Living with Arthritis, Nutrition, Exercise and Mobility was the last talk we gave in the Bellevue Clinic. Judith, Osteopath, Jen, Nutritional Therapist and Niall, personal trainer. We received great feedback and interest as people now want to enable themselves to improve their lifestyle. I started by asking is there one change that you know you could do right now, that would help improve your lifestyle, just one thing – I’m sure everybody (including me!) has one.
So at the moment Arthritis Ireland is telling us that “In Ireland around 915,000 people, including 1,100 children, are living with arthritis, making it the single biggest cause of disability. There are over 100 types of arthritis but the most common forms are osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (also known as rheumatic arthritis) and fibromyalgia “
There is now increasing evidence that the type of diet you are following may indeed have a role to play in arthritis. When you think of arthritis what words come into your head? : Inflammation, swelling, pain, stiffness, tired (are you sleeping), achy, wear and tear. Pain and inflammation is your body’s way of saying HELP.
Your symptoms may vary from day to day. I always tell my clients that our bodies are giving us signs, telling us a story, giving us clues. So listen for those clues. Why am I in so much pain today, what did I do yesterday, what did I eat?
So we need both omega 3 and omega 6 rich foods in a healthy diet. But if there is too much omega 6 in the diet especially arachidonic acid (found in red meat and milk), it will compete with omega 3 and reduce its absorption and increase pro-inflammatory effects in the body.
So how can we start to help ourselves?
• Weight Loss: Excess weight on the joints can aggravate certain types of arthritis especially OA.
• Digestion: Your digestive system is uniquely designed to turn the food you eat into nutrients, which the body uses for energy, growth and cell repair.Is your digestive system working properly? Are you breaking down your foods properly so that you are absorbing all the nutrients from them? Or are you just feeling sluggish, bloated, getting acid reflux after eating.
• Food Allergens: Eating foods that you are intolerant to can lead to inflammation in the gut.
Foods to reduce in your diet:
• High Sugar foods which are pro-inflammatory to the body – start to read your food labels.
• High fat foods – Foods which are high in arachidonic acid and trans fats/hydrogenated fats.
Decrease omega 6 processed oils – sunflower oil, vegetable oil, safflower oil, corn oil, processed snacks, fast foods, biscuits, cakes. Reduce red meat and dairy as these are also high in arachidonic acid.
• Nightshade Family (these do not affect everyone) – tomatoes, red peppers, potatoes, aubergines.
• Rhubarb – for some people can trigger an arthritic attack.
Increase the nutrient dense foods in your diet.
Get more fruit and vegetables into your diet with plenty of colour
Anti-inflammatory rich foods:
Increase our omega 3 rich foods: Oily Fish – salmon, sardines, mackerel, walnuts, flax seeds, flaxseed oil.
Pineapple –contains bromelain which is a collection of enzymes and helps inhibit pro-inflammatory compounds in the body.
Celery – contains a compound called 3-n-butylphthakide – this substance is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
Curcumin – a bright yellow pigment of turmeric. This is an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant.
Ginger inhibits the synthesis of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. Ginger also acts as a very powerful circulatory stimulant which would help in cold stiff joints.
Make yourself an Anti-inflammatory Juice:
• 2 slices of pineapple
• 2 celery sticks,
• 1 inch piece of ginger
• 1tsp turmeric
• 1 tbsp. chia/ flaxseeds
Morning warm tea: Warm water, lemon juice and grated ginger.