One of the primary differences between osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis has to do with inflammation. Although inflammation is generally thought of as a negative or undesirable condition, it is actually one of the body's many responses to a metabolic crisis usually bought on the presence of one microbial pathogen or another. The heat that is often generated by inflammation – as in the case of fever – is actually the body's way of trying to literally cook the intruder to death in combination with increased activity of your white blood cells and various chemicals. In a healthy metabolism this is obviously meant to be a short lived process where the intruder is effectively deal with and the system can return to balance. Without this mechanism the body would be unable to prevent infection and heal wounds.
There is another form of infection that can exist in the body without the local heat, redness and swelling. This is inflammation that exists in a more general sense – a sort of ongoing low grade type of chronic inflammation that is a result of the metabolicism falling out of balance. This is the type of infection which leads to what have become known as auto-immune diseases like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, colitis, Crohn's disease and arthritis to name just a few. In a sense this type of inflammation leads to a biological situation of the body attacking itself and damaging tissues.
As with most health problems, one can trace this imbalance back to dietary input and the metabolic environment created by the foods we eat. Our biological predisposition is exclusively adapted to run on certain key macro and micro nutrients which we obtained from our traditional environment. If these necessary food items are not available to the metabolism, it's not too much of a stretch to suspect that this might cause a problem. It would also follow from this line of reasoning that if there is an over abundance of low nutrient or harmful foods in the diet that there could also be problems. To make matters even more complicated, there is the contemporary issue of exposure to an ever-growing list of negative environmental factors. In short, the environment from which we now feed has in a fraction of evolutionary time become anything but traditional. I'll explore in more detail the actual causal components of our modern diets that lead to this and other conditions in future articles, but for now let's keep the discussion to the outcome of such a diet, which is inflammation.
With regards to rheumatoid arthritis a couple of factors come into play. First, there is the acidic and low oxygen environment that develops through an improper diet. This allows for an increased presence of microbial fauna in the form of anaerobic bacterias, yeast, molds, and extremely fungus in the worst cases. Some of these pathogens like to colonize particular parts of the body. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis this obviously occurs in the joints causing in turn the localized inflammation and discomfort. The protocols to treat rheumatoid arthritis are most effective with a two pronged approach involving alkalization of the metabolism through diet modification – which reduces the chronic inflammation – in conjuction with the use of natural anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agents to go after the particular colony of pathogens residing in the joints.
Osteoarthritis is a different different creature and is generally accepted to be a condition worn on by excess wear and tear or simply by age. Although metabolic inflammation does come into play, the discomfort caused by osteoarthritis is not a result of pathogens colonizing your joints. Any localized infection which does occur is usually later in the development of the symptoms and is more a result of sufficient cartilage being eroded to the point that bone starts coming into contact with bone. This is often accompanied by the formation of bone spurs which contribute to the irritation of local tissues, leading to increased discomfort and extremely inflammatory.
The medical main consensus view is that this is a mechanical issue and the only viable treatment is replacement of the affected joint or joints. This course of courses stems from the consensus refusal to recognize and take advantage of the body's inherent abilities for regeneration of tissues when it's provided with the necessary raw materials.
History is not exactly full of people complaining of aching joints and the statistical occurrence of osteoarthritis has been increasing steadily; like many diseases in lock step with the industrialization of our food supply and the increased presence of environmental toxins. If nothing else, this infers a dietary deficiency coupled with toxic exposures that place us outside of our evolved patterns of metabolism. This in turn leads to impaired tissue regeneration (insufficient raw materials) and over-burdening of toxicity (lack of minerals to clear waste). It is this scenario which I believe has led to this condition of chronic inflammation, which appears to have become a cultural commonality.
There are many dietary myths and factors that pervade the mainstream consensus, making it difficult for a lay person to make informed decisions about the correct diet for ultimate health. Continued new research pointing to flaws in current modalities, the corporate interests profiting from the infrastructures built around these myths continue to protect these interests through 'paid for science' and obfuscation of the facts. The low fat myth and the high carbohydrate diet coupled with a misrepresentation of the relationship between LDL, HDL and total cholesterol, are just three factors that contribute to the systemic problem of low grade chronic inflammation.
As I've stated before, osteoarthritis can be viewed as a canary in a coal mine. Relative to the pantheon of different severe diseases / symptoms that can be brought on by ongoing infection, the discomfort caused by osteoarthritis could have considered minor, although annoying. Tissue regeneration is a metabolic process that goes on through the life experience and in this regard the cartilage between your bones is no different. If headway with symptoms is to be made there is no doubt that your metabolic environment needs to be adjusted through dietary modifications. One of the many biological systems that became affected by chronic inflammation is the endocrine system. Within the myriad of enzymes both manufactured and absorbed by the body are those that modify the proteins to create the various proteoglycans responsible for cartilage maintenance. This is just one of the many biological sub-systems that are affected by improper diet and the resulting chronic inflammation.
So when it comes to osteoarthritis, is inflation the chicken or the egg? The answer appears to be both.