Tag Archives: Bone Health

Could Antioxidant Treatment Reduce Arthritis Pain?

pain, rheumatoid arthritis, arthritisAre you looking for a more natural way to deal with your rheumatoid arthritis pain? Some prescription medicines  may make you feel foggy, cause stomach ulcers, or  cause weight gain.  However, recent studies have shown that more natural antioxidants may help reduce rheumatoid arthritis pain without so many side effects.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder affecting the joints and other body tissues. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system wrongly attacks the body. Therefore, damage can be caused in the skin, eyes, lung, heart, and blood vessels.  Also, damage to the joint lining causes deformity in the joints, such as in the hands. Because of this damage, daily tasks and simple movement can become more difficult and painful.

RA tends to affect smaller joints first such as those in the fingers and toes. Some symptoms of the condition include:

  • Tender, swollen joints
  • Joint stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

Larger joints such as those in hips and knees may be affected as the disease progresses. However, nearly 40-percent of those affected by the condition have non-joint symptoms. The eyes, salivary glands, blood vessels, and nerve tissues are just some of the other body tissues that can be affected by RA.

Current RA Treatments

The most common treatment to arthritis pain are NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs reduce pain and inflammation. Lower strength forms of NSAIDs can be purchased over-the-counter. However, long-term use of such medicines can cause symptoms such as:

  • ringing in your ears
  • stomach pain and ulcers
  • heartburn
  • heart problems
  • liver and kidney damage

Other treatments for RA include steroids and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS). Long term use of steroid though can thin bones and cause weight gain.  DMARDS such as methotrexate can slow progress of the disease. A newer class of DMARDs called biologic agents, which include Humira and Xeljanz, work to reduce inflammation. However, these medicines may have side effects such as liver damage and increased risk of infections.

Antioxidants and RA Pain

Mediterranean diet, olive oil, health fats, olives, tomatoes, vegetables, heart healthA journal article in the Frontiers in Nutrition suggested that fiber-rich and antioxidant-rich foods may decrease inflammation in those with RA. Furthermore, it was suggested to get such benefits from some of the following foods and drinks.

  • dried plums
  • pomegranates
  • whole grains
  • turmeric
  • olive oil
  • green tea
  • blueberries

Other recent research has confirmed that antioxidant treatment may be helpful to those with RA. For example, a 2003 study talked about how the antioxidant defense system is weakened in RA patients. Therefore, researchers suggested therapy including standard drugs along with antioxidants to help reduce tissue damage in such patients.

In addition to these studies, more recent research has also shown potential for antioxidant treatment of RA. For example, a 2008 study found that antioxidant therapy combined with lower doses of standard drugs may help reduce tissue damage. Due to these lower doses of prescribed drugs, such treatments may help reduce harmful side effects.

Other Ways to Reduce Inflammation

  • Stop smoking since this activity can constrict blood vessels and cause inflammation in the body and its tissues.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: If you do decide to have an alcoholic drink, choose phytonutrient-rich red wine that contains polyphenols such as resveratrol. Also, be sure to limit consumption to no more than 1 standard drink a day for women or 2 standard drinks a day for men. For example, a standard drink of wine is equal to 5 ounces.
  •  Take probiotics through fermented food such as yogurt or through a supplement such as Biovia 30 by Vita SciencesBiovia 30 contains 30 million strains of diverse good bacteria that helps to strengthen your immune system. Probiotics can help restore good bacteria in your gut.  When your body has more good bacteria, it makes it easier to fight off bad bacteria that may be damaging your immune system.  Therefore, a stronger immune system can help fight off inflammation in the body.

Furthermore, recent research shows a link between deficits in the intestinal microbiome and autoimmune disease. Although more studies need to be done, it is suggested that treatment of gut microbiota may be the key to improving effective treatments for such conditions as RA.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Horta-Baas, G., Romero-Figueroa, M. del S., Montiel-Jarquín, A. J., Pizano-Zárate, M. L., García-Mena, J., & Ramírez-Durán, N. (2017). Intestinal Dysbiosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Link between Gut Microbiota and the Pathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Journal of Immunology Research2017, 4835189. http://doi.org/10.1155/2017/4835189

Jaswal, S., et al. (December 2003) “Antioxidant Status in Rheumatoid Arthritis and role of Antioxidant Therapy.” Clinica Chimica Acta, 338(1-2): 123-129.

Mayo Clinic (August 9, 2017) “Rheumatoid Arthritis.” 

Medline Plus (November 8, 2017) “These Foods May Help Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain.” 

