This piece is part two of our coverage of arthritis. The first article covered its causes and broad lifestyle strategies for making it better.
Today we’re going to delve into specifics.
What food should I eat? Exercises? Supplements?
Rule number one for dealing with arthritis is to lose weight. Common sense, but easier said than done. There are a variety of procedures and surgeries you can get, and I don’t imagine any of the advice I’m going to give will interfere with those options. But of course it’s always a good idea to consult with a health professional if you have any questions.
Eating the Right Food
Arthritis is a problem of inflammation, immunity, and gravity. Broadly speaking, controlling the following aspects of your diet will help you deal with the condition:
- Eliminate most oils from your diet, especially commercial seed oils
- Give yourself a regular dose of high anti-oxidant, inflammation fighting foods on a regular basis (smoothies and juices are good ideas)
- Reduce processed carbohydrates in your diet. Incidence rates for diabetes and cardiovascular disease go hand in hand with inflammatory arthritis.
The basic tenets of eating for arthritis don’t stray very far from those of regular ol’ healthy eating, but I believe there should be an extra emphasis on reducing the amount of seed oils in the diet due to the way the omega 3/6 ratio regulates inflammatory pathways within the body.
So with that being said, here are some useful “anti-inflammatory” recipes you can try out.
Chocolate Cherry Smoothie
This is a spin on the excellent recipe given by the excellent Dr. Ben Kim
1/2 cup leafy greens (kale or spinach are my favorite)
1.5 cups frozen or fresh cherries
1/2 c blueberries
1 heaping tablespoon cocoa
1-2 cups plant milk to taste
2-3 ice cubes
stevia to taste
Put in blender, and “frappe” until smooth.
Cherries, for whatever reason, have proven to be a remarkably effective tonic for chronic gout. They’re probably less reliable to treat other forms of metabolic arthritis, but still one of the more potent foods you can eat for this type of condition.
There’s no particular juice recipe that’s “especially” well suited for arthritis. However, due to their condensed nutrients, quick absorption, and use of high anti-oxidant ingredients they’re a safe bet for arthritic dietary therapy.
In general I’d make sure to include ginger whenever possible since it’s a remarkably effective anti-inflammatory.
Freshly caught cold water fish, as well as the aquatic vegetables they feed on are useful adjutants to an anti-inflammatory diet.
Here’s a dish I’ve made before:
Avocado Tomato Wrap
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1 low carb wrap
1 tbsp mayonnaise or mayonnaise analogue
1/2 sliced ripe tomato
1/4 c kelp, nori, kombu, or some other sea vegetable.
Lime juice and salt to taste
Put on wrap and enjoy! You can add srirachi to taste if you like things spicy.
Sample Day’s Meal Plan
If you were looking to construct a sample meal plan for one day, it’d look something like this:
Breakfast: chocolate cherry smoothie, oatmeal
Lunch: sea vegetable wrap w/ piece of melon
Dinner: wild caught fish, steamed vegetables, sweet potato
Dessert: berries w/ Stevia and a splash of Triple sec or other liqueur.
Snack: Baba ghanoosh w/ celery or peppers
My choice of a supplement stack would go like this:
- A good greens powder – useful as a base for your other nutrition needs. See my green superfood powder buying guide for recommendations.
- Vitamin D – Many people are deficient, and it’s an important regulator and intermediary in regulatory pathways affected by autoimmune disorders.
- Glucosamine – Provides the material that’s used in connective tissues. Fairly common recommendation for this type of condition. Proven to be fairly useful.
- Dr. Ben Kim’s proteolytic enzme supplement – 14,000 F.U. units. Useful for breaking down protein build up in inflammatory reactions. Expensive, but a good investment for someone who’d really like to treat their condition.
A decent multi-vitamin, such as something from MegaFood would also help, but you could toggle it back and forth between the greens powder if your budget is an issue.
Exercise is very important for improving arthritis, but it’s just as important you do it the right way. I am not an exercise scientist, so I’ll keep my recommendations here very brief and deliver them with a dose of humility.
- Resistance training, preferably with free weights or whole-body exercises (push ups, sit ups, lunges, and other positions that require lots of strength but little movement)
- Cardio training that emphasizes high intensity intervals and/or strained movement (hiking, gentle climbing, swimming)
- Start with small steps and slowly build your way up
- Focus on effectively “getting a burn” and reaching something close to a peak heart rate, regardless of time spent exercising
- Lots of jogging or other cardio vascular exercise that puts prolonged stress on your joints (football, maybe soccer)
- Long extended cardio, which can actually create considerable amounts of inflammation that can persist in your body for quite some time.
- Obsess over your reps, calories burned, or length of time exercising, which in this case serve more as vanity metrics and could cause you to further damage your body
It’s common knowledge in sports rehabilitation that strengthening the tissue that surrounds the wounded area is one of the most effective ways to improve your condtion. It reduces the amount of stress your body needs to place on the arthritic joint and puts some axle grease on the “kinetic chain” your body uses to move one body part or another.
When it comes to exercise, it’s important to realize that it’s the recovery where most of the magic happens, not during the actual exercise itself. During the recovery process your body initiates its own mini-inflammation reaction, which is very important for metabolic stasis and goosing any persistent hormonal/inflammatory imbalances.
The extent to which your body needs to recover is determined more by its peak level of metabolic stress, not duration. This is why it’s best to emphasize an exercise routine that consists of resistance training and interval cardio that ideally requires some sort of strained movement. In addition to reducing the stress your afflicted joints are exposed to, it’ll increase the effectiveness of your recovery process as your body repairs its partially wounded tissue.
Arthritis Isn’t What God Intended
Some signs of arthritis are practically inevitable due to the rigors of time. But the arthritis many suffer from is not a default outcome you have to be resigned to. Especially if you’re under 50. And I think it’s crazy to accept expensive procedures and pain treatment programs without first investing in 2-3 months of quality lifestyle management.
To be honest, I’m not confident enough in my own advice to prescribe the advice in this post as THE yellow brick road to an arthritis free lifestyle. But I am confident that it’s close enough to get most people on the right track in a non-invasive way that’ll facilitate self-healing.