolate eclairs that I just have to have and that cup of coffee on my way to go hunting. Oh no. Are you saying that my favorite pastry is causing me to have more pain?” I wonder if he's thinking that.

CAROLYN: I bet you not. It's probably a new thought for your uncle even. So perhaps for you the sugar and the flour from that pastry is creating inflammation. Inflammation in your joints then that inflammation leads to pain.

KARA: Right. I mean that's where we get pain right, when we have inflammation. And so Carolyn are you saying that if my uncle drives right through that small town and he decides not to stop for his favorite pastry he may not have as much knee pain while he's chasing down his pheasants? Perhaps having less pain is just the encouragement that my uncle needs to cut back on sugar. So listeners we want you to say this say this out loud to yourself right now at 8 o'clock in the morning Central time “Sugar drives pain and inflammation.”

CAROLYN: Oh yes I agree. Based on some research done in 2002 about sugar and inflammation we know sugar, and foods that turn into sugar. Maybe I should repeat that, you know the foods that turn into sugar like that like those pastries or pasta or rice or bread any of those things they turn into sugar in our bodies and they lead to inflammation. So this study was reported in the American Journal of Cancer Nutrition. Since that study 15 years ago we have known that foods high in sugar, again such as pastries, pancakes, pizza, pasta they increase inflammation. So these researchers they didn't just guess that sugar causes inflammation, they actually measured it with a blood test called C-reactive protein or CRP for short. These researchers found that foods high in sugar actually increased the CRP numbers.

KARA: We've been talking about CRP at our office for decades. So it's great information to share. So, OK yes sugar can easily cause more knee pain because it causes inflammation.

CAROLYN: Let's talk a little bit more about that C-reactive protein measure. The CRP test again that's the short term. It's interesting to know that the C-reactive protein test is emerging, now finally, as one of the most important blood tests you can get from your doctor.

KARA: So remember what CRP is indicating is the overall level of inflammation throughout the body.

CAROLYN: So today you know many doctors regard inflammation of the blood vessels as an underlying cause of coronary artery disease and many other diseases as a matter of fact. Many of you listeners might recall that Dar, Greg Petersen and I talked about this very fact a little earlier this year on our January 28 Dishing Up Nutrition show. You can listen to that podcast on our website.

KARA: Another way that people can listen to that show, we do have the app as well. Right, Carolyn?

CAROLYN: Oh, that's right. There’s a free app Dishing Up Nutrition.

KARA: There's a couple of different ways to listen to past shows. I actually remember Greg Petersen mentioning on that show that Dr. Paul Ritger from Harvard Medical School found that people with elevated CRP levels were four and a half times more likely to have a heart attack compared to those who had low CRP levels.

CAROLYN: That's a really interesting statistic isn't it. Four and a half times. Wow.

KARA: People are terrified of heart disease. Yeah. So this CRP is a really important marker.

CAROLYN: It really is. And I bet you a lot of our listeners have never even heard of it. But as nutritionists we understand that the C-reactive protein to be a very sensitive marker of systemic inflammation which measures, again the amount of inflammation in your body.

KARA: That's right. And as nutritionists we also understand that inflammation can have many causes. So the cause of inflammation might be from having a bacterial infection. Isn't that interesting, Carolyn? You know I don't know if listeners have connected these dots before. So inflammation could be from a bacterial or fungal or viral infection but most commonly, you know it's not necessarily from an infection but it's from the foods that we're eating.

At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, here are the three foods that we consider to be big time inflammation culprits. We talked about this all the time, at least in our office we do.

Number one, sugar. Number two, any product with flour. You know that could be anything with wheat, basically the white foods sugar and flour. Number three, dairy products.

Most often when clients stop eating one, or preferably all of these inflammatory foods, their knee pain goes away. It's absolutely amazing. Until you know they fall back into those bad habits. We know this happens, realistically this happens. Maybe they eat a few baguette slices, maybe they go to the vending machine they grab some gummy bears, they have a piece of pie at a restaurant, maybe they have an ice cream cone or a bowl of ice cream before bed. The pain comes roaring back.

CAROLYN: Yeah. Well you know I actually have a little story about that a few months back I have a little hip injury. It happened a long time ago and it doesn't flare up very often but I had a piece of pizza. The next day my hip pain was really bad and I went “Oh my goodness why did I have a piece of pizza?”

KARA: So let's talk about what was in that pizza Carolyn.

