According to the CDC, over 23% of the population has arthritis or arthritis-related condition. It can be very painful and uncomfortable, especially if symptoms flare-up.
While there is medication that can help decrease your symptoms, the food you eat can have an impact on your condition. Some foods increase your symptoms, while others can help attenuate them.
Those that have arthritis are prone to have an inflammatory state in their body, which leads to an increase in their symptoms. The biggest nutritional goal is to help decrease that inflammation through food choices.
What is arthritis?
One thing to understand is that arthritis is not one disease. It refers to any condition that affects your joints.
Arthritis happens when your joints swell, creating pain and tenderness. There are over 100 different types of arthritis. The most common ones are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Some types of arthritis affect not only the joints but also significant organs like the eyes, heart, lungs, kidneys, and skin.
What are the symptoms of arthritis?
Every person can have different symptoms of arthritis. Also, each type has its symptoms. The most common symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Decreased range of motion in the joints
The symptoms could go from milk to severe, with some people not experiencing any symptoms during the first stages of the condition.
They can worsen if you don’t learn how to handle the symptoms. That is why it’s essential to understand the foods that can increase or decrease your symptoms.
Top 5 worst eating habits affecting your symptoms
1. Eating too much sugar
According to studies, eating sugar can increase your cytokine response, which are inflammatory properties that your body releases. These can increase your joint pain.
Make sure to consume less than 10% of your calories coming from sugar. This means consuming around 20-25 grams of sugar per day.
Next time, instead of having a sugary drink opt for infused water options, or instead of a dessert, opt for a fruit.
2. Eating too much salt
Research shows that a high sodium consumption not only can it increase your blood pressure but it can also affect your arthritis symptoms.
The standard sodium consumption is 2,300 mg daily, the same as having one teaspoon of salt daily. If you have a larger intake, it could increase the risk of developing symptoms, especially for those who suffer from gout.
Avoid placing the salt at your table, cook with as little salt as possible, use herbs and spices to add some flavor to your meals, and avoid canned foods since they have a very high sodium content.
3. Eating too many processed foods
Processed foods are high in sugars, salt, and vegetable oil. As mentioned before, salt and sugar can increase inflammation in your body, leading to an increase in joint pain.
Large consumption of processed foods can also lead to a caloric surplus. This often leads to an increase in your weight. With more weight, it puts more pressure on your joints.
Also, vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which have been shown to have inflammatory properties.
4. Your diet is high in gluten
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye products. For some people, having a high gluten diet can lead to inflammation which causes more flare-ups.
In a study, people who followed a gluten-free diet decreased their arthritis symptoms, helping them have a better quality of life.
While more research still needs to be done on the link between arthritis and gluten, there seems to be a positive relationship between them.
5. Avoid eating nightshades
Finally, there is a group of vegetables that is best to avoid if you have arthritis (especially those that have gout).
Nightshades are a group of vegetables that contain a component called solanine. While there is still little research on this topic, there seems to be a relationship between avoiding these foods and decreasing joint pain.
Some nightshade vegetables include bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes.
You can eliminate them for a couple of weeks and then slowly start reintroducing them in small quantities to check if they give you any symptoms.
What to do instead?
1. Increase your omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation, decreasing your arthritis symptoms. Include foods like salmon, chia seeds, and flaxseeds to boost your omega-3 content throughout the day.
Also Read: Proven Benefits Of Omega-3 Supplements
2. Take probiotics
Probiotics provide healthy gut bacteria in supplement form or food (sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, and kimchi). For arthritis-related inflammation, having a daily intake of probiotics can decrease your symptoms.
3. Increase your movement
Research shows that practicing strength and flexibility exercise regularly can help decrease and manage your arthritis symptoms. It can also help reduce your stiffness. Additionally, it can help you increase your muscle, leading to better joint support.
4. Take collagen
Finally, taking collagen can help decrease your joint symptoms. You can take it through foods like gelatin or in bone broth. You can also take a collagen supplement which can help you boost your intake.
Whether it comes from foods or supplements, make sure you have a vitamin C source (like citric foods) to enhance its absorption.
5. Focus on whole foods
Finally, the most important thing is to focus on having 80% of diet foods coming from whole foods. They provide you with nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation in your body leading to better management of your arthritis.
The bottom line
A diet high in sugar, sodium, processed foods, gluten, and nightshades can be the culprit for having more arthritis symptoms. Avoid these foods to help manage your symptoms and focus on adding whole foods, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and collagen.
Also, remember that daily movement is crucial to your joint pain. Every type of movement helps! Whether it is exercise, walking, or stretching every hour.