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Importance of a Healthy Diet for Managing Arthritis

September 26, 2019

Importance of a Healthy Diet for Managing Arthritis

Arthritis refers to the inflammation of joints and the fibrous tissues around it and the resulting pain in those joints. Earlier referred to as rheumatism, inflammation causes stiffness and pain in those joints and restricts movement over time. Arthritis refers to about 100 types of joint diseases. It affects about 53 million adults and 300,000 children in the country every year. It might stay on for some and disappear in a few days but is degenerative in most. If it affects the knee joint, walking and climbing stairs are severely impaired. If it affects fingers, they can get wobbly and simple jobs like holding, kneading and writing can become overwhelming. Although most types of arthritis affect limbs and joints, some types of arthritis can also affect the eyes, heart, kidney, and lungs. Some types of arthritis and examples are

  • Degenerative – Osteoarthritis
  • Inflammatory – Rheumatoid and Psoriatic Arthritis
  • Infectious – Triggered by organisms Salmonella, Shigella or Hepatitis B, Lyme Disease
  • Metabolic arthritis – Gout

Despite the high prevalence of arthritis worldwide, doctors and scientists have till date not been able to find the cause and hence a cure. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that there is no cure for most types of arthritis. Early diagnosis and constant management are the only ways of diminishing the impact of arthritis on a person’s life. Apart from medication to relieve inflammation and strengthen muscles, alternate therapies, devices that help improve mobility are all part of the treatment protocol. Change in diet patterns, lifestyle modification and physical therapy for affected joints can improve the quality of life of those affected.

Connection between food and arthritis
For more than 90 years, scientists are trying to establish a link between food and arthritis, given that it affects young and old, men and women. Except for the discovery that gluten could trigger inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, skin, and joints, no other arthritis has been linked to a particular food item or diet. With an increase in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and no trigger linked to their cause, treatment protocols are broad-based and goals are to reduce the pain and improve quality of life.

Today science has been able to break down every single component of every single food item there is. We are more than ever aware of what each food is made of. Isolating all those food items that could potentially cause inflammation can help a little or even a lot to treat arthritis. Apart from being triggers that cause inflammation or reduce it, food also helps improve a person’s overall health. This is beneficial for a person who is affected by rheumatoid arthritis caused by a poor immune system.

There is an increased flow of information about chemicals that cause disease or help treat it. Similar information is also available about the presence of these chemicals in naturally available foodstuff. Treating and managing arthritis with such food naturally, without resorting to lab- and factory-made chemicals is also gaining momentum. Thus, a person also avoids the side effects caused by long term use of anti-inflammatory medications and painkillers.

Food recommended for common types of arthritis

  • Rheumatoid
    This is caused by inflammation and foods that cause such inflammation need to be avoided
  • Osteoarthritis
    Vegan and plant-based balanced diet works best to improve the calcium deficiency.
  • Gout
    Gout is a type of disease caused by the body’s inability to process uric acid which crystallizes in the joints causing inflammation. Avoid food that is high in purines which release uric acid has to be limited to manage gout naturally.
  • Osteoporosis
    Including calcium and Vitamin D rich food helps the damage caused to bones due to a calcium deficiency.

Foods that can add to arthritis pain
A person suffering from arthritis is highly prone to inflammation. Many triggers in food can cause inflammation and they should be avoided. They need to avoid any such food that increases the symptoms. Some common triggers are sugar, salt, Trans fat, gluten, refined carbs.

Combined with physical activity, a positive attitude, healthy lifestyle, and timely medication, a person with arthritis can rest be assured that there will be a reduction in pain and more active use of the joints. There are many options to know about food choices today on the internet. However, before one decides what to include and give up, it is important to consult a doctor or a nutritionist. They will recommend a diet plan that is specific to your body’s needs and condition, particularly for those who have allergies or are sensitive to a particular food.

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