CAROLYN: Well I think it was even the thick crust. So we have the flour in the crust and we've got the dairy with the cheese you know. So those are the two biggest culprits and probably the sauce probably had some sugar in it as well, that tomato sauce.

KARA: And of course the thicker crust is turning into a lot of sugar in your body. I’m not scolding you. I'm just explaining to listeners what happens.

CAROLYN: Yes, life happens and I couldn’t resist that one piece of pizza.

KARA: Thank you for sharing that example though.

CAROLYN: You know today we want to throw in a little science your way so that you can help connect your knee pain or joint pain, whatever kind of pain you have, to foods that are high in sugar. We want you to connect your pain to your favorite bakery treat or connect your pain to the cereal and milk you have breakfast every morning. Or connect your pain to your afternoon mocha latte with high fructose corn syrup and milk, or connect your pain to your Coke and that bag of Doritos that you might be having while you're watching TV. Or that big bowl of ice cream before you go to bed.

You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness, a company providing life changing nutrition education and life changing nutrition counseling. In modern medicine there are so many doctors today that are specialists. There are cardiologists, vascular surgeons rheumatologists ,there are podiatrists, there are sleep doctors. The list of specialists goes on and on. And then there are the primary doctors who handle it all for us. In the field of nutrition we are like the primary doctors. We handle food sensitivities. We handle picky eaters. So do you want to know what's so neat about our jobs? It's that whatever you eat affects every one of your health conditions. And we can help, set up an appointment with one of us today call 651-699-3438 to ask questions or set up an appointment with a nutritionist.

KARA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Next week Dar is going to be on the radio with a very special guest and friend of hers Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman. She's written 30 different nutrition books including the new Fat Flush Plan. Dar credits Louise with helping her make the connection between food and people's health issues are also expresses a lot of gratitude to Dr. Ann Louise for having been such a wonderful mentor. I know I'm going to catch next week's show on Saturday morning, I want to hear every word of that show. Now Dr. Ann Louise is a pretty fast talker. I had the pleasure of meeting her and I've heard her on our show in the past and so you may want to listen a second or third time via our podcast so you can catch every word. And just a reminder again you can go to our site, click on menu in the upper left hand corner. Click on podcasts and then just find the show you can listen as many times as you like. Podcasts are free. And again we have that app that so you can listen via your phone as well.

CAROLYN: Oh good. I hope we get some good applicants. That's my office, that would be great. While we were on break we actually had a caller and I believe the question was about to do night shade vegetables was the question.

KARA: Yeah and the caller did not want to stay on the air just had a question about would that (night shades) influence knee pain for example.

CAROLYN: I think the first thing that both Kara and I will say is get rid of that sugar in your diet. That's absolutely number one and you can probably get away get away from the dairy as well. Take those things out. And if you're still having problems then maybe stop start eliminating those night shade vegetables. So it's a kind of a process of elimination. Usually when I got clients in my office you know we take out the basics we basically get them eating as clean and as sugar-free as possible, as the client is willing, and then we start looking at other things and kind of the same at the other end. Once the knee pain is gone, or whatever pain we're working on, then we start adding things back in just to see. Is it the wheat that's causing that, or is it the dairy or is it both? Then it's much easier to figure it all out, i you add one thing back or take a few things out and then gradually add them back in.

KARA: I think that's great advice. And if listeners are wondering what night shade vegetables are, I mean just some examples would be potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant are just a few. I think some people jump to that first, “Oh I have knee pain I have joint pain. I need to give up night shade vegetables.” But it doesn't really make sense to us to continue eating sugar and flour and dairy and give up night shades. We would say give up those other three culprits first.

CAROLYN: Absolutely. I think going back to your number one two and three, sugar, flour and dairy.  

KARA: You know what, we have a caller here so let's go ahead and take Paula's call. Good morning Paula. Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. Do you have a question about balsamic vinegar?

CALLER: I do. I have been making my own dressing and I just read recently from balsamic vinegar white maybe in particular is high in sugar? Is it better to use red or white wine vinegar versus a balsamic dressing?

KARA: That's a great question. I actually have not heard that.

CAROLYN: I haven't heard that either. I love balsamic vinegar. I don't I don't think that it should have any sugar in it.


CAROLYN: So again you can look at the label, look at the ingredients on the label, look at the nutrition facts on the label. That's where you're going to get that information. So it says carbohydrates you know 20 grams or something in a tablespoon. Yeah it's got sugar in it.

CALLER: OK, all right sounds good.

