I am here. And I’m excited to share some knowledge, tying together your diet choices to better manage your arthritis.
Of note: For the last few years I’ve taken a very active approach in helping a population that happens to have a higher than average incidence of arthritis. I am not a Doctor, nor am I a Registered Dietitian. Please refer to their expertise with specific questions. My goal is to give you clear and succinct steps in an attempt to manage the symptoms that you may experience with various forms of arthritis, by modifying food choices.
Now that I’ve told you how much I don’t know, a quick briefing on what arthritis is shall be in order! Arthritis is pain associated with inflammation and stiffness in joints. There are a few types of arthritis, and I’ll lump them into one of two categories – inflammatory arthritis (IA) and osteoarthritis (OA).
IA is defined as joint inflammation caused by an overactive immune system. The inflammation typically occurs over multiple joints. So instead of it being just a cranky ankle or a sore knee, IA is a systemic issue over different parts of your body, organs included!
Where OA differs, is that it is the degeneration of specific joint cartilage and underlying bone structure, most commonly in the knees, hip and thumb joints.
So now we know what arthritis is, the first problem to solve would be to take a look at what types of food cause inflammation.
Think of food as fuel and arthritis as the vehicle. If you know you are eating foods that provide an inflammatory stimulus, you’re filling up your gas tank. And you don’t need a ton of fuel to turn the car on. So in this case, let’s take a look at different foods that most commonly provide fuel for your arthritis:
- Sugar – The American journal of clinical nutrition warns that processed sugar release inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Keep an eye out on nurition labels for foods that end in -ose (such as fructose or sucrose).
- Saturdated fats – Triggers fat inflammation. So not only does your arthritis inflammation become triggered, your body’s fat cells themselves become inflamed. As much as I hate to admit it, pizza and cheese are two of the most common sources of saturdated fats in the American diet. Red meat, full-fat dairy and grain based desserts also typically lie in this category.
- Trans fats – These became popular in the 1990s, which are now known to trigger systemic inflammation. Trans fats are in fast food, processed snack food, fried foods, cookies, donuts, etc. On the label, look out for partially hydrogenated oils.
- Omega 6 fatty acids – Alone, omega 6 fats are good as they are essential to human needs. But the important piece in maintaining healthy levels of fat consumption is to balance Omega 3 with Omega 6s. Foods high in omega 6s are found in mostly oils – corn oil, sunflower, grapeseed, soy, peanut, vegetable oil and many salad dressings.
- Refined Carbohydrates – White flour products like bread, rolls, white rice and white potatoes. Many cereals are refined carbohydrates. The Scientific American says processed carbohydrates may trump fats as the main driver of escalating rates of obesity and other chronic conidtions. These foods fuel production of advanced glycation end products that stimulate inflammation.
- Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) – a flavor enhancing food additive that is mostly found in Asian food and soy sauce. This chemical can trigger two pathways for inflammation
- Gluten and Casein – People with joint pain are typically sensitive to gluten – found in wheat, barley and rye. Casein can be found in dairy products and individuals with joint pain may find relief by avoiding them. For those with celiac diseason, gluten can set off an autoimmune response that damages the small intestine.
- Aspartame – A non-nutritive (it lacks Calories and any nutritional value) artificial sweetener found in over 4000 products. Studies on the substance are mixed but if you are sensitive to this chemical, your body will react to it as a foreign substance by attacking the chemical, triggering an inflammatory response.
- Alcohol – Weakens the liver and disrupts other organ interactions that can cause inflammation.
I know this is a lot to take in (and a lot of foods to rule out!) but the intent here is to discover foods that cause your car to turn on. In subsequent posts, I’ll dive into foods that are good for management of arthritis. As well as foods that have been commonly shown to keep your car’s proverbial fuel tank empty. Ultimately, we’ll develop strategies to discover what types of foods specifically inflame your body! Because your body is unique and it responds to different ‘fuel sources’ in its own way!
Please feel free to drop a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions!
Peace like Geese!