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    6 Diet Tricks for Arthritis Relief


    You may feel better if you have arthritis.

    Researchers have been studying the relationship between diet and arthritis for more than 80 years. They are trying to find out if certain nutrients cause symptoms or if they can be calmed by others. While the answers are still evolving, they are not complete.

    Foods that reduce inflammation may be the key to reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. This is an autoimmune disease that causes wear-and-tear joints due to aging.

    You may also find relief by following one or more of the six diet strategies recommended by a rheumatologist who is an expert in nutrition and three patients suffering from arthritis.

    1. Heart-Healthy Foods

    You may be thinking only about your diet and how it might reduce pain and inflammation if you have arthritis. It’s understandable that you might be thinking only about how your diet can ease pain and inflammation. But, Rebecca Manno MD, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, has conducted research into the role of nutrition and diet in inflammation.

    This is because people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Her patients should eat a healthy diet and monitor their cholesterol. This is great advice for everyone. Dr. Manno says to her RA patients that this applies 20-fold to them. It turns out that what’s good for your heart may also help with your arthritis symptoms.

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    You want to make quick changes for a healthy diet? You can swap chips for nuts such as walnuts and avocado, use mayonnaise instead of mayonnaise on sandwiches, and opt for beans instead of fatty meats.

    2. A Mediterranean Mindset is a good choice

    People with inflammation may benefit from eating a Mediterranean-style diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Experts compared a group with RA to see if the Mediterranean diet helped. They found that the Mediterranean diet had less people who needed anti-inflammatory drugs, and a better physical function.

    Cristina Montoya (RD 33), who has RA, and is a member the CreakyJoints community, is a strong advocate of the Mediterranean diet. According to the Canadian province of Ontario, eating less red meat has helped her feel more energetic and less fatigued.

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    Montoya states, “I’ll have red meat once or twice per month.” It was much easier than she expected. She adds, “I don’t miss it.”

    You can make easy Mediterranean diet changes. You can swap butter for olive oil, substitute beef for salmon, or choose whole wheat breads instead of white.

    3. Take a look at fish oil

    Manno states that “many studies have demonstrated a positive effect of fish oils in the past.” Although not all studies are consistent, Manno notes that some research has shown fish oil’s omega-3 fatty acid benefits in reducing RA inflammation in bloodwork, although it isn’t clear how much relief patients actually receive.

    She says patience can pay off. Studies show that the benefits of fish oil are not visible until at least 12 weeks of continued use. For an omega-3 fix, she advises patients to increase their intake of fish oil supplements.

    4. Avoid eating a food that causes symptoms.

    Many arthritis sufferers have discovered that certain foods can trigger their symptoms. Manno believes this phenomenon is real. However, researchers have not yet been able to identify the exact food triggers. However, RA patients often tell Manno that certain foods or foods can make their RA symptoms worse.

    Manno assures them that it is not in their heads. Patients often tell Manno that they feel better when they don’t consume artificial sweeteners or preservatives. Many people feel more comfortable avoiding gluten, going vegan, or using certain spices to help with arthritis. It takes some trial and error to find the right solution for you.

    5. Skip refined sugars

    Research shows that the more sugar you consume (think junk food and sweets), the greater your risk of developing inflammation. Abigail Auer (42), from Atlanta, has seen a significant improvement in her symptoms since she stopped eating sugar.

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    She says, “My new rule is to eat no sweets after five o’clock.” She has been able to eat less sugar because of it.

    Chantelle Marcial, 36 of Boston, has seen a significant improvement in her RA symptoms by cutting back on sugar. She says that sugar triggers a flare in her. She says that even though we all crave sweets, it is worth eating less. Marcial was unaware of how much sugar she was consuming until she started to carefully read labels on food.

    Dark chocolate is a better choice than cookies and pie. Auer used to love milk chocolate, but he discovered that dark chocolate has antioxidants which may help reduce inflammation.

    Experts suggest that one ounce of dark chocolate per day is sufficient to achieve this effect. Tea, red wine, fruits, and vegetables also contain antioxidants.

    6. Keep Diet in Perspective

    Auer says, “You’ve read so many about diet for RA.” Don’t let diet become a burden in your life. Don’t be pressured to eat healthy, fresh foods, or to adhere to a strict diet.

    While ongoing research will provide some additional information on what to eat and not eat to alleviate arthritis symptoms, each individual with arthritis might need to determine what works for them.

    You might consider avoiding certain foods that might trigger or exacerbate arthritis symptoms. You will need to read labels carefully, keep a food journal, and ensure that you are still getting enough nutrients and calories to sustain you throughout the day. It may take a few weeks to see any results. As always, consult your doctor before trying an elimination diet or any other strict diet. They can give you more information about what to do and not to do.



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