Osteoarthritis Living With Arthritis Diet

While aging and heredity are major risk factors in the development of osteoarthritis, the one best preventive measure is to avoid carrying extra pounds. While investigators continue to examine the link between arthritis and diet, they generally agree that excess weight compounds the problem. Weight loss, whether through specific nutritional and dietary guidelines or use of supplements, can help reduce the need for analgesics and other pain relief medications, and improve pain-free range of motion.

Is There an Arthritis Diet?

A balanced diet is important for everyone, but even more so for people suffering from osteoarthritis. In general, nutrition experts recommend eating a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, breads, lean meat, and low-fat dairy products, keep fats and sugars to a minimum. Seek the advice of your doctor or dietitian before you change your diet.

A number of studies have found that fish oils containing omega-3 fatty acids can reduce or halt the effects of the enzymes that damage the cartilage in joints affected by arthritis. Eating fish once or twice a week also has additional benefits: Researchers have discovered that fish oils in the diet can provide some protection from heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Foods to Avoid

Watch your diet and perhaps keep a food diary. If you notice increased symptoms, particularly after eating anything on the list below, a link may exist between your symptoms of arthritis and your diet.

  • red meat or dairy products
  • salt, sugar, additives or caffeine
  • citrus, eggplants, red peppers, tomatoes or white potatoes
  • soft drinks.

Tobacco use can also exacerbate arthritis symptoms.

When possible avoid eating processed foods. These foods are usually packed with high amounts of sodium and cholesterol. A general rule to keep in mind is, “If it doesn’t spoil, don’t eat it.”

Dietary Supplements

The following list includes some general guidelines for the use of dietary supplements as part of an arthritis diet. Always consult with your physician before changing your dietary regimen or adding supplements to your diet.

  • Glucosamine naturally occurs in the joints of the human body. It is commonly available wherever dietary supplements are sold, and while it appears to be safe, the FDA has not approved its medical use. It is often used in combination with chondroitin sulfate as part of an arthritis diet.
  • Vitamins A, C, B6 (50 milligrams per day), and the minerals copper (1 milligram per day) and zinc (45 milligrams per day) are required for the body to naturally create collagen and normal cartilage.
  • The amino acid methionine is essential for maintaining healthy cartilage (250 milligrams, 4 times a day).
  • The combination of vitamin A (10,000 Units daily) and vitamin C (up to 1,000 milligrams daily) may help slow cartilage deterioration.

The following are also suggested: 600 Units per day of vitamin E, and 12.5 milligrams per day of pantothenic acid.

Are Antioxidants an Answer?

Researchers have found that naturally occurring antioxidants, including vitamin E, may help protect the knees against developing osteoarthritis. This was the finding of a study conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. In the study, vitamin E, also known as alpha tocopherol, was associated with an approximate thirty percent reduction in the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the knees.

Resources

Bar-Shalom, R. and Soileau, D. (nd). Osteoarthritis. HealthWorld Online.

Better Health Channel. (updated 2004). Arthritis and diet.

Griffin, J. (2001). Diet and arthritis: What’s the true story? Arthritis Research Campaign.