In my third book, Quantum Eating, many of you have read of my experience with a condition known as tennis elbow, sometimes called “frozen elbow.” Not only painful, it’s a quite disabling condition plaguing many people. It is, as well, a condition which many doctors too-summarily rule out as being mere “chronic inflammation.’ After it has developed, for many people it practically becomes their personal noose. Everyday activities—pouring a pitcher of water, picking up a bag of groceries, any movement involving wrist or fingers—become a painful struggle. You’re virtually down one arm!
After a bicycle accident, I sustained an injury which resulted in yet another surgery and a frozen elbow. I had trouble managing even simple things like buttoning a button or combing my hair. After months of painful physical therapy, much to my delight, I discovered that combining a raw food diet with hot yoga was the winning combination I was looking for. The Locust Pose was particularly effective at ridding me of this condition, giving me back my full range of motion.
Though tennis elbow is an inflammation to the outside bone on the elbow, normally caused from overextension or repetitive movement and strain of that area, it doesn’t mean you have to smack 200 tennis balls a day to get it. The name tennis elbow misleads many to believe it is most likely to occur among those who actually play tennis or racquetball. But the fact is, almost anyone can get it. And your food and exercise are a direct link to what your body will be most susceptible to.
You may be thinking: Oh, a bit of pain in my arm. I think I'll just take a little Ibuprofen. It’s not that big a deal. I don’t need to completely change my diet or lifestyle… Perhaps you’re content with taking a pill to ease the discomfort. But what many have not been educated about is the serious health risks you are taking by just eliminating the symptoms of inflammation while ignoring the root of the problem.
Medical studies have discovered inflammation as a predominant factor in diseases from arthritis to heart disease to even cancer. You body responds to inflammation by producing “C-reactive proteins.” Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides along with high levels of C reactive proteins have been shown in studies to be the strongest predictor of heart disease!
What factor directly affects the overall functioning of your body the most? Answer: the food you eat. Your first step is finding the purest, healthiest foods to aid in reducing inflammation and helping your body cleanse out toxins that prevent healing.
Various foods prevent inflammation, while others aggravate it. Certain raw foods are best for preventing and healing tennis elbow because they are high in polyphenols, which (to make a long story short) help inhibit inflammation. Polyphenols are found in blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries, strawberries, cherries and many other berries as well.
Another natural anti-inflammatory is Quercetin, found in such foods as apples, red grapes, yellow and red onions, broccoli and garlic. It is also important to eat foods high in antioxidants to help cleanse your body of harmful substances that can keep you from healing. Kale, spinach, carrots, bell peppers and tomatoes are a great source of antioxidants. These are most beneficial when eaten raw because, by eating raw, you are sustaining all of the nutrients and getting the most out of the food you eat.
Your second step…getting all those nutrients to the areas you are trying to heal. To do this, you need superior circulation, and a cleansing, gentle form of exercise. I have found hot yoga to be not only the most healing exercise, but the one that makes the most sense across the board. Circulation is a key component in hot yoga: You’re not only stretching and strengthening every area in your body but, because you’re practicing this series of cleansing poses in a heated room, you’re also sweating out harmful toxins from your body, making for the most effective way to heal and prevent your body from other injuries.
You can find more information about the unmatched synergistic benefits of combining these two lifestyle practices in my book Raw Food and Hot Yoga.
With a clean, strong, well-balanced body, you will find that certain ailments will simply, quietly disappear. You won’t have chronic, unnecessary aches and pains. Inflammation will no longer be an issue because your immune system will not need to produce a protective substance to heal itself.
So next time you find yourself shuffling through the bottles of pain relievers in your bathroom cupboard, think again! It's better to replace a flat tire instead of duct taping over the hole that’s creating the problem.