Arthritis: An Inflammatory Condition

Have you or someone you’ve known experienced some kind of arthritis? Perhaps it has been debilitating and or it has affected your quality of life? Let’s define arthritis and discuss the drivers of osteoarthritis, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, and what you can do to prevent it.

Many people experience aches and pains as they age. Is this normal? Not really. Is this common? Yes. Is there something that we can do about it? Yes. You do not have to embrace the deterioration of your body as you get older. There are things that you can do to prevent osteoarthritis, as well as rheumatoid arthritis.

Let’s talk about some misconceptions about osteoarthritis. First, “everyone gets it”, which is not true. Second, is that it is genetic, and that is also not true. It is in fact, a matter of diet, lifestyle, and the environment.

Osteoarthritis is pain and inflammation in the joint or multiple joints. Research shows, however, that osteoarthritis is due to inflammation in other parts of the body. Specifically, it can be related to high insulin levels.  With diets, specifically the Western diet that is high in sugar and processed foods, can lead us to high insulin levels and poor blood sugar regulation. This is one of the key drivers in osteoarthritis. We want to remember this key thing, osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition. Seventy percent of our immune system is in our gut. If we are having any type of systemic inflammation or excessive inflammation in our body, this can drive osteoarthritis. Often, you will see that a person that is experiencing severe osteoarthritis all over their body. They are in a very inflammatory state.

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune condition. It affects 1.5 million Americans, but the interesting fact is that it has been happening at younger and younger ages. This is when the synovial fluid becomes thick and murky and creates degeneration in the cartilage of the joints. The joints can become very stiff and painful. One of the biggest drivers of autoimmune conditions, once again, is going to be a predisposition genetically, the environment, and activities of daily living. One of the biggest contributors to autoimmune disease specifically rheumatoid arthritis is a leaky gut, otherwise known as intestinal permeability. Our immune system begins to attack healthy tissues, too.

Before we get into what would be most helpful, let’s talk about what you should not do; take chronic nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). These will ultimately turn off your immune system, contributing to poor regulation. Although it may mask symptoms temporarily, it is not optimizing your immune system for the long-term.

In both cases of arthritis, a major goal is to reduce inflammation. Also, reducing your insulin, eating less sugar, eating to balancing your blood sugar, and keeping them stabilized throughout the day is critical. Improving your gut health and determining what foods are inflammatory for you is necessary. Doing so will help you to optimize your overall immune health and be able to prevent these types of inflammatory conditions.

As it relates to movement, please consider seeking out a qualified movement professional to help you on your journey to make sure you are moving well and without compensation.  Even though it’s inflammatory, you want to optimize the joint positioning, referred to as joint centration. Think about the shoulder joint, a ball and socket joint. When the ball isn’t in that center position of the joint, it will shift forward and often start to cause pain and irritation in the joint. So you’ll want to make sure that you’re stabilizing the joint and strengthening around it. Essentially, you’ll want to load the joint in its pain-free non-restricted range of motion.

There you have it; powerful ways to prevent and improve arthritis as you go into your older years.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

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5 INFLAMMATORY TRIGGERS you should know about

Do you suffer from chronic conditions such as chronic pain, joint stiffness, muscle stiffness, digestive issues, skin issues, delayed onset allergies that have seemed to haunt you later in life, or perhaps any other chronic health condition you’ve been suffering from? In this case, you may have what we refer to as systemic inflammation, where your body had a loss of tolerance and it is not able to manage inflammation well on its own. Seventy five to ninety percent of all human disease is linked to excessive or persistent inflammation, so it is really important to figure out what may be inflammatory for you in your body. Let’s discuss five different categories of inflammatory triggers.

1) Food. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is a western-style diet filled with rich, processed foods, fatty foods, and sugary foods. It is the classic pro-inflammatory diet that a large majority of Americans consume. Additionally, there are also 12 potentially inflammatory foods that could be driving your health conditions. Some of these foods may seem healthy and very well can be, however that doesn’t mean they are healthy for everyone. This could be anything from soy, peanuts, processed meats, red meat, shellfish, and the list goes on. Click HERE for a video on 12 inflammatory foods. Your friend may be able to eat gluten, but you may not be able to.

