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What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You about Arthritis

The “itis” in “arthritis” means inflammation. Inflammation is the most basic problem in all arthritis, whether it is what we traditionally call “inflammatory arthritis,” like autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis, or the arthritis most associated with wear and tear on joints over time, osteoarthritis.

The traditional medical approach to these two kinds of joint inflammation is to use different medications, depending on the type or arthritis, to block the inflammation process. Although these can be successful in decreasing symptoms and can in some cases prevent further joint destruction, the medications don’t get at the root cause of why you developed the inflammation in the first place.  

Functional medicine takes a deeper look at the causes of inflammation and gives you options for reversing the process where it starts: in the gut, in the mouth, from your food, and from the stress response. Traditionally, doctors almost never evaluate  these areas when addressing joint pain, but fortunately functional medicine has the tools to do just that.

This is exactly why Dr. Blum, our Medical Director of Blum Center for Health, the medical center where I am a Functional Nurse Practitioner, wrote her new book, Healing Arthritis. After being diagnosed with arthritis, she cured herself, and then spent the better part of two years studying arthritis and writing this book. How do I know it works? Because we successfully treat our patients with the very same protocol every day! Learn More about Healing Arthritis

What Your Gut and Mouth Have to Do with Arthritis

The mouth and the gut are two of the biggest reservoirs of beneficial bacteria in the body. These bacteria are vital to our health and we can’t live without them. Normally, the bacteria in the gut do many good things for us, like nourishing our gut lining to keep it healthy—but keep in mind that the health of these bacteria depends on things like eating plenty of fiber, avoiding sugar, having very little exposure to antibiotics, and having strong digestive power.

Gut bacteria can become a major source of inflammation, if the bacteria are not in balance, leading over time to a condition called leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability.  Leaky gut allows the bacteria, food particles and inflammation to seep out of the gut and spread throughout the body, especially to the joints, causing pain and inflammation. Research has borne out this connection: many people with arthritis will experience significant reduction or reversal of their joint pain and inflammation by rebalancing their gut flora with a program of food, antibacterial herbs, probiotics, and glutamine.   

In a similar way, the abundant bacteria in the mouth can create inflammation in the body in people with gingivitis or periodontal disease. The inflamed gums allow the inflammation generated by the bacteria to enter the body and cause system-wide inflammation. One of the most important things you can do to prevent this trigger for joint pain, in addition to eating a diet low in sugar and high in vegetables, is to floss every day and have your teeth cleaned regularly. Studies have shown—and it is our experience at Blum Center—that for a certain percentage of people with inflammatory arthritis, reversing their periodontal disease also reversed or reduced their joint disease.

The Food You Eat & Arthritis

At Blum Center, we have any number of patients with both osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis who have done an elimination diet and found out that by eliminating foods such as gluten and dairy, their joint pain got much better.  When they reintroduce these foods, they get a flare of pain. Most of the time, their rheumatologist will tell them that eliminating foods will not help arthritis, but we see the benefits every day and medical research supports the association as well.

And, Yes, Stress is a Major Arthritis Trigger

And then there’s stress!  We so often leave it for last, I think because we find it so challenging to figure out what to do about it. When stress comes into the body, it can make a significant impact on our biochemistry by changing hormone balance, energy production, and digestive power. Many of these biochemical changes lead to some form of inflammation and patients’ experiences as well as our own show us that a flare of symptoms often follows a stressful time. Doing practices like meditation, listening to beautiful music, restorative yoga, a walk in nature can shift this inflammatory biochemistry even when you may not be able to eliminate the life events that are triggering a stress response.  Ten minutes of focused breathing or meditation can make a world of difference as well as a difference in our world!

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

Meet Elizabeth: In her dual role as our Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner and a teacher in our Mind.Body.Spirit programs at Blum Center for Health, Elizabeth Greig, MSN, FNP, helps treat and heal patients with complex chronic health conditions. Whether she’s treating a medical condition or leading a class in meditation, Elizabeth helps people understand that when it comes to healing, it’s more about nourishing life, than it is about battling illness. Learn more about Elizabeth’s practice.

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3 Things You Can Do Today to Stop Arthritis Pain

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.

