By Nicole Maxwell, NMD
Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in older people as cited in a recent article in the American Journal of Public Health1. The article states, “Arthritis will play a large role in the health-related quality of life, functional independence, and disability of older adults in the upcoming decades.”
In this article, I focus on Four Foundational Principles for those suffering from arthritis. Even for those without symptoms or who are younger, these preventive measures are critical to maintaining joint (and other aspects of) health into the later stages of life.
What is Arthritis?
From Mayo Clinic: Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis which causes cartilage – the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form a joint – to break down.
Learn More: Mayo Clinic article about Arthritis
Foundation One: Hydration and collagen.
Many seniors tend not to drink as much water because of urinary urgency or incontinence. However, our joints need hydration (water and oil) to stay mobile and to aid repair. As simple as it sounds, consider drinking at least 6 glasses of water daily. Aim to finish hydration by 5 or 6 pm so it doesn’t impede sleep. One can add a pinch of salt to a large water container to aid absorption. The next level of optimal hydration is to invest in a water filter that removes harmful pollutants.
Joints also need to be oiled, just like in a machine, and the oil for humans is in the form of essential fatty acids or EFAs. Consider a tablespoon of fish oil, like cod liver oil, once a day to increase the good fats in your body and decrease inflammation contributing to arthritis. Since EFAs increase blood thinning, if you are taking a blood-thinning medication, be sure to let your physician know so they can monitor.
Joints are also made up of collagen which is the rubbery end part of joints and aids cartilage repair. Consider taking a collagen hydrolysate supplement to support your joints. Collagen seems to be mostly effective with osteoarthritis and may not be as significant in rheumatoid arthritis.
Foundation Two: Inflammation
Arthritis is essentially joint breakdown and often occurs because of inflammation. Therefore, reducing inflammation is paramount. This includes discovering if one has a food intolerance and then avoiding the food or foods creating inflammation. https://boisenaturalhealth.com/are-foods-causing-your-symptoms/, https://boisenaturalhealth.com/the-carroll-food-intolerance-test/
Other ways to reduce inflammation associated with food: avoiding and/or decreasing refined carbohydrate intake. Consider limiting net carbs to 150 grams a day. Check out this article on carbs and arthritis: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324810. Consider replacing carbohydrates with colorful vegetables.
It is also important to check one’s gut health and see if one’s microbiome is helping or hindering the healing process. https://boisenaturalhealth.com/test-your-gut-microbiome-with-a-simple-stool-sample/
Foundation Three: Repair
You may have heard of glucosamine and chondroitin – these two nutrients are great for arthritis pain reduction. To be effective, these supplements must be taken regularly for at least three months to notice the benefits.
Foundation Four: Pain Management
It is important to stay active. Mild to moderate, regular aerobic exercise, including water exercise, helps to reduce pain. Consider your local YMCA as they have many options for different ages and abilities.
People regularly ask me about pain supplements and my preference for arthritis pain is curcumin from the turmeric plant. I recommend a bioavailable form of curcumin like Theracurmin.
Naturopathic Medicine Treats the Whole Person
Do you or someone you know have arthritis? If you need more help, consider scheduling an appointment with Dr. Nicole at Boise Natural Health Clinic.
1 Am J Public Health. 2012 March; 102(3): 426–433