You feel what you eat
Most people’s eyes glaze over when they see the word “diet,” and honestly, the word is EVERYWHERE. Almost every magazine in the aisle has a nutrition-related headline, and every month some nutrition guru releases a “new” diet for the ages. This rampant binge causes many people to become desensitized to dieting at all.
With my patients, I try to keep the 4-letter word out of our conversation and instead refer to it as a “nutrition program.” Because believe it or not, you feel what you eat! And if your main goal is just to feel better (and why shouldn’t it be), then you need to think about the types of foods you eat.
Inflammation: Your body’s way of saying “Stop It!”
The old adage goes, “You are what you eat,” but truly, and more likely, you actually feel every bite you eat in every part of your body. Certain foods can trigger an inflammatory response in your body that shows up everywhere but definitely in your joints.
Diet and Arthritis
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. An estimated 46 million US adults (about 1 in 5) report having doctor-diagnosed arthritis, according to annual estimates. As the US population ages, these numbers are expected to increase sharply. In fact, the number of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis is projected to increase to 67 million by 2030. Common symptoms include aches, pains, stiffness, and swelling in or around the joints.
Arthritis is all about inflammation in the joint tissue. Living with it can be quite a challenge, and finding the right cocktail of anti-inflammatory drugs can also be difficult. One thing you can really do to help manage the pain is to eliminate certain foods that can increase your body’s inflammatory response.
Foods that can make arthritis worse and should be minimized include:
• Foods high in saturated fat such as dairy products, red meat and baked foods
• Sugary foods
• Refined grains such as pasta, white rice and white bread
• Refined or processed food (if it’s in a box or can, it’s refined)
Foods that help reduce inflammation in the body include:
• Vegetables and certain fruits
• Whole grains like brown rice and bulgur wheat
• Sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as oily fish like salmon, fish oil supplements, and walnuts
• Lean sources of protein such as chicken, turkey or beans
• Green tea
diet and osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is the gradual degeneration of joint surfaces caused by overuse and inadequate repair. Over time, cartilage wears down to the point that it becomes thin. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, and swelling in key joint areas such as the hips, knees, and hands.
Although osteoarthritis is not an inflammatory condition, a good nutritional program is key to avoiding this painful condition.
Keeping off the weight is not only good for your self-esteem and health, it’s also good for your joints! Clinical research has shown that people who are 20 percent or more over their normal body weight have more problems with osteoarthritis. Weight-bearing joints are most affected by the extra weight, particularly the knees, hips, ankles, and spine. Unfortunately, once the joint pain starts, it leads to a more sedentary life, which means more weight gain, which puts more pressure on the joints. It is a doom-loop. A weight loss nutrition program may be appropriate in this situation.
When nutrition can’t solve everything
As previously mentioned, some forms of arthritis do not necessarily respond to anti-inflammatory foods or medications. While fitness can help keep the weight off your joints, sometimes they just wear out and you need an extra boost from the outside!
Prolotherapy: This unique therapy, despite being over 50 years old, has recently attracted more interest due to its success. Prolotherapy works in two ways:
• Short term: Prolotherapy tightens the ligaments around a joint, which helps provide immediate pain relief.
• Long-term: Prolotherapy stimulates the growth of tissue in an injured area, making it stronger and more viable over time.
Prolotherapy stimulates the body to do naturally what it is supposed to do when injured: to grow healthy, strong, flexible ligament or tendon tissue. Unfortunately, our body doesn’t always respond as it should and needs extra stimuli to get the job done. Prolotherapy is that extra motivation or encouragement at the cellular level.
PRP therapy: Platelet-rich plasma injection therapy, while not new, has recently received a lot of attention in the medical field as a viable technique for relieving pain and achieving better results in healing injured and overstressed tendons and ligaments. A knowledgeable and trained doctor will inject your own platelets (growth factors) from your blood into the injured area, which will stimulate a healing process and in turn reduce pain in that area.
You feel what you eat, and by eating less and nutritionally fortified foods you will definitely put yourself on the path to feeling much, much better.
Do you suffer from chronic joint and tendon pain and would you like to learn more about prolotherapy and PRP injections?
Thanks to Marc Darrow, M.D, J.D