When it comes to nutrition, you can probably find a study to support just about any approach. From being vegan to following a keto diet, there’s more conflicting advice than on just about any other topic you care to name.
The patients who come to Rheumatology Solutions often have questions about diet and easing arthritis pain. Our expert providers agree that diet can certainly have an impact on arthritis. In this post, we look at three ways diet can impact your arthritis and offer some basic guidance.
Of course, your situation is unique, just as you are. The most appropriate diet for you depends on all sorts of variables, such as your weight, the type of arthritis you have, and many others. It’s always best to discuss your specific situation with your provider.
1. Your diet can cause or reduce inflammation.
If you have an inflammatory form of arthritis, reducing inflammation is crucial. Medication plays a role, but the foods and beverages you eat can also have an enormous impact on inflammation.
Some foods, such as refined sugar or certain types of fats, can cause inflammation. If your diet includes processed foods, soda, sweets, deep fried foods, and fatty meats, it can increase the inflammation in your body—and that leads to increased arthritic pain.
Other foods can reduce inflammation. For example, ginger, turmeric, and tart cherries are known to be anti-inflammatory. Fresh vegetables, fruits, and lean sources of proteins can also help reduce inflammation.
2. Your diet influences your weight, and that affects arthritis.
Being overweight increases the pressure on your joints. People who have osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, often experience osteoarthritis of the knee. Increased pressure on your knees means more pain, less mobility, and less function.
All your weight-bearing joints, such as your hips, ankles, and the joints of your feet, are subject to increased pressure when you’re overweight. Losing the extra weight can ease the pain and improve your ability to move.
Weight is directly connected to diet. In fact, diet is far more important to weight loss than exercise, though exercise has a great many additional benefits, particularly for people with arthritis.
By consuming a healthy diet and an appropriate amount of calories, you can lose weight sustainably. Making small changes a little at a time, you can reach a healthy weight and lessen the burden on your joints.
3. Nutrients may have a protective effect.
Researchers are still working to understand the association between specific nutrients and arthritis, but there is evidence of a link. For example, people with low levels of vitamin D are at an increased risk of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, osteoarthritis appears to progress faster in people with low levels of vitamin D. Not many foods contain vitamin D, so a supplement may be necessary.
Brightly colored vegetables contain important nutrients that may provide some protection for your joints. Carrots, pumpkins, and tangerines are good examples.
If you have osteoporosis, you may benefit from consuming foods with high levels of calcium such as dairy and leafy greens like kale, spinach, or collard greens. Seeds and nuts are also rich in calcium.
Making sure that the foods you eat are nutrient-dense and varied is a good step. Focusing more on fresh fruits and vegetables and avoiding highly processed or sugary foods may improve your arthritis symptoms, and it’s good for your overall health, as well.
Get advice tailored to your situation
There are so many factors that influence what you should or shouldn’t eat, so we can only offer generalized advice in a blog post. If you have questions about what you should eat or whether changing your diet may improve your arthritis symptoms, schedule an appointment at Rheumatology Solutions. We’re happy to provide advice tailored to your situation.