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26 April 2008

The Bold Taste of Kimchi Blasted into Orbit

I bet you didn’t know that South Koreans were dancing in the streets after one of their own became the first Korean astronaut in early April. Yi So-Yeon blasted into space aboard a Russian Soyuz spaceship bound for the International Space Station. While in space, Yi will be eating plenty of kimchi.

Kimchi? Most Westerners have never heard of this type of fermented cabbage, which has been a staple of the Korean diet for centuries. The South Koreans, who eat 1.6 tons of this side dish each year, like to spice up their banchan with other vegetables like onions, garlic, and red hot chili peppers. It’s the spicy peppers that have gotten me when I’ve tried kimchi because I’m not a spicy-food kind of guy. I prefer the less-spicy sauerkraut, but kimchi is definitely one of the healthiest foods you can eat. And it’ll clear your sinuses in a hurry.

Low in calories, high in dietary fiber, kimchi is rich in vitamin A, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), calcium, and iron and is an excellent resource for lactic acid bacteria that aids in digestion. Kimchi, along with sauerkraut, are prime examples of fermented foods that rarely find their way onto American plates. About the only non-dairy fermented foods that Americans eat these days are pickles.

The first time I ate kimchi was after my health troubles in the mid-1990s. I was living with my parents, and they liked to try new, exotic foods, so I gave it a go, but like I said, it’s too spicy for my taste. Another Korean dish I didn’t particularly care for was fish eyeballs. I attended a conference on probiotics one time, and the person putting on the conference—a Korean—planned the banquet menu for the conferees. We were served a traditional Korean meal including a dish with fish eyeballs. All I can remember is that they were all white—and you couldn’t see any sort of pupil.

I prefer food without eyeballs, and even though I’m not a big kimchi fan, I still seek out some type of fermented cabbage regularly, like sauerkraut. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors fermented their foods—a process that made the food healthier and easier to digest, as opposed to today’s preservatives, which rely on chemical compounds to keep the food from spoiling.

So, if you’re feeling adventurous the next time you’re in an Asian restaurant, skip the fish eyeballs but ask your wait person if they serve kimchi as a side dish. You may have a greater affinity for the spicy food than I do, and if so, you’ve discovered an incredibly healthy food to eat.

25 April 2008

Top 10 Crimes Against Your Body

What are the top 10 things people do to their bodies that they shouldn’t? This LiveScience article has detailed the top 10:

10. Toe Shortening: The surgery involves removing part of the toe bone, can cost up to $10,000 and can lead to arthritis.

9. Laser Hair Removal: The treatment disables hair follicles and can lead to scarring if not properly done. Plus, it doesn’t remove all the hair, and it might only last for a couple of years.

8. Body Piercing: Piercing delicate places like nipples, genitals or your tongue can interfere with breastfeeding, increase the risk of spreading STDs, and chip your teeth, respectively.

7. Grills: The metal jewelry worn across your teeth costs thousands of dollars and can accelerate tooth and gum decay.

6. Permanent Makeup: Tattooing makeup on your face may be generally safe, assuming the fashion world and your taste won’t change in the next 50 years.

5. Bariatric Surgery: Over 40 percent of these surgeries result in major complications within six months, such as diarrhea or hernia.

4. Skin Whitening: Some topical whiteners contain mercury, which causes nerve and kidney damage. Others contain hydroquinone, a carcinogen banned in Europe that blotches your skin.

3. Botox: Botox, which paralyzes your facial muscles to rid you of wrinkles, can cause respiratory failure and death.

2. Penis Enhancement: The surgery carries an extreme risk of deformity and loss of sensitivity, which is why no reputable surgery will perform it on a healthy penis.

1. Liposuction: Liposuction removes only about 10 pounds of fat after four hours of dangerous surgery. Recovery is long and painful, and there is a death rate of 1 in 5,000 procedures.

Energy drinks beat up tooth enamel

When your mother told you that drinking that soda would rot your teeth, she knew nothing of energy drinks.

The high-caffeine, high-sugar beverages that some teens gulp like water are three to 10 times worse for your teeth than colas, according to a study published in dental journals.

A professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore Dental School soaked teeth in energy drinks, fitness water, sports drinks and other beverages for 14 days, measuring the decay. According to reports in General Dentistry and other trade publications, lemonade and energy drinks did the most damage.

The professor, Dr. Anthony von Fraunhofer, found that those drinks contain high levels of acids that can destroy enamel.

Efforts to reach the American Beverage Association, which represents the manufacturers of sodas, colas, energy drinks and sports drinks, were unsuccessful. The organization has been critical of the study, which was meant to replicate 13 years of normal beverage consumption, saying its methodology is flawed. Consumers of the drinks wouldn't see that sort of damage unless they held the liquids in their mouths without swallowing it, the organization has said.

But Dr. John Ruby, a professor in the dental school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has done research that reached similar conclusions.

Ruby measured the pH levels, or acidity, of dozens of beverages. Energy drinks have such high levels of acid that he recommends consumers not even allow them to touch their teeth. If you must drink them, he said, use a straw.

"Sip those all day, and you're not going to have any teeth left," he said.

Drink manufacturers put acid into beverages to balance the sweetness of the sugar. A can of Coke includes 10 teaspoons of sugar, for example, Ruby said. Put that much sugar in a cup of coffee, and "you'd be gagging," it would be so sweet, he said. The acid makes it palatable.

A low pH level means high acidity, and a high level means the acidity is low. A pH below 4 is enough to dissolve teeth, and all the energy drinks tested at UAB had levels of 3.3 or lower. Some sports drinks, including Powerade and Gatorade, were even worse. Wine also scored poorly, with pHs in the 3s, Ruby said.

"Wine tasters actually can erode their teeth," he said.

Beer fared much better, with a pH higher than 7. Among sodas, root beer was best, with a pH of 4.

Energy drinks, sports drinks and sodas contain a variety of acids, most commonly phosphoric acid, typically found in dark colas, and citric acid, typically found in clearer ones. Damage caused by those acids is basically irreversible, Ruby said.

In the Maryland study, the amount of enamel destroyed by the beverages was highest in KMX energy drink and Snapple Classic Lemonade. Close behind were Red Bull and lemon-lime Gatorade. The most destructive beverages seem to be those with citric acid, Ruby said.

The pitting that results can be filled, just like a cavity. But if the damage is closer to the roots, a crown is necessary. More severe damage means lost teeth.

To minimize the damage, Ruby recommends that people who consume energy and sports drinks:

Use a straw. Anything that keeps the liquid from coming in contact with your teeth helps. If you don't have a straw, open wide and pour it down, he said. "Try to drink it so it goes straight down the hatch."

Follow the energy drink with water. Rinsing will help remove what remained in your mouth after drinking that Red Bull, and will lessen the amount of acid that comes in contact with your teeth.

Use sports drinks for their intended purpose. An athlete who gulps down Gatorade after a workout isn't the one whose teeth are likely to suffer. It's the office worker who keeps a jug on his desk because he likes the taste.

Dr. W. Timothy Brooks, a Huntsville dentist and spokesman for the Alabama Academy of General Dentistry, said working dentists are seeing more instances of damage from energy drinks because they are becoming more popular. Young people especially, who are the target market for the beverages, are ending up in the examination chair.

Brooks recently saw a college basketball player who was found to have significant enamel loss when his braces were removed. The young man consumed large quantities of sports and energy drinks and not much water, and it was easy to see the link, Brooks said. "He had thinned out his enamel."

The young man was given fluoride to strengthen his teeth, but "they'll always be rougher and softer than before," Brooks said.

Ruby, Brooks and other experts said they tell patients to avoid sports and energy drinks if possible, and to be careful how they consume them if they do.

"There's nothing better than water," Brooks said.


Connecticut Wants To Ban Pharma Gifts

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has asked for help against influence wielded by drugmakers in formal testimony before the state’s Legislature.

Blumenthal wants to make it illegal for drugmakers to give gifts or other benefits to physicians, citing it may influence their health care decisions despite a code of ethics the industry has already adopted.

In his view, the current code is meaningless and unenforceable. Drug companies spend more than $11 billion per year on relentless direct marketing of their drugs.

