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World Arthritis Day 2020: Foods To Eat And Avoid For Arthritis

12 October is observed as World Arthritis Day. The day aims to spread awareness about the disease and its many types; as well as its both physical and emotional impacts. The theme of the World Arthritis Day 2020 is "Time2Work".

Autoimmune arthritis is a group of different types of arthritis, where a person's immune system attacks itself [1]. The most common type of autoimmune arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. According to reports, almost half of the global population have one or the other form of autoimmune arthritis disease and only 50 per cent of them receive the proper diagnosis [2].


What Is Autoimmune Arthritis?

As aforementioned, autoimmune arthritis is defined as a group of different types of arthritis and arthritis is a condition in which the muscles around the joints of the body, such as knees, back, wrists, fingers, etc., get inflamed and stiffen, causing pain and restricted movement. This condition is mostly seen in people above the age of 60 and can worsen as they age.

There are over 100 types of arthritis. Different types cause different symptoms, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis are among the most common types of autoimmune arthritis [3].

The symptoms of autoimmune arthritis vary depending on the specific underlying arthritis type, however, some of the common symptoms include fatigue, fever, joint pain, stiffness, swelling and weakness [4].

In this article, we will explore the best and worst foods for an individual with arthritis.


Diet And Autoimmune Arthritis

Consistent pain in the joints which at times gets unbearable and makes you immobile is a major symptom of arthritis. The first thing one could do to prevent this symptom from worsening is to avoid certain foods that might trigger arthritis. There are some foods that are rich in saturated fats and sugars and can increase inflammation, increase the chances of heart diseases and cause overall damage to the body [5]. But, there are some food items that can reduce inflammation and keep morning stiffness and soreness in check. There is no known cure for arthritis, but its symptoms can be under control by modifying your diet [6].

Consuming anti-inflammatory foods and avoiding certain foods that are bad for arthritis will help alleviate the symptoms. For example, olive oil and onions are foods that soothe arthritis pain. Carotene rich foods are good for curing arthritis [7]. However, there are also some foods that aggravate arthritis pain. If you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, uric acid-rich foods like tomatoes can increase joint pain [8].

As studies point out, there is no specific diet for arthritis. And one survey had pointed out that 24 per cent of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis reported that their diet had an impact on the severity of their symptoms [9].

One has to be careful in picking anti-inflammatory foods and limiting or avoiding foods that may trigger joint pain, so as to help relieve the symptoms related to arthritis.


Foods To Eat For Arthritis

There are several foods that can help ease inflammation and may help relieve some of the joint pain associated with arthritis. Take a look.


1. Whole Grains

According to studies, consuming whole grains in comparison to white bread, rice or pasta can reduce inflammation drastically. The fibre content present in whole grains can help reduce the inflammation [10]. Also, whole grains help lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood, which is a prominent cause of inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis [11].

Consume foods like oatmeal, brown rice and whole-grain cereals.


2. Fatty Fish

According to the studies, food items rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help lower inflammation [12]. The marine omega-3 fatty acids found in fishes can cut down on bad cholesterol levels as rheumatoid arthritis can also put you at a greater risk of heart diseases. Therefore, eating good cholesterol can help you keep your heart healthy [13].

Fishes such as salmon and anchovies are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating fish twice a week goes a long way in keeping your heart healthy and safe.


3. Green Vegetables

The vitamin E found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli protects the body from inflammatory molecules [14]. Green leafy veggies, also packed with vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron and phytochemicals, can help in fighting inflammatory diseases, thereby making them extremely beneficial for people with arthritis.

Include green vegetables such as methi, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and bok choy in your diet.


4. Nuts

Nuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E that help in fighting inflammation effectively. Most varieties of nuts are rich in antioxidants that help to maintain and fight the damages caused by inflammation [15].

Make sure to include almonds, walnuts in your daily diet to keep inflammation at bay. You can also incorporate chia seeds into your diet.


5. Olive Oil

Did you know that the Mediterranean diet is great for those suffering from inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis? Well, it is [16]. Olive oil, which is a major part of the Mediterranean diet, is good for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The compound found in olive oil, which lends it its taste, is almost as effective as taking painkillers [17].


