How Diet Influences Arthritis
Joint pain, achiness, and stiffness can decrease your quality of life by affecting sleep, movement and mobility, and an individual’s ability to exercise. Not to mention the pain that follows arthritis-sufferers around constantly. Luckily your diet can help you manage arthritis, and even improve the symptoms associated with arthritis by reducing pain and inflammation, and helping to rebuild joint tissue.
Some of the most important factors in how your diet influences arthritis include weight management, reducing inflammation by consuming anti-inflammatory foods, and building and maintain strong cartilage tissue. Diet can influence arthritis symptoms by each one of these mechanisms, which we’ve outlined below.
Arthritis, Diet, and Body Weight
When it comes to how your diet influences arthritis, managing your weight can ensure that you are not putting too much strain on your joints when you are too heavy. When there is increased pressure on joints from extra body weight, scar tissue and rupturing of the fluid sacs between joints are more likely to undergo damage.
It’s also just as vitally important to ensure that your body weight doesn’t drop too low. Low body weight can cause a loss of fatty cushioning surrounding joints, and can lead to joint degeneration.
Keeping your body weight in check—not too high and not too low—is an essential part of your diet to reduce arthritis symptoms.
3 Foods to Help Manage Your Arthritis Symptoms
Specific foods have the power to help reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis. These include fruits and vegetables, fatty omega-3-rich fish, and olive oil.
1. Fruits and Vegetables
No matter what health condition you might have consuming fruits and vegetables every day is absolutely a good idea. They are rich in antioxidants—which are plant chemicals that can help protect cells from damage and aging. Specific antioxidants—like those found in onion, shallots, and apples—might help decrease pain and join inflammation, which can help with osteoarthritis, as well as other forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These wonder-workers can help relieve joint pain by decreasing inflammation, which not only benefits your joints, but your cardiovascular system as well. Another bonus of consuming omega-3 fatty acids is reduced morning stiffness, and you can obtain these in your diet by eating a couple of servings (about 3 oz) each week of fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, herring, and sardines.
3. Olive Oil
This smooth, earthy oil is packed with phytonutrients that work their magic reducing inflammation. Olive oil contains a special compound—called oleocanthal—which helps to halt inflammation before it starts. The way oleocanthal works is actually similar to the way common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) function – by reducing inflammatory chemicals called prostaglandins. In fact, one study showed that 3 ½ tablespoons of strong-flavored olive oil was able to provide as much relief as about 200mg of ibuprofen. But it’s important to remember that much olive oil provides quite a few extra calories—around 400 calories, to be more exact—and so you’ll want to use this place of other fat in your diet.
Nutrients to Help Build Cartilage
One of the reasons osteoarthritis can be so painful is the loss of cartilage and joint cushion. There are certain foods that can help build cartilage, including foods rich in vitamin C, iron, and copper.
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is essential for helping to build cartilage tissue, primarily the collagen component of cartilage, which help keep skin firm and youthful-looking and helps to increase joint mobility. Food that are rich in vitamin C include raw, red bell peppers, broccoli, leafy greens like kale and spinach, as well as common citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit.
Iron is not just important for carrying oxygen in the blood, it’s also essential for many enzymatic processes in the body, as it easily gives up electrons to make things happen. One of the processes that iron can control is the producing of collagen in cartilage, and it works in combination with vitamin C—which can donate electrons to iron—to carry out synthesis of collagen.
Foods rich in copper include oysters, kale, mushrooms, sesame seeds, and cashew nuts. Copper is absolutely essential for the body’s production of connective tissues such as cartilage and collagen, as it can also regulate enzyme systems that synthesize connective tissues. It can also help scavenge and eliminate free radicals, by accepting an electron from an unstable molecule.