Van Vugt, R. M., Rijken, P. J., Rietveld, A. G., van Vugt, A. C., & Dijkmans, B. A. C. (2008). Antioxidant intervention in rheumatoid arthritis: results of an open pilot study. Clinical Rheumatology27(6), 771–775. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10067-008-0848-6

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Poor Heart Health Can Increase Stroke and Dementia Risk

healthy eating, health, food, healthy fats, fish, fruits, vegetables, avocado, olive oilWhen you hear about brain health, you may think of lowering stress and anxiety. However, having a healthy brain also involves reducing risk of stroke as well as memory conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.  A recent report has found that keeping your body healthy is vital to keeping your brain healthy.

Having a healthy body involves more than just eating healthy and exercising. American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 provides simple guidelines to help you develop a healthy body and healthy brain.

What are the Life’s Simple 7?

  • Manage blood pressure– A healthy blood pressure is one where the systolic, or top number is 120 or less, and the diastolic, or bottom number, is 80 or less.  The systolic pressure measures the pressure during contraction of your heart, while the diastolic measures the pressure in between heart beats.  You should have your blood pressure checked at least once a year at your annual doctor’s visit.  If you have hypertension, or a blood pressure of 140/90 or higher,  you should see your doctor at least every 6 months to monitor your blood pressure.
  • Control cholesterol– You should keep track of your cholesterol numbers at least once a year to stay healthy. This includes not only total cholesterol, but also your LDL, HDL, and triglycerides.  If you already have high cholesterol or triglycerides, be sure to visit your healthcare provider every 6 months to keep track of your numbers.
  • Keep blood sugar normal– When you visit your health care provider, be sure to take a look at your fasting blood glucose and HgA1C numbers. The fasting blood glucose will give you an idea of your current blood level of glucose. However, your HgA1C will give you a three month average of your blood glucose levels. Your HgA1C provides a long term picture of your blood glucose levels and is a better diagnostic tool. A prediabetes diagnosis would occur at an HgA1C of 5.7 to 6.4.  If your HgA1C is 6.5 or higher, you may have diabetes. Be sure to get your numbers checked every year. Check your numbers more often if you have a family history or diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes.
  • Get physically active– The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week for optimal health. Moderate exercise can include walking, swimming, gardening, biking, or dancing.  You can split this 30 minutes up into five or ten minutes here and there throughout the day.
  • Eat a healthy diet– A healthy diet contains plenty of protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich foods. Protein can come from lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and healthy plant-based proteins such as legumes, nuts, and seeds. Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like oats and quinoa. Also, healthy fats from plant-based oils like olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, and fatty fish can improve brain health and improve heart health.
  • Lose extra weight– It is important to maintain a healthy weight to lower risk of chronic conditions. Obesity-related conditions like heart disease and diabetes can increase risk of brain health conditions.  Therefore, losing weight can improve both heart and brain health.
  • Don’t start smoking or quit– Smoking can constrict blood vessels and increase risk of hypertension. Therefore, if you don’t already smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, contact smokefree.gov for resources on how to quit.

A recent report by the American Heart Association (AHA) has found that brain health is linked to healthy lifestyle factors.  For example, increased blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and high cholesterol can increase risk of atherosclerosis, or narrowed blood vessels. Narrow blood vessels can restrict blood flow to the tissues and organs.  This can lead to increased risk of stroke. Over time, multiple strokes or mini strokes can lead to cognitive impairment, or vascular dementia.

The risk factors for stroke as listed in the Life’s Simple 7, are the same for Alzheimer’s disease.  The Life’s Simple 7 are risk factors that can be measured, modified, and monitored.  Therefore, healthcare providers can use the knowledge gained from observing such factors to help better treat their patients.  Scientists hope that such data can also lead to expanding research. They hope they may be able to detect genetic or brain markers that could lower the number of people who get dementia.  Nearly 75 million people are expected to have dementia by the year 2030.  However, this number may be lowered if steps are taken now to provide brain health prevention guidelines. Therefore, take steps to improve your lifestyle today to keep a healthy brain for life.

Other ways to create a healthy life include taking nutrient-rich supplements such as Livrio by Vita Sciences. Livrio contains natural compounds such as milk thistle that have been shown to support a healthy liver.  This supplement helps cleanse and detoxify your liver, in turn providing you with improved energy, glowing skin, and overall well-being.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (September 7, 2017) “Seven Steps to Keep Your Brain Healthy from Childhood to Old Age” http://newsroom.heart.org/news/seven-steps-to-keep-your-brain-healthy-from-childhood-to-old-age

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Can Yoga Soothe Back Pain?

Yoga may bring images of flexible lean figures bending their bodies in all different directions. Therefore, yoga may not come to mind when it comes to a solution for back pain.  yogaHowever, research shows that yoga can soothe back pain as well as physical therapy.

