Fifty Million Americans suffer from Osteoarthritis, a chronic degenerative disease where cartilage between joints deteriorates over time and causes bone to rub against bone. Sound painful? Yes, it is, and this loss of flexibility often decreases the range of motion. Osteoarthritis could lead to a complete loss of movement in the affected joint and result in a painful disability. There is no cure. This article focuses on the outcomes of diet for those who are living with this disease.
Pain Management and Osteoarthritis
Medication is a natural first approach for pain management, but additional options are available. Weight management is important. Stress placed on joints due to excess weight exacerbates the wear and tear of joint cartilage.
Healthy eating habits combined with regular exercise helps reach and maintain a manageable weight. Exercise, when practiced on a regular basis, improves muscle strength and increases brain function while increasing endorphins, the mood-elevating hormones. If physical pain or limited mobility decreases the ability to exercise diet becomes an important factor of pain management. Proper nutrition for this disease helps the desire and ability to exercise.
Educate Yourself: Food Choices
As an inflammatory disease, osteoarthritis is heavily impacted by what is on our plates. Careful attention to which foods cause inflammation and choosing the right combinations of ingredients may decrease levels of pain. Read food labels in order to help make good decisions.
You may already be familiar with dishes to avoid and your reasons for doing so. Recent news articles have highlighted several foods because of adverse effects on the nation’s health. These include:
- Refined carbohydrates
- Saturated fats
- Trans fats
- Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG)
- Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Bodies need a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are commonly found in vegetable oils, corn, safflower, sunflower, peanut and soy oils. Fried foods, processed meats, snack bars, mayonnaise, and salad dressings are others high in omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 may decrease the absorption of omega-3s. Be aware of the adverse effects and limit your intake.
Creating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods helps ease the pain of osteoarthritis. The following food options are recommended to lower the incidence of swelling and stiffness in joints.
- Foods rich in vitamin C: Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is found in citrus, strawberries, guava, kiwi, and papaya. Tomatoes and other vegetables including cauliflower, red and green bell peppers, leafy greens and sweet potatoes are additionally beneficial.
- Anthocyanins: These antioxidants are found in bright red-orange foods and violet-purple foods. Plums, pomegranates, beets, grapes, raspberries, and cherries contain anthocyanins.
- Ginger: This spice comes in many forms; powdered, dried or fresh. It is used in cooking, teas, and baking. Gingerbread made with real ginger chunks is one delicious choice. Ginger is found in various medications prescribed to ease osteoarthritic pain.
- Green tea: An antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is found in green tea. This relaxing beverage has been held in high regard for its health benefits and EGCG may be one of the reasons why. The production of the body’s inflammatory chemicals appears to be blocked by this substance. Continued breakdown of joint cartilage may be stopped by EGCG. Green tea, mostly found in beverages, is also used in marinades, smoothies and ice cream.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Do your heart a favor while fighting inflammation at the same time. A serving of salmon, herring, or rainbow trout is an excellent source of omega-3s. Flax seeds, walnuts, pumpkin and chia seeds are reliable snacks providing omega-3.
Living with osteoarthritis is challenging. When the decision is made to change a diet using the above suggestions anti-inflammation pain levels will decrease. Healthy choices result in looking and feeling better. Continue to educate yourself on healthy food options to achieve an anti-inflammatory diet.
Bridge to Better Living offers a no-cost service beginning with a one-on-one consultation. We are here to help navigate choices when considering the many Senior Living Options. You and/or your loved one are important to us. Contact Bridge to Better Living. We want your journey to be stress-free and painless.