Posted on

3 Things You Can Do Today to Stop Arthritis Pain

Yoga can help heal arthritis

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.

Posted on

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.

 

Posted on

Are You Tired of Being Sick and Tired?

Processed foods are defined by The International Food Information Council Foundation as “Any deliberate change in a food that occurs before it’s available for us to eat”, and are usually found in a bag, box or can. When you eat these foods, they sabotage the powerhouses inside your cells called mitochondria.  I call them powerhouses because mitochondria take the fats, carbs and protein that you eat and combusts them for cellular energy, much like the engine in your car burns gasoline.  They keep our bodies running, and are the prime driver of metabolism, which we all need to maintain low levels of body fat and to keep a healthy weight.  When they die, the cell dies, too.  Because your magical mitochondria take a BIG hit when exposed to processed food, you can be left feeling sick and tired.

There are over 50 food based nutrients that are needed for proper mitochondrial function – no easy task to consume daily.  But, with some concerted effort on incorporating foods that boost mitochondrial function you can reach your goals regularly.

Foods to Eat for Healthy Mitochondrial Function:

Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, you have heard this before –but it is critical. Be sure to include red, blue, purple, yellow and green fruits and vegetables, the deeper, darker colored foods are the best. Gradually increase the number of servings that you have a day to reach 9 cups a day. Find your farmer’s market and get to work. You can do it! Be sure to add some seaweed into the mix for iodine.

Eat more omega-3 rich foods. We do not make omega-3 fatty acids in the body so they must come from the diet daily. Include wild fish, grass-fed meats and omega-3 rich eggs. Boost this brain food — the brain has lots of mitochondria — by adding one to two tablespoons of flax or hemp oil, or seeds, to your vegetables.

Build your meal from the foundation of vegetables up, then add your omega-3 rich protein, some legumes, like your favorite beans, for fiber, toss in some dulse or seaweed, sprinkle with nuts and seeds, douse with a healthy oil for dressing and you are good to go – literally go, because eating this way you will give you more energy to go!

Two Other Factors that Boost your Mitochondrial Function:

Intermittent fasting and calorie restriction increase your ability to generate energy while increasing the number of mitochondria in the cells.  A simple way to practice intermittent fasting is to eat no food (you are allowed to have herbal tea or broth) for 12-14 hours overnight, from dinner to breakfast. Calorie restriction can be done by eating only vegetables for 600 – 800 Calories in one day, perhaps one day each week.

Reduce your intake of carbohydrates. This shift causes your body to switch to using ketones (produced by burning fats) instead of glucose as its primary source of fuel. Ketones are efficiently used for the generation of energy in the mitochondria while increasing the number of new mitochondria.

 

Need Help Making These Changes?

 

For personalized support I am available in person or by Skype/Phone. I will help you create a personalized nutrition plan based on your needs and goals. To learn more, or to set up an appointment, call 914-652-7800.

If you live near Blum Center, consider joining one of my group programs. The next one is our popular 10-Day Easy Summer Detox, which will include discussion of mitochondria and weight loss.. The group kicks off July 10th at either 10:00am or 6:00pm.
J
oin Now

 

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.

Posted on

Autumn’s Must-Have Immune-Boosting Foods

Autumn is here in full glory … the beautiful display of jewel-colored leaves, the waning light and the crisp, cool air all signal the arrival of the Fall harvest, a cornucopia of gut-healthy foods perfectly suited to cooler days.

It’s the perfect time of year to visit your local Farmers Market. Right now farm stands are hitting their peak with produce that has taken all summer to mature. Better yet, visit a farm and pick your own! From crisp apples to hearty greens and deliciously sweet root vegetables, Fall foods are nutritional powerhouses –they are packed with antioxidants that help your immune system fend off viruses and bacterial infections as we head into winter.

7 Immune-Boosting Foods to Add to Your Plate Right Now

1. Figs — High fiber and loaded with potassium, fresh figs are a rich source of phytosterols — plant nutrients that help reduce cholesterol. They are also high in beta-carotene, a carotenoid known to protect against cancer. Try them cut in half with just a drizzle of raw local honey. Divine!

2. Pomegranates — Pomegranate seeds owe their superfood status to polyphenols, powerful antioxidants thought to offer heart health and anti-cancer benefits. They are also a good source of fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. Add pomegranate seeds to salads, sprinkle over oatmeal, toss in green salads, or blend them in smoothies.

3. Sturdy Greens — Leafy greens are full of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. They are rich in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E. Boost your consumption of greens by adding them to salads, smoothies, soups and stir fry recipes.

4. Pumpkin Seeds — Rich in magnesium, immune-boosting zinc, fiber and plant-based Omega-3 Fatty Acids, pumpkin seeds are power-packed little kernels of nutrition. Either eat them raw (after they’re cleaned and dried, of course) or roast them at 170 degrees for about 20 minutes. Either way, toss them in salads or pack them to put in your bag for a midday snack.

5. Sweet potatoes — Chock-full of beta-carotene, vitamin C and magnesium, sweet potatoes are anti-inflammatory powerhouses. Try oven-baked sweet potato wedges, add sweet potato cubes to chili, or simply bake it as you would a white potato and add a little ghee, cinnamon and black pepper.

6. Winter squash — Packed with vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, potassium and fiber, the winter squashes soothe our bellies, boost our immune system and support vision and skin health. Cut one in half, brush a little coconut oil on the flesh and roast it flesh-side down in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Yum! Or, add it to stews, curries and stir-fry recipes.

7. Parsnips — Though these veggies may resemble carrots, they have a lighter color and sweeter, almost nutty flavor. Loaded with potassium and high in fiber, parsnips have an impressive array of vitamins, including vitamins B, C, E and K. Use them in stews and soups or roast them for a delicious alternative to french fries.

Posted on

Sesame Kelp Gomasio

Gomasio Sesame Recipe

Sesame seeds are excellent for healing the thyroid. To boost its potency, we’ve added the sea vegetable kelp to our gomasio recipe for added minerals and thyroid support!  Try this salty condiment on your raw cruciferous vegetables, or as a garnish on salads, soups, noodles, and other vegetables.

Serves 12 Tablespoons

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup, sesame seeds – toasted
  • 1/4 cup, kelp – toasted
  • 1/2 tsp, sea salt with iodine

Directions

  • In a mortar, grind the sesame seeds, kelp, and salt together until well combined, but not into a paste. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle you can blend this in a coffee grinder in two batches.
  • Store in an airtight container.
Posted on

Detoxing Deliciously: Shrimp Masala

Bowl of Shrimp

For your weekly fish dish, we love this low-mercury, flavorful recipe rich in nutrients that will help your body clear out toxins.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 red chili peppers – dried
  • 11/2 cups onion – diced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger – minced peeled
  • 2 tsp garlic – minced
  • 2 tsp coriander – ground
  • 11/2 tsp, cumin – ground
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric – ground
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Pinch Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 14-ounce can tomatoes – diced
  • 1 lb medium shrimp – peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cilantro – chopped

Directions

  • Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and red chilies and cook, stirring, until the fragrant, about 30 seconds.Add the onion and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Then add the ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until dark and fragrant, about 3 minutes more.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook until somewhat soft, about 3 minutes. You can make the sauce up to this point a day ahead.
  • When ready to serve, heat the sauce over high heat. As soon as it starts to bubble on the edges, add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until the shrimp turns opaque. Lower the heat, gradually stir in the coconut milk, and gently heat it through – do not allow to boil.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with cilantro and serve over rice or quinoa.