What are Your Risk Factors?
The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remains unknown (in the mainstream). Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of several autoimmune diseases-where a person’s immune system is triggered to attack his or her own tissues. Research conducted over the past few years suggests that several factors may combine to cause rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These include genetic factors, environmental factors and others.
Genetic Factors. Certain genes that play a role in the immune system are associated with the likelihood of developing rheumatoid arthritis. However, many people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) do not have these specific genes, and other people have these genes but never develop the disease. This suggests that, while a person’s genetic makeup is an important part of the story, it is not the sole reason for developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Environmental Factors. Many researchers believe that something must occur to trigger rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in people whose genetic makeup makes them susceptible to the disease. This may be an infectious agent such as a virus or bacterium. (This does not mean that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) itself is contagious. It cannot be transmitted from person to person.)
Other related factors. Some scientists have put forward their belief that certain hormonal factors may be involved in the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These hormonal deficiencies/changes may trigger rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in a genetically susceptible person who has been exposed to an environmental trigger.
Dietary factors. In general, higher intakes of protein and caffeine and lower intakes of fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C increase the risk of Rheumatoid arthritis.
Female gender. In general, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) occurs much more frequently in women than in men.
Rest and exercise: If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it is important to make sure you have adequate rest and exercise and find a balance between the two. When rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is active, more rest is required and, when it is in remission, exercise is beneficial. Rest helps to reduce joint inflammation and pain and fights fatigue. Exercise is important for maintaining strong muscles, maintaining joint mobility, and aiding flexibility. Exercise may also help you to sleep better and maintain a positive attitude.
Protect your joints. Learn to “listen” to your body and stop any activity that gives rise to pain. Alternate heavy or repetitive tasks with easier tasks and build breaks into your daily schedule. Take advantage of the many helpful devices designed for arthritis sufferers such as jar openers and wide-handled mugs. Use carts instead of carrying heavy loads and use chairs with a straight back, high seat and arms, enabling you to “push off” from a sitting position. Some people find that the short-term use of a splint around a painful joint reduces pain and swelling by supporting the joint and letting it rest. Splints may be used on the wrists, hands, ankles and feet.
Controlling stress. People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) face ongoing emotional challenges as well as physical ones. Since stress can also affect the amount of pain a person feels, it is important to be able to control stressors. Developing relaxation and coping skills can contribute to the feeling of being in control over your rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Try deep breathing exercises, listen to music or relaxation tapes, or visualize a pleasant activity such as sitting by a peaceful lake or lying on a beach. Exercise programs, participation in support groups, and good communication with your health care team also help to reduce stress.
Revise your diet. Add more raw seeds such as pumpkin and flax seeds and fatty fish like salmon or sardines to your food intake; these foods contain health promoting omega 3 fatty acids, to reduce joint inflammation. Increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables; eat more legumes (beans, peas); avoid hydrogenated oils (trans-fatty acids), cut down on foods rich in animal fats, particularly fatty meats (beef, pork) and high-fat dairy products.
Supplement. Add nutritional supplements such as a high quality multi-vitamin mineral and consume foods that are high in nutrients. There is a growing body of evidence that states there are nutritional deficiencies present in Rheumatoid arthritis that either may be involved in the cause of the disease or are secondary to the condition itself. One nutrient that has shown to be deficient in blood of most Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers is potassium.
Consult your doctor / healthcare professional about new food-based non-drug supplements formulated to help improve quality of life such as Recovery with Nutricol.