By Dr Tony Setiobudi BMedSci, MBBS, MRCS, MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho)
“Is there a special arthritis diet?”. We often hear this question from people with arthritis. An anti-inflammatory diet may help to fight inflammation and improve joint pain and other symptoms.
What is an anti-inflammatory diet? It is essentially a diet that reduces inflammation by eating anti-inflammatory foods and avoiding the ones that do. Before we continue, we should have a basic idea of what inflammation is. When you hear the word inflammation, you might picture a swollen knee, a bruised ankle or scraped elbow. Those are the signs of inflammation or trauma to the body, but there’s more to it. The long term chronic inflammation, such as like rheumatoid osteoarthritis or cancer, occur within our bodies over a long period of time, often without visible symptoms,
The good news is that one of the most powerful ways to combat inflammation is found within your fridge and not within pills. The food that you are eating effects inflammation and hence your health. Following an anti-inflammatory diet is of the easiest ways to improve our health.
Research shows that what you eat can affect the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) – a marker for inflammation in your blood. Choosing the right anti-inflammatory foods allows you to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. The diet will not cure arthritis, however is an effective way of controlling symptoms, maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of developing other health problems.
Foods to Eat
This is a list of foods that can reduce the risk for inflammation:
- Eat fruits that are rich in antioxidants. They are fruits that are dark blue, purple or red in colors such as cherries and plums.
- Eating fibrous fruits such as apples and pears are great as well
- Eat more dark-coloured leafy greens, like spinach, collards and kale
- Whole grains such as oatmeal, quinoa are packed with fiber.
Nuts, seeds and healthy fats.
- Natural peanut butter, olive oil, almonds, chia seeds, and flax seeds are staples in this healthy eating plan.
- Fish especially salmon, are some of the best anti-inflammatory foods due to their healthy unsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acid content.
- Examples are beans and lentils, which are high in fibre and protein, so they help keep you full plus regulate your digestive system
Keep in mind that each body is different. For example, nuts are considered anti-inflammatory, but if you are allergic do not eat them.
Foods to avoid
You can also reduce your arthritis by avoiding foods and drinks that trigger inflammation in the body such as.
- Processed meats. They are high in saturated fat, which causes inflammation such as sausages, ham, salami include one processed meat.
- Refined sugars such as soft drinks, cookies, candies, ice cream
- Trans fats. They are mostly found in deep-fried foods, fast foods and commercially baked goods
- Refined carbs. They are primarily white flour products including gluten, white rice, white bread and pasta.
Diet is not the only factor in causing inflammation, but it can help reduce or prevent the problem from worsening. It should not be viewed as a miracle cure but rather as a lifestyle choice that can improve your health and should be a part of your plan of care.
Dr Tony Setiobudi is an Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard), Singapore. He treats bone, joint, muscle and ligament problems in adults and children. He has a special interest in nerve compression and spine problems such as back & neck pain, scoliosis, kyphosis, spine tumor & infection, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis fracture, spinal stenosis and slipped disc.