According to the National Institutes of Health, yoga is a mind and body practice that involves physical postures, breathing techniques, as well as methods of meditation and relaxation.  Yoga is good for improving muscle tone and strength, improving respiration, and reducing weight, among other things.

A recent study at Boston Medical Center looked at 320 patients that had persistent back pain for 12 weeks. The patients were assigned to either 12 weekly yoga classes, 15 physical therapy sessions, or  a book on how to manage back pain.  Nearly one-half of those who took yoga classes had “clinically meaningful” improvement. Also, 37-percent of physical therapy patients and 23-percent of book group patients, respectively felt similar improvement. The difference between the yoga and physical therapy results was not considered significant.

The lead researcher noted that both the yoga and physical therapy patients had pain relief for 12 months. However, he also suggests that not all forms of yoga are appropriate for those with back pain. The gentle yoga used in the study offered chairs and props. Therefore the study yoga was easy on the joints versus other types of yoga.

Yoga, however, is not effective for everyone with pain issues.  Acupuncture, massage, or natural supplements such as Vita Science’s Relocane can also help relieve pain.  Relocane contains natural ingredients such as turmeric and ginger that can decrease inflammation and help relieve minor aches, pains, and muscle cramps.  Use this supplement by Vita Sciences as part of your daily health regimen to feel your best. However, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement or exercise program.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Osteopathic Association (accessed June 26. 2017) “The Benefits of Yoga” http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/general-health/Pages/yoga.aspx

Medline Plus (June 19, 2017) “Yoga Soothes Back Pain” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166742.html

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (August 26, 2016) “Yoga” https://nccih.nih.gov/health/yoga

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Can Knee Crackles and Pops lead to Arthritis?

When you walk up the stairs does it sound like popcorn popping? Do you feel swelling in those joints after extended movement or climbing up and down stairs? Snapping, cracking, or popping sounds in your knees may be an early sign of arthritis.

Arthritis is an informal way of referring to joint pain or disease. Common symptoms of the knee, arthritis, paincondition include:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • stiffness
  • decreased range of motion

Symptoms of such joint pain may come and go, but if untreated may worsen over time. Severe arthritis may cause permanent joint damage, chronic pain, and may make mobility painful and difficult. Therefore, it is important to treat joint pain as soon as you discover symptoms, no matter how mild they may seem.

A recent study in the journal Arthritis Care & Research looked at 3500 adults ranging in age from 45 to 79 years old and at risk for joint disease. The study found that those middle to older aged adults who heard cracking in their knees often were likely to develop arthritis in the next year.  For example, those that reported hearing their knee crackle “sometimes” or “often” were nearly twice as likely to develop arthritis in the next year as those who reported “never” (8% vs. 4.5%). Furthermore, those who reported hearing their knees crackle “always” were nearly three times more likely to develop the condition in the next year as compared to those who reported “never” (11% vs. 4.5%).

How to Treat Joint Pain

Be sure to visit your healthcare provider if you experience joint pain.  Not only can they provide medications that may help to relieve pain, but they may also be able to take x-rays and blood tests that could check to see if you may have arthritis.

Other ways you can treat joint pain include:

  • Gentle stretching exercises
  • Warm shower
  • Ice packs in the sore area
  • Resting the sore joint

Maintaining a healthy weight by staying active and eating healthy can also reduce joint pain. A joint-healthy diet contains plenty of calcium-rich foods such as milk, yogurt, and other low-fat dairy products as well as leafy green veggies like spinach and kale. Other vitamins and nutrients may also help with the prevention and treatment of joint pain such as the following:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in fatty fish, plant-based oils, olives, nuts, and seeds have been found to reduce inflammation in those people who experience joint pain.
  • Glucosamine, a supplement made from the shells of crustaceans such as lobster, crab and shrimp, has been found to decrease joint pain and stiffness.
  • Capsaicin, such as that found in some analgesics, has been found to help rub out mild joint pain.
  • Osteovent by Vita Sciences contains a combination of joint-healthy supplements such as vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, and boron that have been shown to promote strong bones.

You can also visit the Arthritis Foundation website for more information on joint pain research, treatment, and prevention. arthritis, joint pain

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Arthritis Foundation (accessed May 14, 2017) “What is Arthritis?”  & “51 Ways to Be Good to Your Joints” http://www.arthritis.org/

Medline Plus (May 5, 2017) “Do Your Knees Crackle and Pop?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165268.html

NIAMS (July 2014) “Living with Arthritis: Health Information Basics for You and Your Family” https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Arthritis/default.asp#d

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Could vitamin D protect against bone loss?

