The state of our own personal mobility, particularly as we get older, is the subject of great concern. Around 80% of over 50s will suffer some form of arthritic condition which will induce pain or lack of movement in the joints. Conventional approaches which include non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAID’s) to reduce swelling and pain have some benefit but can have unrealistic side effects. It is interesting to note that significant sections of the world’s population do not suffer any arthritic problems and research is now pointing to lifestyle and dietary changes that can make the difference between days in bed and days out there having fun.
Bones, like all other parts of the body, are continually being rebuilt. They are a structure of protein and collagen (a kind of intercellular glue) which collects mainly calcium, phosphorous and magnesium from the diet i.e. building materials. The ability to absorb calcium into the bones depends on vitamin D with traces of the mineral boron. Vitamin C makes collagen and zinc helps to build new bone cells. Cartilage is the very tough substance covering the bones at the joints and needs a good framework to lie on. Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) provide that framework. Spaces between the cartilage fibres are occupied by water molecules, which provide a medium through which nutrients gain access to the joint. This is important, as joint tissue has no blood supply.
Osteoarthritis can range between minor discomforts (stage 1) to surgery (stage 5). Realistically nutritional supplements can offer some degree of help for stages 1-4. Arthritis is not an inevitable consequence of aging and can be prevented, provided the underlying causes are eliminated. Good nutritional health is vital to the prevention of this crippling condition
The likely factors that lead to the development of the painful condition are:-
Poor Lubrication of the Joints
The lubricant between joints is a substance called synovial fluid. This is as vital to the joint as oil is to any engine.
Women are particularly at risk. In the time leading up to the menopause the production of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone decline, which effects the retention of calcium in the skeleton and as a result bone density is reduced. It can rob you of 25% by the time you are 50.
Allergies and Sensitivities
Almost everyone who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and many people who have osteoarthritis have food and chemical allergies and sensitivities that make their symptoms flare up. These are well worth knowing about and avoiding where ever possible.
As we have previously noted, the immune system will react to inflammation and deal with it but, low levels of antioxidant nutrients that help to support the immune system can make arthritis worse. Any infection, viral or bacterial will weaken the immune system and so it is vital to build up the defences with optimum nutrition.
Bone Strain and Deformities
Any damage & strain, even bad posture, can come and haunt you as you get older. Take regular exercise, particularly weight bearing. This stimulates bone forming cells.
Quite simply – quit. Smoking has been found to reduce bone density.
State of Mind
Hidden anger, fear, worry and emotional stress have been shown to often trigger the beginnings of arthritis.
Most arthritics have a history of poor diet. Too much refined sugar, too many stimulants, too much fat and too much protein are strongly associated with arthritic problems. A lack of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids could precipitate joint problems.
Protein rich foods are acid forming. The body cannot tolerate substantial changes in acid levels in the blood and neutralises this effect through two main alkaline agents – sodium and calcium. When the body’s reserves of sodium are used up, calcium is taken from the bones. The more protein you eat the more calcium you need. The older you get the more the body does not deal well with acids and a shift to a more balanced alkaline diet is well advised. You probably have noticed, you don’t deal with digestive acidity as well as you did when you were younger and the result can be an accumulating build up of acid in the system such as uric acid crystals. Excess uric acid can result in gout.
To alleviate some of the conditions of arthritis some additional nutrients will provide a background to reduction in pain and inflammation.
A major raw ingredient that the body uses to manufacture specialist molecules found in cartilage – GAG’s (i.e. the framework for cartilage repair).
Helps attract moisture to the spaces of the cartilage, improving nutrient flow and restores viscosity to the synovial fluid
All arthritic joints are low in sulphur & MSM is a rich source of sulphur which is the main constituent for bridges which cross link the proteins in the joint and provide strength and resistance in all directions.
All three of the above are available in numerous combinations including creams and gels.
In case studies Boswellia has shown to reduce pain, the time duration of morning stiffness and swelling in both rheumatoid and osteo-arthritic conditions.
Recent studies have shown curcumin to be a powerful natural product reducing inflammation and as such pain and stiffness. A new product concentrated form called Fortadol is showing to be quick acting and effective in the battle of the worst cases of discomfort.
Has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-histamine properties and is one of several bioflavonoid (special nutrients found in Vitamin C). Quercetin has been shown to inhibit the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of the collagen matrix of connective tissue.
Take a concentrated fish oil or cod liver oil which is high in omega 3 essential fatty acid. This will help to keep the joints flexible and supple.
Extremely powerful anti-inflammatory properties
Renowned for its beneficial effects on inflammatory pain, can reduce the sensation of pain and improve the mobility.
Like all conditions diet is a key to affecting the causes of arthritis.
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Green leafy Vegetables,
Whole grain products,
Pumpkin, Sunflower and Sesame seeds,
Pineapple, Papaya, Mango & Guava
Cherries ( Montmorency cherries- especially for gout)
Stimulant drinks – coffee & alcohol.
If you are on long term aspirin or NSAID’s, consider that they are known to damage connective tissue, increase uric acid levels and inhibit cartilage repair. Many people are ironically on these drugs to control the inflammatory symptoms of arthritis, but there are many herbal remedies that help to combat inflammation without the negative side effects of these drugs.