Arthritis diet: FIVE key foods that can worsen arthritis symptoms
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Arthritis affects more than 10 million people across the UK, a debilitating condition which impacts the joints. Ways to treat arthritis include medication, surgery and lifestyle changes – with a healthy diet one way of helping to manage symptoms. But which foods should you avoid?
There are two main types of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid – with nearly nine million people diagnosed with the former.
Osteoarthritis typically develops in those aged 40 and over, and is more common in women.
Injuries or other conditions can also trigger osteoarthritis with the most commonly affected joints being the hands, knees, spine and hips.
Symptoms of arthritis can vary, but usually involve joint pain, tenderness and stiffness.
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Arthritis symptoms can also include
- inflammation in and around the joints
- restricted movement of the joints
- warm red skin over the affected joint
- weakness and muscle wasting
If you notice symptoms or are concerned about arthritis it is important to speak to your GP.
There is no cure for arthritis, instead management of the symptoms.
This can include lifestyle changes, which may mean being more active and eating a healthier diet.
Some foods can actually trigger inflammation, so if you have an arthritis diagnosis it may be worth cutting these down in your diet.
– While sugar can be found in just about anything – processed sugars can trigger inflammation.
One study from the American Journal of Nutrition found processed sugar can trigger the release of cytokines – messengers which cause inflammation.
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– Foods high in saturated fats, examples include pizza and cheese, can also cause inflammation.
Several studies have found saturated fats cause adipose – fat tissue – inflammation.
– Again trans fats are a trigger of inflammation – with studies from the Harvard School of Public Health exploring the dangers of high levels.
Trans fat can be found in fast food, fried items and processed foods.
Omega 6 Fatty Acids
– While Omega 6 fatty acids are essential for growth and development, high levels can produce inflammatory chemicals.
Omega 6 fatty acids can be found in sunflower oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil and mayonnaise.
– Eating too many refined carbohydrates can – you guessed it – trigger inflammation.
Refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rise and white potatoes, are high glycemic foods and arthritis.org explains these can “fuel the production of advanced glycation end (AGE) products that stimulate inflammation.”
You don’t need to cut down on all of these foods completely, but avoid eating them in excess to reduce the risk of inflammation.
The NHS encourages those living with arthritis to eat a healthy and balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight.
They explain diets should consist of a variety of foods from all 5 food groups. These are:
- fruit and vegetables
- starchy foods – such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta
- meat, fish, eggs and beans
- milk and dairy foods
- foods containing fat and sugar
Exercise is also important to help maintain range of motion and even prevent pain.
Keeping active can
- improve your range of movement and joint mobility
- increase muscle strength
- reduce stiffness
- boost your energy
If you are concerned about exercising, you can speak to your GP for the types of exercise you should do.
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