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Avoid These Foods If You Have Arthritis

If you suffer from arthritis, you’ve probably been told the only way to deal with your joint pain is to take medication, both prescription and over-the-counter.

Here’s what you probably weren’t told:

The single most important influence on not only managing, but also healing your arthritis, is the food you eat.

Yes, what most doctors don’t tell you is that you do not have to suffer — if you eat an anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritis diet, and you heal your gut and your immune system —  you can live a pain-free life. It’s that simple!

This is exactly why Dr. Blum, our Medical Director of Blum Center for Health, the medical center where I am Director of Nutrition, wrote her new book, Healing Arthritis. After being diagnosed with arthritis, she cured herself, and then spent the better part of two years studying arthritis and writing this book. How do I know it works? Because we successfully treat our patients with the very same protocol every day! Learn More about Healing Arthritis

What Food Has to do With Your Arthritis

The scientific evidence is clear that food is the #1 root cause of arthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions. To understand this, you need to make the connection between food and gut health. If your gut, which is your entire digestive tract, is out of balance, a condition called dysbiosis and leaky gut, your joints will swell and ache. And the health of your gut is mostly determined by what you are feeding the microbes (the bacteria that live in your gut).  

So, how do you use food as medicine to relieve your joint pain? A great place to start is eliminating the foods that we have discovered can aggravate arthritis pain. Remember, this is a temporary diet. While you remove these foods, you should be working on treating dysbiosis and healing your leaky gut, and once you do, you will likely be able to eat these foods again.

Dr. Blum describes in detail how to do this in her new book, Healing Arthritis, and she has also designed a companion coaching program that includes healing the gut. → Learn More about the Simply Arthritis Group Coaching Program

However, removing foods that trigger arthritis symptoms now can provide great relief and reduce your pain!

Avoid These Foods to Reduce Arthritis Pain

  • Processed foods that are high in sugar, white flour, food dyes and preservatives. These foods promote the growth of the wrong kind of bacteria in your gut. We recommend taking these foods out permanently. This includes fruit juices, high sugar fruit, dried fruit, all added sugar and artificial sweeteners except stevia. It also includes processed white flour products like muffins, cakes, breads, cookies and crackers, even if they are gluten-free. These foods have an addictive quality to them, resist! 
  • All nightshades. These contain a chemical called solanine, which causes inflammation and joint pain in arthritis sufferers. Avoid tomatoes, white potatoes, all peppers, eggplants, paprika, salsa, chili peppers, cayenne, chili powder and goji berries. You can do a challenge with this group of foods – take them out for 21 days, and then add them back to see how they make you feel. 
  • Gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs and peanuts. These foods are the most common triggers for system-wide inflammation (like arthritis), as well as gut symptoms (like reflux, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal discomfort). Sorry eggs, not every-body loves you! Again, you can take them out for 21 days, and then add them back in one-by-one to see how they make you feel. 
  • Alcohol. This causes inflammation in the body, stressing your gut and detox systems. 
  • Coffee:  Organic coffee is high in antioxidants, but many people have a dependency on this high-caffeine beverage to manage energy and focus during the day. See how you feel without it. Then, you can add one cup back in after you experience life without it, if you truly need it. For decaf, use Swiss-water processed (no chemicals). 
  • Grains: If you have severe arthritis or autoimmune disease, your gut is likely very damaged. In addition to removing gluten, you might need to remove all grains to feel better.  

Remove these foods and you will be amazed at how much better you will feel without them. This is a fantastic first step!

And guess what? You can do this on your own!

In Dr. Blum’s new book, Healing Arthritis, she presents the exact 3-Step Protocol that we use with our 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’s newest book gives you all the tools you need to fix your gut and heal your arthritis. Get The Book Now

Remember, the #1 step you can take starting today is to remove the foods I outlined above. Do this, and you will begin feeling better with less pain and more vitality.

About Mary: Mary Gocke, Director of Nutrition at Blum Center for Health, has been successfully using food and nutrition science to treat and heal people with chronic illnesses and acute conditions for over 25 years. When Mary’s not helping people feel better through nutrition, this mother of two grown children can be found practicing yoga, which she has taught for years, or in her kitchen cooking something colorful.

