Rheumatoid Arthritis: Five Foods to Enjoy and Five to Avoid
Did you know that certain foods can worsen rheumatoid arthritis (RA) inflammation that leads to joint pain?
The most troubling symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis — pain, stiffness, and swelling — all stem from inflammation. So what should you do to relieve it? The answer may lie in your diet. As part of a smart symptom management strategy, consider removing these harmful foods from your menu. Similarly, some foods can ease symptoms and improve overall health. No diet will put your rheumatoid arthritis in remission, but what you eat can make a difference.
Please read on to learn about five foods to put on your grocery list and five items you’ll want to avoid.
Steer Clear of These Trigger Foods
1. Red Meat
Many cuts of red meat contain high levels of saturated fat, which can exacerbate inflammation and contribute to obesity. Red meat also contains omega-6 fatty acids, which can contribute to inflammation if your intake is too high.
2. Sugar and Refined Flour
Blood sugar levels surge after eating simple carbohydrates that are easily broken down by the body. These foods include sugary snacks and drinks, white-flour bread and pasta, and white rice. A spike in blood sugar prompts the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which can worsen RA symptoms. These foods are also high in calories and can cause weight gain, which adds stress to joints.
3. Fried Foods
Eliminating fried foods can reduce inflammation, according to researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The study found that fried foods contain toxins called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which can increase oxidation in the body's cells. Fried foods are also high in fat and can contribute to obesity.
Drinking too much alcohol can cause a spike in the body's levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a sign of increased inflammation and can be detrimental to rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. In addition, most RA medications are metabolized by the liver. Therefore, alcohol consumption should be limited because it can impair liver function.
5. Processed Foods
From chips to frozen meals, processed foods tend to be loaded with ingredients that cause inflammation. Such products or packaged convenience foods are packed with sugar, refined flour, and saturated fats, which make the food easy to prepare but very unhealthy.
Fill Up on Joint-Friendly Food
1. Olive Oil
Researchers have become interested in the anti-inflammatory benefits of olive oil because people who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, seem to have fewer health conditions related to inflammation, such as degenerative joint diseases and diabetes. Use it for cooking or in recipes like salad dressings.
High in antioxidants and inflammation-fighting potential, berries are a nutritional powerhouse. Consume one or more servings of fresh or frozen berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries, as part of your daily diet. These little fruits also pack powerful antioxidant compounds that fight inflammation and cell damage.
3. Orange vegetables
Add carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes to your anti-arthritis shopping list. These orange-hued vegetables are rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, both of which are believed to fight inflammation. Cooking seems to increase the availability of these compounds.
4. Whole Grains
These tasty grains still have all three parts of the original grain: the bran (outside hull), endosperm, and germ. They are better sources of fiber and other important nutrients, such as selenium, potassium, and magnesium, than refined grains. A diet rich in whole grains has also been linked to better weight control, which can help reduce pain and symptoms of RA. So, fill up on oatmeal for breakfast and try a whole wheat sandwich for lunch.
This delicious, bright yellow Indian spice contains curcumin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Try turmeric powder in curries, smoothies, or salads, or brew a cup of soothing turmeric tea.
There is no cure-all diet for rheumatoid arthritis. But if you suffer from RA symptoms such as joint pain and inflammation, it’s smart to follow a nutritious diet and avoid foods that may make arthritis symptoms worse.
If you need more information or resources regarding rheumatoid arthritis or if we can be of assistance in any way, we are here to help. Please contact us anytime
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