Doctor, doctor: Fruit and veg and arthritis, plus alkaline water

My mother, an aunt and a cousin all developed arthritis in middle age. I'm in my 30s. A relative tells me that eating a lot of fruit and vegetables can prevent it. Is there evidence for this?
Around five years ago there was a paper on the subject in one of the peer-reviewed journals on ­rheumatic diseases. It related the daily ­consumption of fruit and ­vegetables in men and women in Norfolk to their risks of developing arthritis.  Those who ate the least had three times the risk of developing one of the "i­nflammatory" (rheumatoid-type) forms of arthritis as those ­eating the most. So your relative has a point, although I'm not sure that others have yet confirmed the study results. If your family arthritis is of the rheumatoid type, there's no harm in eating more fruit and veg. There isn't the same evidence for protection against osteoarthritis.

I drink two pints of good-quality bottled drinking water a day to ease indigestion. A health shop assistant told me I should drink alkaline water to fight off any excess acid.  Would it cause any harm, and could you explain alkaline for me?
Bottled water doesn't offer any health advantage over British tap water, which is of very high quality and costs much less. Water is just water and has no magic ­ingredients. Drinking alkaline water does not protect you against excessive ­stomach acid, and suggesting that it promotes good health is medical nonsense. Our bodies have very ­efficient "­buffering" systems to e­nsure that our blood and ­tissues are kept at the right balance ­between acid and ­alkali. Alkalinity is the opposite end of the scale from acidity, both of which are usually measured on the pH scale of 0 (very acid) to 14 (very alkaline). Neutral (neither acid nor alkaline) is 7, and the water we drink (as well as our body tissues) has a pH around that mark. There's no good reason to drink excessive amounts of water, and you may be doing that if you are adding two extra pints to a normal eating pattern. More important, why do you have indigestion? You should see your doctor about it for a rational assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

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