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According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, arthritis affects nearly half of all adults over 65,1 and the pain and discomfort of arthritis can be enough to lower a person’s quality of life.
A particularly painful form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis (RA); a long-term autoimmune disorder that primarily affects the joints. Studies have shown that symptoms of the disease, such as pain, joint stiffness or swelling, can potentially be relieved through proper diet.2
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder. There is no specific diet to cure rheumatism and arthritis but people with arthritis may find including certain nutrients in their diets to be helpful as a form of self-help treatment, as they can have a positive effect on the inflammatory reactions in the body.2
A study by the Department of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, showed that eating fish containing omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week can have a positive effect on the disease activity of RA.3 Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring are some of the best sources. If you don’t eat fish though, there are alternatives for omega-3 fatty acids such as high-quality supplements of EPA and DHA, either as fish oil, or derived from specific cultured algae.2
Although there is no specific diet to cure arthritis, research has shown that following a Mediterranean diet can lower inflammation, which can help to ease symptoms of joint pain and swelling.4 According to the Arthritis Foundation,5
eating a Mediterranean Diet not only benefits those suffering with arthritis by curbing inflammation, but can benefit your heart as well as your joints, lower blood pressure and protect against a range of chronic conditions. They go on to explain how olive oil in particular is excellent to include in an anti-inflammatory diet as it dampens the body’s inflammatory processes and reduces pain sensitivity.
According to a study from the medical journey Clinical Rheumatology,6 antioxidants can help with rheumatism and arthritis by guarding against inflammation. Important antioxidants for people with arthritis are Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Selenium, which are all known to contribute to the normal function of the immune system. These antioxidants can be found in nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables and green tea.2
According to a study from the Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology of the Medical Faculty of the University of Thessaly, Greece, and the Division of Liver Transplantation and Mucosal Biology from King’s College London, flavonoids can reduce inflammation in your body and help reduce pain and swelling.7 Foods to add to a healthy diet to ensure you consume flavonoids include broccoli, berries, soy, green tea and grapes.
Foods high in fiber can also help reduce the level of inflammation in the body, according to some studies.8 Foods high in fiber include fruits and vegetables such as berries, apples and bananas, carrots and cauliflower.
According to a study from the Disease Biology Laboratory, School of Biotechnology and KIIT University in India, some spices have good effects in easing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).2 Particular spices that are thought to combat inflammation and help with symptoms are ginger, turmeric, curcumin and cinnamon.
While there are many healthy foods you can include in your diet to reduce inflammation and help with the symptoms of arthritis, there are also foods that promote inflammatory reactions in the body.8 These should be avoided as much as possible from people suffering with arthritis and include red meat and dairy, fried food, fast food and processed food, salt and processed carbohydrates like white flour and white sugar.
While arthritis is a painful condition, people with arthritis can improve their quality of life by eating the right diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods. A good balance of eating well, exercise and regular doctor consultations can help to keep you fit and active for a long time.
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