Pieces of Me

I recently went back for a visit – back to my starting point on this planet, to my home town in West Central Scotland where I was fortunate to reconnect with my family, my lifelong friends, but most importantly I reconnected with my self. Had I gone back in time to a place where life seemed simpler, my initial hope, or was I about to discover that the place hadn’t changed at all – I had!

Just as the Earth pivots around the Sun my soul continues to pivot around my childhood home in memories of clean air, wellness of spirit, and familial emotional ties that bind. Initially, I observed the passing of time, however slow, had left its mark on old buildings in the town, excitement in the unexpected vibrancy of emerging generations of new souls rooted there, and in the soft lines on faces and silver strands of hair in the people I hold most dear in this world. Times had changed in my home town, a discovery which challenged my foolish heart.

Warm welcomes rekindled abandoned feelings of belonging and love enabling my weary soul to pull on its old comfy slippers and sit by that fire for a while. Fortified by this deeply personal evolution, I ventured out to seek places in my memory where, through my lifetime, I had left pieces of me. My first stop – the family home. I casually drove over there and just sat quietly in the car outside for a long time as many memories from my childhood, young parenthood, and married life flashed around me turning the inside of the car into a glittering snow globe, of sorts. The gable ended building, dressed in a new coat of fresh paint and gravel chips, acknowledged my presence. Undaunted by overwhelming emotion rising in me, I headed over to the graveyard to say hello to the old and young kin-folks now residing there. I felt them.

In other parts of town I visited all four homes where I had raised my children. One where we brought them home from the hospital when they were new-born, the next where they first started Primary School and another where they attended High School, and ultimately, where it all fell apart. Somehow, the details of that last episode no longer matter – I am finally at peace with it. I gave the best years of my life to raising my children, something I will never regret. It comforts me to know that their continued success is evidence of my love and nurturing through some of the worst times of my life. They have persevered through the changes, as have I. My kids were and will always be the best thing that ever happened to me. I have drawn tremendous courage from having them in my life. They have inspired me to continue as they, in turn, overcame obstacles in their own lives and have grown to be balanced caring adults. For a long time I avoided going back to look at the pieces I thought I had lost, however, in going back I have found healing, belonging, and bounteous love. Those early seeds of thought and conviction I had dropped on the ground have since flourished and grown into tall trees deeply rooted in the culture and history of my hometown.

Back in my current home, I am grateful to wake up everyday and continue to dedicate my life to the care and healing of my fellow-man. The challenges of an Intensive Care Nurse are just that, intensive. I have found that in this life everyone is exposed to physical or emotional pain at some point on their journey. Loss and gain are not always delivered in equal measure, however, if harnessed in a deliberate and thoughtful way, our responses to these forces can become an integral part of building empathy towards others, to be the bigger person. If someone is able to take the energy from a negative experience and turn it into something positive then the world stands to benefit from the unbridled potential within that action. Humankind is capable of many things, but we can make mistakes on our quest to pursue true happiness and unwittingly, drop pebbles into someone else’s pond. Most mistakes can be forgiven whether or not they are acknowledged by the perpetrator, so in my lifetime I have decided my heart will accept the apologies I never got and freely give the ones I feel I owe.

One of my all time literary loves, Kahlil Gibran a Lebanese born American poet and philosopher, wrote poignant notes on this matter when he said, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” Another gem of his, “How shall my heart be unsealed unless it be broken?”

Life’s experiences mold us and expand our understanding in ways we cannot fully imagine unless we have the opportunity to reconnect with a previous version of ourselves. Therein lies our peace, grace, and dignity – the glue necessary to find and bind all of the pieces of ourselves back together again. And for this opportunity I am truly grateful.




LOVE tugs on your heart with a gravitational force that takes your breath and makes your eyes swell, but what is this strange enigmatic emotion and what does it mean in real life. Love can drive us to take action toward outcomes we never could have otherwise imagined. It can cause us to soar to heady heights and, with equal fervor, break us down and deliver us into an abysmal pit of grief.

