It was National Arthritis Day this week and with around 10 million sufferers in the UK alone, I reckon it’s justified its own ‘awareness’ day. That is a lot of painful joints.
Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis are the two main types. The former being an inflammatory reaction affecting the cartilage and the latter an autoimmune condition. Both are debilitating in their own right but both are also treatable.
Osteoarthritis is by far the most common with around 8 million, mostly female sufferers in the UK, however it could possibly be avoided or even stopped in its tracks if a few simple lifestyle changes are introduced.
The Medical Solution
Put it this way, medical treatments are either minimal or very drastic. Painkillers are prescribed to start with and if the situation gets really bad, joint replacement surgery may be offered (although this is of course only appropriate for knees and hips and definitely not for spines and hands where osteoarthritis is fairly common.)
So simply put there is no actual medical treatment for the symptoms of arthritis, and taking pain killers long term brings with it a whole series of other health problems. Don’t get me started!
Natural Alternatives that work
Thankfully there are some natural alternatives that you can try, especially if you have recently been diagnosed and there is minimal joint damage. Sadly it is not reversible but it could be stoppable which is more positive than major surgery followed by weeks of recovery.
Firstly, and this really goes without saying, keeping your weight down will reduce load bearing on joints, especially hips and knees which take the brunt. If there was ever a good reason to lose weight, here it is.
Of course not everyone who suffers with arthritis is overweight, so there are a number of other factors to consider. Here are some of the most important ones.
The Importance of Staying Hydrated
The cartilage that protects the joints is mostly made up of water so staying hydrated is of utmost importance. You may feel that you drink plenty and are always hydrated but what you may not know is that drinks like tea, coffee, alcohol and fizzy pop are all diuretics. Whilst they may quench your thirst, internally they are drawing liquid from important areas of the body like your cartilage causing it to become dehydrated and ultimately shrink, leaving your bones unprotected.
It is important to drink plenty of fresh, filtered water daily, plus introducing good quality and beneficial herbal teas, like peppermint, ginger or nettle could make all the differernce. Even an occasional hot chocolate would work as cocoa contains magnesium, which is good for both bones and muscles.
Are you Intolerant?
Now that your liquid intake is sorted we need to look at food Intolerances. These are often linked to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as they can create inflammation in a number of places around the body. To find out if or what you are intolerant to, it is important to carry out a food intolerance test, whereby the 4 main culprits, dairy, wheat/gluten, yeast and eggs are avoided for a week or two and then re-introduced individually. I have more information on this if you are interested.
There are additional foods that may cause problems specifically for arthritis sufferers, like foods from the deadly nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, aubergine, potatoes and tobacco,) acidic fruits and red meat.
Eating a healthy wholefood diet, including plenty of antioxidant rich fruit and veg will not only help with weight loss, if necessary, but will provide you with an abundance of beneficial nutrients too.
The Wonder Spice
Turmeric is a wonder spice, amongst other things it acts as a natural anti-inflammatory so should be included into your daily routines as should Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) which will help lubricate your entire body, including your joints. Whilst these can both be gained from diet, I would advise taking good quality supplements unless of course you are eating lots of oily fish and plenty of curries.
More to Come
These tips should hopefully get you started, however I am currently writing a more in-depth eBook about this subject, which includes more diet and lifestyle options. If you are a sufferer or know someone who is suffering then please email me and I will send you a copy when it’s completed, hopefully in the next month.