Term Paper: Managing Arthritis With Nutrition

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Managing Arthritis With Nutrition

Nutrition and arthritis

In order to address the question of whether the management of arthritis can be facilitated by nutrition instead of a reliance on conventional medication, the term arthritis and its concomitant conditions must first be explored. In general arthritis is a condition that is caused by the "...breakdown of articular cartilage. "(Payne, Mowen, and Montoro-Rodriguez) There are three main types of arthritis that are commonly referred to: these are gout arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.

Gout is the one category of this disease that has been found to be most susceptible to nutrient supplement and other forms of management that do not rely on medical prescriptions. This form of arthritis is mainly caused by a "...deposit of urate crystals around the joints that chemically react to degenerate the cartilage." (Payne, Mowen, and Montoro-Rodriguez) However, this is the least commonly occurring form of the disease in the general population.

The second most commonly occurring form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. The causes of this arthritis are related to the auto-immune process that results in inflammation which negatively affects the articular cartilage. (Gradisar (Payne, Mowen, and Montoro-Rodriguez) Osteoarthritis on the other hand is the most common form of arthritis and is usually a result of old age and the progressive wear and tear on the body. This form of the disease can result in severe degeneration of the cartilage which can severely impact on daily activity and movement in those affected.

Furthermore the understanding of this disease can be subdivided into many other categories and forms of its manifestation. The following is a list of the most common types of arthritis.

Osteoarthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis

Lyme disease

Scleroderma

Gout

Ankylosing spondylitis

Systemic lupus erythematosus

Fibromyalgia

Arthritis)

Each of the above categories provides a slightly different set of symptoms. More importantly, each major form of this disease necessitates different treatment processes and management strategies; as well as a variable dependence on drugs and medication. However, in the overview of the place of nutrition in treatment and management in this paper, the role of nutrition will be dealt with in a genera sense to cover all the forms of arthritis and refer to the specific types where applicable.

2. Nutrition and arthritis

Nutrition vs. medication

In the first instance there is a general medical consensus evident in many research studies that nutrition is not a proven and effective means of managing and treating this disease.

The general medical protocol for dealing with arthritis is through the prescription of medication to reduce pain and inflammation and to generally improve patient functioning. However it is also acknowledged in the literature that the use of prescription medication for this disease can and often does have negative and counterproductive side effects. This aspect not only relates to prescription drugs but also to many other non-prescription pain and anti-inflammatory medications.

Several groups of patients are at high risk for side effects from NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, Advil, Motrin IB, Aleve, ketoprofen), such as people with a history of peptic ulcers or digestive tract bleeding, people taking oral corticosteroids or anticoagulants (blood thinners), smokers, and people who consume alcohol.

Healthy Steps to Preventing and Managing Arthritis)

Furthermore, there are a number of medical practitioners who are of the opinion the medication is in fact counterproductive in certain cases and types of arthritis and can do more harm than good in management and treatment. Many experts question conventional methods. " Drug treatments weren't good at effecting cures, they were Band-Aiding the symptoms,"

"The drug approach was barking up the wrong tree." (Horvitz) Therefore following from this view is the issue of nutrition and other less conventional approaches that have been explored to ascertain whether these can in fact assist in the management of the disease.

2.2. Nutrition as an alternative

There are many studies and articles that have emerged in recent years that have suggested alternative methods of management for arthritis. One of the most prevalent of these alternatives is referred to generally as "lifestyle management."

This term encompasses many aspects other than conventional medicines; such as mental health, the influence of general lifestyle, and nutrition. These aspects provide a different context and set of protocols for treatment and management.

For example, the view put forward by the Mayo clinic in Rheumatoid arthritis: A healthy lifestyle relieves one woman's pain is that, "Regular exercise, a healthy diet, good stress management and the loving support of family and friends. These are golden rules that can benefit everyone. "(Rheumatoid arthritis: A healthy lifestyle relieves one woman's pain.) Within this general framework there has been a debate about the way that nutrition alone or in combination with other aspects and criteria can help to improve care and management of this disease.

Despite the fact that many medical studies assert that there is little if any scientific proof for the benefits of nutrition for arthritis sufferers, yet there is a growing body of opinion that nutrition can and does play a very positive role and that it can, in some instances, be more beneficial then conventional medication.

A number of more specific studies indicate the role that nutrition can play in the control of arthritic conditions. For example, studies have found that "...certain fish oils may help reduce inflammation in some people with rheumatoid arthritis." (Rheumatoid arthritis: A healthy lifestyle relieves one woman's pain.)

Another indication of the usefulness of nutrition is the fact that "Eating a balanced diet is good for overall health and can help you control your weight, which can reduce pressure on your joints." (Rheumatoid arthritis: A healthy lifestyle relieves one woman's pain.)

The American Chiropractic Association is of the opinion that many medications prescribed for the management of arthritis in fact do little more than suppress the immune system and reduce the body's normal responses and coping mechanisms. On the other hand there is also sufficient evidence to suggest that medication can slow the progression of this disease. " Arthritis medications help suppress the immune system and slow the progression of the disease." (Don't Take Arthritis Lying Down)

Therefore from the plethora of studies and articles it can be deduced that while medication can have a positive influence on management, nutrition is often seen as a complementary form of treatment that is advantageous in that it avoids the negative side-effects of medication. Nutrition has been shown, for instance, to positively influence and reduce the inflammation associated with arthritis.

Among the verified positive influences of nutrition on arthritis are the following. Studies have shown the beneficial influence of fatty acid supplements in the reduction of joint pain and swelling, and on lessening the reliance on corticosteroids. (Don't Take Arthritis Lying Down) A source of Fatty-acid supplements such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and gamma linolenic acid (GLA) can be obtained from deep-sea fish, such as salmon and tuna.

These substances are also found in black currants and borage seed. (Don't Take Arthritis Lying Down) Another substance that has been found to have helpful qualities is turmeric. "A 95% curcuminoid extract has been shown to significantly inhibit the inflammatory cascade and provide relief of joint inflammation and pain. "(Don't Take Arthritis Lying Down) There are also many natural substances, such as nettle and ginger that have qualities that can reduce the inflammatory pathways.

Many nutritionists recommend a vegetarian low-allergen diet for sufferers of arthritis. In a study conducted at the University of Kuopio in Finland It was founds that "... people with rheumatoid arthritis who ate an uncooked vegan diet that was rich in lactobacilli experienced a relief of symptoms. After three months, when they returned to their meat-eating diets, the symptoms returned..." (Goldstein, and Goldstein 49)

In a related study if as found that patients with rheumatoid arthritis responded well to a management program which consisted of seven to ten days of fasting, followed by approximately four months of a gluten-free, vegan diet. This in turn was followed by a nine-month period of a lacto-vegetarian diet. "For all clinical variables and most laboratory variables measured, the 27 patients in the fasting and vegetarian diet groups improved significantly compared with the 26 patients in the control group who followed their usual omnivorous diet throughout the study period." (Goldstein, and Goldstein 49) Studies like these tend to strongly suggest the importance of nutrition in the management of this disease.

Gout sufferers in particular have been found to benefit for certain nutrients and diets. It has been found that the avoidance of certain foodstuffs, such as those high in purine found in shellfish, sardines, herrings, offal, bacon and yeast, have been shown to reduce the symptoms of gout. (MANAGING ARTHRITIS) There is an extensive list of foods that can have a negative effect on gout. These include tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers as well as some dairy products. A daily intake of sufficient of calcium is also recommended for sufferers of arthritis.

Medical practitioners and nutritionists also point out that while a vegetarian diet… [END OF PREVIEW]

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