Archive for ‘Pain/Joint Relief’

April 3, 2019

#568 – Live Better with RA – Tip #4


Image courtesy of Gail Rau.

Tip #4 – Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

Relentless flares, disease-related anxieties, family issues, bills, noise, frustrations — just a sampling of the things that can keep you up at night. A lack of sleep can create a snowball of increasing sleeplessness, wreaking havoc on your RA. With a few important but relatively small changes, you can learn to cultivate good sleep habits, which may lead to a better night’s sleep.

Yeah, but How Do You Do that, Exactly?

  1. Transform your stress on a regular basis.
  2. Experiment to discover the time by which you should stop eating and using your electronic devices. Too close to bedtime and you might be too wired to sleep.
  3. Limit alcohol.
  4. Make your bedroom an electronics nogozone.
  5. Find the right bedding. For example, I prefer feather pillows, a down duvet and definitely not a soft comfort (Yeah, right!) mattress.
  6. Your bedroom ambience. For me: a cool, dark room is a must.
  7. Don’t count sheep, but instead, list all the things for which you are grateful.
  8. Practice cognitive shuffling: Choose a 5/6 letter word, such as “dream.” Now list as many words that you can think of for d, then r, and so on.
  9. Perhaps you have sleep apnea? Get tested.
  10. Support your jaw.
  11. Do you have painsomnia? Onboard strategies to help you manage your pain. See #1.
  12. Reset your sleep clock. Sometimes you’re simply going to bed too early. Stay up later and find your ideal bedtime.
  13. Medication can interfere with sleep. Talk with your doctor and pharmacist to discover solutions and options.
  14. Hormones may impact your sleep. Talk to your doctor about getting tested.
  15. Your sleep hygiene routine may include a nap on the couch.
  16. Exercise – but at the right time for you. For example, I know if I exercise in the evening, I’m too wired to sleep.
  17. Your turn: Please share what helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.

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March 31, 2019

#567 – Snoring and Jaw Support

AntiSnoreChinStrapI’ll let you in on a little secret. I snore, whenever I roll on my back to sleep. That’s when my mouth breathing bothers me. I end up with a very dry mouth.

I found a solution! The Anti-Snore Chin Strap. It’s not elegant, nor is it sexy, but it helps prevent my dry mouth. You’ll see a number of different variations on the same thing, here. My only complaint is that it does get hot; sometimes I end up taking it off in the early morning.

In addition to dry mouth, mouth breathing during sleep can lead to:

  • Dental problems.
  • Halitosis.
  • Sore throat.
  • Brain fog.
  • Irritability.
  • Insomnia.

How It Works

The chin strap helps to keep your mouth closed during sleep, which causes you to breathe through your nose. Air is prevented from travelling to and from your throat and over the soft palate, which reduces the flapping/snoring sound.

If your snoring is caused by sleep apnea, or nasal congestion, a chin strap will not help. If you suspect you have either condition, consult your doctor.

More Information

March 27, 2019

#566 – Live Better with RA – Tip #3

Sept2018 273

Tip #3 – Move/Exercise

The last thing you may feel like doing is moving, when even talking hurts. The adage “move it or lose it” applies, especially when you have RA. If you’re concerned that you are doing more damage, consult a physiotherapist for appropriate exercises for RA.

In addition to keeping you mobile, strong and flexible, the right amount of exercise can help kick inflammation to the curb. I always notice a huge improvement in mobility, particularly after my swim.

UC San Diego Health has this to say about exercise as an anti-inflammatory:

The brain and sympathetic nervous system — a pathway that serves to accelerate heart rate and raise blood pressure, among other things — are activated during exercise to enable the body to carry out work. Hormones, such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, are released into the blood stream and trigger adrenergic receptors, which immune cells possess.

This activation process during exercise produces immunological responses, which include the production of many cytokines, or proteins, one of which is TNF — a key regulator of local and systemic inflammation that also helps boost immune responses.

Speaking of moving and exercising, I’d like to share what Rick, my online acquaintance, has accomplished. His go-to exercise is cycling, which combined with healthy eating (see Tip #2), has allowed him to become, in his own words “a big loser.” Way to go, Rick!

