By Dietitian Manoli Mehta
Founder of Tattvum – Discover Wellness
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage; the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form a joint; to break down.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that first targets the lining of joints (synovium).
Treatments vary depending on the type of arthritis. The main goals of arthritis treatments are to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.
The most common signs and symptoms of arthritis involve the joints. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, your signs and symptoms may include:
- Decreased range of motion
The two main types of arthritis; osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis; damage joints in different ways.
The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis involves wear-and-tear damage to your joint’s cartilage; the hard, slick coating on the ends of bones. Enough damage can result in bone grinding directly on bone, which causes pain and restricted movement. This wear and tear can occur over many years, or it can be hastened by a joint injury or infection.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, a tough membrane that encloses all the joint parts. This lining, known as the synovial membrane, becomes inflamed and swollen. The disease process can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint.
Risk factors for arthritis include:
- Family history: Some types of arthritis run in families, so you may be more likely to develop arthritis if your parents or siblings have the disorder. Your genes can make you more susceptible to environmental factors that may trigger arthritis.
- Age: The risk of many types of arthritis; including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout; increases with age.
- Your sex: Women are more likely than are men to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while most of the people who have gout, another type of arthritis, are men.
- Previous joint injury: People who have injured a joint, perhaps while playing a sport, are more likely to eventually develop arthritis in that joint.
- Obesity: Carrying excess pounds puts stress on joints, particularly your knees, hips and spine. Obese people have a higher risk of developing arthritis.
One of the most common questions people with any form of arthritis have is, “Is there an arthritis diet?” Or more to the point, “What can I eat to help my joints?”
The answer, fortunately, is that many foods can help. Following a diet low in processed foods and saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and beans is great for your body.
BENEFITS OF DIET:
- Lower blood pressure
- Help arthritis by curbing inflammation
- Benefit your joints as well as your heart
- Lead to weight loss, which makes a huge difference in managing joint pain.
How much: three to four ounces of fish, twice a week.
Some types of fish are good sources of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids
Best sources: Salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, anchovies, scallops and other cold-water fish.
- Nuts & Seeds
How much: Eat 1.5 ounces of nuts daily (one ounce is about one handful).
Nuts are jam-packed with inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat. And though they’re relatively high in fat and calories, but nuts promotes weight loss because their protein, fiber and monounsaturated fats are satiating
Best sources: Walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds.
- Fruits & Veggies
How much: Aim for 3 or more servings daily (one serving = 1 cup of most veggies or fruit or 2 cups raw leafy greens).
Why: Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. These potent chemicals act as the body’s natural defence system, helps neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals that can damage cells.
Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits and limes are rich in vitamin C. Research shows getting the right amount of that vitamin aids in preventing inflammatory arthritis and maintaining healthy joints.
Eating vitamin K-rich veggies like broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale and cabbage dramatically reduces inflammatory markers in the blood.
Best sources: Colourful fruits and veggies; the darker or more brilliant the colour, the more antioxidants it has. Good ones include blueberries, cherries, spinach, kale and broccoli.
How much: About one cup, twice a week (or more)
Why: Beans are loaded with fiber and phytonutrients, also an excellent and inexpensive source of protein, with about 15 grams per cup, which is important for muscle health.
Best sources: Small red beans, red kidney beans and green beans