Arthritis Awareness—and Solutions
Posted on May 13 2020
May is the perfect month to bring awareness to the painful problem of arthritis. Warm breeze, blooming flowers, and longer days beckon us to go outside and get moving. And, the spring weather encourages us to fill our plates with seasonal, whole foods that support our bodies back to health.
National Arthritis Awareness Month is all in the name.
This month is to bring awareness, and I believe, solutions, to the growing problem of arthritis in the United States.
Close to 25% of the population is diagnosed with some form of arthritis, otherwise known as rheumatism. Rheumatism is any disease characterized by inflammation of the joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles, or bones. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of rheumatism. However, there are over 100 rheumatic illnesses, many of which are autoimmune in nature, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Obviously, the problem is varied and vast .
While some risk factors for arthritis are not modifiable—arthritis is more prevalent in women and elders, for example—there are many risk factors that are modifiable.
We have a lot of control over the reality of living with arthritis, or not. Our everyday food and lifestyle choices make a difference.
So, how exactly do our lifestyle choices, such as healthy movement, play a role in arthritis?
First, the ratio of fat to muscle, called body composition, is an important factor in arthritis and the inflammation that accompanies the diagnosis.
Many people with arthritis experience a loss of muscle mass, sometimes paired with an increase in fat mass. This change often occurs at the beginning of the disease, and can lead to other problems, such as cardiovascular issues . Those with arthritis can encourage muscle growth through resistance exercises and adequate dietary protein. Increases in joint mobility, reduced pain and fatigue, and improved balance are common results, especially when paired with improvement of aerobic fitness from walking, playing frisbee, dancing, or swimming [3, 4]. I recommend checking out the amazing offerings at Autoimmune Strong for helpful arthritis-friendly movement ideas. Dietary decisions are just as important as regular movement.
Arthritis can be addressed with every bite we eat.
Many studies show that blood levels of vitamin D are closely related to the severity of arthritic symptoms. Foods such as olive oil, fish oil, whole food fiber, fruits, and spices such as ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon are associated with less disease severity or even protection from arthritic symptoms [5, 6]. Use of an elimination diet, the gold standard of food allergy testing , may also be a helpful way to solve specific food reactions and find the optimal foods for your unique body. Elimination of reactive foods decreases the underlying inflammation that causes painful, red, and swollen joints. It’s apparent that getting comfortable in the kitchen is pivotal when dealing with arthritis.
A protein, antioxidant, and fiber-rich whole food diet equals better arthritis outcomes!
But, it’s not always possible to cook, especially when we’re traveling, or busily working from home. This is when Paleo On The Go, and the special attention to food quality, selection, and of course, tastiness, is able to help. The sustainably-raised salmon, for instance, is incredibly high in vitamins D and A. POTG meals are packed with fiber-rich, colorful vegetables, and even arthritis-supporting spices. A full menu of Autoimmune Paleo compliant meals for those wishing to explore an elimination diet, as well as a Whole30 approved menu for when it’s time to incorporate more variation, is available online for anyone in America.
Victoria LaFont Jackson is a curious practitioner, science writer, food lover, and budding medical philosophy enthusiast. She is the woman behind Paradigm of Practice, and you can find her blogging and asking questions at www.paradigmofpractice.com.