Friday, 28 September 2012

Diet, Arthritis and Heart Health

I've ummed and ahh-ed a little about posting this as it's a tricky topic and I don't really want to worry anyone. However, heart health often gets overlooked in arthritis. 

Those of us with inflammatory arthritis are at a potentially increased risk of cardiovascular disease because of the systemic inflammation in our bodies. Luckily, the same medications that reduce our joint inflammation can help reduce our heart risk. For those with osteoarthritis, the risk is more to do with difficulties taking exercise or managing weight. For both types of arthritis, the best prevention is keeping your weight healthy, eating well, taking gentle exercise and getting your GP to keep an eye on your blood pressure, waist circumference and cholesterol levels. 

There are also lots of ways your diet can help keep your heart healthy:

1. Eat plenty of omega 3 -  from oily fish, linseeds (or flax), almonds and walnuts with the added bonus that it's great for your joints and brain too
2. Avoid saturated fat - in meat, butter and dairy. Instead choose lower fat options, lean cuts of meat and limit your serving size
3. Enjoy healthy fats - try olive oil and rapeseed oil for cooking and dressings
4. Fill up on fibre - eat pulses, beans, whole grains and plenty of fruit and vegetables
5. Avoid empty calories - cut back on sugary foods and alcohol
6. Watch your salt intake - try seasoning food with herbs, spices, lemons, limes and vinegars instead

All of the recipes on this site (other than the treats) are based on these principles. Generally, what is healthy for arthritis is also healthy for your heart so you can enjoy the arthritis-friendly recipes knowing they are good for all of you, not just your joints.

For more information, visit  the Arthritis FoundationWebMD (for RA and heart disease info), Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Association and the British Heart Foundation. Lene Andersen (who writes the great blog The Seated View) also produced a helpful article on Health Central about the  issue here.

2 comments:

  1. My mother died earlier this year of a massive heart attack. After checking out the doctors reasoning for her death I did a bit of a life shuffle and decided that I was going to veer off the dietary highway that I had been steering myself and was going to get well! I had been suffering with arthritic knee pain for many years and as an overweight person I noticed within a couple of months of changing my diet that my knees were not hurting anywhere near as much and I was a lot less stiff. I chose to eat healthy food NOT diet. After a lifetime of dieting and using rubbish diet food I wanted to nourish my body and try to give it what it needs. I have lost lots of weight, I rarely have knee pain even though I exercise every day (walking the dogs for an hour) and every single one of the dietary changes that you listed above works! I am a new person and I am able to live more because I decided to change my life. It is possible to do it, it just takes a bit of getting used to. Thank you SO much for sharing this wonderful information with people out here Arthur. Your site is invaluable.

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    Replies
    1. So sorry to hear about your mother. I really admire you making lasting changes to your diet and exercise - so glad it is working for you and making you happier and healthier.

      Kate

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