Tips for Reversing Arthritis

Tips for Reversing Arthritis

Author -  Good Health

What is arthritis and what causes it? More importantly what can we do to reverse the symptoms of arthritis? Find out here…

Arthritis and joint pains are the most common chronic condition of old age. It’s wear and tear causing the breakdown of cartilage in the joints, which leads to stiffness and pain. There are 206 bones in the human body and the most of them come together in synovial joints  where fluid-containing cavities separate the bones from each other. Arthritis literally means inflammation of one or more joints.

The cartilage is like a super-slick padding, which allows the bone tips to slide easily across each other without catching or slowing. The effect is rather like ice cubes rubbing together, except the cartilage surface is perhaps eight times more slippery than ice. Unlike other human tissues, cartilage doesn’t contain any nerves or blood supply; its nutrients come from the fluid that bathes the surrounding joint.

As we get older or we incur joint damage through sports or injury, we start to lose the protecting water-attracting proteoglycans. Erosions may develop, with cartilage becoming uneven and pitted or even wear out completely. Without their cushioning tip of smooth, healthy cartilage, the bones may start to rub together, producing severe pain.

In summary our joints are the key to mobility. Without pain-free unrestricted movement, our lives are severely inhibited. Besides being “genetically lucky”, there are some key steps we can take to assist treatment support with arthritis and joint pain.

Preventative measures
There are certain lifestyle and dietary measures that we can choose to help reduce the pain of arthritis and increase the body’s capacity to heal itself.

Reduce Free Radicals – Free radicals can cause damage to the cartilage, accelerating arthritis.

  • Avoid exposure to free radical sources such as smoking and foods that increase free radical load, such as fried, smoked, barbecued and cured foods.
  • External sources may include air pollutants; exhaust fumes (traffic-jam fumes) pesticides, drugs, hydrocarbons- aerosol sprays, petroleum-based products and solvents like formaldehyde, toluene and benzene.
  • Added chemicals in food - colouring, preservatives, emulsifiers, antibiotics, nitrates, food enhancers, some sweeteners and any sort of synthetic additive to food and drink.
  • Beverages like alcohol, coffee, carbonated soft drinks, drinks with artificial flavours and sweeteners.
  • Avoid heavy metals like aluminum pots, foil and utensils, as well as products with aluminum in them such as deodorants. Copper or lead piping supplying drinking water may contaminate and pollute the water - drink only fresh, filtered or purified water.

A lot of these free radical sources may be difficult to avoid. To help reduce free radicals within our bodies and therefore slow down arthritis progression, follow these lifestyle dietary and supplement recommendations.

Avoid Nightshade foods - These foods can inhibit collagen repair or promote the inflammatory degeneration of the joint, due to the alkaloids found in potatoes, paprika, tomatoes, capsicum, eggplant and tobacco.

Bad Fats - Excessive fat consumption and poor quality fats can aggravate swelling and inflammation. Arthritis is more severe in overweight people as the extra weight puts more strain on joints. Avoid or cut down on saturated fats such as cheeses, animal fats, margarine, shortening and fried foods.

Refined foods and beverages are not very nutritious compared to ‘whole foods’A balanced diet helps provide the right nutrients to help rebuild and maintain healthy joints. Cut down on cakes, biscuits, white breads, lollies, sugary foods and soft drinks. Coffee may also make the body more receptive to pain by blocking natural painkillers that the body already produces.

Aspirin and other non-steroidal inflammatory drugs - this type of medication is inexpensive and quite effective in relieving both pain and inflammation. However, side effects may include, tinnitus, gastric complications, headaches, dizziness, irritation and damage to the membrane of the gut causing digestive disturbances and ulcers. Studies show that these drugs may also inhibit cartilage repair. Osteoarthritis in particular is caused by degeneration in cartilage, so whilst the drugs are excellent for the symptoms they may be accelerating the progression of arthritis. Voltaren is a drug used to reduce inflammation. Many arthritics have felt relief when using this drug. On the down side it can cause stomach ulcers and long-term liver damage.

Rheumatoid Arthritics - many sufferers have found relief by eliminating certain foods out of their diet such as dairy, wheat, corn, yeast, eggs, pork, chicken, lamb, shellfish and beef.

Helping to Counteract Arthritis
There are many positive steps we can take to help the treatment of arthritis. Nutrition plays a large role in rebuilding and maintaining healthy joints.

