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Posts Tagged ‘lifescript’

Lifescript.com – Managing Fibromyalgia – How Alternative Therapies Help with Fibromyalgia Pain Relief

Posted by 4love2love on June 15, 2011

To view entire information about fibromyalgia and other conditions, or to read about other information available, please visit Lifescript.com
By Linda Melone, Special to Lifescript 
Reviewed By Edward C. Geehr, M.D.
Published March 5, 2011

Looking for new tools to fight fibromyalgia? Natural remedies – from exercise to acupuncture – can treat symptoms and ease pain. Here are 6 techniques to try…. 

When fibromyalgia stiffens limbs and makes muscles and joints tender and sore, you may assume pain medication is your only bet.

Fortunately, there’s new evidence that natural solutions – including breathing techniques, exercise and supplements – may assist your treatment of fibromyalgia’s symptoms and reduce stress, a common pain trigger.

The potential for natural treatments is great, says Howard Schubiner, M.D., director of the Mind Body Medicine Center at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich. 

“In our research [a combination of mind-body approaches], 25% of patients were symptom-free after six months.” 

However, these treatments do require participation from the patient, Schubiner notes. 

“Some people like being an active part of their own healing, while others feel it’s too much work. Much of the successfulness of a program depends on what you think will be effective,” Schubiner says.

Read on to find out which science-backed alternative approaches are best for you.

1. Yoga
How it works: Besides lowering stress, yoga helps reduce chronic inflammation, which many researchers believe is a main cause of fibromyalgia-related discomfort.

In fact, women who practice yoga have lower blood levels of cytokine interleukin-6 – a protein causing inflammation that’s also linked to heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes – according to a 2010 Ohio State University study.

Danielle Miller, 45, of Lancaster, Pa., tried “every medication on the market” to treat her fibromyalgia pain. When a friend suggested a yoga class, she was reluctant at first but soon became hooked. 

The meditation, breathing and stretching exercises increased her flexibility, improved sleep and even eased her irritable bowel syndrome, a disorder often associated with fibromyalgia. 

“After 6-8 sessions, I began feeling better,” she says.

How to get started: Look for a yoga instructor experienced with fibromyalgia. (Your physician may be able to refer you.) 

Start slowly and build to a regular routine you can stick with. 

“When I attended classes randomly, I was in more pain,” Miller says. 

2. Nutritional supplements
How they work: 
Supplements can decrease chronic inflammation, which in turn may reduce pain, says Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., research director for Supplement Watch, an organization that evaluates scientific evidence for nutritional supplements. 

Anti-inflammatory supplements include grape seed extract, resveratrol (a chemical found in red wine and grape juice), bromelain (an enzyme obtained from pineapples), ginger, turmeric (the yellow spice used in Indian food), boswellia (an herb common in Ayurvedic medicine), decaffeinated green tea and purified fish oil. 

How to get started: Supplements can vary in quality, cause stomach upset or interact with medications, so consult your rheumatologist about which brands are best.

Also, check labels for information on purity and strength of active ingredients.

Changing your diet is another way to reduce inflammation.

Eat lots of colorful fruits and veggies. Trade refined carbohydrates for moderate amounts of whole grains. Lower consumption of saturated fats and increase the amount of “good fats” (including monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids) you eat with foods such as nuts, avocados, olive oil and fish.

3. Acupuncture
How it works: Acupuncture has been used in traditional Asian medicine for thousands of years to relieve pain related to a variety of conditions. New research shows it may also be effective for fibromyalgia.

In a 2009 University of Michigan study, women with the disorder were treated with either acupuncture or a “sham” (fake) version, in which their skin was pricked with a sharp device to simulate acupuncture sensations. 

Brain imaging showed that those who received real treatments got more relief from pain-killers with codeine and morphine (opiates). 

“We’ve seen a drop in 5-10 points on the pain scale [a 1-10 scale doctors use to assess discomfort levels] from fibromyalgia patients who’ve used acupuncture,” Harris says.

