What you eat can have a big impact on how you feel. That may be good or bad for your health, as well. This should be fairly obvious, considering that practically everything in your body depends on your food choices. People who have rheumatoid arthritis should ensure they keep a healthy and balanced diet.
In today’s article we want to share some of the smartest food choices you can make and why essential fatty acids can help reduce arthritis symptoms.
A balanced diet for arthritis symptoms
Deciding to eat right can benefit anyone, particularly people who are suffering from certain diseases like arthritis. You should try to add the following to your diet every day:
- Whole grains
- Protein that’s easy to absorb
A person with arthritis symptoms should make sure that they’re getting a good amount of fiber from the food they eat. Strawberries and oatmeal, for example, pack a lot of fiber in a small portion.
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If you’re going through a flare up of pain and inflammation it’s a good idea to consume extra virgin olive oil, which has properties that are similar to aspirin, ibuprofen, and the like.
Taking three to four tablespoons of olive oil produces the same anti-inflammatory effects as 200 mg of the over the counter drugs.
Garlic, in the meantime, also reduces the inflammation of the muscles and joints while increasing your intake of antioxidants that have numerous beneficial effects.
Sesame seeds contain high doses of selenium (people with arthritis tend to have lower levels of this compound).
Vitamin D is another important nutrient to reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, particularly in women. It can also enhance the immune system and prevent loss of bone density.
The best source of vitamin D is the sun. Getting 15 minutes of sun exposure a day is good for you (as long as you avoid the sun’s rays during the most dangerous times, between 11am and 3pm).
You also find vitamin D in whole grains and cereals.What should eat if you have arthritis symptoms?
- Nuts (especially almonds and pistachios)
- Vegetable-based milks
- Brown rice
Are there certain foods that cause inflammation in the joints?
Of course there are. That’s why people who already have arthritis should be very careful with what they eat. Meat, chicken, and sausages contain substances that can cause inflammation once they’re absorbed into the bloodstream (known by the abbreviation AGE).
Omega-6 acids that are found in egg yolks, fast food, and fried foods can also cause increased inflammation.
Research shows that people who eat more omega-6 fatty acids (instead of omega-3) experience more negative impacts on their condition because swelling is more visible and painful.
Fatty acids and arthritis symptoms
While omega-6 isn’t exactly recommended, it’s a good idea to consume more omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and help lubricate the joints, alleviating pain.
One of the best options that’s high in omega-3 acids is flaxseed. You can crush these seeds and sprinkle them on salads, add them to soups and juices, and more.
Be careful with your portion control, however, as they can have a laxative effect and block the absorption of certain medications.
They help prevent blood clotting, as well, so if you’re also taking aspirin or other blood thinning agents it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor first.
Fish are an excellent source of these types of acids. The most well known are cold water fish, including:
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Not only are these fish natural ways to fight inflammation, they also alleviate arthritis symptoms.
A study from 2002 that was published in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society found that fish oil supplements improve symptoms in people with rheumatoid arthritis, particularly in patients that have more acute or advanced cases.
When you consume more omega-3 fatty acids you’ll notice a positive change in the comfort of performing your daily activities. You might even find that you can do new things that you could not before (like tying your shoes, cutting food, etc.).
Omega-3 fatty acids also reduce your risk of suffering a heart attack along with other problems associated with cardiovascular disease, in addition to high blood pressure.
The modern Western diet is often poor in this nutrient but high in omega-6 acids. That’s why a lot of people who live in these countries suffer from arthritis starting at an early age.
Where else can you obtain omega-3 fatty acids?Chia seeds have the highest concentration of these fatty acids that we know of (500 grams per kilogram), if you’re only considering plant foods.
Other good sources include salvia sclarea (50% of its composition is omega-3s), the sacha inchi (a type of peanut with origins in Peru, clocking in at 48%), as well as pumpkin seeds (over 40%).
Take care when eating walnuts and rapeseed oil because while they contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, they’re also high in the omega-6 variety.
Because of this, they’re not recommended for people who are suffering from arthritis symptoms.
Hemp seeds, on the other hand, do contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. But the ratio is three to one in favor of omega-3. The best way to consume hemp seeds (which are tough and can taste unpleasant) is to make a smoothie using vegetable milks and an assortment of healthy nuts.