The #1 Thing People Get Wrong About Arthritis

Recently, through my own experience of joint pain,  I started a journey of discovering what was causing my sudden knee and hip pain which led me to seeking a physiotherapist to help me fix the problem.  To my surprise, the main factor was muscle weakness.

For most of us, when we think about arthritis, we usually can come up with the same causes like wear and tear from being active for many years, repetitive tasks at work, old injuries, and the big one: AGE! All of these are factors but as we now know so is nutrition, lifestyle and much more.  But muscle weakness was a shocker to me considering I have been strength training for years so surely that couldn’t have been the cause!  Well, after only a few sessions where I was given some very specific strengthening exercises, I was starting to feel better, so I had to re-think my concepts about arthritis.  For this reason, I thought it was important to learn more because I know too many people who have started down the same path that I did which is feeling joint pain, to taking pain killers, to getting imaging, to surgery.  My hope is that if dealt with early on and understanding what is actually happening, people can avoid more pain, more degeneration and surgery.

Let’s talk about imaging first because there are some interesting statistics that my physiotherapist pointed out to me that would surprise you.  In a study of 115 asymptomatic adults, MRI abnormalities were found in %97 of knees: %48 had bone marrow lesion, %30 had meniscal tears, %21 had moderate tendonitis, and %3 had ligament ruptures.  In a review of 1057 asymptomatic adults, impingement was identified via MRI in %37-%67.   There are a lot more statistics like this but the point is this: normal age related changes begin to occur around the age of 25.  Do not fear “abnormal” imaging results, because they are very common and are not directly associated with pain.  In other words, if you get imaging done and the results show tears or arthritis you might be inclined to think about it negatively, worry, change the way you behave, stop being active etc., and that is not usually a good way to approach it.  This was important for me to learn because I too started to slow down and start thinking about surgery.  I was surprised when my therapist told me that she has seen plenty of 80-year-old patients who, based on their x-rays, had advanced arthritis but are still active and pain free!

Strength training is important in preventing and treating arthritis because stronger muscles mean stronger bones.  During weight-bearing activity, the muscles and tendons apply tension to the bones, which stimulates the bones to produce more bone tissue. As a result, bones become stronger and denser and the risk of osteopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures decreases.   Understanding that by strengthening muscles surrounding a joint will offset the load placed on joints means that you can lead and long, active life without joint pain.  This is so important to understand, especially for our older population, because as we age, we tend to reduce our physical activity and even more so strength training when the opposite is going to help you lead a strong, healthy, pain-free life. It is especially important because as we age, we naturally lose muscle so we must do all we can to maintain and/or increase muscle tissue.  Some other benefits of strength training are increased blood circulation to the joint which in some joints is minimal, fat loss, improved balance, improved mood, better sleep.

As I stated earlier, I have been strength training for years, so I thought I knew what it was all about, and I believed I was fairly strong.  But it wasn’t until I started physiotherapy that I realized I really didn’t know much about strengthening the smaller muscles around joints and the muscles that don’t get much attention because they aren’t the “showy” muscles.   But when I started with a few simple exercises with no resistance, I realized a couple of things: 1. How weak some key stability muscles were and 2. How I can really sweat without seemingly doing much at all!  I also realized how valuable how valuable and underrated physiotherapists and the like are.  We really need to put more focus on those professionals whose expertise it is to optimize the healthy functioning of our bodies to prevent injury and to stop the damage from progressing. Their expertise will help with proper form, understanding how much weight to use, using equipment incorrectly etc. We can use this expertise to capitalize our time dedicated to exercise which these days is limited and understanding that movement, even though is sounds counterproductive, is really the key to healing the damage done to joints.

3 Powerful Remedies for Psoriasis

The Greek word for psoriasis comes from “psora”  which means itchy and “iasis” which means action or condition. Therefore psoriasis is an itchy condition of the skin.  More specifically it is an autoimmune condition where your body is producing antibodies against itself.

So, the symptoms of psoriasis are coming from your own immune system and certain parts of your skin are replaced every three to five days instead of every 28 to 30 days. The end result is this accelerated reproduction of skin cells and that’s what creates the redness, scaling and the flakey patches of skin.

What is happening on a cellular level to cause psoriasis is a T cell dysfunction. The T cells are part of the immune system that’s called the ‘acquired’ immune system. The acquired immune system is one that you are not born with but rather you develop overtime and there’s a dysfunction and imbalance triggered usually by an altered microbiome in your gut, a sore throat, or another infection. There are several different types of T cells and the one that is involved in this condition is the T helper cell called TH 17. This happens to be your own immune cell that induces inflammation and autoimmune diseases and also releases cytokines therefore it has an additional inflammatory signal. There are other T cells called the T regulatory cells that are involved in preventing autoimmune disease in the first place and those are usually suppressed. So we have a suppressed T regulatory cell and we have an increase in T helper cells (TH 17).