Is love a single emotion or does it travel exclusively in the company of its cousins namely guilt, obligation, and expectation. Do we go willingly into love or are we ambushed by it and its posse of bandits; fear, dread and remorse, who come clad in thorns and strung on the veritable scented flower. Should we weigh the bad against the good or just go for it with hope, optimism, and joy! Invariably, for me, it has always been the latter and I have been stung by the thorns, but changed forever by the giddy perfume of the flower.

When I first studied nursing, and entered the humbling halls of learning, I journeyed through every aspect of care of the human body in the functional dimensions of daily care and beyond where I found a little snippet – a gem of and an ode to – love. In Human Anatomy and Physiology Lab, we were told that cardiac cells beat away at different rates in Petri dishes in the lab, but, when they are put together in the same Petri dish, they beat in unison. This little nugget caused me to wonder what if my family, and people I love, were in my Petri dish with me, figuratively speaking, and our hearts all beat at the same time! That thought gave me great comfort at a time when I was an ocean away and couldn’t be with them.

The Oxford English dictionary defines love as, “A strong feeling of affection.”

Merriam-Webster tells us, “Love is a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person.” So what happens if it is not constant. Does that mean it wasn’t love!!

What about when you feel love for someone else, but it isn’t reciprocated and what if you find yourself in the opposite situation where someone professes their undying love for you, but you don’t feel anything at all – awkward!

Perhaps we choose to believe we were conceived in a moment of pure love. Probably we were born into a loving home and grew up in an affectionate loving environment. Maybe not everyone, but most. Is that where our expectations of love are formulated. What if our love role-models are a bit remiss in their ability to express love and nurture us, or the outward environment we are born into is predominantly governed by the more negative traits of obligation and judgment. Is it likely then that our expectations of love become somewhat skewed or would that experience, overall, provide us with an extra ability to overlook shortcomings in our future. 

Love has been the catalyst of countless great written works of poetry and story telling throughout the ages. Many, compelled to express love in their own inimitable way, gave us everlasting jewels like Wm Shakespeare, the world renowned Bard of Avon, in his first published poem Venus and Adonis, when he wrote, “Love comefortheth like sunshine after rain.” 

With over fifty honorary doctorate degrees, Maya Angelou defined love this way, “In the flush of love we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs all we are. Yet it is only love which sets us free.” 

Oscar Wilde, the Irish playwright Novelist and Poet wrote, “It takes a great deal of courage to see the world in all its glory and still to love it.” 

The great Ernest Hemingway told us “We’re stronger in the places that we’ve been broken.” 

Best known for her radical critique of 18th century British gentry, Jayne Austen wrote, “You have pierced my soul, I am half agony, half hope…I have loved none but you.” 

Edgar Allan Poe, known throughout the world for his poetry and short stories said, “The most natural, and, consequently, the truest and most intense of human affections are those which arise in the heart as if by electric sympathy.”

Roald Dahl, the Welsh born short story writer, poet, and screenwriter, simply stated in his children’s book The Witches, “Love is more meaningful than anything else.” This single statement speaks to the value of love in any life.

James Joyce, the legendary Dublin born novelist and poet, expressed love beautifully in his story, Araby, “...and yet her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood.” This has to be my most treasured expression of romantic love ever.

When you’ve lived in this world for any length of time, you come to see that love can potentially survive in most every situation, even where there is hate, fear, and dread. Often it’s a two sided coin. No-one can have it all and live in a Pollyanna type of situation except – maybe for a short period of euphoria in the early stages of a new romance. However, eventually the other stuff starts to show up and we have to decide at what point we accept, or, limit it.

Balance is not only the natural order of our human existence, as in homeostasis where the body is constantly enforcing a system of checks and balances, but it is also the natural order of the universe. A shiny dime will ultimately have a tarnished side too. If you want the whole dime then you have to take both sides. Life is a trade off, not always good, happy, and loving; not always ugly, hurtful, and uncomfortable, but perhaps the challenges we encounter in life are what make us stronger. 

