Obviously, there are many causes and types of joint pain, each one unique in itself. The term arthritis refers to a group of diseases that affect the various joints of the body. But, did you know that in addition to Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Lyme Disease, and Osteoporosis belong to over 100 different types of arthritis? The causes may be anything from age, injury, infection, or even genetics.
According to the National Institutes Of Health (NIH), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is considered an autoimmune disease and can not only affect body joints, but also eyes, mouth, and lungs and even the heart, and that is why we are covering the Best Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment in this article today.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, as many as 1.5 million people in the United States are affected by rheumatoid arthritis alone. Women are three times more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis, usually between the ages of 30 and 60. Men may also be diagnosed with RA, but usually at a later age. RA accounts for 22 percent of deaths from arthritis and other rheumatic diseases in the U.S., as noted in a report published by the Arthritis Foundation.
Arthritis in all of its various forms can be a debilitating condition. There is no cure for arthritis but there are viable options in treating the condition and symptoms, which we’ll cover one very good option in this article. Fortunately, many people who have the degenerative types of arthritis, also known as osteoarthritis (OA), degenerative joint disease, hip dysplasia and others, have reported that certain medicinal herbs can help their joints become healthier and move easier.
Rheumatoid arthritis has more to do with the immune system attacking itself and less to do with cartilage. RA is considered an autoimmune disease causing fatigue, chronic inflammation, occasional fever, and a general sense of not feeling well or malaise, in addition to arthritic pains.
The prolonged tissue invasion of the immune system and immune cells and the messenger and effector chemicals these cells produce, begins to damage the affected area(s), usually the joint structures. People who get inflammatory arthritis (RA) most frequently will experience pain, stiffness, and limited movement in one or more joints, and in some types of inflammatory arthritis, even the spine.
Protecting the joints between bone connections is a critical substance known as cartilage. Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide smoothly over one another. It also absorbs energy from the shocks of physical movement.
Osteoarthritis arthritis (OA), or chronic inflammation, causes the surface layer of cartilage to break down and wear away, according to NIH research. When this happens, bones connected to cartilage rub together, causing pain, swelling, bone fragmentation and spurs, and leads to a loss of motion of the joint., not to mention debilitation chronic pain.
Repetitive movement and acidity in the body are important factors in the development of arthritis and osteoarthritis according to an NIH review of a study published in the Journal of Molecular Science. Acid from high-acidic or high-sugary foods lower the pH in the blood making it more acidic, which tend to bind to the alkaline minerals essential for the bones such as calcium and magnesium, producing cytokines, rendering them unusable by the body per an NIH review of a 2018 study published in Nutrients. Excess acid also has a tendency to accumulate in the joints aggravating the inflammation, leading to OA.
The NIH concluded that older subjects whose diets contain high net acid loads could potentially benefit the most from alkali therapies. Later in this article we’ll recommend a variety of low-acid low-inflammatory alkaline-based, nutrient-dense foods which are effective in not only preventing the onset OA, but also effective in reducing the debilitating effects of OA. Various genetic traits can also make a person more likely to develop OA. One possibility is a rare defect in the body’s production of collagen, referred to as “connective tissue diseases” by a Cleveland Clinic study, the protein that makes up cartilage.
When connected tissue become inflamed, they are themselves harmed and cause harm to related body parts. Being over-weight can also cause OA. Many years of carrying extra pounds can cause the cartilage that cushions joints to break down faster. Research, such as an NIH review of study published in the American Journal of Epidemiol, has shown there is a link between being overweight and having an increased risk of osteoarthritis in the hands.
These studies suggest that excess fat tissue produces inflammatory chemicals or cytokines, that can damage the joints according to NIH study on cytokines. Repetitive movements or injuries to joints such as a fracture, surgery or ligament tears, can lead to osteoarthritis. For example, certain careers that require standing for long periods of time, repetitive bending, heavy lifting or other movements can also make cartilage wear away more quickly causing OA.
The joints most commonly affected are the large weight bearing ones such as the hips and knees. Over time, the joint may lose its normal shape. Also, eventually, bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float inside the joint space. This causes the severe pain and damage people know today as arthritis in any of its various forms. Bone spurs, which are small growths called osteophytes, may grow on the edges of the joint.