KARA: Great question. I like that she's pairing that with a healthy olive oil. We don't want a low-fat dressing. We want a good healthy olive oil in there. Before break, Carolyn you were talking about different things that people eat or drink that lead to pain, Coke, Doritos, the ice cream before bed. Another study from the Harvard School of Medicine looked at food and inflammation in 244 healthy women. So can you talk about what this study found.

CAROLYN: The women who ate the greatest amount of high sugar foods had the highest CRP levels remember that C-reactive protein. The consumption of refined carbs was linked to the inflammatory process that promotes heart disease, joint pain and general inflammation. And you know body aches all over. So yes the bagel you ate this morning may be connected to your inflammation or the big bowl of oatmeal and raisins you think is so good for you, may be connected to your knee pain or what about that Sunday brunch of French toast and pancakes? That might also be connected to your pain.

KARA: You know just this past Thursday I was working with a client who told me that she had just had knee replacement surgery. So I asked her what do you think broke down your knee joint? Because I don't think she was a football player like we talked about at the beginning of the show it happens to a lot of football players. So I asked her, “Did you damage your joint in a car accident?” And she replied “Oh no. Definitely not a football player, not a smoker. There was no car accident. But a few years ago I wanted to cut back on calories. So I was told that if I drank I switched my soda over to diet soda instead of like the sugar soda that I could stay full. So I was drinking several cans of diet soda per day just to stay be able to stay on a low calorie diet.” Because she was trying to lose weight. “So after a couple of years of drinking several cans of diet soda every day my knees started to hurt.” This is what she told me. “So finally after two years of just constant pain every time I try to walk my dog or just do anything. I decided to have a knee replacement.”

So isn’t that an interesting story, how that came to be.

CAROLYN: Well and I bet some of our listeners, some of the some of you may know, that soda really isn't that good for you right. It pulls the minerals from your bones leaving you with a weak, fragile bones.

So one of my clients’ knee bones just wore away.

KARA: Gosh. Nutritional Weight & Wellness has a great class that's called Eating to Reduce Pain and Inflammation, that shows how soda actually leaches minerals from your bones. There's a graphic of a skeleton in the class to help you visualize how soda actually pulls magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron and other trace minerals from your bones. And we know that lack of minerals in your bones leads to weak fragile bones.

CAROLYN: Oh boy that's already time for our second break. So you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition and we're discussing the food connection to knee pain. When I think of knee pain I think of the nurses who work 12 hour shifts and are up on their feet walking, standing, squatting or bending most of those 12 hours. I also think that they need good nutrition to protect their cartilage and their bones. Cereal bars are not the answer. Coke and Mountain Dew are not the answer. Crackers and cookies are not the answer. I encourage nurses to take our Weight & Wellness Series to learn what to eat to maintain strong bones and cartilage. Not only will you learn what to eat for your health but you will also receive 14.4 CEU credits, so that's a real win-win for you.

KARA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. We are starting to understand that anti-inflammatory drugs can and often do have serious side effects. So what can you do if you have knee pain so that you're not taking an anti-inflammatory drug like Advil, any of those non-steroidal anti-inflammatories?  At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we have an exceptional supplement. It's from a very reputable company called MetaGenics and the supplement is called OsteoVantiv. So this OsteoVantiv supplement contains undenatured type two collagen from chicken bones and it also contains an anti-inflammatory component. It's similar to a product called Kaprex that has a lot of the same herbs like natural hops and it’s all natural. OsteoVantiv is all natural. What it does is it helps to restore tendons, ligaments and cartilage and it helps to decrease pain and inflammation. Oh and I can't forget about this, for best results we ask that you cut back on your sugar intake. I know people like the idea of taking a natural supplements and getting rid of their pain but unfortunately it's not going to combat a high sugar diet.  

CAROLYN: If you're not eating properly, your supplements or even your medications certainly aren't going to take away all of the bad things happening to you. Right. So you got to eat right first.

KARA: Can I just share I had a client on Thursday, I feel like I had a lot of inflammation going on with my clients on Thursday. But a gentleman came in and he is a mechanic and so he's a very, very physical laborious job you know works 10 hour days and he's so smart because he gets up every morning and he works out to get his core strength and to keep his body strong so that he can tolerate all that physical labor. He actually is now gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free. And he notices when he has any of those things he is in a ton of pain, the next day, just like you talked about. And he happens to take two OsteoVantiv everyday just to keep his inflammation down.

