Arthritis Fighting Foods
~ By Laura Brieser-Smith ~
Since the 1930’s researchers have been exploring the link between diet and arthritis. While there is no “arthritis diet” and no supplement that is the magic cure, there are several foods and nutrients that may benefit those who suffer from this disease.
Because arthritis has a major inflammatory component, it may be helpful to consume nutrients that are known to be anti-inflammatory. The first of these nutrients is antioxidants. Vitamins E, C, A, and D have all been shown to decrease inflammation and decrease the progression of osteoarthritis. In addition, the minerals selenium and magnesium may be beneficial. Undoubtedly, the best researched and most promising nutrient in relieving inflammation is omega-3 fatty acids. This group of fats provides the building blocks for chemicals in our bodies that reduce inflammation. As you may know, omega-3 fats are found primarily in fatty fishes, but can also be obtained by eating flax seeds and walnuts. The general recommendation is to consume at least 1,000 mg of omega-3 fats per day either through foods or supplements. Also keep in mind that you may not notice your symptoms diminish immediately; many people find that it may take 12 or more weeks before they notice any changes from taking in more omega-3’s. It may also be helpful to moderate your intake of omega-6 fatty acids as they are known to create more inflammation when consumed in excess, especially when combined with a low intake of omega-3 fats. Since omega-6’s are found in large amounts in most of the vegetable oils, it is quite easy to consume large amounts when eating a typical American diet.
Some people have reported that certain foods trigger arthritis symptoms. This is especially true with rheumatoid arthritis. While most of the reports of this are anecdotal and are not able to be replicated with research studies, it may be of benefit to keep a record of foods you consume and symptoms you experience to determine if you do have a food allergy or sensitivity. However, making a connection is often challenging, since it may take up to 18 hours from the time you consume a food until the time you experience symptoms. Some of the more common trigger foods include the nightshade family (eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes), dairy, wheat, corn, beef and pork.
With all this being said, the most important thing you can do if you suffer from arthritis is to follow a healthy, balanced diet that allows you to maintain a healthy body weight. This would include plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and moderate intakes of saturated and trans fats, sugar, and alcohol. Again, there really is no “arthritis diet,” but the following foods will provide excellent sources of the nutrients mentioned above and may help to diminish your symptoms: apples, berries, cherries, citrus fruits, allium vegetables (onions, scallions, garlic, etc.), dairy products, fatty fishes, and nuts.
Laura Brieser-Smith, RD, MPH, CHFS is the owner of Healthy Designs, LLC which provides nutrition counseling and personal training to clients in their homes or offices. She can be reached at 303-635-1131 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.