I ate this and my arthritis got worse. For years, Veena Tareja, PhD, listened to her patient’s observations about their diets and how they felt. She says “I always had the feeling that the gut had something to do with arthritis, because it takes most of the body’s abuse.” Can the key to relieving rheumatoid arthritis pain lie in your stomach? Many new studies point to the connection between intestinal bacteria and autoimmune disease, including rheumatoid arthritis. Read on to find out if healing your gut can also heal your arthritis. [caption id="attachment_413" align="alignright" width="300"] Your gut bacteria plays a big part in your immune health.[/caption] Can healing your gut also heal your arthritis? Did you know there is a microbial zoo living inside you? “The current estimate is that humans have 10 trillion human cells and about 100 trillion bacterial cells,” says Dr. Martin J. Blaser at the New York University School of Medicine. This community in your gut is made up of millions of tiny bacteria. It’s called your microbiome, and it plays a big part in your immune health. The majority of bacteria in your gut are beneficial bacteria that don’t harm you. In fact, they protect you by helping you digest food, absorb nutrients, and remove waste. They guard against infection by combatting foreign intruders, so when a virus or harmful bacteria enter your body, your microbiome kills it, protecting you from getting sick. Your microbiome is largely determined by genetics, but many factors can alter it. Diet and lifestyle, infections, environmental toxins, and taking antibiotics can all change the balance of the microbiome, reducing the number of protective bacteria, and allowing harmful bacteria to proliferate. The link between gut bacteria and arthritis Dan Littman, professor of pathology and microbiology at the New York University School of Medicine and his team of scientists were the first to show in humans that disturbances in the digestive tract may play a role in autoimmune attacks on the joints. The scientists compared the gut bacteria from patients with rheumatoid arthritis with those of healthy people and found that a bacteria known as Prevotella copri was more abundant in patients with newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis than in healthy people or patients with chronic, treated rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, the overgrowth of P. copri was associated with fewer beneficial gut bacteria. Littman called his team's study results "the clearest association with a particular microbe to date." In Wheat Belly, Total Health, Dr. William Davis says: “Alterations in bowel flora compound the inflammation of autoimmunity, worsening symptoms such as the joint pain of rheumatoid arthritis.” John A. McDougall, MD, founder of the nationally renowned McDougall Program explains that in the intestines, only a single layer separates us from foreign proteins and microbes. Patients with inflammatory arthritis have been shown to have inflammation of the intestinal tract. Infections and toxins can cause gaps in this barrier and allow them to pass into the blood. This condition is referred to as a “leaky gut.” This correlates with studies by researcher Veena Taneja, an associate professor of immunology at the Mayo Clinic. [caption id="attachment_414" align="alignright" width="300"] Unfriendly bacteria can cause the body to launch an immune response.[/caption] "The gut seems to be the common link” Taneja says. “An estimated 1.3 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis, in which the immune system attacks tissues, inflaming joints and damaging organs. If unfriendly bacteria from antibiotics, stress and diet outnumber good bacteria, it can cause a leaky gut, allowing various bacteria to move outside the gut into the body, where they may be seen as foreign. Then the body starts an immune response, producing inflammatory substances." Diet and gut bacteria Scientists are realizing more than ever before that we can treat arthritis by balancing the bugs in the gut through diet. In Hope for Arthritis Sufferers, Dr. John A. McDougall says: “Arthritis is not an inevitable part of growing older. The causes for these joint afflictions lie in our environment, and our closest contact with our environment is our food. Dr. McDougal believes that joint diseases stem largely from unhealthy diets. “When people in Africa followed traditional diets, no cases of rheumatoid arthritis were found. Joint diseases are now becoming common as people migrate to wealthier nations and abandon their traditional diets for highly processed foods.” How to heal your gut to reduce arthritis pain Dr. Jill Carnahan, board certified in Family Medicine and Integrative Holistic Medicine and founder of the Methodist Center for Integrative Medicine, says: “Food is everything with health and healing. Change your diet to more whole foods, organic whenever possible, and get rid of processed garbage. Get back to what your great grandmother would have eaten.” Dr. Carnahan offers these tips: [caption id="attachment_415" align="alignright" width="300"] Eat lots of whole fruits and vegetables, and lean, organic meat from grass fed animals.[/caption] 1. Limit grains. Eat lots of whole fruits and vegetables, and lean, organic meat from grass fed animals. 