Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. Certain nutrients can trigger inflammation in the body, making symptoms worse.
Some seemingly healthy foods can cause this problem when eaten in excess.
Arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common types of arthritis, and symptoms will vary depending on the type you have, but joint pain, susceptibility to fracture and stiffness are characteristic warning signs of the disease in general.
A healthy lifestyle is key to managing arthritis, and that means regulating your diet. However, some healthy dietary decisions can trigger arthritis when eaten in excess.
In this dietary area are omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids that the body needs for normal growth and development.
“When eaten in moderation and in place of the saturated fats found in meat and dairy products, omega-6 fatty acids can be good for your heart,” explains the Mayo Clinic.
However, the Arthritis Foundation (AF) warns that “excessive consumption of omega-6s can stimulate the body to produce anti-inflammatory chemicals.”
Some of these fatty acids appear to cause inflammation, but others have anti-inflammatory properties. According to the Mayo Clinic, “More research is needed to understand how these apparently opposing effects interact with each other and with other nutrients.”
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in oils such as corn, sunflower, grapeseed, soybean, peanut and vegetables.
What should you eat?
Many foods can help fight inflammation and improve joint symptoms.
The Arthritis Foundation says: “For starters, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and beans, with fewer processed foods and saturated fats, is not only good for overall health, but can also help manage disease activity.”
A Mediterranean-style diet contains many of these anti-inflammatory components.
The Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy lifestyle habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean, including France, Greece, Italy and Spain.
The diet varies by country and region, so it contains a range of definitions, but it is generally rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, grains, fish and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes eating low amounts of meat and dairy products.
In addition to fighting inflammation, eating healthy gives you all the nutrients you need and helps you maintain a healthy weight, which is key to staving off heart disease risk.