Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir tied paintbrushes to his hand when rheumatoid arthritis made them impossible to grip, and although the disease seems to have been around for millennia, when Renoir’s RA hit him in the early 1890s, it was considered one of the first documented cases of the modern era.
Since then, this autoimmune attack on the lining of the joints and erosion of surrounding bone has become more common — more than 1.3 million North Americans have it. And the newest research shows an association with fewer beneficial intestinal bacteria and an overgrowth of an inflammatory gut bacterium, Prevotella copri.
We think excessive antibiotic use and/or disruptive chemicals in the food supply and environment may upset your guts’ balance of good and bad bacteria (you’ve got trillions of them in there), and can increase vulnerability to a variety of autoimmune conditions.
Our suggestion: Help your body prevent or manage an autoimmune condition such as RA by nurturing those bacteria teeming inside you, so the good and bad stay in balance. Eat a high-fiber diet of only 100 percent whole grains and lots of fresh fruits and veggies; nix red meat; maintain a healthy weight to reduce body-wide inflammation; and get plenty of exercise to keep your metabolism humming at a good rate. Taking a probiotic supplement also may help (we like spore probiotics containing bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 and lactobacillus GG, a strain activated by stomach acid). So ask your doctor if that’s a smart move for you, and for your joints.
Leonardo Di Caprio’s Frank Abagnale Jr. in “Catch Me If You Can” and Freddy Benson (Steve Martin) in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” prove just how much folks love a con man — movie-goers laid out more than $200 million to see these tricksters. But that’s nothing compared with the $15 BILLION spent in one year (2007) on “alternative” supplements — many herbal — that are phonier than Abagnale’s medical degree and Freddy’s disability.
A recent study looked at 44 herbal products from 12 companies, 30 species of herbs and 50 leaf samples to see if their contents were related IN ANY WAY to what their labels stated.
♦ 59 percent of the products contained material from plants NOT listed on the label.
♦ Just 48 percent contained what they claimed as the active ingredient. Of those, 1/3 were contaminated with ingredients and fillers; some that pose health risks.
♦ Only two of 12 companies delivered what they promised on the label without any substitutions.
The Food and Drug Administration says store shelves contain more than 300 “adulterated” supplements, some with unidentified prescription medications, others with heavy metals that up the risk of heart attack, stroke and death. That’s why ClevelandClinicWellness.com (Dr. Mike is the clinic’s chief wellness officer) sources supplements only from manufacturers and suppliers that have been verified as providing pure products.
What can you do?
♦Rely on an ingredients certification seal from the United States Pharmacopeial Convention. Five companies (go to usp.org) have earned them.
♦Remember, even reliable supplements are just that! They’re meant to supplement, not substitute for, a healthy lifestyle.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.