Tag Archives: joint pain

Osteoarthritis | The Paleo Diet

Dear Prof. Cordain,

I am an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee arthroplasty for the treatment of symptomatic osteoarthritis. I am currently coming to the end of a clinical fellowship in Toronto and will be returning to the UK to take up a post as a consultant (attending) in a NHS hospital and I would be grateful if you could give me any information on the use of Paleo diet and evolutionary fitness principles in the treatment of my patients.

I first read about the Paleo diet on Art de Vaney’s website, then read Rob Wolff’s The Paleo Solution and am now reading through your book The Paleo Diet. I already give many of the patients I see dietary advice because very often they are overweight (in fact, more often than not) and have radiographically mild disease but considerable pain. It is an observation many surgeons have made anecdotally that patients who are of normal weight and are active seem to be able to tolerate far more severe disease (in terms of joint destruction observable on X-radiographs) than those who are overweight and sedentary.

Many patients can be educated that weight loss may improve their symptoms and are willing to try but conventional diets are difficult to follow, so I advise them to follow Paleo principles because I think it is a much easier diet to follow consistently. However, I wonder if there is anything specific I should be advising that may help their symptoms. Also, exercise is important for joint function, symptom control and general health, but of course it is very difficult to exercise when one has a painful joint. Do you have any advice that I can pass on to them, or do you know of anyone doing clinical work in this field who I could get in contact with?

Many thanks for your time in reading this.

Kind regards,

— Julian Gilbody MSc, FRCS (Tr & Orth)
Lower limb arthroplasty fellow, Toronto Western Hospital

Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Hi Julian,

Thanks for your support of the Paleo diet. I believe that arthritis, particularly RA (rheumatoid arthritis) is driven by inflammation emanating from the gut. See our group’s paper “Modulation of immune function by dietary lectins in rheumatoid arthritis.” Hence, inflammation of the gut and inflammation of the joints (particularly in RA) appear to be linked by a number of dietary mechanisms we have proposed in this paper. Clearly arthritis can result from purely mechanical factors independent of the gut immune response. Nevertheless, arthritis of mechanical origin is also driven via systemic inflammation, and any environmental factor (pharmaceutical, dietary or otherwise) that reduces inflammation will also tend to reduce symptoms of arthritis (mechanical or otherwise). This therapeutic response in all arthritis patients who adopt the Paleo Diet may help to explain your anecdotal observations why contemporary Paleo diets are therapeutic for your arthritis patients. Keep up the good work, and keep me posted on any case studies you may encounter.

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

Arthritis & Joint Pain Success Stories!

The following are some of the many unsolicited reports that have come in …

Testimonials for arthritis and joint paint relief

“No more aching joints…”

“…This is my first week on the Paleo Diet and I am already experiencing clear headedness, looser joints and no aching anymore. Wow! I have for years read and thought about this concept but was hooked on macrobiotics which truthfully is about caring for oneself at the highest level. And it’s about living seasonally and climactically. The Paleo does this quite nicely. Anyway thanks for the heads up in the form of your book. I have passed it around…”

“Tendonitis in my knee has cleared up…”

“…As a health professional and former long time vegetarian, I have been following the Paleo diet for about two years, and am delighted with the results. My weight has returned to normal and remained normal, my HDL has increased to 50 from 35, my LDL, which was at the upper range of normal has decreased to healthy levels, my VLDL has also returned to healthy levels (around 12), my triglycerides have plummeted from 250 to 60…my fluctuating high blood pressure is now consistently within safe parameters. The tendonitis in my knee has cleared up completely. I now recommend this diet to many of my patients in my acupuncture practice, the majority of whom have symptoms of Syndrome X. I am utterly fascinated with this approach to diet and health…”

“I can play golf again…”

“I am thrilled to tell you that I have been on a strict Paleo diet for six weeks and I now believe in miracles. Five years ago at the age of 64, I stopped playing golf because I had too many aches and pains in my muscles, joints, bones and my energy level was very low. At that time I thought it was old age! Now, within six weeks I play golf and I work and/or exercise 10 hours a day.”