Annette Poizner, a 47-year-old psychotherapist in Toronto, Canada, says acupuncture reduced her discomfort. But those results took a long time, and she warns against looking at the ancient Chinese treatment as a quick fix. 

“It’s a gradual recovery, not a 10-session miracle,” she says.

How to get started: Find a licensed practitioner. 

Ask your doctor or look online for local clinics. The website for the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine maintains a list of qualified acupuncture practitioners

4. Mindfulness meditation
How it works: Mindfulness – defined as a calm, nonjudgmental focus on the present moment – can be a powerful stress-reduction method. When combined with meditation, it may reduce fibromyalgia pain and other physical complaints, according to a recent University of Basel, Switzerland study. 

Researchers found that it helped patients cope better with the anxiety and depression that often go along with the disorder.

When women with fibromyalgia enrolled in an eight-week program of mindfulness-based stress reduction, they had significantly more relief from symtoms than those who received only physical or emotional support from loved ones and peers.

A follow-up found they were still benefiting from the mindfulness program three years later.

Because high stress levels can trigger or worsen fibromyalgia symptoms, it makes sense that reducing it brings relief, says Schubiner.

Still, he adds, meditation alone may not be enough. 

“Results depend on how you incorporate these practices into your life,” he says. “If you have a lot of stress at home, for example, you can reduce it with meditation. But you’ll need to address root problems too.”

How to get started: Some hospitals and medical clinics offer mindfulness programs for patients. 

You can also buy meditation CDs (such as those by Jon Kabat-Zinn) in stores and online, or find free downloads from UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center

5. Breathing exercises
How they work: Deep-breathing exercises have been shown to lower stress, thereby easing symptoms. 

Even slowing down breathing can reduce fibromyalgia pain, according to 2010 research at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz. 

Patients with fibromyalgia were subjected to moderately painful heat pulses on their palms. When they slowed their breathing rates by 50%, some reported a reduction in pain intensity.

The patients’ attitude was a contributing factor: Those with a positive mindset saw results. 

But those who said they felt overwhelmed by feelings of sadness and depression weren’t helped by the breathing exercises.

Researchers suggest that people with fibromyalgia have a stronger connection between pain and emotion.

How to get started: If chronic depression is part of your disorder, talk to your doctor about treatments.

For mindful breathing, Schubiner recommends a daily session in which you take long, slow breaths and pay attention to each one. 

“You simply notice each breath, and then let it go,” he says.

Many yoga classes incorporate breathing exercises, and many books and CDs on breathing are available.

Try this simple technique by Dennis Lewis, from his book Free Your Breath, Free Your Life (Shambhala Publications): 

The Smiling Breath
1. Sit comfortably on a chair or cushion and smile, even if it feels forced at first.

2. Imagine directing this smile inwardly throughout your whole body.

3. As you inhale, sense yourself inhaling through your smile, allowing the energy of the smile to combine with the energy of your breath, and direct this energy down to the painful area.

4. Exhale through pursed but relaxed lips (as if gently blowing on a candle without blowing it out). Do this for a minimum of five minutes.

6. Exercise
How it works: Physical activity is an important fibromyalgia treatment, but don’t dive right in to an intensive exercise program. 

“Too much too soon can have a rebound effect, where you’re worse off than before you started,” Harris says. “The key lies in finding the right amount.”

The proper dose is moderate bursts of exercise that add up to 30 minutes a day, 5-7 times a week, according to a 2010 Johns Hopkins University study that found that patients following this regimen had reduced pain and less trouble functioning after 12 weeks.

How to get started: Begin slowly, exercising for as little as three minutes at a time. 

Gradually increase activity level to 20-30 minutes a day, recommends Rae Marie Gleason, executive director of the National Fibromyalgia Association.

“Exercising helps you gain some control over your life, something often missing in those with fibromyalgia,” Gleason says. 

How Much Do You Know About Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is one of the world’s oldest medical mysteries. How much do you know about the illness? Find out now

Check out Health Bistro for more healthy food for thought. See what Lifescript editors are talking about and get the skinny on latest news. Share it with your friends (it’s free to sign up!), and bookmark it so you don’t miss a single juicy post!

