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Reminiscing my RA Journey.

…The positive and the negative influencers.

 

Off late I have been rerunning my journey with rheumatoid arthritis. It has bought up so many pent-up emotions I thought were long gone, and memories I have chosen to forget. Often it is not enough for us to understand our own anguish in the fight with rheumatoid arthritis, but for us to explain it to people is another uphill task.

But the one crucial thing I remember most was trying to educate people to understand, when I myself was so confused and lost.

A very common situation was when people asked how I am feeling. If I said I’m fine and they knew that I’m not, I used to say to myself, please don’t push me to really tell you how I feel. I fear that if I told you the truth I sound like a cry baby, hence I say that I am “fine” and seriously some know the truth but are quite relieved to hear this false statement so that they continue a normal conversation and make you feel they are with you in it!

Many RA symptoms like pain and fatigue aren’t visible. It’s no wonder we get comments like, ‘You don’t look sick.’ In addition, the disease is so unpredictable that it’s difficult for people to understand that we may be able to do something one day and not be able to accomplish the same task the next hour or day. People have no idea how sick someone is on the inside when they can only see the outside. RA as an illness that is all but invisible to the naked eye.

Usually Arthritic Warriors are told that their symptoms are all in their head and that they should just exercise or get occupied in some tasks. It is very easy for people to give advice, but I suggest just for a moment be empathetic and envision the Arthritic warrior’s real situation. It is difficult. If others don’t know about the problems with RA, they think you’re being an antisocial snob. If you try to explain anything about your type of RA problems, they think you’re a complainer. It’s a no-win. Hence it is easier and diplomatic for me to keep them at bay.

It was incredibly difficult being affected at a young age and fighting a pain that no one could see, the most difficult part is dealing with comments from people who really don’t take the time to understand what rheumatoid arthritis is, nor how it affects my husband, daughter and myself. I have come along way but I’m still learning to ignore the negative people if or any in my life.

To end as of now behind my joyful grin, since I was only human and that before I learnt to be positive, my hardest days involved perpetual negative thoughts that would replay over and over again in my mind. Over time, I skillfully turned those negative thoughts into positive intonations through repeated, daily practice. As a result, my efforts enabled me to find true happiness in the midst of a disease that has, at times, almost pushed me to my breaking point.

I remember my then 10-year-old daughter hugging me and saying that it will take away all my pain, I am reminded how I could never had made this journey without my husband and daughter. I have never been alone on this journey my family has been there with me the whole time supporting me. Its our famous trio behind closed doors that have been here fighting for this wonderful life I have today and with God’s grace, despite rheumatoid arthritis, that I live every day.

Learning to be content with your life despite your diagnosis is something that anyone can do. All you have to do is make the decision to be happy. As long as you keep choosing happiness and never give up hope, RA can never bring you down.

Thank you, my loving duo, for being there with me and wish and pray that all the other Arthritic Warriors find such support and love in their own personal arthritic journey.

God Bless us all on our journey back to health and happiness.

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PROPER NUTRITION – a fact of life to regain your health – Part 2

Cellular inflammation has been shown to be the underlying marker in nearly every major health problem.  Every single day our body is attacked by free radicals, cells are damaged, and inflammatory mediators are produced and triggered throughout our body.  Fortunately, the Almighty gave us an incredible ability to heal and regulate abnormal cell development.  He also provided us with a way of life to reduce and negate the negative effects of lifestyle stress.