Love is a gift, a gain, in every form it takes whether between parents and a child or among siblings, extended family members, or between friends. Love between two people can last a lifetime in a platonic or in a romantic relationship. Love can be a currency to be both received and given. It can be shared with those we hold most dear, but be aware that not everybody will reciprocate and share their love with you!

Love can also be a torment at a time of great loss when someone we love leaves us. At some point we all leave the ones we love. No-one can live forever and be around us, but we get to keep the love we have, or had, for and from them forever. Love transcends time and space.

The greatest form of love can be the one we foster for our own life – love for our self. This love is not dependent on anyone or anything external. It is our birthright, however some people might find this concept difficult to imagine and it may even take them an entire lifetime to reach understanding and realization of it.   

In the environment where I choose to work most everyday, I get to witness love a whole lot. Not everyone who comes in to the intensive care unit gets to leave the way they, or their loved ones, might want. My colleagues and I devote our time to evaluating, assessing, and delivering care to those stricken with illness. We also spend considerable time with their loved ones encouraging, supporting, and directing them as best we can.

Sometimes we have to tell people it’s not that you lost your loved one, but that you had them.  We all take love for granted, it’s a habit, we all do it. We seem to prefer to concentrate on what we don’t have or what we want. Sometimes it’s good to look around instead of forward or behind.

When your head hits the pillow at the end of your day, go deep inside your mind and find that place where the magic happens and your fountain of love lives. Allow it to flow out and wash you and the ones around you. Swim in it, bathe in it everyday. 

Love begins inside you. It’s yours, give it away freely so more will grow in its place.  

Sleep: A Beautiful Thing



A Beautiful Thing

     It’s that moment we crave; the moment when we are under the covers, safe, and comfortable. We have passed the cut off point in our day and our body winds down and relaxes. Our eyes close and muscle by muscle we feel ourselves letting go and falling into the void. Like an irresistible force in the universe sleep pulls us in, but what is sleep and why do we need it. Have you ever wondered how much more productive we could be if we didn’t need to sleep, or even, why we need to sleep at all.

These are my findings after hours of research into the value and indeed the need for sleep in our lives. First of all, the concept of sleep is much more complicated than we might first imagine and needs definitive terms to explain it. In the early 1920s scientists regarded sleep to be an inactive brain state when the brain switched off. The modern era of sleep research however and the invention of the electroencephalogram, or EEG, machine has allowed us a more accurate view of things. The EEG detects electrical activity in your brain and has unveiled surprising discoveries. The brain can be more active when we are asleep than when we are awake.

Most people conform to monophasic sleep patterns where we are awake all day and asleep at night. Infants and most animals in nature use polyphasic sleep patterns. An example of polyphasic would be a sleep schedule with an afternoon nap or multiple sleep/wake incidents throughout the day. There is some evidence which suggests that humans were originally suited to a polyphasic sleeping routine, rather than the monophasic one which we are commonly used to. Children are slowly weaned away from this sleep pattern to conform to the dominant 9-5 work schedule of their parents. That said, in tropical countries it is normal practice to close shops and businesses for an hour or two in the hottest part of the day. This allows people to take a nap in the afternoon sometimes after a heavy lunch. The body’s internal alerting signal, which increases throughout the day to offset the drive to sleep, wanes in the afternoon. Studies have shown that daytime napping helps to restore energy and alertness. Indeed, it has been reported that many of the world’s geniuses, Nikola Tesla, Leonardo Da Vinci, Salvador Dali, Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon Bonaparte, Thomas Edison, and Winston Churchill, slept less than seven hours per night and took multiple naps during the day favoring a polyphasic sleeping routine. 

So what actually happens inside our brain. Two interacting systems, the internal biological clock and the sleep-wake homeostat largely determine the timing of our transitions from wakefulness to sleep and vice versa. Sleep-cycles known as rapid-eye-movement-cycles (REM) and non-rapid-eye-movement-cycles (Non REM) combine with tiny electrical impulses, of varied frequencies, emitted by neurons inside our brains to send and receive messages. In short, sleep takes us through waves of complex restoration and repair. During REM sleep the brain is very active and dreams are at their most intense. But the voluntary muscles of the body are paralyzed by chemicals, recently discovered by scientists, glycine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This paralysis keeps people still even as their brains are acting out physical scenarios to keep them from injuring themselves.