The information contained on www.lifescript.com (the “Site”) is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for advice from your doctor or healthcare professional. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding any medical condition. Information and statements provided by the site about dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Lifescript does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, third-party products, procedures, opinions, or other information mentioned on the Site. Reliance on any information provided by Lifescript is solely at your own risk.

 

© 2011 –  www.LifeScript.com

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Lifescript.com : Back Pain – 7 Common Culprits of Backaches and How To Avoid Them

Posted by 4love2love on June 13, 2011

This was taken from lifescript.com. If you would like to review the article there or read any of their other helpful articles, then please visit their website.

© 2011 – www.LifeScript.com – All rights reserved

 

By Dorothy Foltz-Gray, Special to Lifescript
Published April 29, 2011
Bending over your desk, twisting in the car seat, walking down stairs – all make you feel as if gnomes are beating tiny hammers on your back. Whatever its source, backaches are bad news, putting you out of sorts – and out of sync. Discover the common causes and how to relieve back pain. Plus, how bad is your back pain? Take our quiz to find out…

With all those years of toting tots, groceries, laundry, computer bags – even oversized purses with everything but the kitchen sink – it’s no wonder that women are no strangers to back pain.

But heavy loads aren’t the only culprits. Posture, arthritis and pregnancy are other triggers.

Women are particularly vulnerable “because they may develop osteoporosis, which is a weakening of the vertebrae,” says Reza Ghorbani, M.D., a pain management specialist at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md. “And then they don’t have stability in their spines.”

But that doesn’t mean you have to live with the misery. Here’s a guide to 7 common culprits of backaches, plus doctor-recommended remedies to relieve back pain:

1. Back strain
Many activities women do daily – hoisting shopping bags, climbing in and out of cars, bending to pick up dirty clothes or kids – strain muscles and ligaments around the spine.

“The muscles start stretching and that can irritate the nerve ending in the muscles,” Ghorbani says.

What you can do: For starters, lift things correctly.

“Many people bend straight down to pick something up instead of squatting before lifting,” Ghorbani says.

The right way? Lift from the knees, using muscles in your legs and arms – not your back (see right).

Doctor’s fix: For minor, occasional back pain, “the first line of treatment is over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil or Motrin,” Ghorbani says. “Use as directed on the package.”

He also recommends topical pain relief creams because they act only where it hurts, not on your whole body.

Also, treat a sore back with a warm bath, he advises. “Heat increases the blood flow to the muscles, which helps ease the pain.”

To make a heating pad, fill a sock with rice, tie off the end and heat it in a microwave for a minute. Wrap this – or any heating pad – in a cloth to prevent burns and hold against your back for 15-20 minutes.

2. Slouching
Poor posture hurts your back, says rheumatologist Harris McIlwain, M.D., author of The Pain-Free Back (Henry Holt & Co). Sitting or standing with shoulders slouched forward strains muscles.

“If you sit leaning forward, the pressure on the spine is much greater than if you’re sitting straight,” McIlwain says.

Normally, your lower back has a slight inward curve, adds Sheeraz Qureshi, M.D., assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

“Poor posture causes your back to come out of that curve, which puts more pressure on your spinal discs and back muscles,” he says.

What you can do: “Get a comfortable desk chair that has arms and allows you to put your feet on the floor,” McIlwain says

Then elevate your feet with a stool or something similar, which relieves pressure on your back, Qureshi says.

Don’t have an aerodynamic office chair? Then you’ll need lumbar, or lower back, support. So tuck a pillow behind your lower back and keep your shoulders back, with head aligned over your shoulders.

Also, don’t sit in the same position all day, McIlwain says: Get up and walk around the desk or do a few stretches every half-hour.

When standing, lift your breastbone, straighten your shoulders, keep your chin level and spine neutral, with buttocks neither too far out (a swayback) nor too tucked under.

And try the following exercise in your chair several times a day, McIlwain advises:

Tighten your buttocks’ muscles and count to 10, then relax them. Do two more times. This strengthens the gluteus muscles, the large muscles in the buttocks that help support the hips.

