The link between diet and arthritis has yet to be proven scientifically, but there are certain nutritional recommendations that doctors believe are helpful in the management of symptoms and prevention of further deterioration.
According to Dr. Fisher, the Indianapolis orthopedic surgeon, “Maintaining an ideal bodyweight does your joints a favor.” The link between nutrition and arthritis is complex. There is limited evidence that diet can influence some forms of arthritis, but to fully understand this, the type of arthritis and the kind of diet must be considered. A number of substances, including copper, zinc, vitamin B, fish oils, plant seed oils and others have also reportedly helped arthritis patients. Try to gradually switch to low-fat products such as low-fat milk and spread. Always choose leaner cuts of meat and try to substitute junk food with fruit and nuts.
A Healthy Diet:
According to Dr Ralph Bircher, raw food diet applied to rheumatoid arthritis at London Hospital is a demonstration of just what can happen when dietary restriction is applied to a serious crippling degenerative disease like rheumatoid arthritis. One of these cases involved a 55-year-old woman who had been afflicted with this condition for over two years and who was bed-ridden, unable even to sit up, and quite unable to stand, walk or use her arms or hands. She was dependent upon two people for all her needs.
For two weeks she consumed nothing but raw food, salads and fruit, following which she was allowed a piffle lightly cooked vegetable food as well as the raw food. For six weeks there was no change apart from the development of even more severe pains, and finally a high temperature. This was seen as the turning point, following which improvement was seen month by month until after five months she was walking with sticks. By ten months she was pain-free and had regained most of her mobility. One year after beginning the programmed she was fully mobile. Ten years later, still following a 75 per cent raw food diet she was digging her garden and growing her own food.
Spend time outdoors for fresh air and sunshine. Exposure to the sun prompts the synthesis of vitamin D, which is needed for proper bone formation.
Some dietitians argue that the diet outlined was deficient, unlike the isonutrient diets of Drs Weindruch and Walford. Dr Bircher would disagree, saying that the high enzyme content of raw food compensates for an apparent lack of protein or other nutrients. The fact is that many people have survived in excellent health for many years on just such a diet.
- Counterbalances nutritional side-effects of medications- The minor side effects of medications may have side effects such as gastritis and peptic ulcers, which reduce a patient’s appetite. In one study, the people with rheumatoid arthritis were found to have lower blood levels of folic acid, protein, and zinc than healthy persons. The researchers concluded that drugs prescribed for arthritis had brought about biochemical changes in the subjects’ bodies, increasing their a need for certain nutrients. Foods containing Omega-3 dietary fatty acids may be very beneficial for inflammatory conditions. The body uses fatty acids to produce chemicals important to the control of inflammation, called prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Certain seafoods are rich in these fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, anchovies and mackerel.
These fish not only reduce inflammation levels and thin the blood, but may also have a preventative role. Experts recommend three or more servings a week (reported by John Hopkins Arthritis Center Arthritis Research Campaign). Eat fresh pineapple frequently. Bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapple, is excellent for reducing inflammation. To be effective, the pineapple must be fresh, as freezing and canning destroy enzymes.
The use of NSAIDs to treat RA and AS is shown to be a significant cause of serious gastrointestinal tract reactions, including ulcers, hemorrhage, and perforation.
- Provides the nutrients you need for good overall health- Patients with rheumatoid arthritis many times show deficiencies in a wide variety of vitamins including vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, calcium, and folic acid. Some theories suggest that by increasing your intake of antioxidants like vitamin E, it can decrease the damage to joint lining thus reducing pain. Adding calcium and vitamin D is often recommended to decrease the risk of osteoporosis.
- Provides nourishment to strengthen muscles that support joints- Eating more sulfur-containing foods, such as asparagus, eggs, garlic, and onions can help in repairing of bones. Sulfur is a cofactor nutrient for the repair and rebuilding of bone, cartilage, and connective tissue, and aids in the absorption of calcium.
- Helps maintain ideal bodyweight to reduce joint stress- Excess bodyweight influences arthritis by putting extra strain on already burdened joints. Clinical experience shows that people who are 20 percent or more over normal body weight have more problems with their arthritis. The extra load placed on the weight bearing joints (specifically the knees, legs, feet, and spine) can increase the pain in those joints. The increased pain, resulting sedentary lifestyle, and further weight gain can become a vicious cycle. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and fiber, which is low in sugar, meat, refined carbohydrates, and animal fats will help you in achieving and maintaining ideal body weight.
- Produces the positive feeling that comes from knowing you are doing your best- Meditating regularly in addition to a healthy diet can relax your breathing, slow your brain waves and decrease muscle tension and heart rate.
In regard to arthritis, caffeine, dairy products, certain vegetables, sugar, additives and preservatives, chocolate, and salt are often viewed as offenders. If his diet were followed it would definitely increase potassium intake.Nutrition cannot cure arthritis, but it can make a difference in your arthritis management program. “Nutrition in patients with arthritis tshould be viewed as an important part of the overall treatment plan. Just like diabetes, arthritis is a chronic condition, that can be successfully managed with the appropriate diet, medication and activity,” according to Dr. Konsens.
While there is still a lot of research to be done on the link between diet and arthritis, the anecdotal evidence suggests simple and gradual dietary changes assist in the management of this disease.
NOTE: It is always important to work with your physician to determine the appropriate diet for arthritis for you.