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5 Steps to Better Joint Health

5 Steps to Better Join Health

5 Steps to Better Joint Health

Caroline Peyton suggests some natural ways to take care of your joints  (Article for Your Healthy Living )

We most commonly accept the age-related “wear and tear” of joints as a natural occurrence, but there are many natural approaches we can take to keep our joints in good order.

Here’s the 5 Steps to Better Joint Health

1 Stay hydrated

Take care to stay well hydrated. Joints contain synovial fluid that lubricates the joint surface and nourishes the cartilage. It acts as a shock absorber and a natural cushioning agent to stop joints rubbing together.

A lack of fluid can lead to damaged cartilage and irritation to the joints, setting off a cascade of inflammation.

Aim to consume eight to 10 glasses of fluid a day and sip over the course of the day. Try to choose hydrating fluids such as water, herbal and fruit teas, or very well diluted cordials. Keep stimulating drinks like tea and coffee to a minimum (two to four cups maximum a day).

It is best to avoid fizzy drinks as many contain phosphoric acid and due to its acidic nature, it may cause calcium to be drawn from the joints and bones.

This is because calcium is alkaline, so it helps to rebalance the blood’s pH. These drinks offer no nutritional value to the body, so aim to keep them as an occasional treat if you find it hard to stay away from them completely.

2 Consume healthy fats

Joint inflammation can be caused by a number of factors. When inflammation occurs it can lead to further degradation of the joint.

There are natural approaches to help dampen down the body’s inflammatory response.

One reason why we are encouraged to eat oily fish (like salmon, mackerel and sardines) is due to the creation of anti-inflammatory messengers from the fats in the fish.

These fats are known as EPA and DHA. The body is unable to make these fats so they must be obtained from the diet. The optimum intake is two to three portions a week, which most people do not achieve.

Fish oil supplements are very popular now, but rather than focus on the omega-3 fats, look for products containing good levels of EPA and DHA.

Make sure to take advice from a nutrition professional as supplements should not be taken by people on certain medications.

Whilst there are fats that send out anti-inflammatory messages, there are also fats that can create pro-inflammatory messages in the body. These typically come from animal fats.

We all require the ability to create some inflammation when there is a need to heal (after an injury for example). However the ratio of inflammatory fats is too high in the typical Western diet. Therefore, take a look at your diet and assess whether you are consuming sufficient anti-inflammatory fats and not too many pro-inflammatory fats. It is all about the balance.

3 Try a turmeric supplement

A relatively new but popular supplement for joints is turmeric.

However, when looking at supplements it is the active compound curcumin that has the anti-inflammatory effect in the body. It blocks the inflammatory pathway and research has shown it to have many beneficial effects in the body.

The compound, Curcumin, is poorly absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream. Unless you choose a well formulated supplement, most of the curcumin may be excreted from the body.

Curcumin is fat-soluble. It needs to be taken with a meal containing fat and ideally choose an advanced formula that delivers the curcumin in a lipid formula.

4 Apply castor oil packs

The use of castor oil packs applied to a sore or swollen joint can be extremely therapeutic.

Castor oil has been used since the time of the ancient Egyptians (1500BC) and it is believed to help lessen inflammation and associated pain. It is a favourite of mine in clinic as the feedback from clients is always so positive.

Simply purchase unbleached linen and natural castor oil. Soak folded linen (cut to size) with the oil, place on the joint, cover with some clingfilm (in case of oil leakage) and a towel. Then place a hot water bottle on top and leave in place for half an hour. Repeat twice a week. The linen can be kept in a container in a fridge and used up to 30 times.

5 Take a look at your diet

Gout tends to be associated with the big toe only but in fact it can occur in any joint. It is a build-up of uric acid crystals which are extremely painful in an acute situation. Some people may be more prone to a higher uric acid level in the body and may be unaware that these crystals may collect in various joints. Uric acid is created from purines in food. If you feel this may be a problem for you, it is best to avoid purine-rich protein foods like sardines, mackerel, mussels, anchovy, herring, organ meat, pâté and liver. Limit intake of medium purine foods like beef, bacon, lamb and pork. And also limit fruit due to the acid content particularly citrus fruit, strawberries and rhubarb. Tannic acid from tea is also considered to be problematic.

