Arthritic Conditions.

Arthritis is a painful inflammatory condition that affect joints. Most arthritis sufferers are prescribed painkillers, but surely, it is always better to treat the cause and not the symptom. In most cases, the cause of Arthritis is inflammation, cause by wear and tear in joints. Thus changing the lifestyle, targeting anti-inflammatory foods and supplements, is a better way to manage or even reverse arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a very common variation is this condition, where bone deterioration is also present (a combination of Arthritis and Osteoporosis). Osteoarthritis is much harder to treat and manage and just like Osteoporosis, it is more common in women than men. Another variation of arthritis is a Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is an inflammatory autoimmune condition, but it affects all of the body, rather than just joints – antibodies develop, that are targeted against joint tissues. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown. Fortunately, it is very rare disease, affecting 1-2% of population.

Majority of people affected by arthritis are elderly – around 80% of over 50s suffer with achy and painful joints. However, there is a growth in arthritic conditions in young adults and even teenagers. The common practice is to prescribe NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), but side-effects of such treatment include liver and kidney damage, gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, dizziness, skin rashes and stomach upset. Arthritis and osteoarthritis are possible to treat and prevent by following an anti-inflammatory diet, doing weight-bearing exercise and following well-designed supplement programme.

What Goes Wrong.

Wear and tear is a major cause of osteoarthritis, where cartilage lining wears away, causing the ends of bones to rub against each other, resulting in inflammation and pain. This can happen to anyone whose hobbies or jobs involve putting pressure on particular joints, i.e. walking or jogging puts extra strain on knees and typing puts pressure on wrists and fingers. Being overweight always worsen the condition further as it puts extra pressure on joints. The best way to try to prevent osteoarthritis, as well as osteoporosis is to build more muscle mass to support the joints and bones. This is why weight-bearing exercise is so good.

Acidity is a common cause of Arthritis and the reason why diet alone can reverse the condition or worsen it. Certain foods and drinks cause inflammation, i. e. caffeine, red meat, processed food, sugar, alcohol, etc. These foods cause uric acid to collect in the small joints of hands and feet, causing pain and swelling. Stress and nicotine are also creating an acidic environment in the body and stress is also to blame for the production of  inflammatory hormones in the body.

So in  order to manage or even reverse an arthritic condition one needs to: reduce inflammation, remove crystallised deposits in the joints, and rebuilt cartilage if possible.

Diet For Arthritis Management.

Generally, a vegetable based diet (vegan or vegetarian) has been shown to decrease the symptoms of arthritis by relieving inflammation. Vegetarians have less of arachidonic acid in their blood than non-vegetarians. However, eating fish or consuming fish oils has shown excellent results in reducing inflammation, so pescetarian diet would probably be the best. Regardless of what diet one chooses to have, there is one general dietary principle that will help to reduce the symptoms of arthritis and it is reasonably easy to follow for most people: reduce the intake of acidic foods and increase the intake of alkaline foods.

Foods to avoid: red meats and any processed meat, smoked fish, animal fat, dairy products, nightshade family vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and aubergines), fried foods, wheat, excess amount of eggs, citrus fruits (oranges, clementines, grapefruits, lemons, limes), shellfish, coffee and black tea, carbonated drinks, chocolate, sugar, tobacco and alcohol, too much salt.

Foods to eat more of: oily fish, wheat and gluten-free grains and seeds (quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice and wild rice, millet, etc.), old fashioned oats, fresh non-citrus fruits (pineapple, papaya, figs, apples, pears, etc.), vegetables in any amount (apart of the ones mentioned above), berries, non-carbonated mineral water, nuts, good oils, such as coconut and olive oil. Try to bake and steam your food and eat as much wholefoods as possible. Make your own food from scratch.

Lifestyle Changes.

Stress causes the production of inflammatory hormones and lowers immune system, thus it should be eliminated or reduced. It can be very difficult to achieve for some people, but it is crucial in relieving arthritic pain. Take some time to relax, practice yoga or Pilates (that will also strengthen the muscles), go swimming, get plenty of sleep to help the body recover, etc. Excercise can be the last thing one wants to do when they experience pain and stiffness in their joints, but gentle exercise such as swimming and Pilates will strengthen the muscles and reduce the pressure on bones and joints. Everyone who does not suffer from arthritis yet, and wants to prevent it, should definitely exercise.

Supplements For Arthritis Management.

  • Quercetin  – a non-citrus bioflavonoid, that helps to reduce pain and swelling. Quercetin has also been shown to inhibit the enzyme Hyaluronidase, which is responsible for the breakdown of collagen in the connective tissue.
  • Bromelain is a protein digesting enzyme found in pineapple. It is also excellent to reduce swelling and inflammation and often found together with Quercetin in anti-inflammatory formulas.
  • Chondroitin and Glucosamine Hydrochloride  (this is the most effective form of Glucosamine, wich is more powerful than Glucosamine Phosphate, and is also vegan). Glucosamine and Chondroitin help to protect cartilage from further damage in cases of Osteoarthritis. Symptomatic relief can be noticed after 12 weeks. Taken long-term, these two compounds might also help to restore cartilage, but it depends on other factors, such as diet and lifestyle. Manganese helps Glucosamine utilisation.
  • Turmeric is also well-known and widely used for its anti-inflammatory properties. However, turmeric is difficult to absorb as a supplement, unless MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) are included in capsule, so the best way to benefit from turmeric is to consume it in its food state, with coconut oil (MCTs).
  • Krill Oil has been the centre of attention for quite some time now. This is because Krill oil is much more potent source of Omega 3 than any fish oil. Research showed  that taken at 300mg a day, Krill oil has decreased pro-inflammatory C-reactive protein activity in half just after one month.
  • Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is a natural polysaccharide and a major component of joint and connective tissue, where it lubricates and cushions the joint lining. Taken as a supplement, HA inhibits MMP-13 enzyme, which destroys joints by dissolving the cartilage. By inhibiting MMP-13, HA slows joint degradation. HA injections are used clinically, injected directly into a joint – this is the best way of “taking” HA, as oral administration has questionable bioavailability. When administered orally, HA must be taken with phospholipids for better absorption. A combination of HA with phospholipid rich Krill oil should work well.
  • Astaxanthin also inhibits MMP-13, acts as an antioxidant and more importantly, it has been shown to inhibit apoptosis (the programmed cell death) in mice. Apoptosis is a significant cause of cartilage loss in osteoarthritis.

Herbal supplements.

  • Devil’s Claw – is a wonderful anti-inflammatory herb, which relieves pain by reducing inflammation. Unlike other anti-inflammatory herbs, Devil’s Claw does not have side effects or contraindications. It can be taken long-term and alongside other medications.
  • Ginger stimulates circulation and does possess mild anti-inflammatory effect. It is also quite safe, with no side effects or contraindications.
  • Stinging Nettle posess very strong cleansing properties. It reduces acidity and flashes uric acid out. Nettle does not have any side effects or contraindications.
  • Boswellia – an anti-inflammatory herb, widely used in Ayurveda. Boswellia resin is the most powerful form of boswellia and it reduces inflammation and oedema. In placebo controlled studies, treatment with boswellia resin resulted in significant reduction of pain and morning stiffness in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

 

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