(NaturalNews) Arthritis is an extremely common illness characterized by inflammation in the joints. There are two different types of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Both of these can be mildly painful to completely debilitating. Many of the drugs used to treat arthritis cause terrible side effects. Fortunately, making some changes in lifestyle can prevent the issue and alleviate the symptoms.
Rheumatoid arthritis is understood in part to be a pro-inflammatory auto-immune disorder. This means that the immune system is both over-active and damaging to the body`s own healthy cells. The immune system should be the body`s main line of defense against external foreign invaders like bacteria or viruses. When a person has rheumatoid arthritis, their immune system specifically attacks cartilage and tissue in and around the joints of the body. This creates pain, stiffness and swelling.
Osteoarthritis This type of arthritis is characterized by a progressive degeneration of the body`s cartilage which cushions and surrounds the joints - mostly the load bearing joints: hips, knees, spine and hands. Osteoarthritis can be triggered by a joint injury, sports and exercise which place excessive pressure on the joint, as well as obesity. This creates inflammation, so both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis are pro-inflammatory conditions.
The traditional treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS); however, there are risks and side effects associated with this treatment:
- NSAIDS suppress cartilage formation and promote joint destruction - NSAIDS increase gut permeability and promote systemic inflammation via absorption of toxins and gastrointestinal antigens - Newer NSAIDS increase the risk of heart disease through silent inflammation that contributes to atherosclerosis - Using NSAIDs treats the symptoms and not the underlying causes
- Diet high in fat and sugar and wheat, and low in fruit and vegetables - Diet high in acidifying artificial beverages e.g. cola - Sedentary lifestyle and obesity - Insufficient sleep - Micro nutrient deficiency (i.e. of vitamins and minerals) caused by eating non-organic, processed and refined foods - Lack of adequate sunlight or dietary sources of vitamin D - High intake or highly starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes and white flour products which promote overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut - Stressful work or home environments promote hormone imbalances and may increase gut permeability leading to pain and inflammation
Foods to avoid or cut down:
- Avoid common grains and/or allergens including wheat and cow`s milk as these can create chronic pro-inflammatory conditions in the body - Avoid sugar, white flour products and starchy foods such as potatoes as these create blood sugar imbalances and feed bad bacteria in the gut, all leading to more inflammation in the body - Avoid high intake of saturated fats such as fatty processed meats, hard cheeses, and cow`s milk as these can lead to obesity and chronic inflammation - Avoid trans and hydrogenated oils as they increase free radical stress on the body and inflammation - Do not eat lean red meat more than three times per week as it contains pro-inflammatory fats - Avoid black tea, coffee, fizzy drinks as they are all acid forming - Check if eggs and the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines, peppers, oranges, plums and rhubarb), which can also cause allergies, may be triggering pain. If so, avoid them and then re-introduce them back into the diet, one at a time after a month
Foods to increase:
- Protein such as fish, seeds and nuts to help maintain balanced insulin levels; imbalanced insulin leads to inflammation - Whole fruits, such as apples, cherries, pineapple, grapes, oranges, bananas, kiwi, blueberries, blackberries, contain many anti-oxidants and alkalizing minerals which protect the body against damage from acidity and inflammation - Vegetables: mixed greens, kale, chard, cucumbers, carrots as they provide alkalising minerals to reverse acidity in the body which can create pain and inflammation - Don`t cook with oil as they can create free radical stress on the body - Eat plenty of foods high in omega 3 oils which are very anti-inflammatory: walnuts, herring, mackerel, flax oil and seeds, tuna, salmon, sardines and anchovies - Eat plenty of foods high in quality omega 6, including most nuts and seeds which are also anti-inflammatory - Eat plenty of foods containing vitamin D as deficiency can cause chronic musculoskeletal pain and inflammation; foods include cod liver oil, most oily fish (herring mackerel tuna, sardines, salmon, - Use amaranth, quinoa, spelt, barley, millet and rye as wheat alternatives - Use turmeric, cayenne pepper and rosemary to spice foods as these are all anti-inflammatory - Use rice, soy or almond milk as dairy alternatives Lifestyle Changes - 20-30 minutes per day of full-body sun exposure would provide all the vitamin D you would require. Avoid getting burnt in the sun though as this increase the chances of skin cancer - Exercise for 30-60 minutes up to 5 times per week can improve joint lubrication and mobility, reducing pain and inflammation - Find ways to deal with and reduce stressful relationships and job situations as they create hormonal imbalances and can reduce digestive ability promoting pain and inflammation
Alex Howard is author of "WHY ME? My Journey from M.E. to Health and Happiness" and founder of The Optimum Health Clinic, an award winning clinic specialising in M.E./C.F.S./Fibromyalgia based in Harley Street Clinic, London, UK. The clinic has treated over 5,000 patients with M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia in over twenty-five countries around the world, and is currently running a two year clinical trial in conjunction with two top universities. A free information pack, including a 75 documentary about the clinic and its work, can be ordered from www.FreedomFromME.co.uk