There is a misconception that arthritis is a concern for only older people. While it is true that arthritis is most common in people over the age of 65, it can develop in children, adolescents and younger adults too.
So what exactly is arthritis?
It is an inflammation that may affect one or multiple joints. The symptoms of which manifest over time, though in certain rarer cases it may suddenly appear. It is most common in women than men and tends to afflict overweight people.
Signs of arthritis include pain and stiffness in your joints, along with swelling. The symptoms can impact your range of movement and dexterity. Further symptoms include a loss of appetite and energy, which may be felt more acutely in the morning.
You may be surprised to learn that your diet can have an impact on arthritis – both for the better and worse. Here we take look at the foods can help with the symptoms of arthritis, and which you should avoid.
Foods to consume
The following foods may not be a cure, but come highly recommended for helping to manage arthritis on a daily basis.
Vitamin C is at the top of our list because of its plentiful vitamin C content, which has been proven to inhibit the detrimental development of osteoarthritis. In fact, a study carried out by the University of South Florida in 2011 discovered that people who took vitamin C supplements were incredibly eleven percent less likely to develop osteoarthritis in their knee than those who didn’t.
Vitamin C is easy to come by in your diet, too. It is one of the reasons that you are advised to abide a five a day diet of fruit and veg to keep the doctors away. Some of the top sources include kiwi, pineapple, strawberries and cantaloupe.
While we’re looking at fruit, don’t neglect the veg – especially the green stuff. Brocolli, cabbage and the Christmas favourite, Brussel sprouts all contain excellent portions of sulforaphane, which is proven to slow the damage done to your joints’ cartilage caused by osteoarthritis.
Of course, it’s not all about eating raw cabbage and kale in the name of medicine. Adding them as ingredients to a larger meal or throwing into a blender with kiwi is a good solution to getting your daily recommendation and enjoying it.
Fatty fish crops up in many a medical experts’ lists of recommended healthy foods that help to boost your immune system. Salmon, mackerel and tuna are great sources of omega-3, which is a top anti-inflammatory for battling all manner of troublesome health issues concerning inflammation. As well as easing the swelling in your joints, it can help with digestive issues and skin conditions.
Garlic cloves are another lesser known aid in battling the symptoms of arthritis. Garlic, along with leeks and onions among others in the allium group, feature the compound diallyl disulphide, which has a positive effect in inhibiting cartilage-damaging enzymes that can be a concern for those suffering arthritis.
It’s all been sounding healthy so far, hasn’t it? So how about throwing a curry into your dietary plans? Surprisingly, it isn’t actually the food itself but the spice, Turmeric, which contains curcumin that will help with its anti-inflammatory properties.
Nuts are not only a great source of protein but also that handy omega-3 that fatty fish is so full of. Further to this, some nuts are full of magnesium, l-arginine and vitamin E, which also have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
We’ve looked at fruit and veg options, fish for meat eaters and spice to meet your anti-inflammatory needs, but what options are there in the way of bread? This is where you will want to stick to whole grains. Why? Because refined foods might just be part of your problem.
What not to eat
One of the worst things you can introduce to your body through your diet for symptoms of arthritis is advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These are toxins that can damage important proteins. Your body’s natural defence against AGEs is by use of cytokines, which are inflammatory messengers. While this is meant as a healthy defence, it can result in inflammation and, in some cases arthritis.
Grilled, fried, frozen and processed foods are all culprits. A study carried out by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that cutting down on fried food can help to reduce inflammation and allow your body’s natural defences against it to replenish, so next time you’re thinking of frying, opt for a healthier option such as boiling or baking.
Refined carbs, also go by the name ‘empty carbs’ due to their poor nutritional value. These include everything from processed white bread loaves and buns to takeaways and the majority of junk food. Worse still is the fact that they do no favours for people who suffer arthritis. By opting for whole grains and wholesome carbs you’ll also find that you fill up on a smaller amount, meaning that it can help you to lose a little weight by cutting back on portions.
A more obvious one to avoid is booze and smoking. Smokers face a heightened risk of rheumatoid arthritis, while alcohol is bad for the build-up that leads to gout.
While dairy is good for you in many ways, it also contains a type of protein that irritates the tissue around your joints. Your take-home message, then, is to find alternative sources of protein from protein and dairy; nuts and soy products should top your list, along with olive oil in place of butter.
While looking at alternative solutions to processed food, you might also look for lower fat options, as long as that doesn’t mean more salt or sugar; this way you will reduce your weight in the process.