Arthritis is the disease caused due to age-related changes and occurs within bone and cartilage. Evidences show that arthritis may have metabolic basis. Poor diet is the cause for inflammatory changes and damage in cartilage cells that leads to cartilage breakdown and the osteoarthritis development. Increase in arthritis cases correlate to similar increases in diabetes and obesity, other conditions that can be incited by poor nutrition. Dietary approaches also give a hand in preventing or managing all three of these conditions.
Large number of studies conducted in Europe as well as the United States, suggests that a diet emphasizing plant foods and fish can support cartilage growth and obstruct its breakdown. People having improved diet with certain supplements can lower symptoms of arthritis and possibly stop progression of the disease.
Foods that worsen arthritis symptoms
By choosing foods carefully, one can significantly improve the pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis. Here’s how to get started.
- Avoid acidic foods
The typical American diet comprises of processed foods, harmful trans fatty acids and red meat that increases acidity in the body. A high-acid within the joints upgrades free radicals and corrosive molecules that accelerate cartilage damage and also inhibit the activity of cartilage-producing cells called chondrocytes. Mediterranean diet is comprised of ample amounts of fruits, whole grains, vegetables, fish and olive oil and is more alkaline. The body requires a balance of acidity and alkalinity, as measured on the pH scale. Most importantly, alkaline body chemistry inhibits free radicals and lowers inflammation.
Intake Mediterranean-style diet comprised of six servings daily of vegetables, three servings of fruit, and two tablespoons of olive oil. (The acids in fruits and vegetables included in this diet are easily neutralized in the body.) Other sources of healthful fats include olives, canola oil, nuts (such as walnuts), and flaxseed oil/ ground flaxseed.
- Limit your intake of sugary and processed foods
Most of the Americans intake lot of refined carbohydrates as well as sugar-sweetened foods and soft drinks, which are the cause of joints damage in several ways. Sugar provokes advanced glycation end products (AGEs), protein molecules which bind to collagen (the connective tissue of cartilage and other tissues) and make it stiff and brittle. AGEs also stimulates the production of cartilage-degrading enzymes. Avoid processed foods such as white flour (cakes, cookies, and crackers), white pasta, white rice, soft drinks and fast food. Studies figure out that people who consume eat foods in their whole or natural forms have lower levels of AGEs and healthier cartilage.
- Avoid foods that increase inflammation
Variety of foods triggers the production of cytokines naturally occurring proteins which promotes inflammation, resulting pain and deterioration of joint cartilage. It includes red meat, beef, fried foods or foods cooked at high temperature, foods with man-made trans fats (termed as hydrogenated fats or oils on labels), commercial baked goods and junk food. Not to consume these foods frequently.
- Reduce intake of foods from animal products.
Animal products such as poultry, egg yolks, farm raised fish and other dairy products contains arachidonic acid which is a fatty acid converted by the body into prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Both chemicals are the cause of inflammation. Modified vegetarian diet supports in lowering symptoms related to arthritis. Lower intake of animal protein and promote the intake of protein from plant sources such as Portobello mushrooms, nuts, beans, soy and whole grains. Substitute about one fourth of animal protein with plant based foods, low fat dairy and cold water fish. Then after 2 or 3 months, increase the substitution to half by adding more fruits, vegetables, fish, beans, lentils, low fat dairy and whole grains. Giving up an animal protein somehow lowers inflammation and pain. In some people, vegetables such as white potatoes, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes worsen the arthritis condition. Belonging to night shade family, it comprises of solanine, a substance that is toxic and is improperly digested in intestines. Initially cut off these foods and then add them one at a time as long as one do not experience inflammation and pain.
- Stay away from foods with a high glycemic index
Foods with high glycemic index cause spikes in blood sugar. So with diabetics and prediabetics patients, people with arthritis should also avoid these foods. It increases insulin formation leading to body fat accumulation and cause sensation of hunger a few hours after intake which makes it harder to have healthy weight and lower arthritis related symptoms. Foods that offer high glycemic index are baked white potatoes, table sugar, pretzels, French fries, rolls, white bread, brown and white rice, corn chips, potato chips, doughnuts, waffles and corn flakes.