SPOTLIGHT ON ARTHRITIS
Arthritic, inflamed joints and cold weather don’t mix. During the winter season, it’s particularly important to avoid exposure to excessive cold weather and wind chill. Under guidance of your doctor and medical practitioner, you can improve your diet and exercise regime with yoga, to help reduce inflammation and pain through healthy lifestyle choices.
An anti-inflammatory diet doesn’t need to be seen as restrictive, in fact the new taste sensations gained from new spices can add pleasure and variety to your life. An antiinflammatory diet will move you away from salty and sour tasting foods, away from acidic foods and into an alkaline diet, introducing you to spices such as tumeric, ginger and cinnamon, in ways you might not have tried before. Approach your diet from a joyful perspective of embracing something new, and you will enjoy the healing journey that food can bring. From a yogic perspective, improving digestion is key, as undigested food promotes toxins accumulating in the joints. Increasing the ‘digestive fire’ through proper eating habits and the right kind of diet literally ‘burns the toxins away’, which in turn reduces inflammation and pain.
First step, do away with the boring - no more leftover foods as they aren’t as healthy as people like to believe. Fresh is always best, so make just what you need to consume, and increase juicing of fresh vegetables. No more fried foods and refined white sugars - that stuff has never made you feel good anyway. Try eliminating the nightshades to see if it makes a difference to your arthritis - that’s tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and capsicums. Avoid salty and sour tasting foods and maintain a peaceful, positive attitude toward eating with every meal.
Next, add oils! Start taking high quality fish oil or krill oil, and if you are vegetarian, flaxseed oil. Aiming to reduce acidity means eating more green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, seaweed (like nori in sushi rolls) and certain fruits. You can whizz baby spinach leaves, cucumber, freshly squeezed lemon, flaxseed oil and banana together in a blender with water for a scrumptious green smoothie, jam packed with goodness. Choose to cook soothing, warmed vegetable soups with mung beans for best digestion, and begin eliminating dairy and red meat from your diet.
Another suggestion is applying warmed oil like black sesame, castor or black seed oil externally to aching joints during a flare-up. Castor oil can also be taken internally in hot ginger tea under guidance. Start cooking with garlic, add tumeric in small increments, and ginger to your foods. You can also add fresh ginger as a side dish to accompany any meal.
Try this recipe to add the healing qualities of spice to your diet for antiinflammatory eating: 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds 2 tablespoons chopped ginger pinch salt 1 tablespoon of ghee (clarified butter) 1/2 cup red lentils 1/2 cup basmati rice 4 cups water A handful of fresh, chopped vegetables of your choice, such as broccoli and carrot.
Heat ghee in a pan, adding mustard seeds, ginger, cumin and fennel seeds to the heat and bring out the flavour. Stir washed lentils and rice into the cooking spiced oil, and quickly stir in the vegetables and tumeric, add the water and bring to boil. Cover and simmer for around 25 minutes or until rice and lentils are soft. Add a pinch of salt, squeeze a little lemon over the dish, and serve.
Try making a tea with the following combinations: Cumin, coriander and fennel or Cinnamon, cardamon, ginger and clove.
PRACTICE GENTLE YOGA FOR HEALTH
Moving the joints is healing and yoga can be performed gently to provide relief for the joints and reduce pain. Gentle joint rotations in both directions, performed with the breath is a wonderful daily activity for arthritis. Try to circle each and every joint you can access, including slowly circling the ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, neck, elbows (by extending arms then touching shoulders), and circling wrists each day to the breath. Place fingers on shoulders then make circular movements with shoulders, aiming to touch elbows together with each slow round.
FLOWING BRIDGE POSE
Lie on your back and bring your heels in line with your sitting bones, knees bent, feet on floor. On your in-breath, gradually and slowly lift up your spine, starting from the base towards the neck, while lifting arms above head simultaneously as shown. Link the movements, arms resting on or towards the floor as you lift your back as high as is comfortable. Synchronise your breath with the movement. On the out-breath, lower arms and spine from the upper vertebrae to lower, back into starting position. Practice consciously and slowly with the breath, gradually repeating the movement sequence up to six times. Lengthen your exhalation, your out-breath, with each repetition.
Finally, rest on your back and allow your legs to gently fall out to the sides. Close eyes, relax, and focus on the gentle movement of your breath, in and out through your nose, feeling the natural rise and fall of your belly. Relax, release tension, and let your worries go. When ready, after a few moments, roll to the right side, and gently come out of the position.
Kylie Terraluna is a yoga, health and lifestyle features writer and health journalist. Kylie teaches weekly yoga classes in Galston and would love to see you in her classes. Kylie is our new Health and WellBeing features writer. For more, visit kylieterraluna.com.au.