A healthful, balanced diet with appropriate exercise, ample sleep, avoiding smoking, not drinking excess alcohol, and a few other lifestyle changes can help people with arthritis manage it and maintain their overall health. Let’s look at a diet lifestyle change in this article and the other lifestyle changes in a subsequent article:
What Is the Best Healthy Nutrient Rich Diet?
Simply put, The Mediterranean Diet. What is the Mediterranean Diet? It’s basically the common foods and healthy habits of the peoples around the Mediterranean Sea, and of the countries of Crete, Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy. For many centuries, these native people have lived healthy lifestyles, including eating natural (organic) foods known to be high in macro and micro nutrients, and low in trans fats, and free from refined oils and highly processed meats and foods.
Foods include lots of organic fruits, vegetables, lean grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish, whole-grains, organic nuts and seeds, grass-fed eggs, legumes, natural fermented foods, natural herbs and spices, lots of extra virgin olive oil, coffee, tea, and red wine, all from natural sources. Checkout this video of Rachael Ray explaining the Mediterranean Diet on the Dr. Oz show (1).
The Mediterranean Diet earned top honors in the beginning of 2019 by being chosen the best overall diet in the U.S. News and World Report annual diet rankings. In 2018, it and the DASH Diet shared first place knotted in a tie, but this year DASH got bumped to second. The words out and a growing interest in going back to nature and adopting the eating styles of places where people live a long time, such as the Mediterranean Sea, are becoming more and more common.
Health Benefits Of Mediterranean Diet
The fact that the mainstays of the diet, which are healthy lean proteins, are wild-caught fish, and lean meats, that are low in “high-acidy” saturated fats (omega 6s) and high in healthy monounsaturated fats in the form of omega 3 fatty acids, there’s no excessive calorie intake and unwanted weight gain, an alkaline pH, and better overall health, per an NIH study.
The diet is high in fiber because of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which promotes healthy digestion and is believed to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. The nutrient-dense foods in the Mediterranean Diet are high in vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, essential amino acids, omega 3s, and ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES, and healthy omega 3 fatty acids, which regulate bodily processes, making it the Best Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment. In addition, the presence of lean meats provides vitamins such as B-12 that are not found in plant foods.
The diet is high in natural sugar rather than added sugar, for example, particularly in fresh fruits. Added sugars and processed foods, which are absent from this diet, raises the calorie intake without increasing the nutritional value of the food, and has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, and a host of other unhealthy conditions. It seems obesity is always linked to unhealthy conditions in some way, doesn’t it?
The diet’s abundant use of fresh veggies, especially the dark green leafy ones, also helps the body to maintain a healthy alkaline pH in the blood, although the mechanisms of the body do a great job of keeping the blood alkaline pretty much on its own. Remember, acidity and chronic inflammation flare-ups, are 2 of the suspected causes of arthritis. According to an NIH study, increased fruits and vegetables consumption would maintain alkalinity which would benefit bone health, reduce muscle wasting and surrounding areas, as well as mitigate other chronic diseases such as hypertension and strokes.
Probiotics and prebiotics and gut health is very important and the traditional use of natural fermented foods in the Medi diet, keeps the micro flora in the digestive system strong and healthy and is effective in reducing of pro-inflammatory cytokines-causing OA and RA, according to an NIH review of a 2017 study published in Frontier Nutrition. Let’s look at some documented studies:
Better late than never. It was another 50 years before the Western societies started to catch up and recognize the health and well being benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, after scientist Ancel Keys started explaining the benefits of the diet to the public back in the early 1950s.
Dr. Keys found that people living in poorer areas of southern Italy had a lower risk of heart disease and death than those in wealthier parts of New York, and he attributed this to their diet. According to an NPR article, Keys, who was in the U.S. Army then stationed in Italy, is when he made his discovery of how much healthier the people in Italy were than New Yorkers. Quoting the NPR article:
When Ancel Keys first came to Italy with the U.S. Army in World War II – and his name is the K in the Army’s emergency K-rations – he was struck by the how little heart disease he saw among poor people in Italy, compared to well-fed northern Europe and America. That’s because the traditional Mediterranean diet is more than just tasty – it’s actually good for you.