Are you one of the 44 million Americans with low one density?  If so, and if you are over the age of 50, you could be one of the 10 million Americans with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a dangerous condition in which your bones become fragile and at risk for fractures.  In older individuals, osteoporosis can lead to hip fractures that can limit mobility, or even spine fractures that could be debilitating.  Older women at are most risk for osteoporosis, but this condition can occur to both men and women at any age.

osteoporosis, vitamin D, bone health

Osteoporosis can weaken bone strength over time increasing risk of hip, wrist, and spinal fractures.

If you want to prevent osteoporosis, there are a few controllable factors that you can take charge of to lower your risk.

  • Quit smoking or don’t start if you don’t smoke.
  • Limit drinking alcohol.
  • Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D

A recent study by researchers from Harvard-affiliated Hebrew Senior Life found that older adults who consumed calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, milk, or cheese had higher bone mineral density in the spine and less bone loss in the hip.  However, this risk was only reduced significantly along with consumption of vitamin D supplementation. It is suspected that this finding is due to vitamin D’s important function of assisting with calcium absorption.  Without vitamin D, our body cannot adequately absorb all of the calcium goodness from the foods that we eat. In turn, our bones cannot receive the strengthening elements of calcium needed to preserve bone and prevent bone loss.

If you are not sure if you are vitamin D deficient, be sure to check with your healthcare provider.  Furthermore, if you are vitamin D deficient, it will be important to start on a vitamin D supplementation regimen.  However, check with your healthcare provider to find a regimen that will be best for you. Other ways to increase vitamin D include consuming foods rich in the vitamin such as:

  • fish oils
  • fatty fish
  • mushrooms
  • beef liver
  • cheese
  • egg yolks
  • fortified milk

Also, by increasing your sunlight exposure you can naturally increase your daily intake of vitamin D.   However, the amount of sunlight exposure needed to provide the most benefit will differ for everyone.   This is because the time of day, where you live, and skin pigmentation can all affect the amount of vitamin D your skin makes.

Furthermore, pair your healthy bone regimen with a supplement like Osteovent from Vita Sciences. Osteovent is power-packed with bone healthy vitamins such as vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, and boron that are recommended by the Open Orthopaedics Journal.

Visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation website for all of the great work they are doing to help increase awareness of osteoporosis and improve bone health efforts.

Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

National Institutes of Health (2017 March 1). “Older Bones Benefit from Dairy Plus Vitamin D” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_163861.html

National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center (2014 Nov). “What is Osteoporosis? Fast Facts: An Easy to Read Series of Publications for the Public” https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/osteoporosis/osteoporosis_ff.asp

Calcium/Vitamin D

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Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Osteoporosis

Just in the news- scientists have discovered a connection between vitamin B12 deficiency and osteoporosis that may change the way doctors treat bone loss. To promote good bone health, the key may be in sustaining maximum levels of vitamin B12 in your blood supply.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Osteoporosis

Vitamin B12 deficiency and osteoporosis

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a form of anemia that occurs when your vitamin B12 levels in the blood drop to a dangerous low. In most people, B12 deficiency occurs from vitamin B12 malabsorption- the inability to digest vitamin B12 from foods such as meat, chicken, and fish.

For many people, this occurs as an autoimmune impairment, an improper response to intrinsic factor, a protein needed to completely break down and utilize vitamin B12.

Among the many ailments attributed to vitamin B12 deficiency caused by lack of intrinsic factor, increased risk for osteoporosis was the focus on a study led by researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

“We were amazed to find a new system that controls bone mass through a protein expressed, of all the places, in the stomach.” – Dr Pablo Roman-Garcia, study author

Vitamin B12, the liver, and bone health

In the study, scientists found dramatic bone loss in mice born to mothers with vitamin B12, noting that low vitamin B12 levels accounted for nearly 70% less bone mass than healthy specimens.

While injecting vitamin B12 didn’t improve bone health, researchers did find that vitamin B12 supplements had a therapeutic effect on liver cells.  On closer inspection, they noticed that subjects with vitamin B12 deficiency were unable to produce taurine, a natural substance produced in the liver that promotes good bone cell production in preventing osteoporosis.

“While the importance of taurine is yet to be fully understood, this research shows that vitamin B12 plays a role in regulating taurine production and that taurine plays an important role in bone formation.” -Dr Vidya Velagapudi, Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland.

Previous studies also confirm these findings, such as one that examined children in Turkey born to mothers with vitamin B12 deficiency where taurine deficiency was also present.

Also, scientists from the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland saw positive results in bone cell production and taurine synthesis when vitamin B12 supplements were provided.

Helpful Links

More details on the study about vitamin B12 deficiency and osteoporosis can be found here: Pathway between gut and liver regulates bone mass

Watch the video on YouTube: Vitamin B12: A Bone Pathway

Vitamin B12- Essential for Chronic Pain Management

Image by renjith krishnan

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