Specifically, Blumenthal proposes that Connecticut law:

* Prohibit any gifts, scholarships or other items in exchange for prescribing products, a commitment to continue prescribing products or to otherwise interfere with the independence of a health care provider’s prescribing practices;
* Prohibit any gifts for the personal use of a health care provider;
* Prohibit any gifts to a health care provider for business use except for items of minimal value such as post-its, note pads, etc;
* Limit gifts for patient benefit to free samples of prescription drugs and items valued under $100;
* Prohibit any gifts or payments to health care providers for attending conferences but allow financial sponsorship of such conferences if the benefit of the sponsorship is distributed evenly among all attendees through reduced conference fees;
* Regulate payments to health care providers to serve as consultants, requiring written contracts, documentation of the criteria and the selection process for such consultants, articulation of the legitimate need for such consultant services; and
* Require all recipients of scholarships and other financial educational assistance to be selected by the participating academic or training institution and not the drugmaker.


* Legal April 22, 2008

Inaccuracies In Studies Of Cancer Treatments Revealed

Certain biases may exist in observational studies that compare outcomes of different cancer therapies, making the results questionable. That is the conclusion of a new study published in the June 1, 2008 issue of Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

To determine the accuracy of observational studies on cancer treatments, Dr. Sharon H. Giordano of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and her colleagues compared the effectiveness of different cancer therapies in terms of prolonging survival in patients, using data from the SEER registry. They presented several examples, including re-analyses of previously published data. In all cases, they came up with improbable results, indicating how easy it is to generate questionable results when conducting an observational study.

For example, selection bias occurs when patients with poorer prognoses are more likely to receive a more efficacious drug, or when patients with better underlying health are more likely to receive a more toxic treatment because they are more likely to tolerate it.

The authors concluded that their findings “suggest that the results of observational studies of treatment outcomes should be viewed with caution.” They recommended that analyses of observational data should at a minimum attempt to segregate patient outcomes into those that could possibly be due to the treatments vs. those that could not. Many observational studies on cancer treatments only report death rates from all causes and do not specify cancer-related deaths.


* MedicoNews April 22, 2008

* CANCER June 1, 2008 [Epub Ahead of Print] (Full Length Article)

23 April 2008

Recipe: Real Sauerkraut (German style Kimchi)

Sauerkraut, German for sour cabbage, has become a generic name for fermented vegetables. Around the time of Captain James Cook, sauerkraut was a key preventative for scurvy by European seafarers. According to William Dufty, author of the Sugar Blues, sauerkraut was able to counteract the antinutrient properties of dietary refined sugar. Dufty's contention was that scurvy was not so much caused by the absence of fresh foods rich in vitamin C, but by the consumption of a diet high in refined sugar which depleted the body of vitamins and minerals and thereby contributed to the condition.

In the book, The Hidden Drug: Dietary Phosphate by Hertha Hafer, the author makes a very telling point when she writes that, "A spoonful of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water before bed may ameliorate the symptoms of ADHD". She further notes that before the 1900's, those people living on a traditional diet did not suffer from ADHD. Fermented vegetables produce lactic acid and if the acetobacter microorganisms are present then it seems likely that some acetic acid will also be produced.

It is also worth noting that a number of Traditional Chinese Medicine remedies utilise fermented vegetables and fruits, such as Umboshi plums. Whereas raw cabbage, that is the ubiquitous coleslaw served at salad bars and fast food outlets, may lead to a depressed thyroid functioning if eaten in large quantities, fermented cabbage and other vegetables provide many health benefits and should not be under estimated for their healing powers. Kimchi is such a ubiquitous part of Korean culture that employees get a kimchi allowance with their pay. Koreans use a wide variety of vegetables, fruit such as apples, oranges and lemons, salted fish, sesame oil and roasted sesame seeds. You may wish to start with the following recipe and adapt it to your creative instincts.


One important secret to making really delicious yet medicinal cultured veggies is to use freshly harvested, organic, well-cleaned vegetables. After washing the veggies, spin them dry (Salad Spinner). Clean equipment is essential. Scald everything you use in very hot water.