While an active lifestyle plays a huge role in overall health, which we’ll cover in the next article, it was found that eating healthy lean protein such as fish and lean red meats, and less unhealthy sugars, found in the Mediterranean diet, has been linked to healthy cholesterol and lower risk of stroke and coronary heart disease. According to Arthritis Foundation the Mediterranean diet is naturally-high in anti-inflammatory foods because of it’s mainstays of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and extra virgin olive oil. Quoting the Arthritis Foundation:
Longer Healthier Life. According to the Mayo Clinic, a meta-analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality as well as overall mortality.
Reduced Mortality. Research, such as this NIH study, has consistently shown that the Mediterranean diet is effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and overall mortality. One interesting finding of this eating plan is that it dispels the myth that people with or at risk for heart disease, must eat a low fat diet. Not so, of course the type of fat is the key, and in this diet it’s healthy mono-unsaturated fat high in omega 3s, found in extra virgin olive oil, that the resident of the Mediterranean eat copious amounts of. Quoting the NIH study:
The mortality rates in Mediterranean regions are lower than those of other countries. Mediterranean populations—Greeks and Italians in particular—have been reported to have among the highest life expectancies and the lowest incidence rates of all-cause mortality.
Rheumatoid Arthritis. Numerous studies, like this Harvard Medical School study, confirm that omega 3 fatty acids founds in the foods of the Mediterranean Diet, are “special”. They provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation. Quoting the study, researchers said,
omega-3 fats have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, mayhelp control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.
Genetic Mutation. The diet has shown to be beneficial in negating a genetic mutation that can lead to higher risk of stroke, particularly with persons who carry 2 copies of the gene, according to this AHA Journals study.
Cardiovascular Disease. A study of nearly 26,000 women found that those who followed this type of diet had 25% less risk of developing cardiovascular disease over the course of 12 years and it was determined that changes in inflammation, blood sugar, and body mass index were the biggest drivers.
Antioxidant Benefit. Fruits, vegetables, red wine, and extra virgin olive oil in the diet demonstrated high antioxidant activity in a 2003 National Institutes Of Health (NIH) study, protecting against atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Another NIH review of a study published in Clinical Rheumatology showed promising results that a diet rich in antioxidants may reduce pain and inflammation in joints affected by RA.
Flavonoids, also found in the Medi diet, are phenol compounds made by plants with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and are effective in controlling joint inflammation and alleviate arthritis symptoms in both human RA and animal models of arthritis, found an NIH review of a 2017 study from James Cook University, Australia. Foods naturally high in flavonoids are berries, grapes, green tea, soy, broccoli, and dark chocolate. Yes, that’s right, dark chocolate because of the cacao (cocoa)!
Overall Health. A European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC) Norfolk study of 23,902 healthy individuals, published in the BMJ Journals, confirmed the dietary fiber and antioxidant activity of the Medi is linked to a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and mortality, and better overall health and well being of the participants. The arthritis Foundation confirmed that foods high in fiber can reduce the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP) in your blood.
This marker can indicate the level of inflammation in your body. Natural foods high in fiber are fresh fruits and veggies, raw nuts, beans, and of course, whole grains. Strawberries are great for reducing CRP besides adding fiber. It would seem that common sense would tell you herbs and spices, also used liberally in Mediterranean cultures, would increase inflammation. Not true! Certain herbs and spices actually reduce inflammation in your body.
Turmeric, common in Indian food, contains a compound called curcumin that has anti-inflammatory properties per an NIH review, finding scientific evidence which supports the efficacy of turmeric in treating arthritic pain . It’s related to ginger, which may have a similar effect. Another one is Capsaicin, a compound found in chili peppers, also helps reduce inflammation in the body according to a study published in Surgical Neurology International, and reviewed by the NIH, finding capsaicin as an effective pain reliever. Believe it or not, here is another one that’s just as surprising, drinking naturally-fermented alcohol in moderation may actually reduce your inflammation. Alcohol, like the naturally fermented wine found in the Medi diet, has been shown to drop CRP levels because of resveratrol, a compound found in red wine, having anti-inflammatory effects, according to the Arthritis Foundation. However, if you drink too much, it can have the opposite effect.