Brain Waves

Thought of as the continuous spectrum of consciousness, brain waves are at the root of our thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Beta waves dominate our normal waking state and can be measured at 13-60 pulses per second in the Hertz scale. Beta waves are produced when we feel consciously alert, engaged or involved in problem solving, decision-making and during focused mental activity. Beta is a fast rate.

Theta waves measuring only 4-7 pulses per second, a much slower rate, are emitted when we are in a state of reduced alertness. Our brain cells reset their sodium & potassium ratios when the brain is in Theta state, a reduced level of consciousness. The sodium & potassium levels are involved in osmosis which is the chemical process that transports chemicals into and out of your brain cells. After an extended period in the Beta state, alert or focused, the ratio between potassium and sodium is out of balance. This is the main cause of what is known as “mental fatigue.” A brief period in Theta, about 5–15min, can restore the ratio to normal resulting in mental refreshment. Naps are the key to direct Theta brainwave access. Theta brainwaves are the brainwaves of hyper consciousness. The more theta you have during your waking hours, the more creatively intelligent you are.

Length of Sleep Cycles

It has been well established that the sleeping patterns progress in alternating cycles throughout the night. For most people they go to bed, fall asleep, dream, wake up and forget all of it. However, according to science, when you sleep you go through a series of regular sleep cycles just like your washing machine. Some people say they can function on four to six hours of sleep each night, but research shows that adults who get fewer than seven hours of sleep, whether for just one night or over the course of days, weeks, or months, have more difficulty concentrating and more mood problems than people who sleep seven to nine. So how long is a full sleep cycle? One sleep cycle lasts an average of 90 minutes: 65 minutes of normal, or non-REM sleep; 20 minutes of REM sleep (in which we dream); and a final 5 minutes of non-REM sleep.

Non-REM Sleep

Non-REM sleep happens first and is has three stages each of which lasts from 5 to 10 minutes. It is followed by  REM a shorter period of sleep. Then we go through the cycles again and again.

Stage 1: This stage of sleep is also called light sleep, somnolence or drowsy sleep which consists of about 5-15% of total sleep in adults. In this stage you go through a situation between sleep and wakefulness when you are neither sleeping nor awake. You can call this stage a relaxed wakefulness. You lie down, and your eyes are closed, but you can still perceive noise from your surroundings and it is easy to wake you up. You can still move your body when you are at this stage. This is also the stage where someone might be tossing, turning or rolling over in sleep.

Stage 2: This stage accounts for 45-55% of total sleep in adults. Here you go through light sleep stage. As you fall asleep, you cannot feel the surrounding anymore, and the function of your body gradually slows down. The body temperature, heart rhythm, respiration rate and energy consumption all decrease accordingly. In this phase, the body gets ready for deep sleep.

Stage 3: The third stage consists of 15-25% of total sleep in adults and is called deep sleep stage. When you go through stage three, you become less responsive to the surroundings, and it is harder to wake you up. If you are woken up in this phase, you would feel disoriented, and it would take a few minutes for you to adjust to the surroundings. This stage is of great importance for us. During this stage, the body repairs cell and tissue, builds bone and makes the immune system stronger.

REM Sleep

The REM sleep consists of 20-25% of total sleep in adults and usually occurs 45-90 minutes after you get asleep. It is characterized by the lack of muscle movements. The first stage usually lasts for about 10 minutes, and the subsequent stages get longer from the previous one. The final stage can last for about 1 hour. When you are in REM sleep stage, your brain becomes more active, and intense dreams can happen here. In this stage, it is harder for someone to arouse you than the other sleep stages.

Importance of Sleep Cycles

You cannot lead a healthy life without maintaining a sound sleep pattern. Yes! That goes for all of us. Lack of proper sleep can create a lot of complexities in your daily life. It may impair your ability to learn complex tasks. If you cannot complete all the sleep cycles, you may feel disoriented. You may experience some psychological disturbances, for example, anxiety, hallucination, difficulty in concentrating and so on. Certain types of depression are also associated with the deprivation of proper sleep.