Some interesting data shows a relationship between the T helper cell (TH17) and vitamin D. Vitamin D happens to be something that can suppress TH17. Vitamin D is not really a vitamin it’s a hormone that acts like cortisol in the body which happens to be one of the significant treatments for psoriasis. Typically people with psoriasis will be prescribed Prednisone – an anti-inflammatory. But vitamin D is a natural Prednisone without the side effects. The other interesting thing about this is that psoriasis is worse in the winter. Why? because vitamin D availability is lower. Also, there is higher incidence of psoriasis the further you live from the equator and if you have psoriasis, you’re a greater risk for depression. The link between these two conditions is vitamin D. In other words, vitamin D is very important.   Some recommendations call for 40,000 daily to penetrate the damage that’s in the colon that’s not allowing you to absorb the vitamin D. Remember earlier we mentioned an altered microbiome being the trigger for psoriasis.

What is a good natural source of vitamin D? Cod liver oil, not only does it have vitamin D, but it also has vitamin A which is also good for the skin. It also has the omega-3 fatty acids, both DHA and EPA and one of the main symptoms of an omega-3 fatty acid deficiency is dry, scaly, red skin. Also, omega-3 is an anti-inflammatory.

The last remedy is bile salts because bile salts stimulate the vitamin D receptor. Bile salts allow vitamin D to work a lot better in the body. So, if there’s any type of resistance, let’s say you have some genetic alteration in your receptor for vitamin D, it’s called a polymorphism, bile salts will help potentially increase the absorption. Also, bile salts directly modulate or control the T helper cell (TH 17) cell. So, bile salts are going to help to regulate this dysfunction as well as stimulate the T regulatory cells which are the ones that put out the fire and helps to calm down inflammation. The type of bile salts recommended would be TUDCA and find a brand with good reviews. Take three to four per day to help you digest the dietary fat. Taken on an empty stomach, these bile salts will help regulate the immune system. As far as the cod liver oil, take whatever is recommended on the bottle.

The last two recommendations are fasting which is very important for all autoimmune conditions as well as no gluten at all in the diet.

The 12 Best Ways To Clear Your Lungs Naturally

Nowadays many people are suffering with ill health due to problems with the lungs. This is mostly caused by smoking cigarettes including vapor cigarettes and general pollutants in our environment.  Cigarette smoke can be the worst and can cause the lungs to become black and filled with tar. This could cause breathing problems, blocking the supply of oxygen to the blood and potentially causing cancer and a host of other medical problems. In order to change this we should begin to eat specific healthy foods which will detoxify the lungs and allow them to heal. Lets take a look at some of the healthiest foods which you can use to begin cleaning your lungs.  But before we get into the specific foods it’s important to note that when choosing foods always try to look for organic foods because pesticides can also cause toxicity in the body. Also, remember to consult your healthcare professional when considering treatment.

Let’s begin with mixed berries. Eating lots of mixed berries that are rich in antioxidants each day will kick start the healing process and cause the body to use oxygen more efficiently. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are beneficial in small amounts but can damage your cells when their numbers get too high, causing oxidative stress. Berries are a great source of antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol. In addition to protecting your cells, these plant compounds may reduce the risk of disease. One study showed that blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries have the highest antioxidant activity of commonly consumed fruits, next to pomegranates.

Apples have been shown to prevent many lung diseases and help you to breathe easier. Apples are rich in antioxidants. They have an antioxidant flavonoid known as quercetin. Quercetin is also available red wine, tea and onions. The flavonoid is known to have properties which can offer protection to lungs from harmful effects of air pollution and cigarette smoke.

Garlic is one of the most powerful superfoods known to man. The allicin compound within will reduce inflammation, ease asthma and coughing, and reduce the risk of lung cancer.

Grapefruit helps to improve lung function  by supplying healthy vitamins and minerals for cleansing.  They are also full of antioxidants that can help support the health of your lungs. Naringin, a flavonoid serving as a cell cycle regulator, is found in grapefruit and exhibits increased anti-inflammatory activity in the body.

Water is needed to heal the lungs. You should always keep them hydrated. This helps to move tar and heal infected tissue.

Chili Peppers contain the spicy capsaicin compound which stimulates healthy blood flow and fights infections.

Ginger removes toxins from the entire body including the lungs.

Pistachios are rich in a type of vitamin E called gamma tocopherol. Getting plenty of this nutrient in your diet has been shown to may help reduce the risk of lung cancer and provide a wonderful boost of vitamin E.

