Did you know that there are over 120 different types of arthritis? According to the latest statistics, 3.85 million Australians have arthritis, which is 1 in 5 people! It’s also estimated that by the year 2050, 7 million Australians will suffer from arthritis.
What exactly is arthritis?
According to Arthritis Australia, arthritis is often referred to as a single disease. However, it is in fact an umbrella term for more than 100 medical conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. Arthritis can cause swelling and pain and affect joints, the tissues that surround the joint and other connective tissues. So in short, arthritis literally means ‘joint inflammation’.
There are two major types, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis happens when cartilage between joints wears down, causing inflammation and pain, and generally occurs in the more frequently used joints such as the knees, hips, spine and hands.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, inflammatory disease and can be caused by an autoimmune dysfunction where the white blood cells destroy the cartilage. Research suggests that RA may be related to food allergies, bacterial infections, stress or excess acid in the body, but the exact cause of RA is not yet known.
To read more about arthritis, the different types, what contributes to arthritis and what can help click here to read my blog ‘Arthritis Prevention – What Can Help?’. People often think that if their parents have arthritis then they are likely to get it too, however epigenetics says it’s the opposite – read more here.
What can you do?
When you have arthritis or a related condition, getting the right nutrients and nourishing foods into your body can help to alleviate some of the pain and inflammation in your body, as well as having a positive effect on your overall health. The first thing I recommend is that you start to decrease inflammation within your body.
Step 1: Decrease inflammation
To help keep inflammation levels low, try to avoid the following inflammatory foods: excess sugar; hydrogenated oils (soybean oil, cottonseed oil, even canola oil); refined conventional grains like wheat, flour products and GMO products. If you have an autoimmune disease, then also nightshade vegetables like potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes should be eliminated. You can read more about reducing inflammation through food here.
Step 2: Implement the following foods:
1. Bone Broth // Collagen // Gelatin
Our ancestors used to consume a lot of gelatin in the form of bone broth. When you cook meat, bones, bone marrow and connective tissues in filtered water, you get bone broth. The flavour, nutrients and minerals from the bones migrate into the water making a wonderfully warming, nourishing and healing liquid. Broth is packed full of minerals including a rich source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium and sulfur. Bone broth also helps maintain and rebuild the structure of our bodies.
The breakdown of collagen in bone broths is what produces gelatin. To make the gelatin powder, the collagen is dehydrated/dried and packaged for easy, everyday use. When it is then mixed back into water, it turns back into a gel. Both gelatin and collagen contain the same proteins. However, there is a slight difference.
Collagen has been heated to higher temperatures and treated with enzymes, so for some this means it’s easier to digest. However the main difference between collagen and gelatin is how you use it. Collagen doesn’t have the ‘gelling’ properties like gelatin and bone broth do, so it can be more versatile in recipes as it can be mixed into just about everything. You can include it in cakes, tea, coffee, pancakes, smoothies and soups.
The benefits of consuming bone broth, collagen and gelatin includes:
- Soothing and restoring to the digestive system
- Reduces inflammation
- Supports the immune system
- Strengthens and improves the health of skin, hair, teeth and nails
- Boosts detoxification
- Improves sleep
- Boosts mood
- Contains all the essential nutrients to help build strong and healthy bones
- Reduces arthritis associated pain and stiffness
- Provides essential minerals and electrolytes.
For more ideas of how you can utilise bone broth in your diet and reap the nutritional and health benefits click here.
2. Omega 3 Rich Foods
Studies show that when Omega-3 rich foods are regularly consumed, they can reduce the symptoms of arthritis such as joint pain, swelling and inflammation at a cellular level, but will also benefit heart health and brain function. Some of the richest food sources of Omega-3’s include:
- Chia seeds
- Wild-caught fish, salmon, mackerel and sardines
- Grass-fed beef
- Inca Inchi Oil
- Cod liver oil.
3. Ginger and Turmeric
Ginger and turmeric are a fantastic natural remedy for helping with arthritis symptoms. Ginger contains chemicals that may have analgesic (relieves pain) and anti-inflammatory effects on the body. In studies, ginger has been shown to lessen pain and stiffness associated with arthritis by 40% in comparison to a placebo. It also helped to improve nausea and overall digestive/gut health. You can add ginger to your tea, stir-fry’s, baked goods, soups, stews, chocolate slices and bliss balls to name a few.
The most active ingredient in turmeric is considered to be curcumin, which is known to be one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories there is. It also has anti-arthritic and pain killing effects which can help with the inhibition of joint inflammation, oedema and/or swelling, helps to reduce stiffness allowing for more joint mobility and relieving pain and tenderness in joints. It also contains antioxidants which help keep bones and joints healthy.
Read this blog ’16 Ways to Get More Turmeric Into Your Daily Diet’ if you’re new to turmeric and not quite sure how to include it in your everyday meals. You can read about 16 tips on how to include it in your diet here. You can read more about the amazing healing properties and benefits of turmeric here.
Note: please consult your doctor or chosen health care practitioner to find your ideal dosage of turmeric and ginger if you are taking blood thinners and/or prescription drugs, as it can interact negatively with these.