Rheumatoid Arthritis and YOU – With dressing on the side!
Just about everyone under the sun has heard about arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, assuming the two were the same; but, did you know there’s a difference between the two? Osteoarthritis, or more commonly known as just arthritis, is the natural wear and tear we incur within our joints from prolonged use paired with poor prevention habits. Rheumatoid Arthritis, RA, is actually an autoimmune disease/inflammatory disorder that has the body essentially breaking down one of the integral components to our structure- Cartilage.
What does the loss of our cartilage cause?
- Severe pain, swelling, and destruction of integral cartilage.
The disease can begin in your smaller joints: finger joints, hand joints, wrist joints, etc.; but, then it can spread! Wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips, shoulders…Essentially every joint you have CAN be affected by this disease spreading.
But you might just say
- “That’s Ok, I’ll just see my doctor and get some commonly prescribed drugs to help treat the inflammation and spreading.”
Woah, woah, woah! Let’s just pump the brakes on that one. Recent data is suggesting that today’s drug treatments, that have spanned back decades, can actually destroy bone tissue, decrease mineral density, and escalate the progression of osteoporosis.
Just a couple drugs that may cause issues
- Prednisone- Stops function of bone-forming cells → Body removes calcium from calcium stores within bone → Invariable weakening of structural integrity of bone → Increase risk of fractures.
- Disease-Modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as methotrexate → May interfere with body’s natural process of bone remodeling
“So what can we do to prevent this?”
- Newer biologic class anti-inflammatory drugs are being developed that include TNF inhibitors like etanercept and adalimumab, which can control inflammation without interfering with our natural bone remodeling.
- If a Proton pump inhibitor (PPI) is taken, it is taken on an empty stomach before breakfast, with a calcium supplement being taken with food.
- Eating a healthy diet rich in calcium
- Getting adequate sun exposure for vitamin D synthesis
- Taking supplements (especially calcium and Vitamin D)
- Doing regular weight-bearing exercise
- Utilize Olive oil in some of your food preparation
Back it up to that last bullet point- Did I just suggest olive oil? Yes, I really did. Aside from being great for lowering your risk of heart disease, lowering your cholesterol, and benefiting insulin and blood sugar levels due to the level of the healthy dietary fats, Monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil can also help reduce arthritis inflammation. In fact, 3 ½ tbsp. of virgin olive oil is equivalent to a 200mg tablet of ibuprofen.
“Why not just take the ibuprofen then?”
- Continued use of ibuprofen can cause serious side effects such as cardiovascular thrombotic events, myocardial infarction, and strokes.
Olive oil contains a compound, Oleocanthal, that prevents the production of pro-inflammatory enzymes such as COX-1 and COX-2 in the same way ibuprofen works on chronic and acute inflammatory processes.
Other Olive Oil Benefits
- Stemming inflammation
- A compound in the oil, polyphenol, lowers blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a widely used blood measurement for assessing inflammation
- Hearth health
- 75% of its fat is composed of oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. This is a key component in proper balancing of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol → Lowering blood pressure
- Combating Bone Loss
- When combined with Vitamin D, can increase bone formation
- Can result in improved cognitive function
In order to combat the villain, Time, and prevent the inflammation and pain known as RA while also living a longer and happier life, we need to maintain our weight bearing activities, eat diets rich in calcium, enjoy our time outside in the sun, ensure we are getting enough of our daily recommended vitamins and minerals, ensure we are receiving the best advice when it comes to our anti-inflammatory drug advice, and substitute that ranch dressing for some quality Extra virgin olive oil.
Turmeric – “Curcumin”
- Reduces pain, inflammation, stiffness related to Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) & Osteoarthritis (OA)
- Blocks inflammatory cytokines & enzymes
- Treats Bursitis
- Acts as Cleansing Agent & Digestive Aid
- High doses act as blood thinner
- May lead to upset stomach
- Avoid if you are about to have surgery, are pregnant or have gallbladder disease
Osteoporosis Self Care
What is osteoporosis?
Drinking milk will help you grow strong bones! This statement has been repeated time and time again in all households across the world. Calcium and other minerals make the basic structure of bones. Bones are also living tissue, which means they require constant replenishing. Osteoporosis is the condition where bone tissue breaks down faster than it is replaced.
How is osteoporosis prevented?
Building strong bones as early as possible in life is the key to preventing osteoporosis. Bone mass peaks when we are at 25 years old and start to deteriorate after 40 years of age. Exercising regularly and a balanced nutrition that is rich in Vitamin D help prevent the onset of osteoporosis.
