Laura Thompson is a local Nutritional Therapist, Acupuncturist and creator of the Healthy Gut Plan, offering advice on a range of health issues
Most of us at some stage in our lives will suffer from some sort of joint pain. The most common joint problems arise from Arthritis. There are many forms of arthritis but the most common two are Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid.
Osteoarthritis is what most of us will experience at some stage in our lives and is generally caused by wear and tear of the joints. It affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the bones wears down over time. The main joints affected are knees, hips and spine.
This leads to stiffness and pain particularly first thing in the morning and after resting. There may also be some swelling and inflammation in the joints. Osteoarthritis can be very debilitating often making everyday tasks such as opening cans or driving difficult.
There are some things that contribute to the onset of this disease. Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity increases your risk of Osteo arthritis particularly in the weight bearing joints such as knees hips and spine. Joint overuse or repetitive strain injury.
Hereditary- Some people have an inherited defect in one of the genes responsible for making cartilage.
Trauma or injury can sometimes undermine the body’s ability for repairing itself and can trigger Osteoarthritis in later years.
Diet – a healthy diet is essential for any health condition and Osteoarthritis is no exception . Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune condition which occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body tissues.
Unlike Osteoarthritis which is mainly down to aging and wear and tear, Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect more than just your joints, it can affect a wide variety of body systems including the skin,eyes,lungs,heart and blood vessels. Rheumatoid can occur at any age but is more common in middle age. Women are more likely to suffer than men.
Many factors contribute to the onset -
Family history : sometimes if there is a family with Rheumatoid it can make you more disposed to it.
Poor gut function: We know that the gut is responsible for 80% of your immune system . Lack of good bacteria in the gut and a poor diet are all associated with auto immune conditions.
Smoking: Cigarettes increase your risk of most diseases including Rheumatoid.
What role does diet play in preventing Arthritis ?
An anti-inflammatory diet may reduce chronic pain caused by both Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid, one example of an anti-inflammatory is the Mediterranean diet.
This diet contains a lot of Oily fish, nuts, seeds and oils. Try to include at least 3 portions of oily fish a week such as Mackerel, Salmon , Trout or tuna. For vegetarians include things like flaxseed oil, walnuts and avacados in the diet.
Reduce your consumption of processed foods particularly meats such as bacon ,ham and rashers. In general pork is not recommended for arthritic conditions.
Reduce your consumption of sugary foods and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and rice. Always use wholegrains. Increase your intake of fresh vegetables particularly green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli and cabbage. Fruits such as apples, pineapples, kiwis and blueberries are all good.
Wheat can be a trigger food for some people experiencing chronic pain particularly in auto immune conditions so maybe use Rye or Spelt instead. It is thought that a gluten free diet can be beneficial for reducing inflammation. Try to include natural spices such as Turmeric ( available in capsule form ) this has helped many of my clients control pain. Ginger and cayenne pepper are all good.
Apple cider vinegar taken with honey or on its own with water can be beneficial for many conditions and is great as a slimming aid. Use with caution if you have an inflamed digestive condition.
Supplements that help are -
Eskimo oil: taken in liquid if possible. Purer than cod liver oil and harvested from the flesh of the fish. If you are taking blood thinners you must consult your doctor before taking.
Glucosamine: this is great for rebuilding the synovial fluid which cushions the joints. Remember it can take several months before you see a major improvement but is worth persisting with.
Turmeric: a great anti- inflammatory also great for digestive problems too.
MSM: this is great for inflammation .
Exercise: is very important for all joint problems particularly aqua aerobics ,Pilates or yoga. It is tempting to quit exercise when you have pain but most healthcare professionals recommend gentle exercise.
Finally remember prevention is always better than cure , keep your body as healthy as you can by feeding it the right fuel!