The Hands Maketh the Man – simple dietary changes that led to a significant reduction in pain

You can’t take away the use of a man’s hands, because the Hands Maketh the Man.

A tale of painful arthritis and the resulting dietary changes that lead to a significant reduction in pain & a strengthened hope for the future.

Hand holding tool


Arthritis. That bitch. That painful, fun-sucking, life-changing curse.

Hands gather, fix, hold and touch. Can you imagine that doing these things causes an immense amount of pain? Can you imagine trying to write, to hold a beer by the neck, or hold a tool and thinking ‘Shit, dammit, any moment and my hands will slip’ – some of you can. But for the rest of us that is unimaginable.

Here lives a man, a very courageous & proud man, who has always worked with his hands. My step-father was a repairman, and a sparky by trade. He is now a pipeline technician working with incredibly dangerous gas. Being a hobby-shooter, he needs to be able to hold a shotgun steady and gently squeeze a trigger.

Holding a shot gun

At not even 60 years of age, he had started to think that he would not see his working life out. The restriction and suffering that ensues with arthritic hands that were progressively getting worse was at the forefront of his mind. A cupboard full of supplements, helping to ease the pain until he got too busy and forgot to take them. My mum lovingly describes his hands as ‘buggered’. The arthritic pain he was experiencing in his hands was debilitating. For him to hold a tool caused incredible pain, and part of his profession is to be masterful with his hands. He is a man I very much look up to, and I have never heard him complain about pain. For him it wasn’t just a little ache, it was described like stabbing sharp needles into each knuckle. Can you imagine dealing with that every day?

So I set myself forthwith to the task of something I love to do – researching. And it turns out there is an arch-nemesis to arthritis called Nightshades. Nightshades are a family of super-villain vegetables, that can increase inflammation and pain. They are the nightmare of nightmares for arthritis sufferers. And guess what – when my step-father took these out of his diet within 2 weeks his symptoms were extremely diminished. Do you know what these super-villains are? Cue dramatic music – they include the humble white potato, the fabulous tenacious tomato, the capricious capsicum, and the exiguous eggplant. These foods are part of what is known as The Nightshade Family, or for a more technical term they are the Solanacaeae family. One of the plants in the family even includes the deadly black nightshade, Atropa belladonna L.?

Nightshade vegetables

There was a study that was done on arthritis sufferers who removed nightshades from their diet. Out of everyone that finished the study, the group that stuck rigidly to the diet and didn’t have a single bit of tomato sauce, nor a touch of tomato paste or a single potato chip, 94% of them had ‘complete or substantial relief’ from their symptoms. But for the group that had a couple of ‘slip ups’ and mostly avoided the nightshades, only 50% of those people had ‘complete or substantial relief’ from their symptoms. So it goes to show that for some people, it may require a lifelong change of removing these foods completely from the diet, perhaps never to return. But is it worth it? Is being pain free worth going without that potato chip or that piece of tomato on your sandwich? Most people in the situation my step-father was in would say they would do anything.

So the detailed conclusion? Within 2 weeks of cutting down significantly on the tomato, of having no white potato or capsicum at all, the quotable response from his wife, my mum, was “oh my god, oh my god, the DIFFERENCE!” My step-dad said that now he can pick up his shot-gun without pain. He believes he can continue working, and for him that is priceless. My mum can’t believe that to be able to help his symptoms with diet is unbelievable. There is hope once more, that he can continue to use his hands for the rest of his days. And I think that is worth suffering the loss of potatoes & tomatoes, don’t you? Even for a man with Irish blood.

You can’t take away the use of a man’s hands, because the Hands Maketh the Man.

Old mans hands

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