Calcium and vitamin D
Calcium is a prominent component for bone health and other body processes such as heart beat, the blood clot and the muscles contract and relax. The best source of calcium is from food such as dairy products, black-eye peas, and salmon. Women and men age 19 to 49 and pregnant or breast-feeding women need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. Individuals taking corticosteroids, postmenopausal women who aren’t taking estrogen supplements and women and men age 50 and older need 1,200 mg per day. Vitamin D enhances the absorption of calcium in the body from foods. The most well known source of vitamin D is from the sun, but not too much only about 10 to 15 minutes of skin exposure for two to three days a week is suggested. Other sources of Vitamin D are liver, fish oil, vitamin D fortified milk and other foods and supplements. (Look for vitamin D3, which is the active form of the nutrient.) Talk to a doctor about the level that’s most beneficial.
Smoking & Alcohol
Smoking is bad for your health. You probably knew that already, but did you know that people who smoke are more prone to bone fractures than non smokers? Smoking reduces calcium absorption. Women who smoke often produces less estrogen, which leads to early menopause and increase bone loss. People who drinking large amounts of alcohol have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Having no more than two alcoholic beverages a day is recommended by experts. One alcoholic drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1½ ounces of liquor. Remember everything should be taken in moderation except smoking, which is never good for you so DONT DO IT!
Staying active with physical activity and exercise helps maintain bone mass. Weight bearing and resistance exercise is essential to increasing and retaining bone mass. It is suggested that weight-bearing and resistive exercises for 30 minutes daily, five days a week is a healthy regiment to follow. Check with a doctor before starting an exercise program.
Vitamin C and K as well as the minerals boron, magnesium, manganese and potassium play important roles in developing a healthy bone mass.
Tart Cherries. YUM!
Besides being packed with flavor, tart cherries are a recent hot topic in research. Many suggest that consuming tart cherries in the form of juice, pills or in their natural form, significantly reduces inflammation.
So how does it work?
Anthoncyanin is responsible for giving tart cherries their vibrant color. However, recent studies suggest that anthoncyanin also contains powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory products.
Who is it good for?
Anyone! Just check with your physician to make sure it does not interfere with your current medication.
The studies that have been published show that patients diagnosed with Gout our Osteoarthritis may reap the greatest benefits. Boston University Medical Center found that eating 10 cherries a day reduced gout flare ups by 50% over a 48 hour period. Philadelphia VA Medical Center found that tart cherry juice improved pain levels, stiffness and physical function.
- Salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies and other cold-water fish
- 3-4 ounces, twice per week
Keep it Colorful
- Blueberries, blackberries, cherries, strawberries, spinach, kale and broccoli
- 1½ to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of veggies per meal
Nuts and Seeds
- Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds
- About a handful will do!
Bean, Beans, the Magical Fruit
- Low-cost source of fiber, protein, folic acid and minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium
All of the Olive Oil
- Extra virgin olive oil is less refined and processed. It retains more nutrients than other variations
- Two to three tablespoons per day
- Packed with beneficial antioxidants
- They may also reduce inflammation, heart disease risk and LDL, or “bad” cholesterol
Too Nightshade or not too nightshade?
- What are they? eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes
- Can possibly trigger arthritis flares, try cutting them out for two weeks and see if you feel better if nothing else works!
- Lowers C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance in the blood that indicates inflammation
- Eating fiber is more beneficial than supplements
AVOID the Process
- Processed foods are typically high in unhealthy fats, which are linked with inflammation
- Canned goods – vegetables and soups – are often high in sodium, which boosts blood pressure
Say NO to Salt!
- This is more of a grey area but excessive amounts of just about anything are not a great idea!
- Play it Safe!
Drink in Moderation
- If you’re not sure what your level of moderate is? Ask your doctor!
Fill it up (your plate that is)!
- Remember your plate should always include half veggies!
Health Benefits of Tea
Tea offers a plant derived compound called polyphenol that may protect against certain diseases. Polyphenol is believed to enhance the immune system. This can help the body fight colds and flu.
Green tea can improve bone strength and may halt arthritis progression. A study showed tea drinkers over the age of 50 had a 30% reduced risk of hip fracture.
Studies are showing polyphenols can lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Green, black, oolong, and white teas come from the same plant – processing creates the different teas
- Tea should be steeped in boiled water for 5 minutes
- Hot, cold, or decaf, honey or lemon won’t change the health benefits of tea
- Herbal teas come from different plants and have various different health benefits
“A Cup of Tea Can Be Good for Your Health” by Marie Karns for the Arthritis Foundation
More Fiber, Less Inflammation
WARNING GOUT ATTACK!