2. Eat an abundance of nourishing fats to heal the gut. These include Omega-3 fish oils, as well as organic butter, ghee (a non-dairy version), coconut oil, and MCT oil, which is derived from coconut oil. Avoid all trans-fats such as hydrogenated vegetable oils. 3. Include a handful of nuts daily. Brazil nuts contain a great amount of selenium which we need, so three or four a day should be top of the list. (Make sure they are organic and not full of mold, which is toxic.) 4. Limit all sweeteners. Sugar is super addictive. An astounding study on rats showed that given a choice between sugar and cocaine, the rats chose sugar! Plant-based raw stevia powder is okay. If your gut microbes are in balance, organic raw honey offers some wonderful properties and it’s a great nutritional sweetener. 5. Use herbs such as garlic, oregano and thyme to treat bacterial imbalances. Turning the autoimmune ship around Dr. William Davis offers hope by suggesting that everyone with autoimmune disease eliminate all grains to quench the raging fires of autoimmune inflammation. In “Wheat Belly, Total Health”, Dr. Davis says: “The proteins of grains, including in wheat, rye, barley and corn, initiate the small intestinal process that gets the fires of autoimmunity burning. Many conditions respond to grain elimination within days. Joint pain in the fingers and wrists typically disappears within 5 days of your final pancake. The swelling, joint pain, stiffness and disfigurements of rheumatoid arthritis is going to take longer to respond to grain elimination, typically weeks to months, and occasionally longer. This should come as no surprise as the complex mechanisms of autoimmune inflammation develop over years. It’s like turning an ocean liner around. It doesn’t occur quickly but it does happen over time.”
[caption id="attachment_351" align="alignright" width="300"] If you suffer from joint pain, getting enough sleep may be part of the problem...and the solution.[/caption] If you suffer from joint pain, getting enough sleep may be part of the problem and the solution. Persistent, aching pain in your back, hips, arms or legs can disrupt your sleep, or reduce your amount of sound sleep. Until recently, restless nights were considered to be almost inevitable with arthritis. But lack of sleep was viewed as a secondary problem. Now, research is revealing that sleep deprivation is a two-way street: not only does joint pain cause sleep loss, but sleep deprivation makes joint pain worse, and can even accelerate joint damage. Read on to find out how lack of sleep can contribute to joint pain, and some ways to sleep more soundly and feel better. The correlation between lack of sleep and arthritis Growing evidence shows that sleep problems exacerbate osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. “There’s a correlation between lack of sleep and pain and it’s a vicious circle. Pain induces lack of sleep and lack of sleep induces pain,” says Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK. Dr. Silman explains that osteoarthritis develops when cartilage that protects the surface of bones becomes damaged and starts to break down. Inflammatory molecules in the body travel to the joints, causing pain and swelling. Disrupted sleep leads to increased numbers of these inflammatory markers, which further aggravates sore joints. One of these markers is called interleukin-1 (IL-1), which is made by white blood cells. Professor Peter Wehling, an orthopedic surgeon and author of The End of Pain, thinks IL-1 is the primary trigger of osteoarthritis. He says “Even one bad night’s sleep can cause the immune system to go into overdrive. It begins to flood the body with white blood cells in an attempt to address exhaustion-related distress. Many of the IL-1 producing white blood cells lodge in the joints and cause discomfort and gradual erosion of cartilage”. Professor Silman agrees. “Loss of sleep may release damaging inflammatory chemicals, but it also means the joints miss out on the healing benefits of sleep. Sleep is the longest time during which the body has low levels of inflammation and the opportunity to heal. During deep sleep, energy levels are restored and the immune system is strengthened.” How much sleep do we need? [caption id="attachment_352" align="alignright" width="300"] The National Sleep Foundation says that adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night.[/caption] The National Sleep Foundation says that adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Yet as many as 70 million Americans have trouble falling asleep, and 30% of adults reported an average of fewer than 6 hours of sleep per night. Other problems associated with lack of sleep Good sleep is essential for optimal health. It is involved in rejuvenating all the cells in your body, giving your cells a chance to repair themselves. Besides aggravating joint pain, sleep deprivation is also associated with weight gain and obesity, because sleep-deprived people tend to eat more calories. They are more likely to reach for sugary treats and simple carbs such as candy, cookies and potato chips for a quick energy boost. So a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, which is known to make joint pain worse. It also creates added strain on the menisci, the small pads of cartilage in the knee, increasing pain. “Excess body fat can also heighten arthritis directly because our fat cells expand and produce more cytokines, which fuel inflammation,” says Professor Wehling. What causes sleep disorders? In our hectic, 24-7 society, we could just as easily ask, “What doesn’t cause sleep deprivation?” There are a seemingly endless number of reasons why millions of us are missing out on a good night’s sleep. Insomnia is such a chronic condition these days that you might not even realize you suffer from it. Here are some of the most common causes of sleep disorders: Bad lifestyle habits: When you don’t get enough sleep, you are inclined to gulp more caffeine-laden drinks, smoke more, exercise less, and drink more alcohol. These habits, in turn, lead to sleep disturbances, which create a vicious circle of inability to sleep soundly, leading to more bad lifestyle choices. Medications: Many medications, including some for pain, can disturb sleep. Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a condition in which you stop breathing for short periods of time throughout the night. If you fight to stay awake during the day, or have loud, persistent snoring, waking up gasping for breath or your partner notices pauses in breathing, you should check if you have sleep apnea. You may also feel sluggish, inattentive, and forgetful if you have sleep apnea. [caption id="attachment_353" align="alignright" width="300"] Anxiety and stressful events can all cause temporary sleep loss.[/caption] Stress and depression: Anxiety, distress, and stressful events such as divorce, death of a loved one, work deadlines, health issues or financial problems can all cause temporary sleep loss. Health issues: Thyroid conditions, congestive heart failure, gastrointestinal problems such as reflux, restless leg syndrome, and chronic pain can all cause sleep disorders. Tips to drift off to dreamland and get a good night’s sleep Getting a good night’ sleep is one of the cornerstones of health. After all, sleep is when your body is able to repair and heal. However, we are all unique individuals, and what works for one person may not work for another. Keep trying new techniques until you find something that works for you. 1. Create and maintain a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up the same time each day, including on weekends. 2. Develop a calming nighttime routine that encourages sleep. A warm bath, meditation, soothing music, or reading can help you relax. Just make sure not to read an action-packed thriller or horror story last thing at night! 3. Remove computers, video games and cell phones from the bedroom. Turn them off an hour or two before bedtime to give yourself time to unwind. 4. Keep your bedroom dark and cool. Cover any blinking blue lights from TVs or electronic devices with a towel, (if you haven’t removed them), and get room-darkening curtains. Any light in the room can disrupt your sleep cycle. [caption id="attachment_354" align="alignright" width="300"] Exercise is very beneficial earlier in the day.[/caption] 5. Exercise is very beneficial earlier in the day. Avoid vigorous exercise late in the evening, as it will energize you and keep you awake. 6. Don’t take afternoon naps if you have insomnia. It compounds your disrupted nighttime sleep cycle. 7. Stop eating two to three hours before bedtime to allow your body to digest. 8. Avoid caffeinated beverages or alcohol in the late afternoon or evening. Although alcohol can make your feel drowsy, it interrupts sleep. 9. Drink a mixture of warm milk with a teaspoon of vanilla and a few drops of stevia. It will increase serotonin in your brain and help you sleep. 10. Instead of sleeping pills, consider supplements such as magnesium, valerian, kava kava, and melatonin.
[caption id="attachment_336" align="alignright" width="300"] Arthritis can be traced back to prehistoric times.[/caption] Arthritis has been known to mankind since ancient times. It can even be traced back to prehistoric man and dinosaurs! In a book by Bruce M. Rothschild, “The Complete Dinosaur”, some forms of arthritis affected dinosaurs, specifically gout. A detailed examination of the bones of a Tyrannosaurus Rex showed the distinctive holes found in the bones of gout patients. On the Internet today, you can find many different natural treatments for arthritis. Read on to find out how different cultures around the world treat arthritis, with some emerging theories on why ancient remedies can work for modern day joint pain. 5 Arthritis Treatments from Around the World Western Medicine View Arthritis is a degenerative condition that affects the joints. The term comes from the Greek word “arthron” which means “joint,” and “itis” which means “inflammation”. In western cultures we consider arthritis to be an inflammatory condition of one or more joints. Although there are several types of arthritis, the main conditions we refer to are rheumatoid arthritis, considered an autoimmune condition, and osteoarthritis, often called wear-and-tear arthritis because it occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of bones wears down over time. In western medicine, prescription and over-the-counter medicines are prescribed to reduce pain. Other treatments may include physical therapy, and in more extreme cases, surgery. 1. The Chinese address blockages [caption id="attachment_337" align="alignright" width="300"] Chinese medicine uses herbs to address blockages.[/caption] In Chinese medicine, the theory is that the body's essential energy (Qi) flows along channels called meridians. These meridians are like rivers that irrigate the body and nourish the tissues. Any obstruction along one of the meridians is like a dam that blocks the vital energy flow, creating pain and disease. Arthritis is referred to as blockage that affects the bones, blood vessels, tendons, or muscles. The aim of Chinese arthritis treatment is to unblock the system, and regulate the immune system. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses herbs to address the blockages, along with ointments, plasters and oils. For pain relief, acupuncture is used on specific points along the meridians to help unblock the blocked energy channels. The goal is to stimulate some of the more than 2,000 points on the body. Sometimes heat, pressure, friction, suction, or electrical impulses are used along with the acupuncture needles. 2. The British use sweets In Britain, where cold, damp climates usually aggravate arthritis pain, the British, swear by crude blackstrap molasses dissolved in water. They claim it eases and even eliminates joint pain when they take it every morning. Molasses is an excellent source of minerals, including copper and manganese, and a very good source of potassium, magnesium and iron. “Copper is essential for the function of a number of antioxidant enzymes, including powerful superoxide dismutase (SOD). It is also involved in vitamin C metabolism and the synthesis of collagen, a structural protein in bones and joints. Lack of copper reduces activity of SOD and may contribute to the development of inflammatory diseases” says Dr. Sarah Brewer, Health Advice, The Telegraph. In Britain they use two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses to sweeten their tea or coffee. This supplies 14.0% of the daily recommended value for copper. 3. Europeans use venom: [caption id="attachment_338" align="alignright" width="300"] Bee stings were used for centuries by ancient Europeans to cure rheumatism, arthritis, and gout.[/caption] This 2000 year-old arthritis therapy may sound like more of a punishment than a treatment, but it was used by Hippocrates. Bee stings were used for centuries by ancient Europeans, and were considered to be the leading cure for rheumatism, arthritis, and gout. More recently, scientists in Switzerland, France, Germany, and Great Britain use injections of bee venom, either with a hypodermic needle or a live bee! The theory is that bee venom stimulates the immune system to better protect you. Some people in Russia use a homemade salve containing viper venom, similar to bee venom, to ease arthritis aches and other pains. Now, Israeli researchers at the Shulov Institute for Sciences have extracted the viper venom and isolated the pain-relieving peptide in the poison. They have created a synthetic version without the dangerous toxins in the venom. This potential treatment is under investigation to confirm its safety and effectiveness. 4. South African’s use desert devils [caption id="attachment_339" align="alignright" width="300"] Africa native tribes have treated arthritis pain with Devil's Claw.[/caption] Devil's-claw is a cure that sounds ominous! It comes from the Kalahari Desert of South Africa where, for at least 250 years, native tribes of this region have treated arthritis pain with a large claw-like fruit. People from these tribes brew a tea from the extract of the root, or use a dry, powdered form. Recently, scientists support the healing properties of devil's-claw. Studies in France and Germany found that devil's-claw relieves pain in a way that is similar to cortisone. The root has active ingredients that act as anti-inflammatory agents. Using the whole plant works even better because it contains additional compounds, such as flavonoids, that enhance the anti-inflammatory effect. You can get devil's-claw tea and other formulations at many health food stores and online. http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/DevilsClaw.htm 5. Americans use gin-soaked raisins: [caption id="attachment_340" align="alignright" width="300"] The gin-soaked raisin remedy became a fad in the United States in the 1990s.[/caption] The gin-soaked raisin remedy became a fad in the United States in the 1990s where people began to eat a prescribed number of the gin-infused raisins daily to combat arthritis. This remedy may have its roots in England in the middle ages, when clusters of juniper berries, a gin ingredient, were used to counter the stench of death from bubonic plague. While there are no rigorous studies supporting this treatment, thousands, if not millions of people around the world claim they received incredible relief from their joint pain, often in only a few weeks. Many people state they have used this method successfully for years. Some people believe it's the raisins themselves, which contain the antioxidant resveratrol. Others believe it's the gin, since most gin is made from juniper berries, which contain many healthy anti-inflammatory ingredients. As with every natural remedy floating around, it's not guaranteed to work for everyone. Some people enjoy the fact that it's natural and most likely won't affect any other medications. However, there is a very small amount of alcohol in the raisins which may not be safe if you take medications. Check with your health provider before trying this or any other new remedy.
