Arthritis is a serious health matter that is a debilitating burden for millions of people around the world. About 1 in every 5 American adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This disease covers over 100 related conditions that affect the joints and other organs, causing pain, swelling and inflammation.
Arthritis can affect anyone at any time, regardless of age, physical condition or ethnic background. There is no actual diet or miracle food that can cure arthritis; however, there are certain foods and supplements that have been found to be effective in reducing its symptoms. Here are some of the dietary do’s and don’ts that can help you manage arthritis:
Limited intake of fat helps in reducing the risk of inflammation as well as maintaining a healthy body weight. Healthy diet should include small amounts of unsaturated fat and even lower amount of trans fats or saturated fats. Research has shown that hydrogenated and saturated fats promote inflammation, which can aggravate arthritis. Healthy fats, particularly monounsaturated fats, have been linked to reducing inflammation.
Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products such as red meat, organ meats, cheese, sour cream and whole milk. Trans fats can be found in some packaged foods such as cookies, pastries and margarine. Try to limit the intake of both of these fats to minimize the symptoms of arthritis. Monounsaturated fats, which are also known as “good fat”, can be found in olive oil, nuts and avocados. Consuming reasonable amounts of this fat can help in reducing tenderness of joints, and in some cases, allow an arthritic patient to reduce his arthritic medication because of this food group’s effectiveness in curbing painful symptoms.
Reduce sugar intake
Balancing sugar intake helps in maintaining proper glucose levels in the body. However, too much sugar can cause serious complications, especially to those suffering with arthritis. Sugar is known to increase the body’s acidity level, which elevates the risks of high blood pressure, triggering inflammation. Too much sugar can also weaken the immune system, which can worsen symptoms of fatigue in arthritic patients. If you can’t remove sugar from your diet entirely, try substituting it with alternatives such as agave or honey. You can also replace sugar by using fruits in cereals or desserts.
Reduce phosphorus rich food
Foods that are high in phosphorus can worsen symptoms of arthritis. If consumed excessively, it can lead to loss of calcium in the body,increasing the risk of pain and inflammation. Avoid phosphorus-rich foods like red flesh fish, red meat, processed meat, organ meat — such as kidney and liver — and soft drinks. Red meat also contains omega-6 fatty acids that break down into pro-inflammatory proteins in the body, which can worsen arthritic symptoms.
Limit nightshade vegetable in your diet
Some people who have arthritis tend to experience severe pain and disability if they consume nightshade vegetables. This may be because of a natural substance known as solanine, which inhibits the enzyme cholinesterase, responsible for the flexibility of muscle movement. Vegetables that are considered nightshades include potatoes, peppers, paprika, tomatoes and eggplant.
Increase fiber and reduce refine carbohydrates
Consuming a low-fiber diet can trigger the C-reactive protein that causes systemic inflammation in the body. Refined carbohydrates, such as refined flour, table sugar and white or enriched flour, can aggravate the symptoms of arthritis. Foods with refined carbohydrates include cereals, baked goods, white pasta and white bread. Try to consume as much fiber-enriched foods as possible. This includes oat bran, beans, brown and unpolished rice, almonds and whole grain lentils.
Eat enough omega-3 rich foods
Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their heart-boosting benefits, and are also found effective in reducing arthritis pain and joint stiffness. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include cold-water fish such as salmon, herring and tuna. Other excellent sources include flax seeds, canola oil, walnuts, tofu and fish oil supplements.
Increase fruits and vegetable intake
Fruits and vegetable are high in fiber and other essential nutrients, which can help in balancing the overall nutrition of the body. They also contain antioxidants that can help in reducing the inflammation and improve symptoms of arthritis. Fruits and vegetables can also lower the risk of numerous diseases such as dementia, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and coronary heart disease.
Drink more water
Water is essential in the lubrication and protection of joints. It helps in minimizing the friction between the cartilage surfaces of the joints. Insufficient water intake can result in swelling and stiffness of the joints, which can aggravate arthritic pain.
David Novak an avid health enthusiast, and frequently is featured in regional and national health publications, discussing health, wellness, diet and fitness. He is also a weekly writer for Healthline.