Arthritis-Friendly Diet

Arthritis is a chronic and painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints which affects the interstitial tissues, blood vessels, cartilage, bone, tendons, and ligaments, as well as the synovial membranes that line joint surfaces.

Risk Factors:

  • Gender – Women are more likely than men ti develop rheumatoid arthritis
  • Age – any age, but most commonly begins between the ages 40-60
  • Family History
  • Smoking – particularly if you have a genetic predisposition for developing the disease
  • Environmental Exposures – some exposures such as asbestos or silica may increase the risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis
  • Obesity – especially in women diagnosed with the disease when they were 55 or younger

A smart arthritis diet should be full of anti-inflammatory foods. Here are the top foods you should consume. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation. Wild-caught fish, including benefit-packed salmon, is your No. 1 food of choice.

Fish

How much: three to four ounces of fish, twice a week

Why: Some types of fish are good sources of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids.

Best sources: Salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, anchovies, scallops and other cold-water fish. Hate fish? Take a supplement. Studies show that taking 600 to 1,000 mg of fish oil daily eases joint stiffness, tenderness, pain and swelling.

Nuts & Seeds

How much: 1.5 ounces of nuts daily (one ounce is about one handful).

Why: Nuts are jam-packed with inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat. And though they’re relatively high in fat and calories, studies show noshing on nuts promotes weight loss because their protein, fiber and monounsaturated fats are satiating.

Best sources: Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds.

Fruits & Veggies

How much: nine or more servings daily (one serving = 1 cup of most veggies or fruit or 2 cups raw leafy greens).

Why: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. These potent chem­icals act as the body’s natural defense system, helping to neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals that can damage cells.

Anthocyanins found in cherries and other red and purple fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Citrus fruits – like oranges, grapefruits and limes – are rich in vitamin C. Getting the right amount of that vitamin aids in preventing inflammatory arthritis and maintaining healthy joints.

Vitamin K-rich veggies like broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale and cabbage dramatically reduces inflammatory markers in the blood.

Best sources: Colorful fruits and veggies – the darker or more brilliant the color, the more antioxidants it has. Good ones include blueberries, cherries, spinach, kale and broccoli.

Olive Oil

How much: Two to three tablespoons daily

Why: Olive oil is loaded with heart-healthy fats, as well as oleocanthal, which has properties similar to nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. Inhibiting the activity of COX enzymes dampens the body’s inflammatory processes and reduces pain sensitivity.

Best sources: Extra virgin olive oil goes through less refining and processing, so it retains more nutrients than standard varieties. And it’s not the only oil with health benefits. Avocado and safflower oils have shown cholesterol-lowering properties while walnut oil has 10 times the omega-3s that olive oil has.

Beans

How much: About one cup, twice a week (or more)

Why: Beans are loaded with fiber and phytonutrients, which help lower CRP, an indi­cator of inflammation found in the blood. At high levels, CRP could indicate anything from an infection to RA.

Beans are also an excellent and inexpensive source of protein, with about 15 grams per cup, which is important for muscle health.

Best sources: Small red beans, red kidney beans and pinto beans

Whole Grains

How much: 6 ounces of grains per day; at least 3 of which should come from whole grains. One ounce of whole grain would be equal to ½ cup cooked brown rice or 1 slice of whole-wheat bread.

Why: Whole grains contain plenty of filling fiber – which can help you maintain a healthy weight. Fiber and fiber-rich foods can lower blood levels of the the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein.

Best sources: Eat foods made with the entire grain kernel, like whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, bulgur, brown rice, quinoa. Some people may need to be careful about which whole grains they eat. Gluten – a protein found in wheat and other grains – has been linked to inflammation for some people.

Should You Avoid Nightshades?

Nightshade vegetables, including eggplant, tomatoes, red bell peppers and potatoes, are disease-fighting power­houses that boast maximum nutrition for minimal calories.

They also contain solanine, a chemical that has been branded the culprit in arthritis pain. There’s no scientific evidence to suggest that nightshades trigger arthritis flares. In fact, some experts believe these vegetables contain a potent nutrient mix that helps inhibit arthritis pain.

However, many people do report significant symptom relief when they avoid nightshade vegetables. So doctors say, if you notice that your arthritis pain flares after eating them, do a test and try eliminating all nightshade vegetables from your diet for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference.

For more information: http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/anti-inflammatory/the-arthritis-diet.php

Blog Article Entry by: Beatrice H. Pan, UST-SN

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