Diet and Arthritis

What is a healthy diet if you have arthritis?
Well, it isn't half as complicated as some people make out. It's really about eating a sensible, balanced diet that is low in saturated fat and contains lots of fruits and vegetables.

I don’t believe in ‘special diets’ – there is no robust evidence to suggest that for any kind of arthritis, other than gout, that cutting out certain foods or eating particular things will help treat the condition. Anecdotally, some people do find symptom relief from avoiding foods that don’t seem to agree with  them (I know I seem to get more sore when I drink white wine, no idea why and funnily enough it doesn’t seem to happen with gin! ). What is proven to help is eating a healthy, balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight. Yes, very boring, I know, but try to think of it this way:
-     Every extra pound you lose reduces the pressure on your knee joints by four pounds (Meisser, 2005)
-     A healthy diet also helps protect you against cardiovascular disease and cancer (Scarborough et al.,2010)
-     Vegetables give you an attractive glow (Stephen, 2011)
So, eating well equals moving better, living longer and looking hotter. Not so boring now!

Why can eating healthily be hard with arthritis?
Feeling tired, side effects from drugs and plain old pain can all make it tricky to eat healthily. You may find it hard to find things you fancy to eat when you are unwell, or have problems shopping or cooking.Perhaps as a consequence of all this, people with arthritis are at an increased risk of nutritional deficiencies. Studies show that we get less fresh fruit and vegetables whilst eating more unhealthy red meats and saturated fat. Folic acid, B12, selenium, calcium, zinc, vitamin C and E intakes have all be shown to be lower in people with arthritis.

It's not all bad news though - the recipes, hints and tips on this site are here to help. As a clinical nutritionist, I test every recipe to ensure that it is helping meet these nutritional needs, whilst being easy to cook and delicious to eat.
What should I eat then?
All my recipes are based on helping you get more of the good stuff and less of the bad - whilst being easy to prepare. Here's my quick guide of what to eat to help arthritis:

Eat More

  • Fruit and vegetables - aim for at least 5 servings a day. The antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in them help tackle inflammation and keep your whole body healthy.
  • Wholegrains - foods like oats, wholemeal flour and brown rice help keep you going and keep your heart healthy.
  • Low fat dairy products - build your bones and fight fat with calcium-rich dairy products.
  • Herbs and spices - give flavour to your food and may help with nausea, indigestion and inflammation. Try turmeric and ginger for an anti-inflammatory boost.
  • Oily fish - full of healthy omega 3 oils which are proven to reduce inflammatory chemicals and relieve joint pain.
  • Beans and pulses - packed with fibre and protein to keep your digestive system ticking over.
  • Nuts and seeds - rich in healthy fats which help your heart and reduce inflammation.
  • Lean cuts of white meat and other fish - give you protein to help your body repair and grow.

Eat Less
  • Red meat - has been linked to inflammation and an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Try to eat it no more than once or twice a week and stick to lean cuts.
  • Full fat dairy products - fine for an occassional treat but full of saturated fat that will clog your arteries and aggravate inflammation.
  • Salt - raises your blood pressure so go easy on it.
  • Refined grains - just not as good as their wholegrain counterparts. They can cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate and are lower in fibre, vitamins and minerals.
  • Sugar - is full of empty calories and can trigger inflammation. Best to cut back on when you can.

Are there any foods that particularly help?
No food is going to be the 'magic cure' and superfoods are a bit of a myth. Having said all that there are some vitamins, phytochemicals and minerals that can help arthritis. The 'Arthur Investigates' series of posts looks at these and the foods that contain them in more depth. I've added the links to some of them below.

Fish Oil

Calcium



Turmeric

 Ginger















Mint




Garlic

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