I had a wonderful weekend and hope you did, too! By the way, happy National Nutrition Month! For great information on good nutrition, be sure to visit the American Dietetic Association website.
I will be presenting at the Dorothy Lane School of Cooking in Dayton, Ohio, tomorrow and Wednesday. My co-presenters and recipe contributors, Chef Carrie Walters, who is the corporate chef at Dorothy Lane Markets, and Chef Elizabeth Wiley, who is the chef\owner of The Meadowlark restaurant in Dayton, will be cooking up a storm with me!
On Saturday, I presented at Serene Teaz in Elmhurst, Illinois and also signed books. It was so cool to hear how my first book was helping so many people. Many in attendance were looking forward to reading my new book, 101 Optimal Life Foods, because they were dealing with many of the same health challenges that most of my patients contend with daily: fatigue, digestive disorders, poor circulation and lots of chronic pain. The good news is that adding in the right foods while also keeping an eye on limiting “offending” foods can certainly help. My ninety-year old (almost) father was in attendance, too!
Many in attendance loved the story about my father who called me in the middle of the night to take him to the hospital a few years back. Long story short, turns out that dad had a considerable amount of arthritis in his spine at the time. He wasn’t overly thrilled about treating it with more medications than what he was already on. So he said to me, “Son, is there anything I can do diet-wise that might help?” I told him that my patients seemed to do well by adding in foods like tart cherries, which are rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients like ellagic acid, which has been shown to reduce arthritis pain. He remembered this as something I recommended for him years ago when he was plagued with gout (a form of arthritis). He loved cherries so this was an easy “fix” for him.
Though I’m all about the “add-in, NOT take away” approach, I also suggested that he might want to try avoiding nightshade vegetables which include tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplant. He looked at me like I was a madman. “Did you forget that we are Italian?” I knew this wasn’t going to go over well. I told him that some of my patients responded well to avoiding nightshades. Nightshade vegetables belong to a family of plants that thrive during the night\shade called Solanaceae. But truth be told, the scientific literature to date has not made a firm connection between nightshades and arthritis pain aggravation. And in my clinical experience, it was hit and miss results, at best.
My father tried adding in tart cherry juice and avoiding the nightshade vegetables. In less than a week, it was virtually pain-free! He was an obvious responder to my recommendations. He was thrilled!
Fast forward about a month later, I noticed that he was wincing in pain when he moved certain ways. I asked him if he was still on the “program”. He replied rather sheepishly, “Uh…no…”. I asked him why he wasn’t sticking to my program when he was having such good results. He did tell me that he was faithful with his tart cherry juice consumption and did feel better because of it but also stated that I had “cut him to the quick” with the avoidance of nightshades. To him, life was more “optimal” when they included his fave vegetables…the pain was worth it.