Juvenile arthritis - two words that definitely should not be connected, yet, sadly they are. Nearly 300,000 children in the United States who are under 18 years of age suffer with this pernicious disease. It affects children from all ethnic groups; but interestingly, 75 percent of patients are female.
Juvenile arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, which means that the childs immune system turns on its own body and attacks otherwise healthy cells, organs, muscles, and tissues. Genetic? Viral? Its origins are not clearly understood.
What doctors do know is that parents who are aware of the symptoms will be prepared to act more quickly on their childs behalf. These symptoms include:
- Stiffness, joint swelling and pain in the childs knees, hands, or feet - particularly after the child wakes up after a nights rest or an afternoon nap;
- Uncharacteristic clumsiness;
- High fever;
- Skin rash;
- Swelling of the lymph nodes in the childs neck or elsewhere on his body; and/or
- Uneven growth of joints or bones.
Although there is no cure, some medical treatments, modified and closely monitored physical activities, and diet have been successful in improving the quality of life for these precious kids. Meditation and yoga, along with positive, constructive peer activities, as well as age-appropriate psychotherapy, are reputed to boost childrens coping skills by boosting their morale.
All of us should increase our intake of vegetables and fruit, but this is especially true for juvenile arthritis sufferers. It has also been suggested that replacing animal protein with plant-based protein may be beneficial as well. This includes replacing cows milk with almond or other plant-based milk products.
Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like flaxseed oil, salmon, tuna, and eggs are also highly recommended. Parents may want to seek the advice of a naturopathic dietician about inclusion of some vegetables in their childs diet. For example, tomatoes, peppers, white potatoes, and eggplant are in the nightshade family of vegetables, and may actually exacerbate inflammation and pain.
On the other hand, onions, asparagus, and organic eggs - all of which contain sulfur - may help restore bones, cartilage, and connective tissues, as well as facilitating your childs absorption of calcium. And peas, lima beans, Brussels sprouts, and kale may boost your childs iron levels.