One of the downsides of aging is that we may start to experience niggling aches and pains... Welcome to arthritis.
A whopping 80% of us will experience symptoms. It starts with stiffness in the hips, back, knees or other joints. The joints then become increasingly swollen and inflexible. There are 2 types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type, associated with wear and tear of cartilage within joints. It is more commonly, but not exclusively, linked to the ageing process.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune problem, triggered by genetics, or a bacterial or viral component, and possible also environmental or lifestyle factors. About 80% of sufferers are women. This is where the body develops antibodies against its own tissue, and it attacks the cartilage and connective tissue. Over time, joints become inflamed and enlarged.
What can we do about it? There are a number of factors that are important in managing arthritis:
The key to improving the symptoms of arthritis is to work on the underlying causes rather than just treating the symptoms.
Digestion + Detoxification
The scene for inflammation – even if that inflammation is elsewhere in the body, e.g. the joints – is often set in the digestive tract. If the gut environment is disturbed (a disruption in the normal balance of bacteria), this can lead to bacterial infection, parasites, intestinal permeability (aka ‘leaky gut’), and allergies and intolerances.What then happens partially digested food proteins get into the bloodstream, along with other toxins and microbes, putting greater pressure on the body’s detoxification processes. Once the liver starts to become over taxed, any dietary or environmental toxins may cause further inflammation. If you think this may be contributing to your symptoms, we can work with you on a programme that focuses on creating a good gut environment.
Blood Sugar Balance
There is a big link between inflammation and how well your body responds to insulin, the hormone produced in the pancreas to control blood sugar levels. If your body has a reduced sensitivity to insulin (or you are diabetic), sugar (glucose) or insulin stay in the blood, and too much of either is toxic, triggering inflammatory reactions. Learning to balance your blood sugar levels plays a key role in managing the symptoms of arthritis. This is achieved through eating adequate amounts of protein at every meal and snack, increasing the amount of non-starchy vegetables, and considering the quality and the quantity of the starchy carbohydrates you eat. At the Nourished Tribe Singapore, we would love to help you make simple yet realistic changes to your diet. Contact us HERE.
In pretty much every circumstance, joint problems are linked to inflammation and sometimes also to problems with the immune system (autoimmunity). The body produces chemical agents in the body to either switch on or reduce inflammation. Prostaglandins are one of the main chemicals in this process, and these are the easiest to manipulate with diet. There are 3 different types. 1 and 3 are anti-inflammatory and 2 is pro-inflammatory (causes inflammation and promotes pain). Omega-6 fats can convert into either type 1 or type 2 prostaglandins. Eating a diet high in omega-6 polyunsaturated animal fats (found in meats and dairy produce – particularly non-organic) has the body producing more of these less desirable type 2 prostaglandins.
Sugar and insulin can also redirect the conversion of plant omega-6 fats down the pro-inflammatory pathway. Omega-3 fats, on the other hand can only go down the route towards the anti-inflammatory type 3 prostaglandin. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are found in foods like walnuts, flaxseeds, hemp, chia seeds, and oily fish. Monounsaturated fats, e.g. avocado and olive oil, are neutral and not involved in inflammatory processes.
There’s another group of chemicals called ‘free radicals. These are highly reactive oxygen molecules that rely on other molecules in the body to stabilise them. What helps keep these unstable molecules in check are antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in large amounts in brightly coloured fruit and vegetables. The different colours tend to indicate the type of antioxidants produced – all are good.
What we know about antioxidants is that they have a synergistic effect – eating a variety of different ones (by eating a large range of different coloured fruit and veg) has a greater effect that eating the same volume of the same type.Bottom line? Eat A LOT of vegetables and low sugar fruits like berries (which have some of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruit).
Many people with inflammatory conditions have allergies or sensitivities, some of which may be due to leaky gut, where food proteins are able to get through the gut lining, triggering an allergic response. Common offenders are dairy products, yeast, wheat and gluten, other grains, eggs, beef, chilli, coffee and peanuts. At the Nourished Tribe Singapore, we can advise you if a food intolerance test or an elimination diet may be the way to go.