If you or a loved one is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, you will no doubt be aware that it is classified as an autoimmune condition. This means that the immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells or tissue (in this case, the joints) because it thinks it’s a foreign invader. In an effort to protect the body, the immune system ends up constantly turning on itself, triggering chronic inflammation and pain.
The most common way to treat (or suppress) symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis is using prednisone, a drug that suppresses the immune system. While in the short term this can dramatically reduce pain, who wants to suppress their entire immune system in the long run? And is this really going to fix what went wrong in the first place? The answer is: no, it is just a Band-Aid approach that comes with a host of unwanted side-effects. (For an alternative approach that does not come with side-effects, I would recommend supplements such as high strength curcumin, MSM, and glucosamine sulphate).
The key to treating rheumatoid arthritis for good actually starts with understanding what caused the body to turn on itself in the first place. Fortunately, there is now plenty of new literature and research showing the association between autoimmune disease and leaky gut.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22109896
Leaky gut refers to a condition where unwanted holes develop in our digestive tract, or gut lining. Typically the cells lining the gut wall are held tightly together with tight junctions. However, factors such as a poor diet and environmental contaminants can cause these tight junctions to break, resulting in pathogens, bad bacteria and toxins crossing over and entering the bloodstream. In fact, when undigested protein (that was previously harmless) crosses over, it is seen as a foreign invader and antibodies are created against that substance e.g. gluten. This is why multiple food sensitivities and leaky gut go hand-in-hand. What’s more, some toxins can alter the structure of our DNA, which prompts the immune system to see that mutated tissue as a foreign substance and attack it.
This is a breakthrough finding, whereas previously there was “no known cause” for this autoimmune condition. Until now, patients have been told to simply weaken their own immune system in an effort to control the pain. With this information and education in hand, we now know that healing the gut is the first place we need to look.
If you want to get started, here’s what you can do:
1. Eat a real, whole foods-based diet and avoid processed food
2. Consult a naturopath, nutritionist or other integrative healthcare practitioner to determine your food sensitivities and intolerances. Common sensitivities are gluten, dairy and refined sugar. Remove these from your diet to allow your gut to heal.
3. Take 5000mg daily of L-glutamine to heal your gut lining
4. Take a high strain probiotic (i.e. above 50 billion daily) to boost levels of good bacteria and ward off bad bacteria and other microbes that could cause leaky gut.
5. Ensure daily intake of good fats to help heal the gut e.g. fish, flax or hemp oil
6. Ensure you have adequate stomach acid. Consult a naturopath, nutritionist or integrative healthcare practitioner to determine your status.
Note: the best way to ensure good results is consulting a healthcare practitioner who will conduct functional lab tests and prepare an individualized protocol to heal your gut.
This awesome post was written by Alina Islam, a wonderful Certified Nutritional Practitioner from Toronto, Canada. She is a writer, speaker and nutritional consultant. You can read more of her work at AlinaIslam.com or follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.