The Ultimate Arthritis Diet
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Living with arthritis means we need healthy foods that help us avoid inflammation and its symptoms as best we can. It may feel like a challenge at first, but once you know what to look for, a whole world of food is out there.
No miracle diet can completely erase your symptoms, but research shows an anti-inflammatory diet can help suppress the chemicals that cause painful flare-ups. At the same time, a diet of food rich in antioxidants can mean less inflammation.
People all around the world use different ingredients to create fulfilling and delicious meals that can ease inflammation and alleviate pain linked to arthritis.
It’s important to understand what makes food good for an arthritis sufferer: then you can choose to eat from delicious cuisines in a way that will benefit you, too.
The Building Blocks: Healthy food over processed food
The best meals for arthritis sufferers would be anything rich in vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains and food containing omega-3 fatty acids. In other words, having a diet plan that builds up potent anti-inflammatory effects helps manage pain.
Fatty fish is one of the most popular choices because it lowers the levels of two inflammatory proteins in our body; C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel are also anti-inflammatory agents.
Whole grains such as rice, wheat, oats, and quinoa can also decrease CRP levels in your blood. So, having a bowl of porridge for breakfast really is good for you!
Instead of adding refined sugar and cream, we can put all kinds of berries in the mix. Fresh blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries (and many others) are rich in antioxidants and a perfect addition to porridge, just like jam.
Some processed foods and refined sugars can aggravate inflammation. As with any healthy diet, try to avoid them.
Anti-inflammatory diets from around the world
When we know what food is the best for us, it is easier to modify our favourite dishes as creatively as possible. We can add our own twists or even use healthy ingredients we’ve never heard of before.
People from different cultures combine all kinds of ingredients for healthy dishes.
Whether you know it or not, all of us have eaten and benefited from delicious Mediterranean food. This diet principally came from ancient Greece and Rome and is based on their daily habits, which favoured the crops they had in abundance. These exceptional meals are low in fat, with only 30 percent of your daily calorie intake, but rich in carbohydrates and vegetable fibres.
The cuisine relies on plant-based ingredients that include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans and nuts, with a good amount of seafood for our natural animal protein needs. Olive oil is, of course, the foundation of this cuisine and is extremely good for you. Meditetteranean food also includes red meat, but not an excessive amount, so if it gives you flare-ups it is easy to avoid.
This diet is effective for symptoms of arthritis if you focus on consuming anti-inflammatory ingredients (olive oil, berries, fish etc.). Research even shows that the low levels of inflammation gained from this diet could result in an improvement in joint mobility.
Recommended recipe: Simple Tuna Pasta
The Okinawan people of Japan are believed to have some of the longest lifespans in the world. This comes as no surprise when we look into their daily eating habits, which include lots of sweet potatoes, colourful vegetables as a source of carbohydrates, moderate animal meat and soy, minimum dairy and fruit and zero sugars or other refined sweets.
The diet is low in calories and fat, high in fibre and includes complex carbohydrates. It is effective against age-related diseases such as diabetes and arthritis. The nutrients that come from coloured vegetables, – such as phytonutrients, antioxidants and flavonoids – are effective at slowing down age-related biological declines. The good news is the nutrients can actually be found in lots of vegetables that are not unique to Japan!
It is particularly good for osteoarthritis because the cuisine’s low levels of levels of lectins (proteins that bind to carbohydrates) can reduce the inflammation in the cartilage around joints. Lectins may be found in some dairy products, but the Okinawans have found their solution through the sweet potatoes they consume daily, which feed the good bacteria that help create a barrier against them.
Recommended recipe: Sweet Potatoes Chickpea Hash with Egg and Avocado
Going back to Europe, the Nordic diet refers to an eating style built on Scandinavia’s traditional plant-based meals. The ingredients are drawn from plants that survive the local cold weather as well as sustainable, local produce.
The key ingredients in the Nordic diet are seafood, berries, fermented foods and root vegetables. These are naturally rich in omega-3s, vitamins, minerals, fibres and antioxidants. Seafood, particularly, has the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA to fight inflammation. In fact, all those nutrients are helpful for people who want anti-inflammatory food.
The Nordic diet limits consumption of red meat, animal fats, processed meat and artificially-sweetened processed food. This doesn’t mean the cuisine does not feature these at all, but it focuses on the greener side.
Although there is limited evidence to prove it is effective against arthritis, there is scientific consensus that data shows the Nordic diet can lead to a reduction in inflammation. And that will help with the symptoms.
Recommended recipe: Baked Haddock and Shredded Vegetables with Almond Gremolata
What are your thoughts on these diets? We’d love to hear what you think. Head over to our Facebook page to share it with others with arthritis!