Vitamin C foods (rich sources) - Kiwifruits, lemons also other foods such as cranberries, black currants, strawberries, papaya, capsicums and green leafy vegetables. Antioxidants called carotenoids are found in yellow, orange, red and green fruits and vegetables.

Cherries and blueberries and other dark red-blue berries are rich sources of flavonoids  which have an antioxidant action.  They have the remarkable in their ability to enhance collagen matrix integrity and structure and also increase healing and may help to reduce inflammation and tissue damage.

Good Fats - Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are critical in regulating oxidative stress and joint inflammation. These are necessary to produce secretions that lubricate our joints. Take oils containing omega 3 from Flax oil and Fish oil or omega 6 from EPO oil.

Fish - eat more cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna. Include pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds into your diet in salads and on cereals. Cold, saltwater fatty fish such as salmon, herring, cod, mackerel, sardines and tuna are excellent sources of fatty acids. This is recommended for both osteo and rheumatoid conditions.

Silica – Most animal products except for cartilage, skin and tendons are low in silica. Unrefined, unhulled whole grains, fruits and vegetables are the richest source.

Anti-inflammatory foods

Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple. It works by blocking some of the pro-inflammatory metabolites that “rev up” the inflammatory process.

Curcumin in the spice turmeric is the yellow pigment seen in curries and turmeric dishes. It is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin blocks leukotriene pathways, inhibiting the inflammation response.

Key Dietary Steps

  • EAT GOOD FATS (Essential Fatty Acids are good fats - such as fish oil, organic flax oil, organic EPO oil, etc)
  • SUGAR AND CARBOHYDRATE INTAKE (Decrease refined carbohydrate consumption)
  • FIBRE INTAKE (Increase fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains
  • AVOID ALLERGIES (allergies appear to play a major role in rheumatoid arthritis pain and inflammation)
  • BEVERAGES (Drink plenty of fresh purified water 1 ½ - 2 liters daily

Lifestyle Recommendations

Exercise - strengthens the supporting structures (muscles, tendons, and ligaments), increasing the range of motion, shock absorption and flexibility of joints. It also reduces muscle wasting and increases chemicals in our body that make us feel good.

Cardio-Vascular Exercise - increases the heart rate and improves heart, blood and lung function. A minimum of 15-20 minutes of exercise at least 3 times a week is necessary to gain any significant benefit from exercise.

Resistance Exercise - training with light weights helps keep muscles toned and the body taught and trim. Resistance exercise also helps increase bone strength and density.

Stretching/ Yoga - helps to maintain and increase movement and flexibility. It is also a peaceful time for body and mind.

Mental Strengthening and Protection - Cognition, memory and comprehension are all important functions of the brain. Aging can reduce these abilities and can even progress to Alzheimer’s and senility. Exercise can be related to mental fitness. Researchers performed a study showing that older people who exercise regularly performed better on cognitive tests than those that didn’t.

Relaxation and De-stressing Techniques - Taking time out for a relaxing holiday is an ideal way to reduce stress. As the body relaxes, muscles may release their tension, increasing blood flow and a sense of wellbeing. Many people use meditation as a conscious form of relaxation for the mind, spirit and body.

Tub Therapy - Relax in a tub of Epsom salts. Use one handful in a bathtub of hot water and soak for a maximum of 15 minutes. The magnesium within the Epsom salts will soak in and relax tense muscles and help ease pain in sensitive joints.

Massage - Therapeutic massage can help remove toxic crystal from joints and ease muscle tension to increase blood circulation and mobility. See a professional massage therapist for best results.

Joint Nutrients for Rebuilding

Glucosamine and Chondroitin - The Building Blocks of Cartilage - Glucosamine is comprised of glucose and an amino acid called glutamine. It is a major building block of those water loving proteoglycans found in collagen, necessary for the manufacture of glycosaminoglycans, which are the proteins that bind in the cartilage matrix. Its presence acts as a stimulus to the chondrocytes, those cells in the cartilage that keep up the supply of fresh, young collagen and proteoglycan molecules needed against the ‘wear and tear’ of cartilage. Research has shown that Glucosamine - whether made by the body or taken as a supplement, helps reduce pain and in some cases is more effective than aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and helps to improve joint function.