[caption id="attachment_318" align="alignright" width="300"] Omega-3s are some of the most studied nutrients today.[/caption] For millions of years, our ancestors relied on seafood as one of their main food sources. Fish provided protein, and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Today, Omega-3s are some of the most studied nutrients, and most researchers agree that they are excellent for our hearts, brains, moods, and joints, especially for anyone suffering from arthritis. Read on to find out why you need Omega-3s, and how to select the best ones for yourself. What are Omega-3s? Omega-3 fatty acids are considered “essential fatty acids” because they are essential for human health. Your body can’t make Omega-3s, so you have to get them through food. The main sources are fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, and other seafood including algae and krill. Some plants and nut oils also contain Omega-3s. Research shows that Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. [caption id="attachment_319" align="alignright" width="300"] It’s vital to have the proper ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils.[/caption] Death by vegetable oil With the industrial revolution, our dietary habits changed. Vegetable oils became widely available and became the staple for cooking in most households. Vegetable oils such as corn, safflower and sunflower, and meat from grain-fed animals, contain Omega-6, another essential fatty acid that we need in small amounts. With inexpensive vegetable oils in fast foods and packaged goods, most people eat far too much Omega-6 every day. At the same time, we dramatically reduced our intake of Omega-3s compared to what our ancestors ate. It’s vital to have the proper ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6, because Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and most Omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. Unlocking the secrets of Omega-3s and arthritis [caption id="attachment_320" align="alignright" width="300"] Fish oil supplements can reduce stiffness and pain.[/caption] In a healthy immune system, inflammation protects us from infections and repairs damage to our bodies. But in arthritis and inflammatory diseases, the body has an overactive immune response. It mistakenly attacks its own tissues, usually the joints, as though they were foreign invaders. This leads to the swollen, stiff and achy joints that plague arthritis sufferers. Researchers have discovered that Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation throughout the body, providing some relief for people who have inflammatory arthritis. An Arthritistoday.org article reports on a study by Charles Serhan, PhD, director, Center for Experimental Therapeutics and Reperfusion Injury at Harvard Medical School, Boston: A study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston revealed that Omega-3s actually convert into compounds that are 10,000 times more potent than the original fatty acids themselves. These compounds include resolvins, which help bring inflammatory responses in the body to an end. http://www.arthritistoday.org/what-you-can-do/eating-well/arthritis-diet/fatty-acids-benefits.php A few studies have found that taking fish oil supplements every day can reduce morning stiffness, and the number of swollen joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Some patients who took Omega-3 fatty acids were able to reduce, or even stop, - some arthritis medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids. In the studies, participants needed to take omega-3 fatty acids for three months to see an improvement; the benefits increased the longer people took them Source: American Family Physician. How to get Omega-3s from food [caption id="attachment_321" align="alignright" width="300"] Cold water fish such as salmon and mackerel are good sources of Omega-3s.[/caption] Good sources of Omega-3s are cold water fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, halibut and cod. However, some of the larger fish accumulate potentially dangerous levels of mercury, so if you are pregnant or hoping to conceive, avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, and don’t eat more than 8 ounces of albacore tuna each month. Smaller fish such as sardines and anchovies have much less mercury, which is why they are often used for fish oil supplements. Some nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which your body converts to DHA and EPA. What kind of supplements are best? [caption id="attachment_322" align="alignright" width="300"] If you don't eat seafood every day, supplement are a good way to get Omega-3s.[/caption] If you don’t want to eat seafood every day, you can take supplements such as fish oil capsules or liquids, or krill oil. The two types of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). EPA and DHA can reduce inflammation, which causes swelling and pain, making fish oil a potential weapon against arthritis. In Magnificent Mind at any Age, Dr. Daniel Amen says: Daily use of at least 3 grams of EPA and DHA mixtures for a period of twelve weeks or longer has been found to reduce the number of tender joints and amount of morning stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis, to the extent that they were reported to have lowered or discontinued use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or other anti-rheumatic drugs. The supplements appeared to be well tolerated in individuals and no serious side effects were reported. For Omega-3 fatty acids to work against arthritis and joint pain, you need to consume a fairly large quantity of it every day. Talk with your doctor about which types and amounts are best for you, especially if you’re already taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that suppress the immune system, blood thinning, or blood pressure drugs.
