Eight Steps to Naturally Manage Arthritis

Arthritis

World Arthritis Day not only aims to raise awareness of joint health problems but also highlights the issues faced by people suffering from arthritis.

If you’re affected by arthritis, you’ll know how frustrating it can be. Apart from the aches, pain and stiffness, you might find it hard to keep active and manage your weight. Yet joint deterioration isn’t an inevitable consequence of the passage of time.

So read on for eight simple strategies you can take to look after your joints and get moving again.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis covers any joint issue connected with pain and inflammation. Symptoms can seriously impair your quality of life and interfere with daily activities, as well as negatively affecting your mental health. Arthritis is one of the most common causes of disability, with over ten million people suffering in the UK.

There are more than one hundred different types of arthritis, with the two most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Although arthritis is often connected with age-related deterioration of the joints, it’s not restricted to the elderly – arthritis can affect younger people, including children. Some kinds of arthritis are connected with your immune system becoming confused and attacking your joints, causing damage.

Conventional medicine offers anti-inflammatories, steroids and painkillers to manage symptoms, but many people are reluctant to take these long-term, and they do come with side effects like digestive irritation and immune system suppression. Masking symptoms doesn’t address the question of why joints are degenerating, meaning they inevitably deteriorate over time. If joints become severely damaged, the only option is surgical treatment such as a hip or knee replacement.

#1. Love Your Gut

It may seem like functional medicine specialists are obsessed with the gut, but because digestive health controls overall body health, it’s the logical place to start. As far as your joints are concerned, your gut bacteria manage inflammation and help train your immune system. So if your bacteria are out of balance, your immune system can mistake innocent body parts such as joints for invaders, attacking them and causing damage. Including plenty of fibre from fruit and vegetables provides food for your gut bacteria and helps them thrive.

#2. Feast on Joint Food

Joints need good nutrition to work well. Vitamin C is crucial for the formation of cartilage, the tough substance cushioning your joints. This vitamin is plentiful in fresh fruit and veg, but because it can’t be stored in your body, it’s best to graze on these foods throughout the day.

Vitamin D is needed for your body to manage inflammation. Many people are deficient in Vitamin D in the UK, particularly during the winter.

#3. Oil Those Hinges

Your joints need fats to stay flexible, but they must be the right ones and in the correct proportions. Omega 3 is particularly important not only as a lubricant but also for regulating inflammation. It must be present in your diet because your body can’t make it from other fats. Many people don’t consume enough Omega 3, but it’s plentiful in oily fish, nuts and seeds like flax and chia.

#4. Ditch Inflammatory Foods

Processed meat and refined sugar are two dietary culprits capable of sparking off inflammation. A type of sugar often used in soft drinks called high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is particularly connected with arthritis symptoms. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet high in plant foods, pulses and beans while avoiding processed foods can ease joint symptoms in many people.

#5. Herbal Joint Support

Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices include ginger, turmeric, nettle and garlic. Spice up your cooking and tap into the incredible compounds in these foods to help calm joint inflammation.

#6. Identify Trigger Foods

Some people are sensitive to a substance in certain foods called solanine. It’s found in vegetables belonging to the nightshade plant family – potatoes, aubergines, peppers and tomatoes. If you’re sensitive you might find your symptoms flare up if you eat a lot of nightshade foods. Do remember though, these foods are valuable because they contain a range of plant-based nutrients, so only avoid them if you know they’re an issue for you.

#7. Keep Active

You might worry using your joints will be harmful, but remaining active is crucial to keep joints supple and strengthen the muscles supporting them. If you avoid exercise, your joints will become stiffer and the supporting muscles weaker. Try walking, swimming or stretching exercises like yoga and Tai Chi.

#8. Sleep it Off

It can be difficult to have a good night’s sleep if you’re in pain, but sleep is incredibly important for your body’s repair processes. Poor sleep can make arthritis symptoms worse. If you’re having trouble sleeping, pay attention to common sleep disruptors such as caffeine after lunchtime, screens within two hours of bedtime, and irregular sleep times. Meditate before you go to bed or try a magnesium supplement to help relax you gently into sleep.

diagram of arthritis in the joints

Natural Support for Your Joints

Living with chronic pain is challenging, so support and advice can be extremely helpful, meaning you don’t have to go it alone. A functional medicine consultation takes an in-depth look at your diet, nutritional status and lifestyle, while functional tests further delve into the causes of your joint pain. Personalised nutritional suggestions will be recommended to manage inflammation and provide your joints with the nutrition they need. Tailored activity will help get you moving again.

Contact embracing nutrition today to invest in your joint health for an active future.

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