6. Berries

Fruits are a great way to keep inflammation caused in rheumatoid arthritis at bay. Did you know that berries are a great source of anti-inflammatory properties? Anthocyanins, which lends it its colour, is rich in anti-inflammatory properties [18]. Hence, these foods can effectively cure inflammatory-related disorders.

Strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are some of the best options.


7. Ginger

This herb may have the ability to help ease the symptoms of arthritis [19]. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger seem to help relieve pain and improve joint function in people who have arthritis.


8. Garlic

Garlic contains diallyl disulfide, an anti-inflammatory compound that limits the effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines - which worsens inflammation [20]. Garlic is said to possess the ability to help fight inflammation and may even help prevent cartilage damage from arthritis.


Foods To Avoid For Arthritis

Read on to learn about the foods that trigger arthritis you should avoid.


9. Sugar And Refined Carbohydrates

Sugar and refined carbohydrates must be removed from the diet of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis because processed sugars trigger inflammation in the body by increasing the release of cytokines, which are inflammatory messengers [21].

Avoid candies, processed foods, sodas and baked goods made of white flour. If you are someone who enjoys treats such as cakes, white bread sandwiches, cookies, puffs, buns, etc., it is time you say goodbye to these foods.


10. Dairy Products

This is also one of the top foods to be avoided with arthritis because dairy products contain proteins that could worsen arthritis pain [22]. The proteins casein and whey, which are found in milk products can trigger rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Avoid milk, cheese, butter and other dairy products and switch to a plant-based diet for non-dairy alternatives.


11. Fried And Processed Foods

These are never good news as fried foods can lead to chronic inflammation and worsen the symptoms of arthritis. These induce the production of toxins known as Advanced Glycation End Products (AGES) that triggers inflammation [23].

Avoid or limit your consumption of fried and processed foods such as fried meats and prepared frozen meals.


12. Salt And Preservatives

Excessive salt is one of the major reasons for inflammation. Regular consumption of foods that contain high levels of sodium (many foods will foods contain excessive salt and other preservatives to promote longer shelf lives) result in the inflammation of the joints [24].

Add less salt to your food and while buying food products, read the label to check for the ingredients.


13. Red Meat

Beef, mutton, pork, goat meat, veal, etc., are all commonly consumed red meat, which must be avoided by people with types of arthritis [25]. Because red meat is high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are not healthy fats, which when accumulated in the body can increase the cholesterol levels and the fat cells, causing the inflammation of the joints to worsen in people with arthritis [26].

A study had reported that people who skipped red meat in their diet have reported that their symptoms improved [27].


14. Alcohol

Alcohol is one amongst the top in the list of foods to avoid for arthritis. Any type of alcohol is highly inflammatory in nature and consuming even small quantities can trigger the inflammation of the joints and worsen the symptoms of the condition [28].


15. Corn Oil

A lot of dishes are cooked using corn oil, at homes and in restaurants, some of them being fried meat, veg patties, etc. Corn oil is known to make the texture of the dish being prepared much better. However, corn oil is rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which are not very healthy for the human body, unlike omega-3 fatty acids that are good for arthritis [29]. These fatty acids can also cause inflammation around the joints to trigger arthritis.

Replace foods that contain omega-6 fatty acids with anti-inflammatory omega-3 alternatives such as olive oil, nuts etc.

Some of the other types of foods to be avoided by an individual with arthritis are as follows [30]:

  • Eggplant (brinjal)
  • Gluten-rich foods such as bread, chapati, biscuits, etc.
  • Tomato
  • Shellfish such as lobster, shrimp, oyster etc.
  • Coffee

On A Final Note…

The bottom line is that a person suffering from arthritis must pick his/her foods carefully. There is no specific diet for arthritis, however, including anti-inflammatory foods in your diet and limiting foods that may trigger joint pain is the best solution.

The best way to fight rheumatoid arthritis and keep inflammation in check is to adopt a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.

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