Rheumatoid Arthritis and Potassium Power
I have been quite reluctant over the years to try and pinpoint one vitamin or mineral to target for a Rheumatoid Arthritis diet, since I carefully created an RA diet that is so nutrient-dense then there is nothing that appears to be ‘missing’. However, I make an exception when it comes to Potassium.
What the Scientific Research Tells Us about RA and Potassium
Interestingly, patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have been found to have significantly lower potassium concentrations in the blood than that in people with no RA symptoms.  In addition, RA sufferers have inappropriately low cortisol levels, which suppress inflammation, thus allowing inflammation levels to remain high.
There is an interesting link here that scientists wanted to explore.
Glucocortisol also help our kidneys excrete potassium. Thus, if we eat a lot of potassium our adrenal glands secrete more potassium and so it was thought ‘maybe if you gave people with RA some extra potassium it would boost steriod levels and help with their inflammation’. So a double-blind, placebo controlled trial was conducted where patients with RA were given Potassium supplementation for 28 days (an intake of 6500mg/day, nearly double the USDA recommendation of 3,500mg/day.) The results of this experiment was “a reduction of disease activity and pain intensity reflecting an anti-pain affect of potassium”. So they authors of the research paper recommended a much higher use of leafy vegetables  which are inherently high in potassium, and therefore boost the natural anti-inflammatory hormones in the body. This is one of the many reasons why several specific green leafy vegetables are key components in the Paddison Program for Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet.
Through personal experience I have found that it is far easier to prevent inflammation than it is to eliminate it. Therefore, it is prudent to make sure that we are getting a great deal of Potassium in our diets since studies have continually shown that this element is so critical to pain reduction – and I have confirmed this by experimentation myself.
Here is the ultimate list of Potassium content in all foods – http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/SR17/wtrank/sr17a306.pdf
However, I believe the best sources are the ones below and I have listed my reasons why:
Seaweed is the greatest source of electrolytes (minerals) on the planet. Forget Gatorade, if you want to replenish lost salts then there is no better way than our delicious sea plants such as Dulse and Wakame which are both available at Whole Foods (USA) or many health food shops. They aren’t as uncommon or ‘weird’ as you might think, with many Asian cultures consuming the nutritious foods on a daily basis throughout their life. These sea vegetables are not only tremendously packed with Potassium, but they contain the elusive Vitamin B12 and are also powerfully alkalizing for the body – a MUST when you are suffering from RA.
Papaya is one of the greatest RA foods on the planet. Not just because it is packed with Potassium (781 mg/papaya) but it is also rich in an enzyme called Papain which is very effective at assisting with the break down and digestion of protein. My personal experience (and that of many of my clients) has led me to strongly believe that RA sufferers almost always have trouble with protein digestion. In fact, I have found that some of the most difficult RA cases to treat naturally have been men who have been taking whey protein powder for many years to help with their weight training – something I actually did also myself. I’ll dedicate an entire separate blog for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Protein since it’s such an incredibly important topic.
3. Orange Juice
Like Papaya, I love Orange juice as a source of Potassium not just because it contains a high concentration of this element (496 mg/cup) but in that it comes with extra bonuses. We all know that Orange Juice contains Vitamin C and this vitamin is a potent anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal! So if you have already established that you can tolerate sugar (i.e. you have found you do not have a candida yeast overgrowth) or you are following the Paddison Program for Rheumatoid Arthritis and you are past Day 12 then freshly squeezed Orange Juice can become a regular treat.
4. Raw Spinach
In a handful of raw spinach (approximately the size of a cup) there is 167 mg of Potassium. The kicker with spinach is that it is the most alkalizing foods on the planet. (Insert Renal Acid/Alkaline Chart). There are two reasons I recommend raw, rather than boiled, spinach. Firstly for the enzymes (Insert post on Enzymes) and secondly if you boil the spinach some of the potassium is lost to the water. So, the best way is to eat your spinach raw in a salad or, even better, in a green smoothie (see below).
Delicious and packing 427 mg/cup, cantaloupe is a easy way to get your potassium intake up fast. Good for breakfast or to accompany a meal. (Don’t worry, if you are eating a 100% plant-based diet then you can eat fruit with your meals without upsetting digestion. It’s only animal products that have to be eaten separately to fruit)
Natural Cortisone Shot for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Dissolve your pain with this incredible green smoothie. This smoothie is designed to deliver a whopping 2000 mg of our inflammation-stomping potassium in one serving in a highly absorbable and alkalizing format. Not only that, it tastes great.
Natural Cortisone Green Smoothie
4 Cups of raw spinach
1/2 Cup Water
Squeeze orange juice into a blender with the papaya flesh, spinach and water. Blend. Enjoy. Feel better. If you cannot get Papaya because of your current season, then use cantaloupe and choose a ripe one so the flesh is soft and blends easily.
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Upwards and onwards in love, laughter and light. May your body continue to heal, your mind be at peace and your future rich and enlightened.
1. “A pilot study of potassium supplementation in the treatment of hypokalemic patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial” – Rastmanesh R, Abargouei AS, Shadman Z, Ebrahimi AA, Weber CE.
Disclaimer: Do not take this information as personal medical advice. Do not change your diet if you are ill or on medication without the advice of a qualified health care provider (your physician, for example).
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