When they aren’t strong, back muscles jump in to do their work. The result? Lower-back pain.

Doctor’s fix: “One of the first lines of treatment is physical therapy,” Qureshi says. “The therapist can focus on strengthening the muscles around the spine.” 

Many physical therapists can evaluate your work station, checking where the computer and keyboard location and the type and height of your chair.

“Then they can put you in the best position for your back,” Qureshi says.

In some cases, the doctor may recommend wearing a back brace, which will help correct your posture and relieve pain – but only temporarily.

“Don’t wear one indefinitely,” Qureshi warns. “Braces do the job of the muscles, so in the long run the muscles can weaken.”

When you have severe back pain, use a brace, such as a support belt, for around three days, allowing the back “to calm down,” he says.

3. Too much couch time
Out-of-shape muscles are the enemy here.

“You can’t stop aging,” Ghorbani says. “But by strengthening your lower back muscles with exercise and stretching, you can avoid back pain.” 

What you can do: Try a low-impact aerobic exercise that gets your heart pumping – such as walking or swimming every day, building to at least 20 minutes at a time, Qureshi says.

“Stretching and range of motion exercises, like Pilates and yoga, are also very good,” he says. (Check out our easy yoga exercises slideshow.)

Don’t have time? “Even simple things like stretching for 10 minutes a day can protect your back by improving your posture and muscle [strength].”

Doctor’s fix: Ask your doc to recommend exercises that strengthen back and abdominal muscles (which support the back). You may also be referred to a physical therapist to learn proper form for exercises and help you set up a back-boosting fitness routine. 

4. Pregnancy
At least half of pregnant women have some back pain, from general lower back aches to sciatica – a searing pain from the buttocks that shoots down the leg.

Why? Blame the bundle of joy you’re carrying.

During pregnancy, “the uterus enlarges and that shifts the center of gravity forward,” says Robert Goldfarb, M.D., an obstetrician/gynecologist at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital in West Bloomfield, Mich. “So you’re tilted a little backward to maintain posture and your back muscles have to work harder.”

Plus, in the third trimester, hormones relax your pelvic ligaments, loosening joints and intensifying back pain, Goldfarb says.

What you can do: The better shape you’re in physically, the less likely you are to have back pain, Goldfarb says.

“It’s hard to do sit-ups when you’re pregnant,” he says. “But get regular exercise, like walking or water aerobics.”

He also recommends stretching and flexibility exercises, like yoga.

“And make sure you have a solid mattress,” Goldfarb says. Soft mattresses don’t support the natural position of the spine, throwing it out of alignment, he says. In turn, that places stress on back muscles, ligaments and joints.

“If it’s more than 5 years old, stick a piece of plywood beneath it to make it firmer,” he suggests.

That’s a helpful tip for any back pain – pregnancy or not.

Doctor’s fix: Don’t take non-steroidal anti-inflammatories drugs (NSAID), such as Advil and Motrin. They aren’t safe for pregnant women because they can affect the baby’s circulatory system, Goldfarb says.

But Tylenol gets the doctor’s nod, and for severe back pain, you may be prescribed a narcotic pain reliever such as Vicodyn or Tylenol with codeine – both are safe during pregnancy, he says.

5. Excess weight
The more you weigh, the harder it is for the spine to support your body. Add weak muscles to excess weight and you’ll soon be reaching for Advil.

What you can do: “You want to be as close to your ideal weight as [possible],” Qureshi says. Find out what it is by using our BMI calculator– or ask your doctor.

Even a loss of few pounds’ can help with back pain, doctors agree.

“If calories in are less than calories out, you’re going to lose weight,” he says.

Eating more lean meats, fruits, veggies and whole grains instead of high-fat, sugar-laden fast foods will also help you feel full on fewer calories.

And, of course, exercise more.

Doctor’s fix: If you need help to lose weight, see a nutritionist, McIlwain says.

“A nutritionist can give you personal instruction in basic diet choices,” and develop a weight-loss plan for you, he says.