Cognitive Function. There has also been increased interest in the diet’s effects on aging and cognitive function. Cell damage through stress and inflammation that can lead to age-related diseases has been linked to a specific part of DNA called telomeres.
Telomeres with long lengths are considered protective against chronic diseases and earlier death, whereas short lengths increase risk. Antioxidants found in the Medi Diet can help combat cell stress and preserve telomere length. This was demonstrated in a large cohort of 4676 healthy middle-aged women from the Nurses’ Health Study.
Type 2 Diabetes. In a meta-analysis of 17 studies the Medi diet was found to improve fasting glucose and A1C levels for those with type 2 diabetes, and that those who follow a Mediterranean diet have lower fasting glucose levels and protection against type 2 diabetes, than those that did not, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Age Healthily. One study published in the Annals Of Internal Medicine following 10,670 women ages 57-61 observed the effect of dietary patterns on aging. The study, confirmed by the NIH, found that the women who followed a Mediterranean-type eating pattern were 46% more likely to age healthfully.
Healthy Balance Of Fats. Anti-aging experts suggest maintaining a 1:1 ratio of omega 6 fatty acid to healthy omega 3 fatty acid, or higher in favor of omega 3s.
The average American eats a ratio of anywhere from 12:1 to 25:1 omega 6 to omega 3, which is awful and very unhealthy. The higher omega 6 saturated fats leads to increases in chronic inflammation, overweight and obesity, and many serious illnesses such as diabetes, brain disorders, and cardiovascular disease.
Fatty fried foods, processed meats and foods, fast foods, grain-fed meats, dairy and eggs, farmed-raised ocean fish and seafood, are the culprits, which are all higher in inflammatory-causing omega 6s. An NIH study shows that the abundance of healthy omega 3s in the Medi Diet helps prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control lupus, eczema, and “rheumatoid arthritis”, and may protect against cancer.
Probiotic Health. Natural fermented foods like yogurt, fermented pickles, fermented green olives, and red wine, all staples of the Mediterranean Diet, are beneficial in restoring your gut health by strengthening your digestive system microbiome, per this Harvard Medical School study.
Fermented foods give your body a healthy dose of beneficial probiotic bacteria which are live micro-organism crucial to your digestion health, particularly in reducing inflammation.
says Dr. David Ludwig, professor of nutrition at Harvard.
Another NIH study confirmed the benefits of fermented foods and gut health by being good sources of live and health-promoting organisms. One thing to be cautious of is not all foods of this type are naturally fermented. For example, pickles sold in most stores are in vinegar and don’t have the healthy probiotic bacteria. Check the labels.
Body Alkalinity. To assure optimum health your body pH should always register on the slightly alkaline side (pH 7.2 ideal), especially in blood, and, of course, the exception being your stomach acid, which is in the range of 2 to 3 pH. Below 7 pH is considered acidic and leads to all kinds of health issues and can even be fatal if left untreated.
The pH level of our internal fluids affects every cell in our bodies. The entire metabolic process depends on an alkaline environment, especially blood. Chronic over-acidity corrodes body tissue, and if left unchecked will interrupt all cellular activities and functions, from the beating of your heart to the neural firing of your brain. In other words, overacidity interferes with life itself. It is at the root of all sickness and disease. The high alkalinity of the plentiful vegetables eaten in the Medi Diet, offsets the over-acidity in the body.
Components Of the Mediterranean Diet
Buying fresh is vitally important because foods loose as much as 50 to 70 percent of its nutritional value from the field to the grocery shelf according to a Penn State University study. Certified organic and non-GMO foods found in the Medi diet are not grown with harmful chemical fertilizers, or additives, and are not sprayed with chemical pesticides, and much safer for consumption, particularly in children.
