Osteoarthritis affects millions of people worldwide. The disease affects the cartilage found at the ends of bones. Cartilage, which is a pliable-yet-tough tissue, is found on surfaces of joints and other parts of your body. And it functions as a shock absorber at the joints. The cartilage found at the joints enables bones to move and slide over one another with minimal friction and damage. As the soft tissue is worn down, the friction between bones rubbing against each other causes bones to thicken—resulting in joints that are inflexible and painful.
The traditional approach to treating osteoarthritis is focused mainly on pain relief. Eventually, joint replacement is a surgical option for cases in which quality of life is impinged upon. But there are lots of foods that you can eat to help both prevent and treat the condition.
For my patients who suffer from arthritic symptoms, I tell them to eat yucca. What exactly is yucca? Yucca (Yucca schudigera) is a plant that is rich in polyphenols such as resveratrol and stilbenes; polyphenols possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Yucca also contains steroidal saponins that possess antimicrobial activity by blocking gut protozoans, which may play a role in arthritic joints. With such a potent arsenal of micronutrients, yucca plant powder can aid in the prevention and treatment of arthritis. Yucca is also available as an extract (usually in the form of 1000 milligrams daily). Yucca root is loaded with saponins, which are great natural anti-inflammatory agents. It can be found at many health and natural ecogenetic food stores. Try substituting it for potatoes. Bake it in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Omega-3 fatty acids from salmon and seeds
In the United Kingdom, researchers report that omega-3 fatty acids from sources such as fish oil or flaxseed oil could prevent and slow down the progression of osteoarthritis. The study involved guinea pigs that naturally develop osteoarthritis. The guinea pigs that were fed an omega-3 enriched diet experienced a reduction in osteoarthritis by 50 percent. So try adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Beyond consuming fish oil or flaxseed oil, you could also try sprinkling ground flaxseed or diced walnuts onto your cereal or yogurt, or eating more fish such as salmon or mackerel.
- Carotenoids from kale and yams
Carotenoids make up one of the most expansive groups of pigment found in a variety of ecogenetic fruits and vegetables such as carrots, spinach, grapefruit, and chili peppers. Carotenoids are associated with decreasing cancer risk, heart disease, and ocular degeneration. Salmon’s pink color is attributed to astaxanthin, which is a carotenoid antioxidant. In a research study, young women were supplemented with either 2 milligrams astaxanthin, 8 milligrams of astaxanthin, or no astaxanthin for eight weeks. The researchers reported that at the end of the study, a biomarker called 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) that’s associated with free radical oxidation in DNA dropped considerably, which is crucial because DNA oxidation is associated with a shortened lifespan. Another biomarker, C-reactive protein (CRP) (which is generally associated with inflammation) also had reduced levels in the groups who took astaxanthin. The research also showed that immune function improved. Inflammation is a vital defense mechanism in the body that helps to repair damage caused by injury and infection. However, when inflammation continues unchecked it leads to devastating and debilitating chronic illnesses such as stroke, heart attack, cancer, and diabetes. Advances in ecogenetically smart foods improve our understanding of the way in which ecogenetic foods and supplements can impact our DNA and change our genetic expression to promote anti-inflammatory effects, which will foster longevity and better health.
- Green Tea
Viral infection and alcoholism lead to chronic inflammation that damages your liver and results in scar tissue development, which is called liver fibrosis. A study examined rat liver cells were induced to develop fibrosis. When researchers added green tea extracts to the rat liver cells, it lead to the inhibition of excessive collagen deposition and liver cell proliferation in this disease. You may believe that chronic inflammation is a problem that targets older adults. However, inflammatory diseases—like many other chronic illnesses—begin during fetal development. Scientists refer to the early development of chronic disease as “imprinting.” Recognizing imprinting as a part of disease development that manifests symptomatically later on in life is important with respect to incorporating lifestyle strategies such as eating anti-inflammatory, ecogenetic foods.
- Vitamins C and E
Vitamin C and E are well-known antioxidants, and an Italian study found that administering these vitamins to men with impaired fasting glucose lead to significant reductions in the blood level of tumor necrosis facto alpha. In my upcoming book, The Gene Therapy Plan, I discuss the most active forms of these vitamins.
- Chia seeds
Salvia hispanica is a plant from the mint family of which chia, an edible seed with a nut-like flavor, comes from. Chia is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, like the well-known flaxseed. However, chia contains more omega-3 fatty acids than flaxseed. As you know omega-3 fatty acids are anti-aging nutrients that reduce inflammation. Since the seed is edible and doesn’t require grinding, like flaxseed does, in order for its nutritive components to be accessible by your body, it is a convenient way to obtain omega-3 fatty acids. Besides being a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, chia also contains fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and other minerals. Interestingly, chia gels when it is allowed to sit in water for half-hour—its gelatinous composition also occurs in the stomach and is thought to aid in slowing down the process of digestion in order for enzymes to break carbohydrates down into usable components. Chia is a stable ecogenetic food that is packed with nutritional value. It’s great to add to smoothies, chili dishes, or omelettes.
- Olive Oil
Many studies show that olive oil has a huge impact on maintaining joint health. A staple in the Mediterranean diet, olive oil has been shown to have antioxidant effects on free radicals, which are molecules that cause damage to our cells. And it’s been shown to have protective effects against diseases such as arthritis. Remember, olive oil is sensitive to heat, which changes the beneficial compounds in it—so it shouldn’t be used for cooking. It is best to use it on salads or in dips. Olive oil decreases the expression of pro-inflammatory genes in humans and partially explains why there is a reduced risk of osteoarthritis amongst people living in Mediterranean countries (where olive oil is the main source of dietary fat).
Boswellia, an ayurvedic herb with profound anti-inflammatory activity, is essential to any joint health regimen. It has been used for both arthritis and joint stiffness. It also blocks the activation of inflammation-promoting genes caused by tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and NF kappa B. Two large randomized studies have shown that boswellia improves joint function, pain, and stiffness in knee osteoarthritis.