So, it’s a month since I first posted about the start of this journey for me and my knee – what’s happened since then? After the diagnosis of inflammatory arthritis in my knee, and the only advice from conventional medicine being to moderate my life style by removing high impact exercise, I decided instead to explore other ways of healing and reducing pain.
I have always believed in holistic healing – looking at the whole body, not just the specific condition (which is why I teach yoga), and I honestly think that some conditions can be alleviated or even resolved by the right foods. The body’s faculties of self-repair and healing need the support of good nutrition. I started by exploring food and nutrition in October, and guess what? There are a million and one conflicting bits of information and advice regarding what one should and shouldn’t eat to help with inflammation and arthritis. I’m going to try and summarise what I found: Generally, the foods to avoid are common with those we are always told to avoid for general good health – simple and refined carbs, sugar, alcohol, trans fats and saturated fats. Being overweight can increase levels of inflammation in the body apparently, because body fat is metabolically active, producing hormones and chemicals which actually increase inflammation in the body.
But as well as foods to avoid, there are foods, herbs and spices which are said to help inflammation in the body, and I have enjoyed exploring this further. I have always understood ginger and turmeric to be great for inflammation, and have used them in cooking for a number of years anyway, but I’ve increased my intake of those – try adding fresh ginger to porridge every morning, along with some raspberries (red fruit is particularly good for reducing inflammation as they contain vitamin C and Anthocyanins – antioxidants which are a critical part of an anti-inflammatory diet, as they protect the body from the effects of cell-damaging free radicals). OK – science bit over, but some research also shows that certain antioxidants can prevent arthritis, slow its progression and relieve pain. Happy Days! Add in plenty of other fruits and brightly coloured veg, plus a generous amount of dark green veg like broccoli, kale and spinach for the vit C.
I follow Ella Woodward on Twitter (author of Deliciously Ella, and Deliciously Ella Everyday), and have both of those books. All of her recipes are gluten free, vegan, free of refined sugar, and super tasty. I tweeted her for some advice on anti-inflammatory recipes, and she replied, suggesting the chickpea, turmeric and quinoa curry from her second book. I tried this, and it is amazing! The first book contains a recipe for cauliflower, potato and turmeric curry, and this too is fabulous. If you don’t have these cook books, I can’t recommend them highly enough – treat yourself!
I’ve started to drink Turmeric Gold tea too (Pukka Herbs); honestly, it tastes much better than it might sound. I tried it at the OM Yoga Show, and bought some to take home. I have one every day – surprise yourself and give it a try! Add generous amounts of turmeric to curries or stir-fried veg for a bit of a kick in a winter lunch box; some studies have shown that it may suppress inflammatory body chemicals.
Other foods to add include foods high in vit D – try wild salmon, sardines, and egg yolks. Cook with extra virgin olive oil, as it contains a compound which may help prevent arthritis-related inflammation. ‘Extra Virgin’ contains the highest antioxidant content, so choose this if you can.
I also contacted my own guru, an Ayurvedic Practitioner and Herbalist, as well as a yoga teacher. He suggested I try Devils Claw too (available from health food shops). He made me a compound of herbs to take each morning and evening with warm water, and this includes turmeric, devils claw, ashwagandha and guggul, amongst other things. I’m not gonna lie, it’s like a bush tucker trial trying to get that down, (and keep it down), but I did say I was going to try anything and everything! Please don’t self-prescribe this kind of thing without advice, but I would definitely suggest you try consulting a herbalist or Ayurvedic practitioner if you can find one.
So I’m doing all of the above, cooking lots of healthy fresh food and adding spices and herbs wherever I can. So far, so good. I am back to all of my high impact classes, and although I’m modifying the highest impact stuff (dynamic lunges, jumping up and coming down in to squats), I am managing pretty much to complete the class and get a good workout. I used a knee support for the first few weeks, but advice from my physio and podiatrist was to stop this as soon as I felt able, so that my knee didn’t become dependant on it. More about my podiatrist visit next time, and some interesting thoughts on making space in joints too.
I would love to hear your comments and what worked or didn’t work for you, if you’re on your own journey. Thanks for reading, see you next time! Love and Light.