Diet can play role in easing arthritis
While some forms of arthritis are genetic and cannot be prevented, people who suffer from other forms of the disease are able to control their symptoms through diet. Not only can certain foods contribute to the inflammation associated with many types of arthritic conditions, but other foods can help reduce inflammation in the body.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 23 percent of all American adults have some type of arthritis, and many of these are associated with high levels of inflammation. Although inflammation is normally one way the body protects itself from bacteria and aids in joint healing, that process may not always work the way it should, and inflamed joints may lead to damage in the body.
Research has shown that when certain foods are avoided, they can decrease the levels of inflammation in some arthritis sufferers and lead to relief from symptoms of the disease. These include fats such as Omega 6 fatty acids, saturated fats and trans fats. The Omega 6 fatty acids found in corn oil, sunflower oil and vegetable oil are not inherently harmful in moderation, but the typical American diet contains too many of them.
The saturated fats found in meats and cheeses should only make up less than 10 percent of a person’s daily calorie intake, and trans fats, such as those found in many prepackaged foods, promote inflammation by reducing levels of good cholesterol in the body while increasing harmful cholesterol levels.
Some studies have also shown that the risk of rheumatoid arthritis, a form of inflammatory arthritis, increases with the consumption of processed sugars, such as those found in sweetened drinks and breakfast cereals. In addition to reducing the risk for inflammatory diseases, a diet low in fats and sugars can also reduce the risk of weight gain, which could lead to added stress on the joints and contribute to damage to the cartilage between the joints.
Researchers have also found that arthritis sufferers who reduce their intake of nightshades, vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, find that they have less arthritis pain. These foods contain solanine, a compound that may make arthritis symptoms worse, although that research is still ongoing.
One form of arthritis, gout, is triggered by a build up of uric acid in the blood as a result of the body breaking down purines. Purines are substance found in cells, and they are also found in foods like red meat, cured meats and beer. By avoiding these foods, gout sufferers can moderate their symptoms and reduce the pain caused by the disease.
Inflammatory arthritis sufferers are advised to stick to diets such as the Mediterranean diet to reduce the symptoms of inflammation on their bodies. That’s because these diets are high in anti-inflammatories and can lead to reduced levels of inflammation. These diets are high in unsaturated fats, found in foods like olive oil and seed oils, and Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in salmon and other oily fishes.
Many fruits and vegetables can also contribute to less inflammation and better joint health. Onions, leeks and garlic contain some compounds that reduce inflammation and other compounds that prevent damage to the cartilage between joints. Colored vegetable and leafy greens contain antioxidants which may lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
The calcium found in greens is also needed for healthy bones, and the vitamin C found citrus fruit and strawberries helps prevent damage to joint cartilage and bones.
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