What if you could reduce anxiety, sleep soundly, lower your risk of diabetes and heart attacks, relieve constipation, and feel calmer, and even reduce arthritis pain...all while using something completely natural and inexpensive? If this sounds like magic, it’s not. It comes from a miracle mineral, magnesium. Magnesium is one of the most important basic nutrients that powers our bodies. We need it for more than 300 biochemical reactions. But because of our fast-paced lifestyles and nutrient-deficient soil, it’s estimated that fewer than 20 percent of us get enough on a daily basis. The following interview is with Linda Bolton, a nursing professor of 20 years. She became an expert on magnesium after transforming her own health, and that of several family members. 1. How did you discover the benefits of magnesium? Linda Bolton: I had struggled with sleep problems, fibromyalgia and bone density issues for a long time. As a nurse, I knew magnesium was used in hospitals to treat heart attack, stroke, migraines and high blood pressure, but I never considered using it as prevention. Then one day my sister, who had suffered from severe migraines for many years, told me she tried it after a friend recommended it. The results amazed her. Her migraines were reduced from several a week, to one a month. I decided to try it too. I slept right through the very first night, and within a week, much of my muscle pain from fibromyalgia was gone. To top it off, my next medical test showed higher bone density for the first time in 10 years! 2. Why is magnesium so important for our health? Every muscle and nerve in your body relies on magnesium to function normally. This includes the biggest muscle of them all, your heart. Magnesium has a direct connection to the electrical system of your heart, keeping it beating steadily. Magnesium supports a healthy immune system. It activates Vitamin D that assimilates the calcium into your bones to help keep them strong, so it plays a crucial role in maintaining strong bones and teeth. Magnesium also regulates blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and helps metabolize energy and synthesize proteins. In fact, magnesium is a catalytic mineral that activates over 320 enzymatic processes so your cells can actually take in the vitamins and minerals in your food. Magnesium regulates other minerals, such as calcium, potassium and sodium. It’s like the team-work mineral, aligning itself with other nutrients to help them complete their functions. 3. What’s the connection with calcium and magnesium? It may surprise you to discover that muscle cramps are often caused by a build-up of calcium in the muscles and soft tissues of the body. Without enough magnesium to help absorb calcium, too much calcium can lead to muscle cramps, spasms and pain. Calcium tenses and excites muscles and nerves, thickens blood and creates constipation. Magnesium relaxes and calms muscles and nerves, reduces muscle cramps and relieves constipation. It’s a natural blood thinner and healthy laxative. Research shows that tension-based conditions such as pain, migraines, restless legs, muscle cramps, PMS and even day-to-day stress can be attributed to the imbalance of too little magnesium and too much calcium. That’s why you should never take calcium without magnesium, but you can take magnesium on a daily basis to make sure your food is being properly assimilated. [caption id="attachment_151" align="alignright" width="300"] Soft drinks rob the body of Magnesium[/caption] Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of the Magnesium Miracle, estimates that 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. People in developed countries seem to be most deficient, for several reasons: • The foods we eat are not nearly as nutritiously dense as they used to be • The soils where our food is grown no longer have the same level of nutrients as in the past. • Many foods and drinks we choose every day actually steal magnesium from our cells. • The body is depleted of magnesium every 12 hours, so it needs constant replenishment. Calcium is everywhere. It’s added to many foods today, and builds up in our bodies. But magnesium is hard to find, and is depleted quickly, so we almost always start out ‘out of balance.’ When calcium is not in balance with magnesium, it can’t be used correctly by the body. This can lead to painful conditions such as hardening and narrowing of the arteries, gall stones, kidney stones, calcification in joints and muscles, calcium deposits in organs, muscle pain and cramps, tension and irritability. Too much of anything is not good, but too much calcium which the body is unable to excrete, is now under increasing study as the key contributor to a long list of health issues. [caption id="attachment_152" align="alignright" width="300"] Magnesium can reduce joint discomfort[/caption] 5. Can magnesium help relieve joint pain from arthritis? Yes, magnesium can dramatically reduce pain by relaxing muscles and driving excess calcium out of the cells. People who suffer from chronic joint pain such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis often have abnormally low levels of magnesium, according to the National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. “Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis are linked to a magnesium deficiency, either due to low dietary intake or malabsorption problems”, says clinical nutritionist Krispin Sullivan on her website. The recommended intake of magnesium for women is between 310 and 320 milligrams per day, and for men it is 400 to 420 milligrams per day as per the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.