9 key actions for arthritis

There are many syndromes that come under the umbrella of arthritis, which you can read about at Arthritis Research UK, but the two main types are mechanical ( as in osteoarthritis) and inflammatory ( as in rheumatoid and juvenile arthritis, which are also auto-immune.)

I made this graphic to stuff in as much as possible about reducing inflammation in one place:your 9 key actions for arthritis


In my exploration, I have found the most convincing evidence about diet to point towards a plant-based whole food diet. There’s a fantastic paper rounding up the clincial research in rheumatoid arthritis

The results of the largest study of human nutrition ever carried out, has been summarised in a book called ‘The China Study’

This 20 year study of the health and dietary habits in 65 counties in China found that ‘western’ diseases correlated to the levels of blood cholesterol, and that blood cholesterol levels correlated to diet, particularly animal protein. They found that plants protected against most disease. Significantly for inflammatory arthritis (RA), they found that auto-immune diseases correlated with high consumption of animal products, particularly dairy milk, and showed the disruptive factor that dairy has on vitamin D function, which is necessary to regulate the immune system. The  results from the study recommend a whole food plant-based diet as the best for long-term health.

This also correlates with the works of Dean Ornish, who found inflammation to be a key feature of heart disease, and  Prof.George Jelinek in the auto-immune disease Multiple sclerosis who, based on research, both advocate a plant -based, whole-food diet.

Supplements: Vitamin D and Flax/Linseed oil

it’s really important to be aware of the need for vitamin D – even Australians can be deficient! Vitamin D is powerfully anti-inflammatory, and helps to regulate the immune system. Deficiency of vitamin D is related to a higher likelihood of getting many different diseases, and in some auto-immune diseases, a higher frequency of flare-ups. It is made in our bodies by the action of sunlight on the skin, but you need to allow as much skin as possible to be exposed, in your first 10 or 15 minutes outside, without sunscreen, for the ‘minimal erythmal dose’ -or just before you start to go pink. This varies depending on the strength of the sun and the darkness of your skin. When you can’t get strong enough sun ( for at least half the year in the UK), consider supplementing with a high dose of D3. The Vitamin D council recommend 5000 IU for adults daily, which is a little higher than most individual countries standard medical advice.

Another powerful anti-inflammatory is omega 3 fatty acids. These are present in fish oil, but the highest source of omega 3 is cold pressed flaxseed oil, also known as linseed oil. There has been debate about whether your body can process the beneficial plant based fatty acid ALA as well as it can process the fish oils, EPA and DHA, but research into Fatty acid intake and relapses in MS showed a clear benefit in those taking fish oil, but was beaten by a reduction of 60% in relapses in those taking flaxseed oil. Make sure it’s fresh – when it’s fresh it’s nice, when it tastes bad, it means it’s rancid. I get it from www.flaxfarm.co.uk and keep it chilled, use cold only, 2 dessert spoons ( 20g) a day, on food or as salad dressing, dip, or in smoothies.

Other herbal or nutritional supplements with known anti-inflammatory effects are: curcumin ( turmeric), green tea extract, quercetin, ginger, white willow bark and boswelia.

Intermittent Fasting

There’s a growing body of evidence that fasting can be used to help ‘flip a switch’ to reset the immune system and reduce auto-immune behaviour. http://wp.me/p2wLSb-64

I recommend looking at the research on fasting, which is growing, but was well compiled in the book ‘the Fast diet’ by Michael Mosley, and considering doing perhaps one long fast and then some intermittent fasting.

Food Intolerances

Look at the theory of leaky gut, and how it can trigger auto-immune behaviour. The theory is that at some point, the gut wall stops providing a tight enough ‘sieve’, and some undigested food molecules get through into the blood stream. The body launches an immune attack on them, as they shouldn’t be there. However, later on, the body looks around, and spots similar molecules – actually your own body’s healthy tissue – and gets confused, recognising them as the previous undigested food molecules, and  sets up an auto-immune reaction to its own tissues. Casein in milk, and gluten are very common suspects, and another reason why people with RA might do a lot better without dairy products.

To identify whether you have specific problems with specific foods, you can either do an IgG blood test ( it’s possible to get false positives and negatives apparently, but a lot of people find them very helpful) or an exclusion diet. See http://avivaromm.com/elimination-diet for a good guide to doing this.

Exercise and relaxation

Mental and emotional stress cause a powerful inflammatory cascade in the body, making us more susceptible to genetic pre-dispositions to diseases, and acting as triggers for flare-ups in existing inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Meditation has been shown in many clinical studies to make people more resilient to stress, and to decrease inflammation at a cellular level – and so has exercise. To get the results, you need to do them as part of your regular routine. fro exercise, 3-5 times a week, as vigorously as is possible for you, and for meditation, preferably daily.

