3 Easy Naturopathic Lifestyle Tweaks
By Dr. Amy Rothenberg, Everyday Health Guest Columnist

Article originally published December 2016 at EverydayHealth.com

Our patients are all looking for new ways to approach pain and the way rheumatoid arthritis limits their lives. Some recommendations are radical; others more gentle. When we work one-on-one with individuals, we tailor treatment plans to the person before us, with regard to diet, nutritional supplements, botanical medicines, healing the gut, appropriate exercise, and more body-mind approaches. Here are some gentle but far-reaching suggestions that you can slip into your life without extreme effort. These are good for most anyone living with rheumatoid arthritis; and over time these changes help reduce inflammation and promote long-term healing.

1. Pick up the phone. Make one social phone call a day.

We always add this to our recommendations, as we know that healthy relationships; a sense of connection and a supportive community of family, friends, and neighbors are two of the most important contributors toward good health. A review published in the October 2015 issue of International Journal of Nursing Studies found that social, practical, and emotional support are especially important for people living with rheumatoid arthritis. Promoting positive social interactions, and positive thinking in general, can help people with RA.

2. Add one extra vegetable a day.

This will be on your way to eating two more vegetables a day! Veggies are essential to the Mediterranean diet and to the anti-inflammatory diet, both of which are known to help patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Compared to an omnivorous diet in people with RA, the Mediterranean diet showed improvements in inflammatory activity, physical function and vitality, found a study published in March 2003 in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. You will not go wrong by eating more veggies. We often challenge our RA patients by asking if they can eat 10 vegetables a day. The key is to add one or two to your breakfast. Chop and add kale into your eggs while they cook, or have a glass of tomato juice! A big salad for lunch can knock off six to seven more veggies. Then, add two to dinner. Voila, you made it to ten! The added fiber helps ensure healthy bowels and feelings of satiety. For many, this will help with weight loss, which, in turn can help decrease stress on the joints.

3. Add 1,000 steps to your day.

Many of us have ways to track our daily steps. Spend a week or two getting your baseline number of steps. Then add an extra 1,000 steps a day. It does not seem like much, but it works for a number of reasons. First, it gets your joints moving. Second, you will be better perfused, meaning the blood supply both to and away from each of your joints will be enhanced. It will also amplify every other approach you are using. For instance, let’s say you are ingesting an effective anti-inflammatory botanical like ginger through food or tea. The ginger’s impact is expanded by having it’s anti-inflammatory action better shared through your blood flow.

Want to seek out the expertise of a naturopathic doctor (ND)? An ND can help tailor a full natural medicine recommendation specific to the way you experience your RA. The tool bag is full and its application requires knowledge of both the science and the art of naturopathic medicine. To find an ND near you, go,to the directory for the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP).

Amy Rothenberg, ND, holds a doctorate of naturopathic medicine from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon . She works in private practice with her husband, Paul Herscu, ND, in Enfield Connecticut.