CAROLYN: Well think about this research has found that every pound of weight you carry on your body you put up to four pounds more stress or force on your knee joints. So if you weigh 200 pounds that's like eight hundred pounds of stress on your knee joints. If you weigh close to 300 pounds, like some of our clients, that's nearly twelve hundred pounds of force on your knee joints. It's really amazing if you think about it, you know weak and fragile joints just cannot hold up under all that weight. So carrying too much weight is so much more than just how you look. It is much more about your health and the stress that you're putting on your joints.

KARA: So many of the clients I see for one on one nutrition consultation are complaining of knee pain. Many of them believe it's just a genetic issue and they will say that in our appointment they'll say “You know my grandparents and my parents had knee problems so I guess I will too.” Does that sound like something that you would say? Is it bad genetics or is it bad food? Could it be from this special homemade caramels at Christmas or the delicious tasting brownies that are being served at graduation parties? Maybe it's the big platter of decorated sugar cookies that are going to be coming up for Easter, or just the Easter basket with all those jellybeans in the chocolates. You know it could be something like that morning coffee cooler that you top with whipped cream, a little Carmel drizzle and some pieces of Snickers. The one that you decide get to treat yourself after your Zumba class. Sugar, sugar, sugar. So on that note I am pleased to announce that Gary Taubes author of The Case Against Sugar. Brand new book. That show is going to be coming up. Gary Taubes will be on Dishing Up Nutrition with Carolyn and Dar April 1st. So you really don't want to miss that. Gary is great. He's got several books and he's been on our show a couple other times.   

CAROLYN: So let's get back to the research, so what does the research say. Is it genetics or lifestyle? Could it be your eating habits? As part of your lifestyle more than 52 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis. That's the kind of arthritis that doctors tell us is from wear and tear, you know is that really true? So if you have an old knee injury from that football or you damage your knee in an accident then perhaps it really is from the wear and tear on your joints. However arthritis really is in a large part driven by low grade inflammation, again what can cause inflammation? Maybe you and your family just have too many special holiday foods that are really high in sugar.

Sometimes it's hard to change those family traditions.

KARA: If you think about holidays and treats and sugar I mean if we let ourselves think that we can just eat sugar because it's a holiday, how often would that happen? It could be pretty much all the time. With the birthday parties, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day.

CAROLYN: I come from a family of nine children and that's a lot of birthdays. That’s a lot of birthday cake.

KARA: We just have to make a decision. Do we want to get rid of our pain? It's worth it to not partake in some of those family food traditions. Let's just pretend that we can look inside the joint. What do we see when we have knee pain? A research study from Stanford University found that low grade inflammation is the trigger that causes cartilage breakdown. So that's not genetics, that’s inflammation breaking down cartilage.

CAROLYN: So you may be wondering what exactly is cartilage and why do we need good strong cartilage in our knee joints? So let me explain. Cartilage, is that smooth rubber like padding that cushions the bones in your joints. But unfortunately it starts to break down when we have inflammation. Again, what causes inflammation? Foods high in sugar listeners, foods high in sugar and foods that turn into sugar.

Yeah those foods like cereal, granola bars, pancakes, pizza, cookies and even something many of us would think as healthy like strawberry kefir.

KARA: Let's talk about strawberry kefir more when we get back from break.  

Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. We're finding that many of you listeners have questions about OsteoVantiv. That's the product that we just talked about before our last break. So here are some noteworthy information for you. OsteoVantiv, first of all it safely supports joints without any gastrointestinal side effects. That alone is huge. So many people cannot tolerate ibuprofen and all of those anti-inflammatories and the prescriptions especially. They're really hard on your stomach. And you know some people don't feel stomach aches or stomach pain but it is damaging that gut. So this is very safe with no got side effects. OsteoVantiv supports an active lifestyle. It relieves joint discomfort after physical activity. That reminds me of my client who is the mechanic and works out five days a week and takes his two OsteoVantiv.

OsteoVantiv promotes joint flexibility and has been found to be twice as effective as glucosamine, with chondroitin. Isn't that interesting. We just started carrying this product to merely recently to see to hear that research that it's twice as effective as glucosamine and chondroitin is pretty phenomenal. Many people feel improvement within 30 days. More people feel improvement within 90 days. That's also important because you may not feel the benefit overnight or even in one week.

CAROLYN: How many of our clients come back in two weeks or three weeks and say “Oh it's not working.”