Why Do We Need Sleep

A healthy sleep can boost your memory and facilitate you in learning intensive subject matters. A healthy sleep must contain the appropriate combination and proportion of non-REM and REM sleep stages. It is important in repairing heart and blood vessels and regaining the working energy for the next day. An ongoing deprivation of sleep is associated with the risk of heart disease, kidney disease as well as hypertension. A deficiency in sleep can have an effect on how well you feel, think and react to others. Sleep also plays a significant role in promoting growth and development of the body. When you sleep, the body releases different growth hormones that boost muscle mass. The immune system also relies on proper sleep. Lack of sleep has also been associated with a greater susceptibility to common infections. If you cannot sleep properly, your immune system changes the way in which it responds to harmful substances.

Final Word

Last of all, there is no alternative to a sound sleep to keep the body fit. To benefit from all the advantages of sleep, you must create a suitable environment where you can fulfill the sleep cycles. Who knows, maybe you will be rewarded with a sweet dream.

Managing Stress: Take Care of Yourself

Managing Stress: Take Care of Yourself

It is estimated that one million Americans miss work due to stress related complaints. Almost ninety percent of visits to all Healthcare providers are due to stress related problems. Stress is linked to all the leading causes of death such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, accidents, and suicide. Nearly one half of all adults suffer from adverse effects of stress.

Take Care of Yourself

When you get together with your family and friends and at the end of the evening when it’s time to leave, people will often say to one another, “take care of yourself!” We all do it. Have you ever wondered who that is, yourself? Who is yourself. Is it the clothes you wear, your bank balance, your home or car. Is it the role you play in your family as caretaker to aging parents, or young children. Who is yourself and is that part of you often overlooked or lost in the shuffle. Maybe you consider it to be your inner most being, your mind and quiet thoughts or hopes and dreams. Maybe you prefer to think of yourself as your spirit or soul. What ever yourself means to you all of the aspects of it rely on your well being. Yourself needs to be nurtured, respected, included, cared for, and loved by you.


Disease is defined as a body not at ease or in Dis-ease. Stress starts in the mind and ends in your immune-system and well being. It can cause disease, Disease can refer to a chronic (lasting a long time), or acute (sudden onset or new) condition or injury. Disease comes from physical or emotional pain or an imbalance between stress and relaxation. Inadequate rest, sleep or nutrition are contributory factors to disease. A sedentary lifestyle (not getting off the couch), poorly managed risk factors, or general lack of self awareness and care cause disease.

Risk Factors

Know your disease risk factors. Modifiable risk factors can be managed with healthy eating and exercise. If you have a condition that requires a physician to prescribe medications try to comply with the plan of care set out for you and adhere to you medication or exercise regimen. Modifiable risk factors might include stress, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, poor nutrition, alcohol consumption, recreational drug use, and sedentary lifestyle.

Tools For Your Tool Box

Close your eyes for a minute and try to imagine a tool box for yourself. It can be made of any material you want from heavy bronze metal to soft pink velvet. In your mind, open the lid. Put some of the items we are going to discuss inside your tool box and keep it in a safe place in your mind. Whenever you feel threats to your well-being, open it and take out the tool best suited to your situation. Choose from the following tools; Self Talk, Perception, Visualization, Imagination, Music, Pet Therapy, Mindfulness, Meditation, Relaxation, Prayer, and Nature,

Self Talk

“C’mon inner peace I don’t have all day!” Are you in your own way? Be mindful of your self talk. Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind. Do things for yourself ahead of time. Be loving. The conversation you have with yourself is the most important conversation you will ever have. I cannot stress this enough.

The Three Ps of Pain

Consider the three Ps of pain. There is Past pain, Present pain, and Perceived pain. The most difficult of these is perceived pain. If you cannot change the event of circumstance that is causing you pain then change your perception of it. Just tweak it a little bit. Re-script, in your head, how you tell it to yourself. Try staying in the positive. Rather than telling yourself this pain med is not working, try saying this pain med is working well and my knee, hip, head feels better. I can do this. You might have to say it out loud a few times, but it works!