Version 1

3 heads green cabbage, shredded in a food processor or chopped finely with knife.
6 carrots

Version 2

3 heads green cabbage, shredded in a food processor
6 carrots, large, shredded in a food processor
3 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped

To Make Cultured Vegetables

1. Combined all ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Remove several cups of this mixture and put into blender.
3. Add enough filtered water to make a “brine” the consistency of a thick juice. Blend well and then add brine back into first mixture. Stir well. (If using starter culture, see below)
4. Pack mixture down into a 1½ quart glass or stainless steel container. Use your fist, a wooden dowel, or a potato masher to pack veggies tightly.
5. Fill container almost full, but leave about 2 inches of room at the top for veggies to expand.
6. Roll up several cabbage leaves into a tight “log” and place them on top to fill the remaining 2 –inch space. Clamp jar closed.
7. Let veggies sit at about a 70-degree room temperature for at least three days. A week is even better. Refrigerate to slow down fermentation. Enjoy!

Wipe the inside of the neck clean with a paper towel and screw on a plastic lid firmly to prevent any liquid spilling over. If you have concerns about pressure build up in the jar then you may wish to leave the lid slightly loose.

Store the jars on a stainless steel tray away from sunlight at room temperature (20-30 Celsius). Important: Each day push the sauerkraut down with a wooden spoon to keep the top layer wet. Ferment for 1-2days at 30 C or about 5 days at 20 C, before transferring the kimchi to a refrigerator. The sauerkraut matures with age.

1. Once you have filled the jars with sauerkraut then you may find it advantageous to spread a layer of grated cabbage over the surface of the sauerkraut to cover any pieces of chunky vegetables that might remain above the fermenting juice, and thereby end up growing mould. In the event that any mould forms on the surface just scrap it off. If the top layer dries out it is because the mixture was not wet enough to start with. If the sauerkraut goes off or grows suspicious looking mould, then discard it and start again. Some types of mould can provide mycotoxins. In the future ensure that the mixture is wet enough, either by grating the vegetables finer or bashing the vegetables in a large pestle to bruise the cell walls, or by adding additional kefir whey or EM. You may wish to add a little apple cider vinegar at the end of the fermentation period. You may also wish to experiment with using more salt.

2. Go easy on the chile. A little chile goes a long way in sauerkraut, and remember to wash your hands after handling it

22 April 2008

Widespread Ghostwriting of Drug Trials Means "Scientific" Credibility of Pharmaceutical Industry is a Sham

The discovery that drug companies have been ghostwriting scientific studies using in-house writers, then paying (bribing) doctors and high-level academics to pretend they were the author of the article is making shockwaves across conventional medicine. This latest revelation of scientific fraud exposes a massive, widespread system of fraud involving not only the drug companies, but also hundreds of different peer-reviewed, "scientific" medical journals that have published these ghostwritten articles. This scam is the latest embarrassment to conventional medicine; a system built on such a foundation of scientific fraud that the admission of dishonesty no longer surprises anyone. The pharmaceutical industry, it seems, is now supported almost entirely by fraudulent science fabricated by marketing personnel.

Remember, it is these studies -- the very ones now discovered to be ghostwritten by Big Pharma's in-house authors -- that the FDA uses to approve these drugs, unleashing them onto the public where potentially hundreds of millions of doses of the drug may be sold in just the first few years of its approval. But what we're learning now is that the whole system is an elaborate scam. For these studies, there's no real science involved at all.

To back this up, let me explain how this scam works in seven simple steps:

Step 1: A drug company runs an in-house study (using fraudulent study design from the start) to "prove" that their drug is both safe and effective. If the study produces negative results, it is thrown out. If it produces positive results, proceed to step 2.

Step 2: That same drug company uses in-house writers ("ghost writers") to write up the results of the study in a favorable light by discarding any data that doesn't fit the desired outcome. Note that these in-house writers are marketing people, not doctors or scientists, and they are on Big Pharma's payroll!

Step 3: The drug company contacts a noted doctor or academic and offers to pay them a bribe (a "writing fee") to put their name on the paper as if they were the original author. In reality, the paper has already been completely written and the doctor needs to write nothing.