 

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The 3 Must-Do’s to Heal Your Arthritis

Did you know that about one in four people have arthritis at this very moment? This number one cause of disability worldwide affects an estimated 54.4 million Americans, which is about 22.7% of the population. The biggest misconception is that it’s a disease that only old people get. It is, I believe, the 21st Century epidemic.

This rise in arthritis is why I’ve been spending the better part of two years studying arthritis and writing a book, Healing Arthritis. You see, over the past two decades in my private practice I have seen more and more people suffering with arthritis. Learn More about Healing Arthritis 

Why So Many People Have Arthritis

  1. Evidence clearly points to environmental changes. Simply put, the food you eat and your exposure to microbes and toxins are the likely root of arthritis as well as other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as autoimmunity, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers, and cancer.

    Scientists believe that disease and inflammation are probably the result of a mismatch between our genetics and our environment. In other words, the changes in the environment are relatively recent in the history of mankind and our genes haven’t had a chance to catch up and adapt!
  2. Your gut has not adapted to the changes in the environment. This is very important because thousands of research studies and articles have been published in the past decade proving the gut-arthritis connection, and showing us how system-wide inflammation begins deep inside your digestive system.

    Your gut microbiome, the 100 trillion or so bacteria that live within you, are key players in the health of your immune system and a healthy gut is mandatory for preventing and treating any inflammatory disease. It’s clear that healing the gut to heal the joints is a valid, scientifically supported approach to treating arthritis.

The 3 Must-Do’s to Heal Your Arthritis

  1. The single most important influence on gut health, and arthritis, over the long term is the food you eat. Hands down the most potent step you can take is eating an anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritis diet. The foods you eat have a direct impact on your gut, your immune system and your arthritic symptoms. It’s important to eat loads of vegetables and fruits, and incorporate high-quality fats and oils, (like avocado, olive oil, nuts & seeds), and to choose high-quality, grass-fed, non-GMO animal products. After all, everything an animal eats, you eat in a more concentrated form!
  2. Heal Your Gut. There is no doubt that the gut bacteria are involved in the onset of inflammation and pain in arthritis. By addressing the root cause of inflammation with food and supplements, and building resiliency to stress, you can repair your gut, reduce inflammation and alleviate the pain in your joints. In my practice we remove known inflammatory foods, such as sugar, white flour, and low-quality processed foods to allow the gut to heal in combination with gut-healing supplements, like curcumin, and l-glutamine. 
  3. Build Resiliency Against Stress. The impact of stress and trauma have serious consequences on the gut, the immune system and your arthritis. Stress can be sudden, or it can be chronic and under the surface. Even good things, like getting married, can cause a stress response in the body. Learning a new way to respond to stress before it takes hold protects your whole body, your immune system and ultimately prevents your arthritis from flaring. Strategies could include anything from mindfulness meditation to hanging out in nature or dancing to invigorating music!

The great thing is you can do this yourself!

In my new book, Healing Arthritis, I present the exact 3-Step Protocol that I use with patients in my private practice. You will learn the best food plan for arthritis, the precise supplements and dosage I 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, I give you all the tools you need to fix your gut and heal your arthritis. Get The Book Now

Another Way to Begin Healing Your Arthritis

When I discovered I had arthritis, (yes, I had arthritis!) I couldn’t believe it.  I had been treating arthritis in my clinical practice for almost two decades with great success using Functional Medicine, but never thought it would happen to me.

I decided to make it my personal mission to bring healing to the millions of people suffering with this condition.

In fact, I recently interviewed the TOP EXPERTS in arthritis, gut health, nutrition and mind-body medicine, including Amy Myers, MD, Aviva Romm, MD, David Perlmutter, MD, James Gordon, MD, and Jeffrey Bland, MD. See Who Else I Interviewed 

And I’m bringing everything I learned from them to you for FREE!

Join my FREE Arthritis Summit, a week-long series that consists of interviews from the top experts in Functional Medicine, nutrition, integrative, and mind-body healthcare. Join Now

The summit will cover the functional medicine approach to finding the triggers of the inflammation, with a focus on the research looking at the connection between the gut, your microbiome and arthritis, including specific treatment approaches with case studies. We’ll review exactly the best nutritional advice for reducing inflammation and keeping your gut healthy, and also the connection between stress and inflammation and what you can do to make yourself more resilient to the effects of stress in your life.  Yes, I Want the FREE Interviews

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Why Arthritis is the 21st Century Epidemic

arthritis

Several weeks ago I sent a survey to my entire email list asking “What do you want to know about arthritis?”

