Arthritis is Not a Normal Part of Aging – it’s a degenerative joint disease

Many people mistakenly believe that arthritis is a normal part of the aging process, but many older adults never get it and most of the people that are diagnosed with it are under the age of 65 years old. In fact,  2/3 of those diagnosed are not seniors, and some include children.

US statistics report that almost 1/4 ( 22.7%) adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis — with significantly higher age-adjusted prevalence in women (23.5%) than in men (18.1%). While arthritis is not a normal part of aging, the likelihood of getting a diagnosis increases with age[1]. Only 7.3% of adults aged 18 to 44 years have been diagnosed arthritis, almost 50% (49.7%) of adults aged 65 years of age have been diagnosed[1].

There are different types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis, gout, and juvenile arthritis. More on each of these, below.

Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and is a degenerative joint disease that results from a breakdown of the cartilage within a joint. This breakdown results in the bone actually changing, or remodeling in order to try and accommodate the lack of cartilage. The bone does this by producing bone overgrowth called osteophytes, or ‘bone spurs’. An osteophyte is a smooth, bony deposit that grows slowly over time, and often has no symptoms but can be painful if they impinge on nerves or affect the movement of the joint. It most commonly occurs in the hands, hips, and knees and changes usually develop slowly, and get worse over time. OA can cause stiffness, swelling and pain and in some cases it results in some people are no longer able to do daily tasks.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) an autoimmune and inflammatory disease where the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells in the body, resulting in inflammation and painful swelling. It mainly attacks the joints in the hands, wrists, and knees, and often many joints at once. In a joint with RA, the lining of the joint becomes inflamed, causing damage to joint tissue and this damage is what results in chronic pain, difficulty with mobility and joint deformity.

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is the most common form of a group of inflammatory arthritis called spondyloarthritis and is an autoimmune disease, which means it is caused by the body’s immune system attacking healthy tissue. AS leads to rigidity of the spine, and the sacroiliac (SI) joints which attach the pelvis (hips) to the base of the spine. ‘Ankylosing’ means “fusing” and ‘spondylitis’ means “inflammation of the spine”. AS 


Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that usually affects one joint at a time, (often the big toe joint. In this form, symptoms wax and wane, with times where there are symptoms being known as ‘flares’. Gout is associated with high levels of uric acid, which can also contribute to kidney stones, so controlling the level of uric acid through diet may be part of treatment.  This includes keeping levels of purine-containing foods constant (not eliminating them). Repeated bouts of gout can lead to ‘gouty arthritis’; a worsening form of arthritis.

Juvenile (childhood) Arthritis

The most common type of childhood arthritis is ‘juvenile idiopathic arthritis’  (JIA), which is also known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (J-RA) which can cause permanent physical damage to joints and make it hard for the child to do everyday tasks such as walking, or even getting dressed by themselves.

Arthritis, Other Conditions and Quality of Life

Arthritis in adults is more common in people with other chronic health conditions, including;

– 31% of those with arthritis are obese
– 47% of those with arthritis have diabetes
– 49% have heart disease [1].

This isn’t all that surprising given that all of these conditions are linked to different types of systemic inflammation.

Having any of these other chronic conditions ⁠— along with arthritis makes it all the more difficult for people to enjoy life. The pain associated with arthritis may be a barrier to physical activity for those with heart disease[1] and those who are overweight or obese already struggle with having little energy to be active and the pain of arthritis only makes that more difficult [2]. 

That said, physical activity ⁠— whether it is simple aerobic activity like walking or swimming or strength / resistance training can benefit all of those conditions, so reducing the pain in arthritis is an important key to being able to be active, and have a much improved quality of life.

Reducing Inflammation – the role of an Anti-inflammatory Protocol

Many people when they get diagnosed with arthritis want to know if there is an “arthritis diet”.  There is no diet specific to people diagnosed with arthritis, except perhaps a diet that lowers uric acid in those with gout, however eating in such a way as to lower inflammation can help a great deal!

I have offered an Anti-Inflammatory Protocol Package for close to ten years and recently completely updated the materials that I used to teach it, as well as the 27 pages of handouts I provide, in light of the most current research.

The goal of the Anti-Inflammatory Protocol is simple; to reduce stiffness and pain by lowering inflammation. It is divided into 3 sessions of an hour each and covers everything from the components of foods that contribute to inflammation; from grains and seed oils, to otherwise ‘healthy’ foods and even that may make symptoms worse and why, as well as those that are fine to use. I provide teaching on “nightshades” and the reasons why these should be limited and provide a list of fruits, vegetables and spices are in this family. I teach about the effect of alcohol and sugar alcohols used as sugar-substitutes and their effect on inflammation, as well as different gums and thickeners that are commonly used in many food products and that can contribute to inflammation.

My purpose in offering this package is to help those diagnosed with arthritis (and other inflammatory conditions) to improve their quality of life.

As well, I understand what it’s like to live with osteoarthritis (which I was diagnosed with in my 20’s) and the need to reduce symptoms, through diet whenever possible.

More Info?

You can find out more about the Anti-Inflammatory Protocol Package that I offer by clicking here and if you have questions, please feel free to send me a note using the Contact Me form above and I will reply as soon as I can.

To your good health!


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Copyright ©2019 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.


