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Consultants Corner: Diet and arthritis

Doctors from BMI Healthcare share their expertise.

25 January 2019

While there is no special diet or ‘miracle food’ that can get rid of arthritis, everyone can benefit from a healthy lifestyle. Opting for a Mediterranean-style diet high in omega-3 fatty acid with plenty of fruit and vegetables can help to improve symptoms. It’s also important to keep your weight within a healthy range and to exercise regularly.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may benefit from an increased intake of omega-3 fats, as they have anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3 may also help to reduce joint swelling, pain and duration of stiffness in the morning.

Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, herring, halibut, salmon, and omega-3 eggs.

For vegan and vegetarian diets, a good source of omega-3 includes flaxseed oil, walnuts and chia seeds. Although these foods are rich in omega-3, they are precursors of omega-3 and not an equivalent substitute to the amount found in oily fish.

If you’re overweight and you have arthritis, you may want to consider shedding some pounds to help you maintain a healthy weight.

For those who are obese or overweight, losing weight has many benefits. It can reduce pressure on your joints, ease pain and inflammation and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

One study found that losing one pound of weight, takes four pounds of pressure off your knee joint load.

It’s thought that drinking alcohol in moderation may reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. However, if you already have arthritis, the consumption of alcohol may cause more harm than good.

One of the main concerns of drinking alcohol when you have arthritis is the potential interactions with medication. Many painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs don’t mix well with alcohol and can have harmful side effects, such as stomach bleeding and ulcers.

If you have arthritis and are thinking about drinking alcohol, make sure to speak to your doctor for advice first.

Should I avoid certain foods if I have arthritis?
You should avoid cutting out whole food groups from your diet. The symptoms of arthritis, particularly the inflammatory types, can change for no apparent reason, so it’s important not to assume that an improvement in your symptoms is wholly due to what you eat.

Some people worry that eating certain foods, such as citrus fruits and nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers), may increase their painful symptoms. However, there is no need to cut these foods out of your diet. They offer important nutrients and contain an antioxidant which may slow down the progression of arthritis.

It’s important to remember that we all can respond differently to trigger foods. If you believe that certain foods are making your symptoms worse, it’s best to speak to your doctor or dietitian first before cutting them out of your diet.

Diet alone won’t get rid of joint pain, but you may find that some foods are more helpful then others when managing your symptoms.

BMI The Chiltern and BMI The Shelburne have the following consultants who deal with rheumatology and pain management:

Rheumatology:                                                                 Pain Management
Dr Sally Edmonds (F)                                                       Dr S Arturia (F)
Dr C Narshi (M)                                                                 Dr K Bakshi (M)
Dr R Stevens (M)                                                              Dr N Evans (M)

Don’t suffer in silence - contact us for an appointment – you can generally be seen within 48 hours and a GP referral is not always necessary.          Tel:  0808 101 0337

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