As you may know we’ve been talking about arthritis a lot recently. You see our Medical Director, Dr. Susan Blum, just wrote a new book, Healing Arthritis, and it releases on October 24th. This is very exciting for us and it’s created a lot of interest in arthritis-related information from our patients.
In my medical practice at Blum Center for Health, arthritic patients most commonly ask me, “What can I do about my pain?”
3 Things You Can Today Do to Stop Arthritis Pain
The first thing you must do is make pain-free food choices.
In fact, the single most important influence on reducing your pain is the food you eat!
Here’s what you need to do:
Increase the number of healthy foods you are eating.
- Your grocery list should include antioxidant rich dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard; and deep colorful berries like blackberries and blueberries.
- Make a habit of eating clean fish once or twice weekly, it’s full of inflammation-lowering omega 3 fatty acids. Buy high-quality, grass-fed, non-GMO animal products and eat them sparingly, perhaps once each week.
- Eat loads of healthy, high-quality oils and fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
- Buy or make bone broth, rich in collagen, and take a good quality B vitamin.
- And don’t forget to fit lots of fiber onto your plate in the form of whole grains, legumes, beans, and veggies — to feed the good bacteria of the gut. (Avoid gluten if you know you are sensitive to it, or if you have autoimmune disease).
- Spice your foods with turmeric, the bright yellow indian spice that’s not only delicious but also combats inflammation.
Avoid inflammatory foods — this includes highly processed foods made with white flour and white sugar, and practically everything that comes in a box. Avoid processed flour products like baked goods and cookies, and sweetened dairy products like ice cream. Shop the perimeter of the store – buy real, whole foods in their natural state.
Remove common food allergens by doing the allergy elimination diet – what Dr. Blum calls the Leaky Gut Diet – no gluten, soy, corn, dairy, eggs, or nightshade vegetables. After 3 weeks, reintroduce each food one at a time to see if any trigger symptoms. The elimination diet not only cuts out common irritating foods but also helps you avoid processed food and many added inflammatory fillers that often come with them. It’s a great starting point.
Utilize anti-arthritis supplements to decrease pain.
There are several supplements that have been scientifically proven to decrease inflammation and pain. These are some of the supplements I commonly use with my arthritic patients.
- Omega 3 (EPA and DHA) & Omega 6 (GLA) Fatty acids – these powerful anti-inflammatory fats have been found to reduce pain and improve physical function in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- Curcumin – this plant-derived antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory has been found to reduce pain and stiffness in Osteoarthritis.
- Vitamin C – the link between oxidative stress and joint damage is clear. Vitamin C (and other antioxidants) have been shown to reduce pain (and oxidative stress) in inflammatory joint disease.
- Probiotics – when we think about joint health, our attention naturally turns to the gut and the health of the microbiome (the bacteria that live in the digestive tract). Improving the balance of the terrain in your gut with a good probiotic can help with the arthritic pain and inflammation throughout the body.
Powerfully deal with stress: Less stress = less pain.
When it comes to arthritis, the impact of stress is largely overlooked. However, stress and trauma have serious consequences on your gut, your immune system, and your arthritis pain. Improving your resilience in the face of stressors will keep your arthritis from flaring.
How to destress:
- Simplify your schedule. If you are suffering from arthritic pain this is a cry for help from your biological system. Give yourself time and space to renew and rebuild the resilience that you are lacking. Open space in your week to just be.
- Find time for sleep. Make sure you are getting over 8 hours of sleep a night. Work backwards from your wake-up time and get into bed 1 hour prior to that. Make a routine at bedtime that is relaxing and supportive – take a bath, sip some tea, read a pleasant book. Avoid screens 2 hours prior to bed and help the whole family get on board. Doing things with support makes them much easier!
- Make room for movement. You don’t need to add a strenuous exercise routine right away unless you find that that helps your pain, but work towards getting there. To start, just make a plan to have a short walk outside, or put down your yoga mat and gently stretch and move your body beyond the confines of the standing and sitting of your normal day. If you’re feeling more ambitious, try a yoga or tai chi class for meditative movement.
- Book a massage – or other bodywork – for pain relief and stress reduction. Acupuncture, craniosacral, myofascial release are all good options to check out.
- Explore mindfulness meditation. This can be a simple as listening to a guided meditation on an app or with our Blum Center recordings. It can be more regimented like finding an MBSR or TM class in your area and starting a daily practice. It can also be as simple as breathing in and out throughout your day with intention.
- Consider therapy. The stress and trauma from past experience sometimes holds us back from being able to let go of tension in the body. We know that past traumatic experience leads to worse pain and function in autoimmune disease – and we’ve found that addressing it can lead to improved symptoms.
The great thing is you can do this yourself!
In her new book, Healing Arthritis, Dr. Blum presents the exact 3-Step Protocol that we use with patients at Blum Center for Health. You will learn the best food plan for arthritis, the precise supplements and dosage we recommend for an arthritis-free life, how to build resiliency so that life’s stressors won’t affect your health, and what your gut has to do with your arthritis symptoms. In essence, Dr. Blum gives you all the tools you need to fix your gut and heal your arthritis. Get The Book Now
To recap, the 3 actions you can start today to decrease your arthritis pain is 1) eat an anti-arthritis diet 2) take the appropriate supplements and 3) build resiliency against stress. Do these things and you will feel better with less pain and much more energy.
Meet Darcy McConnell, M.D.: Dr. McConnell brings her broad expertise in prevention, mind-body medicine, and women’s health to Blum Center for Health, in Rye Brook, NY. She is board certified in Family Medicine and Integrative Medicine, with postgraduate training from the Institute for Functional Medicine. Darcy lives with her husband and three sons and enjoys the outdoors, cooking healthy meals for her family and friends and is an enthusiastic yogi.