Cabbage is packed full of antioxidants which boosts the immunity of the body overall.

Sliced lemons with the peel added to water is beneficial because they are high in Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and helps the body resist asthma triggers. Antioxidants are concentrated in lemon juice, which helps the body to fight off any allergen or irritant that enters the lungs. Lemon juice has antiseptic properties, which means it can help kill bacteria in the body and prevent mucus buildup. The citric acid in lemon juice improves lung function by cleansing and strengthening the lung tissue.

Carrots juiced to make fresh carrot juice are rich in vitamins and will give your body everything it needs to heal.

Milk Thistle contains a flavonoid called silibinin which has been shown to prevent lung cancer.

Reducing the amount of dairy in your diet will help reduce the buildup of thick mucus in the lungs and sinuses which can cause further problems.

Cooking your own food rather than eating ready-made foods will provide your body with the nutrients it needs for the lungs to heal.

Smokers may find themselves in nicotine withdrawal so it’s recommended to drink dandelion root tea to help with this.  Dandelion root is a natural liver cleanser so by helping remove nicotine from the system, this root can help with reduce the withdrawal symptoms.

You should also try to drink green teas as much as possible because these will flush the body and the water vapor will clear the lungs.

The more raw fruits and vegetables you eat the faster your lungs will begin to flush out tar and toxins.



The Fascinating Science of How Pumpkin Seeds Help Brain Function

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Pumpkin seeds are a fall snack favorite adored by many. But, did you know that pumpkin seeds also have powerful brain health benefits and are integral in healthy brain function? They are rich in many micronutrients that are essential for healthy brain function, including copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Their magnesium content provides a calming effect on the brain — an amazing and all-natural option for stress relief.

Keep reading to learn more about how pumpkin seeds help brain function.

Key Minerals and Nutrients in Pumpkin Seeds

A quarter cup of raw pumpkin seeds contains about 150 calories, 15 grams of healthy fat, a few grams of carbs, and 8-10 grams of plant protein. They are also packed with nutrients.

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Pumpkin seeds, which are also called pepitas, are an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper. Magnesium is key to helping improve mood and sleep. Manganese plays a key role in collagen production — promoting bone and skin health. Iron and Cooper found in pumpkin seeds are involved with energy production, whereas iron helps transport oxygen to the cells in the body. Zinc is key for immunity, vision, and skin health.

Eating just one serving of raw pumpkin seeds can supply between 14-42% of the daily target for these essential nutrients.

Pumpkin seeds contain the following key brain health minerals:

  • Magnesium: This mineral is essential for a well-functioning nervous system, and it also supports brain development, memory, and learning. Research has shown that low levels of magnesium may increase neurological health issues and conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and the risk of stroke, migraines, epilepsy, and anxiety and depression.
  • Zinc: Zinc plays a key role in the regulation of communication between the brain cells that impact brain development, memory, and learning. Zinc deficiency is linked to a number of neurological conditions, including epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and depression.
  • Iron: Iron is another mineral that plays an integral role in the day-to-day functions of the brain and development. Iron deficiency can lead to fatigue, headaches, and anxiety. Iron deficiency is a widely known cause of impaired cognitive, language, and motor development.
  • Cooper: Cooper plays a key role in brain function and development and is required for essential enzymes that supply the brain with energy. A proper balance of copper is key because too little or too much can cause brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Menkes, and Wilson’s diseases.

Brain Benefits

Some of the most significant brain benefits that pumpkin seeds pack include:

  • Feelings of calm — The high magnesium content of pumpkin seeds can lead to stress and anxiety relief and an overall sense of calm. Over the past 50 years, as magnesium consumption has plummeted, anxiety rates have gone up drastically. A calm and controlled mind increases your decision-making power and brings you a better sense of clarity.
  • Feelings of happiness — Pumpkin seeds can also help produce serotonin — the incredible neurotransmitter that helps us feel happy. According to the NCBI, Serotonin is one of the most important neurotransmitters that influence mental health.

How to Eat Pumpkin Seeds

You can buy pumpkin seeds at most grocery stores and health food stores. Or, you can make your own! Simply take the seeds from a pumpkin and bake them at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Here are some simple and delicious ways to incorporate more pumpkin seeds into your diet:

  • Eat them alone as a snack
  • Sprinkle them on top of salads for some crunch
  • Mix them into yogurt and smoothies
  • Blend them in with protein balls
  • Sprinkle them on whatever you want for added flavour, crunch, and a brain boost, from oatmeal to cereal and stir-fries and tacos.

Pumpkin seeds are an extremely versatile and delicious snack that packs a serious brain-boosting punch. Try adding them to your meals or snacking on them to harness the brain-boosting powers and ensure healthy and optimal brain function.