The term “arthritis” actually refers to two distinctly different chronic conditions that affect individuals in a similar way but for different reasons. These forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is more common and considered a wear-andtear condition that mostly affects older adults. Over time, the protective tissues in the joints begin to wear down and can cause pain when the joint is moved naturally. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the body begins to attack the healthy tissues around joints causing it to become inflamed and painful. It can strike at any age. While many of the symptoms are similar, the two types of arthritis are very different and require different treatments. It is important to talk to your medical specialist for the correct diagnosis.
Just a few days before World Arthritis Day, recognized annually on October 12, refocusing energy on an arthritis healthy diet may be a great way to get involved.
It may not seem like it, but some of the foods we consume could contribute to pain in joints affected by arthritis. Other foods can provide anti-inflammatory properties to promote healing and reduce pain. When considering a holistic approach to your arthritis pain management, a change over to a beneficial diet will assist in the healing process and reduce pain.
The primary objective in a nutritional approach to arthritis management is to eat foods that do not increase inflammation in the joints and avoid foods that do.
Avoid these foods that cause pain flare-ups
Foods that cause inflammation are certainly on the list of things to avoid. It is also important to note that excess weight can cause increased pressure on already affected joints. In this way, changing to a healthy diet and losing weight can provide a healthier lifestyle for individuals dealing with the effects of arthritis. The foods to avoid include:
- Saturated fats: Various forms of saturated fats can be found in multiple foods sources. Fatty meats, whole milk products, and some oils such as palm oil are high in saturated fats. Many prepackaged and processed foods also contain saturated fats. To make healthy choices read product labels and avoid as many saturated fats as possible. Also, exchange fatty meats with leaner cuts.
- Trans fats: Even more insidious than naturally occurring saturated fats are lab-created trans fats. Trans fats have been shown to have a number of negative side effects even in otherwise healthy people. Food labels will also indicate the amount of trans fats in a product. Eating fresh, non-packaged foods will help reduce the amount of these fats that you consume.
- Refined and simple carbs: These foods include things such as white rice, white bread, white pasta, and white sugar. They have been shown to increase inflammation in the body. Avoiding items made with white flour or sugar can help reduce the effects. Instead, replace them with whole grains.
Eat these foods to help decrease pain
The good news is that there are plenty of healthy and delicious foods that help your body fight the inflammation and pain caused by arthritis. Adding these nutrient-rich foods to your diet can not only help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis but can also help you lead a more healthy lifestyle overall. These foods include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: While saturated and trans fats are a no-go for arthritis patients, these healthy fats are the best replacement in an anti-inflammatory diet. Fatty fish such as salmon, anchovies, and herring are some of the best sources. These fatty acids can also be found in some oysters, walnuts, and soy beans.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Mediterranean cultures were reaping the benefits of EVOO before Rachael Ray was ever talking about it on television. It contains healthier fats but also properties that reduce inflammation in the body. Use olive oil for cooking as a replacement for butter or vegetable oil.
- Antioxidants: While this has been a buzzword in nutrition for a long time, the benefits of foods rich in antioxidants remain intact. They help cells stay healthy in the body and are found in a variety of delicious food sources. For vitamin C, eat fruits such as oranges, pineapples, and strawberries. Beta-carotene is most commonly found in orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and carrots. Other antioxidant rich foods include Brussels sprouts, peppers, cranberries, and spinach.
- Vitamin D: Many adults do not get as much vitamin D as they need. This can cause a greater effect on someone dealing with the day-to-day struggles of arthritis. It is easy to add vitamin D to a diet. Incorporate low-fat dairy products, egg yolks, and salmon into your meal plans.
- Spices: In India, spices such as turmeric and ginger are used in a variety of dishes such as curries. These aromatic and flavor rich spices are anti-inflammatory in nature. Try adding curry dishes to your menu to receive the benefits of these delicious spices.
The best news is that not only can you avoid bad foods and add good foods help with an already existing diagnosis of arthritis, but it can also prevent the condition from developing in the first place. While arthritis is common when it comes to aging it isn’t an absolute and preventative techniques can help reduce the risk in the long term.
For some patients adopting a specific diet may also help. Some individuals have seen improvement in their arthritis symptoms by adhering to a gluten free meal plan. Others have found that a vegan diet, which is rich in vegetables but cuts out all animal products, can help.
Before you alter your diet in a drastic way talk with your medical specialist or someone trained in holistic health to walk you through the process. You want to ensure that you are making healthy and informed choices. It is also important to treat the entire person, not just the symptoms of the condition. Arthritis also responds to changes in physical activity and a focus on overall mental well-being.
Have you had any experience with adopting an anti-inflammatory diet to help reduce the symptoms of arthritis?
Image by Robert Benner Sr. via Flickr