Arthritis is the major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia, with 3.85 million Australians affected.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is currently the most common form of arthritis and the leading cause of chronic disability among older people. More than 50 per cent of people over the age of 65 years have radiological evidence of OA, with approximately 10 per cent of men and 18 per cent of women suffering symptomatic OA. With the advent of fast foods and takeaways, it’s troubling to think about what is going to happen to our younger generation as they age.
That’s why I’m on a mission to educate people about how poor diet and lifestyle choices drive chronic illness, inflammation and pain. Perhaps we need to look at our busy lifestyle, sweet snacks on the run, insufficient nutrition or lack of exercise. Or it might be a case of physical and emotional stress, toxic overload, food intolerance, poor gut health, burning the candle at both ends, and lack of sleep.
Many don’t realise the implications of not getting enough sleep – the body needs 6-7 hours of quality sleep to repair. Disturbed sleep can deplete oxygen to the brain and vital organs, hinder clearance of toxins accumulated through the day, and stimulate the need for high levels of stress hormones to keep afloat during wake times.
Too much of the stress hormone cortisol puts on abdominal fat, breaks down muscle, hinders digestion and makes you fatter and more inflamed. We are highly complicated beings interconnected at multiple levels physiologically, hence inflammation from any one source can affect the entire body. For instance, an inflamed gut sends inflammatory cells into the blood stream that can attack joints, envelop muscle and cloud the brain.
Arthritis Australia have revealed that strong evidence exists showing the benefit of diets low in saturated and trans fats combined with a high intake of omega-3 fats in fish oil to ease the symptoms of arthritis. Increasing numbers of patients are looking beyond the traditional medical fraternity for ways to manage and even beat their arthritis.
Recent studies have found:
- Obesity, often co-existing with a lack of exercise, is a significant risk factor for both the development and progression of knee OA and also to a lesser degree hip OA.
- Significant improvements in pain and physical function in arthritis patients is achieved after eating a low inflammatory diet combined with exercise. Another 28% improvement in function was achieved with weight loss of 10%.
Arthritis sufferers, who have said no to potentially dangerous and addictive drugs, have now discovered a new lease of life after enduring years of pain and disability from arthritis.
A drug-free approach
A drug-free approach to the treatment of arthritis – combining elimination of potentially inflammatory foods from the diet with physiotherapy, controlled exercise and home acupuncture channel massage – allows many clients to effectively self-manage their arthritis and make profound changes to their quality of life.
Pain and anti-inflammatory medications prescribed to treat the symptoms of arthritis potentially have dangerous side effects and have been shown to cause 2,000 deaths each year in the UK.
Safer alternatives to pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory and pain relief are plant-based substances quercetin (400-3,000mg per day), curcumin derived from turmeric (12-24mg per day), rutin (1000-4000 mg per day), or 6-9 grams of a quality fish oil per day.
Smart diet and lifestyle choices and alternative treatments can settle the pain and swelling of arthritis without the side effects of prescription drugs, giving patients a pain-free existence they thought was long gone.
Mobility is paramount to maintain joint movement and nutrition to the cartilage. Inactivity feeds further degeneration.
- Inactivity stagnates blood flow to ligaments and muscles.
- This causes some muscles to stiffen, knot up, and shorten, while others weaken and fade away in response to inactivity.
- Joints stiffen with inactivity.
Be confident in knowing that it is both O.K. and safe to move as long as the pain is not getting worse. Pain can be used as a guide, work to the onset of pain, nudge the end of range for a few seconds, then back off, rest, and try again. Remember, you will not cause further damage if the pain either remains the same or lessens.
Graduated movement softens joint contracture and tight muscles. Exercise is nature’s relaxant, stress relief and pain killer. Exercise stimulates the production of brain endorphins or opioids that counteract incoming pain signals to provide natural pain relief.
Huge benefit can be achieved through simple diet and lifestyle changes.
Do you have arthritis? What medications, exercises and pain relievers have you tried? What works best for you? Tell us below.