But even if weight loss is difficult, you can still relieve back pain by doing exercises for the back and hamstrings to strengthen those weight-bearing muscles.

Weak hamstrings – the muscles at the back of the legs that connect to the pelvis – can make it tilt forward, which then causes muscle tightness in your lower back.

Here’s McIlwain’s exercise to strengthen hamstrings: Sitting in a desk chair, push one foot down into the floor (using your muscles) until you feel the hamstring tighten. Hold for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat with the other side. To start, perform 1-2 reps of the exercise twice a day, building up to 20 reps twice a day.

6. Stress
The refrigerator’s broken, the babysitter didn’t show up and you were late to work. Now you’re feeling an angry twinge in your back. Why today?

Blame stress. It triggers the release of cortisol, adrenaline and other hormones that rev up your body to fight or flee whatever’s agitating you. That makes muscles tighten, irritating the nerves and increasing inflammation, which causes back pain, Qureshi says.

What you can do: Simply realizing when you’re experiencing stress and trying to control its triggers can help relieve back pain, he says.

Then take steps to de-stress: Cut out unnecessary events in your schedule. Instead, go for a walk (which both relaxes you and improves fitness) or take a warm bath mixed with a couple cups of Epsom salts. The magnesium in the salts helps relax aching muscles.

Also try deep breathing exercises, which can help relieve back pain and stress, says Loren Gelberg-Goff, a clinical social worker in River Edge, N.J.

“Pain generally makes people tense up, causing more pain and tension,” Gelberg-Goff says. “Deep breathing changes that pattern.”

Breathe in through your nose to the count of four, feeling your stomach push out, then release slowly through your mouth to the count of four.

“Do it for at least a full minute every hour,” Gelberg-Goff recommends.

Doctor’s fix: If anxiety lies behind your back aches, you may be referred to a psychotherapist, who can help identify stressors, work to eliminate them and teach you to react less strongly to those you can’t avoid.

7. Degenerative disc disease
Around age 30, we begin to lose some of the cushioning from the discs between the bones in our spines, due to aging, wear and tear or trauma.

“Degeneration can be a normal part of the aging process,” says Scott L. Blumenthal, M.D., an orthopedic spine surgeon at the Texas Back Institute in Plano, Texas.

The joints between vertebrae – facet joints – also begin to deteriorate, adding to the ache. Both conditions can cause a bulging (herniated) disc, Ghorbani says, which occurs when the discs shift, touching the nerves in the spine. The result is severe back pain shooting to the toes.

What you can do: “Some of the pain comes from inflammation,” Qureshi says, “so you can take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like Advil or Aleve.”

Also apply ice for about 10 minutes every 1-1/2 hours, he says. Make sure the ice is wrapped in a cloth so you don’t get ice burn.

If you smoke, stop.

“Smoking shrinks blood vessels and without blood flow, discs become dehydrated and don’t get the nutrients they need,” Ghorbani says.

And avoid standing for long periods, he says. “When you stand, it compresses the discs further,” which is why we’re taller in the morning than in the evening. When the discs compress, “that causes pain.”

Doctor’s fix: Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories, physical therapy or cortisone injections – the latter relieves inflammation at the site for many.

“But if the bulging disc is causing a lot of nerve pressure and you have numbness or tingling going down the leg, you need to see a back specialist to remove the disc,” Qureshi says.

That could involve spinal fusion surgery, in which the damaged disc is removed and the vertebrae above and below are fused together.

“It’s the tried-and-true method,” Qureshi says.

The downside is that you lose some spinal mobility in the area, which places more stress on the parts of the spine that still move.

“But once you have disc and arthritic changes, you’ve already lost movement,” Qureshi says. “So the amount of movement you lose with fusion is small.”

Another option: replacing the damaged disc with an artificial one. Disc replacement, a procedure available only in the last decade, “can treat the disc problem and preserve motion,” Blumenthal says. “It’s the greatest advance in spinal surgery in 20 years.”

