Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Arthritis 1: Strenuous Exercise and GliSODin

In late December of last year I was volunteering at our local food bank a couple of hours a week.  We were scooping rice from 25 lb. bags into 1 lb. zip lock bags for distribution to client agencies.  Sealing the zip lock bags involved pressing my right index finger and thumb together over and over again.  At some point I noticed that my index finger was starting to hurt; the middle joint was swollen and there was a sensation along the outside edge as though I had a burn or cut.  I switched jobs at the food bank and tried soaking my hand in warm water twice a day.  The pain got better for a few weeks, then worse again.  The little fingers on both hands started to hurt, especially the top joints, and I was beginning to avoid using my right index finger.  I called and made an appointment with my doctor.

Clearly, I had some sort of arthritis.  For many years I had occasional aches and pains in different parts of my hands that came and went.  I assumed that this was the osteoarthritis that people in my family tend to get after a certain age.  But my situation was a bit odd:  osteoarthritis usually develops gradually over months or years, not all of a sudden as the result of one repetitive-motion episode.  I started thinking about what I had been doing differently in late December.  Finally it clicked – I had stopped taking gliSODin.

During the years when I had cataracts I took several supplements that I had hoped would improve my vision.  By the fall of 2011 my eyesight was bad enough that surgery had become inevitable so I had it done just before Thanksgiving.  After the surgery I looked at the bottles of eye-related supplements and said, “Well, I don’t need to be taking these anymore!”  I used up what was left and didn’t order new supplies.  The gliSODin lasted until mid-December.  Shortly after that my hands started hurting.  Maybe the gliSODin had been doing something for them without my knowing it.

GliSODin was first developed by European scientists in 1998.  Its active ingredient is superoxide dismutase (SOD), which is enclosed in gliadin, a wheat derivative, to keep it from being destroyed by the digestive system.  Superoxide dismutases are enzymes produced by the body to defend itself against toxins.   These toxins can come from outside sources like pesticides and pollutants but they can also arise from within the body itself.  Because gliSODin is a relatively new supplement, research on its effects is in the early stages but people take it for a variety of reasons.  GliSODin is thought to protect the body from sun damage, which is why it is taken to prevent or alleviate cataracts.  It is believed to have anti-aging properties and to assist the body in fighting off various diseases.  Studies have also shown that it can enhance athletic performance and offset the oxidative stress caused by strenuous exercise. 

I do a very tough two-hour exercise routine three times a week.  I have to work this hard and eat about 1800 calories per day in order to keep my weight in the mid-140’s.  My metabolism is very slow, 1100 RMR, and I am hypothyroid, which probably doesn’t help either.  A couple of other people in my family are in the same situation; if they don’t work very hard at exercise they put on too much weight.  So they both do hard workouts and both of them have bad arthritis in their hands.  Perhaps we all inherited a predisposition to get osteoarthritis which was then worsened by the oxidative stress from vigorous exercise. 

After putting all this together, I went to the store, bought more gliSODin, and started taking it.  That was Sunday, April 15.  My hands felt better almost immediately and they are pretty much back to normal now, although there is still some swelling around the middle joint of my index finger and the ends of my little fingers.  You can see this in the photo, as well as the beaten up parts of my fingernails still growing out.  Maybe the fingernails too were hurt by oxidative stress and helped by biotin. (See the 3/6/2012 post “Biotin-for Better Hair.”)

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