Nutrition And Osteoarthritis Connection
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. There are over 30 million adults in the United States that is affected by this condition. When the cartilage in the joints breaks down over time osteoarthritis develops. This condition can affect any joint in the body, but adults often notice it in their knees, hands, hips, and spine. At this point in time, there is no cure for osteoarthritis. However, it has been found that making changes in the diet brings about a nutrition and osteoarthritis connection.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, it is impossible for specific foods or nutritional supplements to cure osteoarthritis. The basic key to relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis is reducing inflammation and preventing damage. There are certain diets that can improve the symptoms. There are some foods that have anti-inflammatory capabilities which help reduce symptoms while other foods amplify the symptoms.
A balanced nutritious diet will give the body tools it needs to prevent further damage to the joints which is essential for people with osteoarthritis. An anti-inflammatory diet can improve the symptoms. These foods also have antioxidants which are vitamin A, C, and E. They help to prevent further damage to the joints.
Adults with osteoarthritis are more likely to have high blood cholesterol and reducing cholesterol may improve the symptoms of the disease. On the right diet, cholesterol levels can quickly improve. Also keeping a healthy weight can be difficult for some people who have this medical condition.
A healthy meal plan that contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can be the hallmark of treatment for this condition.
The following foods need to be included in the diet in order to get the benefits of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. There are eight foods that have proven to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
- Oily Fish Oily fish contains healthful omega 3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fats have the anti-inflammatory properties. Other fish that contain omega 3 fatty acids are salmon, sardines, and mackerel. If fish is not tolerated, supplements that contain omega 3 fatty acids would be sufficient.
- Oils Besides oily fish there are some oils that can reduce inflammation. The extra virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal, which may have similar properties to nonsteroidal ant-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Other helpful options are avocados and safflower oils that may also relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis and lower cholesterol levels.
- Dairy Milk, yogurt, and cheese are rich in calcium and Vitamin D. These nutrients increase bone strength that will improve painful symptoms. Proteins are also in dairy products that help to build muscle. The low fat options of dairy products can help to manage weight and cholesterol.
- Dark Leafy Greens Dark leafy greens are rich in Vitamin D and stress fighting phytochemicals and antioxidants. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and can also boost the immune system helping the body to fight off infections. Dark leafy greens include: spinach, kale, chard, and collard greens.
- Broccoli Broccoli contains a compound sulforaphane which researchers believe could slow down the progression of osteoarthritis.
- Green Tea Green tea contains high levels of polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and slow the rate of cartilage damage.
- Garlic Besides giving a very pungent and spicy flavor to food, garlic has a compound called dially disulfide which works against the enzymes in the body that damage cartilage.
- Nuts Nuts and seeds are high in alpha-linolenic acid which is known for its inflammatory affects. Nuts are good for the heart and contain high levels of calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, and fiber. Walnuts have the highest omega fatty acid compounds followed by peanuts, almonds, Pistachios, flaxseed and chia seeds.
The Mediterranean Diet which has received the #1 rating and best diet by the US and World New Report can reduce the inflammation that contributes to the symptoms of osteoarthritis. As well as helping to reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis, the Mediterranean diet offers other health benefits such as weight loss, heart disease, stroke, muscle weakness, and premature death. This diet contains all the foods listed above which contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidants properties to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
There are many simple changes that can be made to the anti-inflammatory diet to make it more like the Mediterranean. These changes include:
- Eating high-fiber, starch foods, such as sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, and whole grain bread and pasta.
- Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Including fish in the diet.
- Eating less red meat,
- Choosing products made from vegetable and plant oils such as olive oil and safflower oil
- Selecting wholemeal options over those containing refined flour.
Besides consuming foods that are beneficial to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis there are foods to be avoided and why:
- Sugar Processed sugar prompt the release o cytokines which act as inflammatory messengers in the body. The sugars that are added to sweeten beverages including soda, sweet tea, flavored coffees, and some juice drinks. These drinks are most likely to worsen inflammatory conditions.
- Saturated Fat Foods high in saturated fat such as pizza and red meat can cause inflammation in the fat issue. These saturated fats can contribute to the risk of developing obesity, heart disease and other chronic conditions, this can make arthritis inflammation worse.
- Refined Carbohydrates Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, and potato chips fuel the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) oxidants. These can stimulate inflammation in the body
Arthritis Food Myths There have been claims or myths that certain types of food can make osteoarthritis worse but there is no scientific evidence to support these myths.
- Citrus Foods Citrus foods cause inflammation due to its acidity. Scientific evidence has proven this is not the case. In fact citrus fruits have anti-inflammatory benefits as well as being rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants. Grapefruit juice can interact with some medications that doctors prescribe to treat arthritis and high cholesterol levels. Prior to undergoing treatment for these conditions it is best to check with a doctor before incorporating grapefruit juice to the diet.
- Avoiding Dairy Products helps with Osteoarthritis There have been claims made that avoiding dairy can help with osteoarthritis . Although milk, cheese, and other dairy products can be problematic due to intolerance of these products. However these foods can have anti-inflammatory effect in some adults. Adults who have inflammatory symptoms relating to gout may find that skimmed and low fat milk can be protective against this condition. An elimination diet can help people to determine whether or not their symptoms improve or worsen with dairy intake.
- Nightshade vegetables cause inflammation Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, and peppers all contain the chemical solanine which has been blamed for arthritis pain. However, the Arthritis Foundations has proven there is no scientific evidence to this myth. Adding these nutritious vegetables to the diet can have many benefits for chronic healthy conditions.
Eating a balanced diet rich in plants, fiber, and anti-inflammatory fats, such as those that the Mediterranean diet includes can help living with osteoarthritis to maintain a healthy weight
Mary Anne Chadbourne
Registered Dietitian, Foodie, baker, cookbook lover, traveler, and skincare consultant
With more than 30 years of work as a Registered Dietitian teaching the general population and veterans about how food and nutrition are related to your health. The old adage ” You are what you eat is very true. Good nutrition can be implemented in everyday life by learning all you can about basic nutrition and how it works in the body. Also being aware of the foods you are eating by learning to read food labels. Counseling sessions with an experienced dietitian will help to create healthy meals that also “taste good”. The recipes provided in these articles are tested prior to publishing them.
Also, good nutrition applies to skincare. With an adequate regimen according to skin condition and healthy eating habits, your skin will be clear and glowing.