The results stunned me! Hundreds of people took the time to share their concerns about arthritis — a topic near and dear to my heart.  

You see, I’ve been spending the better part of two years studying arthritis and writing a book, Healing Arthritis. Why? Because over the past 10 years in my private practice I have seen more and more people suffering with arthritis. Learn More about Healing Arthritis.

Mark my words … Arthritis is the 21st Century epidemic.

One in four people have arthritis at this very moment. This number one cause of disability worldwide affects an estimated 54.4 Americans, which is about 22.7% of the population. The biggest misconception is that it’s a disease that only old people get.

And here are what my readers told me, overwhelmingly, are their top concerns:

  • I experience pain and uncomfortable symptoms.    62% of respondents
  • I want to learn how to create healthy habits.             62% of respondents
    that help my symptoms.
  • I want to know exactly how to heal my arthritis.      60% of respondents
  • I want to know which supplements and herbs.        59% of respondents
    and how to take them, to heal my arthritis.
  • I want to improve my quality of life.                          59% of respondents
  • I am afraid my arthritis will get worse.                     57% of respondents
  • I need an easy, step-by-step plan to follow.             56% of respondents

This is exactly why I wrote my latest book, Healing Arthritis. And, I can relate!

When I discovered I had arthritis, (yes, I had arthritis!) I couldn’t believe it.  I had been treating arthritis in my clinical practice for almost two decades with great success using Functional Medicine, but never thought it would happen to me. Over the years, I discovered the exact steps needed to treat and heal arthritis, and after using these steps to heal myself, I decided to make it my personal mission to bring healing to the millions of people suffering with this condition.

I have learned through my own clinical experience, working with thousands of patients in my private practice, and through personal experience, just how debilitating arthritis can be.

The great news is: There is something you can do about it!

Here are two ways you can get started on healing your arthritis for the rest of your life:

  1. Join my FREE Arthritis Summit! I am excited to share that I am hosting the Arthritis Summit, a week-long FREE series that consists of interviews from the top experts in Functional Medicine, nutrition, integrative, and mind-body healthcare.  Sign up now.  

    The summit will cover the functional medicine approach to finding the triggers of the inflammation, with a focus on the research looking at the connection between the gut, your microbiome and arthritis, including specific treatment approaches with case studies. We’ll review exactly the best nutritional advice for reducing inflammation and keeping your gut healthy, and also the connection between stress and inflammation and what you can do to make yourself more resilient to the effects of stress in your life. 
  2. Order my new book, Healing Arthritis! It is the exact 3-Step Protocol that I use with patients in my private practice. You will learn the best food plan for arthritis, the precise supplements and dosage I 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, I give you all the tools you need to fix your gut and heal your arthritis. Get The Book Now

It is my intention to bring relief and healing to the millions of people suffering unnecessarily with all types of arthritis. I’ve healed my patients, I’ve healed myself and now I want to help you and your loved ones.

And, I am grateful to everyone who took my survey. If you didn’t take it, and you want me to know what’s important to you about arthritis, there’s still time.  Take The Survey Now 

Honestly, if you do any one thing right now, join my FREE Arthritis Summit. I have interviewed the TOP EXPERTS in arthritis, gut health, nutrition and mind-body medicine, including Amy Myers, MD, Aviva Romm, MD, David Perlmutter, MD, James Gordon, MD, and Jeffrey Bland, MD. I learned so much about arthritis in these interviews and you will too! –> Join For FREE Now

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The 5 Most Common Food Sensitivities And How to Avoid Them

Trigger Foods

Food sensitivities result when undigested food slips through gaps in an unhealthy (leaky) gut and triggers an immune response, which can cause inflammation, pain, and swelling in the joints. Food sensitivities are extremely common, though little known, in those with arthritis, autoimmune disease, and chronic ailments.

Since food sensitivities activate the immune system they can aggravate and even cause symptoms in chronic conditions. Thus, eliminating certain foods prevents a great opportunity to reclaim wellness.