Step 4: The paper is submitted to peer-reviewed academic journals (such as JAMA) for publication. Since the paper appears to have been independently written by an outside scientist or doctor, the journal is far more likely to consider it credible. Thus, it gets more easily published. The drug company reveals nothing about the true origins of the paper.

Step 5: The drug company that sponsored all this forwards the peer-reviewed, published study to the FDA, claiming this is now "scientific fact" that proves their drug is both safe and effective. Since the study was published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, it must be true, right?

Step 6: The FDA, which conducts no drug safety studies of its own, automatically believes the conclusions of the study (since it was published in a credible journal, after all), and therefore approves the drug for sale! From there, the FDA claims its decisions are based on the "gold standard of evidence-based medicine!"

Step 7: Once the drug is approved by the FDA, the drug company then claims the drug has been declared safe and effective by an independent government agency, and therefore the drug must indeed be both safe and effective. In other words, even though the drug company fabricated much of the evidence used by the FDA to make their approval decision, the drug company still claims that the FDA's decision is an independent, science-based approval of their drug! Furthermore, the drug companies are now arguing that FDA approval should immunize them from any lawsuits or claims of harm stemming from their drugs. Amazing, huh?

From here, doctors are medical personnel are taught that the drug is backed by good science and that the FDA has independently reviewed the evidence and approved the drug. Therefore, it's safe to prescribe to patients. What nobody has been told, however, is that the entire process -- from the drug studies to drug approvals -- was fabricated!

Or, put another way, as long as ghostwriting is tolerated in conventional medicine, the pharmaceutical industry has lost all credibility and is now clearly based on science fraud and marketing gimmicks, not genuine evidence. And remember, ghostwriting is not a new issue. It's been going on for decades. The only thing new about this issue is that it has been exposed in once-secret court documents that just happened to come out during a recent Merck trial.

Medical Journals Should Retract All Ghostwritten Articles
NaturalNews is now calling for all peer-reviewed medical journals to determine the true authorship of all scientific articles they've published over the last ten years and retract all ghostwritten articles.

That would be quite a list, likely involving tens of thousands of published studies. The medical journals, of course, won't bother with that process. You know why? Because just like the drug companies, they'd rather sweep their scientific fraud under the rug than admit they've been played by Big Pharma or participated in a massive campaign of scientific fraud that now calls into question the credibility of virtually all medical journals (except for PLoS Medicine, of course, which remains independent and honest).

You see, all the big players were in on this scam: The drug companies, the medical journals, the FDA, the researchers and even the doctors and academics who accepted as much as $25,000 per study to slap their name on a paper already written by Big Pharma's in-house marketing writers. I guess credibility is cheap in conventional medicine. The entire reputation of a doctor can be purchased for as little as $10,000. Similarly, the integrity of the entire industry can be bought with Big Pharma's dollars. There's nothing in modern pharmaceutical medicine that isn't for sale... not even scientific credibility.

The FDA Should Retract its Approval of All Drugs Based on Ghostwritten Studies
Think about this: The evidence used by the FDA to approve drugs is now known to be tainted. If this were a state or federal court, that evidence would be thrown out as being "inadmissible." But at the FDA, there's no such thing as pro-drug evidence that's too tainted to accept as fact. (There are truly zero standards for scientific evidence at the FDA, at least with the top decision makers. They can accept any piece of fraudulent evidence as fact, no matter how "poisoned" the evidence might be.)

Based on what we now know, the FDA needs to retract its approval of numerous drugs that were approved based on ghostwritten papers. In other words, if the FDA's original approval of these drugs was based on scientific fraud, then the FDA needs to rectify the situation and withdraw the approval of those drugs until proper studies can be conducted.

Will the FDA engage in such retractions? Of course not. There's not motivation to do so. The FDA isn't interested in good science or protecting the public. It's only interested in boosting Big Pharma's profits using whatever methods of collusion, corruption and scientific fraud it can get away with.

I say that if the FDA refuses to retract the approvals of drugs based on ghostwritten studies, the FDA has zero remaining credibility and has abandoned anything resembling "evidence-based medicine." In other words, the FDA is a willing partner in this widespread campaign of scientific fraud, and even when the fraud is discovered, the FDA does nothing to attempt to reestablish scientific credibility. Real science, it seems, has zero priority at the FDA.

