As it’s National Arthritis Week, I wanted to share with you my top diet and lifestyle changes which made a huge impact in managing my Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
The Immune System
As RA is an autoimmune condition it is important to focus on the immune system not just the joint aches and pains. As such, one of the most important interventions I made was gut healing. Intestinal permeability or leaky gut as it’s more commonly known can occur due to any number of factors. These include stress (both mental and physical), microbial dysbiosis, excess alcohol and allergenic foods such as gluten, dairy and sugar and can lead to a number of toxins and undigested food particles crossing the intestinal lining when they shouldn’t. In turn this stimulates the immune system, causing a reaction. In my case swollen and painful joints. By focusing on gut healing we can try to stop the immune response therefore minimising the autoimmune symptoms. This includes avoiding all the allergenic foods mentioned above, as well as incorporating bone broths, cabbage juice and including probiotic foods.
Chronic inflammation is characteristic of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, so to minimise inflammation I include plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids from flaxseeds, chia seeds and some oily fish. At the same time it is important to completely avoid trans and hydrogenated fats – meaning avoiding processed foods, which are hugely inflammatory.
Other foods I avoid are:
Red Meat – Arachidonic acid is a compound which causes inflammation and increases in the body when we consume red meat.
Refined sugar, dairy, refined carbohydrates, alcohol and caffeine are all inflammation promoters so avoiding those as much as possible is important too.
Choosing gluten free whole grains will minimise inflammation, as will eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables rich in antioxidants.
I found that suffering from chronic pain and inflammation gave me the motivation to avoid these foods and as a result experience amazing relief from my joint stiffness and pain. Also once I started noticing improvements those foods are just not as tempting as they once were.
I also included and continue to include a number of supplements which research shows to be as effective as conventional pain relief meds, but without the side effects.
As I mentioned before stress is a big player when it comes to leaky gut and inflammation. In my case it really affects me so I try to meditate and do yoga every day to combat the constant chatter inside my head. I also love walks in the woods, the countryside and swimming in the sea because simply being in nature is a great stress relief.
If you suffer from arthritis or any other inflammatory or autoimmune condition and would like some more advice and support implementing personalised, dietary and lifestyle changes, please get in touch and I’d be happy to see you for a one to one consultation either in person or via Skype.