Barbara Griffin, NMD, CNC, Certified Gluten Practitioner and Director of Vital Health, Inc., believes the earlier symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are managed, the better the disease outcome and odds that it will not progress towards disability and deformity.
Rheumatoid arthritis is classified as an autoimmune disorder that causes chronic, oftentimes painful inflammation of the joints, which can eventually lead to bone erosion and joint deformity. According to Dr. Griffin, early RA is commonly noticeable in patient’s smaller joints first, such as in the fingers and toes, before it manifests in bigger joints (i.e. wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips, shoulders) or systemically.
She adds, a person may have to begin supportive measures against RA if there is there is a history of the disease in the family, if early signs and symptoms are present, and if a diagnosis of a separate autoimmune disease has been given in the past. Some of RA’s warning signs are:
- Swelling of one or more finger-knuckle joints, manifested by redness, warmth, stiffness, or discomfort.
- Tenderness on the balls of feet, and sometimes, swelling under the foot. Pain may be worse when first getting out of bed in the morning.
- Flu-like symptoms such as low-grade fever, fatigue and even weight loss.
- Firm bumps of tissue under the skin on the arms called, rheumatoid nodules.
- Joint stiffness for more than one hour in the morning, or after a prolonged period of inactivity, such as after a nap or sitting.
- Paresthesia caused by inflammation of tendons that places pressure on the nerves. This causes numbness, tingling, or a burning feeling in the hands, referred to as carpal tunnel syndrome, or in the feet as plantar fasciitis.
- Dry mouth or dry itchy inflamed eyes, chest pain when breathing, and sleep disturbances.
Dr. Griffin strongly recommends the following changes in diet and lifestyle be implemented in order to significantly slow the progression of RA:
- Avoid Foods That Drive Inflammation such as:
- Fried and processed foods
- Dairy products
- Sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Salt and preservatives
- Corn oil
- Alcohol and tobacco
- Meats that have been cooked in high temperatures can raise the amount of advanced glycation end products (AEGs) in the blood, which are elevated in people with chronic inflammation.
- Minimize or eliminate gluten intake
According to Dr. Griffin, gluten sensitivity has been strongly associated with autoimmune diseases.
She explains, “The elimination of gluten in the diet can be so powerful that there is hope to lessen the systems of RA, possibly eliminate the need for multiple medications, and most importantly prevent other autoimmune disease.”
- Take Nutritional Supplements to counter the most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies found in people with autoimmune diseases:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12 to help with RA-related anemia
- Folic Acid
- Coconut Oil, which is rich in inflammation-fighting antioxidants
While Rheumatoid Arthritis is a serious disease that requires the consultation of a physician and possibly prescribed medication, health practitioners such as Dr. Griffinare beginning to develop these and other best practices for complementing traditional therapy for RA in other to reduce symptom severity and improve wellness.