I'm doing a little experiment, and it seems to be working.
I'm in pretty good shape fitness-wise for a mid-fifties dude. Nothing spectacular, but my deadlift is around 405 pounds, and my aerobic capacity rarely flags. I'm not remotely overweight (6'2"/180).
But good god, man, I'm banged-up. I have arthritis in both knees, my right elbow and both shoulders. It's mostly from 37 years of drumming (still doing that) and probably a bit from five-plus years of CrossFit (don't do that any more). I do what I can to avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs, and most of that consists of keeping my version of paleo/primal on a low-inflammatory track. The food/inflammation nexus has been pretty obvious to a lot of us for a while.
But why the hell did my arthritis/creakiness seem so bad lately?
I could blame the pain on physical activity, but that's pretty much a constant; I haven't been ramping up my exercise (or my drumming) lately. So I decided to take a hard look at my food.
I cut out alcohol entirely for almost a month. Nothing. No effect.
So what the heck might it be? I eat: meat, fish, eggs, vegetables (but hardly ever any nightshades), a little cheese, a little heavy cream, coffee, water, fruit (various berries), and some nuts.
That's pretty much it. So I looked at that list and saw nothing inflammatory, except maybe the fruit and the dairy (and okay, theoretically, the nuts, but my O-6/O-3 ratio is 2:1, which is, as the doctors say, "fucking spectacular"). (Yup, that's what they say).
I hoped really hard that it was the fruit. :) Because cheese.
I like fruit, but I love cheese. So I started with fruit.
Realizing that I was eating a bowl of berries pretty much every day, I vowed to eliminate them. My thought was that if fructose in the form of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is an inflammation bomb, maybe some people (read: me) don't handle regular old natural fructose so well either.
I've told you before that I can do, or not do, just about anything if I think it's a healthy idea. Willpower is not my problem. Convince me that eating a handful of dirt every day is a solid health plan, and I am in. With bells on. The convincing is the only hard part. But quitting berries is not eating dirt. It didn't take all that much arm-twisting of the self-inflicted variety for me to give it a shot.
So I quit berries cold turkey. No gentle decrease. No trips to the berry methadone clinic. No hanging around sketchy street corners waiting to score some vaccinium cyanococcus. (Cue: Lou Reed). Cold turkey.
The result has been pretty dramatic. I was so used to limping the first few steps when I would just get out of bed or out of the car that, when I suddenly didn't limp in those situations within two days of beginning this regimen, I was all, "Whoa. No, really, wait! Whoooooaaaaaaaa. I feel much better than usual."
I'm two weeks in now. I feel really good.
I miss the berries. But I miss the pain less. It's not 100% gone, but I don't expect it ever will be. I'm all banged-up and have hobbies that keep banging me up. I may try eliminating dairy too at some point to see if that makes an appreciable further difference, but the nearly-zero-fructose approach (I say "nearly" because it's in most vegetables in small amounts) seems to be a very good thing for my arthritis.
And I don't really know what to say about why there isn't very much on the interwebs about getting rid of fruit as a possible source of fructose-based inflammation. Everyone tells you to shitcan HFCS, but almost no one says that eliminating actual fruit might help too. That's probably because of anti-oxidant positives from fruit. It's generally good for most people. It's... HEALTHY!
But I'm not sure it's a good thing for me.
One of these nights, I'm going to eat a big-ass bowl of berries to test the theory. I bet my joints ache the next day.
To quote Hunter Thompson, and those in my chosen day job, "Res ipsa loquitur."
Whatever works. And this seems to work.