2) Bugs. This could be a parasite that is causing an infection and ongoing inflammation in your body. It is really important to be tested for this especially with chronic health conditions that you’re trying to determine what the root cause is and a comprehensive stool test including a parasite test will evaluate for that specifically. This could also be something like a tick-borne illness contributing to an ongoing infection that your body is trying to manage.

3) Toxins. This can include internal toxins as well as external toxins. External toxins are things like herbicides, pesticides, and cleaning chemicals. We also have it in the products that we use on our bodies. On average, a woman uses 168 chemicals before they leave the house in the morning and a male uses 87. A female teenager uses even more than that. So, we want to think about the toxins that we are exposed to in our daily environment but also in our outside environment. Mold is a common example of a toxin that many people are exposed to without knowing. We can also have internal toxins. Yeast overgrowth, for example, is an internal infection your body many be trying to manage or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). There’s a lot of toxins that we are exposed to in our environment, even if we try to control what we can control.

4) Trauma. This can be anything from chemical trauma, mechanical trauma, or emotional trauma. One of the biggest aspects of trauma is going to be stress. Stress is one of the number one things that contribute to inflammation in the body. There is also physical trauma.  You could roll your ankle or hurt your knee while you’re running, etc., which can cause acute inflammation. If your body can’t manage it, then it can become systemic inflammation.

5) Hormone dysfunction. Oftentimes we think of just the sex hormones when we think about hormone dysfunction. However, the hormone dysfunction that typically is the kick starter for most people is our stress hormones (think cortisol!) and especially right now in life. This is such a challenging time for so many of us that the stress hormones really can drive thyroid issues and other sex hormone issues such as estrogen dominance or progesterone and testosterone deficiency. Everything works in a hierarchy. Don’t forget about our hunger hormones, too. Leptin is a hormone produced by the fat cells in your body. Its main role is to regulate fat storage and how many calories you eat and burn but not if it’s dysregulated. Weight gain anyone??  If you are consuming too many carbohydrates and sugar, insulin can also become dysregulated.  Hormone dysfunction is complex, multifactorial, and can surface in many ways.

You will have a greater inflammatory response when more of these receptors from all these different categories light up. Think of this as molecular signaling. So if you are a person that is eating inflammatory foods, you’re under a lot of stress, you already have a thyroid issue, then your inflammatory response is likely going to be greater. Therefore, you will lose tolerance and you will have systemic inflammation which puts you at great risk for many diseases. This can range from heart disease to cancer to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, MS, and Alzheimer’s. You want to think about how you can manage these five categories, and looking at all of them clearly and carefully to determine what are the driving forces for you that are contributing to you not feeling your best.

At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about…feeling your best. How can you optimize your health, how can you take ownership of your health, and make sure that you are living with vitality and not just skating through the world? You CAN feel energized, motivated, and live you’re best life.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

What is stress doing to your weight loss goals? I Hormones

Did you know that stress can significantly affect your ability to lose weight? I wish weight loss was as simple as “eat less and exercise more.” However, many of you have probably experienced weight loss resistance despite doing all of the things that you should be doing from a nutritional, stress management, and movement standpoint. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are always ways to continue to improve your health. But why do some of us struggle to lose those extra stubborn pounds?

There are multiple reasons why this could happen, some of which include changes in the microbiome,  leaky gut, which can affect your ability to absorb nutrients, inflammation which can result from food, toxins, bugs, trauma, and hormone dysregulation. That is what we’re going to focus on today. Here are four hormones that can be interfering with your weight loss.