These foods could help to reduce some aspect of inflammation:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The healthiest of fats for people with arthritis or other inflammatory disorders are omega -3 fatty acids. More than a dozen studies have demonstrated that omega-3 fish oils can drastically reduce symptoms of RA. It is recommended an omega-3-rich diet (and in some instances, fish-oil supplements) to all my clients with arthritis. Some of the best foods for omega-3 fatty acids include salmon (wild, fresh, or canned), herring, mackerel (not king), sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout, Pacific oysters, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, seaweed, and soybeans (edamame).
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: In addition to healthy monounsaturated fats, olive oil contains a natural compound called oleocanthal which may help prevent arthritis-related inflammation. These compounds block the same inflammatory pathways as ibuprofen and aspirin, medications commonly used to fight arthritis pain. It is recommended using olive oil when cooking instead of vegetable oil or butter (substitute in equal or lesser amounts). For the highest antioxidant content, choose “extra virgin” olive oil; the stronger the taste, the higher the amounts of oleocanthal the oil is likely to have.
  • Antioxidants — vitamin C, carotenes, bioflavonoids: Antioxidants protect the body from the effects of cell-damaging free radicals and are a critical part of an anti-inflammation diet. Research has also demonstrated that certain antioxidants may help prevent arthritis, slow its progression, and relieve pain. The best are: Vitamin C — found in guava, bell peppers, oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, pineapples, kohlrabi, papayas, lemons, broccoli, kale, potatoes, and brussels sprouts. Beta-carotene — found in sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, butternut squash, turnip greens, pumpkins, mustard greens, cantaloupes, sweet red peppers, apricots, and spinach. Beta-cryptoxanthin — found in winter squash, pumpkins, persimmons, papayas, tangerines, peppers (red chili and red bell), corn, oranges, apricots, carrots, nectarines, and watermelon. Quercetin — found in onions, kale, leeks, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, blueberries, black currants, elderberries, apricots, red apples with skin, and red/purple/black grapes. Anthocyanins — found in blackberries, black currents, blueberries, eggplant, raspberries, cherries, red/black/purple grapes, strawberries, plums, cranberries, rhubarb, red onions, and apples.
  • Vitamin D: Studies have shown that getting adequate amounts of vitamin D reduces the risk of both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Among people who already have osteoarthritis, those who have a vitamin D deficiency are more likely to develop worsening disability over time. Getting even the basic daily requirement of vitamin D leads to greater muscle strength, improvement in physical functioning, and preservation of cartilage. Some of the best foods for vitamin D include wild salmon, mackerel (not king), sardines, herring, milk (skim or 1 percent low-fat), soy milk, egg yolks, and UV-treated mushrooms.
  • Spices — ginger and turmeric: Certain spices seem to have anti-inflammatory effects and therefore should be considered for arthritis treatment. Among the most promising are ginger and turmeric. Ginger has been shown to lessen the pain of knee osteoarthritis when taken in highly purified, standardized supplement form. Scientific studies have shown that turmeric may help arthritis by suppressing inflammatory body chemicals. The research isn’t strong enough yet to support taking ginger or turmeric in supplement form, but it is highly encouraged adding generous amounts of these spices to food (they’ll add delicious flavor, too!).

The above information is collated from a lot of nutrition sessions I have attended or through various readings.

 

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RHEUMATIC DISEASE AWARENESS MONTH -SEPTEMBER

 OUR PLEDGE

As individuals living with rheumatic disease, Let us pledge to:

Exercise Regularly to reduce pain, improve joint function, and delay the onset of disability. To work with our doctors to find exercises that we can do to help me manage our health and get moving for at least 60 minutes each day.

2. Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet to reduce inflammation in our joints. We will eat a diet that is low in processed foods and saturated fat and high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and beans.

3. Take Care of our Mental Health and confront our disease with an open mindset. We will work to manage our stress, get enough sleep and talk it out with our doctor.

4. Be an Active Participant in Self Care by practicing good self-management techniques to help identify the causes of flares, avoid triggers and/or catch them early when they happen and roll out our individual flare plan.

5. We pledge to follow our doctor’s recommended treatment plan and take all our medications as directed.

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PROPER NUTRITION- a fact of life to regain your health. – PART 1

Good nutrition is an important part of your overall health. A healthy diet allows the defense systems to work to its full capacity removing antigens that enter the system and removing immune-complexes from the blood. Healthy eating is not about strict dietary limitations, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, improving your health, and boosting your mood. If you as an arthritis patient feel overwhelmed by all the conflicting nutrition and diet advice out there, you’re not alone. It seems that for every expert who tells you a certain food is good for you, you’ll find another saying exactly the opposite. But by using simple commonsense and self-experimented tips, you can cut through the confusion and learn how to create—and stick to—a tasty, varied, and nutritious diet that is as good for your mind as it is for your body.

Specific food groups that are supposed to increase inflammation include:

  • Trans Fats: Trans fats were created by scientists to give baked goods a longer shelf life. Trans fats are thought to be at least as damaging as saturated fats in terms of inflammation and other health problems. They may even be worse. You won’t have to go to great lengths to determine whether a food contains trans fats or not. Manufacturers are now required to list the amount of trans fats right after listing the saturated fats on the nutrition label.
  • Saturated Fats: This category includes fats in and from animal products, such as fatty meat, poultry skin, and full fat dairy foods. Saturated fats are also found in palm oil and palm-kernel oil, which you may find in the ingredient lists of any number of items on your shelves, including crackers, cookies, bars, nondairy creamers, and other packaged baked goods. We should try to dramatically limit our intake. In addition to carefully reading labels, choose reduced-fat or fat-free dairy products, lean cuts of meat, and skinless chicken.
  • Simple and Refined Carbs: Sugary foods, white-flour baked goods, white rice, bread, crackers, refined carbs increase the inflammation in the body, causing increases in pro-inflammatory compounds.

Suggest try and limit these foods if you want the best chance of reducing arthritis pain and limiting its progression. We are all aware but the internal discipline to get started, trying experimenting and implementing is the initial hurdle, just ignite it within and you will find your journey to wellbeing well aligned.

