Is there a relationship between arthritis and nutrition. That is, does the foods we eat (or don’t eat) affect whether the expression of arthritis in our bodies
Unfortunately, we are taught in our western civilization to take this potion, or put on that special lotion, and like jack and the magic beanstalk, we hope to go to bed, plant the magic seeds, or take a magic pill, and wake up, and puff, all our problems disappear over night.
Worse, the FDA has taken cox-2 inhibitor off the market that were medication for controlling the inflammation in the body, because of the increased risk for cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attacks
So, learning about the foods you eat and how they affect the expression of arthritis in the body can be really important if you happen to be an arthritis sufferer. More important, learning how the foods you eat can be making you suffer with pain and suffering. So let’s start.
Arthritis, according to the Mayo Clinic is defined as “inflammation to one or more of your joints” It’s a rather vague definition truth be told, cause it really doesn’t explain the WHY?
That is, “ok, inflammation to the joints is going on, but more important is WHY IS THERE INFLAMMATION TO THE JOINTS”?
MedlinePlus expands the definition a bit more and defines arthritis as: “inflammation to one or more of the joints which results in pain, swelling, stiffness and limited movement”
Ok, well that’s a bit better, still not really answering the question as to WHY. So before we talk about the nutrition aspect to Arthritis, lets learn about the “WHY”, before we answer the how.
Arthritis according to MedlinePlus has over 100 different types, so we are going to try and keep a vague generalization as to why we get “Arthritis”. However, typically speaking, repetitive trauma, wear and tear, overuse, and just plain old-fashioned aging are terms that try to explain Arthritis.
For the most part, all are a pretty good picture to the genesis of arthritis. But Again, have you ever stopped to think WHY this happens. Or better yet, is arthritis something that you just have to accept as a forgone conclusion?
My simply answer to you is………drum roll please…….NO. Arthritis is not a forgone conclusion. In fact there are many things that we can do to combat not only the why, but the how as well. That is, we can address the WHY: breaking down of the joints, wear and tear, limited and restricted movements, stiffness, repetitive trauma, and calcification.
It is true that was we get older, just based on pure chronological time, we have more life experiences. With these life experiences such as (injuries like slips, falls, or sports injuries) work stressors (standing or sitting all day, using the arms above the head repeatedly) and poor postural habits can lead to the development of wear and tear.
It is important to address what we can do to reduce these repetitive stressors and their effects on our body, such as muscle stiffness, joint wear and tear, muscular weakness and diminished energy. But for this article, Lets keep to controlling the inflammation with our diet.
When we experience mechanical stress on our body over and over and over, what happens? Joints breakdown, cartilage erodes, bones tend to rub, less lubrication is in the joints, pain fibers gets stimulated, and what happens after that????
Looking back at both definitions I used for Arthritis, INFLAMMATION, was the common denominator with both. Osteoarthritis (OA), is the most common type of Arthritis. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease ( when present in the extremities) or degenerative disc disease (if in the spine).
But whether the arthritis is in the spine or in the extremities (or both), it classified as osteoarthritis when the cartilage in your joints “wear down” over time (mainly from overuse). This wearing down process will ultimately create the inflammation that in turn, causes a number of other biological changes including pain, stiffness, and limited movement (old age).
Thus inflammation results in painful swelling in the joint, stiffness and movement limitations (old age).
Eventually all of that leads to the joints in the body from functioning properly, which in turn, ultimately results in the breakdown in your joints.
So if we can control the inflammation, then we can control the swelling, stiffness, and movement limitations.
Controlling inflammation in the body, is much like a fireman who is putting out a ragging fire. IF the fire is burning like crazy, it’s going to take more time, effort, and probably water pressure to put out the fire.
The easiest fires to control are the small tiny ones, or better yet….the one that didn’t start yet. That’s how to look at inflammation in the body. Ragging fires (Typically from acute trauma) are controlled with NSAID’s.
However, nutrition is the way we ensure that inflammation doesn’t start in the first place in the body. Consider proper nutrition like the fire alarm in the body, ensuring that no major catastrophes begin. So how do we do that?
Well, in a nut shell, the chemical mediators that are released by the cells through wear and tear or the breaking down process that I talked about earlier, are controlled by our diet. These chemical mediators are derived from either Omega-6’s (n-6’s) or Omega-3 (n-3’s).
Humans are supposed to eat (ideally) a 1:1 ratio of n-6’s to n-3’s. However, on average, we currently eat about 10:1 to 30:1. Anything above 4:1 is considered to be pro-inflammatory.
Bad n-6:n-3 Ratios Screws Everything Up!
As mentioned earlier, we need not go through this dizzying vicious cycle. The foods we eat will either positively or negatively effect the healing or harm cycle.
If we eat the wrong foods, foods that have a high n-6’s:n-3’s ratio (greater than 4:1 is considered pro- inflammatory) the chronic inflammation cycle will be perpetuated. The foods that follow are the best foods to eat for Arthritis.
FOOD: ANTI- INFLAMMATORY
Fruits < 3:1
White Potato 3:1
Sweet Potato 4:1
Wild Game 3:1
Fresh Fish 1:1
(1grm of fat),
Chia Seeds 3:1
All the foods in featured above have a 4:1 or less ratio of n-6’s:n-3’s, and are considered anti-inflammatory. Eat these foods to reduce the inflammation, that results in pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited movement associated with Arthritis. In my next article, I will cover What 6 Foods To Avoid That Accelerate Arthritis And Speed Up Your Biological Clock And What Foods Slows it Down. Until then, study the foods above, increase them in your own diet, and watch you pain go away.