A big round of applause to all of us who are losers, and to some of us who have been on the weight-loss/weight-gain teeter-totter and have finally settled into a good place/weight.

In case you are in the midst of a major flare, I’m swimming two extra lengths just for you! (It’s my new thing. Consider it an energetic gift for someone who is unable to move/exercise. 🙂 Whether I’m stretching, lifting weights, swimming or dog walking, I’m finishing my “usual” routine by doing two more – be it lengths, blocks, lifts, reps, minutes or holds.)

Can you guess what Tip #4 will be?

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March 25, 2019

#565 – Live Better with RA – Tip #2


Image courtesy of Patrycja Cieszkowska.

Tip #2 – Choose to Eat Well

Or at the very least, choose to eat better. Unlike arresting a habit, such as nail-biting (one I gave up in the 8th grade), you can’t just stop eating, wherein lies the challenge.

Small dietary changes can help you build a healthy relationship with food, which can lead you into making even bigger ones. Feed your body what it needs to thrive. Pay close attention to how you feel when you eat certain foods. Not only can certain foods trigger a flare, but “mood by foodcan set you back.

Good Habits Go Together

The International Journal of Obesity published a study that showed that participants—2,680 of them—who implemented a 15 week exercise program improved their eating habits. Simply by making changes in one area (exercise), participants were prompted into making other changes, which included healthier food choices and increased monitoring of their food intake.

When participants exercised for a longer duration, it was found that they were less interested in snacks and foods that characterize a standard American diet (SAD). When the intensity was increased during each session, participants began to choose healthier foods.

In Atomic Habits, James Clear suggests habit stacking as a way to build better habits. In a nutshell, habit stacking is when you attach a desired habit to one you are already performing. (Habit Stacking is part of the 1st Law of Building Good Habits.)

Here is a simple formula, courtesy of James: After [old habit], I will [new habit].

Perhaps the participants in this study were unwittingly stacking their habits. After I exercise, I will choose to eat a healthy lunch.

Another supposition: as the participants improved their level of fitness and began to feel better, they felt inspired to adopt other healthy behaviours that showed respect for their bodies.

Remember, small changes are cumulative.

Consider These “Appetizers”:

  • Next time you go grocery shopping, buy an unfamiliar fruit or vegetable. If you’re uncertain about how to prepare it, the internet is full of helpful advice. If you are in an ethnic market, ask another shopper. I’ve always walked away with a delicious suggestion for what to do with that unfamiliar fruit or vegetable.
  • If you normally serve one vegetable per meal, add another one, two or three.
  • Give your tastebuds time to adjust to new flavours. “Taste training’ is about learning healthy eating as a life skill,” says dietitian Sophia Baker-French in a blog post on Healthy Families BC. (It begs the question: When did healthy eating become a life skill?)
  • Have healthy choices readily available. In other words, make it easy to choose more wholesome foods (Incidentally, “Make it easy.” is James Clear’s 3rd Law of Building Good Habits.)
  • Slow down when you eat. You want to give your stomach time to signal your brain that you are satiated.
  • Chew your food well, which is also a good way to slow down. This is what Robert Santos-Prowse has to say on page 12 in The Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet about using your chompers to break down your food:

    Saliva, which contains the aptly named enzyme salivary amylase, begins the breakdown of carbohydrates, and the lingual lipase enzyme does the same for fats. As you chew, carbohydrates are already being broken down into simple sugars in your mouth, which is why even the wholest of whole-grain breads (the ones that tastes like sticks) will begin to taste sweet if you chew them for a few minutes. Proteins just get wet and smashed up. Enzymatic breakdown of proteins does not begin until they reach the stomach.

  • If you fall off the fruit and vegetable cart and succumb to temptation, don’t let months go by. Make your next meal a better one. (Thanks to my sister-in-law for sharing that bit of advice two decades ago! Previously, my fruit and vegetable cart rolled away down the hill leaving me struggling for a very long time.)
  • Enjoy your food by being mindful.
  • Spend time sharing your table with family and friends.
  • If you’ve been inactive, talk to your healthcare team to discover ways to help get moving and along the way, you might just start making better food choices. (2,000 people can’t be wrong! That’s how many participants completed the exercise program, described above.)
  • Bon Appétit!

Stay tuned for Tip #3/10.

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