Arthritis
147 Case Studies
93 Member Stories
1539 Research

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a general term that describes over 150 distinct conditions. The precise term for this group of conditions is musculoskeletal conditions, as they affect the muscles, joints, and bones.

Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of movement. Symptoms can come and go. They may be mild, moderate, or severe. They may stay about the same for years but may advance or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can lead to chronic pain, inability to perform daily activities, and make it tough to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause irreversible joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be observed on X-ray. Some kinds of arthritis also affect the heart, lungs, eyes, kidneys, and skin in addition to the joints.

While there isn't any special diet plan or treatment that can cure arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions, everyone can benefit from eating a healthy, well-balanced diet to maintain general good health. Some conditions might be helped by making adjustments to your diet.

See: Best anti-inflammatory foods for arthritis

How does Diet heal Arthritis?

Arthritis is a very common condition that affects millions of people around the world today. It causes swelling and tenderness of either one or more of the joints in the body. The primary symptoms of arthritis are stiffness in the joints combined with joint pain, which tends to worsen with age. The most prevalent types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. 

The choice of diet is one way in which an individual may affect their particular health, and it's to be expected that patients will seek their doctor's expert opinion regarding dietary issues. Respect for the validity of those inquiries and balanced informed discussion, including general tips for a sensible diet, in addition to disease-specific recommendations when indicated, may be the key to a successful relationship between patients and doctors. The dilemma of dietary advice has an influence on the management of most types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis (obesity/energy equilibrium ), gout (dietary purines, energy equilibrium, alcohol, fluid intake), and rheumatoid arthritis (n-3 fatty acids). Food hypersensitivity seems to be a rare cause of polyarthritis, and elimination diets and fasting have a minimum place in regular practice.

Since arthritis is characterized by inflammation throughout the joints of the body, the treatment for the condition revolves around reducing the pain and managing the inflammation. Research suggests that including anti-inflammatory foods in your diet and restricting the intake of foods that trigger joint pain can help substantially in managing the symptoms of arthritis. 

Your body needs the energy to function, and it works best when you consume a wide variety of healthy and nutritious foods. Most people with arthritis find that they feel better after having a balanced and varied diet that provides all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients required by the body. 

The root of arthritis pain is usually inflammation caused by the disease. This is why it has been observed that eating certain foods may help facilitate or even aggravate the inflammation caused by arthritis, thereby either reducing or increasing the intensity of your symptoms.[1]

This is why an anti-inflammatory diet plan for arthritis helps the most with managing your symptoms. 

Read on to find out about which foods to have and which foods to avoid with arthritis.

See: Natural inflammation remedies for chronic pain

What are best foods for Arthritis?

Your body functions best when you get all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients the body needs.

Try to consume a Mediterranean-style diet including fish, legumes, nuts, olive oil, and a lot of vegetables and fruit. Eating a balanced diet and using an adequate fluid intake may also help give you greater energy levels, help to keep your weight, and provide you a better sense of health, which might improve your symptoms.

Always seek the advice of your physician or dietitian before changing your diet. You might be limiting your food intake unnecessarily or taking too much of certain products (like mineral supplements) that might have no influence on your condition in any respect. Some supplements may also interact with your medication.

These are general recommendations for healing arthritis symptoms:

1. Fatty Fish

You will always find fatty fish in any sample menu for arthritis. This is because fatty fish is one of the best foods you can include in an arthritis diet. Fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, and trout are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. 

In a small study carried out by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland [2], 33 participants were given fatty fish, lean fish, or lean meat to have four times every week. After a period of 8 weeks, it was found that the group that had fatty fish had decreased levels of certain compounds that are related to inflammation.

Another analysis carried out by the York University[3] in Canada of 17 studies found that taking supplements of omega-3 fatty acids helps decrease the intensity of joint pain, morning stiffness, and also reduces the number of painful joints in the body as well as cutting down on the use of painkillers in patients having rheumatoid arthritis. 

You should include fatty fish in your arthritis diet as they are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, both of which are helpful in lowering inflammation and reducing the severity of arthritis symptoms.

2. Garlic

Garlic is a powerhouse of health benefits. In many test-tube studies [4], it has been confirmed that garlic has cancer-fighting properties. Garlic also contains compounds that reduce the risk of dementia and heart disease. Furthermore, garlic also has a potent anti-inflammatory effect, helping in the reduction of arthritis symptoms. 

In fact, a test-tube study has found that there is a particular compound in garlic that can reduce many of the inflammatory markers associated with arthritis.[5]  Making garlic a part of your anti-inflammatory diet for arthritis will benefit your overall health as well.

3. Walnuts

Walnuts are densely packed with nutrients and are rich in compounds that help decrease inflammation associated with arthritis.  An analysis of 13 studies done by the Harvard School of Public Health [6], found that consuming walnuts every day is known to decrease the markers of inflammation in the body.  Walnuts are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce arthritis symptoms.

See: Garlic Health Benefits, Nutrition & Side Effects

What foods should one avoid with Arthritis?

These would be the usual suspects of unhealthy foods:

1. Fried and Processed Foods

A research team at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine [7] looked at ways of preventing arthritis through diet. In this study carried out in 2009, the research team found that reducing the amount of fried and processed foods that you eat helps to lower inflammation and also helps activate the body's natural defense system. 

So cut down on your consumption of fried and processed foods, such as fried meats, prepared frozen meals, and others. Opt for increasing the fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet instead.

2. Dairy Products

Dairy products aggravate arthritis pain because of a certain protein they contain. In some people, this protein irritates the joint tissues, while others who already have arthritis, find switching to a vegan diet helps relieve this irritation. 