A healthy diet should include a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins and healthy fats. This gives your body the nutrients and energy it needs to function properly.

Along with the use of medications, a proper diet can curb the inflammatory responses from the body that cause pain. Eating the right foods also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which is incredibly important since your hips and knees support most, if not all, of your body weight.

And a well-balanced diet also is vital for building your body’s immune system and healing power. That’s why nutrition can be your ally in fighting pain and inflammation. In short lifestyle modifications are very important for helping someone manage their pain. So go for it!

Next post coming up… foods that are supposed to reduce inflammation.

The above information is collated from a lot of nutrition sessions I have attended or through various readings.

 

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POSITIVELY CHALLENGING

POSITIVELY CHALLENGING

As mentioned in my introductory post I try not to be a quitter—or a complainer, even after having to live with pain day in day out for years. Determined not to focus on my “limitations,” I pushed myself at eating healthy and forced myself to keep moving and stay positive and ensured that I take the medications and supplements as prescribed.

My experience with RA has been hugely challenging – especially since I was a formerly ‘super-fit’ individual prior to the development of the condition.  But, I also look back on these experiences with a lot of gratitude as they have enabled me to experience RA across the spectrum – from the very worst case scenario – right through to full, and sometimes sustainable remission thanks to biological therapies along with healthy lifestyle approaches.

My efforts and optimism certainly paid off. “I definitely felt hopeful!”

I think that living with RA brings out the fighter in us. After living with RA for 15 years plus, I am more resilient than I ever knew. I have also learned to pick my battles, I know when I can try and get away with doing something or when I need to let RA win for a day or two by just resting it out.

Most of us experience RA as a constant background reality, often being aware of its presence & the limitations it brings. Our focus should be all about micromanaging & macro managing their symptoms & daily life so that it remains in the background & does not interfere much with our daily lives.

We should listen to our body and do not take it for granted and ignore the signs and symptoms. Put the brakes on time on our simple arthritic road journey, I see this as servicing the car and keeping it in the garage so that when you feel up to it you are back on the road! These breaks are most vital for a pain free and self fulfilment life.

Giving in for a day or two is not the same as giving up…this is what I have worked hard on. Living with RA is not the end of the world. Yes, your world changes, you are not able to do a lot of things but you have to be willing to adapt and keep on living. Though don’t forget to laugh every day. I often laugh at myself from being clumsy, forgetting things or dropping things and these are my small laughter sessions with my family!

As I’ve shared a part of my journey with you, I realize it is exactly that: my own journey. Yours for sure is different but let’s not forget the one thing we all have in common is that we’re much robust than we give ourselves credit for. Time has made us connoisseurs at dealing with the rough stuff, right?

I call upon all to join me in embracing who we are as we move ahead, learning to take care of ourselves while we relish the many things that still bring us joy and happiness.

 

 

 

LET’S USE FOOD TO RECLAIM OUR WELLNESS

LET’S USE FOOD TO RECLAIM OUR WELLNESS

We as arthritic warriors are always interested in alternative treatments to relieve our enervating condition. My interest in dietary interventions has always been spiraling upwards!  I genuinely believe that one should promulgate diet therapy for Arthritic patients alongside the regular DMARDs and anti-TNFs that are provided for effective management.

The debate that food can cause or relieve arthritis isn’t new. More recently, some health writers have insisted that arthritics should eat or not eat specific foods.

A great deal of discussion as to whether foods ameliorate or perpetuate arthritis, or have any effect at all is hot topic for discussions at forums, support groups.

But through the years I have seen there is a wealth of data supporting the positive impact of food in assisting to decrease or atleast maintain the disease activity. I have been reading a lot and understand the positive effects of nutrients on our immunity and inflammation levels.

We should work to educate and capacitate ourselves with the benefits of eating more vegetarian/vegan diets, eliminate potentially allergic food components, and introduce more poly unsaturated fatty acid/oleic acid/synbiotics in our diet plans. Considering that these foods are not as expensive as any regular therapeutics, they can be easily incorporated for people from any economical background. Personally over the years I have noticed spices like turmeric, ginger, fresh fruits and vegetables and legumes especially the green ones do make me feel better as compared to when I eat processed or high salt, animal products,

A better patient compliance is very crucial for effective care and management of Arthritis.

I will conclude by saying that it may not cure the patients; however, an effective incorporation of these food items in our daily food plan will help to reduce the disease activity, delay disease progression, and reduce joint damage, and eventually a decreased dose of drugs administered for therapeutic treatment of patients.

Will share some interesting food diet recipes, tips, tricks and inspiration which are tried and tested by myself and shared by others… so watch out for the upcoming articles for a healthier, happier you!

Remember: True healthcare reform starts in your kitchen, not in any country’s capital!