Can Eating Fish Reduce The Pain from Rheumatoid Arthritis?
The symptoms of certain illnesses can be treated with natural food. This is actually the case with rheumatoid arthritis. Although there is currently no cure, fish may be helpful in alleviating its symptoms.
The main symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is inflammation of the lining of the joints. Interestingly, marine animals have a component with anti-inflammatory properties: omega 3.
Those who suffer from this condition can see some improvement by including fish in their daily diet.
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
This disorder involves the chronic inflammation of many joints, especially those in the hands and feet. The inflammation is a result of the immune system going into overdrive.
In some cases, it can even affect vital organs such as the heart. In fact, this disorder may be linked to the cardiovascular system.
Over time, it can lead to the wearing away of bones, as well as joint deformities and stiffness.
Omega 3 as an anti-inflammatory
Inflammation is a normal function of the immune system that’s activated by specialized white blood cells. Omega 3 activates the receptor that blocks this inflammatory response.
This is great for patients with rheumatoid arthritis because this inflammatory response is continuous and painful.
Unfortunately, omega 3 can’t be synthesized naturally by the human body and must be obtained externally. Fish is the food with the highest concentration.
Check out this article: Omega 3: More Foods Than Just Oily Fish
Effects of omega 3
Taking 0.21 grams of fatty acids a day can reduce your chance of suffering any kind of rheumatoid arthritis by over 50%.
The anti-inflammatory effect of polyunsaturated fats is due to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). What’s more, it can alleviate pain and help general joint flexibility.
However, to see improvements, you must ensure a steady intake of this type of fatty acid. It takes at least two to six months to start observing improvements for cases of rheumatism.
Be careful with omega 6
Generally, diets tend to include a larger amount of omega 6. This is a bad thing for those with rheumatoid arthritis, since this fatty acid is inflammatory.
As such, it’s best to follow a diet with similar amounts of omegas 3 and 6.
However, cutting out omega 6 isn’t an option since it reduces the risks of developing heart disease.
Not all spices are made equal
It’s important to choose fish that have a higher content of omega 3 than omega 6. As such, mackerel and tuna may be your best bets.
Other options include anchovies, prawns, and cod. Shellfish like squid and octopus are excellent sources of omega 3.
In addition, salmon and sardines also have a high concentration but their omega 6 content is much higher. Therefore, they’re less recommended for an anti-inflammatory diet and should be eaten in moderation.
Polyunsaturated fat also protects your heart
Eating fish three times a week can also help prevent arrhythmia, heart disease, and sudden death from heart failure.
This is due to polyunsaturated fat preventing excess calcium from ending up in your heart and leading to changes in a person’s normal cardiac rhythm.
A fish’s fatty acids are best conserved when fresh or frozen. Canned fish can lose a good chunk of its fatty acids, which affects its anti-inflammatory properties.
In addition, frying fish isn’t a good option since it adds saturated fat which has the opposite effect. Indeed, the best option for cooking fish is to steam it.
However, sushi can also be a great option since it offers all the benefits of eating fish along with quick and healthy preparation methods.
More than just fish
Fish isn’t the only place you can find polyunsaturated fat. Vegetable-derived oils like olive, almond, and soybean oil are a great source of this helpful fat.
Lentils, seaweed, chickpeas, nuts, and chia seeds also contain considerable amounts of omega 3.
As for fruit, strawberries and avocado are the only ones with this nutrient.
The best indicator of omega 3’s effectiveness is that there are nutritional supplements and even medicine that contain it. Adding them to your daily diet is good for your health.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Alhambra-Expósito, María Rosa, et al. “Recomendaciones dietéticas en la artritis reumatoide.” Revista Española de Nutrición Humana y Dietética 17.4 (2013): 165-171.
- Alvarez, Lario Bonifacio, and Bonifacio Álvarez Lario. El libro de la artritis reumatoide. Ediciones Díaz de Santos, 2003.
- González Cernadas, Leticia, Beatriz Rodríguez-Romero, and Lidia Carballo-Costa. “Importancia de los aspectos nutricionales en el proceso inflamatorio de pacientes con artritis reumatoide: una revisión.” Nutrición Hospitalaria 29.2 (2014): 237-245.