Arthritis: Superfood for Thought

So are you finding arthritis has started to creep in?  Maybe it’s in the family.  But there’s no escaping this simple equation: inflammation = pain.

It’s a fact that arthritis piggybacks on the increasing inflammation associated with the ageing process. Inflammation is also linked to the breakdown of cartilage that cushions your joints, which leads to the all too familiar “bone-on-bone” pain. Painkillers don’t cure the problem.  Don’t even slow it down.  Plus they usually have side effects that just make your general health worse.

Nutrition and herbal medicine are powerful tools for managing arthritis.  Food choices can increase your levels of  natural antiinflammatories and natural pain relievers, and for many people a natural regime can be created that will result in dramatic reduction in pain and symptoms as well as slowing the process of deterioration.  A qualified health professional with an interest in complementary medicine can help you plan a delicious diet with pharmacologically active levels of arthritis-fighting nutrients.

 Superfoods for Arthritis Relief

* Fatty fish: contain high levels of the good omega-3 oils that drastically decrease inflammation and pain.  Choose sardines, herring, wild salmon, anchovies.  Include several serves each week. Fatty fish must come from non-farmed, cold waters to get the requisite omega-3 levels in the fat. Fresh and canned sources OK or invest in fish oil/krill oil.  Ask around.  People are really getting success with this.

* Probiotics:  this means yoghurt (the natural, non-sweetened kind), kefir, sauerkraut, kim-chi, fresh coconut water.  The active anti-inflammatory properties are derived from the beneficial bacteria so if you can get a source that is not pasteurised (such as making your own sauerkraut from organic vegetables) please don’t underestimate the importance making this effort.  Probiotic foods will also improve your digestion, helping you absorb the nutrients you need and protecting you from absorbing the proinflammatory ones.

* Enzymes: natural or supplemented, are essential to digest your food.  Undigested food particles are a major cause of inflammation if there is a “leaky gut” and large antigenic molecules gain entry to the system.  Enzymes occur naturally in all food but are only retained in the raw food.  Cooking and processing destroy enzymes.  Even though humans do produce their own enzymes, this ability decreases drastically around middle age.  Check your general digestion: chew, probiotics, fibre, enzymes.

* Phytochemicals such as berries and cherries contain high levels of anthocyanins, nature’s own excellent anti-inflammatory agents.  Many fruit and vegetables fit into this category, as do most fresh herbs and spices. Ginger and turmeric are two very powerful anti-inflammatories.

* High selenium foods.  There aren’t that many on the list.  Regular consumption of organic garlic, seafood, and some Brazill nuts would do the trick.  Selenium may need to be supplemented, especially as our soils become depleted from bad agricultural practices.  Old countries like Australia have lost most of the selenium in their soils.  Supplementation should be supervised as excessive doses can also be dangerous.

* Seeds: Flaxseeds are high in omega-3 oil.  Also an excellent source of fibre which will also improve digestive health.  Fresh seeds and nuts are the best source of polyunsaturated and omega-6 oils because they are in smaller quantities with other vital synergistic nutrients present, while their refined oils as offered in clear plastic in most supermarkets are pro-inflammatory.

Danger Foods for Arthritis

You may want to reduce or omit these foods, especially if they are an every day part of your diet.

  •       refined sugar (omit altogether)
  •       white flour (replace with moderate intake of whole grains)
  •       gluten (Wheat and barley. Also rye but levels are lower.)
  •       dairy products, especially commercial milk
  •       “deadly” nightshades (potato, tomato, capsicum, eggplant, chilli, tobacco)

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