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Your Diet and Arthritis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fifty million adults in the United States had arthritis in 2012, four million more than in 2008. This increase is expected to continue at a rate of one million new arthritis sufferers each year!  Many studies have indicated that diet has a strong effect on the disease.  One survey  of over one thousand arthritis patients in 1989  found that red meat, sugar, fats, salt, caffeine, and nightshade plants such as tomatoes are commonly thought to cause the inflammation.  Adverse reactions to dairy foods were one of the most common food groups mentioned! New research shows that dietary changes can help!  Here are some of the dos and don'ts that have been supported my a variety of studies:
  • Fried and Processed Foods. A study from the the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, published in the 2009 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, found that eating less fried and processed foods can reduce inflammation. The research showed that fried foods contain toxins which can increase the oxidation your cells which heightens inflammation.
  • Refined Carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates are found white bread, rolls, crackers, white rice and most baked goods. They produce a state of inflammation in the body by increasing pro-inflammatory compounds. Give yourself a boost and eat whole grain breads and pasta!
  • Sugars. The simple sugars that are found in candy, baked goods and so many of our processed foods cause blood-sugar levels to spike and cause an inflammatory response, causing even worse arthritic symptoms. There are a lot of reasons to stay away from processed sugar, so be sure to add this to your list!
  • Saturated Fats. Most of the saturated fat in our diets comes from fatty beef, pork, and lamb, dairy products and processed meats.
  • Trans Fats. Trans fats, found in many baked goods, fast-food and processed foods, are considered as damaging as saturated fats in terms of inflammation and heart disease. Avoid them and read the package . Look for food with 0 grams trans fats and no partially hydrogenated oils.  Learn more about healthy fats on our post from November 13, 2013, The Move to Healthy Fats!
  • Salt & Preservatives. Many off-the-shelf food products contain salt and other preservatives to promote longer shelf lives. Three recent studies from from Harvard Medical School, and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Broad Institute in Boston looked at how salt may overstimulate the immune system. Using different methods, they found that salt seems to stimulate the creation of the 'helper T-cells' that cause inflammation, triggering an immune response -- which results in in inflammation of the joints. Another reason to read the labels!
There are some positive additions to your diet that may help reduce or prevent inflammation.
  • Whole grains can lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of the inflammation that accompanies high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Researchers from Penn State studied a group of 50 obese people, half consumed whole grains while the other half ate refined grains in their diets for 12 weeks. Both groups adhered to a weight-loss plan that included fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat dairy products , and lean meat, fish or poultry. While both groups lost weight, the whole-grain group also saw a 38 percent drop in CRP levels and lost more abdominal fat.
  • A 2003 Swedish study found that people with arthritis who ate a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetable, cereals, legumes, and olive oil had fewer symptoms and flare-ups after three months!
  • In another study found improved pain scores, stiffness and grip strength by participants after adopting a vegan diet.
  • A study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that omega-3s convert into compounds that are 10,000 times more potent than the original fatty acids themselves! These compounds include resolvins, which help end inflammatory responses in the body.
  • The antioxidants found in green peas, bell peppers, and broccoli are thought to protect against tissue damage around the joints caused by free radicals.
And don't forget to exercise! It increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue. Follow these nutrition tips and you'll be rarin' to go!

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