  1. Barbour KE, Helmick CG, Boring MA, Brady TJ. Vital signs: prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation — United States, 2013—2015. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017;66:246–253. DOI:
  2. Hootman JM, Murphy LB, Helmick CG, Barbour KE. Arthritis as a potential barrier to physical activity among adults with obesity—United States, 2007 and 2009. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2011;60(19):614–618. PubMed PMID: 21597454

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What is the Anti-Inflammatory Protocol and what is it used for?

Changing how and what we eat, as well as managing stress and getting enough restful sleep has been shown in research studies to reduce pain and symptoms in people with chronic inflammatory diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism, Celiac disease, etc.. As well, there is increasing evidence that cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke are inflammatory in nature and that lowering risk is best managed through dietary and lifestyle changes. For those with a strong family history of heart disease, the Anti-Inflammatory Protocol dove-tails perfectly with a low-carb high healthy fat diet.

Knowing which foods promote inflammation and why and which foods are evidence-based to have anti-inflammatory properties  and why is essential for those seeking to reduce pain and symptoms associated with a chronic inflammatory condition. Choosing foods that are nutrient dense, promote gut health, address diet-related disruptions in hormone-regulation and that target immune system regulation are key in the Anti-Inflammatory Protocol.

Nutrient density – Every system in the body, including the immune system requires an array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and amino acids to function normally. Micronutrient deficiencies and imbalances are considered key players in the development and progression of autoimmune disease, therefor attention is put on consuming the most nutrient-dense foods available. A nutrient-dense diet provides the ‘building blocks’ that the body needs to heal damaged tissues. The goal is to supply the body with a surplus of micronutrients to correct both deficiencies and imbalances, supporting regulation of the immune system, hormone and neurotransmitter production.

Gut health – It is thought that ‘gut dysbiosis’ (gut microbial imbalance) and ‘leaky gut’ may be key facilitators in the development of autoimmune disease. The foods recommended on the Anti-inflammatory Protocol support the growth of healthy levels and a healthy variety of gut microorganisms. Foods that irritate or damage the lining of the gut are avoided, while foods that help restore gut barrier function and promote healing are encouraged.

Diet-related Disruptions in hormone regulation – What we eat, when we eat, and how much we eat affects a variety of hormones that interact with the immune system. Eating foods with too much sugar or ‘grazing’ throughout the day, rather than eating food at set meals spaced apart deregulate these hormones. As a result, the immune system is typically stimulated. Promoting regulation of these hormones through diet, in turn has a modulating effect on the immune system. As well, dietary hormones that impact the immune system are also profoundly affected by how much sleep we get, how much and what kinds of activity we do, and how well we reduce and manage stress, so looking at diet and lifestyle together, is key.

Immune system regulation – Our intestines are home to millions of bacteria which live in symbiotic relationship with us.  We provide food for them and when in balance, they maintain the integrity of the gut wall, which serves as a protective barrier. When our gut ‘flora’ gets out of balance, having an excess of pathogenic bacteria, this protective barrier becomes compromised, resulting in small ‘holes’ that permit exchange between the inside of our gut and the blood stream.  This is what is called “leaky gut“. Endotoxins produced by the proliferation of “bad” bacteria can get into the blood stream, stimulating the immune system, and resulting in systemic inflammation. What becomes critical is to limit the factors that contribute to excess of the “bad bacteria” and restore a healthy amount and diversity of “good” gut microorganisms, so that the gut once again functions as a protective barrier, and immune system regulation is achieved.

What is the Anti-Inflammatory Protocol?

The Anti-Inflammatory Protocol identifies foods that promote inflammation from those that research indicates have anti-inflammatory properties. It isn’t simply a list of “eat this” and “don’t eat that”, but explains what about a particular food promotes inflammation or inhibits it. It explains the role of key inflammatory -producing compounds such as lectinssaponins and protease inhibitors, and which foods they are found in, and how eating those foods contribute to “leaky gut”. Which grains can one eat?  Which should be avoided? What about beans and lentils? Are there some better than others?

The Anti-Inflammatory Protocol explains which healthy cooking and eating fats won’t contribute to the production of Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs) – and how this compound causes oxidative damage to the cells in the body. Knowing this enables people to know whether oils such as grapeseed for example, are a good choice and if not, why – as well as which other oils would be preferable.

I want people to understand in simple terms how omega 6 (ω-6) fats compete for binding sites and elongation enzymes with omega 3 (ω-3) fats, as this enables them to determine whether foods such as nuts and seeds should be included in an anti-inflammatory diet. If they understand the role of hormones such as insulin and what causes it’s release, they can determine for themselves whether products like agave syrup or coconut sugar are preferable to table sugar when following an anti-inflammatory protocol. I find that once people understand the theory as to why they should eat less of certain foods (explained in ways that don’t require an educational background in science!) and they also understand which types of foods they should aim to eat more of, they are empowered to make dietary choices that contribute to reducing inflammation, as well as symptoms, along with risk factors for other inflammation-related conditions.

I consider my primary role is as an educator. I don’t want to tell someone they need to eat this food on this day and this other food on the next day.  It is far more rewarding and helpful to them, if I help them know how to make these decisions themselves.

Want to know more?

Why not send me a note using the “Contact Us” form above.

To our good health,


Copyright ©2017 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.  LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without regular monitoring by a Registered Dietitian and with the knowledge of your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing something you have read or heard in our content.