Perception is Key

During the nineteen sixties, NASA did some experiments with athletes. They sat them in a dark room and hooked them up to EEG machines to measure brain activity. Then they asked them to imagine when they heard a bang that it was the starting pistol and they were to run their race in their minds. After it was over and the scientists examined the waveforms they found that the nerves that would have fired, had they been physically running the race, fired in all the right places when a race was merely imagined. It was concluded that the nervous system does not know the difference between imagined action and real action. It responds either way. Change your perception; change your life.


Visualize a different situation or an alternative outcome to the one you are facing. Vince Lombardi, arguably the greatest football coach of all time, only allowed players to watch replays of successful runs over and over. His positive visualization techniques turned the Green Bay Packers into the most dominating NFL team in the nineteen sixties. All champion athletes visualize. What you practice you become.


Imagination is the greatest gift of all. We imagined ourselves to be doing what we now do with our lives and here we are doing it. Use it to imagine wonderful things for yourself and your loved ones for your future, Hold on to your dreams because as long as you have a dream you have hope. No one else needs to believe in it or even know about it. Keep it safe inside your tool box.

Music Therapy

There is not a single human culture on earth that has lived without music. Music can lower stress levels and enhance moods. Physicians report faster recovery time for patients listening to music in hospital rooms. Music can help draw on old memories and neurological patterns due to the fact that rhythm and sounds of music can stay in the core of the mind for a long time allowing people with some sort of brain damage to regain partial or full access to memories. Actors like Johnny Depp play music while filming to get into character.

Pet Therapy

The Mayo Clinic believes that pet therapy is helping people recover from a variety of health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders. Animal therapy has been shown to reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue in people suffering from health problems. Many hospitals and nursing homes have regular pet therapy visits. Animals owners report good outcomes for patients, families and staff members. They claim to have seen lots of smiling faces. Studies have shown that closing you eyes for ten minutes with your hand over your heart and thinking about your pet can reduce heart rate and blood pressure.


Recent research by the University of British Columbia provides strong evidence that practicing non-judgmental, present-moment awareness (aka Mindfulness), changes the brain. When you pay attention to your breathing, to sounds, to the present moment experience, it shuts cognition down. Your senses become enhanced. Gray matter in the frontal cortex, associated with working memory and decision making, is enhanced.


Ancient meditation focused on transcending emotions to live in a calm present state. It is an umbrella term similar to the Western world’s version of yoga. It can involve a lot of techniques to reach a heightened level of consciousness. UCLA studies found that meditation may increase gray matter in the brain. It can cultivate positive emotions and increase focus and control. Consistent thought patterns can lead to changes and even develop new brain wiring pathways. Meditation is associated with decreased stress, depression and anxiety. It has been shown to decrease pain and insomnia and increase quality of life.


Relaxation comes in many forms and is mainly a matter of personal taste. For some the best form of relaxation comes from sitting back on the couch and watching a movie. For others it might be getting lost in a good novel. Swimming is an excellent means of stretching out the muscles and releasing tension. Board games and card games are a fun way of distracting a seriously overworked brain. Jumping on a bicycle or gong for a walk or run are alternative forms of relaxation also. Any kind of physical activity releases tension in an overworked mind.


Take a hike! Get out into nature. Walk or drive to a local park and sit under a tree for a while. Let the healing attributes of nature take your blues away. Trees are said to be the lungs of the earth. They soak up and absorb poor quality air and run it through the filters of their leaves and branches to replace it with clean, fresh air. Go to the beach and let the ocean’s healing powers hypnotize your thoughts rushing in and away. Let go of the tension.


Many, many people turn to prayer and positive intentions for solace in times of need. Keeping an open dialogue with a higher power is of great comfort for many. For some there is history in that prayer dates back to childhood and strengthens feelings of family and belonging. It can be our best connection to the past or to the future. It connects us to those we love when we hold positive intentions in our mind and think of that person we love and cherish. Love is what makes everything OK. There is nothing wrong with showering your own self with some of that love. Love yourself.