“As a lifelong skeptic (I’m from Missouri) this is hard for me to believe. And now I’m telling my flabergasted friends that I’m going for 100. The only supplements I take are omega-3 and vitamin D. Thank you for your great work.”

“Arthritis and foot problems are gone…”

“At just barely 6 months I have lost 24 lbs and am feeling great. Arthritis and plantars fascitius has been cleared up completely I believe by following this eating program.” Candi

“Lost 30 pounds while relieving arthritis symptoms…”

“I wanted to say that I started following the Paleo diet approach about two months ago, in part to try and address some arthritis concerns. I have lost thirty pounds in the two months, and my energy level has been much more consistent. I would like to begin studying more about how to optimize the diet …” Pete Swan

“More energy and our arthritis flare-ups are very infrequent…”

“I’m a chef in North Carolina who has a great interest in anthropology and that’s what lead me to the Paleo Diet. First Ray Audette’s Neanderthin, then your book. My wife and I have adopted this new lifestyle and it’s wonderful. We both are doing well with the transition. We have more energy and our rheumatoid arthritis (minor symptoms) has not flared up in months.” Bill P.

“Inflammation is subsiding…”

“Thank you for taking time to review this message. I have not been feeling well for several years. After seeing several rheumatologists and many doctors, they are still not sure what is happening except I am exhibiting symptoms of inflammation throughout my body (muscular and gut), minimal joint pain but back and hip stiffness. My energy level has been very low. I have been visiting chiropractors and have been taking Celebrex on an as need basis for two months. I searched and found an article dated April 18, 2000 in the WebMD archives that was written by Elizabeth Tracey on possible (lectin) grain, pea and bean/ gut changes/ inflammation linkages to arthritis. Your name was mentioned. I do know beans and peas cause me great digestive and bowel issues. Are there any recent studies of further information on this connection? I have immediately stopped eating wheat, barley, peas and beans and feel great! People even notice a difference. It seems within a few days all my symptoms have disappeared. My energy level and general feeling of well being have increased dramatically! I am most relieved and hope I have finally found the answer.” Craig – Toronto, Canada

“Joint pain is greatly diminished…”

“I am a Personal Trainer with more then 15 years of training experience. I am currently certified through the Cooper Inst. All of the nutritional guide lines I have been certified to communicate to clients are based on AHA guidelines. A good friend who had great weight loss and increased health success with the Paleo diet gave me a copy of your book. Having been an Anthro minor in college and a nationally ranked athlete I read it with a great deal of interest. I have now been following the level 2 plan for 2 months with modifications for food likes (grew up in Asia as a Navy brat, I hate fish). I have found the joint pain I’ve had from 20+ years of power-lifting and 14 years of stunt work have greatly diminished and much to my surprise even I have lost body fat and increased lean muscle mass. To quote my teenager I am jazzed about the diet and would like to give my clients information on the Paleo diet but am concerned about liability if I stray from AHA guide lines. Do you have a Paleo Nutrition course directed toward Personal Trainer/Nutritional Counselors?” William

“Tendonitis in my knee has cleared up…”

“As a health professional and former long time vegetarian, I have been following the Paleo diet for about two years, and am delighted with the results. My weight has returned to normal and remained normal, my HDL has increased to 50 from 35, my LDL, which was at the upper range of normal has decreased to healthy levels, my VLDL has also returned to healthy levels (around 12), my triglycerides have plummeted from 250 to 60, and my fluctuating high blood pressure is now consistently within safe parameters. The tendonitis in my knee has cleared up completely. I now recommend this diet to many of my patients in my acupuncture practice, the majority of whom have symptoms of Syndrome X. I am utterly fascinated with this approach to diet and health.”

“Stopped anti-inflammatory drugs…”

“I have just recently read your article: Modulation of immune function by dietary lectins in rheumatoid arthritis. (British Journal of Nutrition 2000 83,207-217) and find this is the best explanation of joint problems I’ve been having for the past two and a half years. The attacks I’ve had are of arthritic characteristics, red hot, swollen and very painful. The attacks are random and becoming more frequent to the point where I have been bed ridden. Since reading your article I have stopped eating grains and now find my joints are beginning to feel much better, So much so that I have stopped taking prescription anti inflammatory drugs.”

Affiliates and Credentials