  1. Insulin

As it relates to hormones, the number one offender is going to be insulin, no doubt about it. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas. It signals to your body to absorb glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream and turn it into fat. It is referred to as the “fat storing hormone, because it can shut down the metabolic burning. This is why high blood sugar and high insulin levels make it harder to lose weight. Therefore, it can contribute to chronic disease, excess weight gain, and excess fat storage. Increased caloric intake, stress, weight, Body Mass Index (BMI), genetics, hypertension, Polycysytic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) among others can contribute to insulin resistance.

2. Thyroid

One in five women and one in 10 men have been diagnosed with thyroid disease. However, about 50 percent of the cases go undiagnosed primarily because the testing is insufficient for really looking at a complete picture of the thyroid. Most often, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) is checked. However, there is also a free T3, free T4, Thyrogobulin Aibodies (TgAb), Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies(TPOAb), and sometimes reverse T3 to really get an entire picture. Some of the things that can contribute to thyroid disease are gluten intolerance, stress, and environmental toxins, which are huge contributors including any type of nutrient deficiency.

3. Cortisol

This is one of our biggest stress hormones. When we are under stress or we have a perceived threat or stressor, we activate the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis (HPA axis). This is our stress pathway in our body. Our amygdala in our limbic system detects this perceived threat. A physiological response is mediated through the hypothalamus triggering the pituitary gland by secreting corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH). The pituitary gland in our brain secretes adrenal corticotropic hormone (ACTH) into the bloodstream to signal the adrenal glands, which sit right on top of the kidneys. The adrenal glands then in turn release glucocorticoids, such as cortisol. When this happens in the case of running from a tiger that is a normal response, it’s a survival mechanism. The problem starts when we have this stress response all the time. This is when it can lead to things like weight gain, insulin resistance, loss of lean body mass, increased fat storage, and the higher propensity for any kind of inflammatory condition, autoimmune disease, or chronic conditions. Therefore, it’s really important to understand how this stress pathway, when under chronic stress, affects your ability to lose weight or not. Keep this in mind that it could be a ding on a phone or it could be running from a tiger, if you’re having the same response all the time, then that pathway is constantly activated, which means cortisol is constantly being released.

4. Sex Hormones

Many women can experience things like breast tenderness, heavy menstrual bleeding, fibroids, weight gain, fluid gain, and bloating. This can all be largely in part due to a high sugar diet and a highly refined carbohydrate diet, as well as environmental toxins and stress of course, contributing to increased estrogen dominance in the body. Now men on the other hand can also experience this and they might notice things like increased breast tissue and abdominal weight gain. This also can factor into if men have low testosterone. In this case they might have sexual dysfunction, poor libido, brain fog, inability to concentrate, bone loss, and weight gain.

There are many ways to naturally balance hormones that apply to all of the above. First and most importantly is decreasing stress!  As you can see, this is one of the consistent hormone disruptors in weight loss. Finding ways to manage your stress through meditation, journaling, nature, walking, talking with friends, or simply whatever helps you the most. Other very important things to consider include:

  1. Balance your blood sugars
  2. Include a protein, healthy fat, and fiber source in each meal and snack.
  3. Eat a high-quality protein source at EVERY meal
  4. Eat every 4-6 hours (unless hungry)
  5. Consume healthy fats
  6. AVOID sugar and refined carbohydrates! This can’t be stressed enough.
  7. Limit or eliminate alcohol
  8. Avoid undereating or overeating
  9. Eat fatty fish (Salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel) as often as possible
  10. Get enough high-quality sleep

Summary

The take home message is this. I want you to understand that stress plays a huge role in your ability to lose weight, if that is your goal. It is really important to understand how mindset, mindfulness, stress reduction, and relaxation are all so vital to an overall health program. It is way more than just losing weight, it is about feeling healthy inside and outside. To do that you really need to focus on managing your stress. The ways that you can do that are through basic informal mindfulness practices, formal meditation, breath work, grounding with your feet, walking out in nature, etc. There are so many ways to just take time for you and take time to really manage your stress levels because, as you can see it directly impacts all of these aspects of your health and your immunity.

If you need help on your journey, please reach out!

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