Still, the life span of artificial discs isn’t clear. And, says Qureshi, if you have pain and arthritis in other areas of the spine, your pain may not diminish as much as you hoped.

How Bad Is Your Back Pain?
So your back hurts? You may need to see a doctor but have just been avoiding it thinking it will get better.  Find out where your pain ranks in this back pain quiz.

Check out Health Bistro for more healthy food for thought. See what Lifescript editors are talking about and get the skinny on latest news. Share it with your friends (it’s free to sign up!), and bookmark it so you don’t miss a single juicy post!

The information contained on www.lifescript.com (the “Site”) is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for advice from your doctor or healthcare professional. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating ahealth problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding any medical condition. Information and statements provided by the site about dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Lifescript does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, third-party products, procedures, opinions, or other information mentioned on the Site. Reliance on any information provided by Lifescript is solely at your own risk.

Posted in Health & Wellness Information | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Lifescript – Fight Arthritis : 10 Foods That Help & Hurt

Posted by 4love2love on June 8, 2011

Fight Arthritis: 10 Foods That Help and Hurt
By Dorothy Foltz-Gray, Special to Lifescript
Published May 23, 2011
Food can’t cure arthritis, but it can make the disease less painful – or worse. Find out which 7 foods will ease your aching joints and help you lose weight, how much to eat and the 3 noshes that are making matters worse. Plus, what’s your osteoarthritis IQ? Take our quiz to find out… People who suffer from arthritis are familiar with the pains, cracks and pops define the condition. But small changes in your diet can yield big rewards in managing the disease.“Food isn’t a panacea, but some can make your joints healthier,” says Leslie Bonci, R.D., director of Sports Nutrition in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh.

You may not be able to toss your Tylenol, but a diet rich in these foods can make you healthier and maybe lighter. After all, every pound you carry around your belly puts 10 pounds of pressure on your joints.

Here are 7 foods to stock up on:

Good food #1: Fatty fish (salmon, herring sardines) or any other food with omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, soy beans, flax seeds, canola oil and pumpkin seeds

Why it helps: Omega-3s decrease the production of chemicals that spread inflammation, plus they inhibit enzymes that trigger it – “a dual benefit,” Bonci says.

Fatty fish also contain vitamin D, which helps prevent swelling and soreness.

When the Women’s Health Study followed 30,000 women for 11 years, researchers found that those who got less than 200 international units (IU) – about 3 ounces of sardines – of vitamin D a day from their diet were 33% more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than women who got more.How much to eat: Get at least one gram of omega-3s a day. Four ounces of salmon, for example, has 1.5 grams of omega-3.

Another easy healthy fix: Add walnuts (2.27 grams per quarter cup) to a salad or flaxseed (two tablespoons has 3.51 grams) to your cereal.

Boost your vitamin D intake by drinking two glasses of low-fat milk (200 IUs) on days you’re not eating omega-3s. And spend 10-15 minutes a day in the sun – sunlight triggers vitamin D production in your body.

Good food #2: Extra-virgin olive oil

Why it helps: Olive oil contains oleocanthal, which blocks enzymes involved in inflammation.

About 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil acts like one-tenth of a dose of ibuprofen, according to a study at the Monnell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. That may not be much, but small dietary changes add up.

“Since olive oil’s not calorie-free (one tablespoon has 119 calories), don’t douse your food with it,” Bonci warns.

How much to eat: One tablespoon a day on salads, bread or vegetables.

Good food #3: Sweet peppers, citrus fruits and other vitamin C-rich foods

Why it helps: Vitamin C protects collagen, a major component of cartilage. Inadequate amounts may increase your risk for some kinds of arthritis.

A Canadian study of 1,317 men found that those who got 1,500 milligrams of vitamin C through food or supplements daily had a 45% lower risk of gout (a painful condition also known as gouty arthritis) than those who consumed less than 250 milligrams a day.

But don’t shoot for such high doses if you have osteoarthritis. Duke University researchers found that animals who took high doses of vitamin C – the equivalent of 1,500-2,500 milligrams a day in humans – over eight months suffered worse knee osteoarthritis. So moderation is key.