Rheumatoid Arthritis - the lining of the small intestines normally blocks substances that aggravate the immune system. However rheumatoid arthritis is one of the conditions in which this barrier becomes “leaky” and thus fails to sufficiently protect the body against increased absorption of these partially broken-down products of protein digestion and the mere presence of these products can cause flare-ups. Glucosamine and chondroitins help to heal the “leaky” barrier of the gut. Whilst Glucosamine and chondroitins will not prevent the body from attacking itself, supplementing the body with the ingredients that are necessary to build cartilage, progression of the disease, pain and inflammation may be slowed down considerably. If there are known stomach or digestion problems include Zinc, Vitamin A and Folic acid to heal cell membranes in stomach wall

Essential Fatty Acids

Evening Primrose oil contains Omega 6 and an omega 6 derivative called gamma linolenic acid (GLA). Evening primrose oil may help to reduce inflammation of the joints and provide necessary essential fatty acids. Research shows using combinations of omega-3 & 6 fatty acids found that 60% of Rheumatoid arthritics were able to discontinue their non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and 20% cut theirs in half. Other popular sources are Starflower-Borage oil and Spirulina.

Flax Oil and Fish Oil contain omega 3 that helps to treat inflammatory conditions. Through Pg3s, flax oil/fish oils can help decrease inflammation, help reduce water retention (oedema), and enhance some functions of the immune system. Omega 3 fish oil will also help to protect the heart, reduce inflammation and is used by the brain and nervous system for optimum function.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin C - Vitamin C deficiency is common in the elderly, resulting in altered collagen synthesis and compromised connective tissue repair. Vitamin C functions as an important antioxidant and decreases histamine levels and provides an anti-inflammatory action. Vitamin C and E appear to process synergistic effects. Thus, both vitamins E and C appear to enhance the stability of sulfated proteoglycans in the complex structure compromising articular cartilage.

Antioxidants - Antioxidants may be the key to help prevent damage of joints (other than structural accidental damage) and also halt the progression of joint diseased states. Antioxidants mop up and combat free radicals. According to several theories, free radicals present a danger to all cells within the body including joints. Antioxidants also have the added benefit of strengthening joints and collagen structures, helping to reduce inflammation therefore reducing pain and swelling and of course they are beneficial for the whole body too.

Green tea – a tea containing powerful tannins called catechins, which act as antioxidants. A lot of green tea would need to be drunk throughout the day to receive its benefits, however now it is easier to find green tea in concentrated form.

Grape seed - contains bioflavonoids and powerful antioxidants, which as with most antioxidants, helps to protect cartilage, cells and blood vessels from damage.

Green lipped Mussel extract - Green lipped Mussel extract is prized for its traditional food benefits for joints and to maintain body mobility. Mucopolysaccharides are the active component derived from mussel extract, which help boost the body’s ability to help anti-inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and Osteoarthritis.

Shark Cartilage and Bovine Cartilage - Many people think that cartilage just helps treat arthritis, either by reducing inflammation or providing raw materials for the body to make new cartilage and this may be the case for osteoarthritis. But in the case of rheumatoid arthritis some doctors suggest that RA is an angiogenesis dependent disease, in which new blood vessels encourage its spread. Anti-angiogenesis factors in cartilage seem to stop the growth of these new blood vessels and put the brakes on RA.

MSM may help reduce pain in muscle soreness and cramps - when outside pressure drops, cells swell, press on nerves and cause pain. Often a contributing factor to pain is rigid fibrous tissue cells, which lack flexibility and permeability. MSM restores flexibility allowing fluids to pass through the tissue and helps to equalize this pressure, treating the tissue inflammation and reducing pain if not totally eliminating the cause of pain. Recommended for back pain, arthritis, athletes, bursitis, polymyalgia, and rheumatism as well as autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid arthritis and SLE.

Devils Claw - several studies have reported devil’s claw possesses an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect comparable to the potent drug phenylbutazone. This herb has been a popular herb used by herbalists and naturopaths for the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis pain.

White Willow - Extracted from the Willow tree, this is a natural pain reliever with an ingredient similar to aspirin which supplies natural relief and may help to relieve inflammation.
Turmeric reduces inflammation and helps to reduce the pain and swelling associated with arthritis.

Boswellia - Boswellia serrata seems to work by affecting and redirecting inflammatory pathways.

The supplements we recommend for combating and relieving the stress of arthritis are...
Glucosamine 1-a-day
Krill + Glucosamine

Not all products recommended may be available in South Africa at this time.

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Not all products recommended may be available in South Africa at this time