We share some great information and products that can offer natural solutions to Arthritis symptoms.
Harsh arthritis facts in Australia
Alarmingly 3.85 million Australians have arthritis – which is 18% of the population or nearly one in every five Australians. By the year 2050 it’s predicted over seven million Australians will suffer from this disease. Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions are a major drain on health resources and funding, and is increasingly more common in females than males.
What exactly is arthritis?
Arthritis literally translated means ‘joint inflammation’. There are over 120 different types of arthritis but the two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms vary between the different types, but they generally both include pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints reducing a person’s ability to move freely. Arthritis is the main cause of disability among people over fifty-five years of age in industrialised countries.
The main difference between the two types of arthritis is rheumatoid predominantly is marked by inflammation (the rheumatoid factor, RF, is found in the blood). Rheumatoid arthritis does not affect just the joints, other symptoms such as anemia and poor liver function may occur. Osteoarthritis is considered more a degenerative condition, where there is breakdown of the joint cartilage.
What can I do to minimise the impact?
Arthritis has a genetic component, however lifestyle changes can be made to minimse the impact of this debilitating condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis has a strong inflammatory component, and the diet should be addressed to rule out food sensitivities, common ones include wheat, dairy, eggs and crustaceans. Nightshade foods should be avoided in general by people with both types of arthritis, this includes potato, tomato, eggplant, chilli and capsicum.
The dietary aspect of inflammation is rarely fully addressed by doctors, so a trip to a naturopath or other health professional qualified in this area is highly advisable. Other factors such as environmental toxicities (heavy metals and chemicals), and pathogens (bacteria, viruses) may also need to be addressed depending on the individual.
Eating fresh vegetables, salads, fruit (especially berries) and cold water fish is advisable, limit highly processed and junk foods. Drink plenty of water and limit caffeine and alcohol. Address digestive deficiencies which exacerbate inflammation – many people with arthritis find benefit from taking digestive enzymes or apple cider vinegar before meals to improve digestion. Use ginger in cooking as it has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Wearing jogging shoes, massage sandals or any supportive shoe helps cushion the knee and hip joints when walking.
Supplements for joint health – which one is best for me?
There are many health supplements on the market claiming to reduce pain, stiffness and swelling of joints, but which one to choose?
Green Lipped Mussel – has both an anti-inflammatory action and provides nutrients to nourish the joint capsule so is helpful for both forms of arthritis.
Curcumin/Turmeric – helpful when there is other pathology present such as gastrointestinal symptoms or a history of tumours or cancer. Suitable for those allergic to shellfish or who don’t want to take fish oil.
Fish / Krill Oil – provides omega-3 which works actively as an anti-inflammatory, can be used in conjunction with green lipped mussel or curcumin.
MSM (Natural Sulphur) – a vegan/vegetarian option that provides organic sulphur – a mineral that is a natural pain killer with multiple benefits including supporting collagen formation for healthy skin, hair and nails.
Glucosamine & Chondroitin – more helpful for osteoarthritis rather than rheumatoid, as it helps to rebuild and maintain healthy cartilage and a healthy joint capsule, and can reduce the rate of degeneration.