So instead of getting your protein intake from dairy and meat, try to increase your intake of vegetables such as spinach, tofu, beans, lentils, and quinoa, to see if there is an improvement in your symptoms.

3. Salt and Preservatives

If you have arthritis, it is essential to avoid excess salt and foods that have preservatives. Many foods contain preservatives and excess salt to increase their shelf life. The excess consumption of salt may increase the inflammation in your joints. Decreasing your salt intake to a modest amount will help reduce arthritis pain.  It is best to read the food labels so that you are aware of what the item contains. Lesser salt intake will help you manage your arthritis and control many of the symptoms as well.

See: Foods To Avoid For Arthritis

Sample Menu for Arthritis Diet

Here is an example menu of what a day on an anti-inflammatory diet can look like:

a) Breakfast:

Oat porridge with berries

Buckwheat and chia seeds porridge

Pancakes of buckwheat with berries

Scrambled eggs with turmeric

Smoked salmon with poached eggs on toast

b) Lunch:

Grilled sauerkraut, avocado, and hummus sandwich

Spinach and feta frittata

Citrus and quinoa salad

Cauliflower steak with tomatoes and beans

Smoked trout with lettuce wraps

c) Dinner:

Salmon with pesto and zucchini pasta

Roasted cauliflower, ginger, and fennel soup

Chicken and lentil soup with sweet potato

Baked or grilled salmon with greens and cauliflower rice

Vegetable and shrimp curry

See: Rheumatoid Arthritis And Gut Bacteria

Studies in diet therapy for arthritis

1. In a 2017 study, researchers made an anti-inflammatory food chart that can aid in reducing signs and symptoms of RA [9.]

They concluded that a perfect meal can consist of raw or moderately cooked veggies (lots of greens, legumes), with the inclusion of spices such as ginger and garlic, seasonal fruits, probiotic yogurt; all of which are great sources of natural antioxidants and deliver anti-inflammatory consequences. The individual should avoid any processed foods, higher salt, oils, sugar, butter, and animal products. Dietary supplements such as vitamin D, cod liver oil, and multivitamins may also help in managing RA. This diet therapy with low impact aerobic exercises may be used to get a better amount of self-management of RA with the minimal financial burden. Improved patient compliance is, however, always necessary for successful maintenance and management of RA.

According to findings discussed in their review, they designed an anti-inflammatory food chart that may aid in reducing the signs and symptoms of RA. This might not cure the patients; nevertheless, an effective combination of those food items from the daily food program may help to lessen their disease activity, delay disease progression, and reduce joint damage, and a decreased dose of medication administered for therapeutic treatment of patients.

2. A 2015 study assessed the efficacy of a whole-foods, plant-based diet to reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis, researchers concluded in their research results a whole-foods, plant-based diet significantly enhances self-assessed measures of functional status among osteoarthritis patients. A six week, prospective randomized analysis of patients aged 19--70 with osteoarthritis was done and results were evaluated by mixed models analysis. Forty participants were randomized. Thirty-seven of these, 18 control and 19 intervention, completed the study. The intervention group reported significantly greater improvement than the control group in SF-36v2 energy/vitality, physical functioning, role physical, and the physical component summary scale. The differences between the control and intervention PGIC scales were statistically significant with time. 

See: Rheumatoid arthritis Complementary treatment with Probiotics

Summary

While there is no established diet plan or miracle diet for arthritis, research is showing that diet may have a major role to play in arthritis and in managing the severity of symptoms. You can include a variety of anti-inflammatory foods to get relief from inflammation of the joints, and they are also good for promoting overall health. 

So apart from conventional arthritis treatments, eating a nutritious diet containing anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce many of the symptoms of arthritis and help you achieve a better quality of life.

See: Arthritis Diet Plan for a Day

References

1. The inflammatory arthritis pathway. (2019). Retrieved 1 September 2019, from https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/treatments/the-inflammatory-arthritis-pathway/

2. Lankinen, M., Schwab, U., Erkkilä, A., Seppänen-Laakso, T., Hannila, M. L., Mussalo, H., ... & Orešič, M. (2009). Fatty fish intake decreases lipids related to inflammation and insulin signaling—a lipidomics approach. PLoS one, 4(4), e5258.

3. J, G. (2019). A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain. - PubMed - NCBI. Retrieved 1 September 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17335973/

4. Nicastro, H. L., Ross, S. A., & Milner, J. A. (2015). Garlic and onions: their cancer prevention properties. Cancer prevention research, 8(3), 181-189.

5. Ban, J. O., Oh, J. H., Kim, T. M., Kim, D. J., Jeong, H. S., Han, S. B., & Hong, J. T. (2009). Anti-inflammatory and arthritic effects of thiacremonone, a novel sulfurcompound isolated from garlic via inhibition of NF-κB. Arthritis research & therapy, 11(5), R145.

6. Banel, D. K., & Hu, F. B. (2009). Effects of walnut consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis and systematic review. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 90(1), 56-63.

7. Study Shows That Reducing Processed and Fried Food Intake Lowers Related Health Risks and Restores Body's Defenses | Mount Sinai - New York. (2019). Retrieved 1 September 2019, from https://www.mountsinai.org/about/newsroom/2009/study-shows-that-reducing-processed-and-fried-food-intake-lowers-related-health-risks-and-restores-bodys-defenses

8. Khanna S, Jaiswal KS, Gupta B. Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis with Dietary Interventions. Front Nutr. 2017;4:52. Published 2017 Nov 8. doi:10.3389/fnut.2017.00052

9. Clinton CM, O'Brien S, Law J, Renier CM, Wendt MR. Whole-foods, plant-based diet alleviates the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Arthritis. 2015;2015:708152. doi:10.1155/2015/708152


See: Ayurvedic Herbs For Arthritis Remedies

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