You are what you eat… how diet can impact symptoms

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the Quarry Hill Farm in Harleysville, PA with the intent of picking up a gift certificate for a healthy food conscious friend.  After spending the morning with the owners Scott Clemens and Sloan Six, I was intrigued by the touted link between disease recovery and diet.  Sloan’s story on cancer recovery and the impact of diet was pretty amazing and I wondered what the relationship might be between diet and juvenile (or any type) arthritis.  I did a little digging and came up with some interesting information applicable to not only copping with arthritis, but the impact diet can have on health, no matter what your situation.

The Quarry Hill Farm Story  (from the Quarry Hill website)

After more than three years of hard work and tremendous investments of time, science and love, Sloane Six and J. Scott Clemens proudly opened their Quarry Hill Farm, LLC. on-site in Harleysville, PA.

Far from the typical farmers’ market, most of the products are harvested from the hundred-acre farm, 100% organic, and produced with a family devotion to upholding the integrity of the Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Program. The remainder of the products sold in the market are locally produced artisan foods, keeping true to Quarry Hill Farm’s focus on sustainability, environmental responsibility and support of the local community – while providing a one-stop shop for local customers.

“We ‘rescued’ these hundred acres from housing developers in 2007, and take great pride in our home being part of Pennsylvania’s Farmland Preservation Program,” said co-owner, Sloane Six. “To us, we are responsible for some of our community’s heritage.

Six, a breast cancer survivor, especially sees the value in a diet of organically grown and pasture-fed products.  “I’m not saying this diet could have prevented my cancer – maybe… maybe not. But I do believe there is a direct link to the food we eat and our health. After my diagnosis three years ago, I resolved to eat healthier, and it has made a tremendous difference in that I have more energy and can maintain a healthy weight much more easily. From the taste, to how in makes me feel physically and spiritually, I will never go back to non-organic produce or protein that is not grass fed.”

Before leaving the farm during my visit, Sloan and Scott gave me a bunch of literature on the benefits of eating well and an organically based diet.  Most of this information can be found on the Quarry Hill web site: http://www.quarryhillfarm.net

There are also a number of links from the Quarry Hill web site related to organic farming and healthy eating:

Eat Wild – Your source for safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy…and other wild edibles.

Grass Fed Cooking – The official website for buying books and products directly form Shannon Hayes, your go-to gal for preparing grassfed and pastured meats.

Honey – Honey is honey, it’s just that simple. A bottle of pure honey contains the natural sweet substance produced by honey bees from the nectar of plants or secretions of living parts of plants. Nothing else.

Organic Eating – OrganicEating.com is a premium online location to learn about organic food and other organic-related products.

Go to Quarry Hill’s web site for more links to health eating.

Arthritis and Diet

My visit to Quarry Hill Farm rekindled an interest in the relationship between diet and disease recovery, and I spent a fair amount of time reading, searching the web and generally trying to distill the masses of information available.  It seems that the further I dug, the more confusing the issues became.  Between the diets, nutritionists, doctors, vitamin peddlers, Jenny Craig type weight loss programs, and commercial entities marketing their own products/programs; it was impossible to figure out the best approach for those dealing with arthritis in its many forms.  There is not doubt that no matter your position on diet, one can find numerous publications, journal articles, research and “experts” to support it.

It certainly appears that many people much smarter than me have tried to summarize the information available from all of the above sources.  To me, it seems that common sense should dictate.  There is clearly a link between diet and arthritis symptoms, as there is between almost any ailment and a healthy lifestyle.  Those with a sedentary lifestyle, excessive weight, with diets high in fat, cholesterol, sugar and salt appear to have more pronounced symptoms.   The converse is true as well

Without a doubt, all persons with arthritis, young and old, can benefit from eating a healthy well balanced diet according to the Arthritis Foundation – sounds like common sense and  is not difficult to accept.  Some other suggestions include:

  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grained products
  • Get recommended daily dosage of vitamins and minerals through diet and supplements
  • Avoid sugar, salt and fat (especially saturated fat found in animal products)
  • Maintain a healthy weight  – most of us know what that is.

Research has also shown several connections between food, nutritional supplements (such as vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids) and certain forms of arthritis or related conditions, such as gout, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, reactive arthritis and osteoporosis.  Those with rheumatoid arthritis seem to show pronounced improvement in joint pain after taking fish oil or eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, mackerel, and herring).

Since the Ride to Alaska and this blog are focused on Juvenile Arthritis, I would be remiss without acknowledging the challenges that parents must face in getting/keeping the kids enthused about eating more vegetables and fish.  As the father of a 4-yr old, I can attest to the constant battles surrounding the “eat your vegetables” scenario at the dinner table each night.

Above all, most literature that I muddled through advises that your doctor is the best source of advice on what you should (and should not) eat to ease the symptoms of arthritis.  Experimentation and fasting is risky and can exacerbate the symptoms.  Eat healthy, exercise and listen to your body – best I can offer…

I’ll focus on getting the bike to Alaska and back, let the experts deal with diet, but I hope this my help a little.

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2 responses to “You are what you eat… how diet can impact symptoms

  1. Great post! Quarry Hill Farms sounds so interesting.

  2. Good advice……we try to follow that thinking. Waffle runs a tight ship and does a good job keeping me in line. Boy do I miss those tasty, salty potato chips!!!!

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