The U.S. Government 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommends that people should aim to meet their nutrient requirements through a healthy eating pattern that includes nutrient-dense forms of foods. Here are the components:
Lean Organic Grass-fed Finished Meats, such as beef, bison, and wild game (A)
Lean Organic Free-Range Finished Pork, Lamb, and poultry such as chicken, turkey, duck, and wild game (A)
Organic Grass-fed Dairy such as milk, butter, and cheese (A)
Organic Free-Range (cage-free) Brown Eggs (A)
Wild-Caught or Cold-Water fish and Seafood such as salmon, tuna, herring, cod, sardines, shrimp, oysters, mackerel (A)
Fresh (as possible) Organic Fruits and Vegetables (A)
Monounsaturated Oils such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil (A)
Natural Organic Whole Grains and Complex Carbohydrates such whole wheat, barley, buckwheat, millet, quinoa (A)
Organic Nuts and Seeds such as walnuts, pecans, hazel nuts, almonds (A)
Natural Fermented Foods such as fermented pickles, Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, red wine, natural beer (A) This Joshua Weisman video shows you how to ferment any vegetable (2).
Fresh Organic Herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, chives, sage, parsley (A)
Organic dried spices in variety and Sea Salt (contains over 100 healthy minerals) (A)
(*) Of course your best option for fresh nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, and edible flower seeds is to plant your own backyard garden
All-Natural Organic Whole-Food Peruvian Maca Adaptogen Supplement (A). Supplementing with the all-natural Peruvian Maca is a must with all forms of arthritis. For documented proof read “What Is In Maca Root?”
Certain Foods To Avoid With Arthritis
The America diet is characterized by high intakes of fatty red meat, processed meat, prepackaged foods, butter, fried foods, high-fat dairy products, caged-eggs, refined grains, high starches like potatoes and corn, and processed high-sugar, promote increased acidity in the body. Whereas, the Medi Diet is a good balance of alkaline foods in vegetables and lean high-in-omega 3s, and low in inflammatory-causing meats and fish.
Nightshade vegetables. Some say night shade veggies promote inflammation, others say “no.” Vegetables such as tomatoes, contain a chemical called solanine that some studies have linked with arthritis pain. Research findings are mixed when it comes to these vegetables, but some people have reported a reduction in arthritis symptoms when avoiding nightshade vegetables. According to the national authority on research, the NIH, solanine has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in vivo and in vitro, and may be useful for musculoskeletal aches and pains. Advice is to try tomatoes and see if you can tell a difference in your inflammation and pain level.
Processed Foods. Avoid the Western or American Diet such as fast foods, processed meats, grains, and carbohydrates. The NIH warns of the consumption of processed foods and other American-type foods and link to cancer.
Grain-Fed Foods. Fatty meats; farmed-raised ocean fish; grain-fed meats, dairy products, and eggs (not naturally grass-fed or free-range). For more information and documentation on harmful grain-fed foods read “A List Of Healthy Foods To Eat”.
Fast Foods and Fried Foods, precooked meals, salted meats
Farm-Raised Ocean Fish and Seafood (Advertised as wild-caught, high in omega 6s and PCBs). For more information and documentation on the harmful effects of farm-raised seafood read “Order Fresh Seafood Online”.
Sugary Drinks and Foods. Carbonated drinks and diet drinks, fruit juices with added sugar, cookies, cakes, muffins, etc. You should now readily see that also maintaining an alkaline-base in your body is so vitally important in preventing inflammation causing illness, infections, and diseases such as OA and RA.
Convenience foods that make up what is now commonly referred to as the Western Diet”, should be avoided entirely or at least restricted to only occasional use as follows: precooked foods, high-sugar, processed meats, or high-sodium foods, fried foods, or microwavable foods. or simple or refined carbohydrates to lower inflammation.
We hope you found this article discussing the Best Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment helpful. Look for part 2 in the series in treating rheumatoid arthritis naturally to be released in a couple days. Any comments or questions are welcomed.
(A) For more information, documented studies, and to purchase any of these incredibly healthy nutrient-dense foods that are beneficial for treating both OA and RA, follow the links.
(1) Dr. Oz Video
(2) Joshua Weisman Video