As most of you know, I have been dealing with a sick dog for the past few months.
On top of his torn ACL, he has also been diagnosed with an arthritis that is very similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis. He has been in a lot of pain and I have done extensive reading about how to help him live a relatively pain free life. We have had major success with a few tweaks in his diet and all the research I have done is relevant to humans, and animals alike. Here’s what I have found!
1). Decrease Inflammatory Foods.
Foods that increase inflammation include:
Sugar: processed sugars trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines.
Saturated Fats: saturated fats trigger adipose, or fat tissue inflammation, which is not only an indicator for heart disease but it also worsens arthritis inflammation. Pizza and cheese are the biggest sources of saturated fats in the average American diet. Other culprits include meat products (especially red meat), full-fat dairy products, pasta dishes and grain-based desserts.
Trans Fats: Known to trigger systemic inflammation, trans fat can be found in fast foods and other fried products, processed snack foods, frozen breakfast products, cookies, donuts, crackers and most stick margarines.
Omega 6 Fatty Acids: The body needs a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Excess consumption of omega-6s can trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals. These fatty acids are found in oils such corn, safflower, sunflower, grapeseed, soy, peanut, and vegetable; mayonnaise; and many salad dressings.
Refined Carbohydrates: white flour products (breads, rolls, crackers) white rice, white potatoes and many cereals are refined carbohydrates. Processed carbohydrates may trump fats as the main driver of escalating rates of obesity and other chronic conditions.
MSG: mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor-enhancing food additive most commonly found in prepared Asian food and soy sauce, but it can also be added to fast foods, prepared soups and soup mixes, salad dressings and deli meats. This chemical can trigger two important pathways of chronic inflammation, and affect liver health.
Gluten and Casein: Common allergens like gluten and casein (proteins found in dairy and wheat) may also promote inflammation. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and any foods made with these grains. Casein is found in whey protein products.
Alcohol: Alcohol is a burden to the liver. Excessive use weakens liver function and disrupts other multi-organ interactions and can cause inflammation.
Introduce Fish Oil and more of the foods in this image below to your diet.
*Please note that garlic is toxic to dogs, do not feed your dog garlic.
2). Stay Hydrated.
One of the effects of dehydration is stiffness of the muscles leading to pain in various parts of the body, including headaches. Dehydration can occur due to lack of adequate water intake, decreased electrolyte intake, or increased intake of coffee or black tea. Ensure you are drinking at least 1-2L of water per day, and remember to replace each cup of coffee with 2 cups of water.
3). Reduce your stress.
Your body and mind are intimately connected, and stress can manifest itself in many ways in the body. One of our first reactions to any stressor is tightening and tensing of our muscles, especially the muscles in our back, shoulders, and neck.
Chronic stress is also linked to sleep disturbances. Sleep is restorative and regenerative and without adequate sleep our body doesn’t get the chance to heal. This can contribute significantly to aches and pains throughout the body.
4). Move around.
In order for our muscles and our joints to receive nutrients, stay healthy, and work for us, we need blood flow to these areas. Blood flows properly through our body when we move our muscles and joints, and so to promote adequate blood flow, we need to dedicate time every day to movement.
Many of us spend most of our days sitting at a desk, or in a car while commuting. To incorporate more movement in your day, try taking the stairs instead of elevators or escalators and get up every 30 minutes to go for a quick walk. The best way to incorporate exercise is to find something you enjoy that gets you moving and do it a few times a week.
In addition to moving, we also need to stretch our muscles to prevent stiffness. Tight stiff muscles not only contribute to back pain, but can also lead to headaches and joint pain. Yoga is a great way to increase blood flow as well as stretch all the muscles in our body that would otherwise not get stretched.
6). Vitamins and Minerals.
We need certain vitamins and minerals for many processes and reactions in the body, and unfortunately the Standard North American diet often doesn’t provide enough nutrition. One example is the lack of magnesium in our top soil, which is required for relaxation of muscles as well as many other processes in our body.
A magnesium deficiency can manifest in various ways including muscle pain, joint pain, chronic headaches, and constipation. Improve your vitamin and mineral status by including a variety of vegetables and fruits and focus on getting more whole natural foods in your diet.