Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Definition: Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that causes pain, swelling and inflammation around the joints, some tissue and body’s organs. This happens when your immune system attacks your own good cells as well as pathogens. This is where it get its description as an autoimmune disease. The disease can travel, by this I mean it’s progressive can start at your fingers (smaller joints) and then to wrists, knees, ankles, shoulders (larger joints).
What could be your symptoms:
- Swelling and edema (fluid retention) around the joints
- Pain and tenderness around the joints
- Stiffness in the joints, usually triggered in the mornings and with a colder climate
- Loss of appetite
Rheumatoid arthritis is also accompanied by the following many times:
- Dry eyes
- Dry skin
- Dry mouth
- Lung issues
- Nerve related issues
- Wrist problems: carpal tunnel syndrome
- Low immunity
- Inflammation due to a faulty diet is the first cause (in my opinion)
- Family history
- Lifestyle habits: smoking, stimulants
- Weak gut (Weak gut microbiota)
- Environmental toxins
- Health condition
- Being overweight
Pain usually will need to be managed, and the modern medicine approach is to use pain killers, anti-rheumatic drugs and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). Methotrexate is one such medication used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It’s the first drug prescribed to manage this condition. This drug comes whit its fair share of side effects: drowsiness, headaches, hair fall, skin issues, stomach upsets, lung issues, weakened gut and much more. Plus your liver is significantly impacted by it, so the doctor needs to monitor your liver.
Nutrition from a Macrobiotic perspective:
- Eliminate pro-inflammatory foods: sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, gluten, foods with additives like MSG, refined oils, dairy and stay plant-based. Avoid too much salt and eggs; these are contracting and will not help.
- Strengthen the gut with high fiber-foods (except in special cases where some types of fibres may not work; over-weakened gut), feed good gut bacteria. Using brown rice will lower CRP (C-Reactive Protein, which is high in patients with rheumatoid arthritis).
- Five portions of vegetables a day, stress on cruciferous and coloured (avoid nightshades).
- Fermented food approach needs to be monitored under a health practitioner who specializes in gut health.
- Emphasis on good fats, specially olive oil and food-related foods where good fats come from: avocados, nuts, seeds and oily fish (vegetarians use chia and flax seeds) – really helps.
- Cooking styles: Use quick methods like sauteing, boiling, poaching, blanching; avoid pressure cooking and baking.
- Add magnesium, as it is a relaxant.
- Add Tumeric as it is anti-inflammatory.
- Add Vitamin D as there could be a deficiency in most cases.
- Ginger disperses stagnant energy and can be used in a compress on painful parts.
- Exercise (yoga and Pilates) and meditation is a must.
- Bodywork therapies: Acupuncture, craniosacral therapy do help.
- Pranayama in yoga.
- Explore Ayurveda panchakarma.
- Make sure you have regular lifestyle habits of sleeping and eating.
The above is just a skeleton on how I handle Rheumatoid Arthritis, for all those who do have RA and have family that suffer with it – just know that nutrition plays a huge role and you don’t need medicine.