There are around 200 kinds of arthritis, the two most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. If you are overweight you have an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis because of the increased stress on joints such as your hips and knees. Consequently reducing your weight with slimming or a low fat diet can help to reduce your chance of developing osteoarthritis or lessen your symptoms if you already have it. Therefore, maintaining a healthy balanced diet that is low in highly refined and processed foods, saturated animal fats, sugar and salt, but high in wholegrain cereals, fruits and vegetables will aid in minimising the discomfort of osteoarthritis. Unfortunately for slimming, diet alone is never enough and should be combined with sensible, regular, gentle exercise. Exercise will strengthen muscles that protect joints and help to prevent stiffness. Low weight bearing exercise such as swimming and using a cross trainer will help minimise the stress on joints whilst exercising. Be sensible though and respect your body's limits - overdoing it is never a good idea. Remember also that you should consult your doctor or health care practitioner before embarking on a new exercise regime.
Food allergies or intolerance are thought to play a part in causing some people to develop rheumatoid arthritis. As with diagnosis of all food allergies it can be difficult to identify which food is the culprit or indeed if there are more than one causing the problem. Following an elimination diet with subsequent re-introduction of new foods is one way to find out or you could get skin and blood tests done. You may already suspect you have a problem with certain foods and the main offenders are usually dairy products, eggs and cereals.
There is increasing scientific evidence to suggest that fish oils, in particular polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 fatty acids, can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the joints of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis sufferers. Inflammation is the bodies natural reaction to arthritic diseases and causes the very uncomfortable symptoms of pain, swelling, redness and heat. If you find it difficult to eat fresh oily fish (e.g. salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines or trout) 2 to 3 times a week then fish oils are readily available in capsules or liquid form. Evening primrose oil has been shown to also have a beneficial anti-inflammatory effect - useful if you don't like fish...in fact a vegetarian diet has been shown in studies to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Several studies have shown that glucosamine sulphate a compound needed to build and maintain cartilage alleviates osteoarthritis.
Helpful foods to include in your diet to alleviate the symptoms of your arthritis:
Salmon and other oily fish supply omega-3 oils - eat 3+ times a week
Greens source of beta-carotene, calcium, folate, iron and vitamin C - eat raw or lightly cooked every few days
Bananas provide a good source of potassium, fibre and vitamin C - eat 3+ times a week
Broccoli source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate, iron and potassium - eat raw or lightly cooked every few days
Carrots excellent source of beta-carotene - eat raw or lightly cooked as often as you like
Ginger anti-inflammatory agent - eat 5g incorporated into cooking, twice a week
Celery anti-inflammatory agent and source of potassium - eat raw 3 times weekly
A diet that contains plenty of wholegrain cereals, fresh fruit (especially fruits high in anti-oxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E e.g. blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, prunes, raspberries, strawberries, apples, sweet cherries, plums and bioflavenoids e.g. lemons, limes, oranges, cherries, and grapes) vegetables and oily fish and is supplemented with anti-inflammatories such as evening primrose oil, ginger or glucosamine phosphate will be beneficial for reducing the chance of developing arthritic conditions or for minimising the painful symptoms once the disease is established. Also, consider reducing your intake of refined and processed foods and those high in sugar, salt and saturated animal fats, as well as investigating the possibility of a food allergy or intolerance.