Nov 15 2015

Women’s Health…Part 2

Published by at 1:18 pm under Stress,Womens Health

Arthritis and Inflammation
Reducing arthritis symptoms and inflammation starts with a healthy gut.*


Last week we started a series on women’s health issues beginning with heart disease, the leading cause of death in women. A healthy gut, proper nutrition, plenty of exercise and a healthy weight are all factors that can help women keep their heart healthy and improve longevity and quality of life well into the senior years. Another health issue that affects women is arthritis and inflammation. “…Arthritis is more common among women (26%) than men (19%), and nearly two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65…”1*

Chronic inflammation is possibly the underlying cause for many of women’s health issues, including heart disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and psoriasis. A certain amount of inflammation in our bodies is normal, even necessary for maintaining good health. Our bodies respond to allergic reactions, infections, and injury by releasing pro-inflammatory compounds which help the body to heal. Once the problem has been resolved, anti-inflammatory compounds are released allowing the body to return to normal. Chronic inflammation arises when pro-inflammatory immune cells are continuously stimulated (as in chronic, long-term stress) and continually circulating in our system. These can damage healthy areas such as joint tissue, which leads to arthritis. (2,3)*

Arthritis affects more than 60 percent of American women, according to the CDC. Additionally, arthritis includes more than 100 different rheumatic diseases and conditions. The most common is osteoarthritis, but other forms of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus and gout. As with most health issues affecting women, losing weight and increasing physical activity are instrumental to managing arthritis and inflammation. The more weight you carry, the more pressure you place on your joints. Try picking up a 20lb weight…can you imagine how much better you would feel if you weren’t carrying that around? “…Weight bearing joints such as your ankles, knees and hips are not made to carry more than 20 percent above your ideal body weight..” (1,2,3)*

In addition to managing weight, it is essential to keep the gut healthy and avoid foods that cause inflammation. “…The gut microbiome has been linked to arthritis in various animal studies. Researchers are exploring whether the same is true in humans. A 2013 study by rheumatologists at New York University found that patients with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) were more likely to have the bacteria Prevotella copri in their intestinal tracts than patients without the disease. The findings suggest that this bacterium may somehow trigger the autoimmune response that leads to joint inflammation. However, more research needs to be done to examine the link…”4*

Evaluate your digestion, as ongoing digestive imbalances including leaky gut, dysbiosis and inflammatory bowel disease can lead to systemic inflammation and eventually joint pain. A diet high in natural anti-inflammatory foods, which includes nutrient rich fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and Omega-3s, is essential. Some foods associated with causing inflammation are gluten, products containing corn, eggs, yeast, eggs, citrus, and nightshade vegetables which include peppers, eggplant, potatoes and tomatoes. Avoid processed foods and sugary products as these can increase inflammation. A good detox followed by a diet of healthy, anti-inflammatory foods and adding a good daily dose of probiotics, can be effective in reducing chronic inflammation. There are also food sensitivity tests available to pinpoint your allergies, and help you to reduce the foods producing allergens in your system which result in inflammation. (4,5)*

Many women start feeling effects of inflammation during perimenopause or menopause. Major hormonal shifts seem to have a profound effect on inflammation in some, as estrogen is an anti-inflammatory agent. 3*

Stress is also a cause for inflammation. When we are stressed, our body releases the hormone cortisol which is an inflammatory agent and triggers the immune response. When under chronic stress, cortisol continues to be released, which can lead to chronic inflammation. Research has shown a direct correlation between negative emotions and inflammatory conditions. People who are habitually negative release higher levels of CRP than those who have a more positive outlook on life.4*

Women are often so busy taking care of everyone else in their lives, they sometimes forget to take the time they need for themselves to stay healthy. Especially if you are working and taking care of your family, little time is left over to exercise and eat right. Before you reach for the ibuprofen, try focusing on fixing your microbiome and maintaining a healthy weight. Yoga, meditation and stretching will help to keep your joints limber and lubricated. Exercise keeps your blood flowing to the various parts of the body that need it. Work on reducing your stress levels, and consider alternative therapies that might be helpful for you such as acupuncture, therapeutic massage or other natural supplements that your naturopath or health care practitioner might recommend.6*

If you are hurting and experiencing joint pain, it’s best to check with your health care practitioner. Pain anywhere in the body may be an indicator that your body needs attention in one form or another.

Until next week, healthiest wishes!




  2. Southwest magazine, October 2015

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