We’re still waiting for a cure for arthritis – which can’t come soon enough for over ten million people in the UK. Meanwhile, there is growing evidence certain natural ingredients can at least help with some of the disease’s worst symptoms. They won’t work for everyone, and the difference might be subtle, but when you live under the cloud of arthritis, every little helps.
Based on the latest scientific research, below are four important nutrient friends that might help you live a fuller life (you’ll find detailed sources at the end of the article).
As the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, the research supporting curcumin’s potential role in helping with the pains of arthritis is becoming stronger and stronger.
The US-based Arthritis Foundation writes “traditionally used in Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine to treat arthritis, curcumin blocks inflammatory cytokines and enzymes”.
In one study, turmeric worked about as well as ibuprofen in reducing pain. Other compounds in turmeric are said to be anti-inflammatory, and it’s thought these components may act synergistically with each other and Curcumin to impede inflammation.
It’s actually fairly easy to sneak powdered turmeric into your cooking, in a soup, stir-fry, casserole, omelet or even - for the more brave - smoothie. In my kitchen, it sits alongside the salt and pepper.
Unique amongst vitamins, because your body can make it itself, vitamin D3 has long been associated with healthy bones. Additionally, as Versus Arthritis explains on their website, vitamin D3 can also “help you have healthy muscles and boost your immune system”.
The EU’s food claims register officially recognizes the key benefits, saying vitamin D contributes to normal muscle function, the maintenance of normal bones and the normal function of the immune system.
Not only does vitamin D3 itself bring significant benefits, it also helps the body process calcium and phosphate. Both these nutrients can help further with bone health.
Best of all, the source is essentially free: the sun. But in climates with lots of grey days (hello England) and to minimize skin damage, oily fish - like salmon, herring and mackerel – are great food sources.
Another bone friendly contender is vitamin K2, which the EU recognizes contributes to maintenance of normal bones. Even better, it has links to treatment of the two most common forms of arthritis.
As reported in Arthritis Digest UK, vitamin K2 specifically shows promise in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Evidence shows it may be a useful adjunct for the treatment of osteoporosis, along with vitamin D3 and calcium, rivaling bisphosphonate therapy without toxicity.
Other studies suggest, as covered in an Arthritis Foundation article, vitamin K2 destroys inflammatory cells that contribute to rheumatoid arthritis.
The best source of vitamin K2 is leafy green salad leaves and green vegetables, like the ever so fashionable kale, mustard greens and Swiss chard. Plus old faithfuls like spinach, broccoli and Brussel’s sprouts.
Boswellia is a herbal extract from the Boswellia Serrata tree, otherwise known as Indian frankincense. It has long been associated with healthy joints and is now recognized by the EU as helping maintain joint health and supporting joint flexibility. The extract contains boswellic acid, which can prevent the formation of leukotrienes in the body. Leukotrienes are molecules that have been identified as a cause of inflammation, according to Healthline.
According to an article by Versus Arthritis, it can prevent the production of inflammatory substances in the joints, with four random controlled trials suggesting it might have some beneficial effects in treating participants with osteoarthritis of the knee.
There are no easy ways to incorporate Boswelia into your diet, unless you live in India and like licking trees ;-)
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