The cold and snowy weather is upon us, and this is the time of year when our bones, muscles, and joints are more sensitive to the elements. For those with Rheumatoid Arthritis the soreness, stiffness, and achiness are even more pronounced. There is not a cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis, but diet can help with reducing the symptoms.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” Hippocrates. This quote still rings true. The key to maintaining good health and minimalizing the symptoms of all chronic diseases is a well-balanced diet. Plant-based nutrition from a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, along with lean protein sources rich in Omega-3 fatty acids will give your body what it needs to battle AD and other diseases.
Consuming fish and fish oils have been shown to relieve inflammation that results in morning stiffness which leads to tender joints. Fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, Albacore tuna, and salmon are rich in Omega-3s. The omegas in fish oil come from the algae fish eat. Omegas can also be obtained from plant-based sources such as Chia seeds, Brussels sprouts, Hemp Seed, Walnuts, Flaxseeds, and oils namely, Perilla Oil and Algal Oil among other sources.
Joint pain and stiffness can also be improved by increasing fiber intake from a variety of sources. Fiber helps lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood, which is an indicator of Inflammation. Some of the best sources of fiber to lower CRP are oat bran, rye bran, and sugar beet fiber.
Including extra-virgin olive oil in your diet can also help reduce inflammation, similarly to that of ibuprofen or Aspin. It contains a compound called oleocanthal that blocks the enzymes that cause inflammation. Despite it taking about 3 ½ tablespoons to equal the anti-inflammatory properties of ibuprofen, it has other health benefits so it’s a better alternative to your diet than other oils.
Other food sources that reduce inflammation are green tea, green tea extract, and resveratrol, cocoa, and dark chocolate, to name a few. Consider adding these food sources to your diet.
On the flip side, there are foods that increase inflammation in the body which should be avoided. Grilled meats, such as hamburgers, chicken, and other grilled meats can raise the amount of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in the blood. Higher AGEs have been detected in the blood of those with the AD. Other foods to avoid are those with omega-6 fatty acids as found in corn, sunflower, safflower and soybean oils, and many fried foods. These have been linked to increased inflammation in the blood.
Overall the best defense to fighting inflammation is a good diet. The Mediterranean diet which naturally includes plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetable and whole grains, among other goodies like red wine has been observed as the best diet for improving one’s overall health. What we eat matters at all stages of life, so as the New Year begins, now is the perfect time to improve your health with better food choices so you can have a great quality of life for years to come.