Diet and principles of management of arthritis
In continuation of my writings to show that our diet has a very significant part to play in the aetiology of diseases and the management of same, I present this article about arthritis today. Arthritis, which has been said to be getting to epidemic proportions in places like the United States (U.S.), must be handled with a lot of seriousness in these parts lest medical practitioners become overwhelmed by the occurrence of this disease.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, let me remind us of what Hippocrates said thousands of years ago:
“Let food be your medicine and your medicine be food”
Today, we see clearly that Hippocrates was inspired by revelation from the Almighty GOD to write that statement; nothing can be further from the truth.
Arthritis, like the degenerative diseases, has a lot to do with the food that we eat and if that be the case we begin to look into the health benefits of the nutrients in our food.
Here is a recap of the principles of the management of arthritis, which I have discussed in this column in the past. Diseases, which end with the letters “tis” are usually inflammatory in nature. In the case of arthritis, other features of the disease include pain, swelling, redness, and hotness. In the treatment of arthritis therefore, the accompanying conditions should be taken into consideration.
There are certain nutrients in our food that deal directly with inflammation. Examples of these anti-inflammatory agents include omega 3fatty acids, which are sourced from fish oil, nuts and seeds and olive oil. Omega 3 fatty acid reduces C-reactive protein [CRP] and interleukin 6. These two are inflammatory proteins, which become elevated when there is inflammation in the body.
Apart from the monounsaturated fatty acid, omega 3 in fish oils, nuts and seeds also supply fibre to the body when eaten. This fiber promotes weight loss in the body. In arthritis of the knees and ankle joints and other weight-bearing joints, excessive weight is one condition that must be looked into. As part of management, the individual involved should be advised to lose weight. Fiber together with protein and monounsaturated fats consumed, have been found to be filling and easily satiate, thereby reducing the intake of excessive food and checking obesity. Also supplements of the fish oil can cause a reduction of the pain and swelling in the joint. Not only that, it reduces the duration of the morning stiffness associated with arthritis. The disease process is actually terminated allowing healing to set in.
One vitamin that is found predominantly in nuts/seeds is vitamin B6. Individuals, who consume these nuts often, usually have a lower level of inflammatory markers. During the process of inflammation, a lot of free radicals get released. These free radicals have to be neutralized so as to prevent the destruction of cells in the joint by oxidative stress. Antioxidants, the usual supplier of electrons to free radicals has to be richly supplied from the food we eat. The most important sources of antioxidants are fruits and vegetables. Specific sources are colourful fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries etc. and such veggies as spinach, kale and broccoli. As the antioxidants neutralize these free radicals, they contribute to the immune function of the antioxidant immune system.
Anthocyanins in cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries have an anti-inflammatory effect and can check inflammation directly.
Another type of food that is highly recommended for individuals with arthritis is beans. Varieties of this are pinto beans, black beans, red kidney beans and garbanzo beans. Beans contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds and not only that; they are a good source of fiber, protein, folic acid and minerals like magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium. Eaten regularly, beans will surely contribute positively in the management of arthritis.
Generally speaking in the management of degenerative diseases, every attempt must be made to enhance the blood flow to affected parts of the body. Olive oil has been found to be a good source of heart healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Also it contains aleocanthal, a compound that can lower pain and inflammation. Onions are not left out in the beneficial veggies. They are loaded with beneficial antioxidants and have the ability to reduce inflammation and the risk of heart disease.