How much to eat: Try for 200-500 milligrams a day. An orange and a cup of broccoli will net you about 200. And focus on foods, not supplements:

“Foods that are high in vitamin C have other plant nutrients that you won’t get from a vitamin C supplement,” Bonci says.

Broccoli and cauliflower, for instance, have a chemical – indole-3-carbinol – that may protect us from certain cancers, including breast cancer.

Good food #4: Brazil nuts

Why they help: Brazil nuts contain huge amounts of selenium – 272 micrograms in just three or four nuts, compared to 63 micrograms in 3 ounces of tuna.

For example, a 2005 University of North Carolina study found that the participants with the highest levels of selenium had a 40% lower risk than those with the lowest levels.

Low selenium may also be linked to rheumatoid arthritis. The mineral helps antioxidants clear out cell-damaging free radicals, aids the regulation of the thyroid gland and may prevent cancer.

How much to eat: 55-200 micrograms a day. If you don’t like Brazil nuts or tuna, you can get 32-35 micrograms in 3.5 ounces of beef or turkey or 12 micrograms in a cup of cooked oatmeal.

Good food #5: Onions and leeks

Why they help: Onions and leeks contain quercetin, an antioxidant that may inhibit inflammatory chemicals, much like aspirin and ibuprofen do. But research is limited, Bonci says.

Worried about onion breath? Boost your intake of kale, cherry tomatoes or apples – all are high in quercetin.

How much to eat: One-half cup of a high-quercetin food a day.

Good food #6: Tart cherries

Why they help: “This wives’ tale now has science to back it up,” Bonci says.

A University of Michigan study suggests that a diet plump with tart cherries can cut inflammation in animals by 50%. And a 2009 study at Baylor Research Institute in Dallas found that 56% of patients with osteoarthritis had more than 20% improvement in pain and function after taking cherry pills for eight weeks.

The magic ingredient is anthocyanins, the pigments that give cherries – and grapes, black raspberries and eggplant – their vibrancy. They’re also powerful antioxidants that cut inflammation.

How much to eat: Half-cup of tart cherries – fresh, frozen, canned or dried – or 8 ounces of juice.Good food #7: Green teaWhy it helps: Studies show that certain antioxidant compounds in the brew lessen the incidence and severity of arthritis.

One University of Michigan study found that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) lowers production of inflammation-causing substances in the body that cause joint damage in arthritis sufferers.

How much to drink: 3-4 cups a day. Skip the decaffeinated version, which robs the tea of some of the helpful nutrients. “Green tea won’t take all your pain away,” Bonci says, but it can help.

Foods to Avoid

Bad food #1: Shellfish, red meat (only if you have gout)

Why they hurt: Gout results from the build-up of uric acid in the blood, which forms crystals that painfully settle in the joints.

Purine, a compound that’s abundant in shellfish, meats, high-fat dairy foods and beer, converts to uric acid. These foods are no-nos for people at risk for or suffering from gout: clams, oysters, mussels, anchovies, herring, mackerel, liver, brain, kidney and sweetbreads. (But is that last onereally a hardship?)

Swap them for: No more than 5-6 ounces of lean meat, poultry or fish a day. Need protein? Serve up some beans instead; they offer muscle-relaxing magnesium and bone-building calcium.

Bad food #2: Sunflower, safflower, corn and soybean oils
Why they hurt: They’re high in omega-6 fatty acids, which increase inflammation. Watch out: These oils are prevalent in U.S.-made baked goods and snacks.Swap them for: Switch to healthy olive or nut oils.Bad food #3: Sugar 

Why it hurts: Some studies suggest that sugar may increase inflammation. Although it offers a quick energy boost, the high doesn’t last, which can be a drag for arthritis sufferers who already suffer from fatigue.

Sugar is also high in calories, which leads to weight gain and added pressure on your joints.

Swap it for: An occasional sweet is fine, but most days enjoy the natural sweetness of fresh fruit instead. Aim for 2-4 half-cup servings a day.

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