Heal the gut to heal your joint pain
Arthritis is not a single disease, but a term referring to various conditions of joint pain or joint diseases. Arthritis affects people of all ages, genders, and race and is the leading cause of disability in Nigeria as it affects about 70% of adults above the age of 60. There are actually over 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions, but the most common type is Osteoarthritis.
The cartilage is a firm, slippery tissue that serves as a cushion and supports smooth joint motion. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of bones wears down over time leaving bone rubbing on bone. Osteoarthritis can damage any joint in the body, however, joints in the hands, knees, hips, and spine are more frequently affected. The risk of osteoporosis arthritis increases with age, and women are more likely than men to develop the condition. In addition, carrying extra body weight stresses the joints and increases the risk of osteoarthritis.
Athletes that suffer certain sports injuries and people with certain occupations that cause repetitive stress on a joint all have increased risk of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis typically presents with pain and reduced joint function.
Conventional treatment relies largely on pain-relieving, non steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as first line of treatment, but these drugs have been associated with cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and renal adverse effects, therefore more people are looking for alternative ways to heal arthritis. Thankfully, research has found a link between gut (intestine) health and arthritis/joint pain, revealing strong associations between altered intestinal micro-biomes and various arthritis types.
What is a Micro-Biome?
The micro-biome is the dynamic collection of microbes (bacteria) in an ecosystem, in this instance, the gut. The human body hosts a variety of different ecosystems called micro-biomes. The gut micro-biome refers to bacteria living along the entire digestive tract, which ranges from the mouth to the anus, most of which are located in the intestines. Gut bacteria serves a variety of purposes including breakdown of nutrients for absorption, supports immune system, mood regulation, hormone regulation etc.
‘To treat the joints, you must first heal the gut,’ says Susan Blum MD, MPH, author of The Immune System Recovery Program. She believes that arthritis is far more than just a joint disease. A huge percentage of immune cells live in the gut, and interactions with certain bacteria activate immune responses in different parts of the body including joints. There are approximately over 400 species of bacteria in your system that make up your gut micro-biome.
When the ‘bad’ bacteria outnumber the ‘good’, this is known as gut dysbiosis and is associated with various forms of arthritis. These gut bacterial imbalances are usually as a result of an infection or use of antibiotics. However, diet plays a major role in gut dysbiosis. Also, alcohol use, and smoking can create an imbalance over time. Common symptoms of gut dysbiosis include frequent gas, bloating, constipation, unexplained weight gain, depression, chronic bad breath, fatigue, acne, eczema, chronic fungal infections, joint pain, etc. Hence, if we fix this gut dysbiosis, we would be able to eliminate majority of these conditions including arthritis.
How do we heal the gut?
To heal the gut, it is necessary to regain proper bacteria balance and this can be done by improving diet and reducing chronic stress. Stress causes inflammation and This Inflammation causes wear and tear inside your body and is one of the major causes of pain associated with arthritis. Yoga, meditation, exercise are all beneficial stress reduction therapies.
A number of foods have been found to increase the body’s inflammatory response and should be avoided. The number one culprit is Sugar. Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and sucralose, can all negatively affect gut bacteria.
Other foods to be avoided include vegetable oils found in mayonnaise, salad dressings, barbecue sauce, crackers, bread, potato chips and fried foods. Processed meats, bacon, hot dogs, bologna, sausage, Saturated fats and Trans fats usually found in margarine, baked goods like doughnuts, cookies should be avoided. Alcohol can be taken in moderation but excessive drinking can cause inflammation in the gut.
In order to treat your gut, It’s recommended that 70% of the diet comes from vegetables as they contain different types of fiber to feed beneficial bacteria in the gut. Another way to overcome excess inflammation is to eat foods with natural anti-inflammatory actions. Foods such as avocados, coconut oil, oily fish, dark chocolate, turmeric etc all have great antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties which are all beneficial in treating arthritis
Disclaimer: This medical information is provided as an information resource only. It does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment