We all know we need to eat less fat and exercise more, but for those who suffer from arthritis, there are even more obvious reasons for doing this.
Being overweight will put more strain on joints, so you’ll have to take more painkillers to combat the aches and pains, while moderate exercise such as swimming or pilates burns calories to stop you putting on weight and also boosts your strength and suppleness.
According to Arthritis Research UK, having too much body fat may also “increase inflammation in the body, making your joints more painful”.
The charity says evidence shows that losing weight can reduce inflammation in any kind of arthritis.
Research also shows certain vitamins and minerals can help with arthritis and that deficiencies are linked with the condition progressing more quickly.
Arthritis Research UK recommends eating a balanced and varied diet and copying our friends in the Mediterranean by eating more fish, pulses, nuts, olive oil and plenty of fruit and vegetables. Oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help some people with inflammatory types of the condition such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The charity is also doing studies into whether a compound in broccoli can slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
While Arthritis Research UK doesn’t recommend giving up any fruit and veg completely, nutritionist Cassandra Barns suggests cutting down on the following:
1. Red meat
It contains relatively high levels of an omega-6 fatty acid called arachidonic acid, which may exacerbate pain and inflammation. A small quantity of good quality red meat can be beneficial, supplying good levels of nutrients such as iron; however, those with arthritis may benefit from sticking to one or two servings per week.
2. Fried foods
Avoid any fried foods, particularly those fried in vegetable oils, which are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Fry or roast food in oil only occasionally. Olive oil is a slightly better alternative to normal vegetable oils but its fatty acids can still spoil at high temperatures, so avoid heating it to smoking point.
3. Sugary drinks
Like coffee, they can increase the acidity of the blood, exacerbating inflammation. The best drinks to have include pure water and herbal teas; fruit juice diluted half and half with water is OK, but avoid orange juice.
Coffee can contribute to increased acidity of the blood, which can exacerbate any inflammation. Decaffeinated coffee is not a good alternative as it still contains substances that can be detrimental to the body. Green tea and herbal teas are a much better alternative.
5. Nightshade family vegetables
Tomatoes, white potatoes, aubergine and peppers may all exacerbate pain and inflammation for some people with arthritis.
6. Lots of wheat and dairy
Food allergies or intolerances, such as those to wheat and dairy, may be a common contributor to inflammation, as they occur when the individual’s immune system reacts abnormally to a substance in a food.
Symptoms can include exacerbation of joint pain, and may be a particular issue for those with rheumatoid arthritis.