Osteoarthritis is Preventable

I have a family history of osteoarthritis.  I spent many years thinking that eventually my joints would ‘wear out,’ resulting in debilitating pain and requiring replacement just as I witnessed my mom and her knee, my aunt and her shoulder, and my grandmother and her hip.  I was certain I was destined to have swollen knuckles and pain.   I now know I have some control over the health of my joints as I age.

Let me suggest that osteoarthritis is the combination of aging or injury plus systemic inflammation.  The emphasis is on the word plus. Systemic inflammation is a recurrent concept. I like to refer to systemic inflammation as ‘the common denominator’ because it is the physiologic imbalance that drives much chronic disease and illness.  Let me explain how this works in joints.

An imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (a.k.a. free radicals) and antioxidants creates oxidative stress.  Oxidative stress results in tissue damage.  In the joint, oxidative stress causes thickening of the synovial membrane.  The synovial membrane surrounds the joint.  When the membrane thickens, there is decreased lubrication in the joint, resulting in cartilage and bone destruction.  Inflammation may end up in the joint, but that is not where it starts.   

The triggers of oxidative stress include excess body fat around the waistline (a.k.a visceral adipose tissue or VAT), elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels; and imbalance in the gut microbiome.  By reducing carbohydrate intake, making sure to get regular aerobic activity, eating unprocessed and diverse food, managing stress in healthy ways, and restoring gut health, we can reduce oxidative stress in our bodies.

Consuming foods rich in antioxidants will reduce the free radicals in our body.  There is a principle of dietary guidance called ‘eating the rainbow,’ by which people attempt to eat foods of all the colors of the rainbow every day.  The more colorful the food, the richer it is in antioxidants.  Think blueberries, raspberries, and green tea.   Genes also play a role in our ability to both synthesize and utilize antioxidants.

Osteoarthritis is not inevitable.  If it is something you are experiencing, I encourage you to get to the root cause of whatever is driving your systemic inflammation, with the goal of reducing pain, restoring joint function, or at least prolonging any deterioration.


What Should I Eat for Breakfast?

It’s January and we are on the health bandwagon. Something about a new year, a clean slate, and a fresh start inspires us to live better. One of the most common questions I get is, ‘what should I eat for breakfast?’ Many of the women I care for have specific dietary limitations, so not . . . → Read More: What Should I Eat for Breakfast?

Hygge: The appropriateness of the trend.


A couple of weeks outdated, but no less relevant today: It’s snowing and cold and everyone is home.


Prononunced “hoog-uh,” kind of rhymes with sugar.

It is a Scandanavian word with no exact English translation, but communicates the concept of seeking joy in whatever situation you find yourself. It invokes concepts of . . . → Read More: Hygge: The appropriateness of the trend.

Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Disease: Making Sense of the Connection


I want to explain to you the root cause of autoimmune disease. Hang in there through the science language – it’s worth it. You will never look at autoimmune disease the same way again.

Some say which autoimmune disease you have is not important – what is important is resolving the underlying intestinal . . . → Read More: Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Disease: Making Sense of the Connection

Pearls from the Gastrointestinal Advanced Practice Module

In Functional Medicine, we often start with healing the gut because it is the home of our immune system and our neurotransmitter production. I like to refer to the gut as ‘command central.’ So much of our overall health is determined by the health of our gut. It’s a little ironic that the Gastrointestinal Advanced . . . → Read More: Pearls from the Gastrointestinal Advanced Practice Module

Menu Planning, Alas!

This September my daughter started high school. My husband also happens to be teacher. This means my lifestyle is, in large part, dictated by the school calendar. I am as grateful for the resumption of routine in September as I am relieved to see it go in June. Routine helps me better plan meals . . . → Read More: Menu Planning, Alas!