Tips for Reducing Pain & Inflammation in the Joints.

Diet and lifestyle has a major impact on chronic illness particularly regarding arthritis and osteoporosis. Even if you are dependent on anti-inflammatory drugs and/or immune-suppressant drugs these dietary and lifestyle strategies can still be applied to your life today to have a positive effect on your health. 

All forms of arthritis are worse in overweight people if you are overweight consider starting a program to lose weight, as the extra strain placed on joints particularly the spine hips and knees can exacerbate signs and symptoms.

Reducing Refined Carbohydrates

Reducing your intake of refined carbohydrates grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats & rice) with legumes such as beans, lentils and chickpeas can help burn fat and reduce body weight. However, if you have high levels of uric acid be careful not to have excessive amounts of legumes as these can exacerbate blood concentration of uric acid due to purines found in legumes. 

Eat regularly

If you crave sugary food try to eat regular protein with each meal, for example, organic free-range eggs, fish, unprocessed cheese and whey protein to reduce unhealthy snacking between meals.

Combining beans or lentils with raw nuts and seeds in one meal is also good if you are vegan or vegetarian. 

 

Reduce your intake of foods and beverages that increase the production of acid in the body, such as

sugar, coffee, red meat, pork and processed meats such as delicatessen meats (small goods) and

alcohol. You can ask your doctor to check your level of uric acid with a simple blood test. Uric acid

can deposit in the joints and cause joint inflammation.

 

Avoid foods made from white flour such as white bread, cakes, biscuits and cookies. Processed wheat

and its products can promote inflammation in the body. Some arthritis sufferers do well on a wheat-free diet. Avoid all deep-fried foods, as these contribute to fatty liver and excessive weight. Avoid

foods containing hydrogenated oils and trans-fatty acids, as these types of processed fat, can slow

down the process of fat burning and may increase inflammation. Check food labels to see if the list of

ingredients contains hydrogenated oils.

 

Reduce your intake of full cream products such as butter, cream and ice cream. In some people, the

protein in dairy products can irritate the immune system and make inflammation worse. Natural

yoghurt (sugar-free) or unprocessed cheeses made from sheep or goat milk are better. Coconut, soy,

rice or almond milk are better alternatives to cow’s milk.

 

Some people with arthritis find the nightshade family of vegetables aggravates their condition. The

nightshade group of vegetables includes tomatoes, capsicum, eggplant and potatoes. Try avoiding

these vegetables from the nightshade family for two months to see if your symptoms of arthritis

improve (see information on the anti-inflammatory diet).

 

Those with elevated levels of uric acid in the blood should minimise their intake of foods high in uric

acid. These foods include alcohol, anchovies, asparagus, herring, meat gravies, bouillon, mushrooms,

mussels, sardines, organ meats, processed meats (hot dogs, ham, bacon, etc.), caffeine, legumes and

yeast products. A high intake of sugar or alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to excrete uric

acid.

Beneficial foods for Arthritis

Large amounts of fresh salad vegetables should be consumed. These are high in vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory and alkaline effects in the body. Eating

fresh vegetables and fruits provides the liver with nutrients it needs for detoxification of the bloodstream. This way there will be fewer toxins and acidic waste products lodging in the joints.

Eat foods high in organic sulphur compounds. Sulphur is needed by the liver to aid in detoxification

and bile production. These foods include vegetables in the cruciferous family (broccoli, cabbage,

brussel sprouts, cauliflower), onion, garlic, leek and eggs.

Drink approximately 2 litres of pure water each day. This is vital to flush uric acid out through the

kidneys and improve circulation of blood to the joints. Purified water is preferable to tap water due to

the chemical and heavy metal residues it may contain.

Include Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) in your diet. Eat deep-sea cold-water fish, 3 to 5 times per week,

or take fish oil capsules. This may include tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and cod. Canned

fish is excellent and inexpensive. The Omega 3 EFAs in these fish have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Flaxseed oil is also high in Omega 3 fats; use it as a salad dressing or add it to smoothies. Other foods

high in beneficial fats include avocados, raw unsalted nuts and seeds, and olive oil.

Exercise is vital to improve joint mobility. Weight-bearing exercise can aggravate the pain during

acute episodes; hence more suitable forms of exercise include swimming, yoga, tai chi and pilates.

Hydrotherapy is the technique of graduated exercises in a swimming pool and enables muscle

strength to be increased without placing weight-bearing strain on the joints.

Massage of the muscles, ligaments and joints can be very effective if it is done regularly by a

therapeutic massage therapist or physiotherapist. Many private health funds will cover the cost of

therapeutic massage treatments.

           Do you still have questions?

References

1. Hart DS, Spector TD. The relationship of obesity, fat distribution and osteoarthritis in women in the

general population: the Chingford study. J Rheumatol 1993;20:331-335.

2. Sarris J and Wardle J. 2010. Clinical Naturopathy: An evidence-based guide to practice. Elsevier,

Chatswood, NSW.

3. Mills S, Bone K. Principles and practice of phytotherapy. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2000.

4. Pinals RS. Arthritis associated with gluten-sensitive enteropathy. J Rheumatol 1986;13(1):201-4.

5. Childers NF, Margoles MS. An Apparent Relation of Nightshades (Solanaceae) to Arthritis. Journal

of Neurological and Orthopedic Medical Surgery (1993) 12:227-231.

6. Calder P. Dietary modification of inflammation with lipids. Proc Nutr Soc 2002;61:345-358.

7. Fransen MM, et al. Exercise for osteoarthritis of the hip or knee. Cochrane Database Syst Rev

2003;(3):CD004376.

Content on this handout is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about

a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace

advice from your registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Australian audiences,

and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and

completeness of the information may change. All readers are urged to always seek advice from a

registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their health questions.

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