"Prevent rheumatoid arthritis? I thought it was a condition that a lot of people, especially women, are genetically destined to develop."
If you're one of many who believe this to be true, I've got some different news for you.
There are preventive steps you can take.
If you already suffer from it, there's good news for you, too.
First, a refresher. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition, an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's healthy joint tissue.
This results in flare-ups of pain and inflammation. Eventually it can destroy the membranes, cartilage and even bone.
Yes, three times more women than men develop the disease. According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 1.3 million people in America have this condition.
It certainly can't be called an age-related disease, because there are adolescents and young adults that suffer from it. The overall risk increases as you age -- mostly due to lifestyle.
Rheumatoid arthritis is not hereditary (Harvard Medical School). The risk for first-degree relatives of sufferers is only very slightly increased.
Genetics play a minor susceptibility role – and with a properly functioning immune system they may never be a factor.
Some researchers theorize that there are environmental factors (bacteria and viruses) or emotional stress that could trigger this faulty autoimmune response. Smoking is an established factor.
Nobody really knows its exact cause, but that doesn't mean you can't reverse or prevent rheumatoid arthritis.
On the contrary. If done correctly, exercise makes joints stronger.
It's one of the best things you can do for your senior health, anyway. Inactivity will make the rheumatoid stiffness and pain worse.
In times of flare-ups you can do gentle range-of-motion exercises to maintain joint flexibility. I can help you with selecting these exercises.
Talk to your rheumatologist for clearance. Then talk to me.
Traditional treatment for the condition consists of painkillers, anti-inflammatory and/or immune-suppressing medications.
While toxic drugs may give temporary relief, they heal nothing and have negative side effects.
A whole foods, plant-based diet however has been proven to reduce inflammation, and retard or prevent rheumatoid arthritis.
So, if you avoid inflammatory foods, such as fried, grilled, overheated, pasteurized and highly processed foods, you're on your way to healing your body. All animal-based products are in this category.
Feel free to ask me why animal proteins are so bad for the human immune system.
Milk, cheese and other dairy products are inflammation-triggering foods, too.
The same holds true for sugars and other refined carbs (think white flour), salt and artificial ingredients and preservatives.
Don't smoke and drink only very moderately.
By eliminating these toxins you give your body a much better chance to keep the immune defenses in good working order.
All omega-3 rich foods like walnuts and almonds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and Chia, are powerful anti-inflammatories.
Rather than consuming fish - an inflammatory animal protein - consider an algae-based omega-3 DHA/EPA supplement. Algae are where the fish get the omega-3 fatty acids from anyway.
Since dietary fiber is an integral part of a plant-based diet, you can't help but load up on this wonderful anti-inflammatory.
Drink green tea – a super antioxidant which reduces symptoms.
Enjoy some dark chocolate with it.
On the page about Power Foods you'll find more relevant information.
There are some - including very well-known "foundations" - which claim that food has nothing to do with arthritis. This opinion borders on irresponsible, because there are hundreds of scientific studies proving otherwise. And anyone can look them up in medical journals.
Research confirms the effectiveness of a plant-based whole foods diet as a viable approach to forestall, treat or prevent rheumatoid arthritis.
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