Several claims have been made over the decades about the effects of nutritional supplements and foods on arthritis. Some of these assertions have reasonable supporting hypotheses, and some have medical backing. But, regardless of research, there are many nutritious food options to consider.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulphate
Arthritis supplements abound. However, only glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate use has been proven beneficial. These supplements can help people with mild to severe osteoarthritis feel less knee pain, but they do not help people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Low vitamin D levels are associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin D deficiency worsens osteoarthritis three times faster than getting sufficient vitamin D. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) advises adults to get 600 to 800 IU daily; experts recommend 1,000 IU daily; up to 4,000 IU is safe.
It can be challenging to get the recommended daily allowance from food alone because vitamin D-rich foods are rare. Oily fish, fortified milk and orange juice are examples. Most people need vitamin D supplements. “Safe sun”—10 minutes without sunscreen a couple of times a week—also offers Vitamin D.
Carotenoids, found in brightly colored vegetables and fruits, may reduce inflammation. For example, oranges, bell peppers, pumpkins, tangerines and papayas contain beta-cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids. Aim for 7–9 servings daily.
Inflammation contributes to rheumatoid arthritis. This type of arthritis happens when the immune system erroneously attacks the joints. Omega-3-rich fish oil may help rheumatoid arthritis by reducing inflammation. Salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and tuna are good examples. Ground flax, flaxseed oil, walnuts and green leafy vegetables also contain omega-3 fatty acids, but less than fish.
It is important to note that omega-3s are calorie-dense, costly and can cause stomach and intestinal issues. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids may also reduce omega-6 fatty acids from corn, safflower and cottonseed oils. This imbalance may cause inflammation, so eat it in moderation to reap the potential benefits.
Avoid Trans and Saturated Fats
Saturated fats, such as those found in red meat, butter, full-fat dairy products and poultry skin, have been linked to arthritis-causing, chronic inflammation. Trans fats—which can be found in hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, specific brands of margarine and fried foods—have been the subject of similar warnings.
One of the most significant causes of osteoarthritis is obesity. Furthermore, maintaining a healthy weight can lessen the likelihood of developing the condition. The best way to stop gaining weight is to do aerobic and strength exercises regularly and eat healthy.
Shedding just a few pounds could alleviate the pain because it reduces stress on the joints. For example, one study indicated that the pressure on the knees is reduced by four pounds for every pound of weight loss.
The positive effects of changing your lifestyle will not manifest immediately. It may take a while to find relief from arthritis pain.
Even if you do not notice an improvement in your arthritis symptoms, you will still get the health benefits and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by implementing these dietary changes. Adherents to these guidelines also reduce your risk of developing some forms of cancer.
If you find the pain unbearable no matter what you do, please get in touch with Hanowell Spine Clinic to schedule a consultation. We can help you manage the pain with a tailored treatment plan.