November 06, 2021
Can your arthritis symptoms really be made worse because of what you choose to eat or drink? The answer is yes, but not all foods or drinks affect people with arthritis the same way. Let’s get a look at five types of foods that are common culprits.
One - Nightshades -Perhaps you have heard that people who suffer from arthritis should not eat foods in the nightshade family. The nightshades are vegetables that all contain a compound known as solanine and include eggplants, tomatoes, bell peppers, chili peppers, and potatoes. Yes, it’s true that in some people, eating these foods can aggravate their arthritis symptoms.
If you suspect you are one of those people, simply completely discontinue these foods for a couple of weeks. Then slowly, one at a time, reintroduce each one, keeping a food diary to document your reaction if any. If any or all of these foods cause your arthritis symptoms to flare, then consider eliminating that food from your diet.
Two - Sugar -It’s already well known that excessive sugar consumption can have detrimental effects on health, such as increasing your risk of heart disease and obesity. Sugar also has inflammatory effects. Research shows that people who drink sugar-sweetened soft drinks on a regular basis have an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Three - Purines - Some foods, such as organ meats, red meat, cured meats, and some seafood such as mussels and scallops, contain a compound known as purines, which get converted to uric acid in the body. People who suffer from gout and gouty arthritis, are often advised to limit or discontinue these foods as they cause a build-up of uric acid in the blood, which can get into the joints. Some vegetables, such as mushrooms, beans, and cauliflower, also contain purines but have not shown the same link to gout as those that are derived from animal products.
Four - Inflammatory Fats -There are several different types of “bad fats” which cause inflammation in the body. These fats include trans fats which fortunately have been removed from many, but not all, of the foods sold today. Be sure to check the food’s label to make sure there are no trans fats. These fats, in addition to causing inflammation, also increase levels of “bad” cholesterol and decrease the levels of “good” cholesterol. Omega 6 fatty acids are fine in moderation, but people in the U.S. and Canada tend to get too many of them, mostly from vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, safflower, and other vegetable oils. The saturated fats in meat, cheese, and butter can also contribute to inflammation.
Five - Foods high in salt - Research studies suggest that a diet high in salt can worsen inflammation and may be a risk factor for inflammatory arthritis, an autoimmune disease. Foods such as pizza, cured meats, and meat products, canned soups, and many other processed foods all contain high levels of salt and should be avoided.
So what should you eat?
According to the Arthritis Foundation, a diet that is optimal for a person with arthritis is a diet that would be good for anyone! This means a diet that is low in inflammatory fats. The fats that should be emphasized are unsaturated fats which include olive oil and avocado oil. Omega-3 fatty acid-rich oily fish, such as sardines, salmon, and herring should be eaten at least twice a week. If you don’t tolerate fish, then consider a high-quality fish oil supplement. Vegans can consider the omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts or walnut oil.
A diet high in vegetables and fruits can also be beneficial. These include green leafy vegetables, onions, garlic, leeks, and squash as well as root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots. Citrus fruits that are high in Vitamin C can help to protect joints as well. Bon appetit!