Last week, we mentioned in passing that arthritis is a reversible disorder. Many emails and calls were received in response to that comment, that wanted to know just how this could be possible when so many are struggling with arthritic issues.
Val Fiott is PPT's Client Services Director as well as a health coach, exercise scientist, certified fitness trainer and a long-standing subject matter expert for the American Council on Exercise's examinations. We spoke to Val to get the answers you need for reversing arthritis.
Q: Let's start with the big question, how reversible is arthritis?
A: Officially, medical journals say it is not reversible. However, when you look at all the success stories, see what some really genius physicians are doing, and analyze the science, it's really very reversible under the right circumstances, unless there is an obstruction within the joint capsule. While there are over 100 different forms of arthritis, the joint and nerves are inherently capable of regenerating according to their physiological makeup.
Q: So what's keeping people from healing arthritis if it can be reversed?
A: First, nutrition is tremendously important, and I don't just mean the basics that we all hear about. It starts with organic plant-based foods, but the right amount of quality proteins and fats and the right meal timing can all be critical. Omega-3's, in particular, need to be consumed in the right amounts for tissue repair. For healing, one would need to be consuming a ratio of approximately 1-to-1 or 1-to-2 omega 3's to omega 6's. Unfortunately, most of the country consumes a ratio of about 1-to-30.
Q: Wow! We're getting 30 times more omega 6's than we should be?
A: Something like that, yes. The body just isn't set up to be eating the ratios of omegas that most Americans are. So, while the body's intention is to recover its joint function, that recovery is slowed or stopped due by damaging nutrition.
Q: Do NSAIDs help heal arthritis? It seems like a lot of people feel relief from them.
A: NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, may reduce pain pretty nicely, but the best science that my clinical team and I can find all say the same thing: They actually make it very difficult for joints to rejuvinate because NSAIDs inhibit proteoglycan production.
Q: Are we supposed to know what that means? (laughter)
A: Sorry, I'll boil it down to the bottom line: Cartilage re-production in the joint probably won't happen if NSAIDs are being taken with regularity.
Q: So the drugs slow the healing like poor nutrition does?
A: That's the prevailing view from some of the most successful healers that we've found, yes. There are tons of different studies, of course, but I'd say that this finding stands up to logical scrutiny. I don't think I've seen too many of our clients recover if they continued to take NSAIDs on a regular basis or in high doses. The successful clients generally didn't take any.
Q: So, if they change their eating and avoid the NSAIDs then the arthritic joint returns to normal?
A: Well, there's more to it. Much of what I've studied and been a part of indicate that the gut conditions have to be right, so digestive enzymes and whole foods may need to be included even when nutrition is fairly strong. And, sleep factors really need to be optimal. Most data suggest sleeping at around 10:00 or 11:00 PM in total darkness, with absolutely no light to distract your brain and impede tissue reconstruction.
Q: That's fascinating. What else is important for healing joints?
A: Hydration! Drinking healthy, pure water throughout the day is important and there are numbers associated with determining the right amounts for someone based on bodyweight and activity. Again, for all the joints I've worked with over the years, I don't recall any big success stories that didn't adhere to solid hydration. Essentially, you need the whole body to be very healthy in order to heal.
Q: One more question for you - how does exercise play into this?
A: That's the fun one! The worst thing you can do to a joint with arthritis is to immobilize it or limit its movement. When people do that, as they're often instructed to, the nerve supply and blood supply are lessened and healing can't happen that way. That said, it's almost as bad to give it too much movement or use it against too much resistance. That will just make it worse, potentially. So, there are happy "mediums", and the body gives us clues as to how to reach those mediums. You wouldn't want to run on an arthritic hip, for example, but full range-of-motion work with moderate resistance is generally appropriate as tolerated.
Q: How do you know when too much is too much?
A: Most Perfect Personal Trainers have a degree in exercise science or a related background and have worked very clinically. We also do a lot to keep our educations developing each week. So, we understand the mechanisms at a deep level and we use the client's physiological responses to guide our decisions.
Q: This was insightful. Thank you for talking with me, Val!
A: I'm here to help! Tell our clients to reach me anytime at (877)698-3648 x 7018 and we'll get them healthier!
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