I believe there are several concomitant causes of rheumatoid arthritis, some are chronic and some are acute but they all contribute to the state of disease and its associated symptoms. In fact, based on decades of my own experience and research I also believe that this is the case for most other chronic diseases. The chronic causes work throughout our lifetimes constantly chipping away at our body’s systems, especially our immune system. Gradually this process reduces the efficiency and vitality of our maintenance and defence systems, especially our microbiome, so that we become more and more susceptible to the acute causes or triggers which would not on their own be enough to push us into a chronically diseased state.
There is increasing evidence that the main chronic cause of rheumatoid arthritis and many other chronic diseases is our poor diet and lifestyle choices. Our diet, sleep, sunshine exposure, exercise and other lifestyle factors appear to have the greatest influence on our chances of developing a chronic disease.
As I mentioned above, once our overall health has begun to decline, we become more susceptible to the acute causes or triggers of chronic disease. These can include things such as tooth infections, physical trauma (especially to joints), periods of extreme emotional stress, courses of antibiotics and other medicines, food poisoning and so on. Many of these acute causes or triggers can tip the balance between health and chronic disease, sometimes quite rapidly. If the disease state isn’t hastened or triggered by an acute cause, the chronic Standard UK (SUK) diet or Standard American Diet (SAD) and lifestyle causes will eventually lead us to that state anyway. For me this disease state is rheumatoid arthritis, for many other people it will be heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and so on.
The good news is that we have control over the chronic causes and also over many of the acute causes and triggers of rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases. The sooner in life that we adopt a health promoting diet and lifestyle, the less likely it is that we will develop one of these diseases later in life. Also, many of these diseases can be treated and often reversed using the same health promoting diet and lifestyle. There so much evidence now that the best health promoting and disease prevention diet is a whole food plant-based diet (with minimal added salt, oil, and sugar), coupled with regular cardiovascular exercise, appropriate sunshine exposure, and adequate good quality sleep.
Chronic Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis
The food that our parents ate and their lifestyle, even before we were conceived or born, can affect our chances of developing a chronic disease later in life. Their food and lifestyle choices continued to affect our long-term health as they raised us. If our parents had a healthy lifestyle and ate a whole food plant-based diet then we were extremely lucky and our chances of developing a chronic disease were much reduced. :-) For example, I ate a lot of the wrong foods as a child and I was exposed to cigarette smoke, as a result of this I developed asthma and allergies early on which plagued my teenage years and beyond. I eventually managed to eliminate my asthma and all my hayfever type allergies as I came closer to a whole food plant-based diet.
Whatever age you are at now, your food and lifestyle choices are still the most powerful determiners of whether you will develop rheumatoid arthritis or another chronic disease later on in your life. A whole food plant-based diet and a few other healthy lifestyle choices can change your future and remove what is probably the most influential chronic cause of rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases.
There are many other chronic causes or contributors to the development of rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases. Any unhealthy habit, tradition or regular activity that we incorporate into our lives can potentially be a chronic cause of disease. For example, smoking, alcohol consumption, burning the candle at both ends, excessive work or life stress, a reliance on pharmaceutical painkillers, exposure to environmental toxins at home or at work (or on the way to and from work) and so on. I’ve done my best to reduce or eliminate many of these chronic causes and I’m still trying to do more, for example; I don’t smoke, I stopped drinking alcohol over thirty-five years ago, I’ve adopted a fully whole food plant-based diet, I filter my tap water and so on. I’m currently trying to replace my Bluetooth technology with wired alternatives.
In reality I suppose the biggest chronic cause of rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases is a lack of reliable knowledge about health and diet. True factual knowledge in this area is hard to accumulate despite the vast amount of resources available through the Internet. There’s so many bloggers, authors, health product promoters, doctors, and even researchers and scientists that are providing incorrect, false, and even dangerous information to the public. Often it’s out of ignorance, sometimes it’s deliberate for self-promotion and financial gain, and sometimes it’s done to protect vested interests. Fortunately the truth about health and what constitutes a healthy diet and lifestyle can be found with a little research, critical thinking and common sense.
Acute Causes or Triggers of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Accidents, sports injuries and other trauma can trigger chronic pain, stiffness, and inflammation and even rheumatoid arthritis if a person’s immune system is already badly compromised. For example, my rheumatoid arthritis proved most destructive to the joints that I’d already injured whilst doing full contact karate many years ago. The first joints to become affected were those that had received the most trauma during my training.
A bacterial or viral infection can push us into a chronically diseased state such as rheumatoid arthritis, particularly if it isn’t promptly and successfully treated. A few examples are; chlamydia, hepatitis, lyme, a recent tooth/gum infection, and gut infections such as H pylori.
Medicines/drugs especially anti-inflammatories, painkillers, and antibiotics can potentially lead to the development of chronic diseases in those with compromised immune systems or guts. Anti-inflammatories and most painkillers are well-known to cause damage to the stomach lining and parts of the intestines. This causes stomach pain which induces people to take antacid drugs, which neutralises stomach acids causing further stomach pain and indigestion but more importantly, this can cause problems with absorption of iron and other minerals, and vitamin B12 (low intrinsic factor). Antibiotics kill the pathogenic bacteria but at the same time kill many of the gut’s beneficial bacteria which can quickly lead to dysbiosis and potentially intestinal permeability, i.e. chronic disease.
Other acute causes or triggers of rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases include; parasitic infestations, specific foodborne infections such as E. coli and salmonella, acute or short-term drug side effects (for example partial liver or kidney damage), a sudden change in circumstances such as job loss or divorce. All of these can potentially induce the symptoms of a chronic disease including rheumatoid arthritis. Sometimes they can be causes or triggers and sometimes they can simply make existing symptoms worse.
Why is Rheumatoid Arthritis So Difficult to Reverse or Cure?
I firmly believe that in many cases rheumatoid arthritis (and most other chronic diseases) can be reversed or effectively cured. However, why do so many people including myself struggle to achieve this? I think it’s because rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases develop over such a long period of time largely unnoticed until symptoms appear many years down the line, by which time a lot of damage has been done – damage that cannot quickly be reversed or healed.
The mixture of chronic and acute causes and triggers makes the reversal or cure of these diseases that much more difficult. I’ve managed to find many single causes of rheumatoid arthritis and they include; chlamydia, hepatitis, Weil’s disease, gluten intolerance and the consumption of dairy products. However, I think in most cases there is at least a couple of causes and sometimes more. For many of us in order to recover from rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases, we have to first remove the causes including making dietary and other lifestyle changes, then try to heal the damaged systems and organs within our body, and at the same time do everything we can to improve our overall health.
Prevention is far better than cure, this is so true in the case of rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases. With a few relatively easy dietary and other lifestyle changes, I believe most chronic diseases can be prevented or significantly postponed and their effects reduced. As I mentioned above, a whole food plant-based diet is the way to go. For more information and resources please see my post on a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet For Rheumatoid Arthritis there are some useful links at the bottom of the post.
If you are currently free from chronic disease or at least haven’t developed any symptoms yet, or if you are in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis or another chronic disease, I would urge you with all my heart to study the whole food plant-based diet. Watch some of the videos produced by Dr Michael Gregor, Dr Michael Klaper, Dr Neal Barnard, Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr T Colin Campbell and Dr Alan Goldhamer. If you already have long-standing rheumatoid arthritis or another chronic disease, adopting a whole food plant-based diet with minimal added salt, oil, and sugar, is still the best choice you can make in my opinion, to start treating and reversing your disease.
“Rembrandt painting” image is public domain