Poor Digestion…

Poor digestion is not commonly associated with excess uric acid but it is definitely a factor to be considered. Stomach acid is required to break down proteins and a lack of stomach acid may hinder this important digestive step. It can result in a greater level of uric acid circulating in the blood stream. It is important to seek guidance from a properly qualified naturopath or nutritional therapist who can advise on the appropriate steps to support good digestion. Hydration (as already discussed) is also important with regards to the clearance of uric acid.

Caroline Peyton is a naturopath with clinics in Swindon, Cirencester and Kempsford. She also offers consultations via Zoom and Skype. For more details, visit www.peytonprinciples.com

Thanks for reading…

Caroline Peyton

Caroline Peyton

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Supporting Optimum health for all

Hay fever getting you down? Part 2

Try these Natural Approaches.

Part 2: Immediate and Effective Relief

One in four people in the UK suffer with hay fever and the number is rising.

This two-part article explains both the short-term and the long-term naturopathic and nutrition advice to help keep symptoms to a minimum.

In part one I discussed the importance of a longer-term approach and why supporting gut health has a very important role to play in immune response and hay fever.

In this article, I provide naturopathic and nutrition approaches that can provide immediate and effective relief.

About Hay fever

As I explained in Part One, the key factor with hay fever is an overreaction by mast cells with the resulting release of histamine. It is histamine that cause the symptoms so commonly associated with hay fever: itchy watery eyes, blocked and runny nose, excess mucus and sneezing.

And the histamine reaction is linked to two other atopic conditions: asthma and eczema; which is why people often (but not always) experience all three.

Lowering the release of histamine

Antihistamines are a cheap over the counter medication which help stop the release of histamines. But they can cause side effects such as drowsiness, headaches, dizziness, digestive upsets and a dry mouth.

What if we could naturally reduce the release histamine without the associated side effects? There are nutrients and plant compounds that have been found to have this action.

Quercetin is a plant flavonoid found in red onions, apples, green tea, berries, broccoli and citrus fruits. As well as helping to limit histamine release from mast cells, it is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Supplements of quercetin often contain bromelain which supports the absorption of quercetin. And when it is taken away from food, it may help break down excess mucus that collects in the airways providing some relief from congestion.

Reishi mushrooms have been found in Japanese research to inhibit histamine release. They have also been shown to have a positive effect on modulating the immune response and helping the body adapt to stress.

Supporting the elimination of histamine

Vitamin C, found in many fruits and vegetables helps to break down and excrete histamine circulating in the body. And as a potent antioxidant it protects against cellular oxidative damage that may result from excess inflammation.

Most people are unaware that whilst the amount of vitamin C required to avoid disease (scurvy) is quite low, the amount recommended as a therapeutic dose is significantly higher. As a water-soluble vitamin it is not stored in the body and rapidly lost so a regular daily intake is essential. For the majority of people a higher dosage of 1–2g per day may be suitable but always check first with a professional who can advise you based on your own needs and health conditions.

Magnesium has a similar mechanism to vitamin C. And research has shown that a deficiency may actually increase histamine production!

This mineral, involved in over 300 body processes is thought to be deficient in many people’s diets. It is abundant in green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains like brown rice. And most people do not eat nearly enough of these foods on a daily basis.

Adopting a low histamine diet

The diet needs to be rich in vegetables to obtain the natural anti-histamine foods whilst low in histamine rich foods like cheese, seafood, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, sausages and soy sauce.

Why stress can be a trigger

Stress is the antithesis to good health. It is no surprise that stress can contribute to hay fever. Chronic stress which causes an overproduction of the hormone cortisol can lead to additional histamine release from mast cells.

Unfortunately, modern lifestyles create additional stress and burden so finding calming activities to calm the mind and lower the stress response should be incorporated day to day. Magnesium- known as Nature’s Tranquiliser- helps to do just this.

In Summary

Hay fever creates misery for 1 in 4 people.

Whilst a long-term plan of action should be taken through the Winter months (Part 1), these simple approaches can all help minimize the symptoms and help provide some relief.

If you need any help or advice please don’t hesitate to contact me, simply click here

You can also find more blogs, articles and advice here

Thanks for reading…

Caroline Peyton

Caroline Peyton

Hay fever getting you down? Part 1

Try these Natural Approaches.

Part 1: Nurturing a healthy gut

One in four people in the UK suffer from hay fever and the number is rising. Back in the 19th century, it was practically unheard of. So what has changed in this timeframe? And what can we do to minimize the risk and overcome the symptoms?