In My Practice, I’ve Identified 5 Major Culprits

Gluten

You need to read food labels and look at the ingredient lists for the words wheat, barley, kamut, rye, or spelt. For example, did you know that soy sauce is made from wheat?  Or that beer is made from barley?  Probably not and you’re certainly not alone. Because it is not possible to list all the foods that contain gluten here, reading food labels is key. Oats are only okay if the label says “gluten free oats.”

What to Eat Instead: Look for grains made from quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and rice.

Dairy

This includes any milk product made from cow, goat, or sheep such as yogurt, cheese, milk, kefir, and butter. Often after doing an elimination diet test, many patients realize that milk is causing other symptoms that go beyond their stomachs. These include chronic congestion and sinusitis, post nasal drip, ear infections, and more.

What to Eat Instead: almond, rice, hemp, or coconut milk.  These milk substitutes are also made into yogurt, kefir, and cheese so you can get your fill, without having to settle for dairy.

Corn

When I say corn I don’t just mean corn on the cob. It is used for other purposes, like making an ingredient called high fructose corn syrup that is used in many, many foods because it tastes sweeter and is cheaper than sugar!  Remember, you need to remove whole corn whether on the cob, in a can, or frozen, and popcorn, too. You also need to be careful about reading labels, look for the word corn, which can often be found as corn starch, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, and high fructose corn syrup.

What to Eat Instead: Look for natural sweeteners or stevia (though, keeping sugar consumption down is a good idea too!).

Soy

Soy is on the list here because it causes digestive upset and inflammation for many people, something I’ve seen in my practice over and over. Soy is also used as an additive in many foods, especially packaged processed foods so you must read labels and avoid anything that lists soy protein, soy lecithin, or soy oil in its ingredient list.  When you start reading labels looking for these words, you will be shocked at how many foods contain them!

Eggs

Eggs are usually the food that people are the most upset that they have to give up!  Unfortunately, eggs have proteins that are common allergies and that’s why they are also common triggers for food sensitivities, too. Eggs are often found as ingredients in other foods, and again, you must read labels to make sure you eliminate it completely.

To read more about how to do an elimination diet see my article on conducting an elimination diet.  

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Leaky Gut and Food Sensitivities

Did you know that your biggest exposure to the outside world every day is through your mouth?  That’s why 70% of your immune system lives in your gut, lying in wait to protect you from anything that seems foreign to the body (called antigens because they stimulate the immune system), which believe it or not includes food and the toxins and microbes that ride along with the food that you ingest while eating.

Your gut, which starts in your mouth, travels through your stomach, small intestine, colon or large intestine, and ends in your rectum, is supposed to be a closed tube – with the intestinal lining creating a barrier that separates the inside of your body and immune system from these outside exposures.  When you digest your food, the intestinal lining can then selectively choose what can enter your body by opening and closing special gates called tight junctions.

In functional medicine, an intestinal barrier with damaged tight junctions that isn’t keeping antigens out of the body is known as a leaky gut.  Studies have increasingly found that a leaky gut is associated with arthritis, autoimmune disease, allergies, and food sensitivities.

Causes of leaky gut vary, but the most important is dysbiosis, which is an imbalance in the bacteria in the gut, also called the gut microbiome.  Dysbiosis can be an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, yeast or parasites, or not enough good bacteria, and is commonly caused by a poor diet, a course of antibiotics, frequent use of antacids, and stress. These gut bacteria are important because not only do they interact with your immune system to keep it healthy, they also turn the food we eat into healthy compounds, especially something called short chain fatty acids which heal the tight junctions between your cells and protect the integrity of the gut barrier.  This is why food is so important, too, because the food you eat determines which bacteria will thrive and what kinds of compounds they will make when they digest your food.  

But why is leaky gut associated with inflammatory disease like arthritis? When the contents of your gut, which includes pieces of food and gut bacteria, “leak” into your body, your immune system is activated creating inflammatory chemicals that travel throughout your body and cause system-wide inflammation, especially in the joints. And this happens non-stop until your gut microbiome and lining are repaired.  

