Arthritis is a group of conditions involving damage to the joints resulting in pain and inflammation. Osteoarthritis; a degenerative joint disease may result from trauma to a joint, infection or aging. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and occurs when your immune system attacks your own body’s tissues.
Causes of Arthritis and How to Fight Back
Nutritional research indicates that there are many biochemical causes for arthritic conditions. Arthritis sufferers may have one or a combination of the following imbalances:
- Nutrient Deficiency: Many nutrient deficiencies can affect cartilage health and performance. A lack of essential fatty acids can also impair joint motility.
- Calcium Deposits: Oxidative damage can cause calcium to deposit in the joints causing pain and stiffness. Oxidative damage occurs when the body does not have enough antioxidants to fight free radical damage. Free radical damage can be due to exercise, exposure to chemical/environmental toxins or an illness.
Include an antioxidant that incorporates Vitamin C, E and A plus selenium and zinc. This may slow down the disease progression.
- Heavy Metal Toxicity: Copper, iron, aluminium and cadmium can deposit in the bodies joints contributing to pain and stiffness.
Avoid cooking with aluminium, ‘non-stick’ or copper pots. Stop smoking and avoid smoky places to reduce your exposure to toxins especially cadmium. Wash fruit and vegetables with a purpose bought wash or make your own to reduce pesticide intake.
- Protein Breakdown: If you are not eating or digesting enough regular quality protein your body may start to consume its own tissue for energy.
Eat 5/6 times per day and include a small amount of protein with eat snack or meal.
- An Excess of Pro-inflammatory Hormones: Inflammatory hormones such as aldosterone can increase inflammation in your body resulting in joint pain. This can occur due to stress or nutritional imbalances.
Reduce dairy and meat intake as high levels can elevate levels of arachadonic acid leading to inflammation. Increase your intake of Omega 3 fatty acid foods to help reduce inflammation. Including flax oil or seeds, hemp oil, pumpkin seeds and fish or fish oil supplements.
- Infection: Bacteria, viruses and parasites can all cause infection in the joints.
Boost your immune system. Naturally occuring anti-bacterial/anti-viral agents include grapefruit seed extract, pau d’arco, goldenseal, and allicin. Other strategies for supporting healthy immune responses in the body include taking measures to decrease your stress levels and increasing your intake of Vitamin C supplements and foods.
- Hydration: Is essential for a healthy body and equally essential for healthy joints. Without sufficient fluid joints cannot glide over each other and may grind together causing pain and swelling. Do not drink from plastic containers, as this will increase your toxin intake from the plastic chemicals that leach into the water. Use an Ecotanka made from stainless steel and drink at least 1 litre of water per day.
- Emotionally Stressful Events: Stress and anger can affect the health of the adrenal glands, which can then cause inflammation in the body.
Find ways to relax, exercise and reduce stress in your life. Seek guidance in these areas if you need to.
More Nutritional Supplements for Arthritis Sufferers
- Glucosamine Sulphate - is a component of healthy cartilage. As we age the ability to make glucosamine is reduced. Glucosamine must be taken for 6-8 weeks at a sufficient dose to obtain any real benefit.
- Chondroiton Sulphate - may be used either with glucosamine or instead it draws more fluid into the joint.
- MethylsulphonylMethane (MSM) - is a form of sulphur and the 4th most abundant mineral in the body, it is thought to be widely deficient in our diets. It supports healthy flexible cell function.
For some suitable supplements see our section on joint support.
One of the best complexes in our opinion, Solgar® No. 7 is the next generation alternative after glucosamine that increases mobility, flexibility and range of motion in sensitive joints.
- Eat a small amount of protein with each meal/snack. Try to include more vegetable protein because it has a lesser inflammatory effect on the body.
- Increase oily fish consumption (i.e. mackerel, salmon, herring, tuna) to increase essential fatty acid intake.
- Follow an anti-inflammatory type of diet. This may recommend removing vegetables in the nightshade family (i.e. tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, potatoes) as these are known in some people to inhibit normal collagen repair.
- Keep a food diary and look for foods that may trigger symptoms.
- Gentle exercise that does not aggravate joint pain but helps to keep joints moving freely and increases circulation in the body is thought to be beneficial.