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Osteoarthritis: Part II

And a Yummy Winter Cereal Recipe

Imagine a narrowed joint space. Say in your hip. The x-ray shows that the joint space has so much arthritis that it's pretty much bone on bone. Now imagine eating a sugary bowl of Dulce con Leche ice cream. Absolute yum while eating, yes? But not so yum after an hour or two or even a day or two or forever, because sugar, being the nasty inflammatory that it is will swell up the tissue around the almost bone on bone area in your hip. This swollen tissue around your hip joint puffs up and shoves the bones of the already narrowed joint space together so that the femur head and the acetabulum (the resting place for the femur head) are approximating each other and are now actually and painfully bone on bone. Every time you take a step, you are feeling discomfort in varying degrees. The hip pain all feels so sudden, but it isn't. It has taken years of abuse. (Substitute your knee, your shoulder, any joint of choice. Same scenario.)

For a long time in our wild and crazy youth, we get a pass. The joint space is narrowing but we don't know it. We blithefully run and ski and play tennis and rock climb and ride horses and get injured feeling not one ounce of lasting pain. All the while, in the silence of the joint space and in the presence of eating undiscovered food allergies, sugar and alcohol over the course of many years - the damage to the joint is irrevocably being done. Add to your dietary indiscretions and athleticism a few bad injuries to a joint, like a dislocated shoulder from a skiing accident or a bad fall down a hill while hiking or falling a few feet off a rock face or maybe a car accident that wasn't even your fault and you have exponentially compounded the probability of having chronic pain sometime in your later years.

What can you do? If you have joint issues, the first thing I would recommend you do is to have an x-ray. Let's just see what we are dealing with so we can tailor the management to the results that we see. If you have a bit of tissue left in the joint space, research shows that glucosamine and chondroitin may help some people even grow tissue back to levels that will manage the pain. If you have no tissue left, start thinking surgery at some point, then go right for the anti-inflammatories, natural at first then as a last resort and to postpone the inevitability of surgery, use pharmaceuticals. Research shows that although Big Pharma NSAIDS reduce pain, they also speed up the disintegration of cartilage and treat just the symptoms not the cause.

Some good natural NSAIDs are quercitin, bromelain and papain. Celedrin and green lipped mussel products have been shown to help as well. Also, lots of enzymes - like Wobenzyme - taken between meals help many manage inflammation. Fish oil or Yes is a no brainer as oil is a natural lubricant. Then there are the sulfur products like MSM or NAC or SAMe which can help some people tremendously. Take the SAMe products in high doses, like 1,200 mgs 4X/day which is arguably a lot but it can increase cartilage formation. OPC's help, too and are in a joint formula from Perque that I have in my office. Hyerluronic acid, turmeric and rosemary can be helpful, too.

High dose niacinamide, a form of B vitamin, can improve joint function, range of motion, muscle strength and endurance. Give it 2 or 3 months to see if it works and take high doses, like 900 mgs/ 3X daily. Boswellia, which is an Ayurvedic botanical, is excellent in helping the pain of arthritis as is the herb willow bark.

Movement is a must. You must move the affected joints - to tolerance of course. This will lubricate the joints and make them healthier. Even a teeny range of motion will help. Don't despair if you can't move much at first. You might want to look at medical yoga, chi gong, tai chi or even a body work discipline called Aston-Patterning which has helped me personally. Perform deep breathing exercises daily to get oxygen to the joints and drink your weight divided by two in water every day.

Diet: I would strongly advise eliminating nightshades to see if that helps your pain levels. Sometimes this is magical. But you need to stop all potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, tobacco and red spices for at least one month. Then add one in every four days and notice your pain levels. I did this and found that only two of the nightshades really got to me - eggplant and peppers. I can eat potatoes and tomatoes in moderation.

Restrict your acid food intake. That's meat, wheat, sugar, colas, alcohol and dairy just to name the most obvious ones. You can get two things from me if you like: 1) an anti-inflammatory diet sheet and 2) an acid-alkali food sheet. Lastly, honor your food sensitivities. For example, citrus can cause pain, as can plums and eggs. I can check you for these and all other possible allergenic foods.

What I am going to tell you to prevent and/or manage osteoarthritis is just to eat a very good diet, a good organic diet, as processed and refined foods will cause micro-nutrient deficiencies. And, you already know how to do this, but here are some pointers: Avoid white flour products. Lots of good oils would be good, as in EVOO, walnut and avocado. Learn to use the strange grains, like quinoa, amaranth and millet. Use milk substitutes like hazelnut, almond or rice milk. Vitamin D levels should be optimized as well.

The key to any good non-allergenic diet is not to eat the same thing all of the time. You will sensitize to anything that you eat every day, so rotate, rotate, rotate your foods. I know it's hard. I tend to get into food ruts myself, but try not to as your body will love you more for this effort.

Reduce your stress as this can increase cortisol which in turn creates hormonal imbalances which can then reduce digestive ability thereby promoting leaky gut and the consequent pain and inflammation that we are trying to avoid.

Yummy Hot Cereal Recipe

(full of protein and gluten free)

½ C. amaranth
½ C. millet

Roast grains (actually amaranth is a seed) in a dry skillet until they pop and start smelling good. Bring 2 ½ C water to a boil and slowly pour in your roasted grains. Bring to a boil again, then turn down and cover so it will simmer for about ½ an hour.

If you are short on time, roast the grains the night before. Boil the water when you get up in the morning and pour in the grains as directed. Bring back to the boil and turn the heat down so it simmers while you take your shower. It will be ready when you are. Eat at home or pack it up and take it to work for a great breakfast, snack or lunch.

If I want more protein, then I will add a scoop of whey protein and then cover the lot with whatever non-milk product I am currently using, i.e. hazelnut, rice or almond milk. Maybe a bit of stevia (Nu-Naturals is good) or agave (Madhava only! - anything else could be corn syrup) and then some walnuts on top and I am set to go with this stick to the rib-ber. It is very satisfying.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Amaranth: As I mentioned above, it's a seed not a grain. It's highest in lysine content (lysine prevents herpes outbreaks...) of all grains/seeds. It's high in calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus and vitamins A and C. Fiber content is high and is 3X that of wheat and has twice the amount of calcium than milk. It contains tocotrienols which is a special fraction of vitamin E and has cholesterol lowering activity. Amaranth is easy to digest and for this reason is often given to those recovering from serious illness.

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