KARA: And you know often changing diets people do start to feel better pretty quickly. But you just want to give it 30 days, give it a couple months to make sure. After using us to OsteoVantiv for four months most people are have a huge decrease in pain. So the longer you use it, the more benefits you will notice. And you really only need to take two tablets per day.

If you have questions about that product call her office today 651-699-3438.

Sounds like we got a few calls of callers who didn’t want to stay on the air.

CAROLYN: One of them was asking “Could you please give us some examples of good bedtime snacks with out dairy?” Great question. One of my favorites is I take a half of an avocado, I put a little siracha in it and I dip some celery and a few carrot sticks and peppers into it for my bedtime snack.

KARA: The person was dairy-free ice you know and I pretty much dairy-free as well. So my bedtime snack is also dairy-free. I like to take coconut canned coconut cream, full-fat. I take a quarter cup of that so it's very thick and creamy and I mix in half of a banana and I mash that. And so it's like coconut banana cream pie. To me that's what it tastes like.  

You could also have like almond butter and half of an apple.

CAROLYN: I recently discovered coconut butter. That's kind of addictive actually. So I love that for my bedtime snack. You know with a few with a few vegetables usually are or even just you know with half of an apple or something like that.

KARA: What was the other question I guess on that note the other question was about fruit. Because we were talking about foods high in sugar and they wanted to know where does fruit fall in that.  

CAROLYN: Absolutely. The sugar in fruit is fructose. So fruit is high and sugar. We always tell our clients pare your fruit with a fat and preferably of course we like people to be eating all three major groups here. The carbohydrate which would be the fruit, the fat might be a nut butter and some protein so could be a beef stick or something like that. Deli meat or hard-boiled egg. It helps even out the out absorption of that sugar from the fruits so it doesn't cause the inflammation that we're talking about.

KARA: Because it's buffering the blood sugar and we're not releasing a bunch of insulin that's inflammatory. Well great and some fruits of course are higher in sugar than others. Banana, tropical fruits, mango and the berries are the lowest the lowest.   

So I have another client story. Kind of talking about inflammation. Tim He's an amazing carpenter who suddenly started having pain in his elbow. So here's Tim's story a few months ago as he was working he noticed inflammation in his elbow and he actually had a baseball sized spot of inflammation. So it was like protruding on his left elbow. He went to his doctor and the doctor said this is bursitis. So the doctor said he could either drain it or Tim could just wait and see if the inflammation would go down on its own. Tim decided to wait and see. And as my client he also understands the connection to sugar and inflammation. He just thought to himself “What am I eating that I wasn't eating before?” Then he realized he had started drinking strawberry kefir.

At first he thought it was healthy for him. A lot of people do think kefir is healthy. This one was strawberry though very high in sugar. At first he drank about a quart a week. Then he was drinking three or four quarts a week. Eventually he was drinking one quart a day. What’s in strawberry kefir that could cause Tim's inflammation and what was leading him to want more and more of it? So he was drinking more every day.   

CAROLYN: Well listeners do you realize the amount of sugar that's in those flavored kefirs in one cup there is about six teaspoons of sugar. So there are twenty four teaspoons of sugar in just one quart.

KARA: Wait, twenty four teaspoons! That’s what he was getting everyday, plus if he had any other sugar.

CAROLYN: Well let's do the math together and see how much Tim was really drinking in one week. So he what he you say seven days a week times twenty four teaspoons of sugar. That's a hundred and sixty eight teaspoons of pure inflammation. A hundred and sixty eight teaspoons of extra. And really that sugar is hidden. Even your client didn't know it.

KARA: Because we are told that kefir is healthy.

CAROLYN: Right. So when he realized the amount of sugar that was in his drink that is advertised as healthy I'm sure he just stopped drinking the kefir all together. And what did you say, his baseball size bursitis actually went down and that pain was gone?

KARA: Yes. His pain was gone. And you know as a society we're eating 150 to 170 pounds of sugar each year that causes inflammation and can break down cartilage in our joints and our knee joints.

CAROLYN: So let's do a little recap. What did we talk about today. Sugar causes inflammation. Sugar breaks down cartilage, ligaments and tendons. Sugar causes knee pain. We eat too much sugar. So I'm going to say it again 150 to 170 pounds per year. I really encourage you all to go to our web site, and read Dar’s article called Sugar Aches and Inflammation. I'd like to share an encouraging story with you. So last week Diane one of the people in my Nutrition 4 Weight Loss class said “Since I have changed my eating and given up my morning muffin my knee pain is gone.” So our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experience with better health through eating real food. It's a simple, yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. 

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