You are sound asleep, dreaming of the dancing cheeseburger you ate for dinner, when you are awakened by the screaming, throbbing pain in your big toe! It’s swollen, hot, sensitive and red, what do you do?
- Step 1: Take ibuprofen, but NOT aspirin as it could increase your symptoms
- Step 2: Ice Ice baby – put some ice on the inflamed joint to reduce pain and swelling. Alternate the ice on and off in 20-30 minute increments.
- Step 3: Drink lots of fluids – Make sure that you increase your fluid intake (especially water) to help aid in the healing process. Be careful to avoid alcohol, however, as it can hinder the body’s healing mechanisms.
- Step 4: Take it easy – Try to relax for decreased stress, and put your affected foot or leg up to an elevated position to ease the symptoms of swelling.
- Step 5: Watch your step – putting pressure on the affected joint will usually cause increased pain, even the weight of certain clothes or blankets can be very irritating when you have a gout attack. If necessary, use a cane or modified clothing to prevent aggravation of the inflamed joint.
- Step 6: Talk to the Doc – It is a good idea to let your doctor know about a gout attack, whether it has happened before or not. They may want to see you for an appointment to follow up.
- Step 7: Fix your Food – Foods like red meat, shellfish, gravy, and some breads can increase your risk of having a gout attack. These food have the highest amounts of purine in them and decreasing your intake can help prevent gout from occurring.
READ ON TO FIND OUT ANOTHER WAY TO REDUCE GOUT
Increased Vitamin C has been shown to lower blood pressure and decrease your risk of gout.
How much would I need?
About 500 mg to help lower your blood pressure, and 1,500 to reduce gout risk.
Where do I get Vitamin C from?
Citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwis, tomatoes and cantaloupes. Also you can get it from vegetables like, broccoli, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and bell peppers. Be careful however, because when food are cooked, they can lose significant amounts of Vitamin C.
How much should I be having daily?
Recommended Dietary Allowance suggests 90 mg per day for males and 75 mg per day for females. If you smoke, it is suggested that you increase that amount by 35 mg per day.
What other benefits are there?
Vitamin C helps with cancer risk by working to fight against free radicals. It also helps the body’s wound healing processes, maintains connective tissue and collagen, and helps in the absorption of folate and iron.
It seems like a great vitamin, can I have too much?
The maximum amount recommended per day is 2000 mg. This would still allow you to have the amounts needed to help with blood pressure and gout.
Is it possible to have too little as well?
It is! Signs of insufficient Vitamin C include: fatigue, constant infections and colds, slow healing times, weight loss, and swollen/bleeding gums. So make sure your eating those fruits and veggies!
High Cooking Temperature and Inflammation
Eating Right for Your Type of Arthritis
Studies have shown that certain foods have anti-inflammatory properties and specific benefits for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory forms of arthritis (i.e osteoarthritis, gout, and osteoporosis conditions.)
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Research suggests a diet rich in…
- Omega-3 fatty acids
These nutrients supply the body with powerful anti-inflammatory nutrients. Results from studies show improvements in pain, morning stiffness, disease activity and physical function in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Commonly found in…
- Cold water fish high in omega-3s
- Olive oils
- Contains olecanthol- which has a significant impact on inflammation and helping reduce joint cartilage damage
- Studies have shown that oleocanthol prevents production on COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes-the same way
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts/seeds/ and beans
- Green tea
- Studies showed a change in immune response and that an antioxidant present in green tea blacks molecules that cause joint damage.
- Vegan and vegetarian diets
- Participants in a study who were asked to follow these diets showed improvements in tender, swollen joints, pain, duration of morning stiffness, and overall health.
- High fiber diets
- C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood is a marker of inflammation associated with RA.
- Studies have shown, high fiber diets help reduce CRP
- Foods include oatmeal, brown and wild rice, beans, barley and quinoa
- Plant based diet
- Fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains
- In one study, participants who followed this diet experienced a reduction in pain and improved physical function
- A study reported in Arthritis Care & Research in 2015 showed that women who drank milk regularly had less OA progression than those who didn’t.
- High cheese condumption appeared to make OA symptoms worse
“Milk does the body good”
- Broccolli, brussel sprouts and cabbage
- These foods contain “sulforaphane” which could potentially be key in slowing the progression of OA and damage to joint cartilage.
“EAT YOUR GREENS!”
- Garlic, onions, and leeks
- A 2010 study in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders showed people who regularly ate these foods showed fewer signs of early OA
“Protect your bones!”
- Choose foods that are calcium rich including low-fat dairy products, green leafy vegetables, shellfish, and calcium fortified foods.
- Vitamin D-rich foods are equally important since Vitamin D helps your body absorb the calcium from your foods.