The Pharmaceutical Racket
So now we have Big Pharma, the FDA and the top medical journals all engaged in a massive conspiracy to deceive the public, to win approval for dangerous drugs, and to prop up the pharmaceutical industry with fabricated evidence on drug safety that was actually written by Big Pharma's in-house marketing writers. This is clearly a grand pharmaceutical racket, operated much like a system of organized crime. Except these criminals, it seems, have not yet been arrested and charged with any crimes. (That day is coming, however...)

Now I ask you this: How stupid are doctors if they still believe in all this fabricated evidence? Because I've met a lot of M.D.s who believe so strongly in the "evidence" behind pharmaceuticals that they'll argue your ears off about the science of pharmaceuticals vs. the "wishful thinking" of nutritional supplements. It makes you wonder just how gullible doctors really are. (In truth, they're incredibly gullible. All it takes is a visit by a young, bubbly drug rep wearing a push-up bra to radically alter the brand-name drug prescribing habits of a typical M.D.)

And how gullible are patients who believe Big Pharma or the FDA? To believe in this system of fraudulent "junk" science and manipulated clinical trials is downright foolish. And yet hundreds of millions of Americans take pharmaceuticals every single day -- drugs that make them no healthier and that, in fact, may harm them or kill them.

Folks, it is time for the United States of America to wake up and realize we've all been conned by Big Pharma. We've been hoodwinked by a band of clever hucksters sporting academic degrees and authoritative-sounding titles. We've been had. Let us now end this foolishness by retracting all published studies based on fraudulent ghostwriting, retracting all FDA-approved drugs based on these fraudulent studies, and prosecuting the top pharmaceutical companies for the widespread fraud they have so cleverly designed and unleashed in pursuit of the almighty dollar. It is time to invoke established federal anti-trust laws and go after these companies, putting them out of business once and for all and thereby saving countless American children, adults and senior citizens from death by dangerous pharmaceuticals.

Your Mother Was Right -- and Wrong -- About Washing Fruits and Vegetables

Washing fruits and vegetables does reduce the risk of food poisoning. However, washing alone may not be enough.

Studies show that some disease-causing microbes can evade even chemical sanitizers. These bacteria can make their way inside the leaves of lettuce, spinach and other vegetables and fruit, where surface treatments cannot reach them. Microbes can also organize themselves into tightly knit packs called biofilms to protect themselves from harm.
Biofilms can harbor multiple versions of infectious, disease-causing bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli.

Unfortunately, the researchers conducting the linked study recommend irradiation as a way to solve the problem. Like chemical sanitizers, irradiation is soluton that is potentially worse than the original problem. Getting fresh food from a trusted local source, and washing it with water, is most likely healthier than trying to eliminate every last microbe with dangerous measures.


* Science Daily April 16, 2008

How Not to Be Deceived and Damaged by the Drug Companies

Two articles in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) have raised fresh concerns about drug company influence on medical research.

One article reports that the drug maker Merck drafted dozens of research studies for its best-selling drug Vioxx, then lined up prestigious doctors after the fact to put their names on the reports before publication. The article cited one draft of a Vioxx research study that identified the lead writer only as “External author?”

The second article contends that Merck minimized deaths in two studies that showed Vioxx did not work to treat or prevent Alzheimer's disease. According to JAMA, although Vioxx patients in the studies had a higher death rate than those taking placebos, Merck did not publicize this information in a timely fashion, and downplayed the deaths in the information they provided to federal regulators.

Vioxx was a best-selling drug before Merck pulled it from the market in 2004 over evidence linking it to heart attacks. Last fall the company agreed to a $4.85 billion settlement to resolve thousands of lawsuits filed by former Vioxx patients or their families.

According to JAMA, analysis shows that Merck manipulated dozens of publications to promote Vioxx.


* New York Times April 15, 2008

* CNN April 16, 2008

Managing Arthritis With Diet and Exercise

Positive Lifestyle Changes Can Help You Take Control of Your Arthritis

"I'll jump out this window before I do any of those exercises today."

Yes, it's a fact that pain can drive you insane, affecting your mood, productivity and even how you express yourself. When you are in pain, the only thing that you are interested in is relief.