The good news is that you can rebuild your microbiome and repair your gut. Food has the most influence on the diversity of the microbiome, and that’s why you should always start with changing your diet by increasing fruits and veggies, especially those rich in polyphenols, bioflavonoids, and fiber because these tend to increase the good bacteria that make short-chain fatty acids and heal the gut. Also, you need to remove foods from your diet that feed the bad bacteria like sugar, processed flour products, alcohol, and too many animal products.  You also need to test yourself for food sensitivities and remove sensitive foods such as gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs and the nightshade vegetables. Our elimination diet explainer shows how to do this.

The next step is to treat your dysbiosis. At Blum Center for Health we start with cleansing herbs like berberine, grape seed extract, black walnut, and oregano that can clear out bad bacteria and yeast. In fact, we created our own custom herbal antibiotic mix called Gut Cleanse. Once you have eliminated the bad bacteria and yeast, probiotics and the right food can help you rebuild the good stuff, repair the gut lining, reduce inflammation, and eliminate food sensitivities.

For more, please review the video above.

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Eliminating Food Sensitivities To Treat Arthritis

 

Having just finished a book on arthritis, arthritis is really on my mind! There’s a lot of confusion around arthritis, so let’s start with a definition. To have arthritis you must have evidence of inflammation with redness, pain, swelling, and heat in at least one of your joints. Typically if you have arthritis you can see it.  If you have pain in a joint but no swelling, we call that an arthralgia.

To begin to understand arthritis, the first step is to realize that there are a number of categories.  As I explain in detail in my book, Healing Arthritis, it is important to know what kind of arthritis you have so that you can target your treatment.  This is especially true if you have arthritis from an infection (for example lyme, a virus like parvovirus, or a bacteria like mycoplasma and prevotella), because treating the infection is always the first place to start.  It’s a good idea to ask your doctor to test you for these infections and treat what you find.

Most people with chronic, painful arthritis fall into one of these two categories:

  • Inflammatory Arthritis – which includes rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and arthritis from autoimmune conditions.
  • Osteoarthritis –  also known as degenerative joint disease

Although they seem to be different on the surface, both are inflammatory in nature, and that’s why the foundational approach to both is to seek out and treat all the triggers of inflammation in your body, typically these are food, stress, and gut health. The first two factors (food and stress) have a direct effect on inflammation, and they are also the biggest influences on your gut health, too. There is an enormous amount of evidence and research now proving the gut-arthritis connection, and this research also shows that healing the gut to heal the joints is a valid and successful approach. That’s why we always start our treatment programs with eating an anti-inflammatory diet.  And the first step for this is to identify and remove foods that are triggering arthritis symptoms, often referred to as food sensitivities.  

How does food trigger joint pain?  Those with arthritis tend to have damage to the tight junctions in their intestinal lining, causing holes or gaps that allow foreign looking food particles and pieces of gut bacteria (collectively called antigens) to slip through the lining and enter the body (a condition called leaky gut).

Once these antigens enter the body they start an immediate immune reaction, which ends up in your joints leading to inflammation and pain. This is also a process that can lead to food sensitivities! Often, the food you eat isn’t really the problem, instead, the problem is the leaky gut is allowing food particles to pass through. This is why you will continue to have food triggers and symptom flares if you eat sensitive foods while the gut is still damaged.  The good news? After you heal the gut you can often eat these foods again.

To get started treating your arthritis with food, the first step is to identify your food triggers and remove them from your diet.  Then you can focus on healing your gut.  Sadly the standard American diet is abundant in foods that can damage the gut and also cause food sensitivities like:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Processed foods
  • and especially for arthritis sufferers, the Nightshade Vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers)

Try removing these foods for 3 weeks, and then reintroduce each one separately for a few days, one at a time, to see if you experience any symptoms.  If you do, then remove the food for 3-6 months while you work on healing your gut.  

Removing food sensitivities is the first part of an anti-inflammatory diet.  The second part is to follow a sensible, basic, food plan, and my recommendation is a Mediterranean Diet.  I have dedicated an entire section of my book to reviewing the different diets and explaining exactly what foods you should eat for reducing inflammation and promoting good gut health and why.

For more please review the full Facebook Live video above, or reserve your copy of Healing Arthritis. But the takeaway is, the first step to treating arthritis is healing the gut, and to get started doing this, we begin with food!