Human Spirit

The enduring Human Spirit fascinates me. We are not bodies with a spirit attached somehow. We are spirits living with a body and yet our spirit is not found in anatomy. A surgeon cannot cut flesh open and point out the spirit beside any of the organs, yet we are spiritual beings. Our spirit is raw life source, indestructible, universal energy. Physicists will say that energy cannot ever be destroyed. Just think of that for a moment.

Take Care of Yourself

What ever yourself means to you all of the other aspects of your life rely on your personal well being. You need to be nurtured, respected, included, cared for, and loved by you. Take Care of Yourself.

Arthritis Inflammation

Arthritis Inflammation: Foods to Eat or Not Eat

Arthritis is a joint disease accompanied by inflammation which causes pain, redness, overheating and swelling. There are different causes of arthritis inflammation and they may vary from person to person. However, the choice of foods to eat or not to eat has a great effect on your arthritis inflammation. That means, by identifying the foods responsible for inflammation as well as removing them from the diet, you can easily reduce arthritis pain.

Foods Causing Inflammation in Arthritis

There are many foods that can cause inflammation and worsen your arthritis condition. Avoiding these foods is not a treatment for arthritis but it may help you relieve the symptoms of arthritis.

Fried and Processed Foods

If your daily diet does not contain fried and processed foods, then you are ahead of the curve to prevent arthritis. Several types of research have rationalized that consumption of fried foods, for example, fried meats, French fries, potato chips, hamburgers etc. increase the possibility of inflammation in people with arthritis.

Suggestion: Try to avoid fried and processed foods and include fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.


Meats are also believed to have a link with arthritis inflammation. Commercially raised meats that are obtained from animals fed a diet containing omega-6 fatty acids can worsen your arthritis pain. Moreover, these animals are also given synthetic hormones and antibiotics to facilitate their growth. When these high inflammatory chemicals come into your body, they encourage a lot of body dysfunction, with a greater chance of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Suggestion: There is no reason to be depressed. I am not suggesting to kick out meats from your diet or to make yourself a vegetarian or vegan. Rather than, you should eat meats in a controlled way. They should remain in the background of your diet, not in the main list. Try to include meats from grass-fed animals.

Dairy Products

Dairy products play a vital role in arthritis pain. They contain a special type of protein that causes tissue irritation around your joints. When you have a mild instance of arthritis pain, taking dairy products such as yogurt, butter, cottage cheese, ice cream etc. may lift your pain up to a moderate or severe state.

Suggestion: There are a lot of protein sources around you. You need not rely on dairy products for essential proteins. You can easily meet your protein requirement from vegetable sources, especially from spinach, lentils, nut butter etc.

White Sugars and Sweets

White sugars and sweets are also responsible for aggravating your arthritis pain. These products include sweetened juice, soft drinks, desserts, chocolate bars, fruit juices, pastries etc. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has reported that refined sugars and artificial sweeteners, for example, aspartame, induce the production of inflammatory messengers in the body.

Suggestion: You need not eliminate sugars and desserts altogether rather than you should reduce your consumption of sugars. Natural sweeteners like honey, fresh and dried fruits can be potential sources of sugars in this regard to reduce your arthritis pain.

Alcohol and Tobacco

Consumption of alcohol and tobacco has also a great contribution to your arthritis inflammation. They create a lot of health risks, including liver dysfunction and joint weakness.

Suggestion: If you want to reduce arthritis pain, you need physical activity, an adequate amount of rest along with cutting down alcohol and tobacco consumption.

Salt and Food Additives

Salt is not harmful when it is in normal proportion. But many foods are processed with excessive salts and additives (coloring agent, flavoring agent, stabilizer etc.) to facilitate consumer acceptability. Chemical preservatives are also sometimes used to maintain a longer shelf life of products. Increased consumption of refined salts and food additives increase the severity of your joint pains.