Many will automatically reach for pain medication. Yet, is it always necessary to do so? Are there any other solutions that might work just as well, or even better?

To answer this question in relation to arthritis, it might help to take a closer look at what arthritis is  and why it is such a painful condition.

A healthy joint consists of strong bones, each with a healthy complement of cartilage, to ease the friction between the ends of the bones when movement occurs. To further this aim, a sac containing synovial fluid also lubricates the joint for smooth function.

It's an elegant system. But overuse and nutritional imbalances can lead to a breakdown of the cartilages, leading to painful friction. This is when arthritis occurs.

A Closer Look at Arthritis

In general, there are two different kinds of joint pain which are classified as arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis  also known as degenerative joint disease  involves deterioration of the cartilage protecting the ends of the bones. It can be caused by injury, or through an inherited protein defect that causes improper formation of this cartilage. But this kind of arthritis is most commonly blamed on wear-and-tear of the joint through lifestyle, diet and aging.

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disorder. This kind of arthritis develops because the immune system identifies the synovial membrane as foreign. Inflammation results, which damages the cartilage in and around the joint. Fever, fatigue, swelling, weight loss and crippling pain are some of the hallmark signs of rheumatoid arthritis. This type of arthritis also tends to develop all over the body, which makes it particularly difficult.

For either of these conditions, however, a change in lifestyle and diet might help.

Supplements: a Key to Fighting Arthritis?

The potential of supplements to help combat the pain and loss of function that accompanies arthritis is a matter of contention. When it comes to solid, research-proven benefits, the jury is still out. Yet, many swear by certain supplements for this condition. Here are just a few examples:

Bromelain is an enzyme that is thought to help to stimulate the production of prostaglandins, which reduce inflammation. This supplement is often taken between meals.

Essential fatty acids are another nutrient that may help generate prostaglandins, according to some studies. Essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 increase production and activity of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.

Glucosamine and SAMe are thought by some to be important in the formation of the tissues around the joint and fluids. Yet, many have argued against taking these supplements, maintaining that there is no proof that these substances are stored by the body where they are needed.

Yet, the best supplement of all to implement is proper food. Proper, nutritious food has yielded health effects that surpass any kind of supplement that you can take into your body.

Exercising for Pain Relief

You probably thought that you would get away without hearing about exercise when it comes to arthritis relief, right? Well, you're wrong!

Many people with arthritis experience pain not only when they move, but they also experience stiffness soreness in the body after long periods of sitting. One individual with those issues recently told me, "I walk fairly regularly, but I do not do anything else fitness-wise  no machines, no weights, floor exercises, exercise balls or classes."

Sorry, but walking is not just enough to improve your condition. Exercises, including activities that engage the full body, are recommended for individuals with arthritis. This is not just to help joint mobility, or to prevent loss of lean muscle tissue through the aging process, or to maintain strength, or to reduce pain and stiffness, or even to mobilize stiff or contracted joints. The most important benefit of this activity is that it helps people with arthritis to stay independent.

Of course, the type of exercise performed needs to be done with due consideration to each individual's stage of arthritis. Yes, it will be sometimes challenging because of fatigue and discomfort following an exercise program. Hence, it is important to find the right balance for your condition. But don't shy away from physical activity; our body's systems are designed to move, and when you stop moving that system starts to fall apart.

Here are a few guidelines for working with pain and stiffness:

Do low-impact activities, which includes walking, speed walking, swimming and lifting weights.

Put all joints through the full range of motion at least once a day, according to your ability. If you need help starting out, hire a personal trainer who can assist you.

Emphasize proper body alignment at all times. As a rule, your toe, ankle, knee, hip and shoulder should be in one line if you look at yourself in front of a mirror.

Modify the intensity on days where you have flare-ups.

Take enough time for warm-up. Prepare your body for your workout activities to come.

It is up to you and your doctor to decide whether you will require supervision of a healthcare practitioner to exercise with arthritis.

But please make an effort to stay mobile, in shape and independent. These days, we are living to 80, 90 and 100. Preparation for your life at that age does not just happen overnight; it is a process. And your progress should start now.