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Athritis Nutrition

The Foods You Eat Can Affect Your Arthritis Symptoms

Arthritis is a medical problem that often needs ongoing management. Finding ways to reduce the swelling, joint pain and limited mobility can be challenging. For many decades, arthritis was treated with medications and surgery, but more recent scientific research indicates that the foods people eat can either increase or decrease arthritis symptoms.

Research Results

In the 1980s and 1990s, research studies began to show that certain foods can have a significant effect on arthritis pain and inflammation. Controlled studies in Norway in 1991 indicated that when certain types of foods are eliminated from the diet, arthritis symptoms improved significantly. The subject continued to have improved symptoms even a year afterward. It was also found that vegan diets benefited up to one-half of arthritis patients.

Nutritional Help for Arthritis

The key appeared to be in finding particular food sensitivities that contributed to the inflammation associated with arthritis conditions. To test the theory, subjects are given foods known to not trigger arthritis symptoms, such as brown rice or cooked yellow and green vegetables. If symptoms improve as expected, then foods are added to the diet one by one to determine which foods have the effect of increasing symptoms. Common arthritis triggers include corn, potatoes, tomatoes, dairy products, eggs, meats and coffee. Generally, a sufficient number of non-triggering foods can be utilized to avoid increasing joint inflammation and yet also avoid malnutrition.

Anti-inflammatory Oils

In the 1990s, researchers also learned that certain types of natural oils can help to reduce arthritis symptoms. Alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, and gamma-linolenic acid, GLA, contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that block prostaglandins in the human body that are associated with joint inflammation. Oils that contain alpha-linolenic acid include canola oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil and wheat germ oil. Oils that contain gamm-linolenic acid include borage oil, evening primrose oil, hemp oil and black currant oil. When these oils were added to the diet of subjects, they experienced reduced arthritis symptoms. Adding more of these oils to your diet can help you to manage arthritis pain and swelling.

Lifestyle Factors and Arthritis

Other factors can also have an effect on arthritis symptoms. Being overweight can cause additional strain on joints that lead to inflammation, pain and swelling. Maintaining a healthy weight is key to keeping joints healthy and functioning. Exercise is important to both promoting healthy joints and maintaining healthy weight.

Medications for Arthritis

Although nutritional measures and the use of supplements can help to reduce arthritis pain, these remedies may not be enough. Orthopedists generally recommend that their patients with arthritis use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen, usually called NSAIDs, to help reduce swelling and pain. These arthritis treatment medications block prostaglandins in the body, much like consuming natural oils. Other arthritis medications are also available by prescription. For rheumatoid arthritis neck and joint pain, your physician may also prescribe one of the anti-rheumatoid drugs that are now available.

Healthy Eating