Suggestion: Try to avoid foods rich in refined salts and see the product labeling carefully to find out the harmful additives and preservatives. You should use Celtic sea salt instead of iodized salt.

Corn Oil

Corn oil is rich in high inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid. So if you take foods processed with corn oil, for example, baked foods and snacks, they can result in arthritis inflammation. Remember that omega-6 fatty acid is a potential mediator of inflammation.

Suggestion: Take foods processed with olive oil, flax-seed oil, pumpkin seed oil instead. Fish oil containing omega-3 fatty acids can also help reduce your joint pain.

Saturated Fats

Several studies have concluded that saturated fats are responsible for fat tissue inflammation. They also create a higher chance of heart diseases and worsen your arthritis pain. According to National Cancer Institute, the highest amount of saturated fats is found in pizza and cheese. Be aware of them. Grain-based desserts and pasta dishes also contain a high amount of saturated fat.

Suggestion: Replace your pizza dishes with foods containing unsaturated fat which is also known as ‘good fats’. Avocados, olive, nuts and fatty fishes are great sources of unsaturated fats.

Wheat Products and Carbohydrates

Wheat products and carbohydrates have also a great impact on inflammation. Most of the wheat products nowadays are genetically modified and are associated with different health conditions. Moreover, according to Scientific American, refined carbohydrates such as bread, crackers, white rice etc. create a greater threat for obesity and stimulate arthritis inflammation.

Suggestion: Try to eat pure white flour products. Low glycemic carbohydrates have a little impact on blood sugar level and they can help reduce arthritis pain.

Foods Reducing Inflammation in Arthritis

You should not always give priority to your taste buds when you have arthritis. You should not forget its pain when you choose something to eat. Although controlling diet cannot obliterate your arthritis pain, it is a great tool to reduce the pain. In the above discussion, you have seen foods worsening your pain state and possible suggestions to get rid of these foods. In the following discussion, you will find foods that help you fight against arthritis.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acid which helps you combat arthritis inflammation. A study at the University of Hawaii reported that baked or boiled fish can reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. If you are not fond of fish, fish oil supplements can help you in this regard.

Olive Oil

Olive oil possesses some anti-inflammatory properties. Several types of research have illustrated that olive oil contains an element called omega-3 fatty acid and you already know what omega-3 fatty acid does. Yes, it reduces your arthritis inflammation.

Green Vegetables

Colorful vegetables are rich in vitamin E and they can add fibers to your diet. Vitamin E has a great contribution in retarding the production of inflammatory molecules called cytokines. Vegetables like spinach, broccoli and kale are good sources of vitamin E. Moreover, green vegetables contain antioxidants that are believed to reduce joint damage during arthritis inflammation.

Nuts and Fruits

Obviously nuts and fresh fruits can be your helping-hand if you have arthritis. Nuts – especially almonds are a potential source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are also rich in calcium and vitamin E. People eating nuts on a regular basis report a decrease in their arthritis pain. Fruits like strawberries, apples, cherries, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries etc. can be a good replacement for snack foods.

Garlic and Onion

Garlic and onion can play a vital role in combating arthritis inflammation. In several studies, it has been found that garlic has anti-inflammatory property and it blocks the inflammation pathway. Onion also contains anti-inflammatory compounds and prevents arthritis by retarding the production of mediators responsible for arthritis pain.

Ginger and Turmeric

The spices ginger and turmeric, have also anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric deactivates a particular protein which takes part in triggering the inflammation process. Ginger helps reduce your arthritis pain by its antioxidant property.


Green tea can also fight against your arthritis pain. Green tea with some lemon juice has antioxidants that can wipe out inflammatory mediators. Taking tea is also helpful for patients with heart disease and cancer.

Fresh Herbs

Herbs increase the immunity of your body. According to research, certain herbs like chili pepper and cumin contain compounds that help you reduce arthritis pain. Fresh herbs like oregano, basil and thyme are a great source of antioxidants as well.

Maintaining a healthy diet as well as regular physical activity may help you lessen arthritis inflammation. But if you have a severe arthritis condition, you should consult with a physician.