Arthritis Can be Painful and Crippling, Here’s How Diet Helps

Arthritis is a very common inflammatory disorder that afflicts nearly 14 percent of the population. And what is alarming is that the disorder is getting younger by the day. Earlier we wouldn’t even begin worrying about it until we reached our 60’s but today people as young at in their thirties are displaying arthritic symptoms, and degeneration of joints has now started happening even with people just in their 20s.

Lifestyle changes we make today will affect our joints and muscle health as we grow older.

Watch Your Weight

Excess weight is one of the biggest risk factors for arthritis – and for good reason. Extra kilos put additional pressure on weight-bearing joints like the hips and knees. So stay as near your optimum weight as possible, and avoid yo yo dieting completely.

Avoid Fad Diets

Some diets advocate excess protein intake which may lead to deposition of uric acid in the joints leading to their inflammation.

The diets that advise extremely low calorie intake may lead to semi starvation, which can cause deficiency of calcium and antioxidants and micronutrients in the body. This weakens the cartilage to an extent that even little bit of excess weight or activity can cause the cartilage to wear out quickly, setting the stage for arthritis. So to lose weight only follow healthy plans that ensure enough nutrients in the diet.

Exercise Every Day

A bit of exercise daily not only adds years to your life, but also life to your years.

Physical activity is the best preventive tool possible. Exercising regularly to strengthen muscles and increasing flexibility of the joints is essential. Yet most of us do very poorly in this department. Besides doing enough, it is also important to exercise right. Balance low-impact exercises with high impact activities to strengthen the muscles and help protect the joints.

Diabetes Can Make Symptoms Worse

Diabetes, which affects the body's ability to regulate blood sugar (glucose), is a significant risk factor for arthritis as it fuels inflammation in the body which leads to loss of cartilage in the joints. Keep your blood sugar stable and avoid succumbing to diabetes. And if you have diabetes, then too ensure that you keep your blood counts in the green.

Also Read: World Diabetes Day: 15 Simple Truths About This Disease

Avoid Too Much Of…

Eating too much sugar can lead to inflammation
  • Sugar: As it triggers the release of cytokines in the body, which cause inflammation in the body and thus fuel arthritis. Also avoid foods that contain refined sugar like pastries, chocolate, candy, soda, and even fruit juices.
  • Meat: Especially red meat as it is high in saturated fats and has high levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that stimulate inflammation, more so when meat is cooked by broiling, grilling, roasting, or frying.
  • Refined grains: These lead to a spike in blood glucose level, which increases levels of several inflammation-markers in the body.
  • Refined vegetable oils: Often these oils (corn, peanut, sunflower, safflower, and soy oils) are very high in omega-6 fatty acids. These we need only in small doses in our diet, and their excess consumption can trigger inflammatory chemicals in the body.

Also Read: Sugar Substitutes Other Than Honey or Jaggery? Give These a Shot!

These 11 Foods Will Help Arthritis Patients

Boil 2 cups of water and add a tablespoon of grated ginger and 1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder.
  1. Ginger: Gingerol compounds, which give this root its flavor, also seem to be an anti-inflammatory.
  2. Garlic: The compound diallyl disulphine found in garlic helps limit cartilage-damaging enzymes in the body.
  3. Turmeric: Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, may reduce inflammation in the body.
  4. Black pepper: Black pepper contains piperine which is effective in putting brakes on the inflammatory process in the body.
  5. Cinnamon: It contains cinnamomum, a compound known for its anti-inflammatory action, that alleviates joint pain and swelling
  6. Spinach: Spinach is high in the antioxidant kaempferol, which has been shown to decrease the effects of the inflammatory agents associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
  7. Berries: Anthocyanins found in cherries, strawberries and raspberries have a distinct anti-inflammatory effect.
  8. Grapes: Grapes contain a plant compound called proanthocyanidin, which may have promising effects on arthritis.
  9. Green tea: Packed with polyphenols, these antioxidants are believed to reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction.
  10. Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel): It has an anti-inflammatory effect thanks to the omega 3 in it.
  11. Extra virgin olive oil: Olive oil contains oleocanthal that is an effective anti-inflammatory agent.

(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)

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