A balanced, nutritious diet is the best therapy for the body. Since there is no cure for arthritis once it sets in, modifying lifestyle factors is important to control this disease. However, people often get confused regarding what to eat and what not to eat to fight problems like arthritis. To remedy the situation, Hz exclusively spoke to Dr Shradha Maheshwari, MBBS, DNB Neurosurgery to know about foods that one must consume and avoid if they are suffering from arthritis.
“For generalised bone health, one must eat a diet rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory foods, vitamins A, C, D & E. Avoiding foods with excessive sugars, high salt content, aerated drinks, processed foods, red meat and alcohol are harmful to arthritis patients and should be avoided in these patients. Depending on the individual body type, certain foods are more helpful to certain patients and hence identifying these is essential to combat arthritis in the long run,” she explained on the occasion of world arthritis day.
Dr Shradha Maheshwari also discussed foods that should be added or reduced in arthritis patient’s diet briefly. Some of her suggestions include:
Fish & Meats
Some types of fish consist of good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which help in fighting inflammation. Fish is like tuna, salmon and sardines contain omega- 3 fatty acids and hence are helpful in patients with arthritis. Meats like chicken have good protein content which helps in improving muscle health.
Research suggests that red and processed meats contain high levels of inflammatory markers and may worsen or increase arthritis symptoms. Bacon, pan-fried or grilled steak, roasted or fried chicken or broiled hot dogs are high in protein and animal fats. These are among the richest dietary sources of advanced glycation end products which are products created through a reaction between sugar and proteins or fats. When higher levels of these accumulate in the bones and joints, they may play a role in the development and progression of osteoarthritis.
Nuts & Seeds
Packed with inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fatty acids, nuts are an excellent food for arthritis. Nuts also contain high levels of calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E and fibers. For arthritis, nuts like walnuts, pistachios and almonds are best.
Nuts and seeds are relatively high in fat and calories. Hence, the amount of nuts consumed is important. Eating about a handful of nuts and seeds daily is helpful in controlling arthritis related inflammation.
Fruits & Vegetables
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is suggested for most diseases. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with fiber, antioxidants and vitamins. Fruits like cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries are rich anti-inflammatory foods. Oranges, grapefruits, and lime are rich sources of vitamin C, thus help in preventing inflammatory arthritis and maintaining healthy joints. Veggies like broccoli, spinach, Lettuce, Kale, Cabbage which reduce inflammatory markers in the blood and are helpful in arthritis.
Vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, red bell peppers and potatoes are disease fighting power houses with a minimum number of calories. These are an excellent source of the potent nutrient mix that helps in inhibiting arthritis pain. However, some people their effect might be opposite to increase arthritic pain and so need to be consumed accordingly.
Olive oil has properties similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which are used routinely as pain killers. Olive oil suppresses certain enzymes which help in controlling the inflammation and thus help in arthritis patients. Researchers have shown that taking supplements rich in fish oils help to reduce joint pain and swelling and improve morning stiffness in the joints besides its other health benefits.
Certain vegetable oils are rich in omega 6 fats. Although these fats are necessary for health, an imbalance between omega 6 and omega 3 in the diet may increase inflammation. So balancing it is essential to strike the right balance.
Loaded with vital nutrients and fiber, beans help in lowering C- reactive protein which is an indicator of inflammation in the blood. Small red beans and kidney beans consist of a host of antioxidants and free anti-inflammatory compounds and are also an inexpensive source of protein. These help in arthritis by minimising the pain and improve the supportive muscle health thereby improving the joint alignment and movement.
Eating whole-grain foods like whole wheat flour, oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa are fiber rich and help in maintaining healthy body weight as well as decreasing inflammation.
A protein called gluten is found in wheat, barley and other grains. Some people are gluten sensitive and such people need to be careful about which whole grains they eat. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune varieties, are at a higher risk of gluten sensitivity and should avoid such foods.
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