Do you or someone you know have arthritis? Maybe it’s mild and more of a nuisance than anything, or maybe it’s so severe that you rely on medication to make it through the day. Depending on the type you have, you may find some relief in improving your diet (although it alone cannot reverse the damage that’s already been done).
The two central types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is typically lumped into the too-much-wear-and-tear division with the majority of sufferers being diagnosed with this particular one. Truth be told, that’s not necessarily the case; studies have indicated that nutritional deficiencies, an imbalanced gut flora and toxicity in the body (among others) play a strong roll in this brutal inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system breaks down and attacks its own tissues, wreaking havoc on the joints.
Due to space limitations, we will not be able to address such a multifaceted topic in one article, as we will merely be scratching the surface; what we will do is learn some tips that will help you manage and/or (hopefully) prevent such a painful disease in the first place.
Think of attacking arthritis — instead of letting it attack you — with a three-pronged approach: nutrition, exercise and supplementation, if needed.
I’m sure you’ve heard it said that your food is akin to putting gas in a car — you want the best quality to keep your car functioning at its peak and avoiding a future breakdown. With foods, you also want to ingest the best quality sources available to keep your body running at its best as well and that includes anti-inflammatory foods. This is especially true for those suffering from arthritis as they are already in a state of inflammation.
Some of the most common offenders of inflammation are wheat, sugar, dairy, corn and soy. Nightshade veggies such as tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplant contain solanin, which also heightens inflammation.
It goes without saying that processed foods loaded with preservatives, chemicals, additives and artificial anything is a big no-no, as are fried foods, non-organic foods, non-grass fed meats, alcohol and caffeine to name a few.
Lastly are foods high in oxalates, which most people aren’t aware of; these health foods are terrible for those with gout as they create “crystals” in the connective tissue. Some examples are asparagus, spinach and rhubarb.
Now that you know what to avoid, let’s get to the fun part — what you can eat!
Eat your Omega-3s: Salmon is the most popular choice, but some other superstars are flaxseed, tuna, mackerel, trout and sea bass.
Eat foods high in sulfur to repair your cartilage: Think onions, cabbage and garlic. Anti-inflammatory herbs like ginger, turmeric, and curcumin are rich in antioxidants which promote healing to the tissues. Fruits high in bromelain like papaya and pineapple are exceptional at reducing inflammation and pain.
Vitamin E: Since those with rheumatoid arthritis are known to have low levels, it is imperative to consume broccoli, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, avocados and mangoes (just to name a few).
Flavonoids: Foods such as cherries and blueberries are anti-inflammatory, rich in anti-oxidants, and benefit not only the cardiovascular system but the nervous system as well.
In addition to adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, make sure to drink plenty of water (as dehydration has been associated with arthritis). Include some superfoods (like kale, olive oil, mustard greens, etc.). Eat whole, unprocessed foods, and consume more alkaline foods like dark leafy greens, coconut and almonds to promote a more neutral pH system.
Sometimes supplementation is necessary; check with your homeopathic physician to see if including supplements are right for you. Some great ones are fish oils with EPA, glucosamine with chondroitin sulfate, bromelain, curcumin, MSM and Vitamins E and C.
Finally, don’t forget about exercise! Walking, swimming, Pilates and lifting weights are all excellent ways to help arthritis sufferers reduce stiffness, pain and function better. Start off slowly, and if you’re unsure of how to begin, seek out a knowledgeable trainer to get you started.
If you have any questions, I’m just an email away.
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a Certified Personal Trainer, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Colon Hydrotherapist and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “Empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email Crystal@PinkIslandFitness.com. She can also be reached at www.101FIT.com or www.PinkIslandFitness.com and (239) 333-5771.