Assisting your body to remove inflammation

Inflammation is designed to protect us from immune invaders ( germs etc) after injury. Once the risk of infection has passed, however, the immune system should move into its anti-inflammatory stage,  pain and swelling should disappear, and healing take place.

However, sometimes, the body has not been able to heal the area completely, and these multiple failed attempts at healing, with multiple inflammatory cycles, move from being acute, to chronic. At this stage, immune cells that should long ago have left the area ( macrophages), are still found in large numbers, and scarring or fibrosis can occur. The area is congested by the products of inflammation, and it’s harder for the body’s electrical signals, or action potentials, to pass along the cells, causing a vicious circle of chronic inflammation.

Using a micro-current device (electricity delivered at millionths of an amp), can help the electrical signal to pass through the tissue properly again, stimulating release of waste products into the lymph for clearing.  APS (Action Potential Simulation) Therapy machines, use a current of the same wave-form and frequency as the body’s action potentials, and can be very effective; stimulating the body’s own healing mechanisms by enhancing production of ATP, and reducing or alleviating joint pain.

Using all these measures together gives you a powerful set of tools to address arthritis and find your way towards being well again.





Bacteria and Digestion –  intimately linked to all aspects of our health

Did you know that you don’t have to have digestive symptoms to be suffering from ‘dysbiosis’ or wrong bacteria in the gut? It might be easy to think of this as something that’s just a minor inconvenience. However – gut problems are not just miserable & uncomfortable,they can even be one of the roots of painful conditions and auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. In fact  Hippocrates, the ‘Father of modern medicine’ is quoted as saying that ‘all disease begins in the gut’. So let’s take a look at this one aspect of gut health;  & how it affects us. The gut is basically a long tube, that travels from the mouth to the anus, with many shapes & sizes along the way, to accommodate the different stages of digestion! I’ve discussed constipation, diet and stool health, and the link between auto-immune disease and food intolerances before in my MS blog, www.mirandasmsblog.com , but today I’m thinking about the tiny beings who live with us, lovingly help to keep us healthy but also depend on us too for their existence  – Bacteria! bacteria          From the 1600s, and the invention of the first microscope, we have known about the existence of our internal bacteria, but up until quite recently, the focus for medicine has been more about the ‘war on germs’, and the eradication of infectious disease. We now understand that our gut is home to approximately 100 trillion micro-organisms. Did you know that: Bacterial cells outnumber our human cells to the extent that you could say that we are actually only 10% human, and 90% bacterial? Or that three pounds of your body weight is bacteria? 75% of our immune system is comprised of intestinal bacteria –  and it also helps to regulate metabolism, digestion and the absorption of nutrients from food. The health of our gut depends on this intestinal ‘flora’ being in balance, and gut health is critical to overall health, with poor gut health implicated in a wide range of diseases including diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis and other auto-immune diseases, autism spectrum disorder and even depression. So what can disrupt the healthy bacteria in the gut?  Top of the list is

  • Antibiotics – life saving but also seriously disrupt the ‘biome’

Amongst others,

  • Steroids and other medications like birth control and non- steroidal anti-inflammatories
  • Diets high in refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
  • Diets low in ‘fermentable fibres’ – food for the good bacteria
  • Chronic stress          &          Chronic infections

What can we do to help repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria? And what to do if suffering from ‘digestive discomfort!’?

  • Eat plenty of fermentable fibers (sweet potato, Jerusalem artichoke, yams, dandelion greens, leeks, onion, garlic, or bananas) or take a pro-biotic ( good bacteria) capsule that includes Pre-biotics ( food for the good bacteria)
  • Eat fermented foods like kefir, live yogurt, sauerkraut, kim chi, – traditionally most societies do, but we’ve forgotten to!
  • and/or take a high-quality, MULTI-STRAIN PRO-BIOTIC ( good bacteria) capsule daily – Bio-Kult is a good one, many others too
  • Keep your diet as close to whole foods as possible
  • Learn how to manage stress healthily

Taking regular probiotics  helps to re-establish the strength of our gut and digestion, reducing the incidence of food intolerances, and allowing the body to free up more of its energy for healing painful conditions. It  has also been found to help prevent recurrent infections like urine infections, and increase our ability to fight off the bad bacteria. The cheapest dairy-free way to get good bacteria into your diet is by making your own sauerkraut – It’s super easy to make – just get a head of organic cabbage, chop it up, punch it in a bowl, sprinkle salt on it, let it sit for half an hour, then put it in jars with a bit of salt water and let it sit on your kichen top for a week. There’s loads of instructions on the internet, but that’s about the size of it. Then use it like pickle.  Til next time 🙂