Running Away From Arthritis: Part 3

In Part 1 I talked about what Arthritis is in its various forms and in Part 2 I described how the symptoms of Arthritis can be managed through exercise. In Part 3 I am going to discuss how changing your diet can help ease Arthritic symptoms.

Now although Arthritic conditions cannot be cured, subtle changes to a person’s diet can help ease the symptoms that sufferers with arthritis will have to endure. Inflammation is the most common ailment associated with Arthritis, particularly people who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, and changes to diet – specifically, including more foods with anti-inflammatory properties and reducing ones that provoke inflammation – will help….

Inflammation is caused by the body’s immune system combating a damaging foreign influence upon the body.  There are many different ideologies on what makes the ‘perfect diet’, but one aspect that is increasingly being put forward is that the ‘cleaner’ (i.e. less processed / less additives etc.), more natural you can make your diet, the better your body will be able to process what you consume. Diets such as the ‘Paleo’ diet, ‘Dukan’ diet and ‘Harvey-Banting’ diet are all based around high-fat, low-carbohydrate principles. This means plenty of fresh meats, fishes, vegetables and fruits with no processed foods, such as any grains (e.g. pasta, rice, bread etc.), packaged and pre-made foods, or foods which have high glycaemic index (GI). These diets are all based around the theory that we evolved as a species to eat this way, due to the nature of how we hunted and foraged and the technology (or lack of it) at the time – in other words, they all stem from a  ‘back to basics’ ideology.


The idea behind these diets assisting with Arthritis is that the body has not evolved to digest man-made processed foods, with the ‘toxins’ (e.g. additives) and high sugar levels associated with them. When we eat these readily available, high-sugared foods the body recognises a very quick increase in blood sugar levels, and releases insulin to remove the excess sugar from the blood. This automatic response also causes the body to produce inflammation in small doses – which to a healthy person wouldn’t be recognisable, but to someone who already has a base level of inflammation through their Arthritis can increase swelling and cause the inflammation to increase to levels where movement around the affected joints becomes painful and inhibited. Assuming that the average person on a traditional ‘western’ high-sugar diet spikes their blood sugar between 3-5 times a day, this means that every few hours the body is being put into an inflammatory state – which doesn’t give the inflamed joints long to shift the excess inflammation. Unsurprisingly, any increase in joint pain will likely lead to a more sedentary lifestyle, and possibly more comfort-eating of sugary, processed foods! This inactivity can then lead to the excess blood sugar produced by the food being stored as fat –  Hello Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure…. You get the picture!


So, eating a ‘cleaner’ (i.e. less processed, low sugar) diet will help reduce the amount of sugar being stored as fat and will help the body lose weight. Furthermore, high levels body fat have been shown to be correlated with higher levels of inflammation in the body, so losing weight will not only reduce the stress placed upon the joints, it should also help reduce the level of inflammation at the joints.


Finally, organic foods are a bit of a buzz term at the moment, but the fact is that if your fresh fruit and vegetables have been organically grown, then they will be free from toxins and chemicals. These unnatural additions can be put under the same category as sugar with regards to how they promote an inflammatory response in the body, and therefore if it all possible, local, organically farmed produce should always be encouraged.


Below is a summary of the kinds of foods that are anti-inflammatory and should be eaten, and those that are pro-inflammatory and should be avoided to help combat arthritis:


What to eat (anti-inflammatory foods):

  • Dark coloured fresh fruits, which are high in anti-oxidants, proven to help boost the immune system and also have a low glycaemic index (e.g. Strawberries, Blueberries, Acai berries, Raspberries, Cherries).
  • Oily fish, like tuna, mackerel, salmon – all are high in Omega 3’s which have excellent anti-inflammatory properties by decreasing the production of chemicals that spread inflammation. Plus they also inhibit enzymes that trigger it.
  • Garlic, Tumeric and Ginger, again all have high anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Lean cuts of meat, chicken, turkey, and small amounts of lean red meats.
  • Monounsaturated Fats, e.g. from olives and avocados.
  • Polyunsaturated Fats, e.g. flaxseeds and nuts, (Macadamia nuts, Almonds, Walnuts and Brazil nuts are all great options).
  • Green Teas have certain antioxidant compounds that have been shown to lessen the severity and incidence of arthritis.


What NOT to eat (pro-inflammatory foods):

  • Processed grains: e.g. breads, pasta, flour etc.
  • High-sugar fruits and drinks – e.g. most fizzy drinks, fruit juice, squash, etc.
  • Ready-made foods – e.g. most foods / meals that come in a packet (especially those with more than 5 ingredients and/or ingredients that you can’t pronounce!)
  • Dairy foods – e.g. milk, cheese, cream, etc.
  • Trans fats/ polyunsaturated fats – vegetable oils (e.g. sunflower oil, low-fat butter, margarines etc.).
  • Alcohol – which is not only high in sugar but also stresses the liver which in turn can cause an auto-immune response to produce inflammation.
  • Smoking –inhibits the levels of oxygenation of the blood as well as increasing the acidity of the bodies pH levels – both of which reduce the body’s ability to repair itself.

If you would like more information on Arthritis and how you can help the charity, then please check out their website.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *