The term arthritis (joint inflammation), refers to over 100 diseases that attack joints and connective tissue. Degenerative joint and rheumatic diseases include gout, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis (arthritic spine), psoriatic arthritis (skin and nail arthritis), infective arthritis (bacterial joint infection), fibromyalgia and rheumatism.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects over 1.3 million Americans, the vast majority of which are women (1). RA occurs most often in the hands, wrists and feet and is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the synovial lining between the joints and can lead to severe pain and loss of function. Arthritis, in general, is a challenging condition often filled with ups and downs. The resulting symptoms are unpredictable and come in waves - one day your joints feel great, the next day you may even struggle to get out of bed in the morning. It can be an emotional ride, but stay strong because alternative treatments are seeing amazing results!
There are several factors that contribute to the development of an autoimmune condition such as Rheumatoid Arthritis. They include genetics, infections, diet and lifestyle choices, highly acidic food choices, hormones, exposure to chemicals and age (2). When these factors compound, an autoimmune response is triggered leading to a loss of cartilage in joints, inflamed tissue surrounding joints and a tightening gap between joints due to swelling.
- Swollen or tender joints
- Warmth or redness around joints
- Morning stiffness - occurs upon rising & lasts for over 30 minutes
- Muscle aches
- Low grade fever
- Weight loss &/or loss of appetite
Nutritional Guidelines for Healing
- Focus on an anti-inflammatory diet - Slowly remove inflammatory foods such as wheat, gluten, alcohol, dairy, trans-fats and refined sugars from your diet. Replace with a wholefood diet filled with vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, quality protein and nourishing fats. Focus specifically on boosting your intake of omega-3 rich foods such as wild-caught trout, salmon, tuna, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds & walnuts. If this seems a bit overwhelming and you’re unsure how to get started, let us guide you with our 21 Day Food Matters Program. (3)
- Alkalize your body! Get your daily greens by adding 1 cup of dark, leafy greens to every meal. Try to include the following vegetable juice twice daily - 4 celery stalks, ½ beetroot, 1 cup spinach or kale, 1 apple, 1 inch knob ginger, 1 lemon. If you are short on time or don’t have a juicer, simply replace with 1 tsp of our Food Matters Superfood Greens in water. Dark, leafy greens are extremely high in antioxidants which promote cellular health & combat inflammation (4). They also helps to alkalize the body which can improve bone health by altering the potassium-to-sodium ratio in the body (5).
- Make friends with fermented food - Begin to add fermented foods to each meal. This could include sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir, fermented salsa, yogurt or kimchi. These foods are rich in probiotics which help to balance gut bacteria. This is important as research is beginning to unveil a relationship between bacterial imbalance in the gut & autoimmune conditions (6)
- Bone Broth - Consume 2 cups of homemade bone broth daily. Broth is rich in vitamins and minerals and is a direct source of collagen, chondroitin and glucosamine, which can help reduce inflammation and pain, as well as increase joint mobility (7).
- Cook with healing spices - Add turmeric, ginger & cayenne pepper to your meals whenever possible. These spices contain potent anti-inflammatory components which help to reduce inflammation. We recommend combining in our favorite ginger and turmeric shot.
- Sip on matcha or green tea - This herbal tea is high in a group of compounds called catechins which have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on the body (8).
Herbal, Superfood & Supplement Therapy
- Essential Fatty Acids - Take 1,000 - 4,000 mg of a supplement that is high in essential fatty acids, such as quality fish oil or flax oil (9) each day. Regular intake of fish oil supplements can reduce morning stiffness and joint tenderness in RA sufferers due to its anti-inflammatory properties (10).
- Vitamin C - Take 250 - 1,000mg of a wholefood Vitamin C supplement daily. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It is also essential in collagen synthesis in the body which has the ability to reduce pain and inflammation in RA patients (11).
- Chondroitin - Take 500 mg, twice daily. Chondroitin supports healthy inflammation responses and has been found to improve function and reduce pain in arthritis (12).
- SAM-e (S-Adenosylmethionine) - Take 600 mg daily. Supplementation with SAM-e can significantly reduce pain and inflammation in RA patients. It also promotes the synthesis of proteoglycans, which are important proteins for connective tissue regeneration (13).
- Willow Bark - Willow bark has long been used traditionally for its pain-relieving properties in RA sufferers (14). Please seek advice from your health professional before taking herbal supplements.
- Functional health tests - Food allergies or sensitivities can contribute to inflammation and exacerbate symptoms of RA (15). We suggest doing a microbiome stool test and a food sensitivity test. The microbiome test will help to uncover the state of your gut microbiome and whether there are any bacterial imbalances. The food sensitivity test will reveal your immune response to over 90 common foods and provide an individualized diet plan.
- Physical Therapies - Physical therapies, including exercise, yoga, stretching and massage, are used to improve mobility, restore function and reduce pain (16). However, please remember to rest during painful periods. If you are new to yoga, we recommend our gentle yoga class for joints.
- Reduce Stress - Engaging in practices that reduce stress such as meditation and mindfulness can help overcome immune suppression. Try to spend at least 10 minutes each day doing a guided breathing or meditation practice. You can browse through our selection here.
Ready to make a change but not sure where to start? Take your pick from a range of inspiring programs tailored to your specific goals. Our guided programs on Food Matters TV including everything from meal plans, guided meditations, sleep, cleansing and more. They'll support and empower you to improve your health and be the best you can be!
21 Day Gluten Free Program
Transform your health & life with this guided online mind & body program. You’ll get daily gluten-free, dairy free and sugar-free meal plans and shopping lists plus yoga and mindset exercises to help you make a true transformation in 21 days.Find Out More
At Food Matters we believe that education is an essential aspect to any healing process. The more we know, the more we are empowered to make change and understand how to decode the messages our bodies are telling us. Here are some suggested resources for you to check out to support you on this journey.
How to Heal Leaky Gut and Reverse Autoimmune Diseases
Josh Axe explains how to heal leaky gut and reverse autoimmune disease.Read More
FOOD MATTERS features interviews with leading health experts who reveal the best natural healing choices you can make for the health of you and your family. In the film, you'll discover what works, what doesn't and what's potentially killing you when it comes to your health.Read More
What's With Wheat?
‘What’s With Wheat?’ documentary investigates the growing epidemic of wheat intolerance and why, after eating wheat for thousands of years, it has been linked to so many health problems.Read More
1. RheumatoidArthritis.org. 2016, Aug.
2. RheumatoidArthritis.org. 2016, Aug.
3. Arthritis Foundation.
4. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 2010; 25 (6).
5. Journal of Environmental and Public Health. 2012; 2012 (7).
6. Nature Reviews Rheumatology. 2011; 7: 569–578.
7. Int J Rheumatol. 2011; 2011: 969012.
8. Natural Medicines.Therapeutic Research. Food and Herbs Supplements. 2017.
9. Alternative Medicine Review. 2003; 8 (4).
10. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2013, Sept.
11. Int J Med Sci. 2009; 6(6): 312–321.
12. Int J Rheumatol. 2011; 2011: 969012.
13. The American Journal of Medicine. 1987, Nov; 83 (5): 60-65.
14. Arthritis Research UK. 2017.
15. Wiley Online Library.
16. Arthritis Foundation.
This article is provided for your general information only and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional advice, particularly medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek medical advice from a qualified health practitioner which takes into account your personal circumstances, general health and medical conditions.