Most people only take action when symptoms strike, but for better results, you need to take action long before the hay fever season begins.

This two-part article explains both the short-term and the long-term naturopathic and nutrition advice to help keep symptoms to a minimum.

What is it?

Hay fever — or seasonal allergic rhinitis — is experienced from early Spring through Summer and affects people according to the release of different types of pollen.

It can cause immense discomfort and inconvenience. Typical symptoms are Itchy eyes/ throat, sneezing, blocked/runny nose, watery eyes, blocked sinuses, headaches. This is coupled with difficulty sleeping which then causes tiredness and irritation. It’s no wonder people will resort to whatever over the counter medications are available.

What causes the symptoms?

It is an immune response whereby mast cells in the respiratory tract release a compound called histamine in response to IgE antibodies. These antibodies are triggered in susceptible individuals by certain pollens which are seen as an irritant and threat to the body.

When the pollen is inhaled and histamine is released it triggers an inflammatory response. This causes the mucus membranes that line the inside of the airway to swell, commonly affecting the nose, eyes, throat and ears. The body does this as a protective mechanism because of the perceived threat.

Unfortunately, the immune response is not switched off, more histamine is released creating more discomfort.

Why is hay fever so prevalent today?

70% of our immune system starts in the gut.

For hay fever and other allergic reactions, the overly clean and sterile environment into which we are born and raised coupled with a Western-style diet has had a detrimental effect on creating and nurturing a diverse and healthy gut microbiome. Residing in our gut are trillions of microbes but not all are beneficial. If we don’t pay attention to supporting the growth of the beneficial ones, more harmful pathogenic types can multiply. It is the population of these microbes that plays an essential role in supporting, regulating and protecting our immune system.

There is a phenomenon known as the “hygiene hypothesis”. Exposure to microorganisms in early life supports the development of a healthy immune system, but a lack of exposure to microbes can impair a healthy immune response. The gut of babies is sterile at birth but over the following three years it should colonise a diverse gut bacteria.

The new Sterile era…

But think of all the advertising encouraging new parents to use sterile wipes on just about everything. And as it is considered “dirty”, mothers avoid sitting babies and small children on the ground to play. Yet soil contains its own diverse microorganisms. And the world around us is rich is microbes. And not all of these are unhealthy.

Add into the mix the historically high use of antibiotics that destroy the delicate balance of gut bacteria and you have a potential recipe for disaster.

This early-life exposure to bacteria helps develop a strong and flexible immune response. One that responds when it needs to but also knows when to switch off or not to overreact.

So what can you do?

Starting now and through the winter months take a proactive approach with your diet. And you should see benefits come the following Spring.

You can start to take care of the gut flora by increasing your intake of vegetables. Different gut bacteria are fed and nurtured by different plant fibres. Forget “5 a day” we need more like “10 a day”. And it is important to increase the diversity and types of vegetables you eat. “Eat the rainbow” has become a popular expression because we should try to do just that with vegetable colours and types every week. And when you look at your plate — half should be vegetables.

Look at your diet…

Take a long hard look at your diet. Is it high in sugary foods or simple carbohydrates (still sugars!)? Is it high in processed foods, trans fats or saturated fats? These foods are a sweety shop for more damaging pathogenic bacteria. Start to cook more wholesome foods with complex grains like brown rice, nuts and seeds, pulses alongside proteins and fats from oily fish.

Many people buy sugary yoghurt drinks that contain some probiotic bacteria. But sugars feed the “bad” bacteria and the good bacteria may not withstand the highly acidic stomach environment.

Instead try eating a little bit of fermented food every day like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and the drink kombucha. This helps keep the gut healthy.

But if you’ve taken antibiotics or your diet is poor and your lifestyle is stressful, take a high dose probiotic supplement for at least one month. A good health food shop can advise you as there are many brands and products to choose from.

If you have digestive and bowel concerns, seeking expert advice is recommended. It’s a sign that all is not healthy in the gut. Your ability to overcome distressing hay fever symptoms may be limited.

In Part 2 I’ll discuss approaches to support immediate symptom relief in the height of the hay fever season.

If you need any help, advice or would like to book a consultation click here

Thanks for reading…

Caroline Peyton

Caroline Peyton

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